We all want to do everything we can to keep our families safe. But there may be some hidden threats that are present in your home that you may not be aware of. They often lurk in the least suspecting of places.
It’s important to carefully, and routinely, scan your home for potential hazards. Here are a few not-so-obvious hazards that you should check for around your home:
Refrigerator magnets and games containing magnetic parts can be very dangerous if swallowed. High-powered magnets are especially dangerous. If several magnets are ingested, they can connect to one another in the body and cause perforation and other damage. Remove all magnets from children’s playrooms and always keep refrigerator magnets out of reach. Flat, strip magnets are much weaker and are much more difficult to ingest.
High-powered lithium batteries, commonly used in toys, remote controls, watches, musical greeting cards, and other small electrical devices, can easily be ingested by children. These batteries, which are no bigger than a nickel, can get stuck in the esophagus and generate an electrical current that causes severe chemical burns and tissue damage. Immediately head to the emergency department should you even be remotely concerned your child may have swallowed one of these batteries.
Radon is a heavy gas that occurs naturally in the soil, but if it becomes trapped in a home it poses a long-term health hazard. Radon is the second leading preventable cause of lung cancer in the United States. It tends to build up in the basement or lower level of homes. The good news is radon is easy to detect, measure, and fix if found to be present in the home.
Scalding tap water
It’s common for a home’s water heater to be set above 120 degrees. However, this can cause a scalding burn in seconds — especially for children and the elderly whose skin is fragile. Aim to set your water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit and test the temperature of your tap water to ensure it’s not scalding hot.
More than 25,000 children under the age of 14 are injured each year by exercise equipment (stair climbers, treadmills, stationary bikes). Accidents on these pieces of equipment are typically caused by the moving parts, hard edges, and programmed speeds. Be sure to lock or unplug equipment when it’s not in use and remove the safety clip that’s tied around the handrail.
Loose rugs or carpets
Falls are a leading cause of injury requiring hospital care. Area rugs should be taped down or secured to the floor to prevent tripping. If they cannot be secured down, remove them.
Hundreds of children have been strangled to death getting tangled up in the cords or chains on window blinds. Be sure to secure cords of older window blinds and coverings so children can’t reach them or replace them with cordless blinds. Move cribs, beds, and other furniture away from windows.
Mold and mildew
For those who suffer from allergies and asthma, mold and mildew can pose a significant health hazard. When moisture becomes trapped, mold and mildew tends to flourish. You often smell it before you see it. Air needs to circulate in the home, so be cautious of leaky basements, drainage problems, and steamy bathrooms where mold and mildew love to grow.
Chemicals, Cleaning Supplies and Medicines
Many poisons are found in the kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, and garage. They include household cleaning and disinfectant products, medicines, weed killers, pesticides, and automotive products. Be sure to store harmful chemicals (in their original containers) safely out of reach. The newer dishwasher and laundry “pods” look very appealing (some look like candy) to children, so be sure to store these in a sealed container well out of reach. Consider locked cabinets for storage and never leave them unattended when using them. Check that safety caps are secure when you use any medicine.
Living Well: Healthy Changes