Did you know that you're a whopping five times more likely to be injured at home than in work - and car - related accidents combined? Here are 10 commonsense tips to reducing your risk over the holidays.
1 Don't trip Secure carpet edges and put non-slip mats under rugs. Tie electrical cords together and run them along skirting boards. Pick up clutter – tiny, wheeled toys are the worst offenders. Wipe up anything you've spilled on the floor immediately. Place rubber mats in showers and baths, and install hand grips. Put nightlights near bedrooms and bathrooms. Install movement detector lights outside, especially down dark side paths.
2 Lock up poisons Store all drugs in a secure box where children can't reach them. Keep household cleaners in a lockable cupboard. Never store toxic substances, e.g. methylated spirits, in old food or drink containers.
3 Install smoke detectors Change the batteries twice a year. Make sure everyone in the household understands what to do in a fire. Keep at least two fire extinguishers: one in the kitchen, and one at the other end of the house. Check them regularly and replace when they expire.
4 Check for circuit breakers These prevent death or injury from electrocution by instantly shutting off the power if any appliance overheats or comes into contact with water. They are mandatory in new houses, but if you live in an older-style home, you’ll need to get an electrician to install them.
5 Wear safety goggles They are vital for avoiding eye injury in everyday tasks, e.g. lawn-mowing.
6 Fence any pool Ask your council for requirements in your area. You should also have life preservers and a lockable cabinet for pool chemicals.
7 Buy a strong, lightweight ladder Keep it in a convenient spot to reduce the odds of someone clambering up on a chair or other unsuitable surface.
8 Purchase power-boards These are a far safer option for extending outlet capacity than overburdening double adapters.
9 Keep a torch near everyone's bed Check the batteries regularly. If your area is subject to electricity failures, buy a large hands-free ‘dolphin’-style one and keep it in the kitchen.
10 Never underestimate kids' curiosity – or speed Before any littlies come to visit, cover exposed power points with plastic safety shields, tuck curtain and blind cords out of reach, and store plastic bags on the top shelf of the linen press, or in a high kitchen cupboard.
Lock any upstairs windows. Put a safety gate or other sturdy blockade at the top and bottom of staircases, and across driveways or paths that lead to the street. Ensure that top-heavy furniture, like a bookshelf, is plugged to the wall with safety angle-arms, available for a couple of dollars at any hardware store.
Don't leave kids unattended in a garage, kitchen or bathroom. Remove any ornamental dishes with nuts, sweets or knick-knacks that might be choking hazards. This is also a good idea if you have pets, especially dogs.