Our homes are a place of refuge, our sanctuaries from the world, our happy places. We associate ‘home’ with feelings of comfort and safety. However, did you know that there are a number of hazards that could lead to serious injury or even death between these four walls! While it’s common knowledge that accidents happen at home more often than anywhere else, on top of that there are a few other ways that your home could well be affecting your health. Give your home a health check by considering the following things!

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. It is produced by burning fuel such as gas, wood, propane or charcoal amongst other things. In the home, carbon monoxide is often caused by appliances that haven’t been installed properly or have malfunctioned. And in an enclosed space like a kitchen, the chemical can quickly build up in your bloodstream and cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms include dizziness, weakness, vomiting, shortness of breath and more. While these would ring alarm bells in regular healthy people, if you’re sleeping when it happens or are intoxicated it can be especially dangerous as it’s far easier to miss. It’s a serious problem which can cause irreversible brain damage and even death, so certainly isn’t something to disregard when it comes to safety in the home. Purchase a carbon monoxide alarm to alert you if there’s a problem, and have annual gas safety checks done to avoid the problem. Gas leaks are a separate but equally worrying issue, so by having regular gas checks you can kill two birds with one stone.


Electrics

We’re all aware of the dangers of electric, if you’ve ever had a small shock caused from damp hands or a faulty appliance you’ll be well aware it’s not to be messed with! People can let standards slip with electrics, since many older houses need complete rewiring which is time-consuming and expensive. It often means you have to completely redecorate too, due to wired being pulled out of walls. It can be a case of ‘it works for now’ or one of those jobs you don’t end up getting round too, after all, no one likes spending a stack of money on something you can’t even see. However if you know your property hasn’t been rewired in the last thirty years then you need to call in an electrician. All of your wiring or at least parts of it) will need to be redone to bring it up to current standards. Bad wiring is not only a risk for electrocution but it’s a fire hazard too, it’s simply not worth yours and your family’s safety. Even if you have to borrow money to ensure the electrical safety in your home, it’s certainly better than dealing with the risks or putting right the damage they can cause. Using very old electrical appliances is another problem, old wiring can lead to overheating, shocks or cause a fire. Get rid of things like old hair dryers, old kitchen appliances that you’ve had for decades and anything else that’s past it’s best. Treat yourself to some shiny new ones, the technology will be far better, and you have peace of mind that they’re up to electrical safety standards.


Asbestos

Once hailed a wonder product due to it’s resistance to heat and tensile strength, asbestos was used in many ways including in buildings. It wasn’t until years later when lung problems pointed to asbestos poisoning, and it was discovered that the stuff was incredibly harmful. When it’s undisturbed, asbestos will sit behind your walls or cover pipes without causing an issue. However, if you start doing DIY, pulling walls down or renovating it can cause a huge problem. The dust gets into your lungs and leads to severe health issues later down the line, it’s so bad you will need to get a professional to remove it. Something to bear in mind if you have an older property and want to make changes to it.


Black Mould

Mould’s toxic spores can cause or irritate health issues: respiratory problems, eye irritation, rashes, headaches, and fatigue can all present as symptoms. As unpleasant as this is for most people, for children, the elderly and those with existing health conditions it’s can be particularly dangerous. Mold is often a result of a leak somewhere in the home and could be from a pipe or a gap or hole in the roof so these would be places to check if you can’t seem to get to the route of the problem. Leaky and condensation prone windows can cause moisture to evaporate and sit on walls and ceilings too which can be another cause. Single glazing, old double glazing and failed windows are all likely to cause this- if you can’t completely upgrade them then use a cloth each morning to remove the moisture. Using an extractor fan in bathrooms and kitchens and regularly ‘airing out’ the house can also be useful against mold providing it’s not caused by an ongoing leak. Once you have taken care of the moisture issue in your home, you’ll need to tackle any existing mold that’s formed. You can buy antifungal and mold products from most DIY stores, in a ventilated room remove it with the detergent and a cloth. If the problem was extensive, you might need to repaint as well. Choose a paint which offers anti-mold technology for further lines of defense


Loose Carpets

One of the most common types of injuries are caused by trips and falls. While most people might just hurt their pride a little, older adults and anyone with weak bones have a huge risk of death. Every year people go into hospital for a broken pelvis and never recover, and it leads to their untimely demise. One way you can protect yourself and others against falls is by securing loose carpets. Around doorways and on stairs old carpet can bunch up or peel up and pose a huge tripping hazard. Other ways you can avoid slips and trips is to make sure mess and clutter is kept to a minimum, things like kids toys or shoes in walkways can result in falls. And if you’ve just mopped or created a slippery floor surface after cleaning, shut the door and make sure no one goes in until it’s dry.


Sharp Objects

Knives, power tools, garden equipment- there’s a whole lot of sharp and dangerous objects in and around the home. Do yourself a favor and use common sense here! If you’re not much of a DIYer, it could be better to call in the professionals rather than tackle things yourself. Even if you are comfortable with power tools, use care when you have them out. Give everything a once over to make sure it properly starts and turns off, and of course be sure that they’re put away properly too. Preferably locked up in a shed, away from kids (and away from burglars too who will target this kind of thing! When it comes to knives, you might be surprised to hear that blunt knives are often the cause of injury. When a knife is dull, you have to use more pressure when cutting, this can lead to it slipping off the food and onto your skin. Sharper knives give you far more precision, but obviously good concentration and common sense goes a long way.

Pests

Our homes are warm and cozy, not just to us but to any little critters and creatures that get inside too. If insects or rodents find a food supply they will make a nest and breed very quickly, which could end up being an expensive issue to fix- as well as being bad for your health. Pests can trigger asthma attacks and cause respiratory issues to those who are prone to them. Rodents can also spread Lyme disease, salmonella, rat bite fever, hantavirus, typhus. In some countries (including in both Americas, Canada, Asia and Africa ) while it’s rare, you can still even catch plague! While there are DIY methods for killing pests, your best bet is to call in an exterminator. They can ensure the life cycle is broken, meaning your problem won’t recur from a few stray eggs left behind. Keeping your house clean and tidy, removing any leftover food including crumbs will prevent pests. But sometimes they can find their way into the cleanest of homes. Clear out your pantry, looking carefully for any pest activity. Replace packets of food with airtight glass jars which pests won’t be able to get into.


A few checks, some common sense and some help from the professionals if needed will help to keep your home safe. This is where you and your family spend most of your time, so it’s definitely not something to be overlooked.

Sarah x