We’d all like to believe that our home is a secure, comfortable environment, but we tend not to notice that this very place holds the potential to become very dangerous. In fact, most accidents occur in and around our homes, with the consequences involving anything from minor abrasions to a fatality. Believe it or not, water one of our most valued necessities in life, can not only provide life but also take it. Young children are often the victims of this hazardous feature. All it requires is for the parents to look in the other direction and the next moment, a curious child can wander in the direction of the family swimming pool.
An unsurprised toddler can easily fall into the pool and drown. Due to the alarming increase in infant deaths due to drowning, a change in council legislation now demands the presence of childproof fencing around all pools. However there is always the slightly older and more mischievous lot of children who have managed to overcome the barriers of the fencing around pools. As a result, child drowning cases have continued to occur. These numbers have led to a council initiative of childproof safety gates to be manufactured. This requires an adult to open these gates, ensuring parental supervision.
In response to the broken bones and concussions that have occurred around pool areas due to older children and teenagers running and playing carelessly around the pool, there has been the further implementation of non-slip pool pavers and surrounds. Nevertheless water inside the home can also be the cause of various accidents, especially in the bathroom which often have wet floors. Wet tiles that may cause a soothing sensation under the feet on a hot day, can instantly become the source of harmful falls, for people of all ages. A slip on a wet floor can lead to bruises, a broken bone or even concussion.
In order to prevent these incidents from occurring, households are being urged to make use of the vast array of non-slip mats and non-slip stick-on designs that can even add colour to assist the visually impaired elderly residents. As we age, the activity of our nervous systems tends to function at a lower rate, causing our bodies to react more slowly, so in the event of an accidental fall, the time taken for the brain to send out signals to alert the effectors is lessened as we age. When an elderly person falls, there is the potential for severe injuries because their fragile bones can easily be roken. To ensure their utmost safety, hand rails around the bath are becoming common. Furthermore as water is heated, the hot liquid and steam that results can cause severe scalding accidents that can inflict a single burn or a serious injury. This is especially true for the elderly, with their delayed sensory reaction times, because they can be under a hot shower for several minutes before realising that they’re burnt. As a result, water temperature regulators have been installed in hospitals and the homes of the elderly, in an attempt to minimise the burns caused by hot water.
Children can also be subject to similar types of burns when left unsupervised for a moment in bathrooms. Being fascinated by the motion of a rotating tap, these young minds may find themselves running hot water long enough to accidently burn themselves. For this reason, there are childproof tap covers that prevent the tap from turning on, to prevent curious children from scalding injuries when handling hot water. In the kitchen, a slip of the hand is all it takes to cause severe third degree burns.
Therefore community service advertisements appear from time to time on television and on the radio to inform people about the hazards present in the kitchen. Even the steam that arises from the kettle poses certain threats. Top-opening kettles posed a potential risk for steam burns on the hand, arm and face and as a result kettles have been redesigned to open and fill at the front, thereby directing steam away from the user. Microwavable food has also proved to be a problem, because when opening the packaging, steam rushes out quickly, causing steam burns.
This is why, instructions on the packaging is now mandatory alerting people to delay the time before opening. By doing this, the steam is allowed to dissipate, greatly decreasing the risk of steam burns. Nevertheless, burns are not only the result of hot liquids, because household heating poses a major threat to those who reside in the home. Open fires were once a common source of heating in many households, however the alarming number of house fires caused by curtains or furniture igniting has increased public awareness and also initiated government actions.
Thus pressure has been placed on manufacturers to produce burn resistant carpets and curtain material in an attempt to reduce the risk of a stray spark causing a house fire. In order to further minimise the risk of burn injuries from open fires, a ban on installing fully open fires has been passed through government, and slow combustion fires which are a safer alternative, are readily available in many retail stores. However, during cold nights, there is an urge to leave the heater on for the entire night. This action, and the increased use of nylon sleepwear, posed a major threat of house fires while the family was asleep.
Consequently, several steps have been taken by the government to ensure the safety of all individuals while they sleep. For instance, sleepwear sold to customers must have the required level of flammability labelled, in order for them to make an informed decision and about avoiding unnecessary burns. The advancement of technology has also allowed for artificial intelligence to be implemented in heating appliances in the form of temperature regulators, causing the heater to either turn on or off in order to maintain the temperature of the room without the risk of overheating and causing a fire.
There has also been the danger of accidentally knocking over a heater, especially by children or pets, and this has been responsible for severe burns or even a fatal house fire if the heater came in contact with the carpet and began to burn. However the use of cut-off switches in these portable heaters has greatly minimised the risk of burn injuries and house fires, as the heater simply stops working the moment its sensors realise that it has fallen over. Yet accidents involving electricity can involve more than just electrical heating because there are many appliances used on a daily basis in the average home.
Even the simple toaster or hair dryer can cause severe injuries when not correctly handled. For instance when a wet hand decides to grab the nearby hair dryer, water can seep into the electric circuit causing various degrees of electric shock. In order to minimise the risk of this occurring, safety instructions have been attached to such appliances that highlight the dangers that can arise. The toaster is another classic example, where burns have occurred simply by sticking metal cutlery into the toaster in an attempt to remove a piece of toast.
Safety instructions have therefore been stuck onto these appliances in order to make people think twice before performing harmful actions. Furthermore, community service advertisements have also been appearing, informing viewers on the dangers that household electrical appliances can pose. Because curious young children can unwillingly stick a finger or a fork into the holes of a power point, safety plugs for power points have been introduced onto the market.
When inserted, they prevent easy access, reducing the risk of electrocution especially amongst the younger children. Most importantly, with vast areas of the modern home powered by electricity, the possibility can always arise for a circuit overload or shortage. However being completely engrossed in our busy lives, we tend to not notice, so circuit breakers have been introduced that instantly shut down all power to the house when a threat arises, saving people from serious injuries or even a fatal house fire.
Even when electricity is not present, tools and implements also increase the chance of obtaining cuts and lacerations. The preparation of any dish requires the use of knives, peelers and sometimes graters, yet these are some of the many implements that can cause accidents. For instance, the knives when kept in a drawer can see unsuspecting fingers close over their sharp teeth, whilst searching for a particular item. The cuts that result from this incident can be severe and as a result knife boards and jackets have been designed to allow knives to be safely stored.
As with knives, peelers and graters only require a slight slip or fumble to cause deep lacerations. Due to these alarming occurrences, manufacturers have improved the design of these implements to include firmer bases and safety blades, in an attempt to minimise any injuries they may inflict. Children are once again victims of the many implements in the kitchen, involving cutlery and scissors. Although they might consider such items to be enjoyable to play with, the number of cuts that have been inflicted has increased rapidly.
This is why plastic cutlery and scissors have been produced to allow children to continue playing in a safer environment. Outside the house, there are a variety of tools that can inflict even worse damage. Garden tools can cause severe lacerations if carelessly touched or used, due to their sharp edges. For example, the saw with its sharp teeth can inflict severe cuts so to minimise the likelihoods of such injuries, safety packaging now accompanies these potentially dangerous products, allowing them to be stored safely.
In the garden shed, specially padded gardening gloves are also found which help prevent unexpected cuts from thorns or sharp branches that are incurred while performing regular garden jobs. Besides the tools on the shed or garage shelf, there are a wide range of substances, some more dangerous than others. Apart from the cuts, bruises and burns that are inflicted from appliances and various activities around the home, the improper storage of such dangerous substances have accounted or the numerous incidents involving rushing young children to hospital. This may occur after children are attracted to the brightly, coloured tablets and consume them, thinking they are lollies. Similarly with liquids, unsupervised children can easily open and drink a colourful dishwashing liquid or shampoo, thinking it is cordial, but this can lead to serious vomiting and diarrhoea requiring medical attention. For this reason, childproof caps have been introduced on many dangerous liquids which require both motions of pressing down and twisting.
To ensure the child’s safety when parents are busy, childproof cupboard locks have appeared in many homes, restricting children from accessing dangerous chemicals or medications. To further protect people from the dangers of overdosing or mixing pharmaceutical drugs in an unsafe manner, such as when a headache is so severe that a victim takes three different kinds of painkillers, it is now mandatory to label all substances with both safety instructions and medical advice if for example, a dangerous substance like weedkiller is absorbed, breathed or comes in contact with the skin.
Bruises, broken bones, scalding and lacerations are just some of the injuries that can be inflicted on residents, in and around the home. Surely it is clear, that with the numerous cases of severe injuries, which occur in and around our homes every day, it is in fact a very dangerous place to be in.
Courtney from Study Moose
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