With all the playing and working we do during the good-weather months comes a higher risk of accidents around the house.
Most accidents are preventable. For example, adding a banister to a stairway will greatly reduce the risk of falls. So will keeping clutter and children's toys off the stairs, and adding lighting to eliminate shadows that might cause people with deteriorating eyesight to lose their footing. Check stairs for popped nails and loose treads.
Bathrooms are equally dangerous, and the remedies are similar to those for stairs: Add grab bars to the shower or bathtub. Use bath mats with nonskid backs so they will not slide across damp tile floors when you step on them. (The same holds true for throw rugs.)
Poison control is especially important in homes with children. Your first step is to post the poison-control hotline number near all your telephones: 800-222-1222.
Make sure all your cabinets, medicine and otherwise, are childproof. Keep medicine out of reach, get rid of prescription drugs that have expired, and store household chemicals safely.
You will deal more with insects in the summer, so be careful where you spray. Children and pets that come into contact with insecticides can get sick.
Among the hazards associated with outdoor activities are poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.
Stephen C. Pennisi, who directs the Itch Information Center sponsored by Lanacane products, said poison ivy consists of three smooth or toothed leaflets, with the middle one having a longer stalk. The leaflets are reddish when they emerge in the spring, but turn green during the summer. Poison oak also has three leaflets, while poison sumac consists of two rows of seven to 13 leaflets.
If you can wash skin with soap and warm water within 15 minutes of contact, you may be able to prevent a reaction or, at least, minimize the reaction, which manifests itself in a couple of days, Pennisi said.
Cooking outdoors? Never leave the grill unattended. Make sure you keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
Do you have a swimming pool? Most insurers will not write you a policy unless your yard is completely fenced in, and premiums for such policies are typically higher.
The Home Safety Council makes the following recommendations:
* Pool fencing should be at least five-feet high and have self-locking and self-closing gates. Gate latches should be out of children's reach.
* Make sure there is a life vest available.
* Never let children in the pool unsupervised.
When trimming the rosebushes, do you wear gloves for protection from thorns?
When using power tools indoors or outdoors, do you wear safety glasses?
Nearly 7 million people in the United States are injured every year while engaged in a project around the house.
Although a survey showed that 82 percent of respondents claimed to regularly use safety goggles, the National Safety Council says that more than 1 million people nationwide sustain eye injuries each year, and that 90 percent of such accidents could be prevented by using protective eyewear.
Few do-it-yourselfers use earplugs or earmuffs while working with loud power tools or lawn mowers, even though the National Safety Council says 30 million people are exposed to noise that damages hearing.
Even fewer wear hard hats, even though 450,000 emergency-room visits each year are the result of being struck by falling objects, the safety council says. And 25 percent of all emergency-room visits are the result of injuries that occur around the house.
The most common untreated injuries included dirt in the eye, cuts, and hitting fingers with a hammer.
Before you begin a home-improvement project, understand the potential hazards that may be involved and plan accordingly. If you are using a ladder to paint the exterior of your house, you might want to employ a safety harness.
Choose safety eyewear designed for each job. For example, your spectacles may have safety lenses, but that does not mean the impact of flying debris will not shatter the lens and send glass or plastic into your eye. Not all safety goggles will protect you from splashed chemicals.
Do not drape an extension cord over an area you will repeatedly walk over during the project, because you could trip over it. As you complete parts of the project, clean the area, removing nails and screws, pieces of scrap lumber or drywall.
Wear the right kind of respiratory equipment. A disposable dust mask with a single strap reduces only the amount of pollen or nontoxic dust you could inhale. Government-approved respirators, which are available in home centers and hardware stores, are better protection from toxic dust and fumes from chemical strippers used in refinishing furniture.
Other kinds of filters should be used for spray painting or pesticide application. Follow product guidelines. Wear gloves or work clothes to protect your skin from contact with pesticides. That also goes for do-it-yourselfers who install fiberglass insulation -- the fibers cause itching.
Ventilate properly. Never strip furniture in a closed room. Open windows, use fans, make sure the polluted air is constantly being replaced by fresh air.
Keep a fire extinguisher or bucket of sand handy.
Keep clothing, hair and jewelry from becoming entangled in power tools. You can use duct tape to temporarily bind loose clothing. Keep hair under a hat.