Our homes are our castles. Whether palatial spaces with manicured grounds or starter single-family houses, our homes represent safe havens and personal pride. And while we fit and decorate our houses to suit our tastes, we often overlook potential hazards that could turn homes into danger zones. In 2020, 113,500 people died from preventable deaths in the home. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), since 1999, preventable deaths occurring in the home have increased 272 percent.
This grew exponentially, in large part, through a 652 percent increase in poisoning deaths and a 270 percent increase in deaths from falls. Drug overdoses are the main driver of poisoning deaths, and the data on fall deaths reflects a dramatic increase in the number of older adult falls.
Similarly, NSC cites falls as the leading cause of unintentional injuries in the United States, accounting for approximately 8.9 million visits to the emergency department annually. Slips, trips and falls, and electrical shocks also represent common injury-producing hazards around the home.
“It took watching the Final Destination films for me to understand just how hazardous my house had become,” graduate student Jason Stanton told the Informer. “I inherited a home that needed major electrical and plumbing work that I just kind of patched up. There was uneven floorboards and everything so my friends would come to the house and just hang out in the yard. No one wanted to come inside for fear of falling over.”
Stanton eventually faced city fines and a lawsuit when a friend fell through his basement stairs. He said that was when he really began to look at his home as a place where serious injuries – or even deaths – could occur through his neglect.
This year’s Washington Informer Homeownership Supplement encourages readers to avoid the pitfalls Stanton faced and take necessary steps to safeguard their homes. This edition offers tips and data on best practices for improving the safety of your home. Additionally, we take a look back at a year of extraordinary news features dedicated to homeownership in D.C.’s Wards 7 and 8 in the Informer, Our House Newsletter. Led by editor Austin Cooper, Our House has made a markable difference in the ways in which area residents, policymakers, and community leaders approach homeownership in the city.
Read, Learn, Enjoy.
Dr. Shantella Sherman