The Hazards of Being at Home & Tips for Staying Safer
Over the past few months, those of us living on the south coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island have spent an unprecedented amount of time in our houses, condos, and apartments. Now, as restrictions related to COVID-19 are loosening up, we’re sure that you and your family are looking forward to visiting your favorite restaurants, stores, and playgrounds and may even be excited about getting back to work.
However, as most stay-at-home orders are lifted, it’s likely that our homes will remain the central hub of activity for this summer and beyond. As you continue to hang around the house, it’s essential to know that it comes with its risks as well.
In fact, according to the National Safety Council, over 37 million people sustain accidental injuries in their home and surrounding community each year. As your local independent insurance agent, HIG wants to help you manage a few of the unexpected risks that may be lurking around your home and property, because keeping you safe—in and out of your home—is important to us.
Risk #1: Cooking more at home may be great for your waistline and your wallet, but be careful that it doesn’t lead to a kitchen catastrophe.
You’ve probably had more sit-down dinners with your family in the past few months than you’ve had in the past few years. This is great for bonding with your loved ones and definitely better for your health and budget than eating out frequently. However, the more time you spend in the kitchen whipping up new recipes, the higher the likelihood you could experience one of these common kitchen mishaps:
- Slicing your finger with a sharp knife
- Slipping on a spilled liquid
- Burning yourself on a hot pan, pot, or other surface
- Splashing boiling water on yourself
- Starting a fire by leaving the room while something is cooking
Combining water, gas, electricity, and lots of foot traffic in one area, the kitchen is clearly one of the most dangerous rooms in your house.
Now for some straight talk about home safety from HIG: Our team wants you to experience more joy than pain from your cooking adventures, so we urge you to always stay alert and focused in the kitchen. Multitasking on your smart phone or iPad while cooking is a surefire way to get distracted and forget about something that’s in the oven, Instant Pot, or air fryer. Other safe cooking practices include always putting on oven mitts before picking up potentially hot items, avoiding loose-fitted clothing that can get caught on knobs or catch fire, and making sure all appliances are unplugged after your masterpiece meal is cooked.
Risk #2: Doing a home-improvement project yourself can give you a great sense of accomplishment, but it can also lead you straight to the hospital.
While there are many positives of having more time around the house, being able to tackle some of the items on your long list of home-improvement projects may be one of the most rewarding—but also, one of the most dangerous. Here are just a few of the ways that well-meaning DIYers injure themselves:
- They forget to wear safety goggles to ward off glass, wood, or anything else that can splinter and fly into their eyes
- They use chainsaws, mowers, or other very loud equipment without wearing protection for their ears
- They forget to protect their hands with a good, sturdy pair of work gloves, leaving themselves vulnerable to blisters, tears, rips, burns, or worse
Whether you’re building a raised garden bed, cleaning out the gutters, putting up floating shelves, or attacking some other project that you feel safe doing yourself, we recommend that you follow all the precautions and guidelines that a professional would use, including utilizing the proper tools, protective gear, and ventilation.
Now for some straight talk about home safety from HIG: Taking on a project yourself—and successfully completing it—can often save you money, as well as leave you with a feeling of great accomplishment. However, if you’re working on an especially extensive or complicated project, like one that involves electrical or plumbing work, it may be worthwhile to hire a professional to ensure it gets done safely and correctly.
Risk#3: Children playing in their yards and neighborhood are a welcome sight, but the great outdoors can also expose them to several pitfalls.
If you are a parent, good weather is one of your best friends these days, because it means you can send the kids outside to play. Getting your children to put down their electronics and head out the door is important to their well-being and your sanity. It is essential, though, to make sure you and your kids understand and talk about the dangers of being outside. The most common ways that kids get injured when they’re playing outdoors include:
- Choking on food while running around
- Drowning in an unattended pool
- Falling off their bike, skateboard, scooter, or anything else with wheels, while not wearing a helmet
- Using a swing, monkey bars, slide, trampoline, or another piece of play set equipment without adult supervision
Teaching your kids about these and other risks in your own backyard, at the neighbors’, or over at the local park or playground is a great first step to keeping them safe all summer long and, hopefully, giving you some peace of mind.
Now for some straight talk about home safety from HIG: Each neighborhood has its specific risks, so we recommend evaluating what particular dangers your home’s location and community might pose to children. For instance, if you live on a main road with heavier traffic, you may want to consider putting a child safety barrier up at the end of your driveway to keep balls from rolling into the street and your kids from going after them. If you live in a wooded area, and your children enjoy playing “wilderness explorer,” you may want to put them in bright colors and check them carefully for ticks when they come home. Finally, the elements can be a serious threat to kids. Whether it’s a hot, sunny day or mostly cloudy and cool, slather them in sunscreen to avoid a sunburn, and give them a full and reusable water bottle to keep them hydrated.
How HIG can help you keep your home a safer haven for you and your family
Some of the risks related to being in your home, like the ones we’ve shared today, are heightened because of the fact that everyone is around the house, now more than ever, due to the pandemic and the social distancing measures to which we’re all adhering.
However, as you and your family begin to venture out of your home to go back to work, enjoy a local restaurant, or visit with friends or relatives, these home-related risks will not disappear. An injury or accident on your property involving you, a family member, a pet, or a visitor can happen at any time.
As your local insurance agent, HIG wants to help you understand all your exposures as a home or condo owner or a renter and whether you are covered appropriately for these liabilities with insurance solutions that meet your specific needs and budget. Occasionally, this might mean that a client should consider adding a personal umbrella policy to enhance the liability coverage offered by their other standard policies. If you have a pool, trampoline, hot tub, or even a pet or teenager at your house, now is a perfect time to talk to a member of the HIG team to learn more about the critical extra liability protection that an umbrella policy provides.
We hope you will put our team’s knowledge and experience to work for you, by contacting us today.