Published October 1974 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Home Is Where the Danger Is A person's home, it has often been said, is his castle. Home, to most of us, is a place of refuge and safety. But figures compiled by the National Safety Council show that mishaps in the home kill or seriously injure nearly twice as many persons each year as are killed or injured in accidents on the job. Each year some 14,000 or more Americans lose their lives in accidents at work, and more than two million suffer serious injuries. But 28,000 are killed by accidents in their h o m e s, and four million sustain serious injuries. A great effort is now being made by federal government agencies to remove unsafe consumer products from the market, and that is as it should be. Dangerous chemicals, faulty electrical equipment, fire-prone furnishings- these should be removed from circulation for the protection of the unwary citizen. But the citizen most certainly also has a responsibility. As has so often been said, accidents don't just happen - they are caused; and the ingredient common to the vast majority is carelessness. Surrounded in our homes as we are by electrical, mechanical, and other devices almost without number, we simply lose sight of t h e f a c t that so many things in our surroundings can be lethal. The glass storm door, the aluminum ladder touching an electric wire, or even the soap in the bathtub or the toy on the floor, can unexpectedly spell tragedy. More than 10,000 Americans die each year as the result of falls inside or outside their homes, and untold thousands more are hurt. Dark stairs, slippery rugs, icy entrances, and driveways get much of the blame. Fires in the home take 6,000 lives a year, and burns incapacitate a quarter of a million more. Half a million American homes are destroyed or damaged by fire each year - 1,500 a day. And 2,000 deaths a year and a hundred thousand crippling injuries are caused by clothing catching fire. Two thousand more die from poisoning in the home. After heart disease, cancer, and stroke, accidents are the leading cause of death for Americans in all age groups and the major cause of death for all Americans under the age of 35. The statistics may not make pleasant reading, but they carry a warning that all of us should heed.