Accidents at home aren’t unusual, and while some won’t necessitate emergency medical attention, there are others that will. Head injuries, cuts and burns are the three most common household injuries that bring people to the emergency department, with head injuries being of most concern, says Dr. Jacques Kobersy, Chief of the Emergency Medicine Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.
“It is important that anyone who has a head injury gets emergency medical evaluation as soon as possible, as there is a chance that a head injury can lead to a brain hemorrhage, or a hematoma – both of which can be fatal.”
Dr. Kobersy also advises visiting the emergency department for a burn injury to ensure the wound is properly dressed and managed. Minor burns may be treated at home, but if blisters or skin discoloration occurs, a trip to the emergency department is recommended.
A minor cut can also be treated at home by washing it thoroughly and applying a clean, absorbent dressing to the wound. However, you should seek emergency medical attention for any cuts that bleed a lot, have a jagged edge or become contaminated.
How to prevent accidents at home
Falls are the main cause of head injuries in the home, and it isn’t just a tumble down the stairs that can inflict a severe injury, a small trip that results in you hitting your head against something, can be equally dangerous. To minimize the risks of falls at home:
- Maintain a clutter-free home. Keep staircases, hallways and high traffic areas in the home free of items like shoes, toys and wires.
- Install easy to access lighting around the home, and use it, particularly when going up or down stairs.
- Remove rugs or secure them to the floor using grips or underlay.
- Place mats beside the shower or bath to dry feet on before stepping on to the bathroom floor.
- Avoid wearing overly loose or baggy clothing that might cause you to trip and wear non-slip socks or shoes.
Burns are most likely to occur in the kitchen, but there are other items within the home that can result in minor or more serious burns. To reduce the risks of burns in your home:
- Ensure saucepan handles always face the side of the hob or stove.
- Keep the kettle and its cord away from the surface edge.
- Never leave the iron unattended when in use, unplug it once finished and store it somewhere safe to cool. The same rule applies to hairstyling items like flat irons and curling tongs.
- Store any chemical products, lighters, matches and flammable products out of reach of children and in accordance to their safety instructions.
- Never place hot drinks on the floor, always keep them on a table.
Incorrect or careless use of sharp items like knives can result in both superficial and deep cuts. Use these tips to prevent them:
- Keep knives visible and away from the edge of work surfaces.
- Using a blunt knife can make cutting difficult and cause your hand to slip, so use a sharp knife and a cutting board.
- Store knives and any other sharp items like tools safely and securely.
- Don’t get distracted when using a knife or sharp instrument, keep your eyes on what you are doing.