Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Accident-proof Your Home: A Checklist

Welcome to the most dangerous place on earth: your home. More than 15,000 people suffer fatal accidents at home each year in America. Staying less accident-prone may predict whether you make it to old age or not, so Dr. G is here to give you some guidelines for preventing accidents in the home.

Living Room

  • Are lamp, extension, and phone cords out of the way of foot traffic?
  • Are passageways free of clutter?
  • Do small rugs and runners stay put?
  • Are curtains and furniture at least twelve inches from baseboard heaters?
  • Does your fireplace have a good screen to catch sparks?
  • Has your chimney been inspected and cleaned during the past year?
  • Has your furnace been serviced professionally in the past year?


  • Do you keep paper towels, hand towels, curtains, and other things that can burn away from the burners and oven?
  • Are stove tops and counters clean and free of grease?
  • Do you turn pot handles inward so that they can't be bumped?
  • Are kitchen appliances, such as your coffeemaker, toaster, and microwave, plugged into separate receptacle outlets?


  • Do you have a carbon monoxide detector near each occupied bedroom?
  • Is your phone within easy reach of your bed?
  • Do you have a light or lamp within easy reach of your bed?


  • Does your tub or shower have a nonskid surface, such as a mat, decals, or abrasive strips?
  • Does the tub or shower have a sturdy grab bar?
  • Do you keep your hot water temperature 120 degrees or lower?


  • Do all entrances have outdoor lights?
  • Are walkways free from cracks and holes?
  • Is your address marked outside in large, clear numbers so emergency personnel can find your house quickly?

Throughout Your Home

  • Have you taken steps to reduce tripping and slipping hazards in your home?
  • Is there at least one smoke alarm on every floor of your house?
  • Do you have a fire extinguisher?
  • Have you developed a fire escape plan?
  • Do you replace worn or frayed cords promptly, and never run them under furniture or carpeting?
  • Do you keep emergency phone numbers by the telephone or put them on your speed dial?
  • Do you keep medicine and household cleaning solutions out of the reach of children?

Excerpted from How Not to Die by Jan Garavaglia, M.D.

Copyright © 2008 by Atlas Media Corp. and Jan Garavaglia, M.D.

Permission granted by Crown Publishers, New York, NY