WILKESBORO, N.C. -- Your home may be hazardous to your family's health. Although a survey commissioned by the Home Safety Council shows 61.2 percent of Americans polled report they are making safety improvements in their home, some of the most important improvements are being overlooked, which could be a fatal mistake:
* 64 percent report they have never planned or practiced a home fire escape plan with their family.
* Of the 1,000 Americans polled, poison prevention was not mentioned as a safety practice employed in the home.
"It is disturbing that some of the most basic yet effective safety practices are being ignored in homes across America," said Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council. "If more people realized their actual risk of injury in their homes, I believe they would be willing to invest the small amount of time it takes to make their homes safer."
More than 37 percent of the respondents reported they don't make safety improvements in their home at all. Of these, the majority said they do not know what to do to make their homes safer, underscoring the need for greater and more consistent home safety education in communities across America.
The Home Safety Council is dedicating the month of June -- Home Safety Month -- to helping the public become better informed and better equipped to prevent injuries in the home.
According to the Home Safety Council's exclusive research study, The State of Home Safety in America, some 20 million medical visits were required for treatment of home injuries last year. Leading causes of unintentional home injuries are: fires/burns, slips/falls and poisonings.
Throughout Home Safety Month, the Home Safety Council is encouraging the public to consider their home's danger areas and take simple steps to minimize their risk from potential injuries, or even death. The public is invited to access free information and resources available on www.homesafetycouncil.org, including an online quiz to assess your home safety aptitude and a Home Safety Month checklist to help safeguard your loved ones from home injuries.
"Just a few simple steps can dramatically reduce the dangers in most homes and may even make a lifesaving difference," Appy says.
The Home Safety Month checklist features steps every household should consider, including:
* Install smoke alarms on every level of your home and in or near all bedrooms, and test the batteries at least once a month so you'll know they are working.
* Plan a home fire drill and practice it at least twice a year. Memorize the fire department's emergency telephone number.
* Use safety covers in electrical outlets and anti-scald devices in faucets in homes with young children.
* Make sure all porches, hallways and stairwells are well lit. Use the maximum safe wattage in light fixtures. (Maximum wattage is typically posted inside light fixtures.)
* Use a non-slip mat, or install strips or decals in bathtubs and showers.
* Install grab bars in bath and shower stalls.
* Keep medicines and household chemicals and cleaners up high, out of the reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
* Install a carbon monoxide detector near sleeping areas in the home.
* Put your poison control center number (1-800-222-1222) near every phone.
"Throughout our lifetimes, Americans are more likely to be injured at home than anywhere else," said Appy. "Preventable home injuries cost our society nearly $380 billion a year. The simple truth is that Americans need to do more to be safer at home. The Home Safety Council is committed to helping them."
The Home Safety Council survey was conducted by ICR in May 2003 and included approximately 1,000 telephone interviews among men and women ages 18 and older. The margin of error for this study is plus or minus 2.8 percent.
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