ShopSmart Highlights Safety in the Home

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 General News
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Most Common Home Emergencies and How to Handle Them

YONKERS, N.Y., May 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- What if Grandma cuts her hand with a knife or a child chokes on her new toy? These are scary situations, but being prepared in advance is invaluable when health crises arise. The "Safe at Home" guide in the June 2010 issue of ShopSmart, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, shares important advice about how to handle home emergencies and tips for preventing them.

"Everyday items like balloons, batteries, and even bagels are linked to thousands of injuries every year," said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. "So ShopSmart put together a guide to ensure that readers know exactly what to do when an injury occurs and how to avoid them from the outset."

ShopSmart's "Safe at Home" features important tips for knowing when to call 911, resources for optimal preparation, and the dos and don'ts of putting together a first-aid kit for your house, car, and travel. Below is a sampling of some of ShopSmart's advice.

Handling and Preventing Emergencies

A little know-how can make all the difference when it comes to treating home injuries:

How to handle them: Don't automatically help someone up. Ask the victim to lay still. If they have lost consciousness, show signs of a head injury, are in extreme pain, or have trouble moving any body parts, call 911. Even if they appear fine, follow up with a medical professional to check for internal injuries if the victim is elderly or has tumbled from a distance greater than their own height.

How to prevent them: Make your home as fall-proof as possible. Keep floors and stairs clear of clutter, tape down wires so you don't trip on them, and make sure thresholds and walkways are well lighted. Also consider getting rid of throw rugs. To stay safe on a ladder, place it on a firm, level surface and make sure all safety locks are engaged.

How to handle it: The Heimlich maneuver is best if someone is awake and alert, and you can get behind them and administer the upper-abdominal thrust quickly. If the victim can cough, encourage them to keep doing so. If you're choking and alone, call 911 immediately, from a landline if possible, and leave the line open so the emergency personnel can find you.

How to prevent it: Children can suffocate while blowing up a balloon or chewing popped balloon pieces because if latex pieces are inhaled, they can become molded to the throat and lungs. Mylar balloons are a good alternative. Other common hazards are marbles, coins, small balls, batteries, and any toy or part of a toy small enough to fit through a toilet-paper tube.

How to handle them: Hold the burned area under a stream of cool water for up to 20 minutes. Once the burn has cooled, protect it with triple antibiotic cream and a bandage. If you are helping someone with a chemical burn, protect yourself, and call for help if necessary. Have them take off any clothes with chemical residue and get to a sink, shower, or hose.

How to prevent them: Too-hot tap water is one of the main causes of scalding, a problem easily remedied by lowering the temperature of your hot-water heater to 120° F. Use the stove instead of microwaves for boiling water to avoid superheated water To reduce the odds that batteries will overheat and rupture, don't mix old and new batteries, or different types, and don't put them in backward.

How to handle it: Direct pressure stops bleeding. Place gauze or a clean towel over the wound and press firmly, adding more layers if necessary. If the bleeding doesn't stop within 5 minutes or so, seek medical help. Additionally, see your doc if the edges of the cut don't come together, the cut is longer than half an inch, or it's on your face.

How to prevent it: Sharp knives are safer than dull ones because they cut cleanly and are less likely to slip. Always use a cutting board, cut away from your body, and keep the fingers of the hand holding the food curled toward your palm and away from the path of the knife. Bagels are notoriously difficult to slice safely, so it's worth buying a gadget just for them. Store knives in a knife block rather than a drawer, where they can cut fingers.

How to handle them: If you're stung by a bee, the best approach is to carefully scrape away the stinger in a side-to-side motion with a straight-edged object such as a credit card. The key is to get the stinger out quickly! Use cold compresses, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, and an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl or generic) to ease bug bites and stings.

How to prevent them: Bees are attracted to flowers, so avoid looking or smelling like one: don't wear bright colors or perfume to cookouts. And yes, swatting at a bee just ticks it off, so sit still and hope it flies away.

What to Pack in Your Purse: The five items to keep within reach at all times:

About ShopSmart magazine:

Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon Consumer Reports' celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. The magazine features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and "best of the best" lists. ShopSmart is ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Borders, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at

ShopSmart is now available 10 times a year. Subscribe at


SOURCE ShopSmart Magazine

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