Home Safety isn’t a cakewalk! All electric appliances, ventilation systems, fire alarms, smoke detectors require regular checks for cleaning or servicing. If these telltale signs are ignored at nascent stages, they could lead to a bigger problem later on, resulting in loss of property, health, and environment.
We have mentioned some common structural safety issues below, which could help you identify existing issues and prevent future discomfort.
Complex Home safety issues
A home is where you and your family find safety, warmth, and a relaxed ambience. Make sure you achieve maximum safety at home. Keep yourself and your loved ones out of harm’s way. Home security systems are a need of the hour, with modern dwellings with multiple appliances posing a safety hazard.
Read on to know how you can build a safe haven for your family:
- Electrical Cords and Outlets Issues
We all would have faced this challenge when buying a new pluggable device. Be it a lamp, TV wires, electric kettle, fairy lights, or other electrical systems. The first question is “how many switchboards are in the room”, followed by “where do you hide the wires?” You want to avoid any trips and falls, especially when you have kids in the house.
Under the Rugs: If you have an area rug, you can conveniently tuck or hide cords underneath, but since this could also be a fire hazard, make sure your cords and outlets are new, and UL listed. As best you can, run the cord under the rug where it won’t be walked on too much (a bump in the rug can still create a tripping hazard). Use safety latches to keep the cords in place and prevent bending. You may need to move your lamps around, so make sure you can easily retrieve the cord once it’s hidden.
Behind the furniture: Furniture can conceal your cords smartly. You can use clips from home appliance stores to snake cords along table legs or underneath furniture. To maximize your furniture-hiding ability, rearrange it near the electrical outlets. Consider buying an extension cord if you don’t have enough sockets in the room.
Floor Outlets: Get your electrician to install outlets on the floor. Hire a certified electrician to ensure the outlet wattage is as per the earthing and they are installed up to code.
Cord Splitter: This helps eliminate extra cords to plug two devices in one outlet.
Rubber Cord Cover: Weigh down the rest of the cords with these to keep them sorted and look neat.
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Most homes use smoke and carbon monoxide emitting appliances or cooking systems. Anything related to fire, such as inflammable liquids which could pose a fire hazard, demands your attention to its risk factors. It is important to become aware of the long-term effects of smoke and carbon monoxide poisoning on the health and well-being of your loved ones. Multi-storeyed buildings are usually equipped with fire extinguishers and smoke alarm systems in case of fire. Emergency escape plans must be incorporated into the layout when you are designing your house.
Smoke detectors: They are a crucial safety tool when it comes to the early detection of a fire in your home. The best way to prevent damages or injuries from a fire is to have smoke detectors installed throughout your home. These systems will let you know early enough to get your family and yourself out to safety in case of a fire.
Ideally, these detectors should be installed in every bedroom of your home, preferably at the center of the ceiling or near the doorway. It should also be placed in the kitchen a few feet away from the stove or microwave air space as most house fires ignite from the kitchen.
There are two types of smoke detectors that you can buy: ionization and photoelectric. Ionization smoke detectors are usually designed to detect smoke produced by full-fledged fires. Photoelectric smoke detectors tend to respond faster to the smoke produced by smoldering fires than ionization smoke alarms.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors:
If you have installed wood-burning stoves, gas stoves, dryers, and water heaters, carbon monoxide detectors are absolutely crucial. Even if you live in a home without gas-burning appliances, carbon monoxide is mostly present in the air we breathe due to emissions in urban areas. The indoor air quality needs to be kept in check as carbon monoxide prevents the blood from properly carrying oxygen to your vital organs, including the heart and brain. It hijacks the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin to create carboxyhemoglobin.
When it comes to carbon monoxide detectors, there are several different options to choose from. The two main types of detectors operate on batteries and ones that tap into the electrical system. Carbon monoxide detectors that rely on electricity are usually equipped with a solid-state sensor that resets itself and resamples the air periodically. Battery-operated detectors use a passive sensor technology that sets off in the event of prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide in the air.
- Structural Safety Issues
Usually, new houses are built as per the safety norms and guidelines, but if you are staying in older construction, then some structural damage is likely over time. This could be a potential hazard.
Structural damage in older houses can be extremely difficult and costly to rectify.
Some causes of structural safety issues and their solutions have been discussed here, which you may keep in mind while purchasing or renovating your house:
Drainage Issues: If any water from rainfall or irrigation systems is unable to drain properly, it can cause soil shifting, putting a ton of pressure on a home’s foundation and making a home unsafe to live in. Improper water drainage is one of the most common causes of soil shifting, which can cause the soil surrounding the foundation to expand quickly when it rains and rapidly contract during dry spells.
If you notice that the soil around the perimeter of the home is very wet even though it hasn’t rained over the past few days, or the soil is dry despite a recent rainfall or watering, odds are the water is not being drained properly.
Another way to identify improper water drainage around the home is to turn off all faucets and water-running appliances, take note of the water meter’s readout, then check to see if the reading has changed a few hours later. If the reading is different, there may be a few leaks under the foundation’s floor or behind its walls that require immediate attention.
Cracks: Large cracks that reach the top of the foundation wall or the basement floor, run horizontally, or wrap around a corner are cause for concern and could signify that the soil under the foundation is moving and forcing the foundation to move along with it.
Sinking Ceilings: If the roofline of the home looks like it’s drooping or bowing in the middle, that may be a sign that there has been some shifting of the load-bearing walls in a two-storeyed house. These walls are incredibly important as they support the weight of the structure and keep it standing straight. A faulty structure could be the culprit behind the shifting of the structure and resulting damage. Home maintenance involves treating the root cause of the structural damage. Sometimes the problem seeps deep inside the walls while the effect is experienced only on the exterior walls of the house.
- HVAC & Ventilation Issues
Air conditioning and heating/HVAC systems in houses are omnipresent in every house. When your air conditioning/heating system is not working right, the discomfort can be felt immediately. Most of the time, these HVAC issues can be resolved yourself through minor modifications in settings. You don’t have to guess the problem with a qualified HVAC technician. An HVAC technician can diagnose the problem accurately the first time and often repair it.
Some common HVAC problems homeowners may face are given below so you can identify and resolve accordingly:
Refrigerant Leak: If you feel the AC is barely cooling and the compressor is running hot, then most likely, there is a refrigerant leak in the system. If your system is charged with too much refrigerant, the refrigerant will return to the compressor, which can cause the compressor to fail. If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, it was either undercharged at the time of installation or it leaks. Contact your HVAC technician as soon as possible. The technician should locate the leak, fix it, and test the repair. Other HVAC problems you may encounter are corroded wires and water leaks from the air vent, which could be caused by clogged drain lines. If the thermostat blower never shuts off, this could indicate the relay is not operating properly. Regular servicing of the HVAC from a technician or the after-sales service is crucial to maintaining the longevity of the AC and heating system.
Ventilation Issues: While it makes complete sense to identify and remove significant indoor air quality problem reservoirs such as mold contamination or smelly carpets, furniture, or even animal waste that can explain bad indoor air quality, and efficient fresh air distribution system in a building will also remove lower levels or more subtle air pollutants at their source and will deliver fresh air to the prime living areas.
Open building space plans that promote the proper flow of heated or cooled air in a building will also improve fresh air flow indoors. When air is supplied from centralized locations such as hallways, dryer vents, undercut the bedroom doors so that air can enter those spaces.
Both fully automatic ventilation system controls and fully manual controls are available for vent systems. The most common automatic ventilation system controls include clock timers and humidistats. The dehumidistat (or humidistat) responds to changing ventilation needs by sensing the indoor moisture level. They are not foolproof, however. In very dry climates, they may under-ventilate, and in wet climates or swing seasons, they may over-ventilate the building. So, the occupants may want to make a little seasonal adjustment to the controls.
- Lead-Based Paint
“Lead-based paint” is currently defined by the federal government as paint with lead levels greater than or equal to 1.0 milligram per square centimeter (mg/cm), or more than 0.5% by weight. Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are some of the most widespread and hazardous sources of lead exposure for young children in the United States.
If you have peeling or chipping lead-based paint, have it removed by qualified professionals. There are standards for certifying lead-based paint professionals to ensure the work is done safely, reliably, and effectively.
- Asbestos & Mold
Body and face Talc is sometimes contaminated with asbestos due to the proximity of asbestos ore (usually tremolite) in underground talc deposits. A Missouri jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $4.69 billion to 22 women who alleged the company’s talc-based products, including its baby powder, contained asbestos and caused them to develop ovarian cancer and possible lung cancer in the babies later on in life.
Asbestos can be divided into two basic categories, friable and non-friable.
Friable asbestos contains a high percentage of asbestos fibers that will crumble into powder when pressure is applied. This form of asbestos can easily become airborne, making it highly dangerous to remove without adequate protection. Friable asbestos must be removed by specialists with class “A” licenses under State Regulations. Do not attempt to remove it by yourself.
Non-friable asbestos refers to asbestos that is tightly bonded to other materials. These materials contain a smaller percentage of asbestos and are unlikely to release fibers into the air. However, if non-friable asbestos is damaged or degraded, such as weathered pipes, disrupting it may cause it to break down and release asbestos particles.
Mold is the growth of microorganisms on surfaces, and these are very likely to appear in a wet, humid, dirty environment. Timely home inspection for molds growing around the house is important. There are a few common causes and solutions given below to get rid of mold from your house:
- While facing indoor water leaks or spills – act quickly. If damp materials or areas are dried 24-48 hours after a leak or spill happens, in most cases mold will not grow.
- Clean and repair roof gutters regularly.
- Ensure the ground slopes away from the building foundation so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
- Keep air conditioning drip pans clean and the drain lines unobstructed and flowing properly.
- Try keeping indoor humidity levels low.
- Vent appliances that produce moisture, such as clothes dryers, stoves, and kerosene heaters, to the outside where possible.
- Run the bathroom fan or open the window when showering. Use exhaust fans or open windows whenever cooking, running the dishwasher or dishwashing, etc.
Preventing a problem is better in the long run when it comes to accident-proofing your house. When children are around, you have to be extra cautious about where sharp edges, fire hazards, leaks, molds are likely. Keeping things organized also cuts the risk of things falling or people slipping in the house. Make sure you look out for experts in home safety and technicians who can survey the house before you move in.