If you’re one of those people who consider home safety a top priority, you’ll benefit a lot from this article. We’ve tried our best and collected some of the most useful and effective home safety measures to prevent home accidents, injuries, and burglaries.
These actionable safety tips will definitely make your home a much safer place. Our goal is not to give you a lengthy and detailed guide to home safety (there are entire books about the topic), but to share some of the most important home safety rules with you in an easy-to-digest way.
We’ve tried to create really helpful content for you but we know that every home is different and sometimes you may need unique solutions. So, when in doubt, always consult with a professional.
Note: You’ll find the printable home safety checklist at the end of the article.
Home Safety Measures to Prevent Fires
Prevent Electrical Circuit Overloads
Avoid connecting too many devices to a single electrical circuit at the same time because that can cause an overload. While it’s true that the built-in circuit breaker usually shuts off the power in the case of an overload, in rare cases it can lead to a fire.
It’s also a good practice to unplug devices that are not in use.
Eliminate Flammable Materials Around Power Strips
Power strips occasionally generate a significant amount of heat and any flammable material (like newspaper, Kleenex, or rag) close to them can easily catch fire.
Install Smoke Alarms – a Potentially Life-Saving Home Safety Measure
Smoke alarms (or smoke detectors connected to a fire alarm system) can literally save lives. Installing smoke alarms is an essential home safety measure.
Do not skip this simple step. A fire can spread extremely fast and it’s very important to be aware of the situation and act as soon as possible. A reliable smoke alarm is a valuable help that makes early detection much easier, even if a fire occurs at night.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends having smoke alarms installed in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping area, and on every floor of the house. Don’t forget to test your smoke alarms regularly to make sure they’re working properly.
Keep Fire Extinguishers Within Reach
Similar to smoke alarms, fire extinguishers are an essential part of fire prevention. In case of an emergency, you can gain valuable time if you keep your fire extinguisher(s) in an easily accessible place.
Fires often occur in the kitchen so it’s recommended to have a fire extinguisher that works on class B fires close to it.
Usually, for home kitchens your best bet is an ABC fire extinguisher, however, you can keep an additional class K fire extinguisher (these are designed for fires that involve oils and fat) nearby to further improve safety (you can find a detailed guide on fire extinguisher types here).
Also, you want to have one in each bedroom. If your house has multiple floors make sure you keep at least one fire extinguisher on each one.
Make sure you know exactly how to use it because in case of a fire you want to start extinguishing it immediately instead of spending time figuring out how the device works.
Smoking Is a Leading Cause of Home Fire Death
Careless smoking is responsible for most home fire deaths. Nearly half of those deaths are caused by a fire that starts in the living room (source).
- Never smoke in bed or in an armchair where you can easily fall asleep.
- Another important safety rule is to never smoke after consuming alcohol or taking a drug that reduces alertness.
- It’s a good practice to douse your cigarette with water before leaving it in the ashtray (use heavy and stable ashtrays to avoid tipping over).
Keep in mind that the safest place to smoke is outside.
Accidents, natural disasters, and other emergencies happen. Being prepared always pays off. Make sure you have a reliable safety kit at home, such as this one from American Family Safety.
Never Leave Candles Unattended
Many people like having candles in their homes because they can make the whole room more intimate and cozy. Unfortunately, despite being a straightforward home safety measure, it’s pretty common to leave burning candles unattended.
- The number one candle safety rule is to always keep a burning candle within sight and always extinguish it when you leave the room.
- Also, make sure there’s nothing flammable close to the candle (always keep flammable materials far from any open flame).
- Sometimes it might be tempting but never use a candle as a night light.
- Consider using flameless candles.
Avoid Fires Caused By Heating Equipment
Heating equipment is a leading cause of fires in the U.S. (source). However, you can significantly reduce the risk of a fire by applying some simple home safety rules.
- You should keep flammable materials at a safe distance from heating equipment (at least 3 feet away according to NFPA).
- Always turn space heaters off when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Also, don’t forget that you should have the chimney and the heating system checked by a professional at least once every year.
Have a Fire Escape Plan and Share It With All Your Family Members
Creating a fire escape plan is a basic home safety measure that you want to take seriously. You should specify at least two ways out of each room and determine the fastest way out of the building.
You should carefully test your escape plan because there’s a chance that it works in theory but not in practice (for instance, check if the windows or doors can be opened easily and quickly, remove obstacles, etc.).
Don’t forget to share the escape plan with all your family members and make sure they completely understand it and know exactly what to do in case of a fire.
Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is an extremely dangerous odorless, tasteless and colorless gas that can cause very serious health issues, including death.
It’s usually produced when fuels containing carbon (like gas or oil) are not burned properly inside of a malfunctioning (or improperly ventilated) appliance, thus carbon monoxide begins to leak into the air.
Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Carbon monoxide (CO) is extremely hard to notice without the proper safety device. The severity of the symptoms depends on the concentration of CO in the air. You may experience some preceding symptoms like headache, nausea, weakness, dizziness, or vision problems before the life-threatening ones but it’s not a rule.
Installing carbon monoxide detectors is a safety measure that can literally save your and your family’s life.
If the CO detector sounds, do not wait, leave the building immediately, and then call for help. Don’t forget to test your CO alarms regularly according to the manual (at least once a month).
Make sure you also check out our illustrated guide on the proper placement of CO detectors.
Have Your Heating System and Chimneys Checked and Cleaned Every Year
Carbon Monoxide Poisonings are more common in winter when heating systems are in use.
Make sure your heating appliances are working properly and your chimneys are clean: have them checked before each heating season. This simple step will give you peace of mind and one less thing to worry about.
More Tips to Prevent CO Poisoning
- Never run a vehicle with a fueled engine inside your garage or any other closed space. Opening the door of the garage is not enough, run the vehicle in the open air.
- Never use the stove for heating purposes.
- Always use grills and generators outside your home and at a safe distance from doors and windows.
Home Safety Rules to Prevent Kitchen Accidents
Reduce the Risk of Burns, Cuts, and Other Injuries
Burns and cuts are pretty common household injuries that most often happen during cooking and food preparation. Fortunately, you can significantly reduce the risk of cuts and burns by taking some simple safety precautions.
- Never leave items unattended on a stove that is in use.
- Use protective mitts when handling hot pots, baking, or roast pans.
- Never pour water on hot oil even if it’s burning. You can use a class B or class K fire extinguisher from a safe distance or simply try to cover the pan (to prevent the fire from getting oxygen) or throw baking soda on it. Don’t forget to turn the burner off.
- Always turn the pan and pot handles inward.
- If a burn happens, hold the burned body part under cool running water for about 15-20 minutes. Don’t use ice because that can lead to tissue damage. If needed, seek medical help.
- Don’t use dull knives: they are responsible for more injuries than sharp ones (source).
- Always cut on a cutting board.
- Keep the sharp knives separate from other cutleries (you can use a knife rack or a knife guard set).
- You may want to consider using cut-resistant gloves or a finger guard to make food preparation safer.
- If you drop a knife, don’t try to catch it: instead, step away as fast as you can.
- Never keep electrical devices close to the sink or other sources of water.
If you’re interested in kitchen safety for seniors, have a look at our comprehensive article here.
Prevent Kids from Kitchen Accidents
- Make sure small children have no access to the stove (you can use stove locks), electrical appliances, hot liquids and pots, knives, matches, lighters, hazardous chemicals, and other items that may injure them.
- Never leave children without supervision in the kitchen.
- Don’t hold a child while cooking.
- Never give hot food or drink to a child.
Obey Basic Food Safety Rules
- Always cook food to a safe temperature to kill all bacteria and other pathogens that could be harmful (you can find a detailed chart here). Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food.
- Cooked food should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours because bacteria grow fast in food left out of the refrigerator.
- Reheat cooked food thoroughly.
- FDA recommends setting the refrigerator temperature at 40°F or below to prevent or slow down the growth of bacteria. Also, make sure you keep the freezer temperature below 0°F.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly in hot, soapy water before and after food preparation. Also, keep kitchen surfaces clean and wash them regularly.
- Avoid cross-contamination by always keeping raw meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood apart from other foods.
- Fruits and vegetables should be always rinsed thoroughly.
Do Not Wear Loose Clothes While Cooking – an Often Overlooked Home Safety Rule
Loose clothing and untied long hair can easily catch fire while using stove burners. That’s why it’s recommended to wear short and tight clothing.
Another solution is to simply roll the sleeves up. If you have long hair or wear jewelry, don’t forget to tie them up.
Home Safety Measures to Prevent Accidents In the Bathroom
Besides kitchens, bathrooms are the most hazardous spots in a house where the majority of home accidents happen. Kids and seniors are especially prone to suffer injuries in bathrooms.
Luckily, most bathroom accidents are preventable. Let’s see some useful home safety measures.
Avoid Slips and Falls
- Always keep the floor dry and clean up water puddles as soon as you can.
- Use non-slip rugs (or non-slip decals) and place a bathtub or shower safety mat to avoid slips during showering. We’ve collected some simple and effective methods to make tile floors non-slip in this article. Make sure you check it out if you want to make your slippery tiles safe.
- Remove any soap remnants in the bathtub and the shower.
- Make sure the bathroom is well-lit both day and night.
- If needed, install safety grab bars next to the toilet, shower, and bathtub. Never use a towel bar instead of a grab bar.
If you want to know how you can make a bathroom safe for seniors, check out our detailed article here.
Avoid Electric Shock
Non-fatal electric shocks are not as rare as most of us might think: there are more than 30,000 cases each year (source).
Unfortunately, electric shocks can have serious, even fatal consequences, so taking safety precautions is extremely important.
- Even a small amount of water can significantly reduce your body’s resistance to electricity, so it’s crucial to have your hands dry when you plug in, unplug, or use electric appliances. Never break this safety rule.
- Make sure there are no uncovered light bulbs in the bathroom. Use wet rated lights where splashes of water are a concern.
- Never use any electric appliance while bathing or showering (except those that are completely waterproof according to the manufacturer and work with a battery). It’s a good practice to use the hairdryer outside the bathroom.
- Install GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets and test them regularly to check if they work properly.
- Do not use an electric heater in the bathroom, or if you do, make sure it’s designed to use in damp spaces, and always keep it at a safe distance from the bathtub, shower, and other sources of water.
- If you have a child, install plug covers to further enhance safety.
Bathroom Safety Tips for Kids – Prevent Drowning and Other Safety Hazards
- Never leave a small child unattended in the bath, even if you use bathing aids, like bath rings. Drowning can happen all of a sudden, so always keep your eyes on your kid in the bath.
- For the same reason never leave water in the bathtub.
- Install a toilet lock so that toddlers can’t open the lid and they won’t fall into the toilet.
- Consider keeping the bathroom door closed.
- Set the hot water temperature at 120°F or below to prevent burns.
- Make sure children don’t have access to electric appliances, chemicals, medicines, and other hazardous items.
Home Safety Tips to Prevent Burglaries
Reinforce Your Doors
- Install a durable deadbolt (preferably ANSI Grade 1). High-quality deadbolts also serve as great burglar deterrents.
- Consider adding sash jammers to your door.
- Use a strike plate lock instead of a standard door chain. It’s much more durable, and it makes a burglar’s life harder if they want to get into your house.
- You can easily reinforce your door from the inside by using a security bar. It requires no installation, so if you prefer no drilling and screwing, it’s worth having a look at it.
- You can also use a door barricade to secure your door from the inside.
Secure Your Windows
- Install a durable and reliable window lock.
- Protect your windows by installing security window films or screens. You can also use security grilles to burglar-proof the windows. If you want to secure your windows without bars, here’s a helpful article.
- Install window alarms and motion detectors.
- Plant thorny bushes around your windows. This way intruders will run into difficulties when they try to approach them.
For more details read our all-in-one guide to window security here.
- Install dummy or real security cameras and motion sensor lights.
- Pretend you have a guard dog by placing a large bowl and a big muzzle in your yard where burglars can see them easily. You can also put a warning sign on the fence or door.
- Install a video doorbell to monitor suspicious activities and scare crooks away, even if you’re not at home.
- If you don’t have a home security system installed, you can use a fake security sticker.
- Pretend someone is at home, even if it’s not true: you can leave the TV or radio on, or use timers that turn on and off the lights randomly.
- Join a local neighborhood watch.
As a side note, we have an in-depth article on the most effective methods to deter burglars here.
General Home Safety Tips – Avoid Common Safety Hazards
- Improve Stair Safety
Stairs should be well-lit and clutter (and toy) free. Make sure they are not slippery (if needed, use anti-slip tapes) and install handrails on each side.
Kids should never play or jump on the stairs. Do not let small children use the stairs without supervision (consider using baby gates).
Seniors may need additional stair safety measures.
- Improve Pool Safety for Kids
Children should never be in the pool without adult supervision. If you have a small child, install a fence around the swimming pool that restricts your child’s access to it. You should also install an automatic pool safety cover. A pool alarm adds an extra layer of safety. Consider teaching your child to swim to reduce the chance of drowning.
- Prevent Strangulation
Some kids love to play with cords which could lead to hazardous situations. Make sure small children don’t have access to cords (including jewelry, bags, drawstrings in clothes, etc.). You can use cord wraps to keep the window and other cords out of reach of your kids.
- Prevent Choking
Keep small objects (like coins, toys with small parts, batteries, etc.) out of your child’s reach. Cut up foods into small pieces and encourage your child to chew them well. Make sure your kid is always in a sitting position while eating. Avoid small, hard, and slippery foods (like nuts or candies) under the age of four (source). Small children should eat only under the supervision of an adult.
- Prevent Poisoning
Keep medications and hazardous chemicals in their original container and out of reach of kids (high up or locked in a cabinet). Make sure you never leave the packaging of any chemical open, not even for a moment.
Printable Home Safety Checklist (PDF)
You can download the printable home safety checklist as a PDF file by clicking here.