Common Accidents In The Home and Their Causes
What Are The Most Common Accidents In The Home, and What Are Their Causes?
The first questions that most people ask when an accident occurs in the home include who was injured? the place; where did the accident happen? and, what was the injury? These can be related in any order and can apply to practically all of the most common accidents in the home. These items are then quickly followed up by questions; including questions about what caused the accident and what action had to be taken or and was taken.
For example, a quick report on an accident that occurred in the home might be something like: ‘Michael cut a gash in his arm working in the workshop. He was using a chisel to shape a model car from a pine block. We had to put a tight bandage on his arm to control and stop the bleeding, then we took him to urgent care.’
OK. The ‘who’ was Michael, the ‘injury’ was a cut to his arm, the ‘place’ where it happened was in the workshop, the ‘cause’ of the accident was what he was doing, he was using a chisel, and finally, the ‘action taken’ was how the injury was treated – a tight bandage was used and then he was taken to Urgent Care.
Now, unless you know Michael, or you were the nurse or doctor at the Urgent Care who attended to Michael, from the description given, just from the initial details provided you wouldn’t know if Michael was a child, a youth, or an adult, but you might well have ruled out him being a baby as you were told that he working and he was using a chisel, and the term ‘working’ might also have ruled out thinking Michael was a child.
It is what causes common accidents in the home and also who accidents happen to that we are concerned with, and it is by understanding the causes that we can plan to prevent them from even happening.
Urgent Cares and Emergency Rooms handle a large number of injuries that are caused by many types of situations in the home, they are the primary source of statistics and information on injuries in the home. But there’s a second set of situations which are the result of accidents in the home but for which there are no well documented statistics for them. These are accidents and injuries that don’t involve a visit to an Urgent Care or an Emergency Room; accidents that result in injuries that are not serious enough to warrant a visit to an Urgent Care or an Emergency Room.
So, beginning with accidents and resulting injuries that are seen by Urgent Cares and Emergency Rooms the top-listed injuries are (1) concussions, serious bruises and broken bones that are caused by falls, followed by (2) cuts, (3) poisonings, (4) burns and scalds, (5) drownings, and – last in the top six list – (6) strangling.
Falls can occur in lots of ways in the home to you and old, but usually, not alike. To begin with there are two categories of fall. First is a person, young or old, falling, and second is a person, again young or old, that has something fall on them causing concussions, serious bruises and even broken bones.
Falls with young children are mostly the result of them climbing on furniture which is somehow unstable. For example, a child may pull a chair up to a counter in the kitchen and climb on it to reach into a cupboard above the counter, or reach for something at the back of the counter. On a tiled or hardwood floor a chair can slide very easily and as the child stretches and reaches forward the chair slides backwards and there is nothing the child can do to stop it sliding. Unless the child has great reflexes and presence of mind, and enough strength, it will most likely hit its face or jaw on the edge of the counter and then fall to the floor.
Another awful scenario is a child climbing up onto the windowsill of a window that is open, losing their balance and falling through the window. Often, they support themselves on the glass of the windowpane that is closed and then reach for the next windowpane only to discover it’s not there; it’s an open window.
Floors Can Cause Slips & Falls
Floors when wet are slippery, and we can safe-guard against children (who might have a tendency to run around indoors even though they are told to never run indoors) by temporarily blocking off doorways with a couple of strategically placed chairs and a broom or the mop so that they won’t have an accident.
But what about shiny floors? Wax build-up on wood floors can also be slick. If one is wearing just socks or wearing carpet slippers that have a non-grip, somewhat slick sole, that shiny floor might just be as much a hazard as the wet floor, except that it’s permanent, not temporary.
There is a recipe for a natural ingredients floor cleaner & polish that is easily (and inexpensively) made on our “Discussion Board” page on this website.
[Here is the link for the Natural Ingredients Floor Cleaner & Polish:
Steps and Stairs
Of course, we can’t mention children and falls without referencing falling down a flight of stairs. Safety gates at both top and bottom of stairs are the best way of keeping crawlers and toddlers from being on the stairs unattended. But it’s not just children that are at risk on stairs; the elderly are too.
With adults, especially the elderly, falls in the bathroom are also at the top of the list, but we shouldn’t overlook adults climbing ladders, using inappropriate furniture to climb on to do cleaning, decorating or repair jobs, either inside the home or on the outside of the house, such as cleaning windows, clearing out rain gutters, or hanging holiday decorations.
In homes where there are uneven floors or single steps that are easily not noticed and so are likely to cause trips, handrails or other preventative measures should be taken – especially regarding the elderly.
For the elderly, grab handles should be installed in baths and showers, and even alongside the toilet. Falls resulting from slipping in the shower or bathtub result in some of the most serious fall-related injuries especially with the elderly where some injuries lead to premature death. There is more on the topic of safety for the elderly in the Senior/Elderly Safety post on this website.
Things that fall on people include the clothes iron toppling off the ironing board, items that are wall-mounted such as widescreen TVs, and stacked items such as kitchen utensils. In geographic areas that experience earthquakes, bookshelves and self-standing cabinets are potential hazards unless they are secured by straps or brackets to walls.
There are two key locations where accidents involving cuts occur; indoors and outdoors. Of course, the two primary places would be the kitchen (indoors) and the workshop (outdoors), but the knives and tools that are designed to cut can easily be taken and used in any location, indoors or outdoors. Another location where sharp edges and cutting blades are found is in the bathroom cabinet, scissors and razor blades. Even a safety razor in the hands of a child attempting to copy Dad or Mom can result in a nick which can at first glance look serious, but thankfully rarely is.
Cleaning materials and medications stored in unlocked cabinets or left out are the most common cause of poisonings in the home. While we think of small children poisoning themselves on medications as a risk, mixing (or mixing up) medications is one of the major reasons for Emergency Room visits with elderly people. For young and middle-aged people, overdosing on a medication, mixing medications, and taking medications and then drinking alcohol are the top causes of household poisoning accidents. Following doctor recommendations for medicines and avoiding any mixing of medications either with other medications or with alcohol should be avoided.
Most homes these days when new have both smoke detector alarms, and also carbon monoxide (CO) detection alarms installed. But as most are battery operated – they will not function if the batteries are not regularly tested and replaced when low. Both smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide inhalation are forms of poisoning and can result in death. The national Poison Help hotline in the USA is: 800-222-1222
4. Burns and Scalds:
A burn is caused by either flame or an extremely hot surface, while a scald is caused by hot water, oil, or other liquid – and it doesn’t have to be extremely hot or boiling to be painful and cause a serious scald.
Not having a swimming pool does not mean that there is not a danger of drowning. Children drown in bathtubs. Never leave small children unattended in bathtubs. If you have a swimming pool, it needs to be fenced and have a gate with a childproof, secure latch, bolt or lock.
Strangling accidents in the home occur mostly with small children who wind a window drape or curtain pull cord, or the pull cord of a window blind, around their head and neck. The pullcord involved is almost always a loop cord which when the child turns around twists and tightens causing the child to fall over only to be strangled. The best solution to avoid this ever occurring is to cut the loop cord, adding an extra length, if necessary, for the pull cord to properly function with it being a loop. Having two loose ends that can be neatly finished off with tassels or knobs of some kind is much safer than having a loop.
So, having listed and discussed the top in-home accident types and causes that Urgent Cares and Emergency Rooms deal with, what are the others? Well they are the exact same categories, but the injuries are less serious.
These include falls caused by tripping over a power cord and dragging a table lamp off of a coffee table or a sideboard or a chest of drawers. Although still capable of causing a bruise, unlike an iron, a table lamp that can be pulled over easily probably won’t cause a serious concussion or break a bone.
People trip upstairs as well as fall downstairs. Tripping while climbing the stairs can again cause bruising, but usually not serious, and except for the possibility of a broken wrist or collar bone as one reaches out, unlikely to cause broken bones.
Tripping on steps leading to the front door, side door or back door of a home is not too uncommon, especially when the steps are wet in which case it may be more of a slip than a trip. In ice-cold weather, slipping on ice can cause serious injury whether steps are involved or not, but most times a visit to Urgent Care or an Emergency Room is not necessary.
Electric shock hazards of power cords that small children can grab hold of especially if they get their fingers behind a power plug that is not fully in the socket. Use heavy-duty plugs on all sockets that small children can reach. There is more on this topic in the ‘Child Safety In The Home’ post.
Babies are known to fall out of cribs and fall off of changing tables. Again, the ‘Child Safety In The Home’ post on this website provides more explanation.
… and the elderly are vulnerable to both minor and serious injuries from falls. You will find additional useful information and tips for keeping Elders and Seniors safe in the home in our ‘Seniors/Elderly Safety’ post.
For additional information on accidents and dangers in the home from a different perspective, check out our post ‘Dangers In The Home.’
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