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Prepper home safety – how to prevent and avoid accidents in the home during a crisis.

In a pandemic, many of us prefer not to attend a hospital or medical setting. If going to a hospital or clinic is necessary, fine, but we try to avoid creating situations where we have to go.

There are many other types of crisis that would evoke the same response from us. 

We want to stay safe in our homes and avoid mishaps and accidents. No one wants to compound an already challenging situation with an infection or broken leg or severe burns or medication overdose or interaction.

I thought of my grandmother who had caught the side of her leg on a metal washtub. The jagged piece of metal had been there for a while, but no one fixed or did something so that she wouldn’t tear her leg on it and that is exactly what happed.

Her leg infected, to the point of being almost gangrenous (as my Dad told it). When he came to the house after meeting Mom, he saw grandmothers’ leg and grabbed his kit. He poured the powdered sulpha that the soldiers carried straight into the hole in her leg. He stopped the infection and when she died later, she still had the leg. 

Today, I thought about various mishaps that can occur in our homes and property if in a house and decided to become proactive about addressing any areas of concern, but first I had to make a list of potentially hazardous situations. 

This list does not include every potential hazard or risk. All other ideas, suggestions or discussion welcome.

My second office job was in insurance, in the claims department. Most claims for the household were fires and fire and/or smoke damage that originated in the kitchen and were fires started by leaving unattended pots, usually with grease, on the unattended burner.

Pot handles sticking out instead of turned so as not to catch someone’s clothing, can cause serious burns if the pot comes down on them or anyone near by.

Fire extinguishers and large boxes of baking soda as backup for kitchen fires.

Good quality pot holders can prevent burns and the possible complication of infection.

Dull knives are dangerous. Sharp knives slice properly and don’t slip the way a dull knife will. Cuts are a vector point for infection or a serious wound where it is hard to staunch the bleeding.

Cook food well done. A gut infection is not a good thing to have at anytime.

Battery operated carbon monoxide alarm on all levels. Test them monthly and have backup batteries for them on hand.

Smoke detectors on all levels and back up batteries for them.

Fix any trip hazards such as loose carpets, rugs or other flooring.

Solid hand rails on all stairs, preferably a hand rail on each side of stairs.

Hand grips in shower and bath areas. A person I know slipped and fell in a glass walled shower and was seriously injured with injuries that would be a challenge in the best conditions.

Bath mats for the floor of the shower but watch the mats that can actually float on the tub floor rather then grip it. Be careful the first few times trying a new bath mat.

Watch electrical or extension cords laying around or anything that can be a trip hazard. That is not just the domain of the infirm or aged. A broken hip can happen to anyone.

Wear eye protection in the home if doing anything that can compromise your vision.

Keep your home in good repair and maintenance, including heating systems and plumbing, and electrical. By doing that in the best of times, you will be in a better position to survive the event without something breaking down where parts may not be easily available or an item be easily repairable.

If in a damp climate, a good dehumidifier can keep your home at the right humidity and help prevent mould growth.

For areas prone to heavy rainfall, grading the yard to slope it away from house is important. The water can flow away from the house in down spouts (or into rain barrels if collecting water for drainage.

Also for heavy rainfall, a sump pump to pull water away from the home and a sewer back flow valve keeps overloaded systems from backing sewage up into your basement. 

Rodent traps in case of rodents driven to other areas by a disaster that could go after your preps and carry disease. Fleas on rats was how the Bubonic Plague happened and mouse droppings can carry the Hanta Virus. Watch for droppings or signs of packages being chewed.

If you see one rat, beware because that is how they migrate. If the rat colony gets too large, the older rats send a younger one off to find another place. If that rat returns, then the other rats splitting off from the colony follow the first one back and instantly there is major infestation.

If the first rate is prevented from going back, the rats will try another location.

Medications, cleaning products and anything poisonous needs to be in locked cabinets or child-proof or in tamper proof cabinets for children or infirm persons in your care or who those who might SIP/BO and remain with you for all or part of the crisis.

The same applies to guns and ammo or any other weapons safety. It can get overwhelming SIP/BO and mistakes can happen. People are tired and stressed and can make mistakes. If anyone SIP/BO with you, ensure they know to practice good gun safety also.

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  • Comments (21)

    • 4

      Another tip: Have kids. If there is anything sharp, pointy, or dangerous, they’ll find it. It’s not like I have an unsafe house or am putting my kids in danger, but just happens. Curious little bunch they are.

      Having some good eye, ear, hand (glove), and foot (sturdy boots) protection is also very important. If a tornado was to take out your house, you don’t want to be going through the rubble with your bear hands and flip flops. Stay on top of your tetanus shot too.

      • 4

        Hi Jay – Kids are natural home safety inspectors – they will find it. A girl I knew who was partially deaf, used to work shifts. Her four year old son waited until she was asleep, then got up and over time took apart her TV with a butter knife. She had no idea what he was doing until the TV wouldn’t start and a piece fell off of it. 

        Eye, ear hand (glove) and foot (sturdy boots) is spot on and a very necessary part of protection. If the crisis literally hits home (or a neighbours home), those items can make a world of difference.

        I almost think a couple of hard hats wouldn’t be a bad idea.

        Tetanus shot is an excellent point. I track my husbands and mine. That is one thing you don’t want to let lapse.

        Thank you very much Jay

    • 6

      It’s the kitchen and outside access house doors (sometimes windows) needing max attention.  The kitchen can be the fire trap and the doors can be the escape barriers.

      Florescent tape outlining doors – or, at least the corners – and the door knob/handle works wonders when evacuating dwelling. The corners, at least, on kitchen window(s) planned for an emergency evac.  This tape also outlining the “fuse”/breaker box/cabinet.

      For “notice events” such as a wx report of gale force winds, a plastic bag with work gloves on the evac doors’ handles.   

      On the stairway walls, consider removing the pictures hanging via frame alligator fitting and nail in wall.  The picture falls off during heavy winds and going down the stairs, person falls down into wall.  The small protruding nail causes large gash until person clear of wall nail during fall.

      In theory … many safety features are costly … a charging flashlight in a docking station that goes on when electricity from wall stops – and this flashlight is portable for person to use w/o docking station. How many of these lights ? In theory versus reality….  Budgets combined with other safety arrangements govern.  The same involves portable fire extinguishers. 

      It’s not theory re the work gloves.  Basic, light utility gloves are a basic requirement.  They are on sale frequently enought to collect a small inventory.

      Above just ideas to provoke thought.

      Since I’m in Hurricane Alley,.. outside of view, nearby each evac door is an ax and pike pole. 

       

      • 4

        Hi Bob – I really like your ideas! Using florescent tape to outline the breaker box and key areas for exit is brilliant! I’m going to use it on my gas valves downstairs and on the outside main shut off. If it’s pitch black – then it’s well worth it to include it, too.

        I like the gloves in a bag on door idea. When there have been tornado warnings here, (which isn’t an overly frequent occurence), but I take them seriously. I get everything in place that would be needed to survive if taking shelter downstairs. There have been times I didn’t like the look of the sky (greenish cast) and took preps downstairs just in case. 

        I like those dynamo flashlights where you get 1 hour of light for 10 minutes (?) of cranking. 

        Good point about the pictures and nails as a hazard. I have a pile of work gloves in the house and in the shed. I got a great bundle deal at Princess Auto.

        The ax and pike pole out of sight by the the doors is also a very good idea. I really think that it is easy for people to think of being rescued from the outside in, instead of having to battle their way alone and possibly injured from the inside out.

        Thank very much, Bob – much appreciated.

      • 7

        You make a good point about picture frames bob. I’ve been trying to buy picture frames that have plexiglass instead of normal glass when possible. I’m tired of bumping walls and having shattered glass everywhere. 

        Also, make sure you don’t have any picture frames or heavy/sharp objects above your bed. You don’t need an earthquake or a husband having a nightmare of spiders bump the wall and drop a picture frame on your head. 

      • 2

        Essie, Above reminds me of an incomplete project of mine … life interferences … must complete soon.

        My project is to remove glass from “important” framed pictures – long gone family members – an overseas cemetery picture – and to place picture into a folded plexiglass “frame”. Walmart had 2 kinds: one had part of the overall plexiglass “folded over ~ 3 inches to serve as a table stand and other type was flat, folded-over piece of plexiglass

        Objective was in case of an evacuation with shack at risk of loss from eg hurricane, the few non-replaceable pictures become prime evac items.

        FEMA does mention to evac with these type of pictures, non-replaceable bible from the “old country”, …  in some of their pubs.  

      • 5

        An addendum, Essie,

        https://www.chubb.com/us-en/individuals-families/resources/emergency-evacuation-packing-list.html

        Chubb insurance co. does cite family photos at link’s number 10.  Could not find the FEMA mention of evacuating with photos.

        So far, 2 of my important photos are in 9 X 12 plexiglass (might not be actual plexiglass at Walmart), sealed with GE sealant, then in a ZipLoc pouch.

    • 4

      Lots of good ideas, thanks.

      Just on your last point, stress causes bad things to happen. In an emergency, stop and think before doing anything crazy. If you notice, EMTs rarely run: doesn’t do anyone good if they twist an ankle in haste. When you are the cavalry a few saved seconds isn’t worth the risk of not coming over the hill at all.

      Just like when lost in the woods, STOP:
      stop, stay calm
      think
      observe
      plan

      Oh, and have sensible shoes by the bed ;^)

      • 4

        Hi Pops, 

        Thank you for bring up very good points about how to safely navigate the immediate stress of an emergency. It is our instinct to run, but as you said EMT’s rarely run for exactly the reason you stated.

        STOP is also a very good acronym to remember. 

        I sleep with my gear beside on my nightstand. All I need is the fireman pole. lol.

    • 3

      Another potential risk for fall is clutter around stairwell especially if there is a door and landing in the area. I put a 2 tier boot/shoe organizer to reduce volume in that area. A fall down a flight of basement stairs into into cement floor is worth preventing.

      With covid many are using all kinds of new cleaners. Be very careful of any new cleaners, especially ones that you can leave on the floor without rinsing.

      I went down hard on my kitchen floor one time because I was using an ultra sanitizing cleaner to prepare the floor (and entire house) for my husband’s return home from hospital. 

      The cleaner didn’t appear to leave a slippery residue, but when I walked in after it dried it was like glare ice. I was up and landed hard on my back. This also applies to cleaners in the tub/shower area.

      Also, get help if trying to move anything heavy or that can potentially come down upon you.  In a crisis, it is better to avoid sprains or a disc injury in your back.

      Because I have done this, watch for breaking your toe on bed frames. My little toe was broken by being caught on the bed frame and separated from the rest of my foot. I set and taped it at home (hospital does same thing). That little injury has been a nightmare to heal and greatly affects my balance. I would have preferred to have avoided that one so heads up on metal bed frames that can catch your toes and break them.

      Also, same bed frame has sharp spots which has caused skin puncture. If skin punctured, infection possible and definitely to be avoided, especially during a crisis.

    • 3

      A good way to prevent injury just durin normal day to day life is havin a motion sensin light at night. We bought this red light one. It doesn’t activate durin the day, and will only go on durin the night if it senses movement. Makes goin to the bathroom less stressful than bumpin into walls. The red light preserves your night vision so you can easily go back to sleep. Somethin that I’ve needed in my later years with needin to use the restroom more frequently.

      Somethin like this would be good for an emergency situation. It has a built in battery that is always chargin and if it senses a power outage, the light will turn on helpin you to get around safely.

      • 4

        Roland, Yes indeed ! These are good types of products to prevent injuries and for emergencies.

        Non-white lights are also a blessing for reading maps under certain field conditions.

        As part of my EDC is a Sidewinder brand mini flashlight w/ white blue and green light selection. It’s clipped on to my shirt – always.

      • 1

        What is a blue and green light used for?

      • 3

        Blue is real good for map reading. Green also good.

        Red OK for general use but must mention some maps have features printed in red so it’s not the ideal choice.

        I’m from the oil industry so was not always using standard printed maps.

      • 3

        How long have I been alive and I am just NOW learnin this!? Thanks for teachin me somethin new today Bob. Preciate it!

      • 4

        Bob – I carry a white/blue/green mini flashlight. I picked it up at the local hardware store. It is great. I use it for walking dog on the blue flash feature.

        That feature really keeps cars at bay when walking. I swear some of them think a person on foot is a target.

      • 4

        Awesome, Thanks Roland! The Amerelle has exactly the kind of function I was looking for to replace my old nite light in the bathroom and it is on my shopping list this month.

        I also just had additional plugs installed in key areas in the bedroom and hallway to plug in a light.

        I hear you about rest room – high blood pressure and diuretics. Some nights I just give up and stay awake.

        The med I take isn’t potassium sparing so I have to be careful for dehydration. I’ve landed in hospital a couple of times. That’s why I now have cases of gatorade, juice and a list of postassium rich foods in my budget binder for fast reference. 

        Which makes me think that a part of staying safe in a crisis, is that anyone on meds should have the hard copy of side effects or cautions (that the pharmacy hands out) in large font in their prep binder.

        It is possible to begin experiencing side effects or adverse effects at any time. Also it is good to know what are safe and appropriate ways to treat adverse effects such as dehydration.

        Thanks again for info.

      • 2

        Glad you enjoyed the night lights. Good idea about keeping a record or medication side effects too.

        Durin a time of disaster, we may not be able to make it to the doctor to ask why somethin is going on with our bodies and have to be our own doctor. 

    • 2

      Preventable falls are another hazard to beware of during a crisis.

      Here’s an example of one, I called my mid-70’s Mom from BC to check on her one night (this was before she moved in with me there). The conversation went something like this: 

      Me: Mom where the heck were you? Are you alright?

      Mom: Oh, I’m fine dear, I just got back from the hospital.

      Me: The hospital? What happened?

      Mom: Oh, it’s nothing. I just shouldn’t have gotten up on the counter.

      Me: The kitchen counter? How did you get up there? (Note I knew better than to ask why)

      Mom: Well, dear, I took a chair and I got up okay, but then I was trying to reach the top of some cupboards to clean them and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor, silly me.

      The next sound was of my forehead ever so lightly banging into the wall beside me.

      An aunt decided to climb a ricketedy ladder to clean her garage gutters. She was 80. But then both her daughters are nurses, so she was feeling lucky.

      Preventable falls are preventable because there are safer ways to climb ladders and take care of tasks around our homes. Use proper equipment and if possible have a spotter to help stabilize and keep you safe.

      Also, leaving ladders open and around one’s property is a disaster waiting to happen for children (and one of my aunt’s apparently). I rescued a neighbour’s toddler son who had joyfully climbed his way to the top of an 8 foot ladder. His mom didn’t notice that he had slipped out of the house. The ladder was open and set up in the back yard and he went to town climbing it. Fortunately, I was in a running mood and set off like a greyhound out of the starting blocks.

      So, if you climb, climb safely, especially during a crisis. And keep the ladders put safely away. You don’t want my aunt in your yard cleaning your gutters.

      • 4

        Speaking of ladders… Make sure that you don’t have any ladders kept outside. You are just providing the tool for burglars to climb a fence or get into a window. Plus, if some dumb person were to use it and fall they could sue you.

        Doesn’t make sense how someone could sue you if they steal your ladder to break into your house and steal more of your stuff and they hurt themself and turn around and sue you for having a dangerous house, but it happens in this messed up sue-happy world we live in.

      • 2

        Olly, Really good points. It is a good idea to do a sweep around the house and property and look for anything that can be used to vandalize or break in to one’s home or garage.

        Inside the home, I never leave my knives in the open, like in those knife blocks. If an intruder breaks in, it just screams “here stab me with this.” Same goes for anything I can be tied up with, duct tape etc. All of that stuff is well out of sight.

        The lawsuit aspect is very real. I never talk about my liability insurance either in case passersby/neighbour overhears it and decides to “slip and fall.”

        Also, this may be different in your area, but I always check that trade/contractor/repair person hired who sets foot my property to do a job has proof of their insurance and current WCB (workers compensation board (Canadian).

        If they don’t have this and they and/or their employee(s) injure themselves on your property or in your home, you are liable for their costs/damages.

        This is based on Canada, but I would check it out if you aren’t sure, because I had no idea about this under I moved into my current home.

        Also, today I was on a ladder inside doing some work and had a cordless phone with me, in case I fell.

        Lesson learned from being on the farm and very ill with a flu. I crawled/dragged myself toward kitchen where phone was and stopped when I realized the phone was out of reach and I couldn’t stand to get it. It was the old wall mount phones, but the point is still there. If you can’t access any phone and have an accident inside the home, you are in bigger trouble.