It's the place you go to relax and retreat: your home. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47 percent of injuries requiring medical attention occurred while the patients were at home.
Keep an eye out for these four common injury culprits.
Falls: 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 de-icer product or a natural alternative such as sand or sawdust to limit ice buildup.
Strikes: 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.
Overexertion: 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.
Cuts: 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.