Though not the most dangerous room in your home – that distinction belongs to the bathroom – thousands of people are injured or killed in their bedrooms each year due to accidents. Your bedroom should be a refuge from the world, the place where you safely restore your energies and rest up for another day’s work – not a pitfall of potential dangers. While life is never entirely without risk, you can reduce your family’s chance of mishap by taking safety steps in their bedrooms – particularly in bedrooms used by seniors or children.
Falls Are a Bigger Danger Than You Think
Bedroom falls are not uncommon, and can be deadly – approximately 600 Americans die from a fall out of bed each year, far more than the 33 people unlucky enough to be killed by lightning. The majority of people seriously injured or killed by a nighttime tumble are seniors, but many young children are injured as well. To reduce the risk of bedroom falls:
- Attach a safety rail to the bed frame of anyone at risk – typically young children and seniors with mobility or cognitive impairments.
- Move your child to a toddler bed as soon as he shows interest in climbing out of the crib.
- Place slip-proof mats under area rugs, or avoid them altogether if falls are a high risk.
- Always keep a clear path to the bedroom door – no toys, shoes, or any other belongings should block access.
- Provide a nightlight in the bedroom of anyone prone to getting up in the dark.
Blow Out the Candle
According to the National Fire Protection Association, out of the estimated 10,630 house fires started by candles each year, 36% start in a bedroom. Never leave a candle burning unattended, and if you are feeling drowsy, blow the candle out – don’t risk falling asleep with the flame still lit. Safer still, use an electric candle – all the romantic glow without the fire danger.
Don't Let an Electrical Fire Start in Your Bedroom
More electrical fires start in the bedroom than in any other area of the home. Old wiring and faulty electrical outlets cause the most fires, but other causes are:
- Using light bulbs with wattage too high for the lamp
- Placing fabric over a lampshade
- Running electrical cords underneath an area rug
- Overloading extension cords
- Using a space heater too close to flammable fabrics such as drapes or bedding – keep at least three feet of clearance around space heaters
Smoking: It's Not Just Dangerous for Your Lungs
According to the United States Fire Administration, smoking is the number-one cause of house fires that result in fatalities, killing approximately 2,300 people each year. Twenty-four percent of these fires start in the bedroom, often the result of the smoker falling asleep, leaving the cigarette to drop onto the mattress, blankets or carpet, where it smolders until a fire erupts. The solution is simple – do not smoke in bed, stub out cigarettes completely before discarding them and be sure to have a working fire detector in or near every bedroom in your home.
Crib Safety Is Crucial
It might be an old wives’ tale that cats suck the breath from a baby, but it’s an unfortunate truth that crib mishaps lead to 10,000 infant ER visits each year. Luckily, it’s easy to safeguard your child:
- Don’t use an old crib – though some are quite beautiful, they are not up to current safety standards, which were stringently updated in 2011.
- Stay away from drop-side cribs – after at least 32 infant deaths from drop-side crib malfunctions and mishaps between 2000 and 2010, this style of crib is no longer sold in the US.
- Register your crib with the manufacturer so you’ll be notified of any recalls.
- Keep pillows, heavy blankets and large stuffed animals out of the crib.
- Don’t use crib bumper pads – your baby can be suffocated or strangled by the pads or their ties.
- The crib slats should be no more than 2.5 inches apart – watch out for older cribs that often had slats far more widely spaced than this.
- Avoid cribs with decorative cutouts at the head or foot.
- The crib mattress should be firm, with no sagging under your baby’s weight.
- There should be no space between the mattress and the sides of the crib.
- Keep the crib away from window blinds or curtains.
Though it’s impossible to eliminate every risk in life, you can make your family’s bedrooms safer by using common sense and following the safety tips listed here.