A home is a treasure trove of potential dangers. Some are more obvious than others, but all can be hazardous, even lethal. Learn to identify and weed out these dangers to help avoid costly lawsuits, or to abdicate yourself of liability should an accident occur.
Swimming pools-did you know that if you’re a homeowner you’re responsible for any injury/drowning that occurs in your pool? According to advocacy group Consumer Affairs, over 2,000 children end up in the ER for pool-related injuries each year; about 350 die. Besides a substantial rider on your homeowner’s insurance, there are plenty of common sense steps that can help avoid pool-related problems:
* Make sure the pool area is supervised at all times when in use.
* Ensure fences of no less than four feet surround the pool and that gates are locked. If it’s above ground, stairs should be secured.
* Consider an in-pool alarm system, or distribute kidde-alarm wristbands to guests.
* A safety vacuum-release system can shut down filtration in the event someone becomes trapped by the drain.
Furniture-Stoves, dressers, bookcases, etc. can all serve as jungle gyms to little ones. Often this heavy furniture can tip, pinning and potentially injuring or crushing a child. The CPSC estimates approximately 22 deaths per year and over 3,000 injuries from furniture-related incidents.
* Make sure children are supervised at all times.
* Utilize playpens and adjustable gates to cordon off danger zones.
* Avoid putting toys or other inviting objects on top of dressers, bookcases, etc.
* Consider firmly anchoring furniture to walls or floors.
Stairs/walkways-These are common injury and liability areas. While the plaintiff must prove your negligence, you’ll be required to demonstrate carelessness on their behalf. Protect yourself by ensuring your passageways are up to the highest standards:
* Keep all stairways and walkways clear of clutter and debris.
* Indoor stairs are not catch alls for items you’ll take up later. Either take them up now, or place a bin/box safely in view, but out of the way, at the bottom of the stairs. Put going-up items in there and then take them on your next trip.
* Use plenty of sidewalk salt outdoors in freezing weather.
* Maintain your steps according to current regulations and codes.
Appliances-Appliances and other packaged goods can present a myriad of hazards. Electrics can pose fire hazards while small toys can be a choking risk for youngsters. Additionally, if you live in an apartment, condominium, or other close quarters, a faulty appliance in your domain may just make you liable for damages should a fire, injury, death, etc. occur.
* Utilize the CPSC’s website to keep abreast of the latest fire, choking, and other hazard recalls. There are 400+ per year.
* Replace worn, defective, or obviously dangerous appliances, toys, and housewares.
Windows-Whether a child gets tangled in the mini-blind cord or a partygoer at your home has one too many, windows pose a serious strangulation and/or falling hazard. Thousands of children die every year from falls out of windows.
* Keep windows closed and locked around youngsters. Consider window guards.
* Don’t put a child’s bed too close to a window.
* Wind up mini-blind cords around a wall-mounted hook.
A home is a place filled with potential dangers and lawsuits. Whether your situation entails ownership, rental, or otherwise, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Employing good common sense and vigilance in these danger areas can spare yourself, your loved ones, and guests much pain and suffering. Keeping your home a safe home is one more step to making it a happy home.