Safety Items

Childproofing Your Home

12 Safety Devices to Protect Your Children 

About 2-1/2 million children are injured or killed by hazards in the home each year. The good news is that many of these incidents can be prevented by using simple child safety devices on the market today.

Any safety device you buy should be sturdy enough to prevent injury to your child, yet easy for you to use. It's important to follow installation instructions carefully. In addition, if you have older children in the house, be sure they re-secure safety devices. Remember, too, that no device is completely childproof; determined youngsters have been known to disable them.

You can childproof your home for a fraction of what it would cost to have a professional do it. And safety devices are easy to find. You can buy them at hardware stores, baby equipment shops, supermarkets, drug stores, home and linen stores, and through mail order catalogues.

Here are some child safety devices that can help prevent many injuries to young children. 

1 Use Safety Latches and Locks for cabinets and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas to help prevent poisonings and other injuries. Safety latches and locks on cabinets and drawers can help prevent children from gaining access to medicines and household cleaners, as well as knives and other sharp objects.

Look for safety latches and locks that adults can easily install and use, but are sturdy enough to withstand pulls and tugs from children. Safety latches are not a guarantee of protection, but they can make it more difficult for children to reach dangerous substances. Even products with child-resistant packaging should be locked away, out of reach; this packaging is not childproof.

Typical cost of a safety latch or lock: less than $2.

2 Use Safety Gates to help prevent falls down stairs and to keep children away from dangerous areas. Safety gates can help keep children away from stairs or rooms that have hazards in them. Look for safety gates that children cannot dislodge easily, but that adults can open and close without difficulty. For the top of stairs, gates that screw to the wall are more secure than "pressure gates."

New safety gates that meet safety standards display a certification seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). If you have an older safety gate, be sure it doesn't have "V" shapes that are large enough for a child's head and neck to fit into.

Typical cost of a safety gate: $13 to $40.

3 Use Door Knob Covers and Door Locks to help prevent children from entering rooms and other areas with possible dangers. Door knob covers and door locks can help keep children away from places with hazards, including swimming pools.

Be sure the door knob cover is sturdy enough not to break, but allows a door to be opened quickly by an adult in case of emergency. By restricting access to potentially hazardous rooms in the home, door knob covers could help prevent many kinds of injuries. To prevent access to swimming pools, door locks should be placed high out of reach of young children. Locks should be used in addition to fences and door alarms. Sliding glass doors, with locks that must be re-secured after each use, are often not an effective barrier to pools.

Typical cost of a door knob cover: $1 and door lock: $5 and up.

4 Use Anti-Scald Devices for faucets and shower heads and set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to help prevent burns from hot water. Anti-scald devices for regulating water temperature can help prevent burns.

Consider using anti-scald devices for faucets and showerheads. A plumber may need to install these. In addition, if you live in your own home, set water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to help prevent burns from hot water.

Typical cost of an anti-scald device: $6 to $30.

5 Use Smoke Detectors on every level of your home and near bedrooms to alert you to fires. Smoke detectors are essential safety devices for protection against fire deaths and injuries.

Check smoke detectors once a month to make sure they're working.   If detectors are battery-operated, change batteries at least once a year or consider using 10-year batteries. Typical cost of a smoke detector: less than $10.  

6 Use Window Guards and Safety Netting to help prevent falls from windows, balconies, decks, and landings. Window guards and safety netting for balconies and decks can help prevent serious falls.

Check these safety devices frequently to make sure they are secure and properly installed and maintained. There should be no more than four inches between the bars of the window guard. If you have window guards, be sure at least one window in each room can be easily used for escape in a fire. Window screens are not effective for preventing children from falling out of windows.

Typical cost of a window guard or safety netting: $8 to $16.

7 Use Corner and Edge Bumpers to help prevent injuries from falls against sharp edges of furniture and fireplaces. Corner and edge bumpers can be used with furniture and fireplace hearths to help prevent injuries from falls or to soften falls against sharp or rough edges.

Be sure to look for bumpers that stay securely on furniture or hearth edges.

Typical cost of a corner and edge bumper: $1 and up.

8 Use Outlet Covers and Outlet Plates to help prevent electrocution. Outlet covers and outlet plates can help protect children from electrical shock and possible electrocution.

Be sure the outlet protectors cannot be easily removed by children and are large enough so that children cannot choke on them.

Typical cost of an outlet cover: less than $2.

9 Use a Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detector outside bedrooms to help prevent CO poisoning. A carbon monoxide (CO) detector can help prevent CO poisoning. Consumers should install CO detectors near sleeping areas in their homes. Households that should use CO detectors include those with gas or oil heat or with attached garages.

Typical cost of a carbon monoxide (CO) detector: $30 to $70.

10 Cut Window Blind Cords; use Safety Tassels and Inner Cord Stops to help prevent children from strangling in blind cord loops. Window blind cord safety tassels on miniblinds and tension devices on vertical blinds and drapery cords can help prevent deaths and injuries from strangulation in the loops of cords. Inner cord stops can help prevent strangulation in the inner cords of window blinds.

For older miniblinds, cut the cord loop, remove the buckle, and put safety tassels on each cord. Be sure that older vertical blinds and drapery cords have tension or tie-down devices to hold the cords tight. When buying new miniblinds, verticals, and draperies, ask for safety features to prevent child strangulation.

11 Use Door Stops and Door Holders to help prevent injuries to fingers and hands. Door stops and door holders on doors and door hinges can help prevent small fingers and hands from being pinched or crushed in doors and door hinges.

Be sure any safety device for doors is easy to use and is not likely to break into small parts, which could be a choking hazard for young children.

Typical cost of a door stop and door holder: less than $4.

12 Use a Cordless Phone to make it easier to continuously watch young children, especially when they're in bathtubs, swimming pools, or other potentially dangerous areas.

Cordless phones help you watch your child continuously, without leaving the vicinity to answer a phone call. Cordless phones are especially helpful when children are in or near water, whether it's the bathtub, the swimming pool, or the beach.

Typical cost of a cordless phone: $30 and up.


Electrical Safety

Electricity is an essential part of our lives. However, it has the potential to cause great harm. Electrical systems will function almost indefinitely if properly installed and not overloaded or physically abused. Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 485 Americans each year and injure 2,305 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords.

  • Never use anything but the proper fuse to protect a circuit.
  • Find and correct overloaded circuits.
  • Never place extension cords under rugs. 
  • Outlets near water should be GFI-type outlets.
  • Don't allow trees near power lines to be climbed.
  • Keep ladders, kites, equipment and anything else away from overhead power lines.

Electrical Panels

Electricity enters the home through a control panel and a main switch where one can shut off all the power in an emergency. These panels are usually in the basement. Control panels use either fuses or circuit breakers. Install the correct fuses for the panel. Never use a greater numbered fuse or a metallic item such as a penny. If fuses are used and there is a stoppage in power, look for the broken metal strip in the top of a blown fuse. Replace the fuse with a new one marked with the correct amperage. Reset circuit breakers from off to on. Be sure to check why the fuse or circuit blew. Possible causes are frayed wires, overloaded outlets or defective appliances. Never overload a circuit with high wattage appliances. Check the wattage on appliance labels. If there is frayed insulation or a broken wire, a dangerous short circuit may result and cause a fire. If power stoppages continue or if a frayed or broken wire is found, contact an electrician.

Outlets and Extension Cords

Make sure all electrical outlets are three-hole, grounded outlets. If there is water in the area, there should be a GFI or Ground Fault Interrupter outlet. All outdoor outlets should be GFIs. There should be ample electrical capacity to run equipment without tripping circuit breakers or blowing fuses. Minimize extension cord use. Never place them under rugs. Use extension cords sparingly and check them periodically. Use the proper electrical cord for the job, and put safety plugs in unused outlets.

Electrical Appliances

Appliances need to be treated with respect and care. They need room to breathe. Avoid enclosing them in a cabinet without proper openings and do not store papers around them. Level appliances so they do not tip. Washers and dryers should be checked often. Their movement can put undue stress on electrical connections. If any appliance or device gives off a tingling shock, turn it off, unplug it and have a qualified person correct the problem. Shocks can be fatal. Never insert metal objects into appliances without unplugging them. Check appliances periodically to spot worn or cracked insulation, loose terminals, corroded wires, defective parts and any other components that might not work correctly. Replace these appliances or have them repaired by a person qualified to do so.

Electrical Heating Equipment

Portable electrical heating equipment may be used in the home as a supplement to the home heating system. Caution must be taken when using these heating supplements. Keep them away from combustibles and make sure they cannot be tipped over. Keep electrical heating equipment in good working condition. Do not use them in bathrooms because of the risk of contact with water and electrocution. Many people use electric blankets in their homes. They will work well if they are kept in good condition. Look for cracks or breaks in the wiring, plugs and connectors. Look for charred spots on both sides. Many things can cause electric blankets to overheat. They include other bedding placed on top of them, pets sleeping on top of them, and putting things on top of the blanket when it is in use. Folding the blankets can also bend the coils and cause overheating.

Children

Electricity is important to the workings of the home, but can be dangerous, especially to children. Electrical safety needs to be taught to children early on. Safety plugs should be inserted in unused outlets when toddlers are in the home. Make sure all outlets in the home have face plates. Teach children not to put things into electrical outlets and not to chew on electrical cords. Keep electrical wiring boxes locked. Do not allow children to come in contact with power lines outside. Never allow them to climb trees near power lines, utility poles or high tension towers.

Electricity and Water

A body can act like a lightning rod and carry the current to the ground. People are good conductors of electricity, particularly when standing in water or on a damp floor. A body can act like a lightning rod and carry the current to the ground. Never use any electric appliance in the tub or shower. Never touch an electric cord or appliance with wet hands. Do not use electrical appliances in damp areas or while standing on damp floors. In areas where water is present, use outlets with "ground fault interrupters" or GFIs. Shocks can be fatal.

Animal Hazards

Mice and other rodents can chew on electrical wires and damage them. If rodents are suspected or known to be in the home, be aware of the damage they may cause and take measures to get rid of them.

Outside Hazards

There are several electrical hazards outside the home. Be aware of overhead and underground power lines. People have been electrocuted when an object they are moving has come in contact with the overhead power lines. Keep ladders, antennas, kites and poles away from power lines leading to the house and other buildings. Do not plant trees, shrubs, or bushes under power lines or near underground power lines. Never build a swimming pool or other structure under the power line leading to your house. Before digging, learn the location of underground power lines.

Do not climb power poles or transmission towers. Never let anyone shoot or throw stones at insulators. If you have an animal trapped in a tree or on the roof near electric lines, phone your utility company. Do not take a chance of electrocuting yourself. Be aware of weather conditions when installing and working with electrical appliances. Never use electrical power tools or appliances with rain overhead or water underfoot. Use only outdoor lights, fixtures and extension cords. Plug into outlets with a ground fault interrupter. Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you see a downed power line, call the electric company, and warn others away. If a power line hits your car while you are in it, stay inside unless the car catches fire. If the car catches fire, jump clear without touching metal and the ground at the same time.

Safety Precautions

  • Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately.
  • Use electrical extension cords wisely and don't overload them.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Don't allow children to play with or around electrical appliances like space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
  • Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least three feet from all heaters.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker. Use safety closures to "child-proof" electrical outlets
  • Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks. 


Holiday Home Safety Tips

The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents.

Holiday decorating & lighting

  • Use caution with holiday decorations and whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant or non-combustible materials.
  • Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. Do not overload extension cords.
  • Don't mount lights in any way that can damage the cord's wire insulation (i.e., using clips, not nails).
  • Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
  • Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving the house or going to bed.

Holiday entertaining

  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S. When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
  • Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
  • Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.

Trees

  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant."
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.

Make sure the base is steady so the tree won't tip over easily.

Lights

  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

Decorations

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.
  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.

Fireplaces

  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
  • Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Toys and Ornaments

  • Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children.
    Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
  • Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, or parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
  • Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint out of the reach of small children and pets.

Children and Pets

  • Poinsettias are known to be poisonous to humans and animals, so keep them well out-of-reach, or avoid having them.
  • Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.
  • Avoid using tinsel. It can fall on the floor and a curious child or pet may eat it. This can cause anything from mild distress to death.
  • Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke.
  • Avoid mittens with strings for children. The string can get tangled around the child’s neck and cause them to choke. It is easier to replace a mitten than a child.
  • Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
  • Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.
  • Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, or mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.

Security

  • Use your home burglar alarm system.
  • If you plan to travel for the holidays don’t discuss your plans with strangers.
  • Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home.

Following these guidelines will help make your holiday season safer & more enjoyable...


Safety Guidelines for Home Pools

Swimming pools should always be happy places.Unfortunately, each year thousands of American families confront swimming pool tragedies, drowning's and near-drowning's of young children. These tragedies are preventable. These are guidelines for pool barriers that can help prevent most submersion incidents involving young children. This designed for use by owners, purchasers, and builders of residential pools, spas, and hot tubs. These guidelines are not intended as the sole method to minimize pool drowning of young children, just helpful safety tips for safer pools.

Each year, hundreds of young children die and thousands come close to death due to submersion in residential swimming pools. CPSC has estimated that each year about 300 children under 5 years old drown in swimming pools. Hospital emergency room treatment is required for more than 2,000 children under 5 years of age who were submerged in residential pools. CPSC did an extensive study of swimming pool accidents, both fatal drowning's and near-fatal submersions, in California, Arizona and Florida, states in which home swimming pools are very popular and in use during much of the year.

  • In California, Arizona and Florida, drowning was the leading cause of accidental death in and around the home for children under the age of 5 years.
  • 75 percent of the children involved in swimming pool submersion or drowning accidents were between 1 and 3 years old. 
  • Boys between 1 and 3 years old were the most likely victims of fatal drowning's and near-fatal submersions in residential swimming pools. 
  • Most of the victims were being supervised by one or both parents when the swimming pool accident occurred. 
  • Nearly half of the child victims were last seen in the house before the pool accident occurred. In addition, 23 percent of the accident victims were last seen on the porch or patio, or in the yard. 
  • This means that fully 69 percent of the children who became victims in swimming pool accidents were not expected to be in or at the pool, but were found drowned or submerged in the water. 
  • 65 percent of the accidents occurred in a pool owned by the victim’s immediate family, and 33 percent of the accidents occurred in pools owned by relatives or friends. 
  • Fewer than 2 percent of the pool accidents were a result of children trespassing on property where they didn’t live or belong. 
  • 77 percent of the swimming pool accident victims had been missing for five minutes or less when they were found in the pool drowned or submerged.
     

The speed with which swimming pool drowning's and submersions can occur is a special concern: by the time a child’s absence is noted, the child may have drowned. Anyone who has cared for a toddler knows how fast young children can move. Toddlers are inquisitive and impulsive and lack a realistic sense of danger. These behaviors, coupled with a child’s ability to move quickly and unpredictably make swimming pools particularly hazardous for households with young children.
 

Swimming pool drowning's of young children have another particularly insidious feature: these are silent deaths. It is unlikely that splashing or screaming will occur to alert a parent or caregiver that a child is in trouble. The best way to reduce child drowning's in residential pools was for pool owners to construct and maintain barriers that would prevent young children from gaining access to pools. However, there are no substitutes for diligent supervision.

Why the Swimming Pool Guidelines Were Developed

Young child can get over a pool barrier if the barrier is too low or if the barrier has handholds or footholds for a child to use when climbing. The guidelines recommend that the top of a pool barrier be at least 48 inches above grade, measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. Eliminating handholds and footholds and minimizing the size of openings in a barrier’s construction.   For a solid barrier no indentations or protrusions should be present, other than normal construction tolerances and masonry joints. For a barrier (fence) made up of horizontal and vertical members if the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the horizontal members should be on the swimming pool side of the fence. The spacing of the vertical members should not exceed 1-3/4 inches. This size is based on the foot width of a young child and is intended to reduce the potential for a child to gain a foothold. If there are any decorative cutouts in the fence, the space within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches.   The definition of pool includes spas and hot tubs. The swimming pool barrier guidelines therefore apply to these structures as well as to conventional swimming pools.

How to Prevent a Child from Getting OVER a Pool Barrier

A successful pool barrier prevents a child from getting OVER, UNDER, or THROUGH and keeps the child from gaining access to the pool except when supervising adults are present.

The Swimming Pool Barrier Guidelines

If the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is more than 45 inches, the horizontal members can be on the side of the fence facing away from the pool. The spacing between vertical members should not exceed 4 inches. This size is based on the head breadth and chest depth of a young child and is intended to prevent a child from passing through an opening. Again, if there are any decorative cutouts in the fence, the space within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches.

For a chain link fence the mesh size should not exceed 1-1/4 inches square unless slats, fastened at the top or bottom of the fence, are used to reduce mesh openings to no more than 1-3/4 inches.

For a fence made up of diagonal members (latticework) the maximum opening in the lattice should not exceed 1-3/4 inches.

Aboveground pools should have barriers. The pool structure itself serves as a barrier or a barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure. Then, there are two possible ways to prevent young children from climbing up into an aboveground pool. The steps or ladder can be designed to be secured, locked or removed to prevent access, or the steps or ladder can be surrounded by a barrier such as those described above. For any pool barrier, the maximum clearance at the bottom of the barrier should not exceed 4 inches above grade, when the measurement is done on the side of the barrier facing away from the pool.
 
If an aboveground pool has a barrier on the top of the pool, the maximum vertical clearance between the top of the pool and the bottom of the barrier should not exceed 4 inches. Preventing a child from getting through a pool barrier can be done by restricting the sizes of openings in a barrier and by using self-closing and self-latching gates.
 

To prevent a young child from getting through a fence or other barrier, all openings should be small enough so that a 4-inch diameter sphere cannot pass through. This size is based on the head breadth and chest depth of a young child.

Gates 

There are two kinds of gates which might be found on a residential property. Both can play a part in the design of a swimming pool barrier.

Pedestrian Gates are the gates people walk through. Swimming pool barriers should be equipped with a gate or gates which restrict access to the pool. A locking device should be included in the gate design. Gates should open out from the pool and should be self closing and self-latching. If a gate is properly designed, even if the gate is not completely latched, a young child pushing on the gate in order to enter the pool area will at least close the gate and may actually engage the latch. When the release mechanism of the self-latching device is less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate, the release mechanism for the gate should be at least 3 inches below the top of the gate on the side facing the pool. Placing the release mechanism at this height prevents a young child from reaching over the top of a gate and releasing the latch. Also, the gate and barrier should have no opening greater than 1/2 inch within 18 inches of the latch release mechanism. This prevents a young child from reaching through the gate and releasing the latch.    Other gates should be equipped with self-latching devices. The self-latching devices should be installed as described for pedestrian gates.

How to Prevent a Child from Getting UNDER / THROUGH a Pool Barrier
  
In many homes, doors open directly onto the pool area or onto a patio which leads to the pool. In such cases, the wall of the house is an important part of the pool barrier, and passage through any doors in the house wall should be controlled by security measures. The importance of controlling a young child’s movement from house to pool is demonstrated by the statistics obtained during CPSC’s study of pool incidents in California, Arizona and Florida. Almost half (46 percent) of the children who became victims of pool accidents were last seen in the house just before they were found in the pool.

All doors which give access to a swimming pool should be equipped with an audible alarm which sounds when the door and/or screen are opened. The alarm should sound for 30 seconds or more within 7 seconds after the door is opened and should be loud, at least 85 decibels, when measured 10 feet away from the alarm mechanism. The alarm sound should be distinct from other sounds in the house, such as the telephone, doorbell and smoke alarm. The alarm should have an automatic reset feature. Because adults will want to pass through house doors in the pool barrier without setting off the alarm, the alarm should have a switch that allows adults to temporarily deactivate the alarm for up to 15 seconds. The deactivation switch could be a touch pad (keypad) or a manual switch, and should be located at least 54 inches above the threshold of the door covered by the alarm. This height was selected based on the reaching ability of young children.

Power safety covers can be installed on pools to serve as security barriers. Power safety covers should conform to the specifications in ASTM F 1346-91. This standard specifies safety performance requirements for pool covers to protect young children from drowning. Self-closing doors with self-latching devices could also be used to safeguard doors which give ready access to a swimming pool.

Indoor Pools

When a pool is located completely within a house, the walls that surround the pool should be equipped to serve as pool safety barriers. Measures recommended above where a house wall serves as part of a safety barrier also apply for all the walls surrounding an indoor pool. 

Guidelines   An outdoor swimming pool, including an inground, aboveground, or onground pool, hot tub, or spa, should be provided with a barrier which complies with the following:

1. The top of the barrier should be at least 48 inches above grade measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. The maximum vertical clearance between grade and the bottom of the barrier should be 4 inches measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. Where the top of the pool structure is above grade, such as an aboveground pool, the barrier may be at ground level, such as the pool structure, or mounted on top of the pool structure. Where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, the maximum vertical clearance between the top of the pool structure and the bottom of the barrier should be 4 inches.

2. Openings in the barrier should not allow passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere.

3. Solid barriers, which do not have openings, such as a masonry or stone wall, should not contain indentations or protrusions except for normal construction tolerances and tooled masonry joints.

4. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the horizontal members should be located on the swimming pool side of the fence. Spacing between vertical members should not exceed 1-3/4 inches in width. Where there are decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches in width.

5. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is 45 inches or more, spacing between vertical members should not exceed 4 inches. Where there are decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches in width.

6. Maximum mesh size for chain link fences should not exceed 1-3/4 inch square unless the fence is provided with slats fastened at the top or the bottom which reduce the openings to no more than 1-3/4 inches.   7. Where the barrier is composed of diagonal members, such as a lattice fence, the maximum opening formed by the diagonal members should be no more than 1-3/4 inches.    8. Access gates to the pool should be equipped to accommodate a locking device. Pedestrian access gates should open outward, away from the pool, and should be self-closing and have a self latching device. Gates other than pedestrian access gates should have a self-latching device. Where the release mechanism of the self-latching device is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate.

  • The release mechanism should be located on the pool side of the gate at least 3 inches below the top of the gate.
  • The gate and barrier should have no opening greater than 1/2 inch within 18 inches of the release mechanism.

9. Where a wall of a dwelling serves as part of the barrier, one of the following should apply:

  • All doors with direct access to the pool through that wall should be equipped with an alarm which produces an audible warning when the door and its screen, if present, are opened. The alarm should sound continuously for a minimum of 30 seconds within 7 seconds after the door is opened. The alarm should have a minimum sound pressure rating of 85 dBA at 10 feet and the sound of the alarm should be distinctive from other household sounds, such as smoke alarms, telephones, and door bells. The alarm should automatically reset under all conditions. The alarm should be equipped with manual means, such as touchpads or switches, to temporarily deactivate the alarm for a single opening of the door from either direction. Such deactivation should last for no more than 15 seconds. The deactivation touch pads or switches should be located at least 54 inches above the threshold of the door.
  • The pool should be equipped with a power safety cover which complies with ASTM F1346-91 listed below. 
  • Other means of protection, such as self-closing doors with self-latching devices, are acceptable so long as the degree of protection afforded is not less than the protection afforded by the above.

10. Where an aboveground pool structure is used as a barrier or where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, and the means of access is a ladder or steps, then:

  • The ladder to the pool or steps should be capable of being secured, locked or removed to prevent access.
  • The ladder or steps should be surrounded by a barrier. When the ladder or steps are secured, locked, or removed, any opening created should not allow the passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere.

These guidelines are intended to provide a means of protection against potential drowning's and narrowing to children under 5 years of age by restricting access to residential swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs.  

Exemptions 

A portable spa with a safety cover which complies with ASTM F1346-91 listed below should be exempt from the guidelines presented in this document. Swimming pools, hot tubs, and non portable spas with safety covers should not be exempt from the provisions of this document.


Home Safety Checklist

Each year, according to estimates by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), nearly one million people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with the products they live with and use everyday.

CPSC recommends the use of grab-bars and non-slip mats in the bathtub, handrails on both sides of the stairs, and slip-resistant carpets and rugs. Burns occur from hot tap water and from open flame. CPSC recommends that consumers turn down the temperature of their water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to help prevent scalds. CPSC also recommends the installation and maintenance of at least one smoke detector on every floor of the home. Older consumers should consider purchasing nightwear that is flame resistant and choose garments made of tightly woven fabrics such as 100% polyester, 100% nylon, or 100% wool.  

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) believes that many of these injuries result from hazards that are easy to overlook, but also easy to fix. By spotting these hazards and taking some simple steps to correct them, many injuries might be prevented. Use this checklist to spot possible safety problems which may be present in your home. Keep this checklist as a reminder of safe practices, and use it periodically to re-check your home. This checklist is organized by areas in the home. However, there are some potential hazards that need to be checked in more than just one area of your home.

ALL AREAS OF THE HOME In all areas of your home, check all electrical and telephone cords; rugs, runners and mats; telephone areas; smoke detectors; electrical outlets and switches; light bulbs; space heaters; woodburning stoves; and your emergency exit plan.

CHECK ALL CORDS

QUESTION: Are lamp, extension, and telephone cords placed out of the flow of traffic?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Cords stretched across walkways may cause someone to trip.

  • Arrange furniture so that outlets are available for lamps and appliances without the use of extension cords.
  • If you must use an extension cord, place it on the floor against a wall where people can not trip over it.
  • Move the phone so that telephone cords will not lie where people walk.

     

QUESTION: Are cords out from beneath furniture and rugs or carpeting?

YES ___ No ___

RECOMMENDATION: Furniture resting on cords can damage them, creating fire and shock hazards. Electric cords which run under carpeting may cause a fire.

  • Remove cords from under furniture or carpeting.
  • Replace damaged or frayed cords.

     

QUESTION: Are cords attached to the walls, baseboards, etc., with nails or staples?

YES ___ NO ___

Nails or staples can damage cords, presenting fire and shock hazards.

  • Remove nails, staples, etc.
  • Check wiring for damage.
  • Use tape to attach cords to walls or floors.

     

QUESTION: Are electrical cords in good condition, not frayed or cracked?

YES ___ NO ___

Damaged cords may cause a shock or fire.

  • Replace frayed or cracked cords.
     

QUESTION: Do extension cords carry more than their proper load, as indicated by the ratings labeled on the cord and the appliance?

YES ___ NO ___

Overloaded extension cords may cause fires. Standard 18 gauge extension cords can carry 1250 watts.

  • If the rating on the cord is exceeded because of the power requirements of one or more appliances being used on the cord, change the cord to a higher rated one or unplug some appliances.
  • If an extension cord is needed, use one having a sufficient amp or wattage rating.

     

CHECK ALL RUGS, RUNNERS AND MATS

QUESTION: Are all small rugs and runners slip-resistant?

YES ___ No ___

CPSC estimates that in 1982, over 2,500 people 65 and over were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries that resulted from tripping over rugs and runners. Falls are also the most common cause of fatal injury for older people.

  • Remove rugs and runners that tend to slide.
  • Apply double-faced adhesive carpet tape or rubber matting to the backs of rugs and runners.
  • Purchase rugs with slip-resistant backing.
  • Check rugs and mats periodically to see if backing needs to be replaced.
  • Place rubber matting under rugs. (Rubber matting that can be cut to size is available.)
  • Purchase new rugs with slip-resistant backing.

     

NOTE: Over time, adhesive on tape can wear away. Rugs with slip- resistant backing also become less effective as they are washed. Periodically, check rugs and mats to see if new tape or backing is needed.

QUESTION: Are emergency numbers posted on or near the telephone?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: In case of emergency, telephone numbers for the Police, Fire Department, and local Poison Control Center, along with a neighbor's number, should be readily available.

  • Write the numbers in large print and tape them to the phone, or place them near the phone where they can be seen easily.
     

QUESTION: Do you have access to a telephone if you fall (or experience some other emergency which prevents you from standing and reaching a wall phone)?

YES ___ NO ___

  • Have at least one telephone located where it would be accessible in the event of an accident which leaves you unable to stand.

CHECK SMOKE DETECTORS

QUESTION: Are smoke detectors properly located?
YES ___ NO___

RECOMMENDATION: At least one smoke detector should be placed on every floor of your home.

  • Read the instructions that come with the smoke detector for advice on the best place to install it.
  • Make sure detectors are placed near bedrooms, either on the ceiling or 6-12 inches below the ceiling on the wall.
  • Locate smoke detectors away from air vents.
     

QUESTION: Do you have properly working smoke detectors?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Many home fire injuries and deaths are caused by smoke and toxic gases, rather than the fire itself. Smoke detectors provide an early warning and can wake you in the event of a fire.

  • Purchase a smoke detector if you do not have one.
  • Check and replace batteries and bulbs according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Vacuum the grillwork of your smoke detector.
  • Replace any smoke detectors which can not be repaired.
     

NOTE: Some fire departments or local governments will provide assistance in acquiring or installing smoke detectors.

CHECK ELECTRICAL OUTLETS AND SWITCHES

QUESTION: Are any outlets and switches unusually warm or hot to the touch?
YES ___ NO ___

Unusually warm or hot outlets or switches may indicate that an unsafe wiring condition exists.

  • Unplug cords from outlets and do not use the switches.
  • Have an electrician check the wiring as soon as possible. 

QUESTION: Do all outlets and switches have cover plates, so that no wiring is exposed? 
YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Exposed wiring presents a shock hazard.  

  • Add a cover plate.

QUESTION: Are light bulbs the appropriate size and type for the lamp or fixture?    YES ___ NO ___  

RECOMMENDATION: A bulb of too high wattage or the wrong type may lead to fire through overheating. Ceiling fixtures, recessed lights, and "hooded" lamps will trap heat.  

  • Replace with a bulb of the correct type and wattage. (If you do not know the correct wattage, use a bulb no larger than 60 watts.)

CHECK SPACE HEATERS

QUESTION: Are heaters which come with a 3-prong plug being used in a 3-hole outlet or with a properly attached adapter?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: The grounding feature provided by a 3-hole receptacle or an adapter for a 2-hole receptacle is a safety feature designed to lessen the risk of shock.

  • Never defeat the grounding feature.
  • If you do not have a 3-hole outlet, use an adapter to connect the heater's 3-prong plug. Make sure the adapter ground wire or tab is attached to the outlet.
     

QUESTION: Are small stoves and heaters placed where they can not be knocked over, and away from furnishings and flammable materials, such as curtains or rugs?     YES ___ NO ___ RECOMMENDATION: Heaters can cause fires or serious burns if they cause you to trip or if they are knocked over.

  • Relocate heaters away from passageways and flammable materials such as curtains, rugs, furniture, etc.

QUESTION: If your home has space heating equipment, such as a kerosene heater, a gas heater or an LP gas heater, do you understand the installation and operating instructions thoroughly?
     YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Unvented heaters should be used with room doors open or window slightly open to provide ventilation. The correct fuel, as recommended by the manufacturer, should always be used. Vented heaters should have proper venting, and the venting system should be checked frequently. Improper venting is the most frequent cause of carbon monoxide poisoning, and older consumers are at special risk.

  • Review the installation and operating instructions.
  • Call your local fire department if you have additional questions.

    CHECK WOODBURNING HEATING EQUIPMENT

QUESTION: Is woodburning equipment installed properly?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Woodburning stoves should be installed by a qualified person according to local building codes.

  • Local building code officials or fire marshals can provide requirements and recommendations for installation.
    NOTE: Some insurance companies will not cover fire losses if wood stoves are not installed according to local codes.

    CHECK THE EMERGENCY EXIT PLAN

QUESTION: Do you have an emergency exit plan and an alternate emergency exit plan in case of a fire?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Once a fire starts, it spreads rapidly. Since you may not have much time to get out and there may be a lot of confusion, it is important that everyone knows what to do.

  • Develop an emergency exit plan.
  • Choose a meeting place outside your home so you can be sure that everyone is capable of escape quickly and safely.
  • Practice the plan from time to time to make sure everyone is capable of escape quickly and safely.
     

Remember periodically to re-check your home.

KITCHEN
In the kitchen, check the range area, all electrical cords, lighting, the stool, all throw rugs and mats, and the telephone area.

CHECK THE RANGE AREA

QUESTION: Are towels, curtains, and other things that might catch fire located away from the range?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Placing or storing non-cooking equipment like potholders, dish towels, or plastic utensils on or near the range man result in fires or burns.

  • Store flammable and combustible items away from range and oven.
  • Remove any towels hanging on oven handles. If towels hang close to a burner, change the location of the towel rack.
  • If necessary, shorten or remove curtains which could brush against heat sources.
     

QUESTION: Do you wear clothing with short or close-fitting sleeves while you are cooking?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: CPSC estimates that 70% of all people who die from clothing fires are over 65 years of age. Long sleeves are more likely to catch fire than are short sleeves. Long sleeves are also more apt to catch on pot handles, overturning pots and pans and causing scalds.

  • Roll back long, loose sleeves or fasten them with pins or elastic bands while you are cooking.

QUESTION: Are kitchen ventilation systems or range exhausts functioning properly and are they in use while you are cooking?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Indoor air pollutants may accumulate to unhealthful levels in a kitchen where gas or kerosene-fire appliances are in use.

  • Use ventilation systems or open windows to clear air of vapors and smoke.

QUESTION: Are all extension cords and appliance cords located away from the sink or range areas?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Electrical appliances and power cords can cause shock or electrocution if they come in contact with water. Cords can also be damaged by excess heat.

  • Move cords and appliances away from sink areas and hot surfaces.
  • Move appliances closer to wall outlets or to different outlets so you won't need extension cords.
  • If extension cords must be used, install wiring guides so that cords will not hang near sink, range, or working areas.
  • Consider adding new outlets for convenience and safety; ask your electrician to install outlets equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to protect against electric shock. A GFCI is a shock-protection device that will detect electrical fault and shut off electricity before serious injury or death occurs. (illustration is in ).
     

For more information on cords, refer to the beginning of the checklist (pages 1 and 2).

QUESTION: Does good, even lighting exist over the stove, sink, and countertop work areas, especially where food is sliced or cut?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Low lighting and glare can contribute to burns or cuts. Improve lighting by:

  • Opening curtains and blinds (unless this causes to much glare).
  • Using the maximum wattage bulb allowed by the fixture. (If you do not know the correct wattage for the fixture, use a bulb no larger than 60 watts.)
  • Reducing glare by using frosted bulbs, indirect lighting, shades or globes on light fixtures, or partially closing the blinds or curtains.
  • Installing additional light fixtures, e.g. under cabinet/over countertop lighting.
     

(Make sure that the bulbs you use are the right type and wattage for the light fixture.)

QUESTION: Do you have a step stool which is stable and in good repair?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Standing on chairs, boxes, or other makeshift items to reach high shelves can result in falls. CPSC estimates that in 1982, 1500 people over 65 were treated in hospital emergency rooms when they fell from chairs on which they were standing.

  • If you don't have a step stool, consider buying one. Choose one with a handrail that you can hold onto while standing on the top step.
  • Before climbing on any step stool, make sure it is fully opened and stable.
  • Tighten screws and braces on the step stool.
  • Discard step stools with broken parts.
     

Remember: Check all of the product areas mentioned at the beginning of the checklist.

LIVING ROOM/FAMILY ROOM

In the living room/family room, check all rugs and runners, electrical and telephone cords, lighting, the fireplace and chimney, the telephone area, and all passageways.

QUESTION: Are chimneys clear from accumulations of leaves, and other debris that can clog them?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: A clogged chimney can cause a poorly-burning fire to result in poisonous fumes and smoke coming back into the house.

  • Do not use the chimney until the blockage has been removed.
  • Have the chimney checked and cleaned by a registered or licensed professional.
     

QUESTION: Has the chimney been cleaned within the past year?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Burning wood can cause a build up of a tarry substance (creosote) inside the chimney. This material can ignite and result in a serious chimney fire.

  • Have the chimney checked and cleaned by a registered or licensed professional.

CHECK THE TELEPHONE AREA

For information on the telephone area, refer to the beginning of the checklist.

CHECK PASSAGEWAYS

QUESTION: Are hallways, passageways between rooms, and other heavy traffic areas well lit?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Shadowed or dark areas can hide tripping hazards.

  • Use the maximum wattage bulb allowed by the fixture. (If you do not know the correct wattage, use a bulb no larger than 60 watts.)
  • Install night lights.
  • Reduce glare by using frosted bulbs, indirect lighting, shades or globes on light fixtures, or partially closing blinds or curtains.
  • Consider using additional lamps or light fixtures. Make sure that the bulbs you use are the right type and wattage for the light fixture.
     

QUESTION: Are exits and passageways kept clear?

YES ___ NO ___

Furniture, boxes, or other items could be an obstruction or tripping hazard, especially in the event of an emergency or fire.

  • Rearrange furniture to open passageways and walkways.
  • Remove boxes and clutter.
     

Remember: Check all of the product areas mentioned at the beginning of the checklist.

BATHROOM

In the bathroom, check bathtub and shower areas, water temperature, rugs and mats, lighting, small electrical appliances, and storage areas for medications.

CHECK BATHTUB AND SHOWER AREAS

QUESTION: Are bathtubs and showers equipped with non-skid mats, abrasive strips, or surfaces that are not slippery?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Wet soapy tile or porcelain surfaces are especially slippery and may contribute to falls.

  • Apply textured strips or appliques on the floors of tubs and showers.
  • Use non-skid mats in the tub and shower, and on the bathroom floor.
     

QUESTION: Do bathtubs and showers have at least one (preferably two) grab bars?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Grab bars can help you get into and out of your tub or shower, and can help prevent falls.

  • Check existing bars for strength and stability, and repair if necessary.
  • Attach grab bars, through the tile, to structural supports in the wall, or install bars specifically designed to attach to the sides of the bathtub. If you are not sure how it is done, get someone who is qualified to assist you.
     

QUESTION: Is the temperature 120 degrees or lower?

YES ___ NO ___

Water temperature above 120 degrees can cause tap water scalds.

  • Lower the setting on your hot water heater to "Low" or 120 degrees. If you are unfamiliar with the controls of your water heater, ask a qualified person to adjust it for you. If your hot water system is controlled by the landlord, ask the landlord to consider lowering the setting.

NOTE: If the water heater does not have a temperature setting, you can use a thermometer to check the temperature of the water at the tap.

  • Always check water temperature by hand before entering bath or shower.
  • Taking baths, rather than showers, reduces the risk of a scald from suddenly changing water temperatures.
     

CHECK LIGHTING

QUESTION: Is a light switch located near the entrance to the bathroom?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATIONS: A light switch near the door will prevent you from walking through a dark area.

  • Install a night light. Inexpensive lights that plug into outlets are available.
  • Consider replacing the existing switch with a "glow switch" that can be seen in the dark.
     

CHECK SMALL ELECTRICAL APPLIANCES

QUESTION: Are small electrical appliances such as hair dryers, shavers, curling irons, etc., unplugged when not in use?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Even an appliance that is not turned on, such as a hairdryer, can be potentially hazardous if it is left plugged in. If it falls into water in a sink or bathtub while plugged in, it could cause a lethal shock.

  • Unplug all small appliances when not in use.
  • Never reach into water to retrieve an appliance that has fallen in without being sure the appliance is unplugged.
  • Install a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) in your bathroom outlet to protect against electric shock.
     

CHECK MEDICATIONS

QUESTION: Are all medicines stored in the containers that they came in and are they clearly marked?

YES ___ No ___

RECOMMENDATION: Medications that are not clearly and accurately labeled can be easily mixed up. Taking he wrong medicine or missing a dosage of medicine you need can be dangerous.

  • Be sure that all containers are clearly marked with the contents, doctor's instructions, expiration date, and patient's name.
  • Dispose of outdated medicines properly.
  • Request non-child-resistant closures from your pharmacist only when you cannot use child-resistant closures.
     

NOTE: Many poisonings occur when children visiting grandparents go through the medicine cabinet or grandmother's purse. In homes where grandchildren or other youngsters are frequent visitors, medicines should be purchased in containers with child-resistant caps, and the caps properly closed after each use. Store medicines beyond the reach of children.

Remember: Check all of the product areas mentioned at the beginning of the checklist.

BEDROOMS

In the bedroom, check all rugs and runners, electrical and telephone cords, and areas around beds.

CHECK AREAS AROUND BEDS

QUESTION: Are lamps or light switches within reach of each bed?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Lamps or switches located close to each bed will enable people getting up at night to see where they are going.

  • Rearrange furniture closer to switches or move lamps closer to beds.
  • Install night lights.
     

QUESTION: Are ash trays, smoking materials, or other fire sources (heaters, hot plates, teapots, etc.) located away from beds or bedding?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Burns are a leading cause of accidental death among seniors. Smoking in bed is a major contributor to this problem. Among mattress and bedding fire related deaths in a recent year, 42% were to persons 65 or older.

  • Remove sources of heat or flame from areas around beds.
  • Don't smoke in bed.
     

QUESTION: Is anything covering your electric blanket when in use?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: "Tucking in" electric blankets, or placing additional coverings on top of them can cause excessive heat buildup which can start a fire.

QUESTION: Do you avoid "tucking in" the sides or ends of your electric blanket?

RECOMMENDATION:

  • Use electric blankets according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Don't allow anything on top of the blanket while it is in use. (This includes other blankets or comforters, even pets sleeping on top of the blanket.)
  • Don't set electric blankets so high that they could burn someone who falls asleep while they are on.
     

QUESTION: Do you ever go to sleep with a heating pad which is turned on?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Never go to sleep with a heating pad if it is turned on because it can cause serious burns even at relatively low settings.

QUESTION: Is there a telephone close to your bed?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: In case of an emergency, it is important to be able to reach the telephone without getting out of bed.

Remember: Check all of the product areas mentioned at the beginning of the checklist.

BASEMENT/GARAGE/WORKSHOP/STORAGE AREAS

In the basement, garage, workshop, and storage areas, check lighting, fuse boxes or circuit breakers, appliances and power tools, electrical cords, and flammable liquids.

CHECK LIGHTING

QUESTION: Are work areas, especially areas where power tools are used, well lit?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Power tools were involved in over 5,200 injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms to people 65 and over in 1982. Three fourths of these were finger injuries. Good lighting can reduce the chance that you will accidentally cut your finger.

  • Either install additional light, or avoid working with power tools in the area.

QUESTION: Can you turn on the lights without first having to walk through a dark area?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Basement, garages, and storage areas can contain many tripping hazards and sharp or pointed tools that can make a fall even more hazardous.

  • Keep an operating flashlight handy.
  • Have an electrician install switches at each entrance to a dark area.

    CHECK THE FUSE BOX OR CIRCUIT BREAKERS

QUESTION: If fuses are used, are they the correct size for the circuit?   YES ___ NO ___
RECOMMENDATION: Replacing a correct size fuse with a larger size fuse can present a serious fire hazard. If the fuse in the box is rater higher than that intended for the circuit, excessive current will be allowed to flow and possibly overload the outlet and house wiring to the point that a fire can begin.

  • Be certain that correct-size fuses are used. (If you do not know the correct sizes, consider having an electrician identify and label the sizes to be used.)

NOTE: If all, or nearly all, fuses used are 30-amp fuses, there is a chance that some of the fuses are rated too high for the circuit.

CHECK APPLIANCES AND POWER TOOLS

QUESTION: Are power tools equipped with a 3-prong plug or marked to show that they are double insulated?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: These safety features reduce the risk of an electric shock.

  • Use a properly connected 3-prong adapter for connecting a 3- prong plug to a 2-hole receptacle.
  • Consider replacing old tools that have neither a 3-prong plug nor are double insulated.
     

QUESTION: Are power tools guards in place?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Power tools used with guards removed pose a serious risk of injury from sharp edges or moving parts.

  • Replace guards that have been removed from power tools.

QUESTION: Has the grounding feature on any 3-prong plug been defeated by removal of the grounding pin or by improperly using an adapter?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Improperly grounded appliances can lead to electric shock.

  • Check with your service person or an electrician if you are in doubt.

CHECK FLAMMABLE AND VOLATILE LIQUIDS

QUESTION: Are containers of volatile liquids tightly capped?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: If not tightly closed, vapors may escape that may be toxic when inhaled.

  • Check containers periodically to make sure they are tightly closed.

NOTE: CPSC has reports of several cases in which gasoline, stored as much as 10 feet from a gas water heater, exploded. Many people are unaware that gas fumes can travel that far.

QUESTION: Are gasoline, paints, solvents, or other products that give off vapors or fumes stored away from ignition sources?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Gasoline, kerosene, and other flammable liquids should be stored out of living areas in properly labeled, non- glass safety containers.

  • Remove these products from the areas near heat or flame such as heaters, furnaces, water heaters, ranges, and other gas appliances.

STAIRS

For all stairways, check lighting, handrails, and the condition of the steps and coverings.

CHECK LIGHTING

QUESTION: Are stairs well lighted?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Stairs should be lighted so that each step, particularly the step edges, can be clearly seen while going up and down stairs. The lighting should not produce glare or shadows along the stairway.

  • Use the maximum wattage bulb allowed by the light fixture. (If you do not know the correct wattage, use a bulb no larger than 60 watts.)
  • Reduce glare by using frosted bulbs, indirect lighting, shades or globes on light fixtures, or partially closing blinds and curtains.
  • Have a qualified person add additional light fixtures. Make sure that the bulbs you use are the right type and wattage for the light fixture.
     

QUESTION: Are light switches located at both the top and bottom of the stairs.

RECOMMENDATION: Even if you are very familiar with the stairs, lighting is an important factor in preventing falls. You should be able to turn on the lights before you use the stairway from either end.

  • If no other light is available, keep an operating flashlight in a convenient location at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Install night lights at nearby outlets.
  • Consider installing switches at the top and bottom of the stairs.
     

QUESTION: Do the steps allow secure footing?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Worn treads or worn or loose carpeting can lead to insecure footing, resulting in slips or falls.

  • Try to avoid wearing only socks or smooth-soled shoes or slippers when using stairs.
  • Make certain the carpet is firmly attached to the steps all along the stairs.
  • Consider refinishing or replacing worn treads, or replacing worn carpeting.
  • Paint outside steps with paint that has a rough texture, or use abrasive strips.
     

QUESTION: Are steps even and of the same size and height?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Even a small difference in step surfaces or riser heights can lead to falls.

  • Mark any steps which are especially narrow or have risers that are higher or lower than the others. Be especially careful of these steps when using the stairs.

QUESTION: Are the coverings on the steps in good condition?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Worn or torn coverings or nails sticking out from coverings could snag your foot or cause you to trip.

  • Repair coverings.
  • Remove coverings.
  • Replace coverings.
     

QUESTION: Can you clearly see the edges of the steps?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: Falls may occur if the edges of the steps are blurred or hard to see.

  • Paint edges of outdoor steps white to see them better at night.
  • Add extra lighting.
  • If you plan to carpet your stairs, avoid deep pile carpeting or patterned or dark colored carpeting that can make it difficult to see the edges of the steps clearly.
     

QUESTION: Is anything stored on the stairway, even temporarily?

YES ___ NO ___

RECOMMENDATION: People can trip over objects left on stairs, particularly in the event of an emergency or fire.

  • Remove all objects from the stairway.

REMEMBER PERIODICALLY TO RE-CHECK YOUR HOME.


Wildlife Control at Home

Control Wildlife Damage Around the Home With Common Sense Control Methods  

Whether you are a home gardener, enjoy landscaping around your home or just own your own home, there are times when certain species of wildlife can become a nuisance or a pest and cause damage to plants and even economic losses. Wildlife damage problems can occur throughout the year, but the fall and winter months are times when food supplies and cover may become more limited for many wildlife species, causing them to find your home or landscape an attractive place to call home. Solving wildlife damage problems may seem out of your control - but most often, you have more control over the problem than you think. It might not be easy - but if you think through the problem and put forth some effort - you can often cut your losses and maybe even eliminate them.   Many different species of wildlife can become a nuisance and cause problems under certain conditions. Raccoons, skunks, snakes, woodchucks and other rodents such as moles, house mice, and tree squirrels can often cause problems. In addition, whitetail deer populations have increased to the point in many urban environments where they are becoming a nuisance by browsing on landscape plantings. Other problem wildlife can include starlings, pigeons, sparrows, or the nuisance woodpecker damaging the wood siding on your home, just to name a few.  

Think Through the Problem 

People experiencing a problem caused by critters usually want an easy, quick solution and often ask "Is there something I can spray to get rid of this pest?" It is never quite that easy. Preventing and controlling wildlife damage requires a thought process and often includes using integrated pest management techniques. A successful wildlife damage program often makes use of a combination of control options and usually begins with an accurate assessment of the damage and identification of the desired outcome. Wildlife damage management is the opposite of managing property to attract wildlife. To manage for wildlife, you must make sure that animals have sufficient food, water, and cover throughout the year. If you have unwanted animals around your home, it is a sure bet that there is food, water and cover in the area. The solution is to remove at least one of these elements - and if you can remove two, it’s even better.   Try this sequence in thinking through a wildlife damage problem:

  • Identify the wildlife species causing the problem. This is the most important step. Correctly identifying the species of wildlife causing damage may seem simple, but it can be challenging under certain circumstances. Learn about the life history and habitat requirements for the wildlife species that may be a potential problem in your area.
  • Are there cultural techniques which you could use to modify the habitat and reduce the chances of having a wild life damage problem? For instance, there may be certain plants which could be used in your home landscape that might not be an attractive food source for deer. Would more frequent mowing or herbicide use reduce the amount of weedy cover needed for a build up of rodent populations?
  • Is there some way you can keep the animal causing damage from getting into the site?
  • If you can’t build them out, can you repel them from the area? Sometimes you can use chemical, home-made, visual or sound repellents to solve and control a problem.
  • If you can’t put up an effective barrier or repel the animals from the problem site, the last step may involve removing from the area the animals that are causing the damage. It may be necessary to trap, shoot, use gas cartridges in dens, or use poison baits to control a wildlife damage problem. Of course, when considering these alternatives for controlling most wildlife species you should check with a Conservation Agent or local animal damage control agent to get approval. Often these persons will also provide some assistance.
  • Remember that no entire species of wild animal is a nuisance or pest all the time. The trick is to deal only with the animal(s) causing damage, not try to eradicate the entire population.
  • A final consideration: Is it worth the effort? It takes quite a bit of time and money to solve and control a wildlife damage problem. Can you tolerate some damage or losses caused by wildlife? Remember the aesthetic benefits derived from viewing wildlife and the importance of managing habitats for those wildlife species you wish to attract to your property. Ask yourself if the economic loss is greater than the control cost. If it is, then it is worthwhile to develop and implement a wildlife damage control program.

Living With Wildlife

Wild animals contribute to our enjoyment of nature and outdoor recreation, but they can also damage property, agriculture, and natural resources and threaten human health and safety. Equipped with the right information and tools, most homeowners can solve their own problems and learn to live with wildlife. For example, trimming trees and shrubbery are ways of changing a habitat to make it less attractive to unwanted flocks of birds or even snakes.   The following information may assist in keeping that curious raccoon out of the garbage can, that persistent rabbit or deer out of the garden, that goose or duck out of the backyard pool, that woodpecker off the siding, and that swooping bat out of the attic. Caution should always be taken to avoid overly aggressive animals.  

Squirrels and Other Rodents
To keep these animals from becoming a permanent part of the family home and yard, screens, vents, and fan openings; keep doors and windows in good repair; tighten eaves; replace rotten boards; cap the chimney; trim overhanging trees; remove bird feeders or use squirrel-proof feeders; and remove acorns and other nuts from the yard. Chipmunks can be deterred by removing denning habitat, which includes logs, rock walls, and stones.  

Woodchucks
These animals, also known as groundhogs, sometimes burrow near buildings, browse in gardens, and damage fruit trees and ornamental shrubs. Fencing can help reduce woodchuck damage. The lower edge of the fence should be buried at least 10 inches in the ground to prevent burrowing. The fence should be 3 to 4 feet high, with a surrounding electric hot-shot wire placed 4 to 5 inches off the ground.

Opossums and Skunks
Opossums and skunks become a problem to homeowners by raiding garbage cans and bird feeders; eating pet foods; and living under porches, low decks, open sheds, and any other areas that provide shelter. Skunks also dig holes in lawns, golf courses, and gardens. Both animals sometimes kill poultry and eat eggs. To keep opossums and skunks from denning under buildings, seal off all foundation openings with wire mesh, sheet metal, or concrete. Chicken coops can be protected by sealing all ground-level openings into the buildings and by closing the doors at night. Foraging in garbage cans may be eliminated by providing tight?-fitting lids and straps.

Bats
Bats prefer to avoid human contact; however, they are known to establish roosts in attics and abandoned buildings. Building and attic roosts can be eliminated by sealing entry and exit holes (after the bats have left) with such materials as 1/4-inch hardware cloth, caulking, or wire mesh. If a bat makes its way into the house, you can usually encourage it to leave after dark by turning on lights and opening windows and doors.

Rabbits
Rabbits can be kept out of the garden or away from ornamental plants and small trees by using products containing repellents such as Hinder or by placing a 2-foot poultry fence around the area. It is important to bury the fence at least 6 inches beneath the surface of the ground. For information about taste repellents, check your local garden or farm center. Before using any chemical repellents, read the label carefully and check with your State pesticide regulatory agency for application guidelines.

Raccoons
Raccoons are attracted to easy food sources, like garden produce, garbage, and pet food. To help prevent scavenging, use metal trash cans that are fastened to a pole or to another solid object. A strap or latch that secures the lid of the garbage can is also helpful. To keep raccoons out of the garden, use two strands of electric livestock fence. The strands should be placed 4 and 8 inches respectively off the ground and surround the entire garden. Exercise caution when implementing this exclusionary method in urban areas. Raccoons will also readily inhabit attics, chimneys, and sheds. Use metal flashing and 1-inch-mesh hardware cloth to block entrances.

Snakes
The best way to keep snakes out of your house and yard is to seal cracks and openings around doors, windows, water pipes, attics, and foundations. Removing logs, woodpiles, and high grass and controlling insects and rodents are also helpful. Remove nonpoisonous snakes from inside buildings by placing piles of damp burlap bags in areas where snakes have been seen. After the snakes have curled up beneath the bags, remove the bags and snakes from the building. To remove dangerous snakes, call a professional pest control company.

Woodpeckers
These birds damage buildings by drilling holes into wooden siding, eaves, or trim boards, especially those made of cedar or redwood. If the pecking creates a suitable cavity, the bird may use it for nesting. Effective methods of excluding woodpeckers include placing lightweight mesh nylon or plastic netting on the wooden siding beneath the eaves, covering pecked areas with metal sheathing, and using visual repellents like "eye-spot" balloons.  

Deer
Deer feed on row crops, vegetables, fruit trees, nursery stock, stacked hay, and ornamental plants and trees. Deer can be discouraged by removing supplemental food sources and by using scare devices and repellents. The only sure way to eliminate deer damage is to fence the deer out. A wire-mesh fence is effective if it is solidly constructed and at least 8 feet high. Electric fencing also helps reduce damage.  

Coyotes and Foxes
These animals may carry rabies and sometimes prey on domestic pets, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, young pigs, and lambs. Coyotes also kill calves, goats, and deer. Net-wire and electric fencing will help exclude foxes and coyotes; however, because they are good climbers, a roof of net wire on livestock pens may also be necessary. For more information about fencing, contact your local county extension office.   The protection of livestock and poultry is most important during the spring denning period. Foxes and coyotes will often den close to farm buildings, under haystacks, or inside hog lots or small pastures used for lambing. Shed lambing and farrowing in protected enclosures can be useful in preventing predation on young livestock. Additionally, noise- and light-making devices, such as the Electronic Guard, may keep these predators away. Guarding dogs are also useful in preventing predation on sheep. Regrettably, dispersal methods are not effective in all situations, so other methods, including trapping or snaring, may have to be used.

Mountain Lions and Bears
As bear and lion habitats continue to decrease, interactions between these animals and humans continue to increase. Bears are noted for destroying cornfields and trees, scavenging in garbage cans, demolishing the interiors of cabins and campers, and killing livestock. Lions are serious predators of sheep, goats, domestic pets, large livestock, poultry, bighorn sheep, and deer. Typical bear and lion predation on sheep leaves 10 or more killed in a single attack, and both species are known to attack humans.   Prevention is the best method of controlling bear and lion damage. Heavy woven and electric fencing can effectively deter bears and lions from attacking livestock and damaging property. Loud music, barking dogs, exploder cannons, fireworks, gunfire, nightlights, scarecrows, and changes in the position of objects in the depredation area often provide temporary relief. The best way to protect pets is to keep them inside an enclosed kennel or shelter. Using guarding dogs, removing garbage and dead carcasses, and placing crops and beehives at considerable distances away from timber and brush may reduce damage by bears. Mountain lions also prefer to hunt where escape cover is close by; removal of brush and trees within a quarter of a mile of buildings and livestock may reduce lion predation.   Professional relocation of damaging mountain lions and bears is sometimes necessary. For more information about State laws and regulations concerning relocation or lethal control of mountain lions and bears, contact your State wildlife agency.

Remember, think through your problem before attempting to invest in a control program. What is the easiest, cheapest, most practical way to control the problem? What will be the least hazardous to pets, people, and non-target wildlife? Are you losing enough money to justify a control expense? Your goal should be to reduce damage to a level you can live with.