(BPT) – For many Americans, “home” evokes warmth, comfort, security and safety. But while home may be sweet, statistics show it’s far from safe. From falls and other types of accidents to fires and poor indoor air quality, home can be a dangerous place — so it’s important to make simple home improvements that can help minimize avoidable home safety and health risks.
Falls are the leading type of accident that sends people of all ages to the emergency room, each year, and they’re particularly dangerous for older people and very young children, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Simple changes to your home can help reduce the risk of someone falling:
* Make sure all stairways are equipped with handrails that are securely fixed to the wall.
* Outfit bathrooms used by seniors with grab bars in shower and toilet areas.
* Provide adequate lighting for when people move around at night, especially in stairways, hallways and bathrooms. The same is true during the day, especially for older adults and for anyone with reduced vision. Traditional or tubular skylights can bring abundant natural light into these and other areas of the home.
* Remove or tack down area rugs to reduce the risk someone will catch a toe and trip.
* To prevent small children from falling out of windows, install window guards with an emergency release device in case of fire.
* Use safety straps when placing babies and young children in high chairs, carriers or swings, and never leave a child alone while he or she is strapped in to a device.
Indoor air quality
While you may think of pollution as an outdoor problem, the air inside your home can actually host more harmful irritants than outside air, according to research by the Environmental Protection Agency. Air pollution has been linked to a host of health problems, from respiratory ailments like allergies and asthma, to headaches and even depression. Several home upgrades can help improve air quality inside your home.
When painting choose low or no-VOC paints. Consider removing carpets if you suffer from allergies or asthma. Good ventilation can make a home more comfortable and the air inside it healthier. You can improve ventilation in a variety of ways, including by installing fresh air skylights. In addition to venting stale indoor air through passive ventilation, Energy Star-qualified solar powered fresh air skylights deliver the health benefits of natural light. Energy-efficient, remote-controlled solar powered fresh air skylights and solar powered blinds are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit as are the installation costs. Visit www.veluxusa.com to learn more.
Each year, thousands of Americans are killed or injured in home fires, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association. Yet homeowners can do a lot to reduce the risk of a fire occurring:
* Every home should be equipped with smoke alarms. If your home is older, it may not already have alarms. Add them — smoke alarms reduce the risk of home fire fatality by half, according to the NFPA. If you do have smoke alarms, but they’re old, replace them with newer models, and consider the investment of having your home hard-wired with alarms.
* Replace old electrical wiring and appliances — they’re a leading cause of home fires.
* If you have a wood-burning fireplace, use a safety screen to catch sparks and prevent burning material from rolling out.
* Finally, if you’re building a new home or renovating an existing one, consider adding a home fire sprinkler system. According to the NFPA, they reduce the chance of someone dying in a home fire by 80 percent. When installed during new construction, a home fire sprinkler system costs about $1.35 per square foot of covered space, the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition says, noting that’s about what you would pay to upgrade your carpeting.