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Household accidents happen all the time. As with many things in life, preventing household accidents is largely a matter of common sense.
Burns are common around the house — usually in the kitchen. Steam burns are very common, especially from microwaved foods. To prevent these kinds of steam burns, pull the cover off the dish at the corner facing away from you. Lift it a bit to allow most of the steam to escape, then carefully pull it back towards you. Always start at the far corner.
Grease burns are also common household accidents. A good preventive measure is a metal grease screen. These are usually large enough to fit over the biggest frying pans and are reasonably priced. They prevent grease from popping out of a hot pan and onto exposed skin.
To prevent grease burns while turning frying food in a pan, avoid overheating the pan and move the pan off the burner before turning the food. That small reduction in temperature may be enough to prevent the grease from popping onto the arm or face. Also, avoid cooking while wearing anything with large or trailing sleeves. It is easy to drag a sleeve across a hot burner or through hot grease.
Household accidents also include contact burns. When taking something out of the oven, make certain the potholder completely covers the skin. Oven mitts are the best prevention for these household accidents, since they cover the whole hand and wrist. Keep pot handles turned to the inside to prevent a child from pulling the pot off the stove and to keep adults from knocking into them, as well.
If burned, run cool water over the area. If the skin looks charred or very white, it may be a third-degree burn. See a doctor immediately. Otherwise, treat the area with burn cream and antibiotic ointment. For first-degree burns, aloe vera gel is a good treatment choice. If burned in the eyes or over a large area, see a doctor.
Scalding is one of the most frequent household accidents. Check the water heater’s thermostat and make sure it isn’t above about 115-120°F (about 46-49°C). Anything higher can cause serious burns.
Dishwater should not be pure hot water. The temperature should enable a person to comfortably immerse the hands. Bath or shower water rarely scalds adults, but a mother with small children should run baths that are probably a little cooler than she likes it herself, since children’s skin is more sensitive.
Diabetics or others with circulatory or nerve damage in the feet should be especially careful about bath water. Our feet are usually our first indicators that water is too hot, but these people may not have enough feeling in their feet to register dangerously hot water. Check the water with the hands first, or have someone else check it.
Other common household accidents are electrocutions. The best prevention is to unplug anything you are working on. If you aren’t sure what’s wrong with something electrical, get someone who knows what he or she is doing to check it. If an electrocution causes anything more than an expletive and brief pain, such as dizziness or loss of consciousness, see a doctor.
Falls make up a large portion of common household accidents. Here are some common sense tips: keep electrical cords off the floor, pick up objects that could cause a fall, make sure the soap and washcloths are off the bathtub floor, and pick up magazines. Stay off wet floors or freshly waxed wooden ones.
To prevent cuts, pick up broken glass with a paper towel. Keep knives sharp, since dull knives require more pressure to cut and cause far more injuries than sharp ones. Keep sharp knives out of the sink. This may sound odd, but people have been cut by sticking their hands in dishwater to pick up silverware and finding a knife blade instead. Get to the emergency room if the bleeding can’t be stopped.
When using chemicals such as cleaning solvents, keep the area well-ventilated. If splashed by a chemical, run water over the area and see a doctor if it is very painful. Also, be wary of mixing any cleaning solutions, lest you create a toxic gas.
If any injury looks severe or causes pain beyond a reasonable period of time, don’t take chances — see a doctor. Using common sense will help you avoid the worst household accidents.
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