Are you living in a healthy, hazard-free home? If you can’t answer that question with a confident “yes,” it’s time to inspect your home for potential issues.
If you're not sure where to start, read this guide and consult your doctor. We’ve outlined 10 potential threats and provided home safety tips every homeowner should know. This list is a great place to start, but it is not comprehensive.
Asbestos is a mineral that may be found in various building materials. If the materials in your home have asbestos and you’re working on a demolition or home improvement project, those fibers may be released into the air. And when inhaled or ingested, the fibers can increase the risk of certain health issues — most notably lung disease.
When in doubt, you can hire a professional to inspect and test your home for asbestos before you start your home improvement project and disturb the materials in question. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that if your building materials “won’t be disturbed, you do not need to have your home tested for asbestos. Material that is in good condition and will not be disturbed (by remodeling, for example) should be left alone.”
For more information on asbestos, visit the EPA website.
Related content: How much does asbestos removal cost?
Allergens and pests in your home may trigger asthma attacks. Some common triggers that exist in many homes include dust mites, mold and even pets.
Avoid and prevent allergies or asthma attacks by learning what causes them. Keep your home clean, and avoid the things you know can trigger your allergies or asthma. For example, the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) recommends washing your bedding every week and using a vacuum with a HEPA filter on your floors and carpet to get rid of dust mites.
For more information on asthma triggers and how to prevent them, visit the CDC website.
Also read: Step-by-step house cleaning checklist.
More than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning every year, according to the CDC. Carbon monoxide (CO) is produced when fuel is burned in cars, lanterns, fireplaces, stoves, grills and more. One way to prevent CO poisoning is by installing a battery-operated CO detector in your home. A digital readout detector can even tell you the highest level of CO concentration in your home.
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that has been named the second leading cause of lung cancer, reports the EPA. It can enter through cracks and holes in the foundation of your home. And because this colorless, odorless gas comes naturally from the earth, people are always exposed to it. Determine the amount of radon in your home by getting a professional to conduct a test. If the levels are high, hire a pro to mitigate the problem.
No matter what kind of electrical issue you face (damaged wires, poorly installed wiring, etc.), don’t take it lightly.
Be on the constant lookout for circuit breaker issues and frayed or chewed wiring. Limit your use of extension cords, and be careful when using electrical outlets that are located close to water sources.
If you think you need electrical or wiring repairs, leave it to the pros — don’t attempt any electrical work yourself. It also helps to have an electrician inspect your home so they can identify potential electrical hazards and recommend solutions.
Check out: Electrical home maintenance and safety tips.
Cooking, heating, electrical issues, smoking and candles are some of the most common causes of house fires, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). House fires can also be started by faulty wires, extension cords or items placed too close to a heater.
Protect your household from these home safety hazards by installing several smoke alarms throughout your home. The NFPA recommends installing alarms on every level in your home, in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Test your smoke alarm once a month, and change the batteries regularly.
If you have a chimney, it’s important to get it inspected and cleaned regularly. Otherwise, your chimney could start accumulating creosote — and too much creosote could lead to a chimney fire.
To prevent this from happening, the EPA recommends getting your chimney, wood stove and vents inspected and cleaned every year. If you’re overdue, find chimney sweepers and inspectors near you to set up your next appointment.
If you notice discolored pipes, foul odors, slow draining, spiking water bills or bubbling wall paint, you could have leaks or other plumbing issues in your home. An undetected leak could cause water damage within your home, as well as mold growth. Not to mention, the puddles from a leak are also slipping hazards.
Have your plumbing and pipes checked and repaired by professional plumbers. Insulate your pipes during the winter, and always keep your eyes (and nose) open so you can detect the signs of a possible leak in your home.
Also read: Plumbing maintenance tips.
Mold grows where there’s a lot of moisture. So if there’s a leak in or near your roof, window or pipes, you may start to see mold growth. Mold can also grow on paper products, insulation, drywall, tile, carpets and more.
While some people may remain unaffected by mold, it can trigger symptoms in others. For example, some of the known health issues caused by mold include stuffy noses, wheezing and itchy eyes.
You need to control the dampness and humidity levels in your home if you want to prevent mold growth. Do this by fixing leaks quickly, and thoroughly cleaning and drying your flooring, walls and other areas that endured indoor flooding. And make sure your shower, laundry and cooking areas are well-ventilated. If you suspect you have a mold problem, you can hire a professional to remove it.
Visit the CDC website for more information on mold.
The presence of pests and rodents in your home can be pretty overwhelming. From termites, cockroaches and flies to mice, rats and even bats, these household pests can damage your home — and sometimes your health. For example, rats and mice can spread diseases through their feces, urine, saliva and bites, and cockroaches can trigger asthma, warns the CDC.
Pest-proof your home by attaching screen doors, keeping your food in well-sealed containers and changing your bedding regularly. Check for holes or gaps around your home’s exterior. If there are animal and bird droppings inside or outside your home, use gloves when you clean them up. And if you experience a pest infestation, hire an exterminator.
Related content: How much does an exterminator cost?
While tripping may seem trivial, it can cause broken bones and other serious injuries. Fortunately, there are easy things you can do around your home to eliminate potential tripping hazards:
Lastly, regularly inspect your home for damage that could cause tripping. For example, if you have uneven floors inside your home (or uneven concrete outside your home), talk to a professional about your options for repairing those surfaces.
This list of home safety tips may seem overwhelming, especially if you’ve realized you need to conduct an inspection or perform some repairs ASAP.
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