Don’t let your home harm you and your family

Published 10:56 pm Thursday, September 12, 2013

Today’s topic has little to do with diet or exercise, but definitely involves health.

Each year in the U.S. approximately 18,000 people die from accidents around the home, and that number includes more than 2,000 children. More than 6,000 die from falls and around 3 million more are hospitalized. Here are some tips to help keep your home a safer place:

1. Discard any old extension cords, surge protectors and power strips that don’t have a polarized plug (one prong wider than the other), and make sure cords aren’t nailed or stapled in place. For those with small children or pets, cover all electrical outlets and make sure outlet covers feel cool to the touch.

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2. Throw away hair dryers made before 1992 and those without a shock protector. Keep all appliances away from water and unplugged when not in use. Replace standard outlets with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI’s). These devices detect when the electrical current isn’t balanced (could indicate electrical power escaping into the body of a person) and shut off. Make sure all electrical devices are Underwriter Laboratory (UL) approved.

3. Never leave hotplates, space heaters, toaster ovens or coffee pots unattended, when in use, and unplug when not. When you’re outside, never touch, go near or let anyone else go near fallen power lines, even if you think they are safe. Power lines can sometimes rest on the ground for days and still be active. Call 1-800-490-00754 or your local police to report downed lines.

4. Get rid of old cribs. These antiquated beds usually have slats wider than 2 and 3/8 inches wide with raised corner posts, which can trap and suffocate babies.

5. Repair old window blinds. Kids can strangle if caught in drapes, blinds or curtain cords. Make sure to cut loops and separate cords with tassels. Continuous–loop cords should be permanently attached to the floor, and pull-cords should be as short as possible. The Window Covering Safety Counsel (WCSC) provides free retrofit kits to those with older window coverings. Contact them at

6. Protect children and pets from items that could poison them. Obvious poisons are pesticides, anti-freeze, rat poisons, weed killer, sanitizers, disinfectants (including bleach) and flea and tick shampoos, but there are potential poisons you might not realize. Medications (including aspirin), vitamin supplements (including children’s vitamins), toothpaste, mouthwash and even makeup can all be lethal if ingested by children or pets. Keep these items off counter tops and out of reach. Also, don’t rely on “child resistant” packaging. Child resistant doesn’t mean “child proof.” And never tell a child that his medicine tastes like candy.

Most poisonings take place in the home, but they can occur away from home at relatives, baby sitters or friends. Be sure to perform a walk-through at any location your child or pet happens to visit. In case of suspected poisoning call your local Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222, and keep emergency numbers in every room, in your wallet or purse, and programmed to your phone.

7. Install carbon monoxide detectors in addition to smoke detectors. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas, and is particularly dangerous, because it is odorless and colorless. Make sure to use proper ventilation around fireplaces and wood stoves. Also, have your home checked for radon, a colorless, odorless, radioactive poisonous gas. Exposure to radon gas is responsible for 20,000 cases of lung cancer in the U.S. every year. Take a tour through your home with your children and point out possible hazards; teaching them to be safe.

Diet or exercise question? Email me at or visit David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 27 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC-Spartanburg baseball team, S.C. state champion girl’s gymnastic team, and the Converse college equestrian team. He served as a water safety consultant to the United States Marine Corps., lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.