It’s ironic that the place we often feel the safest – our home – can sometimes contain hidden hazards that potentially threaten our health and safety and that of our loved ones. Some of these products are so ubiquitous that we seldom given them a second thought; but thinking of how to prevent them from causing injury is something we all should be doing.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, these are the top 5 hidden home hazards:
#1: Magnets. Because they are so small and powerful, rare-earth magnets are extremely popular in toys, jewelry and building sets. These magnets can become easily dislodged and ingested by a child or pet. If two or more magnets — or a magnet and a metal object – are swallowed, they can attract to each other through intestinal walls and become trapped in place, potentially causing a serious health hazard and, in some instances, even death. The CPSC has recalled more than 8 million magnetic toys. It is important for parents to be on guard against loose magnets or magnetic pieces and keep these away from young children.
#2: Recalled Products. The CPSC has been very effective at eliminating a lot of potentially dangerous consumer products from store shelves, but the proliferation of resale on sites like eBay may bring a dangerous product into your home. You can sign up for free email notifications on product recalls at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx.
#3: Tip-Overs. On average, 22 children are killed and over 3,000 are injured every year from furniture, appliances and TVs that are tipped over on them. Small children often climb or pull themselves up on shelves, and if these are not firmly anchored to the wall – or have large appliances or TVs on them – it could result in serious injury. Be sure all furniture is stable and refrain from placing heavy objects where tip-overs can occur. Ranges, dishwashers, refrigerators and stoves should be installed with anti-tip brackets.
#4: Windows and Window Coverings. Window blind cords and drape loops can strangle small children, so parents should be careful to choose cordless blinds and use a tie-down device to anchor window coverings. Never place a crib or playpen near a window. Since children are attracted to windows, you need to be sure the windows themselves are properly locked down; you can’t count on a screen to keep children from falling out of a window.
#5: Pool and Spa Drains. The suction from a pool or spa drain is powerful, and a body can easily become sealed against a drain or hair can become entangled and drown a child or an adult. Most accidents of this type occur because of a broken or missing drain cover. Be sure to inspect your pool for entrapment hazards, and consider installing a Safety Vacuum Release System, which detects when a drain is blocked and shuts off the pump to prevent entrapment.
As personal injury attorneys, we see the sorrowful effects of home injuries every day, and hope that educating you about the hidden hazards in your home helps you better safeguard your loved ones.
Justin is an attorney at Roberts & Roberts and focuses his practice on mass tort litigation, where he specializes in helping individuals who are harmed by recalled or unsafe pharmaceutical drugs and medical devices. He has earned recognition as a “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers. Prior to joining Roberts & Roberts, Justin served as an attorney in all three branches of Texas’s state government, including as a Briefing Attorney on the Texas Supreme Court. He also represented electric and natural gas utilities in complex regulatory proceedings before the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Railroad Commission of Texas. Justin is a published author in the St. Mary’s Law Journal.