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Staying Safe at Home

Could you and your family be at risk of injury from an unsafe home?

More accidents happen in the home than anywhere else

Where do you think you are at most risk of being injured or killed as a result of an accident? At work, on the road, or in a public place?

In fact, according to statistics, we are far more likely to be injured at home than anywhere else. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) estimates that around 4,000 people die due to an accident in the home every single year, while between 2008 and 2012 an average of 62 children under 5 years old died as a result of unintentional injuries in and around the home, with these injuries also resulting in 452,200 visits to A&E departments for children of this age each year.

However, there are a number of simple adaptations you can make to your home that can significantly lower the risk of suffering an injury from a preventable accident.

Window falls

Falls account for 44% of all injuries to children in the home, and each year in the UK 10 children die as a result of falling from windows, as well as balconies and stairs.

You can’t expect your children’s bedrooms to not have windows, however window restrictors – designed to only allow the window to open a limited amount – are a relatively inexpensive investment, and can be installed in any room your children have access to.

Electrical fires & electrocution

There are in excess of 20,000 electrical fires in the UK each year, accounting for almost half of all accidental house fires. What’s more, 70 people are killed and 350,000 are seriously injured due to electrical accidents in the home.

Check out our infographic on Avoiding an Electrical Fire and remember, if you’re in any doubt about the safety of wiring or an appliance, call a professional rather than try to resolve the problem yourself.

Fire safety

According to Directgov, you are at least four times more likely to die in a fire at home if you don’t have a smoke alarm. But simply fitting an alarm isn’t enough to keep you safe. Many people don’t realise their smoke alarm isn’t working properly because they simply don’t test it. Check it monthly and replace the batteries immediately if it isn’t working.

Having a clear plan of what you and your family should do in the event of a fire could also make a difference:

  • Your family’s first option for an escape route should be the usual route in and out of the house;
  • In the event of the main entrance being blocked you should plan a second route out of the house – both of these should be kept free of obstructions at all times;
  • Identify a meeting point outside  the house, such as a neighbour’s front garden or across the road from your home;
  • In the event that both/all of your planned escape routes are blocked, you and your family will need to have a room in the house where you can take refuge until help arrives, ideally one that has a window and a phone;
  • Make sure the whole family know where all keys to windows and doors are kept.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide is responsible for around 50 deaths and 200 hospitalisations every year in the UK, and this colourless and odourless gas is typically produced by faulty heating and cooking appliances.

A carbon monoxide detector can be purchased for less than £20, and the Gas Safe Register recommends households install audible alarms marked to EN 50291 and that carry the British Standards’ Kitemark or that of another European approval organisation.

Take a look at our infographic on carbon monoxide poisoning for more information, or click here to find out more about how to stay Gas Safe at home.

Slips, trips and falls

People typically associate the phrase “slips, trips and falls” with accidents in the workplace or in a public area; however, they are also responsible for a huge number of accidents in the home.

Some of the most common causes include tripping over objects left at the top of stairs, falling from ladders that have not been properly secured when carrying out DIY or simply tripping over loose carpeting or rugs. Keep a stepladder or step-stool handy for jobs which involve height, such as changing light bulbs. Standing on an unstable chair or an object which doesn’t allow you to reach easily will put you at risk of an accident. We’d advise clearing up any spillages straight away too, particularly on laminate or wooden flooring, while you should also make sure other people in the house are aware of any wet or potentially slippery flooring.

Dampness & mould

The presence of damp or mould in your home can lead to a number of health issues - including respiratory problems and infections, allergies and asthma – while those most acutely affected are the elderly, babies and children.

Damp and mould are caused by condensation, and there are a number of ways you can control excess moisture in your home.

Closing kitchen and bathroom doors to stop steam from transferring to colder rooms, drying clothes outdoors as much as possible and making sure air vents are clear are just some of the measures you can take.

Rented accommodation

Private landlords have a responsibility to maintain their properties to a satisfactory standard, doing as much as they can to ensure that risks of accident and injury are reduced.

To find out more about your landlord’s responsibilities as laid out in common law, check out our Landlord Accident Claims page.