Common Home Safety Hazards and How to Fix Them

feet in a shower on the wet floor
  • 1-10 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-500

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of accidents happen at home. It is, after all, where we often spend copious amounts of time.

If you know what to look for, you can put your DIY skills to work to reduce home hazards and create a safer space.

1. Slippery Shower

Just add soap and water to create a recipe for slips. Bathtubs and showers are one of the most common places for falls, so take the time to focus your home safety efforts on this area. Install hand grips inside and outside the shower.

For elderly or unstable residents, also include a removable or fixed bench. On the shower or bath floor, use sticky mats or decals that provide traction for feet. Also make sure the area outside the shower is safe with a grippy shower mat and towel racks within easy reach.

2. Tripping Hazards

person tripping on rug in living room

Other areas of the home also contribute to the risk of falls. For example, rugs should be taped down, anchored on all sides with furniture, or removed altogether. In closets, organize the space so items are within reach.

When it is necessary to get to the top shelves, keep a sturdy step ladder nearby to handle the task. Address areas around the home with elevation changes and add safety handles for doorways into and out of the home or garage.

3. Stairways

Start by putting a secure baby gate at the top and bottom of any staircases in homes with small children. Ensure the safety of stairways inside and outside the home by checking treads, the durability of step materials, and handrails.

Add rails if needed, enhance lighting for visibility, and provide a slip-free surface.

4. Decks

warped deck board poking up

Wood has the potential to warp, crack, splinter, and rot so it’s important to check decking frequently for any safety concerns. Again check the stairs and railings. Use a planer on elevated edges of wood planks.

Sand and stain or paint the deck every few years. Also check the deck covering, whether it’s a pergola, roof, or other material. Make sure it’s safe and unlikely to fall.

5. Cracked Cement

Walkways, driveways, and patios made from cement can crack and create tripping hazards. Fill small cracks with epoxy. Larger gaps may need to be ground down with an angle grinder before filling the space.

6. Poisoning

Chemicals and medicines inside and outside the house are a concern, particularly for curious children. Installing locks on cupboards or using locking cabinets are good options.

You can also rely on top shelves children cannot reach, even if they’re climbers. Always leave chemicals in their original, clearly-labeled containers.

7. Fires

To avoid chimney fires from fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, inspect your chimney for cracks and clean each year. Never leave open flames unattended, including those in outside fire pits and on the stovetop.

Install a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, garage, and near any other fire sources inside the home.

Candles are a common source of fires, so switch to LED candles instead. Also monitor your holiday tree for moisture and never leave your tree plugged in at night or while you’re away from home.

LED candles

8. Drowning

Pools are the greatest risk for drownings. Always use a locking gate for underground pools. For above-ground pools, never leave children unattended and always remove the ladder that provides easy access.

Never leave a bathtub full of water in a home with children and stay within an arm’s reach if they’re in the bath.

9. Scalding

Water heaters are equipped with temperature control for a few reasons. One is so you can turn it down when you plan to be out of town. The other is to keep the water from getting too hot.

Reduce the risk of water burns by keeping water heaters at 130-140 degrees. Burns can still occur at these temperatures, but you’ll have more time to respond than at higher temps where scalding happens within seconds.

10. Construction Mistakes

While it’s well-reported that older homes can cause health issues from unsafe materials like asbestos or lead paint (both should be dealt with btw), even on new construction, you may find there are some safety hazards.

Before you take ownership of your new home, having a professional inspection can divert a lot of future headaches. Your inspector can point out issues that could affect water or air quality, as well as electrical and other safety issues.