While we all consider home a haven from the outside world, many people live with unseen safety hazards. Data from the National Safety Council (NSC) reveals that 175,500 preventable injury-related deaths occur in homes and communities annually. Moreover, roughly 52 million medically consulted injuries occur at home each year.

Awareness is the best prevention. Knowing about common risks and oversights in households makes preventing and avoiding them possible.

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Home Hazards by the Numbers

Which hidden hazards are making homes dangerous? According to data released by the NSC on the top causes of preventable injury-related deaths in homes and communities in 2021, poisoning is the biggest threat lurking in most households. Adding up to almost 100,000 preventable deaths annually, poisoning covers both accidental ingestion and overdoses. The list of the most common preventable tragedies in homes is rounded out by falls (38,490), choking (3,950), drowning (2,262), mechanical suffocation (1,120), and fire (260).

Sadly, the number of deaths in homes is on an upward trend. Rates of preventable injuries occurring in or around the home have increased 320% since 1999. Occurrences jumped by 13% in 2021 alone. Experts say that this alarming upward trend is mostly driven by increases in unintentional poisonings and falls.

6 Common Home Safety Hazards

1. Poisoning

Poisoning is the biggest risk in any modern household. According to the Health Resources & Services Administration, more than 90% of poisonings happen at home. Here are some ways to cut poisoning risks at home:

  • Lock up all cleaning products.
  • Store art supplies and medicines out of reach of children. 
  • Never store chemicals and cleaning products in the same places where food is stored.
  • Keep laundry detergent and colorful detergent capsules out of reach of children.
  • Keep antifreeze and other household chemicals in their original containers.

2. Falls

Losing footing around the house can be deadly. Young children and seniors are especially vulnerable to slips, trips, and falls at home. In fact, millions of seniors around the country experience serious falls each year. Here are some sobering facts about falls at home from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • More than 3 million seniors are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries annually.
  • One out of five falls will cause broken bones, head trauma, or other serious injuries.
  • More than 800,000 Americans are hospitalized each year due to fall injuries.
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are related to falls.
  • Falls are one of the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
  • Medical costs for fall-related injuries topped $50 billion in 2015.

Many devastating fall injuries can be prevented using inexpensive resources that can be purchased at local stores. First, always use safety gates to close off staircases in homes with children or seniors. It’s vital to check all handrails for stability. Adding anti-slip grips under rugs and mats in a home can help reduce falls. Create systems for making sure that leaks and pooling water aren’t allowed to linger to make floors slick. Finally, add better lighting to poorly lit areas of a home.

3. Fires and Burns

While a family’s favorite pastime for bonding may be cooking, the truth is that a home’s oven is one of its deadliest features. Cooking causes nearly half of all home structure fires in the United States. Cooking-related fires cause a total of 4,820 injuries each year. The 550 deaths caused by cooking fires annually make up 21% of all home fire deaths.

While an oven is an obvious liability, it’s not the only hot spot for danger in a home. The National Fire Protection Association shares that fire departments respond to more than 7,600 candle-related home fires each year. Candle fires cause 81 civilian fire deaths, 677 civilian fire injuries, and $278 million in direct property damage every year.

Fire safety often comes down to sticking to routines. Top tips include extinguishing candles before leaving a room, using only the backburners of stoves when cooking around children, never disabling smoke alarms while cooking, keeping fire extinguishers in accessible spots, tossing electronics with frayed wires, and always unplugging electrical devices that aren’t regularly used.

Don’t live without smoke detectors. Many people assume that they will “notice” a fire before it gets too large to contain. This is inaccurate. The U.S. Fire Administration shares these facts:

  • Three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms.
  • More than 38% of home fire deaths result from situations where no smoke alarms were present.
  • The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.

A home should have at least one smoke alarm for each floor. That includes the basement level. It’s crucial to have a smoke alarm near every sleeping area of the house. Ideally, fire alarms should be tested monthly.

4. Carbon Monoxide

Capable of causing illness and sudden death, carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas produced any time a fossil fuel is burned. While more than 500 people die from accidental CO poisoning annually in the United States, another 10,000 people seek medical attention.

CO poisoning symptoms include dizziness and impaired vision. It’s impossible to know that CO is present in a home using the senses alone. Only a properly functioning CO detector can alert homeowners to danger. In addition to installing working CO detectors, homeowners should have HVAC systems, water heaters, or gas-based appliances checked annually for CO leakage. The danger is slightly elevated in older homes.

5. Unstable Furniture

Stoves, bookshelves, dressers, and other heavy pieces of furniture create serious safety hazards at home when they aren’t properly secured. Data from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that 22,500 Americans required emergency-department treatment for tip-over injuries during the period from 2018 to 2020 alone. Nearly 44% of those treated were children under 18 years of age. Sadly, 581 tip-over fatalities have occurred since 2000.

Unstable furniture that isn’t properly secured to walls and surfaces can fall on top of victims. A scenario where a child is using shelves or drawers to climb on a dresser or bookshelf can quickly turn deadly. However, there’s one surprising item in nearly every American home that poses the greatest risk. According to experts, 71% of all child tip-over fatalities involve a television. Televisions account for 62% of fatalities in all age groups.

Crushing and head injuries are the two biggest reasons why people die from unstable furniture. A few simple steps can prevent deaths and injuries from furniture tip-overs. Inspect your home for top-heavy furniture, furniture with narrow bases, televisions that are sitting unsecured on dressers or stands, and stoves that aren’t mounted to the wall with brackets. Installing anchors and brackets that are suited for heavy-duty furniture and appliances can help to stabilize furniture.

6. Asthma Triggers

Asthma triggers in a home create both short-term misery and long-term health risks. Household mold has been linked to asthma in children. While mold can form anywhere that moisture is allowed to enter a home, it’s most commonly found in bathrooms, attics, windows, walls, carpeting, and air conditioners.

The CDC recommends keeping a home’s humidity levels below 50% to keep mold in check. Air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and air purifiers can help with this. Homeowners can monitor mold using store-bought mold meters. Keeping an eye out for condensation that forms near toilets, sinks, windows, and walls is important. Professional mold remediation is needed if a home has an existing mold issue.

Home Hazards for Kids

A household’s littlest explorers often face the biggest dangers. Children love to explore rooms, attics, basements, garages, and other parts of a home while playing. Unfortunately, this can lead them into dangerous situations that parents never anticipated. Next, take a look at the big hazards around the home for kids.


“For children ages 5–14, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death after motor vehicle crashes,” according to the CDC. More children between the ages of 1 and 4 die from drowning than any other cause. Here are some ways to dramatically cut drowning risks at your home:

  • Gate your pool with a system that has a reliable locking mechanism.
  • Never leave babies or small children unattended in bathtubs.
  • Avoid leaving containers or basins filled with water around the home and yard. Small children can drown in cleaning buckets, kiddie pools, and other “shallow” vessels.

Choking & Suffocation

“From 2001 to 2016, there were a total of 305,814 nonfatal injuries and 2,347 choking deaths in children from 0 to 19 years,” according to a 2001 study. Data on suffocation shows that the suffocation death rate for babies younger than 1 year old climbed from 12.4 to 28.3 fatalities for every 1,000 U.S. infants during the span from 1999 to 2015. Researchers cite improper bedding and dangerous toys as reasons for the increase.

Following all proper sleep guidelines is important for ensuring that children aren’t smothered by bedding. Additionally, “plush” toys can be dangerous for infants and toddlers. Parents can control access to potential choking and smothering hazards by using cabinet locks. It’s especially important to keep small objects, plastic bags, and window cords out of reach of small children.

Sharp Objects

Everyday objects in our kitchens, bathrooms, offices, and craft rooms can be dangerous for kids. Be sure to properly store all knives and sharp cooking utensils out of the reach of children. If possible, lock up bathroom scissors and razors. It’s vital that you  put away sharp or bladed yard tools that a child could fall on while running through a yard.

Home Hazards for Seniors

Seniors face unique risks around the home that someone “in their prime” might overlook. Factors that seem “commonplace” to the average person can be a bad slip or fall that’s just waiting to happen for a senior. Put these risks on your radar if you’re managing a senior household.

Clutter and Flooring

Clutter on the floor creates trip hazards. What’s more, even intentionally placed rugs and mats can cause trips and falls if they aren’t properly secured to the floor. Even something as simple as a wet bathroom floor can cause a senior to lose their balance. If you have the opportunity to design a space specifically for a senior, choose a walk-in tub or shower to avoid the risk of falling while bathing.


Most people struggle with balance as they age. Stairs that were “no problem” just a few years ago can become a daily gamble for a senior. Consider a home modification that either moves a bedroom to the main level or adds a stair chair.

Ways Home Security Systems Can Prevent Safety Hazards

Having eyes on your home can help to cut risks off in real time. Monitoring your home provides peace of mind. It can help you to spot an issue from afar before it turns into a tragedy.

Install Sensors and Remote Locks to Protect Chemicals

One of the smartest things any homeowner with kids or seniors in their household can do is to install sensors and remote locks in areas of the home where chemicals are stored. While putting chemicals in high spaces is the default option, it’s not fully foolproof due to the fact that kids often climb to get what they want. With a sensor, you’ll know whenever someone is attempting to access a hazardous item in your home.

Install a Monitored Carbon Monoxide Detector

It’s actually possible to go farther than just installing a CO detector. A remotely monitored CO detector allows you to receive an alert about climbing CO levels even if you’re not home. First, that means you won’t be unknowingly walking into a home with dangerous CO levels. It also means that you can alert anyone who is in the home to get out if they don’t hear the alarm for some reason.

Utilize Cameras for Peace of Mind

It’s great to know who is coming and going at your home. Smart cameras make it possible to “check in” on specific zones of your home throughout the day. The best spots for cameras include entryways, the kitchen, around the pool, a front porch, the driveway, and a child’s play area.

Must-haves on Your Home Safety Checklist

Feeling inspired to make a home safety checklist that will reduce risks for the common preventable injuries covered above? Here’s a great template to start with:

  • Inspect every system and appliance in your home annually.
  • If you’re a cord cutter, consider reinstating your landline to provide service in the event that your mobile phone’s service is interrupted during an emergency.
  • Ensure that your house number is visible from the street for emergency professionals.
  • Clear clutter from floors and stairways daily.
  • Cover all electrical sockets.
  • Secure all furniture with straps and anchors.
  • Create a plan for storing all medications and chemicals out of reach.
  • Create an evacuation plan for fires, natural disasters, and more. If your home has more than one story, an emergency ladder needs to be part of the plan.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on every floor of the house.
  • Keep lighters and matches in locked cabinets.
  • Create pathways between furniture for easy evacuation.
  • Throw away loose throw rugs.
  • Consider anti-slip treads for staircases.
  • Install a four-sided fence with an automatic lock if you have a swimming pool.

Preventable is the word of the day when it comes to common household hazards. Most of the tragedies that claim lives at home can be avoided with foresight. Just a smidgen of planning today can turn your home into the haven your family deserves. Make today the day you view your home with “fresh eyes” that are focused on safety first.

Editorial Contributors
Scott Westerlund

Scott Westerlund


Scott Dylan Westerlund is a real estate and financial writer based in Northern California. In addition to Today’s Homeowner, he has written for Flyhomes, Angi, HomeLight and HomeAdvisor.

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Lora Novak

Senior Editor

Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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