Tipping TVs to fire hazards: Vital home safety resolutions for 2014

(BPT) – Some New Year’s resolutions can be difficult to keep, such as exercising more and eating less junk food. But resolutions that involve improving home safety can be just as worthwhile as those that deal with self-improvement – and often they’re much easier to keep.

Boosting home safety in 2014 can be as simple as moving a flatscreen TV from a TV stand to a wall mount, or setting your smartphone to remind you when it’s time to change the batteries in smoke detectors. Here are a handful of vital but easy home safety resolutions everyone should undertake for the new year:

1. Wall mount your flatscreen TV – or at the very least secure it.

The average flatscreen weighs 50 pounds, and packs more than enough heft to injure children and even adults if it tips over on a person. From 2006 to 2011, more than 100,000 injuries resulted from tipped TVs, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). From 2000 to 2011, the CPSC says, 215 people died in accidents involving a falling TV and 96 percent of those fatalities were children younger than 10.

Minimizing the risk of such tragedy is as simple as wall mounting your flatscreen TV. Hanging a TV on the wall moves it away from little hands or moments of adult clumsiness, plus it displays one of your biggest tech investments at its best. Homeowners have many options for wall mounting a TV, from mounts that keep the set flush against the wall to ones with a full range of tilt and motion. It’s easy to find a mount that will work for your TV. Check out www.sanus.com to use the simple mount-finding tool that will recommend a Sanus mount that’s right for your set.

2. Get better acquainted with your smoke detectors.

Most of us move into a house with smoke detectors and don’t think about them at all until they start to beep to alert us to a draining battery. Take a look at your detectors. If they’re more than eight to 10 years old, you should replace them with newer models, regardless of whether they’re battery-powered or hard-wired with a battery backup, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

If your smoke detectors are still new enough to stay in your home, your next step should be to get on a regular schedule of battery replacement. Use your smartphone’s calendar to set a quarterly reminder to prompt you when it’s time to change the battery. If you live in a home with an older furnace, or you use oil or kerosene-fueled space heaters, you should also consider having a carbon monoxide detector near bedrooms.

3. Check out your chimney.

If your home has a wood-burning fireplace, it’s imperative to clean your chimney every year to remove the dangerous buildup of creosote that can occur. A gas fieplace likely won’t have a chimney, but you should also still have the vent periodically inspected by a professional to ensure everything is in working order.

4. Be wise about water.

It’s vital to life in any home, but water can pose serious safety risks – from accidental drowning to scalding from extremely hot bath water – if you don’t respect it.

In just three seconds, tap water at 140 degrees Fahrenheit can scald a child, causing third-degree burns serious enough to require hospitalization and skin grafts, the CPSC reports. Scald burns are the most common type of burn among children, and hot tap water accounts for about a quarter of those burns, the commission says.

To prevent scalding, set your hot water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and always test bath water for temperature before placing a child in it, the CPSC recommends. Never leave a child unattended in a bath tub, not even for a moment – small children can drown in as little as 1 inch of water, according to SafeKids.org. Drain bath water as soon as you remove children from tub, and always close toilet lids. Close bathroom doors to further reduce accidental drowning risks inside the home.

While many New Year’s resolutions may fall by the wayside, improving home safety shouldn’t be one of them. And with a few easy-to-achieve improvements and lifestyle changes, it’s possible to help your family stay safer throughout the new year.