We like to think of our homes as secure escapes from the rest of the world. As much as you’d like to believe that your house represents a fortress against outside dangers, you might become blind to potential hazards inside the house. This is especially a problem when it comes to children, since they are less knowledgeable than adults as to what can harm them. Here are some oft-overlooked hazards in the home.
Mothballs, a small chemical ball used to preserve clothing in storage from damage by pests or molds, are less common today than they once were. That’s a good thing, since mothballs actually present a serious danger to the unwary. Mothballs are made up of substances like paradichlorobenzene and naphthalene — chemicals that can cause serious health problems if they’re ingested by those who are not aware of them, such as children and pets. If you use mothballs to preserve your clothing, keep them shut off in closets just to ensure that the younger and furrier members of your household can’t access, and don’t let them come into contact with food.
Though the heyday of pressed wood may have come and gone with the faux-wood paneling of the ’60s, you probably have some other examples of the product around your house, such as particle board shelves. Pressed wood is a low-cost alternative for more expensive woods, and it certainly has its place in modern households. But it also contains something else: formaldehyde. This potentially toxic chemical is present in the resin of many pressed wood products can cause several health problems.
Old Air Filters
You probably know that good indoor air quality keeps your home safe, but many people neglect the basic maintenance tasks that contribute to air quality. The most important, and sometimes the most frequently forgotten, is the air filter on your heating, ventilating, and air conditioning, or HVAC, system. The air filter pulls out dust, mold, and other contaminants from the air that cycles through your house. An old, clogged filter develops buildup and holes, making it both less effective and a drain on your utility bills. Change them out regularly, and consider improving air quality even further with an air purifier.
Humidifiers help people control certain allergies and respiratory issues. However, they also produce a danger for the very people who need them most if they’re used improperly. Humidifiers release water vapor into the air, raising the humidity level of your home. Since humidifiers have to use water for this process, they are prone to the problems of any device that relies on standing liquid. Specifically, they can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. When you turn a humidifier on, the device can spread fungus spores throughout your home. Regularly clean your humidifier to prevent contamination.
Of course, none of the items above are a serious danger as long as everyone in the household knows about the potential hazards. Practice good home maintenance and keep your kids and pets away from dangerous items to keep your home secure.