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The deadliest things in your house
Home is where we feel safe from the dangers that lie waiting in the larger world.
But the most ordinary things can turn deadly if they're misused or neglected.
More than 30,000 people die of accidental injuries each year at home in the United States, and the numbers have been trending upward since the year 2000, according to a study published this year in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Home insurance can come to the rescue to repair or replace property after a catastrophe that's covered by your policy.
Here are 14 of the deadliest things in your home.
Fires that start from cigarettes, cigars and pipes kill more Americans every year than any other type of home fire, the National Fire Protection Association says. Although cigarettes and other smoking materials caused only 5 percent of home fires from 2007 to 2011, those fires accounted for 22 percent of home fire deaths. Don't smoke in bed, and don't leave cigarettes unattended.
Home heating equipment in general, including fireplaces, chimneys central heating units and space heaters, was the second leading cause of home fire deaths from 2007 to 2011, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Space heaters are responsible for four out of every five home heating equipment fire deaths.
Plug space heaters directly into outlets, the U.S. Fire Administration advises, never into extension cords or power strips. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heaters, and only use equipment that's been labeled by a recognized testing laboratory.
Fires that start from cooking are the leading cause of home fire injuries and the third leading cause of home fire deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Fires involving ranges or cooktops killed an average 340 people a year from 2007 to 2011.
Stoves are involved in most cooking fires, and unattended cooking is the leading cause of kitchen fires. Don't leave the kitchen if you're frying, broiling or grilling, and don't leave the house if you're simmering, boiling or baking. Set a timer as a reminder.
About 2,900 dryer fires at home are reported and kill an average of five people every year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Failure to clean is the leading cause of dryer fires. Clean the lint filter before and after each load, clean lint out of the vent pipe every three months, and clean in back of the dryer where lint can accumulate.
Any fuel-burning appliance, such as a furnace or fireplace, can produce carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and poisonous gas. Other than portable generators, heating systems are associated with most carbon monoxide poisoning deaths, says the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Install carbon monoxide alarms as well as smoke alarms, and replace the batteries every six months. Schedule an annual inspection of any fuel-burning heating system, including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, wood stoves and water heaters.
Carbon monoxide poisoning incidents from portable generators have been rising in the last 15 years since the equipment became available to consumers. The use of portable generators led to at least 755 deaths from 1999 to 2011, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says. Most of those tragedies occurred because the generators were used inside a living space or in the basement or garage. Only use a generator outside and far away from windows, doors or vents. Never use one inside, even if the windows and doors are open.
Every three weeks a child dies from a television tipping over, and almost 13,000 other children are injured every year in the United States, according to a report by Safe Kids Worldwide and SANUS, an audio and video furnishings maker. The accidents usually occur when kids knock a TV over while playing or try to climb up to reach items placed on or near a TV. Use only stands appropriate for the size and weight of the TV, and install a stabilizing device to prevent tip-overs. Other furniture and appliances can also tip over and cause injuries, but TVs cause the most tip-over deaths.
Home fires started from candles kill an average of 120 people a year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. About 10,600 fires caused by candles are reported annually. Blow out candles before you go to bed or leave a room, and keep them at least a foot away from anything that can burn. Use flashlights instead of candles when the power goes out.
Wiring, light bulbs and extension cords
Electrical fires at home kill 280 Americans a year and cause $1 billion in property damage, the U.S. Fire Administration says. Many start because of poorly installed wiring, overloaded circuits and the misuse of extension cords. Replace all worn or damaged appliance cords -- don't try to repair them -- and use extension cords only temporarily. Use light bulbs with the recommended wattage for the lamp or fixture, and hire a qualified electrician to do any electrical work.
Pools and spas
About 300 children under age 5 drown every year in pools and hot tubs, and most of those deaths happen at home, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. For every child who dies from drowning, another five are treated in the emergency room for submersion-related injuries, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control says. Let your insurance agent know if you have a pool or hot tub, and check whether you need additional liability insurance. Install a fence around the pool with self-latching gates out of reach of children.
Accidental shootings killed 851 people in 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many of those occurred at home and involved children. If you own a gun, keep it locked up, unloaded and away from kids. Store and lock up the ammunition away from the gun. Never leave a gun unattended while cleaning it.
Cleaning products are among the most common poisons that send more than 300 children to U.S. emergency rooms every day. Two children die every day because of poisoning, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Young, curious children will taste anything they can reach. Lock up products that children shouldn't consume.
Falls are the second leading cause of home injury deaths, behind poisoning. Common locations for falls are stairs, doorways, ramps, cluttered hallways, uneven surfaces, areas prone to wetness or spills and ladders. Your home insurance liability coverage provides protection if a visitor slips and falls at your home and requires medical attention. The National Safety Council says to repair damaged walks and steps, remove tripping hazards, such as cords and clutter, from stairs and walkways and use non-skid mats to keep throw rugs from slipping. Keep your walks clear of snow and ice during the winter.
Poisoning is the leading cause of accidental deaths at home, and unintentional drug overdoses account for a big share of them. Children are poisoned when they take pills, vitamins or liquid drugs left unattended. Drugs account for 40 percent of incidents involving children under age 6 that are reported to poison centers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Middle-aged people, though, are more likely to die of drug overdoses than children or other adults. Accidental drug overdoses kill more people ages 35 to 54 than car crashes.
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