It's the place you go to relax and retreat: your home. But a surprising number of accidents that require medical attention occur while the patients were at home. Keep an eye out for these four common household injuries.
Falls at home: Seniors 65 and older top the list of ER visits for injuries caused by falls, but they're not alone: Falls also are the top injury cause for middle age adults and preschoolers. Here's what to do:
- Keep stairs and the floors in high traffic areas clear.
- Adequately light your home, and rely on nightlights or flashlights if you get up after hours.
- Use baby gates to keep toddlers in safer areas.
- Make sure all rugs have a non-skid backing.
- Wipe up spills immediately.
- Clear walkways, stairs and sidewalks after a snowstorm, and treat them with a deicer product or a natural alternative such as sand or sawdust to limit ice buildup.
Bumps and bruises: A box tumbles down from a closet shelf and bumps you on the head, or you slip in the bathroom and slam a wrist against the tile. Injuries that occur when something strikes you — or when you strike something hard — are common accidents that could send you to the ER. Here's what to do:
- Reduce the number of items on upper levels of cabinets, closets and bookshelves, and keep them organized.
- Make sure ladders are securely positioned before climbing on them; climb only to the top recommended step on the ladder.
- Add a protective surface under swings and children's play areas.
- Close cabinet doors and drawers immediately after use.
- Install sturdy handrails in seniors' bathrooms.
- Cushion sharp table edges at least until your baby is standing and walking steadily.
Over exerting: Rearranging your furniture may cause you to strain your back. Shoveling snow too long also might bring on a shoulder injury — or even a heart attack. Listen to your body when it's telling you to take a break. Here's what to do:
- Get the help you need; don't attempt to do strenuous jobs by yourself.
- When lifting, keep your knees bent and lift from your legs, not your back.
- Take frequent breaks and assess how you're feeling.
- Avoid twisting your torso when reaching for something.
- Use ergonomically designed tools to lessen the chance of injury.
- Remember to stretch before if you decide to take on a vigorous activity.
Where cuts occur: Whether you miss the mark while slicing a bagel or get a puncture wound by stepping on something sharp, cutting and piercing injuries also commonly occur at home. Here's what to do:
- Keep knives sharp: You use more pressure when cutting with a dull blade, which can lead to slips.
- Clean up workspaces before you leave the project area—especially those where nails, tacks and metal shards may have fallen.
- Reduce distractions and pay attention when using sharp instruments.
- Wear shoes outside.
- Wear gloves when working with tools.
- Always keep your tetanus vaccination current.
Create and keep a well-stocked first-aid kit for your home using these tips from the American Red Cross.