Is your home trying to kill you?

Your home is a place where you can relax. It’s a place you feel safe. It’s where you eat, cook, sleep, lounge, play and spend a huge part of your time on this planet. But is it really that safe? How would you feel if you knew that your home posed a considerable threat to your health?

We already know that the majority of people who arrive at ER come directly from their homes. And they’re the ones who made it out. So what dangers, exactly, do we face at home?

Some of us decorate our homes with minute attention to detail when it comes to ambience and appearance, but scarcely give a thought to safety. It’s a good job that most jurisdictions have made the sale of non-fire-resistant fabrics illegal when used in sofa covers, carpets, curtains and so on. That doesn’t come close to eliminating the risks of home fires, however. Many people don’t equip their homes with fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, believing that ‘if there’s a fire, I’ll feel very hot and I’ll know to get out of the place’. Unfortunately, nearly everyone who dies in a house fire is killed by smoke before the fire gets to them. This can come on so quickly that it’s often too late if you’re woken up in a coughing fit and unable to see for the smoke. Carbon monoxide is even more sinister in that it is undetectable to human senses. You won’t notice a thing as you breathe in the poison which kills you.

Gas stoves, boilers and piping should be regularly maintained and checked to ensure that leakages won’t happen. The same goes for electrical appliances, wiring and strips. Old properties with old wiring should be evaluated by a qualified electrician who can take steps to bringing the place up to modern safety standards.

Many accidents which take place in the home involve somebody falling. Carpets and rugs can become loose, especially on staircases. Checking them, as well as putting up handrails, improved lighting and safety gates can mitigate the risk of an accident occurring. Falls in the bathroom are more common and often more serious. Put down rubber mats on surfaces which get wet and put up safety rails around the room.

The kitchen is considered the most dangerous room in your home and with good reason. Not only do you have powerful appliances in there, but a combination of water, gas, electricity, oil, chemicals and fire which could quickly see the end of your home were it to get out of control. On top of that, you’ve got a large number of sharp blades there, too, some of which are connected to motors. Proper storage is essential.

Then there are the less obvious threats. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the air of an average home to be between two and five times more polluted than the air outside. In an age where the dangers of formaldehyde and asbestos are well-known, the number of lesser known toxic agents found in our homes is growing exponentially.

Modern insulation stops heat from escaping but also reduces air filtration, providing a great environment for bacteria, viruses and mold. Phthalates, which can cause asthma and other respiratory problems, can be found everywhere from our shower curtains to vinyl flooring. Solvents, such as trichloroethylene and toluene, which damage our nervous systems, are commonly found in our stoves and water heaters. Look to replace them with alternative materials, where possible, and keep your home well ventilated.

Then there are the items which slowly wear us down – mattresses which are either too hard or too soft, badly placed drawers and cupboards which force us to climb or drop to our knees to access them. People who work from home or do a lot of studying often ruin their backs on stools, their bed or an ill-suited chair. Even if the design is good, the material might not be appropriate. Check out to see which materials make the best choice.

It’s easy to slip into a false sense of security at home. There’s no point in living in a place which sends your anxiety through the roof, so do your best to make your home a safer place for you, your family and your guests.

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