Is Your Home Trying to Kill You?
Home is where you feel comfortable and safe. Without your care and vigilance, however, your home may develop conditions that can make you severely ill — or even kill you. Here are 5 ways your home can potentially harm you and expert advice on keeping these issues from affecting your household.
Though mold isn’t a pathogen (a disease-causing agent), it’s still an allergen that you don’t want hanging around your house. Molds, including black molds like stachybotrys, form if moisture concentrates 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 an earthy, musty scent. Though mold exposure won’t severely harm the average person, repeated exposure is not advised for your health.
You can prevent mold by keeping your home dry. Consider running the fan when taking a shower, and buying a dehumidifier for the basement in the summer.
If you do find black mold (or what’s commonly referred to as toxic mold) in your home, contact a professional who can safely remove the mold and eliminate the water source feeding it.
2. Exposed asbestos
Asbestos was a commonly used building material up until the mid-20th century, when it was determined to be a very dangerous carcinogen that causes mesothelioma cancer. Though builders aren’t legally allowed to use asbestos in building materials and other products anymore, traces of it are often found in older homes.
If your home was built before the 1980s, then seek the advice of a professional before knocking down any walls. The latency period of mesothelioma cancer can be years, so problems may not arise until much later in your life.
3. Carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills thousands of people each year, occurs when there’s too much carbon monoxide in your blood. This can result in tissue damage or death. Improperly ventilated appliances like stoves, water heaters and gas appliances can release carbon monoxide. Improperly cleaned chimneys – which cause smoke to circulate throughout the home -can also give you carbon monoxide poisoning.
To protect yourself, properly ventilate appliances and clean heat sources like wood-burning stoves every year before use. Call a professional if you have any doubts.
Seven people in the U.S. die each day from house fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Most of these house fires are the result of normal, everyday use of appliances, candles and cooking equipment. The most surprising fire starter, however, is dryer lint.
To prevent house fires, ensure that your appliances have the right rating before you plug them into outlets. Always extinguish candles after usage and carefully watch the stove when cooking.
5. Slippery bathroom surfaces
The bathroom is often ranked as the most dangerous room in the home. Wet, slippery surfaces often lead to falls — and result in anything from embarrassment to a fractured hip.
As we get older, bathroom safety gets more pertinent. Install things like grab bars or a walk-in tub for ease of use as you age. Wipe down any wet surfaces, and place bath mats by the sink and tub to prevent bathroom falls.
Keep tabs on your home
Taking the time to slow down and keep your home safe is essential for any homeowner. Give your home a monthly, semiannual and annual checkup to keep it in tip-top condition for years to come.
Article originally appeared on Zillow.