Most people expect their homes to be safe havens. This expectation can lead many into a false sense of security. Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death among U.S. children and young adults ages 1-24, despite the fact that these injuries are often both preventable and predictable.1
Burns from fire, poisoning, suffocation and falls are major causes of unintentional deaths in Baltimore City. However, by becoming informed and making changes around the house you can prevent these injuries to yourself and to others. Listed below are facts about and prevention tips for specific kinds of injuries:
1. National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2010: With Special Feature on Death and Dying. Hyattsville, MD. 2011.
Deaths from fires and burns are a major cause of unintentional deaths here in Baltimore City. Here are some things you should know about fires:
- Baltimore's fire mortality rate is triple the U.S. average
- Most fire deaths are preventable
- Having working smoke alarms on every floor of your home doubles your chance of surviving a fire
In order to keep you and your family safe, follow these simple rules:
- Make sure you have working smoke detectors on every floor of your home
- Call the Baltimore Fire Department’s Smoke Detector Hotline at (410) 396-7283 to request free smoke alarms for your home. They will install them for you.
- Test your smoke alarms once a month
- Make sure you change the batteries twice year during Day Lights Savings
- Create and practice a fire escape plan with your family
- Only smoke outdoors and always extinguish smoking materials in large deep ashtrays that are on a sturdy surface (like a table)
- Keep matches, lighters and ashtrays out of the reach of children
- Never leave a stove unattended while cooking. Keep potholders, curtains, etc. at least 3 feet away from burners
- Use space heaters in well-ventilated areas and at least 3 feet away from anything that could burn
- Use flameless candles or make sure an adult is present at all times around lit candles
- Remember to double check that you’ve turned off all stove burners, ovens, space heaters and candles when you leave a room or go to bed
- If the smoke alarm sounds, GET OUT AND STAY OUT
To learn more about fires in Baltimore and fire safety, please visit the Baltimore City Fire Department. For information about receiving a free smoke alarm, please call the Baltimore City Fire Department at 410-396-7283.
Carbon Monoxide, or CO, is considered a silent killer. Each year, many Baltimore City residents are at risk for CO poisoning. By learning more about CO and the dangers of CO, you can help prevent CO poisoning.
What You Should Know About CO
- CO is a gas that cannot be seen or smelled
- CO can build up in your house and be deadly
- Any fuel burning appliance (stove, furnace, oven) that is not vented can be a source of CO
- In order to keep you and your family safe from CO, follow these simple rules:
- Install a CO detector--these can be bought at any hardware store and can run between $30 and $50
- Never use your stove or oven to heat your home
- Keep your range clean and free of build up
- If your CO alarm goes off, get out and stay out. Call 911 to have your home's CO level checked by the Fire Department
- Note: In Baltimore City, a carbon monoxide detector must be installed outside every sleeping area in all dwellings with fuel-burning appliances.
- A "dwelling" includes all rental units, houses, homeless shelters, hotels, and other places where people sleep.
- In rental units, it is the landlord's responsibility to install a carbon monoxide detector, but the resident's responsibility to maintain it.
- Click here to download the full list of building and fire codes (pdf).
If you are having trouble paying your heat and electric bills, the following organizations can help:
Unsafe sleep environments are a major cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. Unsafe sleep environments include the following:
- Placing baby on stomach or side when the baby is not rolling over on own
- Baby sleeping in bed with parents, siblings, etc
- Soft bedding, toys or soft objects under or around the infant during sleep
- Lack of crib or improper use of crib
- Smoking in the house
In order to help prevent SIDS, remember the ABCs of Safe Sleep:
- Always have baby sleep alone
- Always put baby to sleep on back
- Always put baby to sleep in a crib
For more information about SIDS or safe sleep, please contact the Maternal and Infant Health Unit of the Health Department at (410) 396-3769 or the Healthy Homes and Communities Home Visiting Program at 443-984-2460.
To Prevent Falls
- Use nightlights to illuminate hallways and bright lights over staircases and porch ways
- Have handrails on both sides of the stairs and steps
- Secure trip hazards such as loose tiles, carpeting or floor stripping. Avoid rugs that can’t be kept in place
- Use a ladder or step-ladder for climbing instead of a stool, chair or other piece of furniture
- Place grab bars in the tub and shower
- Secure baby gates at the top and bottom of stairs and window guards on second-level windows if babies or toddlers are present
- Lock poisons, cleaners, medicines, perfumes and all dangerous items away and out of the reach of children
- Keep all cleaners in their original containers. Do not mix them together
- Use medications carefully, follow directions as indicated. Use child restraint lids
- Keep the Poison Control Center number posted near all telephones, 1-800-222-1222