Prepare Your Home for Holiday Visitors
WASHINGTON, D.C. ? Home Safety Council research shows that home injuries cause an average of nearly 20,000 deaths and 21 million medical visits each year, and if hosts have not prepared, busy holiday events and gatherings could increase the potential of home-related injuries for their visitors.

?Unfamiliar surroundings can put guests at greater risk of injury from common household hazards,? said Home Safety Council president Meri-K Appy. ?Being a good host means taking steps to create a safe home environment, which includes making sure visitors are aware of potential hazards and proper safety practices.?

Many American families spend the holidays at the homes of friends and families. In fact, nearly 60 million Americans traveled during the 2003 holiday season.* The Home Safety Council encourages all families to walk through their homes before guests arrive, as well as with their guests to identify hazards and discuss critical safety precautions. Hosts should pay particular attention if very young children or older adults are visiting their home during the holidays, as Home Safety Council research shows that these age groups are at greatest risk of suffering a home injury.

Holiday Home Safety Walk-Through

Home Safety Council research shows that falls, poisonings, fires/burns, suffocations and drownings are the leading causes of unintentional home injury-related death in America. Consider the following home safety checklist intended to help families avoid hazards and prepare a safe holiday home:

Check the lights over all stairways, hallways, porches and entries to ensure all bulbs are working and bright enough to illuminate the entire area below. Use the maximum safe wattage, which is printed inside the fixture.

If tubs and showers don't already have non-stick strips or mats, install them now. Attach a sturdy grab-bar on the edge of the tub. Place nightlights inside bathrooms and/or in the hallways leading to them.

If your guests will include toddlers, purchase safety gates and place them at the tops and bottoms of stairways.

If you have an attached garage and/or fuel-burning heating equipment or appliances, your home should have a carbon monoxide (CO) detector installed to protect sleeping areas.

Post the local and national poison control hotline number, as well as other local emergency numbers, near every telephone. The National Poison Control Hotline is 1-800-222-1222.

To guard against curious children, make sure all matches and lighters, medications, household cleaners, toiletries and other dangerous products are in original containers with child-proof closures and locked in a cabinet. Remember to keep purses, backpacks and luggage out of children's reach too.

Every home must have working smoke alarms installed on each level and protecting all the places people will be sleeping. Before guests arrive, test every smoke alarm and replace any dead or missing batteries.

Prevent scalds by turning your hot water heater temperature to 120?F or less.

When toddlers are visiting, use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning. Be aware that buckets, spas, tubs and all standing water are a serious drowning risk for early walkers.

Make guest rooms safe as well as welcoming. Place a nightlight inside each room and the hallway outside it. Provide each guest with a working flashlight. If possible, place a telephone in each guest room as well.

When guests arrive, walk through your home fire escape plan, pointing out primary and secondary exits and the outside meeting place. Also point out where emergency numbers are posted.

?Families traveling with young children should also ask their hosts what safety precautions are in place before they visit,? adds Appy. ?If appropriate safety measures have not been taken, parents should bring items such as outlet covers and cabinet locks to help make their family vacation a safe one.?

For additional information and resources to help you learn more and stay safe in and around your home, please visit


About Home Safety Council

The Home Safety Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping prevent the nearly 21 million medical visits that occur on average each year from unintentional injuries in the home. Through national programs and partners across America, the Home Safety Council works to educate and empower families to take actions that help keep them safe in and around their homes. To learn more about the Council?s programs, partnerships and resources, visit the Home Safety Council at

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