Updated 01 April 2014

Is your home a death trap?

These dangers could be lurking right inside your home. Can you afford not to read this?

In some cases there is nothing that could have been done to prevent an accident in the home, but often small things are easily overlooked that could lead to great disasters.

Here are 10 things to check in your home.

Get wired up. Electrical wires running underneath carpets that carry heavy traffic, can get get frayed easily and live wires can become exposed. The next person stepping on it could be in for a huge shock. Extension cords running over doorways or passageways have also caused many a serious fall. Make alternative plans, or if not possible, tape extension cords securely to the floor with tape or tacks. Many house fires are caused by electrical faults. have an electrician check out your house every once in a while.

Read more: first aid for electric shock

Old fridges. Always remove the entire door or locking device before discarding old refrigerators. Children trapped when playing in a fridge will suffocate because it closes airtight.

Poison alert. Remove all household chemicals and insecticides from easy reach. Toddlers cannot read warning labels and will swallow anything that looks colourful or interesting. These things should all be moved to cupboards with lockable doors.

Read more: first aid for poisoning

Cool down the geyser. Most geysers are set at too high a temperature. Not only does this make your electricity bill skyrocket, but you can sustain serious burn wounds from gushing near-boiling hot water coming out of bath taps. Speak to your plumber about setting the geyser at a lower temperature.

Buy decent tools. Many people get injured while trying to unscrew something using a kitchen knife, or knocking something into a wall using something other than a hammer. Using the right tools to do things around the house is essential.

Pack away toys. Invest in a decent large box or cupboard for the children's toys. Many people have sustained serious injuries stepping on toy trains or skateboards while making their way to the bathroom in the dark. Make it a house rule  that no one goes to bed unless all toys are packed away.

Have emergency numbers handy. Stick these on the wall next to the telephone. If your house catches fire or there is a medical emergency, you are not going to have the wherewithal to look up the numbers patiently in the telephone directory.

Get rid of old medication. Unused medication that has passed its use-by date, needs to be disposed of. Toddlers will eat anything that looks like sweets, including grandpa's old blue and yellow heart tablets. Take the medication to your chemist and let them dispose of it. Just putting it in the bin or flushing it down the toilet may lead to its landing in the wrong hands.

Unblock exits. Should your home suddenly catch fire, will your family be trapped inside it? Make sure that there are keys to security doors in fixed places inside the house other than on your car keys, which you may not be able to find in an emergency.

Buy a fire extinguisher. There are small fire extinguishers on the market that are no larger than normal aerosol cans. Keep one in the kitchen, one in the garage and one in the car. You will be very grateful for this when you suddenly need it. And keep all matches and lighters away from children. These are not toys.

Get behind bars. Whether you live in a security block or not, get a security gate for your front door. Never open the door unless this gate is locked. If you are unsure, don't take a chance. This will deter opportunistic criminals from getting a foot in the door – literally.

Chuck out inflammable substances. Garages are often used as storage spaces for a thousand different things – including half cans of petrol or paraffin or gas bottles. It is never a good idea to keep this kind of thing lying around. Even if they don't cause the fire, they will add flames to it if something else should ignite.

Trigger unhappy. Be extremely careful with any firearms you may have. If you keep one in your bedside table, make sure it is locked away when you are not in your bed. Many fatal shooting accidents have occurred when children play with guns they have found in bedside tables, cupboards or handbags.

Check your food supplies. Throw out old, dented or rusty cans – the contents could cause serious food poisoning. Go through your freezer and get rid of anything that has been in there for more than a year – especially if you cannot identify it.

(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated August 2011)

Is your bathroom a death trap?



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