According to the National Safety Council, fire kills more than 2,900 people and injures 16,000 others each year. Most fires that claim lives occur at night. Install smoke detectors on every floor and outside each bedroom. Test detectors once a month, and change batteries when you adjust clocks in the spring and fall.
CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS
Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas, killed 300 people last year and sent thousands more to the hospital. For between $40 and $170, CO detectors are available that will alert you if the deadly poison has begun to invade your home. Place CO detectors outside bedrooms.
RADON DETECTOR KIT
The Environmental Protection Association says radon might be responsible for up to 30,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Hardware stores carry do-it-yourself radon detector kits for less than $40. Follow the directions carefully, especially regarding the placement and preparation of the room.
Babababobooom! That's the sound your family hears when you topple down the stairs on your way to sneak a midnight snack. Simple, inexpensive night lights can prevent late-night falls. Place night lights away from flammable fabrics such as bedspreads. Also, look for new night lights with cooler mini-neon bulbs. Most stores also carry plug-ins that glow in the dark and then fade as day breaks. Be sure you have adequate lighting in all of your rooms.
Outdoor motion-sensor lights can help you see your way at night and scare off intruders. Usually, you can replace light fixtures with sensor lights without additional wiring.
STURDY ONE-STEP STOOL
Can't reach Aunt Minnie's purple crocheted pillow covers in the back of the closet? And she's on her way over? You look around the room, and your eyes settle on ... the rocking chair. To avoid having to perform that circus act, invest in a sturdy one-step stool to keep on hand when your arms need a boost.
RUBBER SUCTION BATH MATS/SLIP-RESISTANT THROW RUGS
You're wet. And so is the floor. A suction-type rubber mat or adhesive-backed appliqu & eacute;s will keep you steady in the stall or tub. A nonskid rug outside the tub will prevent slips when you step out. Use slip-resistant rugs throughout your home.
Hold on to a wall grab bar when you get in and out of the tub. If your bathroom doesn't have grab bars, you can buy them at most hardware stores. Fasten them with long screws securely into the wall studding -- not merely into the plaster, tile or wallboard.
Every set of stairs, whether outside or inside your home, should have sturdy handrails securely mounted on both sides. Stairs and steps account for nearly half of all fatal falls in the home.
Put a deadbolt lock on every entrance to your home. Ask the locksmith for a deadbolt lock that's pick- and drillproof. Such locks start at $150. Invest in sturdy doors; a good lock doesn't serve its purpose on a flimsy door. Another lock that is important is one for your gun cabinet. Always lock your gun, if you have one, and lock up your ammunition separately from your gun.
GROUND-FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS
GFCIs stop the "juice" before electricity can leak out and hurt you. Although most new homes come with GFCIs, older homes may not have them. You can replace outlets for $9 to $13 each, or you can buy plug-in or portable GFCIs for about $12 to $30 each. Use them throughout your home, especially in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room.
Fire extinguishers have categories for different types of fires. For the home, experts recommend a "BC" or an "ABC" extinguisher. Never buy or use an "A" extinguisher in your home. These water-based extinguishers can cause flames to splatter or cause shocks in an electrical fire, says Julie Reynolds of the National Fire Protection Association.
The kit should include, among other items, antiseptic ointment, bandages and gauze pads in assorted sizes, adhesive tape, cold packs, disposable gloves, hand cleaner, scissors and tweezers, syrup of ipecac and eyewash. Check expiration dates and periodically restock. Educate yourself on how to treat injuries.
Keep flashlights where you can easily get to them in case of power outages and severe weather. Test them regularly. Keep extra batteries close by so you don't have to fumble blindly in an emergency.
FIRE-SAFE WINDOW GUARDS/SAFETY GLAZING
Falls from windows cause death and serious injury to children each year. Don't rely on screens to prevent falls; they're only designed to keep bugs out. Never place furniture or beds next to windows where children can climb. Keep windows locked when not in use. If you use window guards, they must have a release mechanism so they can be opened in an emergency. Consult your fire department for proper placement. Children should also practice opening the windows in their bedrooms so they know how to escape out a window in case of fire or other emergency. You also may need to buy an emergency escape ladder. Safety glazing prevents windows from shattering into shards of glass. Instead, if broken, the glass forms safe pellets. Look for a permanent mark in the lower corner showing the manufacturer's name, type of safety glass and the thickness.
WRITTEN FAMILY EVACUATION PLAN
Preparation and practice for all emergencies is vital for all families. Know the fastest way out of your home and how not to become trapped. Your home should include two exits from each room. Practice an evacuation plan with your family before a real emergency hits.
FAMILY DISASTER KIT
When disaster occurs, grab this kit to take with you. Such a kit would include such essential supplies as nonperishable food, water, cash, flashlights, tools, a battery-operated NOAA all-hazard alert radio, and a first-aid kit. To save time when evacuating, you can store this kit in a car or an unattached garage.
NOAA ALL-HAZARD ALERT RADIO
This radio will help you in a weather emergency, such as a tornado, hurricane or earthquake. You'll pick up the frequency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will include instructions on whether to stay in your home, when to evacuate, and the status of the emergency event. You can buy such a radio at a local electronics store.
POSTED EMERGENCYPHONE NUMBERS
Your posted list should include the local police and fire departments and your physician. Also include the numbers of friends or relatives as well as your local poison-control number. The American Association of Poison Control Centers has established a nationwide number for people to use to reach their local poison-control center. It's (800) 222-1222. Post your list by every phone in the house.
Tested appliances using gas or electricity should bear the certification mark from a qualified testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories, the Canadian Standards Association or the American Gas Association.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
Safety goggles, work gloves, face masks and hard hats are all must-haves for do-it-yourselfers. Protect yourself when tackling that next home project.
Know how to shut off valves for gas, oil, water and your home's main electrical supply. Tag each valve so you can easily identify the switch in an emergency.
X The National Safety Council, Northern Ohio Chapter, has first aid and CPR classes available the third Wednesday of each month. On-site training is available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to register, call (330) 747-8657 or (800) 715-0358.