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Home safety tips to share with your family

Keeping teenagers safe

Throughout the teenage years, young people grow even more independent but still need to be shown how to carry out tasks (like making a cup of tea or shaving) safely.

Talk about general home safety skills and how they can be used when sleeping over at a friend's, at work or in any unfamiliar building or environment.

Remind them that they need to be responsible for looking after younger brothers and sisters and consider what is dangerous for them.

Home safety tips: Trips, slips and falls

Stairs

Make sure hallways and staircases are well lit.

Encourage family members not to leave books, bags, shoes or anything else on or around stairs.

Heights

Keep low furniture away from windows and fit window locks or safety catches.

Never use stools to reach heights; use a secure ladder or stepladder, and ask someone to hold the bottom of it.

Trips and falls

Unplug appliances with flexes that could be tripped over and store the flex out of the way.

Check mats and rugs are not worn, uneven or curled up. On smooth flooring, use anti slip pads.

Ensure children and young people wear the proper safety equipment when using bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, skates, etc.

Water

Use a non-slip bath mat in the bath or shower base.

Mop up spills straight away, including wet footprints.

Things falling

Be careful not to leave hot or heavy things near the edge of tables or desks, or in places where they might fall or be pulled over.

Avoid piling things high, which could be tripped over.

Home safety tips: Fire and heat

Kitchen heat

When you are cooking, use the rings at the back of the cooker first and turn pan handles towards the back, so they can't be knocked over.

Turn the heat down or off if you have to pop out of the kitchen.

If you use a chip fryer, never leave it unattended or fill it more than a third full.

Keep flammables, like tea towels, and cables away from the heat.

Use oven gloves when taking things from the oven.

Electrical appliances

Watch out for trailing cables; consider using cordless appliances.

Check electrical plugs, sockets and cables for scorching or fraying; make sure they are properly insulated.

If you have to use an adaptor, a 'bar-type' fused adaptor with a lead is the safest option.

Avoid running your washing machine or dishwasher overnight; an electrical fault could cause a fire while your family is asleep.

Unplug electrical appliances when they're not in use (other than those designed to stay on, like refrigerators).

Never use mains-powered electrical appliances (e.g. CD players, hairdryers, heaters) in the bathroom or near water.

Never leave an iron or hair straighteners unattended while they are on, and place them in a safe place.

Always use a residual-current device (RCD), which disconnects the electric current if it becomes dangerous, when using electrical garden equipment.

Don't overload electrical sockets; one plug per socket is safest.

Scalds

Be careful to place hot drinks where they won't be knocked or fall.

Always run the cold tap first and then just add as much hot water as needed, and test bathwater with your elbow first.

Consider getting a thermostatic mixing valve (TMV) fitted to your tap, to control the water temperature.

Fire prevention and safety

You need a working smoke alarm on every floor of your home – upstairs as well as downstairs – to warn you quickly if a fire starts. Test them every week to check that they're working, and don't remove the batteries for any reason.

As a family, plan a fire escape route and practise it.

Use fireguards to stop people falling onto fires or heaters, and never place flammables on them.

Other items of fire prevention equipment (e.g. fire blankets and extinguishers) are also beneficial.

Avoid smoking in the home, but if you must smoke, always use a proper ashtray, placed where it cannot be knocked over.

Watch where you place candles (preferably in sand or a secure holder). Keep them away from anything flammable and only have them lit if an adult is in the room. Don't put night lights or tea lights on a plastic surface.

Keep keys to doors and windows where family members can find them quickly and easily in an emergency.

Never leave barbecues, patio heaters or open fires unsupervised.

Make sure you're familiar with basic first aid in treating burns (e.g. keeping the burn in cold water for at least ten minutes).

In the event of a fire, stay low, get out, stay out and call 999.

Research the best way to put out different types of fires.

If a person's clothing catches alight, they should stop, drop and roll.

Home safety tips: Sharp things

Knives and household items

Keep knives, forks, scissors, and other sharp utensils in a safe and secure place (e.g. a drawer with a safety catch).

When washing up or loading and unloading the dishwasher, be careful when handling sharp utensils or glass items.

Store all DIY and gardening tools securely. Remember that heavy sharp items are particularly dangerous if they're dropped.

Broken glass

Keep glass items (e.g. drinking glasses, casserole dishes, vases) out of reach.

Wherever possible use safety glass in doors and windows - especially at a low level. Make existing glass safer by applying shatter resistant film.

Ensure that mirrors are securely attached to the wall.

Be careful where you place vases and photo frames so they won't fall and break.

If you recycle glass and metal, keep the recycling containers out of reach.

Always clear up broken glass quickly and dispose of it safely.

Avoid too many dishes, glasses and crockery in the sink, which could get chipped or broken.

Electrical blades

Keep appliances or attachments with sharp blades out of reach, preferably in a secure cupboard or locked shed.

Sharp edges

Make sure furniture outdoor play equipment is in a safe condition with no sharp edges.

Take extra care with less obvious sharp edges (e.g. the edges of tin cans or paper).

Throw razor blades away safely.

Home safety tips: Poisons

Household products and chemicals

Keep all poisons (e.g. cleaning products, shampoos, creams, batteries, sprays) locked away or on high shelves – where they are out of reach and out of sight.

Keep garages and sheds locked, so young children don't have access to hazardous materials (e.g. fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, rat poisons, weed killers, pesticides, motor oil, antifreeze, batteries, brake fluid, degreaser, paint, glue, white spirits, rust remover, varnish and wood preservative).

If you do keep cleaning supplies, including dishwasher detergent and dishwashing liquids, under the sink, make sure the cupboard is kept locked.

Look out for cleaning products with a bittering agent that makes them taste nasty.

Keep make-up, sprays, perfumes, etc away from pets and young children, who might swallow them.

Always store chemicals in their original, labelled containers.

Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer because you can't see it, hear it, smell it or taste it. Install carbon monoxide detectors if you have a gas boiler or fuel-burning stove or appliance. If the pilot light burns yellow or orange, get it tested.

Get rid of unwanted chemicals safely, contact your local council for advice on how to dispose of them.

Medicines

Medicines can appear like sweeties to young children. Avoid keeping medicines in your handbag or bedside drawer; make sure they're locked safely away.

Check medicine to make sure it isn't out of date. Prescription medicine should only be taken by the person it's intended for.

Food poisoning

Always wash your hands before touching food and encourage the family to wash their hands before eating.

Keep food preparation areas clean and disinfected.

Store food at the recommended temperature and cover it if it's left out.

Keep an eye on the 'use by' date to make sure food is fresh.

Make sure that 'risky' foods like chicken, rice, eggs, etc are cooked thoroughly and always check if they are safe to be reheated.

Always follow instructions for defrosting food so that it is ready to eat safely.