22 Surprising Safety Hazards Around the Home & Garden

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fire extinguisher safety
Flickr photo by greenkozi
June is National Safety Month. How safe are your home and garden?

You might be surprised ...

Check out these surprising home safety hazards you may or may not be aware of in your home or garden:

  1. Plastic packaging: Did you know that many lacerations and puncture wounds occur when people use kitchen knives to open hard plastic clamshell packages? In 2004, more than 6,400 people went to the emergency room for injuries resulting from plastic packaging. Source: CPSC
  2. Flooding: Did you know flooding can cause indoor air quality problems in your home long after floodwaters have receded? Microorganisms in floodwaters may present a health hazard. These organisms can penetrate deep into soaked, porous materials and later be released into air, causing illness and allergic reactions when inhaled. Source: National Safety Council
  3. Pools, spas, hot tubs: Did you know drowning is not the only common risk associated with swimming pools and hot tubs? One of the biggest risks associated with pools, spas, and hot tubs in homes is electrocution. Faulty underwater lighting, aging electrical wiring, sump pumps, power washers, and ungrounded vacuums are among the most prevalent causes, in addition to electrical appliances and extension cords that fall into the water. Source: CPSC
  4. Kitchen knives: Did you know a sharp kitchen knife is safer than a dull one? The force exerted when cutting, slicing, or chopping with a dull blade often leads to slips that cause hand injuries.
  5. Fire: Did you know deaths resulting from fires in the home are highest among people age 65+ and children under the age of 5? Residential fires and burns are the third leading cause of unintentional home injury deaths and the ninth leading cause of home injuries resulting in an emergency department visit.
  6. Hot tap water: Did you know each year approximately 3,800 injuries and 34 deaths occur in US homes due to scalding from excessively hot tap water? The majority of accidents involve the elderly and children under the age of 5. Source: CPSC
  7. Grills: Did you know, each year an average of 6,500 grill fires result in $27 million in property loss according to the US Fire Administration?
  8. Power lawn mowers: Did you know nearly 80,000 Americans require hospital treatment from injuries caused by power lawn mowers each year? The most common injuries are caused by flying projectiles and the most common injuries requiring hospitalization were fractures of the foot. Source: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health online edition of the Annals of Emergency Medicine
  9. Pool or spa drains: Did you know the suction from a pool or spa drain can be so powerful it can hold an adult underwater? According to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission, between 2002 and 2004, 15 injuries and 2 fatalities occurred due to missing or broken pool or spa drain covers.
  10. Batteries: Did you know trying to charge non-rechargeable batteries is extremely unsafe? Source: CPSC
  11. Poison ivy: Did you know poison ivy is mutating in ways that make its rash-inducing oils more potent and the plants themselves more difficult to identify? The cautionary rhyme “leaves of three, let them be" isn’t so reliable anymore. Plants, which can take the form of a shrub or vine, can have more leaves in a cluster. (Visit Poison-Ivy.org for images of typical varieties.)
  12. Garage doors: Did you know each year an average of 20,000 people are treated in the hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with garage doors? Source: CPSC
  13. Clothes dryers and vents: Did you know, according to the US Consumer Products Safety Commission, some 15,500 fires annually are attributed to careless use and faulty maintenance of clothes dryers and their exhaust vents? Fires can occur when lint builds up in the dryer or the exhaust duct and the flow of air is blocked. This causes excessive heat build-up. Lint buildup on the filter or within the exhaust vent can catch fire.
  14. Furniture tip-overs: Did you know approximately 3,000 injuries and an average of 22 deaths a year occur as a result of furniture tip-overs? Source: CPSC
  15. Video games: Did you know it is possible to sustain sports injuries while playing video games? Sports injuries resulting from playing video games are on the rise and most are related to the upper extremities -- to the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. Source: Mt. Sinai School of Medicine Department of Orthopedics
  16. No-power hand tools: Did you know more people sustain injuries while using hand tools than power tools? According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, more people injure themselves when working with hammers and utility knives than with power saws and drills. The most common tool-related injury is striking one’s own fingers with a hammer.
  17. Bungee cords: Did you know bungee cords used for strapping down things to the top of a car or to truck beds can cause blindness? The US Consumer Products Safety Commission reports an estimated 11,500 accidents involving stretch cords each year. Problems occur most often when the cords are overstretched and not hooked to a secure fitting. The most serious typical injuries are lacerations to the face and eyes.
  18. Pressure washers: Did you know an estimated 3,747 people needed hospital care for pressure washer injuries in 2004? Source: CPSC
  19. Extension cords: Did you know burns to the mouth account for more than half of injuries related to the use of electrical extension cords in the home? Extension cords can be dangerous if they’re faulty or frayed, but even intact cords can present a number of hazards if they’re not used properly and safely tucked away, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Children and pets can and will chew on extension cords if they can get to them, and this can result in severe burns and even electrocution.
  20. Home computers: Did you know approximately 78,000 people have experienced injuries related to the use of home computers within a 13-year period? Data collected through the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System show that using computers has some significant risks.
  21. Electric power tools: Did you know older electric power tools (those made before 1980) can present an electrocution hazard? According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, during a recent year 15 deaths were associated with old power tools.
  22. Flowers and plants: Did you know some popular flowers and plants are poisonous to your pets? In 2007, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Poison Control Center responded to more than 130,000 cases of poisoned animals.

That's a lot of safety hazards! But don't worry, I'm not going to leave you hanging now ...

For ways to reduce your risk of accidental injury at home and in the garden, read the full article "30 Safety Tips for 30 Days" on the AARP website. Lots of great tips and solutions to these safety hazards. List above reprinted with the permission of AARP.

Got any surprising safety hazards or tips to share?


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