Accidents happen. And it appears that the number of fatal accidents at home is rising. Between 2000 and 2008, more than 30,000 deaths occurred from unintentional injury at home. The most common causes of home accident death are poisoning, falls and fire/burn injuries.
So says a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine whose lead author, Karin Mack of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “These injuries are predictable and preventable.”
According to a report on ScienceDaily.com, the researchers supported interventions to make homes safer, such as smoke alarms, limited access to nonprescription drugs and closer supervision of children. Those are just common sense, not the result of laserlike scientific scrutiny, but too many people are not paying attention.
So the researchers call for a better way to spread the prevention messages to specific audiences, including health-care providers, educators, law enforcement, policymakers and media.
The study analyzed data from death certificates in the National Vital Statistics System, an inter-governmental public health database. New Mexico had the highest rates of unintentional home injury death during the study period; Massachusetts had the lowest.
Poison, which includes unintentional drug overdoses, was the leading cause of unintentional home injury deaths for people ages 15 to 59. Given recent news reports of the boom in opioid overdoses, it’s no surprise that the poison category ranks No. 1.
The study showed that more males died from home injury than females. Also filed under “no surprise” is the fact that people 80 and older had higher rates of injury-related in-home death than other people.
Falls are still the major source of fatal home injury in older adults, and suffocation is the leading cause for infants.
Although the number of fatalities increased during the period of the study, Mack was optimistic about efforts underway to broaden awareness of what constitutes a safer home. She pointed to two publications: the 2009 report, “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes,” and a 2011 report from the American Public Health Association, “Healthy & Safe Homes: Research, Practice, and Policy.”
Among the measures you can take to make your home safer, according to the surgeon general’s report, are:
- Install, maintain, and consistently use safety devices (smoke alarms; carbon
monoxide alarms; stair gates in homes with young children; grab bars in bathrooms;
adequate outside lighting; locks on cabinets that store medicines, cleaning solutions,
automotive supplies, firearms and ammunition, pool chemicals and pesticides; four-sided isolation fencing with self-closing, self-latching doors around pools).
- Complete a fall-prevention checklist for homes with older adults.
- Prepare and practice an emergency fire escape plan.
- Set water temperature in your home below 120°F.
- Do not smoke; enforce smoke-free rules in the home. If you do smoke, do not smoke indoors or around children.
- Read product labels and follow directions for use and disposal. Some common products can be lethal, especially for children.
- Make sure that infants sleep on their backs on firm sleeping surfaces.
For a comprehensive list of these measures, link here.