home health safety

Entries tagged with: home health safety

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Have trouble opening jars and carrying groceries? Learn some easy techniques to make everyday chores easier and less painful on your joints.

Are You Ready for a Disaster?

posted by Sean Kelley on December 1, 2011 9:42 AM


My wife and I just renewed our homeowner's insurance this week. Deciding on our deductible and limits for coverage always reminds me of how fragile our lives are.

It's not like we need much of a reminder. Last April, a devastating tornado ripped through the woods near our Alabama farm. The storm destroyed homes and lives along a 60-mile stretch from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham. Many of those lives are still disrupted and the homes are vacant lots.

For years, my wife and I have played the game, "What would you grab if your house were on fire?" But that's no substitute for disaster preparedness.

Surprisingly, most people are unprepared. One survey found only a third of households had put together and discussed an emergency plan. [LINK http://www.homesafetycouncil.org/aboutus/Research/re_survey_w002.asp]

Here's how we're preparing for the disaster we hope never comes.

Train your family.
Because I used to be a volunteer firefighter, our children already know what to do in the event of a fire. (It wouldn't hurt to review.) We've chosen a place outside the house to meet.

For older family members like teenagers and adults, choosing a rendezvous point away from a home is just as important. How, for example, will my wife and I get in touch with each other if one of us is not home at the time a disaster hits and phone service are down?

Everyone should also have the phone number of a trusted relative or neighbor, who can act as an information clearinghouse until normal lines of communication are restored.

Gather important information.
While it may seem like a no-brainer to put birth certificates and Social Security cards in a safe deposit box, ours are in a fire resistant safe. If we learned anything from the April tornado, personal possessions can be gone with the wind or destroyed in a calamity. So we're moving our hard-to-replace identification documents to a bank.

We're also making copies of other important documents, such as health insurance cards, drug prescriptions and the phone numbers of doctors, pharmacy, local utilities, coworkers and family. Those are going into an online vault that we can access from anywhere. A number of smartphone apps do this for you, but we're assuming our smartphones will be destroyed along with our other possessions.

Create an emergency fund.
We have good home owner's insurance. But how fast will our insurer write a check? What if we need money to buy clothes or food or check into a hotel? What about replacing our son's daily asthma and allergy drugs or my insulin? Our savings are entirely too small to float us for very long. So we're starting to set more aside.

There are other things we need to consider in making a plan: What will we do with our pets? What do our employers or our children's school do in the event of an emergency? Is there a family member or friend we can turn to for help?

Fortunately, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has prepared checklists, printouts and advice that can help you put together a disaster plan--and hopefully it's a plan you'll never need to put into action.

Don't let an email hoax spoil your dinner. Our Healthy Skeptic reveals the truth about microwaving food in plastic wraps and containers.

Teaching Kids About Emergencies and 9-1-1

posted by Sean Kelley on July 16, 2010 11:15 AM

We've been teaching our 3-year-old, Graeme, a lot lately: How to use the bathroom, how to count to 10, how to share and how to say "please" and "thank you." We've even been teaching him how to dial 9-1-1.

This last lesson seemed a little premature to me--until I knocked myself out cold with only Graeme around for support.


We were playing freeze tag. Graeme was "it," and I was keeping just ahead of his reach navigating the ladders, ramps and slides of an elementary school playground when I banged my forehead on a steel crossbar. I woke up a few moments later laying on the ground, bleeding profusely and generally disoriented. Graeme was standing over me with his normal, whimsical smile. No one else was around.

Fortunately, my haze lifted as soon as I wiped the blood out of my eyes and I was able to call for help on my cell phone. But this accident could have gone differently.

Had it been worse, what would Graeme have done? Would he have used the phone and called 9-1-1? Could he have unlocked it to make a call? Would he have wandered off, putting himself in danger?

I don't know the answer to either question--I'm not even 100 percent sure what my 6-year-old daughter would have done. But I'm going to find out. Emergency bootcamp is under way in the Kelley household. Here's our action plan:

• Teach both kids how to operate our cell phones and land lines. If they can use a handheld gaming device, they can figure out a phone.

• Make sure they know what constitutes an emergency and how to call 9-1-1.

• Teach them our address, names and emergency phone numbers.

My daughter is actually an old pro at knowing emergency numbers, contacts and addresses. But putting that into action may be a challenge. So, we're going to practice and role play, something recommended by child safety experts. We haven't actually done that before, but now we have a real scenario to use as practice.

Related Links:
A guide to teaching your child 9-1-1

How to set up a home fire escape plan.

6 Ways to Celebrate July 4 Safely

posted by Sean Kelley on June 30, 2010 12:41 PM

Fireworks. Backyard barbecues. A day at the beach or lake. Nothing says summer quite like July 4. But each year thousands of Americans end up spending part of the holiday in the emergency room thanks to avoidable injuries. This is especially true of small children, for whom July 4 is the most dangerous U.S. holiday.

Whether you're lighting sparklers or grilling brisket, here's how to have a safe Independence Day:


1. Don't let your kids play with or ignite fireworks. Children and young adults account for 58 percent of injuries from fireworks every year. Get more firework safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

2. Wear a life jacket. If you're going to be on the water over the July 4 weekend, wear your lifejacket. More than two-thirds of victims in fatal boating accidents drowned; 90 percent of those weren't wearing a life jacket. Most drowning victims were in boats smaller than 21 feet. Get more safe boating tips (.pdf) from the National Safe Boating Council.

3. Protect your head. Surprisingly, most injuries to children on July 4 are linked not to holiday fireworks, but to everyday activities like riding bicycles or playing sports, according to one recent study in Pediatrics. That's why it's important to observe safety rules every day -- including holidays.

4. Grill safely. Even if you're master of the grill, you may still get burned if you don't follow these simple grilling safety steps.

5. Beat the heat. And the bugs. If your July 4 activities take you outside, remember to stay hydrated, apply sunscreen and wear the right clothing. Plus keep a first aid kit on hand. Here's what it should include.

6. Lay off the alcohol. Alcohol consumption is the biggest contributor to fatal boat and auto accidents. And you should never drink and handle fireworks. It's a recipe for disaster.

Related Links:
Crazy 4th of July Injuries (and How to Prevent Them)

How to Keep E. Coli Out of Your Cookout

Are you driven to distraction? Dr. Bruce Dan and a unicycling clown show you how your cell phone could be taking your mind off the road.

How to treat minor burns at home and when to call for medical help.

Houseplants clean stuffy indoor air and are a great source of stress relief. But some common types can be toxic to kids and pets. Here's how to tell.

Having a portable first aid kit in your home is essential for treating common burns, sprains and scrapes. Here are 13 items every emergency kit needs.

"New paint smell" is actually a mix of volatile chemicals that makes some people feel sick. Learn how to put on a fresh coat of paint without all the headaches.

Do you know how to get out of your house if there’s a fire? Learn how to get your family prepared for a fire—when every second counts.

Careless cooking, unattended candles and faulty wiring are just a few of the many causes of home fires. Taking a few simple precautions can help prevent a fire from starting in your home.

Potential poisons are everwhere in the modern home—from household cleaners in the kitchen to gas cans in the garage to mouthwash in the bathroom. Here's how to keep them from harming your family.

If you've ever had mold in your house, you know how it can irritate your allergies. It can also make many people sick. Here's how to safely get rid of mold and keep it from coming back.

Thousands of children end up in emergency rooms each year thanks to poorly set up and maintained playground equipment. Here's how to keep your home playset safe for your kids.

Do fears about the water quality in your home have you reaching for bottled water? Water filters may be a cheaper alternative. Handyman Jay Baker shows you how to find the right home water filter for you.