Household Accidents Statistics

According to the National Safety Council and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, there were 200,955 preventable injury-related deaths in 2020, and 78% resulted from unintentional household injury at home. This makes the most common home accidents the second leading cause of death and injuries, followed by motor vehicle crashes.

It’s more concerning because most unintentional home injury deaths are preventable. Here’s a more detailed overview of home accident statistics.

Quick Home Accidents Statistics Facts

  • The most common household accidents in the United States are falls, poisoning, fires, choking or suffocation, and drowning
  • Poisoning is one of the leading causes of fatal household injuries
  • Calls to poison centers in the U.S. rose by 20% during the pandemic
  • The probability of an adult drowning in a bathtub is 1 in 685,000. 28% of children’s drowning cases result from a lack of supervision
  • Common household accidents lead to death three times more than motor vehicle crashes
  • West Virginia has the highest fatality rates per 100,000 residents caused by accidental injuries. Wisconsin, New Mexico, Vermont, and Rhode Island follow closely
  • Texas, California, Utah, New York, and Maryland report the lowest household accidents per 100,000 people

Common Household Injury Causes

Knowing the hazards at home goes a long way in injury prevention. You might not be able to prevent them, but you can reduce the number of times accidents occur.

Here are the five most common household accidents:

Poisoning

Poisoning is one of the leading causes of unintentional injury deaths in the United States. Most such deaths are attributed to drug abuse and misuse and inhaling or ingesting environmental substances like carbon monoxide and pesticides.

Child poisoning accounts for the most accidents and is often a result of exploratory behavior. The child (younger than 13 years) may ingest dangerous chemicals leading to death.

On the other hand, adult drug poisonings are drug-related. They may result from:

  • Drug overdoses (both illegal and legal drugs)
  • Administering legal drugs taken in error or taking a wrong dosage
  • Unexpected effects from prescription drugs for medical or non-medical reasons

Household Accidents Statistics- Poisoning

  • The most recent data shows 87,040 people died due to preventable poisoning in 2020. This was a sharp spike from the previous year’s poisoning deaths — 65,777. The death rate per 100,000 people was 26.5, with males recording higher death rates of 38.3 compared to 15.1 for females. Also, most deaths were highest among adults between ages 25 and 40 years of white (American Indian) and non-Hispanic descent
  • Most deaths (95%) result from drug poisoning caused by drug overdoses, with three out of four involving opioids. Deaths due to alcohol poisoning also increased significantly (by 16%), totaling 2665, and males outnumbered females
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning led to 481 deaths in 2020, which was a decline of 8% from the previous year. According to the State of Safety, it’s the second most worrying household accident
  • In 2017, West Virginia recorded the highest number of opioid-related deaths, with a fatality rate as high as 49.6 per 100,000 people. This was three times higher than the national average fatality rate of 14.6

Fatality Rates Caused by Drug and Alcohol Poisoning by State

Fatality rates from drug & Alcohol poisoning

High Fatality Rates Due to Other Causes

Fatality rates from poisoning and toxic vapors

Falls

Falls are another common cause of unintentional injury deaths accounting for 72% of injury-related ER admissions. Statistics also show that 6 out of 10 falls happen at home when walking on stairways, bedrooms, bathrooms, and other living spaces.

Occurrence by Age Groups

The elderly population (65 years and older) is prone to fall-related injuries and fatalities, and the risk increases with age. That’s because older people have walking and coordination problems that can lead to falls. 

One in three older adults falls at least one time a year. According to WHO, 20-30% of older people who fall develop moderate to severe injuries like head trauma, hip fractures, and bruises. A hip fracture can be a huge problem for older adults as it limits mobility and can lead to other health problems.

Kids are also a high-risk group. Statistics show that 2.2 million kids aged 14 and under are treated for fall-related home injuries yearly in U.S. emergency rooms. Although most falls are non-fatal, about 100 kids younger than five report the highest number of falls and fall-related fatalities. This age group comprises babies and toddlers who develop head injuries because their heads hit the ground first. Head injury is the most common cause of accidental death resulting from falls.

Fatality Rates by State

Fatality rates from falling

Fires

House fires are pretty common regardless of where you live. Most of them happen unexpectedly and can get out of control, causing serious property damage and one’s life. A homeowners insurance policy goes a long way in paying for repairs required after a house fire, but it’s best to know the different causes of house fires and have injury prevention strategies in place.

Here are some interesting home injury statistics about house fires according to the National Fire Protection Association:

  • According to the U.S. fire department, responded to house fires every 23 seconds in 2020
  • A home fire occurred every 89 seconds in 2020
  • In 2020, a home injury happened every 46 minutes, and a fatal house fire occurred every three hours and 24 minutes
  • Home fire mortalities haven’t changed over the last two decades. In 2020, the rate was 7.2 deaths per 1,000 home fires which isn’t much different from the 7.1 death rate in 1980
  • Home fire-related deaths and accidents happen every three hours
  • According to home safety facts, 27% of all reported fires happen in residential areas
  • In 2020, three out of five home fire victims were 55 years and older, and two out of five were 65 or older
  • 69% of home fire injuries and 66% of home fire deaths happened in kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms
  • Most house fires occur between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. when preparing dinner, and 19% of them happen between 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., causing nearly half of the home fire deaths in 2020
  • 34% of house fire injuries happen when putting out the fire, and 28% of them occur when escaping the house

Causes of House Fires in the U.S.

Most house fires happen when cooking. In fact, the NFPA traces 172,900 home fires to cooking, accounting for 49% of all the reported home fires in the United States. This is especially true in multi-family homes and apartments, where an estimated 69% of kitchen fires happened, based on a 2020 report.

Smoking materials like lighters and cigarettes also cause home fire deaths. More data on home fire deaths found that 600 people had died and 1,030 were injured due to smoking materials.

Home fires also result from intentional fires. The four-year report found that 7% of the fires reported between 2015 and 2019 were intentional. Although they have a low fatality rate, it causes 380 deaths and 800 unintentional injuries yearly.

The following table summarizes the five most common causes of home fires and their impact according to NFPA’s Home Structure Fires Report:

Causes of house fires

Fire Fatality Rates by State

Fatality rates from fire

Choking and Suffocation

Although it’s deemed a rather mild accident, it’s the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the U.S. In 2020, for example, 4,963 people died from choking, with the elderly accounting for most incidents. Of those who died from choking in 2020, 1,430 were 74 years and older.

Weakened muscles, dry mouth, and dentures can lead to choking in elderly people. However, the incidence of one dying from choking is pretty low (1 in 2,535), and in 2020 it was much lower as only 1.5 deaths happened in a population of 100,000. Choking is also pretty common in young children. They might not choke on food but small objects like toys and small parts.

Fatality Rates for Choking by States

Fatality rates from choking

Drowning

According to the State of Safety Report, drowning is another common home accident, but the least feared. That’s because kids are the most common casualties though adults also die from drowning.

According to a CDC report on drowning, more kids aged 1-4 die from drowning than any other cause. It’s the second leading cause of unintentional injury for children ages 1-14.

Adult-related drownings are also pretty common, with 3,960 fatal unintentional drownings and 8,080 non-fatal ones happening yearly. Many fatal accidents involve male adults due to increased water exposure, alcohol use, and risk-taking behaviors.

Racial disparities also increase one’s risk of drowning. Alaska natives or the American Indian people aged 29 and younger are two times more likely to drown than White people.

Similarly, people of color are 1.5 times more likely to die from drowning than White people. Most drowning-related emergencies require hospitalization and may cause brain injuries and other long-term disabilities.

Fatality Rates for Drowning by State

Fatality rates from drowning

Prevention and Safety Tips

Most common home accidents can be prevented by following simple home safety tips.

Accidental Poisoning

  • Keep medicines and other potentially harmful substances locked in cabinets
  • Avoid sharing prescription drugs
  • Ensure all medicines are in their original containers and are labeled
  • Install a CO detector near furnaces and bedrooms
  • Keep household cleaners locked out of reach of children
  • Avoid adding bleach to food products
  • Avoid using food containers to store household cleaners
  • Educate family members about safety hazards and how to avoid them

Falls

Keeping a home safe goes a long way in mitigating the most common accidents. Here are some ways to keep your home safe from falls:

  • Keep your home well-lit: Some areas of your home might not be well-lit, increasing the risk of slips, falls, hip fractures, brain injury, and spinal cord injury. It’s important to identify such areas and install night lights or home security systems
  • Declutter your space: Sometimes, a home is so cluttered that there’s little space to walk. Decluttering creates the much-needed space to walk without falls
  • Keep your home clean: If a home isn’t cleaned regularly, it can cause accidents. There could be banana peels, toys, or other items on the floor, causing one to slip and fall. The floor also gets slippery when oil, grease, moisture, or water spill on the floor, and if it’s left unattended, a person may slip and get injured
  • Keep the floors dry: It’s important to keep floors dry, especially if living with the elderly. Mop any liquid spilled on the floor immediately before allowing anyone to walk on it
  • Add treads to slippery stairs: Trips and slips are common when climbing stairs. Treads improve safety by improving the stability and grip of each step while adding traction. In the case of hardwood floors, it would help if you spread a few rug pads

Fires

Most home fires can be prevented. You can minimize the risk of fire gutting down your home with the right safety precautions. Here are a few handy tips:

  • Install smoke detectors: Smoke alarms can save lives. It’s important to install them in the spaces most likely to cause home fires, e.g., the bedroom, kitchen, and living space
  • Take caution when cooking: You must pay close attention when cooking. Avoid walking away when the stove is on or keeping flammable items like food wrappers and dish towels close to the stove.
  • Maintain a safe distance when using heaters: Household appliances like space heaters can cause fires near flammable items like bedding, furniture, or curtain. If you must use them, keep a safe distance
  • Set up a fire escape plan: You only have a few minutes to escape when a fire breaks out, and having a fire escape plan goes a long way in saving lives. Designate two exit points in your house for escaping and inform your family about it
  • Check electrical outlets: Faulty electrical outlets cause home fires. Check for outlets with smoke, frayed wires, or overheated plates. If they’re coming loose or no longer hold on to the plug tightly, replace them  
  • Have an emergency and medical alert systems within reach

Choking or Suffocation

Here are ways to prevent choking in kids and adults:

  • Keep an eye on kids when eating or playing. You must also ensure they eat in a high chair or table without playing around or lying down
  • Keep small objects like beads, buttons, coins, pins, marbles, jewelry, and stones out of reach
  • Cut foods into small pieces. They should also avoid eating small, hard, or round foods like nuts, hot dogs, grapes, or popcorn.
  • Keep an eye out for small magnets in kids’ toys and construction sets
  • Inspect a kids’ play area for dislodged magnets or missing parts
  • Seek medical help immediately if the kid swallows objects. Look out for symptoms like pain, nausea, diarrhea, or nausea
  • In the case of adults or seniors, they must stay away from dry or sticky foods like peanut butter sandwiches. Such foods may be difficult to swallow and digest safely. Rather opt for softer foods that slide down the digestive system with ease
  • Avoid talking while eating. Food may get lodged in the trachea, causing one to choke
  • Seniors must also avoid eating fast because the food might not be chewed to completion and cause them to choke

Drowning

Learning how to prevent drowning accidents can reduce the number of accidents reported. Here are tips to help you:

  • Avoid swimming alone: Even skilled swimmers are prone to accidents that can become deadly without help. If swimming in a public pool, ensure a lifeguard is nearby
  • Go for swimming lessons: The lessons significantly reduce the risk of drowning. Both adults and kids can attend swimming classes
  • Avoid holding your breath too long to avoid passing out in the swimming pool
  • Avoid swimming while intoxicated: Alcohol reduces one’s coordination and ability to make sound judgment, increasing the risk of drowning or getting injured
  • Kids must swim with adult supervision and use touch supervision if they’re less than four years old. This means staying within reach of your children
  • Wear safety gear approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Most air-filled devices used as safety gear might not save lives
  • Learn how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and basic first aid

Conclusion

These home accident statistics show an increased prevalence of home accidents and echo the need for homeowners to follow simple home safety procedures. No accident is too small not to cause death or injury. The tips we’ve shared will go a long way in keeping you and your family safe.