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Designing A Safer Home

Did you know that more New Zealanders are injured in their own homes than on the road, the sports field or in the workplace? In fact, one of us is injured in the home every 48 seconds – often from easily preventable accidents.

Our relaxed attitude to home safety costs the country more than $640 million each year. Worse still, more than 500 New Zealanders actually died from their home injuries last year.

Whether you are building, renovating, or not yet making any changes to your home, there are many simple things you can do to make it a safer place to live.


Kitchens are full of sharp objects, corners, slippery surfaces and hot food – accidents waiting to happen! When designing your kitchen, avoid making it a throughway. It will be much safer if no-one is tempted to run through to get to what’s on the other side.

Adding security stays or double-tongue handles to windows means that rooms can be ventilated while remaining secure, plus falls from upper-storey windows will be prevented. When using a ladder, use three points of contact at all times and don’t over reach.

Windows and doors

Use tinted glass for large windows and sliding doors so you can see them. For existing sliding doors, add brightly coloured stickers. Security screens are a great way to keep young children safe inside, while still letting fresh air flow through your home.


Add non-slip edges to slippery stairs and get non-slip tiles to prevent falls. Effective slip treatment products can also help with existing tiled areas. Use non-slip mats in the bath and shower and wipe up any water when you’re finished. Outdoors, clean moss and slime from pathways and decks and fix uneven areas that could cause someone to trip.


Make sure your stairs are well lit. Consider using installing sensor lights so none of the family has to fumble for switches in the dark. Add a handrail to your stairs if you don’t already have one. Mats and other obstructions at the head or foot of stairs can cause falls. Plan for clear access when building or move obstacles out of the way on existing stairs.

Hot and steamy

Get a plumber to check the temperature of your hot water – it should be no more than 55°C at the tap – and install anti-scald tapware. This will avoid nasty burns and will also help you reduce your electricity bill. Make sure working smoke alarms are installed around the house. If you’re building, install mains-powered alarms so you won’t have to remember to change the battery to stay safe.

For more tips on injury-proofing your home, visit ACC.

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