Ask Angie’s List: How can I keep my family safe at home?


Unintentional accidents are the leading cause of death for all people under age 45, and many accidents take place at home. Indeed, household accidents – especially falls and poisoning – account for more deaths each year than auto accidents. Protect yourself and your family and minimize dangers by following these tips.

Respect ladders

Ladders are marvelous tools to accomplish any number of household tasks, but respect their danger as well. A fall from ladder height has a very high likelihood of injury. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations about stability and never climb higher than the maximum step. Wear slip-resistant shoes and avoid leather soles, which tend to slide on ladder steps. Avoid loose clothing such as suspenders, which could get tangled. Every time you use a ladder, inspect it for loose parts, and always make sure it’s on stable ground. The best option is to have a buddy hold it steady while you work.

Fire safety

Never leave a candle burning unattended. Don’t plug too many appliances into the same outlet. Pay close attention to damaged power cords. Clean your chimney regularly, and don’t leave lint in the dryer, even for just one load.

Safety equipment

Don’t take the safety equipment in your home for granted. Regularly check the batteries of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors. Replace detectors every 10 years.

Supply every floor of your home with a fire extinguisher

Make sure everybody in the house knows where they are and how to use them. Check the pressure meters every 30 days to ensure they’re still in good shape.

Create an escape plan for the house in event of disaster, and practice it regularly.


If you have kids, you’re already aware of the need for basic safety equipment such as cabinet and drawer latches, gates on stairs and electrical outlet covers. But don’t overlook the need to stabilize furniture; you don’t want a bookcase falling over when a curious toddler climbs it. You can use metal brackets or specialty straps to secure furniture to the wall and prevent tipover.


Minimize the likelihood of falls in the home by keeping areas clearly lit, including the outdoor sidewalks. Repair any loose carpet or floorboards. Secure loose rugs with double-sided tape or a slip-resistant backing. Make a point to keep clutter out of the way. Add non-slip surfaces to your bathtub or shower, and install grab bars if you have family members particularly prone to falling.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, 300 children go to the emergency room every day for accidental poisoning. Keep all medication, cleaning supplies and toxic chemicals in a secured space. Safety latches help, but it’s best to store chemicals where kids can’t see or reach them. Make sure all chemicals are clearly marked and in their original packaging.

If you suspect someone in your house has been poisoned, immediately call the nationwide poison control hotline at 1-800-222-1222. Call 911 if someone has collapsed or isn’t breathing.

Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit

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