Most Feel Safest at Home — But They Shouldn’t

Accidents are most likely to occur at home, despite what people think
A baby crawling on a chair

If you consider your home to be your safe space from the dangers of the world, you’re not alone. A new survey suggests that most adults believe they are safest from accidental injury or death in their houses, when this isn’t really the case.

The National Safety Council (NSC), an organization that works to stop preventable deaths through research, education and advocacy, surveyed 2,000 adults to gauge their perceptions about the risk of being impacted by an accident or what the survey refers to as a “preventable incident.” An overwhelming 77% of respondents said they felt the safest from the risks of being accidentally injured when in their homes, and 73% said they felt the safest from the risks of accidental death while at home.

Yet, in reality, three-quarters of accidents occur either at home or in the surrounding community, according to the NSC.

One reason for the disconnect could be that many adults aren’t totally clear on what constitutes an accidental death. Preventable deaths are the third leading cause of death in the country, according to the NSC, fueled in recent years by the opioid epidemic. The odds of someone dying from a preventable incident in their lifetime are 1 in 24, the council said.

Among survey respondents, 72% correctly said car crashes were examples of accidental deaths and 62% were correct in considering falls to be in that category. However, only 40% knew that drug overdoses were accidental deaths — in fact, overdoses are the leading cause of accidental deaths in the country.

Some respondents also inaccurately assessed lower-risk threats compared to more common dangers. For example, 80% of respondents were very worried about themselves or a loved one being impacted by homicide, and 79% were very concerned about being involved in an accidental shooting. A smaller 71% were very concerned about themselves or a loved one being impacted by either a prescription or illicit drug overdose.

Yet, the odds of dying by gun homicide are 1 in 285, and the odds of dying by accidental shooting are 1 in 8,912, while the chance of dying by accidental opioid overdose is a much more likely 1 in 96.

Americans by and large aren’t strangers to the concept of accidental death. The survey found that 4 in 10 respondents had been directly impacted by a preventable death in their lives. While the NSC is working to bring the number of accidental deaths to zero, only 49% of respondents said they believe it’s possible to eliminate most or even all accidental deaths. In fact, 37% of respondents said achieving that goal is hopeless.

While there are safety precautions to avoid accidental death or injury, there are also steps you can take to prepare in case such a misfortune does strike. For instance, your homeowners insurance can protect you from damages if someone slips and falls in your house. Likewise, your auto insurance policy can take care of damages if you’re at fault in a traffic accident.

While there are many things in life that we can’t control, insurance can provide a financial safety net when accidents occur.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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