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Commonly overlooked health hazards

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Commonly overlooked health hazards

The home should be a place of sanctuary from the outside world. However, the truth is most accidents occur in or around the home. In fact, home hazards claim hundreds of thousands of lives every year, with most of those involving children under 13.

Clearly, this issue deserves more attention. But many homeowners still have no idea how their own home can be so dangerous. So to help, here are five commonly-overlooked potential hazards you should check in your home.

Power outlets

If you have small children, then checking power outlets and covering them up is obviously a must. But the real problem is outlets that have something plugged into them.

An inquisitive child will quickly learn how to remove a plug from a socket. Once they do, they risk not only electric shock, but also strangulation from the cord itself. And don’t forget the lamps and other equipment that can fall on them if they tug on the cord.

Poisonous chemicals

It makes sense to keep dangerous chemicals and cleaning supplies in cupboards and out of sight. Unfortunately, many cupboards are the perfect height for children to get into. Between 1999 and 2004, nearly 15,000 children were hospitalised due to poisoning.

Some adults manage to poison themselves too. Usually it’s from misusing prescription drugs, but some have also unintentionally swallowed cleaning products and other chemicals.

Batteries and small magnets

Choking hazards are a common enough danger for small children. Even adults put things in their mouths when they should know better. But when small batteries and magnets are swallowed they can become very dangerous, even life threatening.

If a child swallows a lithium “button” battery, it can lodge in the upper esophagus. When this happens, the battery’s current produces a chemical reaction that can burn a hole in the surrounding tissue, leading to extreme discomfort and even death.

Small magnets can also be highly dangerous. If more than one is swallowed, they can attract each other through intestinal walls, restricting blood flow to the intestinal lining. If they aren’t discovered quickly and removed, they can cause permanent injury or death.


This may seem like jumping at shadows, but floors are a real danger in the home. Falls onto hard surfaces are a leading cause of death in the home, and the leading cause of non-fatal injury in Victoria.

Spills can result in major injuries, and items such as children’s toys, stray cords and loose carpet can become tripping hazards.

So wipe up spills quickly, get children into the habit of cleaning up their toys, and make a thorough inspection of all of the floors in your home. And if you find anything that could be a tripping/falling hazard, do whatever you can to correct the problem.

Exercise equipment.

Exercise equipment is designed to strain the body so it becomes stronger. Unfortunately when the body is unprepared, or the equipment is misused, it can cause serious injury.

For younger children, the dangers are obvious. When not in use, unplug electric exercise equipment and place the cord well out of reach of younger children. And children should never be left alone in a room with exercise equipment.

Adults are also at risk. Emergency rooms deal with exercise equipment-related injuries such as light muscle strain, broken bones and even severed appendages.

Before you throw yourself into your exercise, learn how to use the equipment. And be careful not to overdo it. Remember: you’re trying to get healthy, not wind up in the emergency room.

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