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Common household threats: ladders, stairs and weapons

Common household threats: ladders, stairs and weapons

Lori Yerdon
Directorate of Communication and Public Affairs
U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center


At home, threats pose danger to unsuspecting victims every day. The perpetrators may seem harmless enough but each year, thousands of Americans are injured and some killed while using ladders, stairs and privately owned weapons.

"Most people believe their home is a safe haven when, in fact, the National Safety Council reports that accidents in the home are extremely common," said Lt. Col. James Smith, director, USACR/Safety Center Ground Directorate. "At the end of the day when Soldiers go home, they need to implement the risk management strategies they use at work to identify and mitigate hazards in their homes."

According to the NSC, falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury and result in approximately 8.9 million emergency room visits annually. No one is immune: Slips, trips and falls can happen anywhere, but common areas are showers, tubs, stairs and wet floors.

The NSC also reports that falls are the second-leading cause of unintentional death in homes.

"Using a ladder may seem easy enough, but too many people are injured because they don’t follow simple precautions before using one," Smith said. "Proper ladder setup and using common sense will help prevent slips and falls."

Smith said removing trip hazards such as cords and other objects, using the correct ladder for the job and always keeping three points of contact on a ladder are just a few examples of how individuals can protect themselves.

Another home hazard not to be taken lightly is privately owned weapons. Most Soldiers handle their assigned weapons routinely enough, and when they’re done using it, they turn it back in to the armorer.

Soldiers need to apply the same weapons handling care and discipline they practice on duty when they’re home with their POWs.

"Soldiers should always remember the basics of weapons handling," Smith said. "Proper clearing procedures are vital. Too many Soldiers are dying in preventable negligent discharge accidents."

Between fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2012, 19 Soldiers were killed in off-duty weapons handling accidents.

"Six Soldiers lost their lives in fiscal 2013 to off-duty negligent discharge accidents involving POWs," said Tracey Russell, safety and occupational health specialist, USACR/Safety Center Ground Directorate. "Sadly, several Soldiers have been killed or taken the lives of others with what they thought was an unloaded weapon."

With kidshealth.org reporting that weapons are in more than one third of all U.S. households, it’s imperative that parents talk to children about weapons, whether they own one or not.

"In the home, weapons need to be unloaded, securely stored and kept out of reach of children," Russell said. "At the same time, parents should teach their children to respect weapons and how to act responsibly around them."

Smith said home is where most Soldiers feel comfortable, and they shouldn’t let preventable household accidents compromise that feeling.

"We fight bad guys and take care of each other on the battlefield," he said. "That motivation needs to extend to our homes. Safety is a factor in all we do, and implementing some control measures at home is something we’re all capable of accomplishing."

For more information on home safety, visit https://safety.army.mil.

  • 13 May 2014
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 6113
  • Comments: 0