11 Home Hazards to Know and Avoid

If you ask most people where they feel the safest, chances are the answer will be in their own home. But home safety depends on a variety of factors, and potential dangers run the gamut from structural hazards like termites and faulty wiring to problems related to a home's location and siting, such as drainage and flooding. Here are 11 of the most common hazards that homeowners are likely to encounter. To keep your home truly safe, be aware of these hazards and consider how they can be remedied.

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  1. Deadly Lead


    We all know it's dangerous, but lead paint is especially bad for children and pets. Homes built before 1980 may contain this hazardous stuff. Test kits can confirm lead's presence in your home, but hire a certified professional to remove it from your house.


  2. Indoor Air Quality


    Good indoor air quality reduces the impact of allergies and asthma. One good way to eliminate allergens is by opting for hardwood or laminate flooring instead of carpeting. An air-filtration system or new air conditioner can also help control allergens. Houseplants can also help improve indoor air quality—as well as your mood.


  3. Radon Watch


    This radioactive gas can move into your house through cracks in the foundation. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, so it’s important to mitigate it if it’s found in your home. Sealing cracks in the foundation is one step you can take yourself; other solutions may depend on your home's foundation.


  4. Rising Water


    Flooding is one of the most common hazards for homeowners, regardless of where they live. Whether the water rises because of excessive snowmelt or a serious rain—or a damaged pipe in the basement—be prepared. Particularly if your home is in a flood-prone region or an area with a high water table, make certain you have a sump pump in good working order that can deal with excess water.


  5. Termites


    Hire a professional to regularly inspect for termites. Preventing infestations before they happen will save you time and money. Termites love damp wood, so repair indoor leaks immediately, and never store your firewood near your home's foundation or crawl space.


  6. Electrical Fires


    Most electrical fires result from faulty outlets or old wiring. Protect your home by replacing faulty wiring and outlets, and installing AFCIs—the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that the use of AFCIs could prevent 50 percent of electrical fires.


  7. Carbon Monoxide


    This toxic gas is the number-one cause of poisoning deaths in the United States, but such tragedies can be prevented by installing a CO detector, which will alert you to carbon monoxide's presence in your home. Never leave cars or grills running in a small space, and properly ventilate fuel-burning appliances like furnaces, water heaters, ovens, and dryers to prevent CO buildup.


  8. Asbestos


    Designated a carcinogen in the 1970s and largely banned, asbestos can still be found in older homes. If you discover asbestos-containing materials in your home, don't panic. If it's not damaged or disturbed, asbestos is not likely to pose a health risk. With a little research, you can learn strategies for dealing with its discovery and arranging for professional removal.


  9. Mold


    Unsightly and hazardous to your health, mold is a problem that should be tackled early, as soon as it's discovered. Prevent both visible and undetectable mold by keeping moisture levels low and quickly drying up any standing water. Once mold spreads, you’ll need to act quickly to remove it completely or hire a professional.


  10. Falls


    Falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States, according to the National Safety Council. Remove tripping hazards from hallways, stairs, and walkways. Avoid standing on a chair, table, or other surface to tackle a quick job. And when you use a ladder, make certain it is secure. 


  11. Gas Leaks


    Although natural gas is touted as one of the safest and cleanest-burning fossil fuels, a gas leak can pose serious risk, whether the leak is detected or not. If you suspect a gas leak—usually accompanied by a sulfuric, rotten egg odor—leave the house immediately and contact your gas provider.


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