Safety in Home

Hidden Hazards in your home – How to Identify and Remove them

A vintage home affords character, imagination in design and unique features not available in homes built today. With that said, homes and apartments built prior to the 1980’s are bound to have some safety elements that are worth investigating and updating for the optimal health and safety of your family.

If you are moving into a home with some vintage flair, consider investigating the potential health hazards that come along with it.

Home safety is part of home ownership

Take responsibility for potential hazards before they become an issue for you, your loved ones or your guests.

While you may not be able to eliminate all of the hazards from your home, with some effort, you should be able to minimize as many potential hazards as possible.

If you start with the top five common hazards and evaluate room by room, you should be able to cover most of the potential issues in your home, whether your home is new or not.

After that, as a responsible homeowner, you should make regular evaluations of your home every season or so. This will also give you a different perspective on what is needed as some hazards in and around your home are often seasonal.

While the responsibility of home safety can be a drag, the benefits far outweigh the risks. The effort it takes to assess and reduce the dangers vs dealing with the potential dangers (fire, disease, poisoning) is definitely worth making time for.

Top Five Home Hazards:

  1. Falls
  2. Poisoning
  3. Fires/burns
  4. Choking/suffocation,
  5. Drowning/submersion.

These hazards don’t only affect children or older people, however a comprehensive study by the Home Safety Council found that home injuries cause 21 million yearly medical visits and almost 20,000 deaths, 2,000 of which are children.

But don’t be shocked. Most homeowners are not preventing injuries because they don’t know any better, not because they are lazy.

You can avoid these tragedies in your own home simply by being more conscientious in your evaluation of your surroundings and making a few simple adjustments if needed.

Let’s go room by room and see where the hazards may be…

Exploring the house for hidden hazards

Bedrooms and Bathrooms  – Where you sleep and shower may seem like the safest place to be alone with your thoughts, in a quiet space but your bedroom and bathroom may harbor hidden hazards you are least expecting Here are some things to consider:

Slippery surfaces/non slip surfaces – In the bathroom, consider adding non slip surfaces to the tub and floor surrounding the tub/shower/sink. In the bedroom, look for potential slipping on rugs and runners or clothing left on the floor to keep slip hazards at bay.

Candles – Ambience is sweet but consider safety first with candles in bathrooms and bedrooms. Keep open flames away from flammable chemicals and fabrics and never leave open flames unattended.

Safety rails – Are handy in bathrooms and bedrooms around the toilet, bathtub and bed for getting safely up/down or in/out

Toys – Keeping toys cleared off of the floor and out of the tub after use is always a good idea to prevent trips and falls

Bathroom sharps – Keeping razors, scissors or other sharp objects safely stowed away is a good idea for safety’s sake.

Poison – Cleaning products as well as hygiene products found in the bathroom or bedroom can be harmful if accidentally ingested. Remove, contain and safely store anything that may be unintentionally or potentially harmful to children or pets.

Falls – Can be a potential hazard around bed and cribs. Put soft, protective surfaces under play equipment or furniture where accidental falls are a potential hazard.

Drowning – This is truly one of the most potential hazards in the bathroom area and drowning happens quickly. Ensure thorough monitoring of children and pets around the tub and toilet.

Kitchen, Pantry & Laundry – While these are the most common areas for healthy housework to be done, they are also common places for health and safety hazards. Look for potential safety issues in the following areas:

Carbon monoxide – Every home should have a carbon monoxide monitor installed wherever a source of natural gas is present.  A CO2 alarm plugs into an electrical outlet or is installed like a smoke detector. This device will notify you if there is a harmful gas leak, which otherwise may be undetectable as it is odorless, highly toxic and potentially fatal.

Lint trap – The lint trap on your dryer is a potential fire hazard if it isn’t cleared away regularly. Ensure your family’s safety by emptying it after each use.

Lock up kitchen tools – Knives, scissors and other sharp kitchen accessories are dangerous for those who don’t know how to use them yet. Keep them safely out of reach.

Detergents, cleaners – Even though these are effective ways to keep our spaces fresh and sanitized, they can be poisonous if ingested or used inappropriately. Keep your detergents and cleaners safely out of reach of children and pets.

Burns – Another potential hazard is a burn from the stove. Getting burner covers is a great solution. Burner covers are available for ceramic, gas and electric stoves.

Stairs, Basements & Attics – These are the hidden areas of home and health hazards.

Stairs – The most common areas in the home for slips and falls are stairs. Check for irregular stair placement, install railings and place grip mats of carpet on the stairs for protection from slipping. Consider installing a light on the staircase and paint your bottom step a bright color to make it more visible. For outdoor stairs, use nonslip mats and salt in icy weather.

Fire Alarms – Install fire alarms in the attic, basement and stairwells of your home for added assurance of fire protection.

Pests – Pests such as rodents and insects tend to be found in the hidden areas of your home such as attics, basements, sheds and stairways. Regularly inspect these areas for yourself and hire a professional if needed. Preventing infestations before they happen will save you time and money.

Living Rooms and Sitting Rooms – The hazards of the most relaxing areas of your home may not be so obvious.

Air quality – Good indoor air quality can reduce allergies and asthma. One way to eliminate allergens is by choosing hardwood or laminate flooring over carpeting. Air-filtration systems and certain houseplants can also help to improve indoor air quality

Strangling – Check the blinds and drapes for potential strangling hazards. There may be a manufacturer suggestion to avoid strangling hazards.

Window rail safety – Putting window guards on windows could result in a 50% reduction in falls and 35% reduction in deaths.

Yards, Garages, Sheds – The working spaces of your yard have hidden hazards, too. Check out these hidden spaces:

Yard tools – Sharp tools are generally used for yard work so it makes sense to keep them safely and securely stored to misuse or injury.

Poisons/toxins – Toxic chemicals are generally found in these areas, keep them safely contained.

Always use a step stool or ladder for things out of reach – Make sure to use a sturdy step stool or ladder when getting things out of reach. Avoid balancing on furniture and fences, it can be dangerous!

Removal, Upgrade, and Prevention of Risks is the Key to Home Safety Success

Once you have identified the types of hazards in your home whether they are potential injuries, toxins or other damage hazards, you need to establish the best way to remove, replace or repair the issue.

You may want to evaluate if you can make the repairs yourself or if you need to hire an expert. Evaluate options if removal is not possible at all, or just partial

 Lead paint and how to remove lead paint from your home – In the past, lead was used as an ingredient for paint. Now, sanding and scraping lead paint can be ingested and toxic. If your home was built before the 1970’s, there is a chance your home has lead paint. Check online to find out safe ways to remove it. It may be more convenient to hire a professional.

Asbestos and removing asbestos from your home – If your house was built before 1980, it’s likely that asbestos is present. Asbestos is a natural fiber found in insulation and drywall that has been known to cause cancer. Insulation, floor tiles, and textured ceiling tiles can be made with asbestos. If you do find asbestos, find a professional to safely remove it.

Keep Yourself and Your Home As Safe As Can Be

When you are buying or renting a home, it is important that the safety of yourself and your family is top of mind.

Evaluating and identifying health and safety hazards is extremely valuable and important when making your choice.

You may need to ask your landlord to make adjustments before you sign a lease, negotiate repairs before buying a property or simply update your existing home. Whatever you need to do, ensure you are covering the basics of the potential hazards throughout your home.

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Safeguard Your Home from Fires with Regular Home Safety Inspections

Fifty-eight people died in fires since the beginning of 2015. By taking precautionary steps and doing regular home safety inspections, you can help prevent this number from increasing.

By conducting regular home safety inspections for fire hazards and by maintaining smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in peak condition, you may save your life and the lives of your loved ones. Also, teach your children and older adults living with you about what to do if a fire starts. These two age brackets are the most vulnerable when fire rages.

Maintenance of Smoke Alarms:

Smoke alarms are great life savers during fire. Make sure to have working smoke alarms in your home.

Statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration:

  • Three out of five home fire deaths take place in homes without working smoke alarms.
  • Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire by half.

If you maintain smoke alarms in good working order, they will alert you to the fire with 16222462enough time to get everyone out of the house and possibly with enough time to extinguish the fire before it causes too much damage.

Maintenance of Fire Extinguishers:

If you know how to use a fire extinguisher, it is an excellent fire-fighting tool. You can keep up with maintenance by:

  • Making sure that working parts such as the can, hoses, and nozzles are not damaged or rusted.
  • Keeping it free from any dust, oil, or grease.

Also, make sure before any fire occurs that you understand the directions and how to use the extinguisher. You might want to purchase an additional extinguisher of the same make and model and do a test run.

Proactive Education for Children:

Even if you have taken enough measures to make your home child-proof and safe, teach your children fire safety at home:

  • Educate them about the hazards associated with matches, lighters, and gas stoves.
  • Make a fire escape plan and that your children fully understand.
  • Teach them how to escape their bedrooms in case fire blocks the door, and have them practice it.

Proactive Education for Older Adults:

Statistics from the U.S. Fire Administration project that those 60 and above are nearly 3 times more likely to die in a fire than those in the general population. Here are some tips for them:

  • Choose a room on the ground floor to sleep in. This will allow for an easier escape.
  • Ensure that smoke alarms and fire alarms are working.
  • Conduct regular fire drills.
  • Depending on their state of mind, don’t let them have candles, and other fire hazards in the room.

Protect yourself from home fires with these simple proactive steps. If you’re in the market to sell your house, or purchase a new one, or would simply like a basic overall inspection done on the major systems and structural integrity of your home to know which areas need repair or will need watching, please contact South Florida Home Inspection Assoc or call 561-818-5593 for more information.

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Purchasing a Newly Constructed Home? Get a New Home Inspection.

house-villa_GyAkZPuuIf you are going to purchase a newly constructed home, you might not think you should get an independent inspection done. Most home buyers assume that because a home has passed all local codes and ordinances, it must be in good condition and safe. It’s the older homes that need inspecting. The fact is that there are several issues related with newly constructed homes and you should be aware of them before making the move. A new home inspection is the most important step to take in order to ensure that you have invested your money wisely and the place is comfortable and safe.

Why do I need a New Home Inspection?

Below are the reasons why a newly constructed home needs a home inspection and what you can expect from your home inspector:

  1. The process of construction means it’s easy to miss stuff.

    Constructing a home involves different subcontractors and their employees undertaking different activities simultaneously. So it is almost impossible for the builder to keep a watch on everything. Some common issues with newly built homes are-broken roof trusses, missing siding, organic growth on crawl space wood framing and so on. Your home inspector will alert you to these types of problems.

  2. New home inspections have higher standards than municipal inspections.

    Municipal building inspections are aimed at checking for minimal compliance with applicable building codes. There are several things municipal inspectors don’t need to examine. As a result, these inspections insufficient. Your new home inspector will give you a better picture of the property, in accordance with the standards set for home inspections.

  3. Before you move into your new home, repairs can be completed.

    Your home inspector will let you know about any home repairs required. You can then ask the builder to make the repairs before you move into the home. It will save you from the potential inconvenience of workers inside your home while you are.

  4. New home inspections may discover potential safety concerns and may save expense down the line.

    Sometimes there are serious problems with newly built homes. For example, gas leaks may result from shoddy workmanship. Other items, like missing attic insulation could result in higher utility bills. Your home inspector will identify these issues so that they can be fixed before moving into your new home.

What won’t a New Home Inspection cover?

The job of a home inspector is limited. So be aware that there are certain things you shouldn’t expect from him.

  • A new home inspector will give you a big picture analysis of the property and is not supposed to include every little detail in the final report submitted to you.
  • Irrespective of his experience and expertise, he cannot predict when a particular system may fail.
  • He will not fix any problems discovered during the home inspection as it is strictly prohibited by the code of ethics of The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).

South Florida Home Inspection Association, in compliance with the standards set by The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), carries out new home inspections. The inspectors are highly trained, experienced and honest professionals. They help new home owners in Palm Beach Gardens and the surrounding areas aware of the actual condition of the property through an objective and unbiased home inspection. For more information, visit




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Four Reasons Why Your Newly Constructed Home Needs an Inspection

Florida home inspectionYou might assume that a newly constructed home is safe and perfect. After all, it’s brand new, right? During construction, it had to pass all local codes and ordinances. You don’t need to have it independently inspected, do you? Wrong. The truth is that there are several issues related with newly built homes which can be discovered during a new home inspection.

 What does a New Home Inspection involve?

Below is a list of top reasons why a newly constructed home needs a home inspection and what you can expect from a home inspector.

  1. Complexities of Construction.

    Home construction involves different subcontractors and their employees working simultaneously on different systems of the home. It becomes difficult for the builder to take care of all these things. Some common issues with new homes are broken roof trusses, missing siding, organic growth on crawl space wood framing and so on. Your home inspector will point out these issues

  2. Higher Standards with a New Home Inspection.

    Municipal building inspections follow minimum standards as opposed to home inspections which set high standards of inspection and give you a clear picture of the structural components and major systems of the home.

  3.  Repairs Before Moving In.

    Your home inspector will inform you about the repairs needed on the home, which can be done by asking your builder to do them before moving in.

  4. Safety and Cost-effectiveness.

    Some problems with newly built homes, like gas leakage, can result in serious situations. Items like missing attic insulation can invite high utility bills increasing your costs. A new home inspection will help you fix these problems before they become serious problems or unnecessarily impact your bank account.

What doesn’t a New Home Inspection involve?

Given the limitations of his job, you can’t expect a home inspector to:

  • Give you every little detail about the property in the final report .
  • Fix any problems discovered during home inspection as it will violate the code of ethics of The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).
  • Predict when various systems may fail.

At South Florida Home Inspection Association, we comply with the standards set by The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Our highly trained and experienced professionals carry out new home inspections in a truly objective, unbiased and honest way. Contact us for further information by calling 561-818-5593 or

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Uncovering the Truth: Bleach Does Not Kill Mold!

Uncovering the Truth: Bleach Does Not Kill Mold!This summer, two years after Sandy blew through and devastated New York, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health and Long Island Jobs with Justice conducted a comprehensive study to learn about the after-effects of the storm. They chose to conduct the study in Freeport, a town located on the southern shore of Long Island, that was particularly hard-hit when Hurricane Sandy struck it in 2012.

They found that 57.1% of Freeport residents still live in storm damaged homes, 67.1% of people used bleach on the surfaces of their home as a mold remediation, and 38.6% believe they have respiratory problems linked to Sandy. Only about 21.4% of homeowners did the clean-up and home repair themselves. This survey highlights the need to battle the myth that bleach kills mold. It doesn’t.

Most Americans believe that bleach is the product to grab when confronted with mold. FEMA has perpetuated the myth by passing out bleach products. FEMA even instructs people to use a 10% bleach solution when cleaning flooded homes. But, the truth is that bleach disinfects and protects against bacteria. It works great at removing the discoloration caused by mold; however, it will leave the microflora intact. This is why, when conditions are right, the mold returns in the same spot.

Typically, mold is not a serious health hazard. However, storms like Sandy can create perfect environments for mold to grow. The storm causes significant water damage, often in hard to reach areas. Mold spores in the air find those dark moist places and flourish. Mold can grow on virtually any moist surface and is particularly fond of paper, wood, or cloth. If left unchecked, the mold colonies grow and release more spores into the air. Excessive mold spores in the air can trigger allergies and asthma, or other chronic breathing ailments. In addition, sometimes the home becomes infested with toxic mold, like Stachybotrys, which is linked to serious health problems.

It is vital that homeowners enlist the services of professional home inspectors and clean-up crews that know how to properly deal with mold, especially after a hurricane or super storm. Professional home inspectors will help identify where mold growth has occurred and can help the homeowner come up with a priority list. They may even be able to recommend a reputable clean-up crew. It’ll take a good biocide or anti-microbial to manage the mold. If significant water damage was sustained, it may even be a good idea to schedule another home inspection for mold a couple years later. Mold is insidious and will never be completely destroyed, but it can be controlled.

South Florida Home Inspection Association has been providing home inspection services to the Hobe Sound and Palm Beach areas for years. For more information on what is involved in the mold inspections they offer, or for additional information on how to combat mold in the home, visit their website at or call (561) 818-5593.

Summary: Homeowners battling mold should forgo bleach and hire professionals. Bleach does not kill mold.

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Got a Fireplace in Your Home? Use It Safely!

A home fireplace can be soothing, give warmth, be romantic or just relaxing. If your fireplace is electric or gas, you don’t have as much safety concerns as there are for wood-burning or solid fuel fireplaces. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, “heating fires account for 36 percent of residential fires in rural areas each year”, with many due to creosote buildup in chimneys (the photo below right, borrowed from, shows a buildup of creosote, which can then catch fire from an errant fireplace spark exiting the chimney). The National Fire Protection Association estimates that “14,000 home fires this year” began in a fireplace. Continue Reading →

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Garage Door Safety

032012-1I have covered many areas within your home over recent years, where safety steps need to be used; however, I realized I hadn’t given you one of the most hazardous home locations of all – your garage. This area has two separate areas of concern – the garage door and the garage area, itself. This month, I’ll discuss safety concerns with garage doors; and next month, I’ll cover the garage area. So, look for Part 2 next month. Continue Reading →

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Safety Concerns in Your Garage

Most of us think of garage safety as keeping things away from the car and to put stored items enough out of the way as not to trip or have to climb over them. Unfortunately, there are many dangerous situations in a home garage – whether it’s attached or standalone.
In last month’s newsletter, I pointed out many of the dangers in dealing with garage doors. This month, I cover dangers in the garage area, itself. Continue Reading →

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Home Accidents Cause Injuries & Even Deaths … Beware

Every year, there are many injuries and deaths due to home accidents. It’s bad enough when it involves a family member; however, it also can be financially devastating when non-family are involved. For family members, you are looking at medical and emergency room costs, possible rehabilitation costs, and long-term grief if the accident results in a death. For non-family, you may be looking at a lawsuit! Continue Reading →

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  • S. Florida Home Inspection Assoc.
    P.O. Box 32592, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33420
    Phone: 561-818-5593 Fax: (772) 325-0204 E-mail: