Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Causes and Prevention of Domestic Accidents


Homes are great sanctuaries. In spite of providing protection, they also offer us comfort and pleasure. Home is a primary necessity and modern homes add esteem. Unfortunately careless attitude can transform the home into death traps. Accidents have extended beyond basic danger spots like kitchen and bathroom to include the sitting room, bedroom, stores and stairways. The rates at which domestic accidents happened and the costs of such occurrences have generated great concerns, which have given rise to several questions including: What are the causes of domestic accidents? Or, what is responsible for high rate of domestic accidents? Is our home turning into minefield? Or, why are domestic accidents turning fatal? What can we do to prevent domestic accidents?

Empirical research and experience have shown that accident don’t just happen, they are caused. Accidents are preventable. But, unfortunately, almost all dangers to which we are exposed at home are often due to our negligence or making. We carelessly leave gas leakages undetected, faulty electric wiring un-amended, wet floor unmopped, poor housekeeping, thereby endangering our lives and causing injuries.

Children have been known to have unknowingly poisoned or injured themselves by drinking disinfectants left carelessly around. Some have even fallen off the bed and causing serious injuries to their limbs. Some have even inserted objects into their nose, eyes etc thereby causing serious harm to themselves. Many people have died while trying out their hands on “do-it-yourself” electrical or mechanical equipment. There are cases of people who have died of poison after mistakenly drinking some domestic chemical preparations instead of approved cough mixture. It is either the bottles or cans are not properly labeled or poor visibility due to power failure or haste.

Surprisingly, most accidents at home result from falls from the stairs and the common casualties are old and elderly people or children under five years old. Banana skin lying about on the staircase may cause fatal accident if trampled on. A rupture in the carpet or loosely fitted floorboard can produce the same effect. Carelessly placed objects or unclean spilled oil/water on the floor can constitute a killer trap. If you leave a bag or jacket on the stairs or forget to check that your child has left his toy-motor or teddy-bear somewhere on the lower steps, you might as well come back to find that someone has eventually slipped on it and had his/her hipbone or leg broken. A worst accident can happen if somebody forgets to wipe water or greasy substance that has spilled on the floor. A poorly lit stairs can also be a source of accident.

We believe that the frequency and severity of domestic accidents can be reduced through attention to a number of dos and don’ts. Few of these include:

1.      Expose family members to basic safety education.

2.      Promote good housekeeping. Items should not be left lying about on the floor, including children’s toys. Things should be properly arranged to avoid accident.

3.      Enforce better control over what children can play with when unattended.

4.      Avoid touching electrical switches when your hands or clothes are wet. Always employ the services of professionals and procure genuine materials for maintenance.

5.      All carpets or other floor coverings should be firmly fixed so that no one slips on them.

6.      Mop up immediately any liquid or grease spilled on the floor anywhere in your home.

7.       Care should be taken while using electrical appliances such as heaters, cookers, electric iron, and so on.

8.      Ensure that there are grip bar and sturdy handrail above the bath and on the stairs. Light is essential at night.  

9.      Children should always be kept out of the cooking areas as many of them are known to have sustained injuries from spilled boiling oil.

10.  Make sure that all your gas appliances have metal tubing and bayonet connections.

11.  Avoid using inflammable material such as petrol or paraffin to revive a dying fire.

12.  Disinfectants, bleaches. Detergents, paints, and rat poisons should be kept out of the reach of children.

13.  All medicines and tablets should be securely locked up in their appropriate storage places and out of the reach of children.

14.  All expired drugs should be promptly disposed of.

15.  Sharp objects or tools should not be left carelessly around after usage.

16.  Avoid carrying out electrical and gas repairs on your own, except you are a trained electrician or gas cooker repairer. It is very dangerous to tackle gas and electricity by trial and error. The implications can be fatal.

There is no such thing as a complete list of “dos” and “don’ts”. Absolutely, a book of rules is not a substitute for thinking ahead and acting aright. Common sense and precaution are the secrets of accident prevention. They are the keys to enjoying the comforts of our homes without unpleasant incidents. We must be alert to the risks around us and always take appropriate precautions, bearing in mind that prevention is better than cure.  

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