Do you know the number one cause of death in the home? Let’s work backwards and learn the answer at the end of this column.
The number three cause of death in the home: Fires
In the US, a home fire is reported every 88 seconds. Leading causes are cooking, heating, and electrical problems.
Electrical systems in older homes were not designed to carry the load of today’s appliances, electronics, and heating and air systems. WARM’s scope of services includes upgrading electrical systems that are unsafe. Last year, WARM made electrical system repairs in 40 homes.
Installing smoke alarms properly decreases the likelihood of dying in a fire by 50 percent. WARM and our partners in local fire departments and the American Red Cross work together to install smoke alarms in all homes we serve.
The number two cause of death in the home: Falls
Falls are the number one cause of death for those 65 and older. The cost of injuries due to falls in those 65 and older exceeds $50 billion annually, approximately six percent of Medicare spending.
Fall prevention is one of the biggest reasons Medicaid is including home repairs in its pilot program to invest in non-clinical services.
Humidity, water intrusion, and plumbing leaks in substandard housing can cause dangerous soft spots and holes in flooring. When the WARM home assessment team went to visit Ms. Sandra in her mobile, they noticed tape in strange patterns on the carpet. When asked about the tape, Ms. Sandra responded, “the tape shows my grandson where he can walk so that he doesn’t fall through the floor.” Under the carpet, the floor was disintegrating. When WARM finished with the home, the grandson could walk wherever he wanted.
To keep residents safe, many homes need new stairs and landings, grab bars, ramps, and/or strategically placed railings. In most cases, the homeowner doesn’t even realize the need. They may apply for repairs to a roof or heating system and our construction team will identify and address other unsafe conditions.
Last year, WARM volunteers made 73 flooring repairs, installed 56 grab bars, and built 36 sets of stairs and landings.
The number one cause of death in the home: Poisoning
For the past eight years, poisoning has topped the list of causes of death in the home as well as overall unintentional death. In many cases, teens or children find prescription or over-the-counter drugs and take a fatal dose. In other cases, overdoses can occur when drugs are accidentally taken twice or mixed up.
WARM’s homeowner education includes instructions for disposing of old prescriptions, storing medicine out of reach of children, and utilizing daily pill boxes.
Since 1996, WARM supporters have made important home safety improvements for over 1,300 families. We will never know how many lives we’ve saved!
To learn more about how housing can impact health and save lives, join us at WARM Harvest Luncheon on Thursday October 17th with keynote speaker, Dr. Philip Brown, Chief Physician Executive at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
JC Lyle has served as WARM’s Executive Director since January 2009. Under her leadership, WARM's annual revenue and productivity have more than quadrupled. Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, Lyle worked at McKim & Creed on subdivision design, rezoning and permitting throughout coastal North Carolina. Lyle earned her Master of Business Administration from UNCW's Cameron School of Business and has presented workshops on affordable housing issues and nonprofit management at state-level conferences. Lyle serves on the Planning Commission for the City of Wilmington and the North Carolina Housing Partnership, the board that oversees the state's housing trust fund. In 2012, Lyle was named Wilma Magazine's first Woman to Watch in the Nonprofit Category. In 2014, she accepted WARM's Coastal Entrepreneur Award in the Nonprofit Category, given by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In 2018, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Cape Fear Chapter named her Outstanding Fundraiser of the Year.
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