Hidden Hazards in the Home
Originally posted in Porch.com
A vintage home affords character, imagination in design and unique features not available in homes built today. With that said, homes and apartments built prior to the 1980’s are bound to have some safety elements that are worth investigating and updating for the optimal health and safety of your family.
If you are moving into a home with some vintage flair, consider investigating the potential health hazards that come along with it.
Home safety is part of home ownership
Take responsibility for potential hazards before they become an issue for you, your loved ones or your guests.
While you may not be able to eliminate all of the hazards from your home, with some effort, you should be able to minimize as many potential hazards as possible.
If you start with the top five common hazards and evaluate room by room, you should be able to cover most of the potential issues in your home, whether your home is new or not.
After that, as a responsible homeowner, you should make regular evaluations of your home every season or so. This will also give you a different perspective on what is needed as some hazards in and around your home are often seasonal.
While the responsibility of home safety can be a drag, the benefits far outweigh the risks. The effort it takes to assess and reduce the dangers vs dealing with the potential dangers (fire, disease, poisoning) is definitely worth making time for.
Top Five Home Hazards:
These hazards don’t only affect children or older people, however a comprehensive study by the Home Safety Council found that home injuries cause 21 million yearly medical visits and almost 20,000 deaths, 2,000 of which are children.
But don’t be shocked. Most homeowners are not preventing injuries because they don’t know any better, not because they are lazy.
You can avoid these tragedies in your own home simply by being more conscientious in your evaluation of your surroundings and making a few simple adjustments if needed.
Let’s go room by room and see where the hazards may be...
Exploring the house for hidden hazards
Bedrooms and Bathrooms - Where you sleep and shower may seem like the safest place to be alone with your thoughts, in a quiet space but your bedroom and bathroom may harbor hidden hazards you are least expecting Here are some things to consider:
Slippery surfaces/non slip surfaces - In the bathroom, consider adding non slip surfaces to the tub and floor surrounding the tub/shower/sink. In the bedroom, look for potential slipping on rugs and runners or clothing left on the floor to keep slip hazards at bay.
Candles - Ambience is sweet but consider safety first with candles in bathrooms and bedrooms. Keep open flames away from flammable chemicals and fabrics and never leave open flames unattended.
Safety rails - Are handy in bathrooms and bedrooms around the toilet, bathtub and bed for getting safely up/down or in/out
Toys - Keeping toys cleared off of the floor and out of the tub after use is always a good idea to prevent trips and falls
Bathroom sharps - Keeping razors, scissors or other sharp objects safely stowed away is a good idea for safety’s sake.
Poison - Cleaning products as well as hygiene products found in the bathroom or bedroom can be harmful if accidentally ingested. Remove, contain and safely store anything that may be unintentionally or potentially harmful to children or pets.
Falls - Can be a potential hazard around bed and cribs. Put soft, protective surfaces under play equipment or furniture where accidental falls are a potential hazard.
Drowning - This is truly one of the most potential hazards in the bathroom area and drowning happens quickly. Ensure thorough monitoring of children and pets around the tub and toilet.
Kitchen, Pantry & Laundry - While these are the most common areas for healthy housework to be done, they are also common places for health and safety hazards. Look for potential safety issues in the following areas:
Carbon monoxide - Every home should have a carbon monoxide monitor installed wherever a source of natural gas is present. A CO alarm plugs into an electrical outlet or is installed like a smoke detector. This device will notify you if there is a harmful gas leak, which otherwise may be undetectable as it is odorless, highly toxic and potentially fatal.
Lint trap - The lint trap on your dryer is a potential fire hazard if it isn’t cleared away regularly. Ensure your family’s safety by emptying it after each use.
Lock up kitchen tools - Knives, scissors and other sharp kitchen accessories are dangerous for those who don’t know how to use them yet. Keep them safely out of reach.
Detergents, cleaners - Even though these are effective ways to keep our spaces fresh and sanitized, they can be poisonous if ingested or used inappropriately. Keep your detergents and cleaners safely out of reach of children and pets.
Burns - Another potential hazard is a burn from the stove. Getting burner covers is a great solution. Burner covers are available for ceramic, gas and electric stoves.
Stairs, Basements & Attics - These are the hidden areas of home and health hazards.
Stairs - The most common areas in the home for slips and falls are stairs. Check for irregular stair placement, install railings and place grip mats of carpet on the stairs for protection from slipping. Consider installing a light on the staircase and paint your bottom step a bright color to make it more visible. For outdoor stairs, use nonslip mats and salt in icy weather.
Fire Alarms - Install fire alarms in the attic, basement and stairwells of your home for added assurance of fire protection.
Pests - Pests such as rodents and insects tend to be found in the hidden areas of your home such as attics, basements, sheds and stairways. Regularly inspect these areas for yourself and hire a professional if needed. Preventing infestations before they happen will save you time and money.
Living Rooms and Sitting Rooms - The hazards of the most relaxing areas of your home may not be so obvious.
Air quality - Good indoor air quality can reduce allergies and asthma. One way to eliminate allergens is by choosing hardwood or laminate flooring over carpeting. Air-filtration systems and certain houseplants can also help to improve indoor air quality
Strangling - Check the blinds and drapes for potential strangling hazards. There may be a manufacturer suggestion to avoid strangling hazards.
Window rail safety - Putting window guards on windows could result in a 50% reduction in falls and 35% reduction in deaths.
Yards, Garages, Sheds - The working spaces of your yard have hidden hazards, too. Check out these hidden spaces:
Yard tools - Sharp tools are generally used for yard work so it makes sense to keep them safely and securely stored to misuse or injury.
Poisons/toxins - Toxic chemicals are generally found in these areas, keep them safely contained.
Always use a step stool or ladder for things out of reach - Make sure to use a sturdy step stool or ladder when getting things out of reach. Avoid balancing on furniture and fences, it can be dangerous!
Removal, Upgrade, and Prevention of Risks is the Key to Home Safety Success
Once you have identified the types of hazards in your home whether they are potential injuries, toxins or other damage hazards, you need to establish the best way to remove, replace or repair the issue.
You may want to evaluate if you can make the repairs yourself or if you need to hire an expert. Evaluate options if removal is not possible at all, or just partial
Lead paint and how to remove lead paint from your home - In the past, lead was used as an ingredient for paint. Now, sanding and scraping lead paint can be ingested and toxic. If your home was built before the 1970’s, there is a chance your home has lead paint. Check online to find out safe ways to remove it. It may be more convenient to hire a professional.
Asbestos and removing asbestos from your home - If your house was built before 1980, it’s likely that asbestos is present. Asbestos is a natural fiber found in insulation and drywall that has been known to cause cancer. Insulation, floor tiles, and textured ceiling tiles can be made with asbestos. If you do find asbestos, find a professional to safely remove it.
Keep Yourself and Your Home As Safe As Can Be
When you are buying or renting a home, it is important that the safety of yourself and your family is top of mind.
Evaluating and identifying health and safety hazards is extremely valuable and important when making your choice.
You may need to ask your landlord to make adjustments before you sign a lease, negotiate repairs before buying a property or simply update your existing home. Whatever you need to do, ensure you are covering the basics of the potential hazards throughout your home.