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Household Emergencies (Part-1).

Byline: Rana Naveed ur Rehman

In our daily life, some emergencies happen in our homes i.e. fires, burst of water pipes, sink blockage and roof leakage, just a few of the many household incidents that can occur in any home at any time. By knowing how to handle with house hold problems and having the right equipment for the job, you can minimize any damage to your home and danger to your family. Just follow the instructions to fix simple problems yourself by performing tasks such as releasing air from a radiator or replacing a pane of glass. For simple jobs, learn how to create a temporary solution until you can arrange for a professional to make a permanent repair.

Home Safety

Your home should be a place of safety and security, yet every year, household accidents cause countless serious injuries and many deaths. To be aware of the potential dangers and taking action to make your home as safe as possible, you can do a great deal to reduce the risk of accident. The following shows potential trouble spots and provides practical advice on sensible safety precautions. Most household accidents derive from carelessness, so work cautiously and wear safety equipment when undertaking, do-it- yourself, tasks.

How to Make Your Home Safe:

* Buy a basic emergency repair kit and keep it in an accessible place.

* Make sure that all family members know where the equipment is kept.

* Check that the adults know where to find and how to operate the main controls for gas valves, electricity wiring and fuse-box and water valves.

* Draw up a family evacuation plan and practice it regularly.

* Near the telephone, keep a list of phone numbers of an emergency plumber, electrician, your family doctor and 24-hour helplines for reporting gas and water leaks.

* Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms or detectors.

* Keep a fire blanket and a dry powder fire extinguisher that weighs at least 1 kg near the stove in the kitchen. Have the extinguisher serviced regularly.

* Buy a metal fire ladder to use when escaping.

* If you are doing emergency repairs, take all necessary safety precautions, especially if the work involves electricity.

* Wear safety equipment i.e. safety gloves, goggles to protect eyes from flying debris; dust mask to prevent dust from entering the lungs; and earplugs to protect ears from the noise of power tools.

How to Make a Family Evacuation Plan:

* Decide on the best route for escape, this should be the usual way in and out of your home.

* Plan an alternative route to use if the normal way is blocked.

* If doors or windows need to be unlocked to escape, make sure that everyone knows where to find the appropriate keys. Ensure that the doors and windows open easily.

* Decide on a safe assembly point outside the home where everyone can meet following an evacuation.

* Make sure that the whole family is aware of how to escape and where to meet after evacuation.

* Walk through the escape routes with family members so that everyone knows what to do.

* Practice these escape routes on a regular basis especially after making changes in your home.

* Wear scarfs during one practice, to simulate dark and smoky conditions, but be careful with young children and the elderly.

Installing Smoke Alarms:

* Buy a battery-operated smoke alarms and take care to choose a reliable brand.

* Attach alarms securely to the ceiling at least 30 cm away from any wall or light fixture.

* If your home is on one level, put a smoke alarm in the hall; if it has more than one story; install one at the bottom of the stairs and another on each landing.

* Check once a month by pressing the test button.

* Vacuum the inside of each regularly to keep the sensor chamber free of dust.

How to Make Your Kitchen Safe:

* If you have a water heater in the kitchen, make sure that the flue is kept clear. If you use gas, install a carbon monoxide alarm in the kitchen, as close to the water heater as possible.

* Unplug or switch off electrical appliances at the wall when they are not being used. Electric kettle, toaster, microwave oven and blender are particularly hazardous.

* Use a ladder to reach high shelves instead of standing on a stool, which could tip over.

* Never leave a deep fryer unattended on the stove.

* Ensure that work surfaces and sinks are well lit, so you can work safely.

* If you have young children, install security locks on cabinets and drawers that contain hazardous liquids or objects.

* Store matches, sharp items and household chemicals well out of the reach of children.

* Try to keep young children out of the kitchen when you are cooking.

* Turn pan handles toward the wall so that children cannot grab them or accidentally knock them.

* Install guard rails around the stove to keep children away.

* Warn children that stove-tops especially electric burners, which may show no signs of being hot can burn even when the power is off.

* Store sharp knives well out of the reach of children, ideally in a wooden knife block.

How to Make Your Living Room Safe:

* Avoid running electric wires across the floor because these could be tripped on.

* Never run wires under a carpet where people walk, the carpet may expose bare wires.

* Check all electrical wiring regularly because worn insulation can cause fires.

* Don't overload electric sockets with multi-point adaptors. Use an extension cable with four or six socket outlets instead.

* If you have an open fire, make sure that you use a fire - guard, especially when children are present.

* Secure carpets and rugs firmly so that people cannot trip on them. If you have polished wooden floors, place nonslip mats underneath rugs so that they do not move.

* Always check an open fire before going to bed at night and make sure that a fire-guard is in place.

* Install a carbon monoxide detector beside a gas fire.

* Unplug or switch-off electric fires and televisions at the wall socket at night.

* Empty all ashtrays and dispose of their contents safely at night.

How to Make Your Hall and Stairs Safe:

* Ensure that halls and stairways are well lit especially if children or elderly people are likely to use them.

* Leave a nightlight on at night.

* If you have young children, install safety gates at the stair way entrances, and keep them closed.

* Check for worn areas of carpet, which could cause trips or falls.

* Mats and rugs on parquet or polished wood flooring can be dangerous. Place nonslip mats underneath them to prevent them from sliding.

* Install extra grab rails on the stairs to assist elderly people.

* Keep the areas at the top and bottom of the stairs clear at all times.

How to Make Your Bathroom Safe:

* Secure a grab rail on the wall above the bathtub to provide extra support especially for elderly people.

* Run the cold water first when preparing a bath for young children.

* Never leave young children on their own in a bath.

* Make sure that shower units are fitted with efficient thermostatic controls, so that there is no risk of anyone being scalded.

* Never use an electrical appliance, such as a hair-dryer or radio, in a bathroom.

* Never touch an electrical item with wet hands.

* Make sure that bathroom lights and wall-mounted heaters are controlled by pull-cord switches or switches outside the room.

* Check gas water heaters regularly to ensure that flues remain clear and install a carbon monoxide detector or alarm.

* Never mix two types of household chemicals, such as bleach and bath room cleaner. The combination can produce poisonous fumes and keep all such chemicals out of the reach of children.

How to Make Your Bedroom Safe:

* Keep a flashlight and your cellular phone (if you have one) by the bed at night, for use in an emergency.

* Never smoke in bed. You could fall asleep with a lit cigarette.

* Never wrap a cloth over a bedside light to reduce brightness. The heat from the bulb could cause a fire.

* Keep bedroom floors clear of mess especially if elderly people or young children may get up to use the bathroom at night.

* If bedroom windows have locks, keep the keys nearby because you may need to use windows as emergency exits. If possible, leave bedroom windows unlocked at night.

How to Make Your Child's Bedroom Safe:

* Never use pillows or comforters in cribs for babies under 1 year old.

* Do not allow very young children to sleep on the upper level of a bunk bed because they may fall out.

* Make sure that there is no gap between the mattress and bed rail through which a child could slip.

* When a young child moves out of a crib, secure guard rails to the bed so that he / she cannot fall out.

* Make sure that there are no lamps within reach of a child's crib or bed. Light-bulbs get hot and pulling on the wire could be dangerous.

* Install plastic covers over electrical outlets that are not in use.

* Use plug-in night-lights so that children can find their way if they need to get up in the night.

* Install removable window guards that allow windows to normally open only slightly for ventilation, but fully during an emergency.

Yard Safety

Yards and outside buildings present many hazards, so safety is an essential part of yard maintenance. Check that garden yard boundaries are secure, especially if children or animals are likely to be outside; that paths and courtyards are free of debris; and that toolsheds and equipment are securely locked. Gardening itself can be a dangerous pastime, so make sure that you also take the necessary precautions when working with tools and machinery.

How to Prevent Accidents in the Yard:

* Install security cameras outside home and monitor them regularly.

* Remove or fence off any poisonous plants or trees in your yard.

* Keep children and animals away from any area that has been sprayed with weed killer.

* Cover outside drains with metal grills so that children's feet will not get caught inside them. Grills will also help prevent garbage from blocking drains.

* Fence off ponds, swimming pools, and any other water features in the yard if the space is used by children.

* Do not attempt to use a wheel barrow to move heavy equipment; it will be very unstable. It is much safer to use a cart instead.

* Don't risk injuring your back by lifting a heavy load on your own and ask someone to help you.

* Never run a power line along a fence or bury it underground when running electricity to a shed or workshop. Use special shielded cable underground or run cable overhead, supported by a special wire. When in doubt, consult an electrician.

* For outside lighting and water feature pumps use a 12-volt system with a transformer and house it in a dry shed or other outdoor building.

* When you are operating electrical power tools such as lawnmowers or hedge clippers, always secure a circuit breaker between the piece of equipment and the power source. Make sure that you wear the appropriate safety gear, such as safety goggles, protective gloves and if necessary ear protectors.

How to Secure Boundaries:

* Make sure that boundary gates are kept locked and that bolts are well out of the reach of young children.

* If a gate leads onto a road, secure a fastener that a young child cannot operate. Alternatively, fit a small bolt out of sight on the outside of the gate.

* If you have dogs or young children who use the yard, block off any gaps in hedges or fences through which they could escape.

* Remember that as dogs and children get bigger, fences may need to be raised or strengthened.

How to Make Garages and Sheds Safe:

* Always keep garages, workshops and sheds securely locked.

* Store rakes, shovels, electrical equipment, and sharp tools, such as saws and knives, well out of the reach of children.

* Label all dangerous materials and ensure that container lids or caps are firmly closed.

* Store garden chemicals, such as pesticides and fungicides out of the reach of children. Never pour expired chemicals down sinks or drains and dispose - off them safely.

* Keep chemicals in their original containers. Never store them in other bottles.

* Never install fluorescent lighting near moving machinery because it produces a faint strobe effect that can confuse the senses, making the use of such machinery dangerous.
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Publication:Insurance Journal (Karachi)
Date:Dec 31, 2017
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