Learn which unanticipated hazards may be risky and how to avoid them

A family sitting on their living room floor, playing checkers

Most people feel safe in their home. They can relax from the cares of the world and find the comfort they need. But did you know that some of the most common safety hazards aren’t outdoors? They’re actually in plain sight, right in your home. Here are eight common household hazards you might not realize are there and how to avoid them.

  1. Clean the clutter. You innocently place some clothes on the first step of your basement stairs to take down later. Unfortunately, that temporary fix may turn into a hazard for the next person walking down the stairs. Keep your stairs, walkways, and other frequently traveled spaces clear of clutter. Don’t leave out stacks of papers or piles of clothes — everything should have a place.1
  2. Make your windows safe. Window screens aren’t strong enough to prevent children from falling out of a window. Consider installing window guards with a quick-release mechanism (in case of fire) on all your upper floor windows to prevent them from opening more than a few inches. And keep furniture away from the windows, so your children won’t be tempted to climb near them.2
  3. Install wall-mounted soap dispensers. One of the best ways to prevent falls in your bathtub or shower is to install a wall-mounted soap and shampoo dispenser. You may also want to use a slip-proof bath mat or adhere a non-slip pad or tape to the bottom of your bathtub.3
  4. Remove your dryer lint. Fires can start when there’s built-up lint near a dryer’s motor, gas burner, or heating element. Unfortunately, the fire might ignite the vent pipe and cause excessive damage. You can avoid this by cleaning out your dryer’s lint trap after every load of laundry and regularly removing lint and other debris from the vent pipe.
  5. Secure your furniture. Some pieces of furniture can be dangerous if tipped over, namely, dressers and bookcases. Find ways to secure them to the wall or the floor. You can talk to a specialist at your local home improvement store for ideas. And avoid using a chair as a step stool — remember, it’s designed for sitting, not standing.
  6. Store cleaning products safely. Keep harmful cleaning products in high cupboards and invest in childproofing, especially if you have small children living in or visiting your home. Store paint and pesticides in a locked shed or on a high shelf in your garage.
  7. Replace loose outlets. Hire a certified electrician to check your electrical outlets and wiring to ensure everything is safe and secure. Make any changes he or she may deem necessary to maintain your home’s safety.
  8. Avoid buying plants that may harm your pets. Many different plants are highly toxic and even deadly to cats or dogs — sago palm, tomato plant, aloe vera plant, and ivy, to name a few. Check with your local nursery or search online to ensure the plants you keep in your home are safe for all who live there.4

Awareness is the first step in keeping your home safe. As you can see, none of these hazards are difficult to remedy, but you must take action to avoid them. Start with one or two of the ideas above and move on from there — you’ll be glad you did.