Pot Handles
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20 Hidden Dangers Lurking in Your Home — and What to Do About Them

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Pot Handles
Monkey Business Images/shutterstock

Where You Hang Your Hardhat

A home is a sanctuary. A house, on the other hand, is a structure — and danger can lurk in both the most obvious and unlikely of places. Tens of thousands of people are badly hurt or killed every year doing mundane things or making home repairs in the place where they spend most of their time. Kids, adults, and seniors alike would be wise to watch out for these hidden household dangers.

Related: 25 Most Dangerous Toys of All Time

Household Poisons
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Household Poisons

More than 50,000 people die from accidental poisoning in their homes every year, according to the National Safety Council — that’s 57% of all preventable injury-related in-home deaths. The items most likely to injure or kill, and that should be secured as tightly as poisons, include medicine, cosmetics, cleaning products, laundry detergent, medical creams, pesticides, products containing alcohol, glue, paint, drain cleaners, and automotive liquids such as antifreeze and windshield washer fluid.

Related: 35 Foods That Are Dangerous If Not Prepared Properly

The Elderly and Stairs: Descending stock photo
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Stairs

Once poisons are out of the picture, falls kill more people — more than 24,000 a year — than anything else in the home, according to the NSC. When it comes to bad falls, staircases are the biggest culprit. Although older adults are most prone to falls, the danger is significant across all age groups. Keep staircases well-lit and free of toys, shoes, and other objects. Remove any loose carpeting and focus on functionality over cosmetic appeal when choosing banisters and railings.

Related: For Seniors: How to Decide When to Move From Your Home?

Flooring
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Flooring

Carpets, rugs, and other flooring are second only to stairs when it comes to causing falls — and cause more than 2 million a year, according to the National Floor Safety Institute. Most of the more than 617,000 annual emergency room visits from flooring mishaps are for injuries to the head, face, and lower body. Choosing the right rug pad can go a long way in preventing falls on carpet. Wood, linoleum, and other hard surfaces should be kept dry at all times, too.

Related: 32 Ways You’re Ruining Your Home and Don't Even Know It

Practicing swimming skill at her own house swimming pool
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Pools

About 10 people die in non-boating drowning accidents every day, according to the CDC, with pools being the biggest hazard. Many more near-drowning victims require hospitalization and suffer long-term health problems. Children are especially at risk, and boys and men are much more likely to drown than girls and women. Learn to swim, learn CPR, and make sure your children do the same. If you have a pool, invest in a high-quality lockable barrier, supervise children whether they can swim or not, swim in groups or at least pairs, don’t substitute floating pool toys for safety devices, and abstain from alcohol until the pool is retired for the day.

Related: 20 Reasons Not to Put in a Backyard Pool

Best Home Treadmills For Every Budget
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Treadmills

Treadmills hurt thousands of children and adults every year. Gaps between the belt and frame can trap little fingers, while the belt itself can send children or adults careening off the treadmill at high speed. Dangling power cords can entangle children, too. Retired boxer Mike Tyson’s 4-year-old daughter was killed by a treadmill cord in 2009. Unplug treadmills when not in use, keep all cords tidy, and don’t let kids near them without supervision.

Related: 14 Exercises People Often Do Wrong — and How to Do Them Right

Fixing Garage door
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Garage Doors

Garage doors are one of the largest and heaviest moving objects in a home — and one of the most dangerous. Garage doors injure up to 30,000 people a year, mostly adults, with fingers being the most commonly injured body part. The electric eye and reversing mechanism are the main safety features; test them once a month by closing the door with a roll of paper towels underneath it.

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Dresser
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Heavy Furniture

Unsecured furniture such as bookcases, shelving units, and dressers seriously hurt more than 33,000 people between 2010 and 2015, many of them young children. To prevent tipping, secure heavy furniture to studs in walls or with anchors in drywall.

Related: 15 Dangerous Products That Had to Be Recalled

Deadly Blinds Are Better than Curtains
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Cords on Windows and Blinds

For babies, toddlers, and small children, dangling window cords are among the most deadly hazards in the home. Deaths and serious injuries are so common that organizations exist solely to educate the public about the danger. Use cordless window coverings or a product such as the Safe-T-Shade Fashion Wand to eliminate dangling cords.

Related: 15 Things to Buy (And 6 to Skip) Right After Moving

Pot Handles
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Pot Handles

Stovetop accidents are one of the most common causes of serious burns, especially among children. Keep pot handles turned inward and away from the edges of stovetop ranges, and cook on the rear burners when possible. When cooking with oil, be especially careful to keep children a safe distance from the stove.

Related: 20 Cooking Hazards That Could Have Disastrous Results

Smoke detector
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Fire Danger

A home catches fire every 93 seconds in the United States. The best way to prevent injury is to have properly placed smoke detectors that are tested regularly. Cooking, smoking, and carelessness are the top three most common causes of residential fires.

Related: 19 Steps to Prep Your House for Fall and Winter

dryer lint trap
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Clean the Fireplace
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Fireplaces

Beyond the obvious flames and smoke, fireplaces breed a hidden danger called creosote, a toxic byproduct of wood-burning that collects in the chimney. Over time it gets caked on and disrupts the chimney’s performance, which makes fireplace accidents more likely. There are secondary dangers, as well. When creosote particles enter the air, they can irritate the skin and eyes and even cause respiratory damage. Maintain your chimney, getting it inspected and cleaned according to a predetermined schedule.

Related: This Spring Home Maintenance Checklist Could Save You Thousands

Handicapped Disabled Access Bathroom
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Toddler boy in dangerous situation at home. Child safety concept.
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Mold
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Mold

Often smelly and always gross, mold is usually a warning that a part of the home has too much moisture. Serious health problems and fatalities from dangerous toxigenic mold are actually quite rare, according to the CDC, but the presence of mold can aggravate health issues and cause irritation and allergic reactions. The CDC has a big and thorough guide on identifying, managing, removing, and preventing the re-growth of mold. If you see unusual spots or if a room feels damp or smells musty, the CDC’s mold tutorial is a good place to start.

Related: What You Don't Know About Mold Can Ruin Your Life

Deflated balloons
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Latex Balloons

More than one-third of toy-related choking deaths involve common latex balloons, making balloons the No. 1 cause of all choking deaths in the United States. Use mylar balloons instead of latex, and if you do choose latex balloons, don’t let children under 8 inflate them. Always discard latex balloons when they break or become deflated.

Related: 30 Dangerous Products That Were Popular When You Were a Kid

Button Batteries
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Button Batteries

The small button batteries commonly used in remote controls, watches, cameras, toys and other devices are potentially deadly. They can get stuck in the child’s esophagus or airway, which is more than just a standard choking hazard in this case. Trapped in the body, they can leak corrosive acid and quickly cause horrible internal burns and sometimes death. Always secure button batteries out of the reach of children.

Related: Lifesaving Skills Worth Learning for Emergencies

refrigerator magnet
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Magnets

Like button batteries and balloons, small magnets pose a serious choking hazard to children — their unique properties, however, make them more dangerous than your average, run-of-the-mill small thing. When more than one is swallowed, magnets can attract each other and bond together inside the body, even when on different sides of an intestine. If that happens, intestines can rupture and require immediate, life-saving surgery.

Install Carbon Monoxide and Radon Detectors
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Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide can leak from dryers, ovens, fireplaces, water heaters, boilers, and furnaces. It’s odorless, colorless, and tasteless, so it often goes unnoticed until its effects set in. When they do, those effects can be easy to overlook because they tend to mimic the flu or the common cold. The remedy is to invest in carbon monoxide detectors in your home, place them strategically and test them regularly, just as you would with smoke detectors.

Related: 18 Easy Ways to Create a Healthier Home

Gun in drawer
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Guns

Unlike the rest of the hidden dangers on this list, guns are most dangerous when they’re not hidden. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, there are guns in 1 out of 3 homes with children, and 1.7 million children live with guns that are loaded and unlocked. Nearly nine out of 10 accidental shooting deaths among children occur in the home, and suicide and homicide rates also go way up with easy access to firearms. If you can’t follow basic firearm safety in a home with children — keeping guns stored unloaded and secured, with a lock no child has the key or code to — don’t own a gun.

Related: Warning Signs That Someone Might Be Suicidal