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Five ways to make your home safer

Adventist Health Health and Wellness

Home is where the heart is, or so the saying goes. Turns out, it's also where most injuries occur.

Even surrounded by the amazing outdoor activities of the Pacific Northwest, we tend to spend many hours in our homes. Unfortunately, home and hearth may also come with some surprising dangers to life and limb.

As much as our doctors and nurses love to serve you in the Adventist Medical Center emergency room, we actually prefer you don't get hurt in the first place.

"A few basic safety precautions and some extra awareness of some surprisingly dangerous everyday activities can keep you and your family out of the emergency room and enjoying a healthy summer at home" says Dr. Eli Klovee-Smith of the Adventist Medical Center Emergency Medicine team.

practice stair safety at home1. Reach for the stars...carefully

Falls are a leading cause of trips to the ER, and many falls happen at home. Falling can lead to broken bones, concussions and even death.

All ages are at risk of falls-from kids tipping over in high chairs to adults climbing ladders and older adults losing their balance or slipping.

To reduce the risk, add lighting and secure rugs and cords. Immediately clean up any spills in the kitchen, and keep walkways free of clutter and toys.

Working high on ladders is another risk. Consider hiring someone to clean the gutters, trim high branches, or check the roof and chimney.

And even at home, don't forget how medication and alcohol can impact your balance.

2. Button up the batteries

Especially if you have young children at home, keep batteries far out of reach. Use duct tape to secure battery compartments on toys, remote controls, flashlights and other devices.

Be extra vigilant about so-called button batteries. The small metal discs-often found in watches and hearing aids-tempt little ones to grab them and put them in their mouths.

When swallowed, batteries can get stuck in the digestive tract or become corroded enough to cause internal burns and other damage. If someone swallows a battery, immediately call the 24-hour National Button Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333.

3. Leave the bouncing to Tigger

Everywhere you turn, you'll see backyard trampolines giving kids-and sometimes adults-a chance to be like Winnie the Pooh's buddy Tigger.

Sadly this great exercise comes with a high risk of sprains, fractures, and head and neck injuries. Even as manufacturers have added padding and nets to reduce injuries, trampolines continue to be a household hazard.

If you simply can't part with yours, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers some tips for reducing trampoline risks.

4. Hone your knife skills-and your knives

Lacerations are a leading cause of emergency room visits. Home kitchens are particularly filled with chances to cut yourself while preparing food. In fact, New Yorker Bagels says slicing bagels is a leading cause of kitchen-based injuries.

Ironically, though, using well-sharpened knives actually reduces the risk of a cut. Sharp knives cut more easily, with less pressure. This reduces the risk of the knife slipping and cutting you.

If you're like many Portlanders and you need your bagel fix, you can stay on the safer side by using a bagel slicer.

5. Don't laugh at gas

Gas has become a popular way to heat our homes and water. Cooking with gas is considered ideal by most home chefs.

But no method is perfect. Gas comes with a risk of burns as well as the more subtle and sometimes deadly carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. In fact, CO poisoning brings more than 20,000 Americans to the ER each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Make sure you install CO detectors in your home and have your gas appliances checked and serviced by qualified technicians.

Carbon monoxide detectors are an inexpensive but very effective way to reduce your family’s risk of poisoning or even death,” says Klovee-Smith.

A fresh look at home safety

Many other dangers lurk around our homes, but living in fear isn't the answer. Just take a little time this week to look at your home with fresh eyes.

What needs to be repaired or anchored? What small changes have you been putting off that would keep you and your family safer? Which expert could you hire to come check an appliance, sharpen your knives or take care of the gutters?

Take care of those things today so you can enjoy the summer safe and free from injuries.