Danger lurks in our homes in the form of low air quality, risk of injury, and toxic chemicals, which we do not even know are there. These home hazards can cause many health problems such as lifelong injuries, respiratory issues, cancer, or delayed development in children. The following information will provide you with a list of top home hazards and safety tips to avoid the risks.
1. Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is also referred to as the silent killer because of its colorless and odorless state. It is produced by home appliances that burn fuel, such as stoves, water heaters, and furnaces. It interferes with oxygen transportation in the body through the bloodstream. When exposed to carbon monoxide, you will experience fatigue, headache, nausea, and flu-like symptoms. If the exposure is in high quantities, it becomes fatal.
To prevent exposure to carbon monoxide, ensure that all gas appliances have proper maintenance. Hire a professional to service your water and furnace heater at least once a year; this also applies to your chimney.
You can also install carbon monoxide detectors all over the house, especially where your family members spend a lot of time. The detectors sound an alarm when CO levels increase and can even wake someone from their sleep. CO detectors should be battery-powered with a backup. Assess the alarm twice a year and replace the batteries if necessary. After buying your detector, note their lifespan and replace them accordingly.
Apart from causing property damage, mold causes health problems to those exposed to it, especially people suffering from respiratory diseases such as asthma. Mold affects some people more than others, with the affected suffering a stuffy or runny nose, coughing, itchy eyes, throat, and nose. People with asthma have a trigger when exposed to mold or have their symptoms exacerbated.
Be attentive to strange and musty smells in your home. If unsure about unexplained mold symptoms, assess for signs of water damage, and hire a professional to carry out an inspection.
Once you identify mold in the home, you need to clean it up and eliminate the source. Cleaning without taking care of the origin will not help as it will just grow back. You can clean smaller areas of mold growth below 10 square feet using water and detergent. Make sure the surface dries up properly. If the mold has affected porous or absorbent items such as carpets, you will need to put this away as it is difficult to eliminate mold from the materials.
If the area covered by mold is more than 10 square feet, consider professional help to do the cleaning. If the cause of the mold is due to plumbing leakages, fix the leaks with urgency. Use a dehumidifier or an air conditioner to maintain low levels of humidity. Open the bathroom window after showering or run the fan. If you have recently experienced flooding in your home, ensure proper cleaning and thorough drying of all the affected surfaces. Finally, identify and seal all spots where rainwater uses to seep inside the house.
A fall inside the home can end up being fatal, especially for children. Falls in children are mostly associated with windows, baby walkers, play equipment, and falling down the stairs. Depending on the extent and severity of the fall, the affected person can suffer from a head concussion, break a limb, or their back, which is a more severe injury; some falls have also led to death.
Install window guards on windows and place soft protective surfaces under and around play equipment. Stairs should have handrails, with sufficient lighting, no moose carpeting, and clear of toys. If you have children in the house, use safety gates on both ends of the staircase. Dark basements should have a light installed on the stairs with the bottom step painted in a bright color for easier visibility. Outdoor steps should always be free of snow and ice.
Have non-slip mats in your bathroom and install extra grab bars or rails. The existing ones should be in the right conditions and able to support your weight. Always use firm step stools for getting things out of closets and kitchen cabinets. Children who are less than six years old should not use bunk beds, lock drawers, and cabinets to prevent children from climbing inside.
Fire outbreaks in the home are caused by accidents in the kitchen, candles, or electrical faults. An unattended iron box can also cause a fire. Fires lead to property damage, total loss of the house, injuries, and even death.
Install fire alarms all over your home and regularly check on its batteries. A smoke detector will also come in handy as it will help you stop the fire before it advances. Nowadays, there are smart smoke detectors that use Wi-Fi to give you real-time updates. The detector can be integrated into your mobile device for remote monitoring.
Do not use candles near loose clothing like blankets or drapes; always be there when the candle is lit; if you have to leave the room, put off the candle. Place a lit candle out of pets and children’s reach. Even when the candle is unlit, hide it as children can try to light it without your knowledge; matches should also not be accessible to children.
Unplug appliances that are not in use, such as toasters, blenders, and iron boxes. Ensure they are working correctly with no frayed wires and do not overload electrical outlets.
5. Choking and Suffocation
Choking is caused by food or children swallowing small items around in the house. Sometimes, the situation gets out of control when a child chokes away from your reach. Suffocation occurs when an object such as a plastic bag is an obstruction of the mouth or nose. Infants are the hardest hit by suffocation, with 60% of incidences occurring in cribs and beds when they bury their faces in a pillow or soft bedding.
Inspect toys for loose parts and sweep floors to remove small items or toys that a child can choke on. Keep small but hard foods such as nuts of children’s reach. When your child is playing in another room, use a baby monitor to hear choking signs if it happens. Cut hard foods for children under four years as they can block their airways. Do the same for other foods like hot dogs, grapes, and cherry tomatoes.
To avoid suffocation, do not place an infant facing downwards on a soft surface such as a comforter, waterbed, mattress, or pillow, especially those covered in plastic. Your infant’s crib should be free of pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, and bumpers. Keep plastic bags away from children; this includes sandwich bags, shopping bags, and dry-cleaning bags. Un-inflated balloons should never be accessible to children.
There are numerous safety hazards that we face every day in our homes. The ones we address above are only a few of the many home safety issues. However, take a look around your home and make a list of potential hazards that you might notice and make a plan of action to address these safety issues. If you are planning on selling your home or buying a new home, don’t forget the importance of a home inspection. Our qualified and certified home inspector will recognize often overlooked safety hazards as well as failing, defective or broken components in the home.
Contact Full Circle Home Inspectors Today!