We’ve all heard it before. There’s no place like home. It’s the only place we will ever be comfortable. No pretentions, no problems. Just peace. After a hard day’s work, we all long for that bed that is waiting for us, all warm and inviting.
During weekends, we don’t even need to do anything. We can just chill and watch commercials that dominate the television or drink beer or coffee and be lazy — all in the comfort of our homes. It’s where we seek refuge. It’s where we feel safe — in plain sight. But are we really safe? Isn’t it scary when we feel threatened in our own homes? It’s the only place we feel safe and without us noticing it, hidden dangers are everywhere, that are not of external forces. Don’t be left clueless. Beware of these dangers hiding in our homes.
There is no escaping mold. Even the freshest of bread succumb to mold after a few days. Molds grow in moist areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Aside from the fact that these organisms are foul, these also pose a serious threat to you and your family’s health. Allergies, asthma, and mold infections are some of the illnesses that can be acquired from prolonged exposure to large amounts of mold. It may even lead to lung-related diseases. What’s worse is that sometimes these organisms are hidden in the areas of the house that are dark, so we fail to see them thus allowing mold to proliferate throughout the place.
If you start noticing that your allergic reactions are a lot worse when you’re at home or in some other building, it’s very likely that there is mold growing in your home or office. When you have mold growing hidden away in your house, often a moldy smell might be your only clue that it’s there. When you start to smell it even if you can’t see any mold, have your home thoroughly inspected.
Hidden danger is hiding in plain sight. Isn’t it scary? Behind the lovely walls is a threat that we fail to recognize. Sure, paint provides color and color makes a space lively and vibrant. But paint does have its harmful effects on health. Homes that were built and painted before the 70s possibly have walls painted with lead-based paint, and lead, as we all know, affects the brain development of children, among many other serious health effects.
Aside from lead, other paints also contain potentially harmful chemicals such as solvents and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Oil-based paints contain a significantly higher level of organic solvents that are responsible for that strong “fresh paint” odor. When inhaled, these solvents are directly absorbed into the lungs and then bloodstream, leading to headaches and dizziness. If exposed for too long, it can cause blackouts.
VOCs can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation and when inhaled in large quantities have shown links to birth defects, cancers, and damage to the central nervous system. So the next time there’s a painting project in the house, make sure that your children are out of the house long enough to let the paint dry and the smell dissipate (ideally a long weekend) and that your husband/worker is wearing a protective mask while working.
Studies say that a person can survive at least three weeks without food. But without water, a person can only survive for 3 to 4 days. This is because our body is made up of 60% water. Our cells need water to function. Now imagine if you have a faulty water pipeline. In the 70s, not only are buildings painted with lead-based paints. Some water pipelines are lead-based. Now imagine its impact on your health and the health of your family, especially your children. All this could all lead to lead poisoning.
Not only that, here in the Philippines, stagnant water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes both dengue carriers and not. While non-dengue carriers are annoying at best, falling ill with dengue isn’t, especially with children.
It’s funny how one thing may seem harmless and how next thing you know, it could cause you your life. A trip to the refrigerator is everybody’s business. Even kids do it. But unsuspectingly, this everyday kitchen appliance is not as safe as we think it is. Due to improper storage and mishandling of food, foodborne illnesses sprout inside the refrigerator. Paving way for hidden dangers such as salmonella and e-Coli to make it on the food that we cook and eat.
Refrigerators are also in great danger of causing fires. Defective defrost timers, faulty wiring, incorrect installation or adjustment, and even lack of proper maintenance can lead to your refrigerator catching fire. And since it’s one appliance you can’t turn off, it’s best if you pay special attention to it. Have a qualified electrician, probably one from the manufacturer install your refrigerator for you and take due note of its maintenance schedule.
Chemicals such as flame retardants are added to furniture. These chemicals are added to the material of a furniture to slow down the spreading of fire, in the case. That sounds like a good thing. But behind the science of these flame retardants is that these chemicals are highly toxic. These get transferred into our skin and get mixed in the air we breathe in with dust. All these without us suspecting anything. Buying second-hand furniture may also bring unwanted guests in the home such as rats, fleas, roaches, and bedbugs. While used furniture may not contain any live pests, it may contain eggs that can hatch in your house or apartment.
Carpets are full of dirt. But the bad thing about is, is that it is also home to mites. Imagine your children sleeping, playing, even eating on these carpets. In addition to that, they are the leading cause of injuries such as tripping.
Like paint, some carpets also contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Glue and dyes used with carpeting are known to emit VOCs which as we have stated above can be dangerous to your health in high concentrations. However, initial VOC emissions stop after a few days after the installation.
To be on the safe side, you can ask your carpet retailer to air out the carpet for a couple of days before installing it in your home. Also, keep the newly carpeted area well ventilated during installation to minimize VOC build up.
7. Shower curtains, vinyl blinds, and wallpaper
More harmless-looking hidden dangers on our list are curtains and wallpaper. A chemical called phthalates is added to these materials, as it improves the flexibility of plastic. Phthalates, though, has an adverse effect on the body’s hormones and may even cause asthma and other allergies.
8. Pests It’s no secret that for as old as time, people hated pests. They destroy property and they are, well, pests. This hidden danger is literally hiding in the darkest and most concealed areas of the house, that’s why pretty much the damage has been done way before we even know where these pests are hiding.
It is a lot to take in, and you may feel a little overwhelmed now that you’ve been made aware of these potential dangers lurking around your home. But the good news is it’s all preventive. All it takes is paying more attention to the maintenance and cleanliness of your property. Consider investing in professional help for stubborn mold or uncontrollable pests. Purchase better cleaning tools and solutions, and get insurance to cover potential losses that may occur.
*** The author of this article contributed in their own personal capacity. The views expressed are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of COCOGEN Insurance.