4 Safety Mistakes You're Making at Home Right Now

Hands around a small house.

You keep your home well maintained and in good order. This provides a feeling of safety, but that feeling may be misplaced with some of the most common health-related hazards close at hand. Here are a few safety mistakes you may not even be aware you're making, and how to remedy them.

1. Not Preparing for Disasters

Regardless of where you live in the United States, disasters happen. Along the southeast, hurricanes play havoc on homes, property, and people. In the middle of the country, cyclones and massive tornadoes do plenty of damage. Along the west coast, earthquakes are an issue. In the north, excessive snow storms and melting ice create numerous issues for residents. Across the country as a whole there are also floods, rock slides, raging fires, and heavy rain, wind, and dangerous lightning.

All of these disasters can lead to power outages, which means no lights, no operable gas stations, and no working ATM machines. You're left with candles, flashlights, and, hopefully, stocked cabinets of canned goods because the food in the fridge isn't going to last for what can be many days without electricity.

To be prepared for any type of disaster, here are the basic items you need to have at hand:

  • Flameless candles and batteries
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Oil lamps with extra oil and wicks
  • Manual can opener
  • First aid kit with extra items including gauze, antiseptic cream, alcohol, etc.
  • Bug repellent, which comes in handy if you're in a situation where standing water attracts mosquitoes
  • Enough fresh water for everyone in the home for a minimum of seven days
  • Enough canned food for at least a week including canned meat, crackers, dried fruit, granola bars, juice packets, or anything that does not require refrigeration
  • Supplies for pets including dry and canned food, litter, and their own water supply
  • A small pet carrier, collar, and leash
  • Extra garbage bags, paper towels, hand wipes, and toilet paper
  • Paper plates, cups, bowls, and plastic utensils
  • Barbecue grill with all the essentials and a pot to boil water
  • Extra cash
  • Extra perscriptions and medication for at least a week
  • A large tarp
  • Extra cell phone chargers
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Ready-to-go bag packed with extra clothing and shoes, personal hygiene items and a blanket, in case you need to evacuate to a shelter

2. Removing Batteries from Smoke Detectors

Checking the batteries on a smoke alarm.

Yes, they can be annoying when they go off for no apparent reason, but that's no excuse for removing the batteries. Smoke detectors can save lives. Just keep in mind that the one time it's sending out an alarm may be for a real life-threatening situation. Keep them active, test them monthly, and change the batteries at least two times a year.

3. Not Keeping Meat Cool

An easy food safety mistake to make is leaving meat to marinate on the kitchen counter. Many people don't give this a second thought. According to FoodSafety.gov, room temperature is the ideal setting for the growth of dangerous bacteria. Place seafood or meat in the refrigerator from the get-go.

4. Forgetting that a Candle Is Burning

A series of candles and burning flames.
The glow of a burning candle is useful in many situations such as power outages, patio cookouts, special events, or setting the tone for a relaxing evening. However, according to the National Fire Protection Association, candles are responsible for 900 injuries and 100 deaths yearly. If you must use them, keep them away from any flammable material by at least 12 inches. Keep children and animals away from candles to avoid accidents. Always blow out the flame when leaving the room, and never go to bed with a candle burning. Accidents happen. To avoid them entirely, use battery-operated flameless candles.