“The day is near at hand when the doctor will no longer be engaged to patch up the sick man, but to prevent him from getting sick. He will VISIT FAMILIES, EXAMINE THE PREMISES, inspect factories and shops and give instruction to his patients how to keep from getting sick…….”- 1908 article.

Safety in our homes is an extremely important issue since preventable injuries and deaths continue to rise in homes and communities. To make a significant impact, we need to be aware of the hazards around us and change our behaviour. One little change at a time could lead to great results.

It is frightening to learn that in some countries, up to 70% of all unintentional-injury deaths occur in the home or community. In plain language you are more likely to be injured at home than anywhere else. Each year thousands of people are off work for more than a week as a result of a fall at home, and this has a big effect on businesses and organizations.

As we work to protect our homes from floods and other man-made hazards we should seize the opportunity to take other measures to make our houses homes; do you have a means of safely disposing off unused or unwanted medication? Find out about DUMP. A hospital or clinic near your home may be willing to take care of such medicines. Once again I ask that you ICE (in case of emergency) at least one contact on your phone. The more people know about ICE the better for all of us. Save a contact with “ice” such as “icekojoessel” or “ice kojo essel”. This person should be aware and must have significant information about you especially your health. Whenever you are in trouble and hopefully your phone is not password protected, this person can be contacted and that may be life-saving.

The leading causes of unintentional-injury in the home and community include:

1. Poisoning
2. Falls
3. Choking
4. Drowning
5. Fires/flames


Kitchen and cooking areas
  • A no go area for children. Everyone working in an accident and emergency department of a hospital will tell you that on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons when most people do their weekly cooking, many children suffer from severe burns.
  • Appropriate way of using the burners on a stove. Avoid handles of cooking pots facing your work area. The gas cylinder should be in a very well ventilated area preferably outdoors
  • Care of spills. Clean them as soon as they occur to avoid slips.
  • Electrical Appliances
  • All appliances switched off after use and plug removed from socket
  • Avoid touching of an electrical appliance with wet hands
  • Electrical cords should be out of the way to avoid tripping people.
  • Bathroom
  • Children should never be left alone in a bathroom
  • The use of mats in a bath especially for children and the elderly
  • The elderly (above 65years, but could be younger depending on the health status) should use showers with support bars and stools instead of baths.
  • Other areas
  • Avoid making a mess since they can cause one to trip sometimes with grave consequences. Children should be taught to pick up their toys after use.
  • Adults should avoid drinking from bottles since children copy this habit and may harm themselves in the process. In our setting many children tend to drink kerosene stored in soft drink bottles. We then worsen the condition by forcing them to drink palm oil and inducing vomiting. Who really “instituted” this criminal sentence?
  • All medications, chemicals, small substances etc should be kept out of the reach of children

  • Look around for anything that may cause an accident. Make use of the different senses, sight, smell, hearing, touch. May not be a smart idea to try taste.
  • Decide who is most at risk. This helps you to make appropriate changes
  • Take preventive measures. After reading this piece make the changes necessary. Do not wait to “learn from experience” it may not always be wise to learn from the best teacher.
  • Keep a record of what you have changed
  • Continually check your living space – please do not think that making a onetime attempt is all that you need. Do this every day or every week.

  • Poorly organized and cluttered walkway
  • Inadequate or unsuitable lighting
  • Moving or handling a load incorrectly – remember that waist or back pain?
  • Rushing around with careless abandon. Most of the time we end up losing time.
  • Tiredness. We commit errors when tired. Do not try to cheat nature, get some rest.
  • Lack of balance or appropriate mobility
  • Poor eyesight and/or inappropriate corrective lenses
  • Medication that may lead to dizziness. The elderly for instance who are on several medication have an increased risk of falling.

    The cost of home accidents is high in terms of the number of lives lost and resulting permanent disabilities. Several working days are lost, which translates into lost productivity. Huge sums of money may be lost seeking medical care and the quality of life is also poor.

    The benefits of prevention of injuries at home are clear and quantifiable in terms of health and economic costs:

  • Potential to save lives
  • Improved quality of life
  • Reduction in cost of hospital care
  • Improved productivity through people’s contribution to the economy.
  • With all these benefits that we can chalk from keeping our home safe, one wonders why very little is heard about bringing safety home. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a nationwide drive.

    August 15th to 21st is Safety Week and hopefully we will all make changes before then.

    Let us all pledge to “reduce the number of accidental deaths and injuries in our homes.” A home should be a place where we are absolutely SAFE. Safety Begins at Home!!!


    (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI) Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
    Moms’ Health Club/Health Essentials
    ([email protected])

    *Dr Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.

    Thought for the week – “Have your eyes examined, it could save you and others from a preventable accident.”

  • www.nsc.org (national safety council)
  • www.homesafety.co.nz
  • www.injuryobservatory.net
  • www.webmd.com