Poison in Your Home–What You Don’t Know Can Kill You

Female Toddler In Kitchen At Home

These days, it is easy to become overwhelmed by things beyond our control, especially when we want so badly to keep our loved ones safe. Although we don’t have the power to control everything, there are some things we can do to make a difference. 

According to the Center for Disease Control, unintentional injury is the third most common cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. Approximately 170,000 Americans die from unintentional injuries annually. Poisoning tops the list of the causes of these deaths (CDC). 

Unfortunately, so much of the danger is right in front of us in the form of household products. Laundry detergent, household cleaners, and pesticides all pose risks (NSC). Fortunately, the simple act of finding places to store these products well out of the reach of children can make a significant difference. It is also important to read labels and avoid mixing products.

Not all household dangers are visible. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas found in homes that is produced by furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, portable generators, and other appliances (NSC). Thankfully, a modest investment in a carbon monoxide detector can help us battle this invisible foe. Just be sure to check your batteries regularly. Some people use annual events to help remind them, such as the time change from daylight savings in November.

Another invisible foe that merits our concern is radon, the “second-leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking” (NSC). Radon can enter your home “through cracks in floors or walls, construction joints, or gaps in foundations around pipes, wires, or pumps” (American Cancer Society). Since radon is not something you can see or smell, the only way to know if the radon levels in your home are high is to test for it. (For test information, see the link below to “A Citizen’s Guide to Radon”).

A commonly overlooked adversary found in the home that can cause serious damage to children is the button battery. Button batteries are found in digital thermometers, remote controls, calculators, cameras, greeting cards, and many other unexpected items. While these batteries may look too small to be of concern, the danger they pose to children is significant. A button battery can be loged in a child’s throat or stomach and cause burns (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). After several hours of exposure, the battery may destroy the child’s voice box or cause internal bleeding. While initial symptoms may be mild, including throat irritation or a cough, left untreated, the battery may cause “abdominal pain, chest pain, and shock” (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia).  This may result in permanent damage with the child no longer able to speak or eat through the mouth. Button battery ingestion has even led to death in some cases (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). 

Household products, button batteries, and poisonous gasses are all worth taking steps to avoid. Yet there is one more concern worth mentioning. Drug overdose is sadly the most common cause of poisoning death. While it can be easy to dismiss this problem as something remote, the issue may be closer than we think. According to the National Safety Council, “in 2018, over 67,000 people died from drug overdoses.” The Texas Medical Center reports that by 2019, Americans were more likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose than a car crash. 

How does this happen? A basic answer comes from the NSC: “People who take prescribed opioids, even as directed, may build up a tolerance. When pain has subsided, some people find it easy to stop taking them and others find it harder to quit.” Sadly, 25% of Americans have been directly affected by opioid use and its accompanying tragedies. Americans either “know someone who has an opioid use disorder, know someone who has died from an overdose, or they have an opioid use disorder themselves” (NSC). If you or someone you know has a concern about opioid addiction, you can find help through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Look around your home for items and substances that might cause harm especially to children. Purchase and maintain smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and have your home checked for radon. Be aware of what medicines you take and what risks accompany them. Keep the number for the National Poison Control Center next to your landline or in your cell phone contacts: 800-222-1222.

At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we want you and your family to stay safe. We care about our community because we are part of the community. Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs.

American Cancer Society
CDC Unintentional Injury Deaths
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
EPA "A Citizen's Guide to Radon"
National Safety Council
National Safety Council "Preventing Poisoning and Drug Overdoses"
National Safety Council "Addressing the Opioid Crisis"
Texas Medical Center

Some Habits Are Good!

Man Replacing Battery In Home Smoke Alarm

Use the daylight savings time clock switch to help you remember important home safety checks.

November first is this year’s date to turn our clocks back. A great habit to adopt is to also use this event to check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. We would also do well to check the furnace and any space heaters we plan to use and make plans to service the fireplace. 

Carbon monoxide (also known as CO) is a poisonous gas we can neither see nor smell. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 150 people in the United States die annually from non-fire-related CO due to faulty consumer products including generators, space heaters, furnaces, stoves, water heaters, and fireplaces. In addition to these fatalities, approximately 10,000 cases of carbon monoxide injury are reported annually, causing headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and seasonal depression (CPSC).

In addition to emitting carbon dioxide, faulty space heaters are also common fire starters. In fact, space heaters “are the type of heating equipment most often involved in home heating fires” (National Fire Protection Association). A whopping 86% of civilian deaths caused by faulty home heating equipment are attributed to space heaters (NFPA). 

Of course, space heaters are not the only culprits when it comes to in-home fires. Over 20,000 fires each year originate in a fireplace or chimney, most of which could be prevented by annual cleaning and inspection by a certified chimney sweep (Chimney Safety Institute of America).

At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we care about keeping our community safe because we are part of the community. Our staff is always ready to meet with you to discuss your unique insurance needs.

Halloween Doesn’t Have to Be Scary!

Halloween 2020 two friends getting ready to trick-or-treat

While some families may opt-out of trick-or-treating this year, there will likely be those who still participate in the annual ritual. Though not all of the costumes will be scary, a few Halloween statistics surely are. According to the National Safety Council, “Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year.” 

While most little goblins and ghosts will be accompanied by an adult, twelve percent of children ages five and under are permitted to trick-or-treat with an older teen or preteen who is likely to be less attentive (Safe Kids Worldwide). 

Be sure your young ones wear costumes that are easily seen in the dark. If their garments are not already reflective, add reflective tape to the costume and/or treat bag. Remind kids to walk, not run, keep their heads up, and avoid looking at screens while on the move. Younger children should be accompanied by an adult, while older ones should let parents know what their route plan is and when they expect to be home. 

A few safety tips for drivers include driving at slower speeds and paying extra attention around driveways, alleyways, medians, and curbs. Inexperienced drivers should avoid the road if possible after dark. 

Our staff at Waitte’s Insurance Agency want you to have a safe and enjoyable Halloween. We care about the safety of our community because we are part of the community. Call us when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs.

Safe Kids Worldwide

Deer and Driving: a Recipe for Disaster

Deer on the edge of the road just before vehicle

As the lazy days of summer give way to the chill of fall, humans are not the only creatures who start to move around more. As vegitation begins to die off, deer increase their range in search of food. This typically leads them to more open areas where they feel unsafe during daylight and so turn to ranging for food at night (Waternandwoods.net). The mating season also adds to the erratic behavior of deer. Males may be pursuing a potential mate or trying to chase off a rival buck. Unfortunately, the decreasing daylinght hours added to the animals’ edgy and unpredictable behavior can lead to catastrophe for motorists. 

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the United States’ motorists are involved in approximately 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions annually, resulting in over a billion dollars in damage. Unfortunately, the losses are not just monetary. About 200 fatalities and 26,000 injuries are blamed on animal-vehicles accidents, with the most common animal being white-tail deer (NBC News). 

As deer habitat is perpetually decreasing, this problem will not be going away any time soon. Nothing can prevent every deer-vehicle collision, but there are a few steps you can take to decrease your likelihood of joining these unfortunate statistics:

  • Stay focused while driving. Avoid texting, talking on the phone, eating, or drinking behind the wheel.
  • If you see a deer, be on the lookout for more. Deer typically move in groups.
  • Be extra cautious at sunup and sundown, as these are times when deer are especially active.
  • Watch for deer signs, which are placed in areas known for deer crossing, and reduce your speed when you see one.
  • Always wear your seatbelt. Though the seatbelt will not prevent a collision, it will decrease your likelihood of serious injury or fatality (The State of Connecticut).

If you are involved in a deer-vehicle collision, stay calm, do not approach the animal, and move your vehicle to the shoulder of the road if you are able. Turn on your hazard lights. Take photos of your car, the accident scene, and any injuries. If you are unable to move your car, or if the animal is blocking traffic, contact the authorities for assistance (The State of Connecticut).

Knowing you have the right insurance will give you peace of mind to weather whatever comes your way. At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we care about the health and safety of our community because we are part of the community. Give us a call when you are ready to talk about your unique insurance needs.

NBC News
State of Connecticut

Enjoy the Fall Without Getting Burned

Roasting Marshmallows Over Campfire

Enjoy the Fall Without Getting Burned

As the leaves begin to change and the cooler weather of fall approaches, we renew our appreciation for fire. The warmth of a fire brings with it images of cozy gatherings and good food. Backyard fire pits have grown in popularity over the years and now offer a great way to socialize in relative safety as we can enjoy the company of friends and neighbors and still be outside. Like seemingly all good things, though, fire can be risky.

According to the Journal of Burn and Care Research, “Outdoor fire pits represent an increasing hazard to young children who are particularly susceptible to burn injuries from falls in or around lit recreational fires.” On average, a fire injury occurs every 30 minutes, and each year approximately 3,400 burn injuries become fatal (Burn Statistics). 

While backyard fire pits are one concern, what happens in the kitchen can be even more dangerous. Stanford Children’s Health indicates that home-cooking equipment is the “leading cause of home fires and related injuries.”

While medical research has led to advancements that enable 96.7% of patients treated in burn centers to survive, the consequences of serious burns often include serious scarring and life-long physical disabilities (American Burn Association).

Fortunately, there are steps we can take to help keep our family members and friends safe. Before building or purchasing a backyard fire pit or table, spend some time planning. Your fire should be at least ten feet from your house or a neighbor’s yard. Stay away from overhanging tree branches, fences, or anything else that might burn easily. Before burning, check the wind. If the trees are swaying in the wind, save your fire for another day. Only allow adults to start and maintain a fire, and anyone near the fire should not wear loose clothing. Have a fire extinguisher and first aid kit handy, and keep a close eye on any children. Those under five are especially vulnerable.

There are also steps you can take in the house to significantly reduce the risk of burns. Periodically check appliance chords for damage or fraying; unplug appliances when they are not in use; keep children away from hot liquids, hot oils, or deep fryers; turn pan handles in toward the stove; and check the temperature of bottles, other heated drinks, foods, and bathwater before allowing children access. A kitchen fire extinguisher is also a great idea.  

You can help keep your family, friends, and neighbors safe by avoiding fire hazards and burns. More fire safety and burn prevention tips can be found in our links below. At Waitte’s Insurance Agency, we care about keeping our community members safe because we are part of the community. Our friendly agents look forward to talking with you about your unique insurance needs.

Oxford Journal of Burn and Care Research

Nationwide Children's

HomeAdvisor "Fire Pit Safety Precautions"

Stanford Children's Health 

Stanford Children's Health "Preventing Burn Injuries" 

American Burn Association

Burn Statistics

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