Having handled thousands of cases we see the world through different eyes than most people. We have learned a tremendous amount from the misfortune of many people. We hope that we can impart some wisdom and an awareness of what can be done to prevent an accident so that the suffering of others was not in vein.
Accidents In The Home
There are so many different ways that injuries occur in the home. Broadly speaking an injury may take place outside the house, or inside the home.
The typical outdoor injury involves yard tools (power tools, axe, shovel, etc.), ladders, play equipment, bicycles, pools, uneven surfaces, poor lighting, steps or stairs.
Power tools and powered landscaping tools can cause serious injuries. Just because someone is injured by a power tool does not mean that someone else is responsible for their injury. It is VERY IMPORTANT that all safety guards remain properly secured to any power tool. You should always wear protective eyewear. Make sure that you have read the owners manual before operating the equipment. If you do not have the manual go online to the manufacturer's web site to see if they have posted the manual. Always take your time and never work on a power tool or powered yard tool while it is on or plugged in. If you lend a tool to a neighbor, make sure the tool is in good working order, that all safety features are in place and that your neighbor knows how to properly and safely operate the tool.
Make sure that you are using the proper ladder for the work that you are doing. Never use a ladder that is too short. If you are using an "A" frame ladder, make sure the braces are locked and the footing is level. If you are using an aluminum extension ladder be very cautious and aware of overhead electrical wires. Before you purchase a ladder, do some research at consumer sites that have ratings of ladders.
All play equipment should be installed on a soft shock absorbent surface. There are many surface options available at different price levels. Pay close attention to equipment that is exposed to direct sun light. Children have suffered burns due to metal objects that became exceedingly hot from exposure to direct sunlight. The equipment should be inspected at the beginning of every play season and at least once a month during the season. Any rusted or sharp equipment should be repaired or replaced. If the equipment is wood, look for any stress cracks or splintering. NEVER let children play on the equipment without supervision. Set strict guidelines with your children and suspend play if they use the equipment in an unsafe manner.
Never allow children to ride a bicycle without a helmet (even if you did not wear a helmet when you were a child). In fact everyone, especially parents should wear a helmet when they ride a bike. Many of our clients are alive today because they were wearing a helmet. It is a good idea to have a bicycle tuned up at least once per year. If a bicycle is used at night use reflective clothing and blinking lights to alert motorists.
Unfortunately every year young children drown in pools. The risk of drowning can be significantly diminished by utilizing some of the safety precautions that are available. Safety measures range from fencing to splash alarms, hard covers to self-closing gates. These measures are very effective ONLY if they are properly implemented... the gate on the fence must always be closed when the pool is not in use, the splash alarm must always be on and the batteries frequently changed, the hard cover must be replaced when the pool is not in use, and the self closing doors must close properly and securely. If you have a pool at your home and you have young children you should begin swimming lessons as soon as possible (some programs accept children as young as 6 months). When the pool is in use and young children are swimming, one adult should be "responsible" for one child who cannot swim. Never assume that someone else is watching your child. Problems occur when one adult believes that another adult is watching a child. Many children drown with backyards that are filled with people. When swim time is over, diligently implement the access restriction measures.
You should inspect your property for any walking surface that is uneven, cracked or raised. You should ascertain if you or the local municipality is responsible for the area with the defect. Tree roots can cause sidewalks to become uneven. Cracks can appear in concrete or paved surfaces. Pavers set in sand can become dislodged or raised due to rainwater. If you place a cord or hose across a sidewalk it is a good idea to put a sign or warning device out.
Good lighting is important for many different reasons. Good lighting deters would be burglars. Lighting is also important to illuminate a path, steps and any obstacles.
Steps or Stairs
Many accidents happen on steps or stairs outside the home. Building codes should be referenced to ensure that railings are installed where required. Stairs that are in disrepair may cause accidents as well. Make sure all brick, cement and wood stairs are in good repair.
Some simple preventative measures will avoid a myriad of accident that can happen in the home.
It is incredibly important to secure your cabinets if you have young children in your home. Ingestion of household chemicals is an all too often occurrence. Visit any baby store and you will find an entire baby-proofing department. There are even companies that will come to your home to baby-proof your home. If you have a floor standing oven with a door that opens outward and toward the floor, make sure that the appropriate anti-tip device has been properly installed. If the device has not been installed, call a repair service. Always cook on the stove with the handles pointing toward the back of the stove.
Keep prescription AND non-prescription medication out of the reach of children. Even if you don't have children it is a good idea to store medication out of a child's reach (it is always possible that someone will be visiting with a child). If the bathroom has a steam riser install a cage or device that will prevent direct contact with the pipe. If the bathtub is used as a shower use some type of anti-slip device on the surface of the tub. If you have young children install an anti scald device.
General Household Safety Measures
If you have a television on a stand or table DO NOT keep anything (especially remote controls) on top of the TV. Stories of televisions falling on children are all too common. Set your domestic hot water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Replace your batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on January 1st of every year. If you live in a high-rise building make sure all windows have child safety guards. If you have a fire escape, make sure that the child guards can be removed from the fire escape window. Make sure that all outlets in all bathrooms and garages are GFI outlets. If you have a fireplace, do not burn soft wood (pine) and make sure that you have your chimney cleaned once each year. If you have a dog that is hyper bites or nips, use a muzzle, and/or properly secure the dog at all times.