How to detect and avoid five of the most common domestic hazards.
Home is where you feel comfortable and safe. There you hook up your kids and lazily watch hours of Netflix on the couch.
Without your care and attention, however, your home can develop conditions that can make you seriously ill – or even kill you.
Here are five ways your home can harm you and expert advice on how these things won’t affect your household.
However mold it’s not a pathogen (a disease-causing agent), it’s still an allergen you don’t want to hang around your house.
“When people say they have an allergic mold or have mold, it’s an allergic reaction,” says Peter Duncanson, director of business operations for disaster recovery specialists. ServiceMaster Restore. “[Molds] generally considered toxic are such as stack stacks, which are black, but not all black molds cause the same reactions. “
Molds, including black molds such as stacking molds, form if moisture is concentrated in an area where a food source is present, such as skin cells or paper. You know you have mold growing in your home if you smell earthy, chic smell. Although mold exposure will not seriously harm the average person, repeated exposure is not advisable for your health.
“The accumulation [of mold] causes a more violent reaction, and those reactions are generally respiratory and pulmonary, so you have trouble breathing, “Duncanson explains.” A very severe reaction to mold can be anaphylactic – you can’t breathe, and you go into anaphylactic shock. “
Fortunately, you can prevent mold by keeping your home dry, operating the trigger while showering, and buying a humidifier for the basement in the summer.
If you find black mold (or what is commonly called a toxic mold) in your home, don’t panic. Contact a professional who can safely remove the mold and remove the water source feeding it.
2. Exposed asbestos
Asbestos was a commonly used building material until the middle of the 20th century, when it was decided to be a very dangerous carcinogen that causes mesothelioma cancer. Although builders are no longer legally allowed to use asbestos in building materials and other products, traces of it are often found in older homes.
“Asbestos doesn’t hurt you if you don’t bother it,” Duncanson says. “The problem arises when you start cutting or tearing down and asbestos becomes airborne.”
It may be tempting to slow down a free-living living space in your antique bungalow, but if your home was built before the 1980s, seek the advice of a professional before you start tearing down any walls. The latent period of mesothelioma cancer can be years, so problems may not appear until much later in your life.
Dealing with asbestos is a dangerous task, and professionals have the equipment to dispose of it safely without risking your health.
3. Carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills thousands of people every year, occurs when there is too much carbon monoxide in your blood. This can result in tissue damage or death.
Improperly ventilated appliances such as ovens, water heaters and gas appliances can release carbon monoxide. Improperly cleaned chimneys cause smoke to circulate through the home – this can also give you carbon monoxide poison, according to Andy Kerns, a home care researcher.
To protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning, properly ventilate appliances and clean hot springs such as wood-burning stoves annually before use. Call a professional if you have any doubts about the safety and security of your appliances or ventilation inside your home.
Seven people in the United States die every day from domestic fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Most of these home fires are the result of normal daily use of appliances, candles and cookware. The most surprising fire starter, however, resides in the wash.
“A dryer chess can collect in the dryer and become an electric fire starter,” says Kerns. “Dryers are the leading cause of home fires.”
To prevent home fires, make sure your appliances have the proper range before you connect them to outlets. Always extinguish candles after use and carefully watch the oven while cooking.
5. Sliding bathroom surfaces
The bathroom is often classified as the most dangerous room in the home. Wet, slippery surfaces often cause falls – and result in anything from embarrassment to a broken hip.
“Bathtubs, in particular, are an area where you can fall and hit your head,” Kerns notes. “A lot of people get hurt pretty badly in the bathroom, especially when they’re older.”
As we get older, bathroom safety is more appropriate, so it’s a great idea to install things like hooks or an entrance tub to make it easier to use as you get older. Be sure to wipe off any wet surfaces, and place bath mats at the sink and tub to prevent falling from a bathroom sink.
Keep tabs in your home
Taking time to slow down and keep your home safe is essential for any homeowner. Give your home a monthly, half-yearly and annual check-up to keep it in top condition for years to come.
“Given how busy our lives are, and all the different things we have to track in our digital environments, it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with some of the physical care issues. I think a lot of people tend to leave things up to a problem,” says Kerns . “Don’t leave it in your memory. Have a good reliable organizational system that keeps you up to date. “
Originally published May 2017.