Your home is your family’s sanctuary, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely safe. It might be the very household items aimed at making your life better that might put your family’s health and safety at risk.
From house fires (which claim the lives of over 200 people in the UK every year) to carbon monoxide poisoning (which results in an average of 60 deaths annually) danger lurks inside your home because of some household products. We listed what these items are and what risks they pose to your family below.
1. Air fresheners
After aerosol sprays fell out of favor because of their adverse effects on people’s health and the environment, air fresheners reigned supreme. They are easy to use, affordable, and can instantly mask bad odors and replace them with pleasant scents. However, the UK’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards published a study in 2015 stating that air fresheners produce a considerable amount of formaldehyde, a carcinogen linked to nose and throat cancers.
UK households use humidifiers to introduce moisture to the air and prevent dryness, which can irritate your skin. These devices are often used in winter when the air is particularly dry. However, if the water inside the humidifier might remain stagnant when the device is not in use or the source of the water is a storage tank with stagnant supply, you might put yourself at risk of Legionnaires’ disease. This is a type of pneumonia that comes from Legionella, a bacteria that thrives in stagnant water. If this is the case, your water supply might benefit from a Legionella risk evaluation.
3. Stoves and fireplaces
Home appliances that burn fuel, such as gas stoves and fireplaces, produce carbon monoxide (CO). This is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas, meaning your senses cannot detect it. Continuous exposure to high concentrations of CO can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, with symptoms like headache, dizziness, and vomiting. In extreme cases, exposure to CO can be fatal.
The fridge is a precious appliance that helps to uphold food safety. It does many tasks, including keeping your beverages cold and your food from spoiling. However, cleaning the fridge is a task often taken for granted, which can lead to refrigerated food being contaminated. Spills from food containers and bacteria carried from the kitchen or other parts of your house can make your fridge become a petri dish for food-borne illnesses, which might result in food poisoning.
Dryers offer the convenience of instantly having dry, newly-laundered clothes. However, fluff from clothes can reach the machine’s heating elements and ignite. In 2019, a manufacturer recalled around 500,000 units of tumble dryers after dozens of consumers reported that the dryers caused fires. This is why fluff or lint filler must be installed in your dryer.
Of course, these things don’t mean that you cannot have the household appliances listed above in your home. As long as you make sure to maintain these items regularly (and install a CO detector in your home if you’re worried about carbon monoxide poisoning), you can prevent them from being health and safety hazards for your family.