4.2.3  Protection against accidents

  • What accidents could be possible because of poor housing?

  • Poor housing can contribute to several types of accident including burns and electric shocks (if there is an electricity supply).

Table 4.2 shows several types of accident in the home and indicates the housing conditions that may cause them.

Table 4.2  Possible home injuries and their contributory causes.
InjuryConditions that may cause the injury
Person falling over causing broken bones, bruising etc.Slippery floor; steps that are too high or too low
Building materials falling on peoplePoor structure of roof and walls
BurnImproper use of fuel; damage to electrical wires
Carbon monoxide poisoning (see Box 4.1)Not extinguishing fire sources while sleeping
Chemical poisoning (a child drinking pesticide, handling drugs, etc.)Improper handling and storage of chemicals
Lack of air, breathing problemsNo separate kitchen; keeping children close by while cooking with wood or dung fuel
Electric shockElectrical wire is damaged by a rat; incorrect installation; overloading a circuit, etc.

Box 4.1  Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas that is given off in incomplete combustion, when fuels don’t burn properly. You can’t see, smell or taste carbon monoxide, so it is very difficult for people to detect; this makes it very dangerous.

When we breathe in, oxygen is taken in through the lungs and carbon dioxide is breathed out. Haemoglobin in the red blood cells is used to carry oxygen to various parts of the body.

O2 + haemoglobin = oxyhaemoglobin

If there is carbon monoxide in the breathed-in air, it combines with haemoglobin more easily than oxygen does.

CO + haemoglobin = carboxyhaemoglobin

CO reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and poisons the body. It can lead to illness and even death.

4.2.2  Protection against infection

4.2.4  Protection against psychological and social stresses