Home health, safety and security part 2 - Health

In this series I want to cover a number of common health, safety and security issues, at home, which kills, injures or mentally scars many people every year and / or cause property damage and financial hardship. A little bit of vigilance, inspection, house keeping and maintenance can help prevent these issues. 

Prevention will save you money in the long run, do it now, don't wait for the horse to bolt! time off work with loss of wages or even worse, not being able to work at all. How would you pay your mortgage and bills? 

Here in part 2, I'm going to discuss health, So what are we talking about, substances or conditions that can have an adverse effect on the occupants health, cause serious illness or fatality, can cause serious property damage if handled wrongly. 

Medicines left lying around can look like sweeties to children, if taken, especially in quantity, the result can be fatal. Store medicines in a child proof box or a medicine cupboard out of reach of children. If pills came in a jar with a child proof lid then keep them in there. Keep pills in their original box to stop confusion or being taken by mistake. Dispose of unused, unknown or out of date medicines. Do not keep the pets medicine with the human medicines. Use a pill box with daily segments, this reduces the possibility of taking medicines twice in a day. Be aware of family members allergies, dates of vaccinations etc 

Chemicals stored in juice bottles can be mistaken for juice, if swallowed it could cause serious injury or fatality. Adults may, but Children are unlikely, to recognise that the properties of the content are not as expected such as a strange smell, the viscosity etc The original container is likely to have information on the product such as how to store safely, how to handle, how to clean up, how to dispose of, medical or first aid treatments a juice bottle does not. Some chemicals can react if in contact with different products, this could be the previous occupant of the bottle or even the product the bottle is made from.

Dangerous Substances: You should be aware of what dangerous substances you have in the home such as bleach, caustic, paint, white spirits, glues etc. Dispose of the ones that are no longer needed or used. Take time to read the labels, find out in what way they cause harm, Familiarise yourself with the first aid or medical requirements, if there are any special requirements ensure you have them available Ensure they are stored as per the manufacturer's instructions. 

Gas bottles should be stored in well ventilated areas away from potential ignition sources, normally outside. 

Unseen horrors - Dust mites, bed bugs, other beasties can bite causing bad skin rashes, irritation, allergic reaction, asthma attacks. Antihistamine and anti itch cream in medicine cupboard Be aware of family members allergies Always use recommended methods of cleaning affected areas. 

Mice and rats, The common house mouse can spread disease, such as hantavirus, salmonellosis and listeria through their urine, droppings, saliva and nesting materials. Weil’s disease is a severe form of leptospirosis. In rare cases, it can lead to organ failure and death. This is a type of bacterial infection caused by Leptospira bacteria. Thoroughly clean and get medical advice if you come into contract with infected urine, blood, or tissue of animals or rodents such as rats. 

Dust includes tiny particles of debris and dead skin. Its small size means it can be inhaled and potentially evoke an immune reaction. Such allergic reactions may be minor or major depending on the individual. Dust can also serve as a “fomite”, potentially carrying viruses and possibly passing on infections. Exposure to wood dust is associated with a variety of adverse health effects, including dermatitis, allergic respiratory effects, mucosal and nonallergic respiratory effects, and cancer. Contact with the irritant compounds in wood sap can cause dermatitis and other allergic reactions. Exposure to cement dust can irritate eyes, nose, throat and the upper respiratory system. Skin contact may result in moderate irritation to thickening/cracking of skin to severe skin damage from chemical burns. Silica exposure can lead to lung injuries including silicosis and lung cancer. 

Asbestos, Exposure to asbestos fibers may cause chronic lung disease. It may be decades before signs and symptoms such as shortness of breath and coughing appear.  If the house was built prior to the 1990s, it was likely built with some asbestos-containing materials. Examples Cement roofing and siding shingles House Insulation in homes built between 1930 and 1950 Textured paint and in patching compounds used on wall and ceiling joints such as artex, artificial ashes and embers sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces. Older products such as stove-top pads. Walls and floors around wood burning stoves may be protected with asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets. Some vinyl floor tiles, and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring and adhesives. Hot water and steam pipes in older houses with an asbestos material or covered with an asbestos blanket or tape. Soundproofing or decorative material.

Mold, Inhaling mold fragments or spores can inflame the airways, causing nasal congestion, wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and throat irritation. Prolonged exposure to high levels of indoor dampness can reduce lung function and cause chronic health problems such as asthma. Ensure good ventilation especially when drying clothes Check mechanical ventilation such as expel air is working Wear a mask, clear and clean areas where mold is appearing. Use a dehumidifier Dry damp areas If dampness is coming from external area such as roof or rafters, find source and repair, do not just paint over! 

Cold and draughty houses with low indoor temperatures can have a serious adverse affect on health. Cold air inflames lungs and inhibits circulation, increasing the risk of respiratory conditions, such as asthma attacks or symptoms, worsening of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and infection. Reduce drafts by using draft excluders, door snakes, resealing windows, secondary film over windows, key hole covers, letterbox covers, reflectors behind radiators, Check central heating system, have it serviced, bleed radiators Lined curtains