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Safety Pro

House Safety Tour the Family Room

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05/01/2012 - No matter what you call this room the den, living room, family room this is the room where at some point in time everyone in the family will meet and/or entertain friends, family, and themselves. This is often the 'catch-all' room where relaxation is the goal, playtime is the objective, and clean-up is not always on the agenda.

This room usually has bookcases, television or media carts, computer game stands, and various pieces of furniture that include floor and table lamps, end and coffee tables, and extension cords and outlet strips routed throughout the floor along the walls and doorways. These items if not illuminated well or kept from being hidden by clutter offer wonderful opportunities for slips, trips, and falls.

Kids playing and running around can slip and fall into a table corner or trip on a cord that yanks the plug out of an outlet or crashes the lamp to the floor. If using area rugs rather than wall-to-wall carpeting, be sure they are 'gripped' to the floor and not designed for magic carpet rides across the room.

This room is famous for attracting clutter. Toys, game pieces, homework that the dog took the blame for eating all find their way easily accumulating on the floor and the furniture. All of this stuff can create numerous hazards by concealing heaters, cords, and floor space. For those of us who are aging and our eyes are not working the way they used to, well-illuminated rooms are essential to reduce the risk of running into, over, or through something.

Fire hazards develop when combustible materials hide or cover periodically used heaters, such as baseboard or supplemental units. Always be sure to have a smoke detector in the family room and check the batteries a couple times a year say, when the time changes in the spring and fall to ensure it is working.

Bookcases and other heavy furniture that is up against the walls should be secured with furniture straps and brackets to keep them upright. Kids and pets love to climb and they can be seriously injured when the top-heavy wall unit falls on them after successfully climbing half-way up.

Monitor the noise levels of televisions, music, computer games, and the like. It doesn't take long for decibel levels to exceed safe limits and staying in an enclosed or re-verbing (echoing) room with everything blaring is a great way to reduce your hearing ability. High noise levels can also create issues with your pets as they desperately attempt to get someplace quieter just to be able to relax.

Between carpeting, pets, and décor plus various holiday decorations and knick-knacks, dust and other compiled materials can become real allergens. It doesn't take long for kids to start breathing funny or develop perpetual runny noses when they are indoors so besides basic dusting, consider an air purifier or something similar to keep on in the room.

The family room is a social gathering spot. Keep it safe and healthy for everyone!

Randy DeVaul (safetypro@roadrunner.com ) is a 35-year safety professional and emergency response instructor. Comments are always welcome.

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