The 20 Most Injury-Causing
Household Products in America

August 27, 2015
By Laura Delamare

In a perfect world, we’d all be safe from stubbed toes and paper cuts, broken bones and oven burns. But it’s not a perfect world, and Americans seem to be constantly at risk.

Household products cause millions of injuries in the U.S. each year. These injuries are the result of accidents, and can’t always be avoided, but the experts at HealthGrove believe you’re better safe than sorry. So, they’ve set out to create a list of the most dangerous products in America.

Using the most recent available data on product injuries from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, HealthGrove used annual injury reports from 1997-2014 to calculate the average number of injuries caused by a product in a given year.

The list is ranked by average number of injuries per year. To see which of your favorite products might kill you, look no further.


#20: Porches and Balconies

  • Average Annual Injuries: 120,989
  • Average Annual Deaths: 54

In June, a balcony collapsed in Berkeley, Calif., killing six students and injuring at least seven. The collapse made international news, as five of the six killed were Irish students. Over the years, several balcony safety campaigns have been launched, but still, the U.S. sees an average of 54 annual deaths per year caused by porches and balconies.

The visualization to the right shows that annual injuries caused by porches and balconies have remained fairly constant in the U.S., hovering around 120,000.


#19: ATVs

  • Average Annual Injuries: 121,371
  • Average Annual Deaths: 178

ATVs offer an exciting thrill to many, but that thrill comes at a price. The all-terrain vehicles are fast, heavy and offer little protection to passengers. In July 2015, two teenage girls on an ATV killed a 10-year-old boy when they lost control of the vehicle. The boy died at the scene and the girls remain in critical condition.

As seen in the visualization, ATV injuries have been declining since 2007. We’d advise careful thought before you hop on: last year, ATVs caused over 100,000 injuries in the U.S.


#18: Garden Tools (Excluding Lawn Mowers)

  • Average Annual Injuries: 122,951
  • Average Annual Deaths: 83

Believe it or not, gardening can kill. Data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that there are an average of 83 deaths caused by gardening tools each year–and that’s not including lawn mowers. These injuries are affecting more men than women on average: the breakdown in the visualization shows that men make up 65% of the injuries. To take a look, click on the gender tab in the visualization.

The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) knows how dangerous these tools can be, so they’ve provided several gardening-safety tips on their website. Some include wearing gloves, watching for buried objects and making sure you’re using the right tool for the job.


#17: Ladders and Step Stools

  • Average Annual Injuries: 131,389
  • Average Annual Deaths: 35

It seems obvious that ladders and step stools would cause injuries each year, but they cause an average of 35 deaths, too. Last month, a 53-year-old man died when he fell off a ladder in his own front yard in Drexel Hill, Pa.

If you’re interested in reading up on proper step stool use, the Culture of Safety offers a helpful guide.

Note: Our data source changed their product categorization scheme in January of 2003, resulting in the spike seen in the visualization.


#16: Chemicals

  • Average Annual Injuries: 152,074
  • Average Annual Deaths: 66

It goes without saying that chemicals are dangerous. However, not all Americans know to avoid cleaning products and fertilizer–and they contribute to an average of 66 deaths per year in the U.S.

Painters are a high-risk group for injury and death. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked 13 deaths in 10 different states with a commonly used paint-stripping chemical. Upon examining the age breakdown in the visualization to the right, it is clear that children are another high-risk group: 27% of these injuries are affecting children ages 0 to 2 years old.


#15: Pools and Hot Tubs

  • Average Annual Injuries: 156,536
  • Average Annual Deaths: 542

Each year, there are an average of 156,536 injuries and 542 deaths caused by pools or hot tubs in the U.S. Although the visualization shows that incidences are slightly declining, Americans should still be cautious: drowning and hypothermia are fast killers.

Pool Safely’s motto is that “simple steps save lives.” Instructional videos and awareness events are available on their website.


#14: Plastic Containers

  • Average Annual Injuries: 169,605
  • Average Annual Deaths: 48

An average of 169,605 injuries per year are caused by plastic containers. This category includes plastic bottles, jars, plastic bags and plastic wrapping products. Surprisingly, the largest age group for this injury is Americans ages 41 to 60. Although small children are prone to choking on bags, this category is more broad.

The visualization shows a slight downward trend in plastic container injuries since 2013, but overall, the average has risen since the late 1990s.


#13: Power Tools

  • Average Annual Injuries: 196,361
  • Average Annual Deaths: 33

Power-tool-related injuries are on the rise in the U.S. Last year, they caused over 220,000 injuries, far more than the annual average of 196,361.

Forbes recently found the 10 most dangerous power tools in the industry. The list cites one particularly horrific incident, in which a 25-year old man fell off a stepladder while holding a power drill, and the tool severed through his jaw and skull, tearing a major artery.


#12: Showers and Bathtubs

  • Average Annual Injuries: 228,673
  • Average Annual Deaths: 169

As it turns out, showering and bathing can be quite dangerous, too. When surfaces become wet and slippery, people are more likely to fall and injure themselves, resulting in an average of over 290,000 injuries per year in the U.S. This number has shot up since 1997, when the average was closer to 150,000 per year, as seen in the visualization. Even The New York Times says your “daily shower can be a killer.”

Hygiene freaks: don’t panic. Nobody expects you to stop bathing, but you should be careful where you step while doing it.


#11: Playground Equipment

  • Average Annual Injuries: 234,093
  • Average Annual Deaths: 14

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency rooms treat over 200,000 children under the age of 15 for playground-related injuries each year in the U.S. The CDC estimates that these injuries cost approximately $1.2 billion in total.

Though there are safe ways to use playgrounds, data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that there are still an average of 14 deaths per year caused by the equipment. Climbers are the most dangerous equipment on a playground, so if you’re worried about your child, tell him or her to avoid them.


#10: Non-Power Tools

  • Average Annual Injuries: 245,120
  • Average Annual Deaths: 34

Each year, an average of 245,120 injuries occur as a result of the use of non-power tools. These tools can include but aren’t limited too: hammers, screwdrivers and non-electric saws. As seen in the visualization, the average number of injuries due to these tools has slowly declined since 1997.

The thing to remember here is to play it safe. The CDC warns that an untrained eye may have a difficult time evaluating the safety of a tool. If you’re in the market, refer to the CDC’s Guide to Selecting Non-Powered Hand Tools.


#9: Doors (Excluding Garage Doors)

  • Average Annual Injuries: 278,082
  • Average Annual Deaths: 9

If you’ve ever slammed a door on your hand so hard that you’ve cursed, just remember, you’re not alone: each year, an average of 278,082 injuries are caused by doors. Door-finger jams have become such a problem, there’s an entire line of products dedicated to avoiding them: FingerSafeUSA.com.

Note: Our data source changed their product categorization scheme in January of 2003, resulting in the spike seen in the visualization.


#8: Walls and Ceilings

  • Average Annual Injuries: 320,033
  • Average Annual Deaths: 84

You’re probably thinking, “how can I possibly avoid walls and ceilings?” Sadly, you can’t. Sometimes, walls and ceilings get in the way: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports an average of over 320,000 injuries caused by walls and ceilings each year.

To protect your kids, keep them from bouncing too high on the bed (this can result in a hard bump on the head). Other risks include ceiling collapse, which could possibly be avoided with regular termite inspection. As seen in the visualization, the age breakdown of this injury is fairly equal: children aren’t injured by walls ceilings any more than adults over 60.


#7: Beds

  • Average Annual Injuries: 406,817
  • Average Annual Deaths: 274

Two words: bunk bed. Beds can be dangerous in a number of ways, but bunk bed accidents contribute to the 274 deaths on average per year in the U.S., as reported by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Bunk beds alone cause 39,172 injuries per year.

Hilariously, there is actually a film titled “Death Bed: The Bed That Eats” which came out in 1977. You don’t need to worry too much about a demon possessing your bed, but be careful of stubbed toes. Bed-related injuries are on the rise, as seen in the visualization.

Note: Our data source changed their product categorization scheme in January of 2003, resulting in the spike seen in the visualization.


#6: Chairs and Couches

  • Average Annual Injuries: 415,811
  • Average Annual Deaths: 187

Chairs and couches kill 187 people per year on average in the U.S. These include, but aren’t limited to, recliners, rocking chairs, sofa couches, beach chairs, folding chairs, bar stools and kitchen stools.

For stools and rocking chairs, balance may be cause of these injuries, and not the products themselves. Nonetheless, these products cause an average of over 415,000 injuries per year, and that number is on the rise.

Note: Our data source changed their product categorization scheme in January of 2003, resulting in the spike seen in the visualization.


#5: Knives

  • Average Annual Injuries: 427,173
  • Average Annual Deaths: 19

Knives are the fifth-most-dangerous product on this list in terms of average injuries, with over 427,000 annually. These numbers do not reflect any knife attacks or intentional knife injuries, which, if included, would likely inflate the average annual deaths into the thousands. Playing with a pocket knife is a huge hazard, and results in thousands of injuries per year. Chopping food with knives also puts Americans at risk: The Washington Post wrote that knife injuries afflict “both top chefs and everyday cooks.” There are also many Americans who consider knife-throwing as a recreational sport, art and combat skill. If you’re one of them, consider yourself warned!


#4: Furniture (Excluding Beds and Chairs)

  • Average Annual Injuries: 578,704
  • Average Annual Deaths: 114

By this point, you might be wondering what products are safe to use. Apparently, not many! Furniture (excluding beds and chairs) are responsible for over 578,000 injuries and 114 deaths per year on average. These furniture pieces include but aren’t limited to desks, dressers, chests, bureaus, inflatable furniture, tables or buffets.

A few words of advice: If you a have a bookshelf, attach it to the wall. If you are using a blow-up mattress, don’t jump onto it like it’s a real mattress. The average incidences of these injuries have remained fairly constant over the years, hovering around 550,000 per year, meaning these injuries are affecting a lot of people, and should be taken seriously.


#3: Bicycles, Tricycles, and Unicycles

  • Average Annual Injuries: 610,188
  • Average Annual Deaths: 361

If you thought a unicycle was a safe idea, you were wrong. But bicycles and tricycles also contribute to an average of over 610,000 injuries and 361 deaths per year.

Bike safety is a hugely important part of teaching a child to bike. To avoid critical injury or even death, wear the right gear, including a helmet, pads and reflective gear. Children should always start with training wheels and bike on safe, neighborhood streets.


#2: Carpets, Rugs, and Other Flooring

  • Average Annual Injuries: 939,673
  • Average Annual Deaths: 972

Carpets, rugs, and other flooring are injuring an average of 939,673 Americans per year, and that number is on the rise. These products also cause an average of 972 deaths each year, which is the highest number of deaths we’ve seen on the list so far.

This category of products includes runners, throw mats, door mats, carpeting, rugs and flooring. The major risk is, of course, slipping, tripping, and falling on these materials. In 2014, over 1.2 million injuries were caused by these products in the U.S., which is nearly double the number of injuries that occurred in 1997.


#1: Stairs

  • Average Annual Injuries: 1,129,475
  • Average Annual Deaths: 329

A nationally representative 2012 study found that a child is treated for a stair-related injury every six minutes. But it’s not just children who are at risk: Americans of all ages are sustaining an average of 1,179,987 injuries per year.

Falling down a flight of stairs, or even just a few stairs, can result in a number of serious injuries, and sometimes death. Broken or fractured bones and head injuries are major concerns, but a fall can complicate other pre-existing conditions as well.

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