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Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Home Safety Tips - Home

Food Handling and Housekeeping

Air Quality

Injury Prevention

Electrical and Fire Safety

Poison Prevention

Crime Prevention

Drinking Water

Injury Prevention

Your home should be a safe place for your family. But is it? Recent studies show that homes are not as safe as we might think.  Across the United States, 20,000 deaths and nearly 25 million injuries occur in homes each year. About 80,000 of these injuries cause life-long damage.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Falls are the major cause of household injuries. Most falls happen when someone slips on icy, wet, or slick surfaces; trips over a loose rug, toy, or other object; or stumbles on stairs.

Tips to reduce the risk of falls

  • Use rubber-backed rugs on hard floors.
  • Avoid very thick carpets and rugs with busy patterns, especially on stairs.
  • Replace loose, torn, or frayed rugs.
  • Replace wooden stairs and floors that are broken, warped, or rotted.
  • Install non-skid strips or mats and grab bars in the bathtub or shower.
  • Keep stairs and walkways clear of cords and clutter.
  • Be sure outdoors and indoors stairs and hallways are well lighted.
  • Install handrails on both sides of all staircases.
  • Before climbing a ladder, be sure it is in good shape and is stable. Never stand on the top two rungs of a ladder. Have a friend nearby in case you fall.
  • Repair broken or uneven concrete in walks and steps.
  • Keep sidewalks and steps clear of snow and ice in winter.
  • Spread sand or salt on icy spots.

Tips to protect young children from falls

  • Don’t let children jump on beds or other furniture.
  • Install rails on their beds to keep them from falling.
  • Don’t use infant walkers. These cause many serious injuries each year, especially on stairs.
  • Install safety gates at the top and bottom of all stairs if you have a toddler.
  • Install guards on upper floor windows.
  • Adjust electric garage doors so they reverse easily when they hit something.
  • Make sure everyone in your family wears a helmet when riding a bike.

Suffocation, Strangling, and Choking

Each year hundreds of people die after choking on food or other small items. Most deaths involve infants, toddlers, and the elderly.

Tips to prevent choking and suffocation

  • Learn how to use the Heimlich maneuver to remove something stuck in a person’s throat.
  • Keep small objects away from toddlers. Anything that is small enough to pass through a toilet paper tube is a choking hazard.
  • Place infants on their backs to sleep. Use a firm crib mattress and avoid soft bedding.
  • Cut the ends of drape and blind cords. Use cord wind ups, tie downs or call 1-800-506-4636 for a free repair kit.
  • Remove drawstrings from children’s clothing.
  • Don’t serve foods that are hard to chew. Toddlers and some older people have trouble chewing and swallowing foods. Cut fruits and vegetables, hot dogs, and other hard foods into bite-sized pieces.
  • Remove doors before throwing out old appliances.
  • Keep plastic bags away from children. A thin plastic bag can suffocate a child.
  • Keep empty balloons and balloon pieces away from small children.

Water Safety

Drowning is the sixth leading cause of accidental death.  From 1999 to 2003, 338 Wisconsin residents died as a result of drowning.  Many of these deaths could have been prevented. 

Tips on water safety

  • Learn CPR.  This easy-to-learn technique can save the life of someone who has stopped breathing.
  • Never place electrical radios, hairdryers, or fans near a sink, bathtub or pool.

Tips to protect young children from water hazards

  • Never leave a child alone near water. Children love to play in water and can drown in a matter of seconds. Keep the toilet lids down and bathroom doors closed. Empty bathtubs and buckets right after use. If outdoors, store pails upside down so they won’t collect rain or snowmelt.
  • Teach children to swim and talk to them about water safety.
  • Surround pools and hot tubs with a 5-foot fence and install childproof, self-latching gate.

Firearm Safety

Every two hours a child is killed by a gun. Guns attract children, but they can kill instantly. Children and teens do not fully understand how dangerous guns can be.   Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Wisconsin’s teens. Many suicides are committed with handguns.

Gun owners have a responsibility to be sure their guns and ammunition are stored safely.

Tips for gun owners:

  • Always keep guns unloaded and locked up.
  • Store guns and ammunition in separate locked cabinets.
  • Keep the keys for gun cabinets hidden or with you at all times.
  • Take a gun safety course.
  • Talk to your children about gun safety.
  • Remove ammunition from guns before storing them.
  • Make sure each gun is fitted with a trigger lock.  

For more information

  • Injury Prevention, call 608-267-7174
  • Firearm Safety, call your local police department.

 Prepared by the
Wisconsin Dept of Health Services
Division of Public Health
Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health

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Last Revised: November 05, 2012