It’s often said that home is where the heart is. But for many homemakers, home is where the hurt is. More accidents happen in the home than anywhere else. Worse still, in Australia the residential home is second only to the road as the location where most accidental deaths occur.
The elderly and children are especially susceptible to injuries in the home. But teenagers and adults endure their fair share of household injury too. Notably, house cleaning is a leading culprit of household injuries.
Every year, scores of Australian homemakers suffer from a range of cleaning-related injuries, including breathing issues; cuts and abrasions; skin conditions; sprains; and burns and scalding.
For this reason, every home should contain a well-equipped first aid kit. Ensure that you have the following medical supplies on hand at home, so that you can minimise or pre-empt the inevitable risks of household cleaning.
Injury 1: Cuts and abrasions
Remedy: Bandages, band aids and antiseptic swabs
Accidental cuts are a common cleaning injury. Many cuts and abrasions occur in the kitchen when handling sharp objects, such as knives and glasses. To prevent infection and stall bleeding, keep an assortment of fresh band aids and bandages on hand in your first aid stash. Wounds should be treated immediately with an antiseptic swab to avoid infection. Most minor abrasions can be treated at home but deep cuts may require medical attention.
Injury 2: Breathing issues
Remedy: Inhaler and disposable dust mask
Breathing complications can arise during cleaning for a number of reasons. If the victim has pre-existing breathing problems, the over exertion of house cleaning can trigger a reaction. Or a person with allergies or asthma may encounter difficulty breathing when exposed to dust or other irritants. The fumes from cleaning products, for example, can have an adverse effect on breathing.
Injury 3: Skin reactions
Remedy: Rubber gloves and anti-inflammatory medication
Harsh cleaning chemicals may prove effective for cutting through household grease and grime, but they can also take a toll on your skin. Of the many home cleaning supplies that are on the market in Australia, some products can cause itching and allergic reactions when they come into contact with the skin. Affected skin should be thoroughly rinsed with clean water and topical steroids may alleviate symptoms. If discomfort persists, consult your doctor or local poison control centre.
Injury 4: Sprains
Remedy: Ice pack and bandages
When heavy lifting and rearranging clutter are required, cleaning can be quite labour intensive. If your cleaning duties involve moving bulky appliances or furniture items, there’s an increased chance that you may be exposed to sprain injuries. Falls are another major perpetrator of sprain injuries, so exercise caution when mopping slippery floors or working with water. When sprains occur, rest the sprained joint; cool the sprain with an ice pack; compress the sprain with an elastic bandage; and elevate the sprain above heart level if possible.
Injury 5: Burns and scalding
Remedy: Hydrogel and sorbolene
When cleaning with hot water and harsh chemicals, there is always a danger of incurring burns or scalds. If you burn or scald yourself whilst cleaning, run cold water over the injury for up to 20 minutes. Alternately, hydrogels can be used in the absence of running water. Most minor burns will heal within 12 days. If the burn has no blisters or broken skin, a simple moisturiser such as sorbolene is the best treatment. For more serious burns and scalding, seek medical treatment for appropriate dressings.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid cleaning related injuries is to stop cleaning. But unfortunately that’s not an option for most homemakers. So, in order to minimise harm from cleaning accidents, the safest bet is to equip your home with a first aid kit that contains all of the remedies outlined above.
Have you sustained any unpleasant injuries whilst cleaning your home? Share your experiences and lessons learned in the comments section below.