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Home and Fire Safety- What Can We do to Keep Our Homes Safe?

A safe home is a healthy home. This has become more important to us as we spend more time at home because of Covid 19 pandemic.

Safety at home is important at every stage of our life. We pay attention to crib safety, nursery safety, safe sleep when a new baby is born. Scalding, paint chips, sharp corners, stairs, exposed electric plugs, loose wires, toy, windows…etc. are our main concerns for pre to middle schoolers. Then we switch to prescription drug misuse, poisoning, carbon monoxide, food poisoning, fire and burns and fall hazards in adulthood. (www.homesafetycouncil.org)



An estimated 131,400 preventable injury-related deaths occurred in homes and communities in 2019, or about 76 percent of all preventable injury-related deaths that year. (https://injuryfacts.nsc.org) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) leading causes of unintentional injury in 2018 indicates that poisoning, falls, drowning and fire and are on the top list. ( https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/leadingcauses_images.html)


Poisoning


Poisoning remains a big concern for people of all ages. CDC estimates that every day 300 children are treated for poisoning and 2 die as a result of being poisoned. (https://www.cdc.gov/safechild/poisoning/index.html) The National Poison Center’s 2019 report reveals that children younger than 6 years comprise nearly half of poison exposure (43%) followed by adults (42%), then teens (8%). Unintentional exposure averaged 76.7 percent. Cosmetics and person care products lead the list of the most common substances implicated in pediatric exposure. Cleaning substances and pain medications follow. Theses exposure are nearly always unintentional. The Center states that over 66 percent of poison exposure can be safely observed at home without medical intervention. (https://www.poison.org/poison-statistics-national)


Adult poisonings are usually drug-related and resulted from

  • Overdoses of illegal drugs and legal drugs taken for non-medical reasons

  • Poisoning from legal drugs taken in error or at the wrong dose

  • Unanticipated effects from prescription drugs for medical or non-medical reasons

Overall, the majority of unintentional poisoning deaths in the United States are attributable to misuse and abuse of drugs. (https://www.cdc.gov/pictureofamerica/pdfs/picture_of_america_poisoning.pdf)

Silence is not always golden, especially when it comes to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. When power outages occur after severe weather, such as winter storms, using alternative sources of power can cause CO to build-up in a home and poison the people and animals inside. Carbon monoxide (CO) causes the most non-drug poisoning death in the United States, especially among people over 65 years old and males. (https://www.cdc.gov/pictureofamerica/pdfs/picture_of_america_poisoning.pdf) Every year, at least 430 people die in the U.S. from accidental CO poisoning, and 50,000 people visit the emergency department. CO is found in fumes produced by furnaces, kerosene heaters, vehicles “warmed up” in garages, stoves, lanterns, gas ranges, portable generators, or by burning charcoal and wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and can die from breathing CO. (https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/features/copoisoning/index.html)


Falls

Falls can cause broken bones, such as wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures. Falls can also cause head injuries. These can be very serious, especially if the person is taking certain medicines (like blood thinners). CDC estimates that approximately 8,000 children ages 0-19 are treated in emergency rooms (ER) for fall related injuries every day. Playgrounds, windows and staircases are main safety concerns for children. (https://www.cdc.gov/safechild/index.html)

Each year, 3 million older people (65+) are treated in ER for falls. Over 800,000 patients are hospitalized because of a fall, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture. Older women tend to fall in the house, and older men in the garden. Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling. Risk factors include physical condition, medication and home environment. Home hazards or dangers such as broken or uneven steps and throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over and cause falls. (https://www.cdc.gov/falls/facts.html).

Drowning


When most of us are enjoying time at the pool or beach, injuries are not the first thing on our minds. Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two will be children aged 14 or younger. Drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages, and the second leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 14 years.

In fact, more children 1-4 years die from drowning than any other cause of death except birth defects. (https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/water-safety/index.html) More than 50 percent of drowning victims treated in ERs require hospitalization or transfer for further care. These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g. permanent vegetative state). (https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/water-safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html)


Fire and Burns


Cooking and heating are the leading causes of home fires and fire injuries, winter months being the peak time for fire-related deaths. In addition to cooking, other top causes of fire include smoking, electrical problems and candles. (https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/emergency-preparedness/fire)

Fire and burns include both intentional and unintentional attributions. According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), local fire departments responded to an estimated 1.3 million fires in 2019. These fires caused roughly 3,700 civilian fire deaths and 16,000 reported civilian fire injuries. Property damage was estimated at $14.8 billion. A home structure fire was reported every 93 seconds, a home fire death occurred every three hours and 10 minutes, and a home fire injury occurred every 43 minutes. (https://www.nfpa.org/~/media/fd0144a044c84fc5baf90c05c04890b7.ashx#:~:text=In%202019%2C%20local%20fire%20departments,every%2024%20seconds%20in%202019)

The good news: over the past several decades, deaths from home fires in the U.S. have steadily gone down. The fire deaths reported in Maryland during 2019 also show a notable decline in comparison to the previous year. The 65 deaths in 58 fires in 2019 represent an 8.45 percent death decrease over the 71 deaths in 62 fires reported in 2018, and the same 8.45 percent decrease over the 71 deaths in 54 fires in 2017. (https://mdsp.maryland.gov/firemarshal/Documents/Fire%20Deaths%20-%202019.pdf)




What can we do to keep our communities and our homes safe?


There are steps we can take to prevent possible injuries/deaths at home and in the community to protect the ones we love. Please join injury prevention experts from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy for an in-depth discussion about home and fire safety. The training will also include a “hands-on” portion, which will allow participants to assess the safety of their own home, and will conclude with a live Q&A. Whether you are working in the injury prevention field directly or indirectly, this is a training you do not want to miss!


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