Disasters happen all the time, from mega-disasters to mini-disasters such as kitchen fires. Here trying to give some guide lines to preventing damage of our precious home.
- Water Leaks
Water leaks in a home can cause major damage:. Other problems include rotting of wood, wood expansion and buckling, rusting of metals and splitting of laminated materials such as plywood and Formica.
Breathing mold spores can also be bad for your health and sometimes deadly. The solution is to conduct regular inspections and employ preventative techniques to deter mold.
Ø All drains need to be kept free from leaks, and unblocked .
Ø If you have a humidifier or dehumidifier, keep it cleaned to prevent mold growth.
Ø Maintain your water heater correctly and consider replacing it if it’s more than ten years old. Insist on metal hoses instead of rubber ones.
Ø If you can, try to keep indoor humidity below 60% using an air conditioner, dehumidifier or central cooling system.
Regularly inspecting your home for damp areas is another way to prevent a mold problem. Follow these steps:
Ø Inspect the pressure relief valve on the water heater by opening it and seeing if it is working.
Ø Paint is the first line of defense against water and pests. If paint starts to peel, remove it carefully and apply a new coat of paint.
Fires can lead to the total loss of the house and they are also the leading cause of accidental deaths in the home. Where there is fire damage there is usually smoke damage as well. Most residential fire deaths occur because of inhalation of toxic gas, rather than contact with the flames.
These could be prevented by taking a few precautions. You should take steps to prevent home fires, make an escape plan for your household just in case, and be prepared to fight any fire that does occur.
Ø Every home should have a smoke alarm with the batteries replaced as recommended by the manufacturer, usually twice a year. Working smoke alarms increase your chance of surviving a fire by 50%.
Smoke alarms monitor the air 24 hours a day, every day. After 10 years, it’s been on the job for over 87,000 hours. For best protection, replace your smoke alarms every 10 years.
2 – 3%
Second to 10th year:
16 – 30%
More than 10 years old:
30 – 50%
Ø Keep all flammable chemicals like fertilizers and turpentine in their original containers and in a storage area separate from the house.
Ø Every home should be equipped with at least one fire extinguisher. A typical fire extinguisher for the home or office should have an “ABC” rating. Keep it at close to full charge (this should be viewable on its gauge).
- Electrical Fires
Ø Do not load too many appliances onto one power outlet. Older homes especially may need an upgrade to better wiring and/or more circuits to supply today’s power-hungry homes.
Ø Do not use damaged or frayed electrical cords or extension cords. Never use any extension cord with heating or air conditioning equipment because that can cause an overload.
Ø If any interior lights dim when you activate a major appliance (or when it turns on automatically, e.g. a refrigerator), this may mean you have bad wiring or too many appliances connected to one circuit.
Ø Flickering lights can be an indication of failing connections in aluminum wiring.
Ø Unusually warm outlets or switches may indicate that an unsafe wiring condition exists. Have an electrician check the wiring as soon as possible.
Ø Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) can prevent deadly shocks. Outlets in bathrooms (and in kitchens within six feet of the sink) should be GFCI.
- Air Pollution Hazards (Carbon Monoxide)
Each year, thousands of other people suffer the effects of carbon monoxide or “CO” gas without realizing it because CO symptoms mimic the flu and other common illnesses. CO can be produced from any fuel-burning appliance or engine.
Mild exposure to CO gives most people a slight headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue (“flu-like” symptoms) followed by a throbbing headache, drowsiness, confusion, and fast heart rate.
If the entire family feels progressively ill after entering the home, and feels better when they leave the home, carbon monoxide poisoning should be suspected. To guard against CO poisoning:
Ø Make sure heating appliances are installed and used in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
Ø Make sure chimneys and vents are unblocked.
Ø Never use charcoal grills indoors, and never heat your home with a gas kitchen range.
Ø Never operate gasoline engines in garages or anywhere indoors.
Ø If your alarm indicates high levels of carbon monoxide in your home, immediately move outdoors to fresh air and do a head count, then do not re-enter the home until you have called emergency responders and they have arrived, aired out the house, and determined it is safe to re-enter.
Ventless gas heaters, fireplaces, gas logs, faulty furnaces and freestanding kerosene heaters can cause major indoor pollution problems. Emitted gases can include CO, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, water vapor which can lead to mold, and many other hydrocarbons.
- Natural Gas Leaks
Natural gas is primarily composed of methane and is highly flammable. Rarely, a natural gas leak can occur inside the home. This can sometimes lead to a fire or explosion. Natural gas is odorless, so the gas company is required to add a warning “rotten-egg” smell that can be easily detected by most people.People who have a diminished sense of smell may need to purchase a natural gas detector.
Ø If you smell of natural gas leak get everyone out immediately! DO NOT make calls from your home because phones are capable of producing a spark which could ignite the gas.
Ø Likewise don’t light a match, flick any light switches on or off, or plug or unplug any electrical appliances.
Ø Contact your local gas utility company from a phone away from your home. Do not re-enter the house until the gas company fixes the leak.
- To prevent natural gas leaks:
Ø Don’t use basement pipes to hang heavy items.
Ø Inspect the gas connections to your gas appliances to ensure they aren’t fraying or cracked .
- What To Do To Prevent Gas Leaks
To help prevent gas leaks, it is important to make sure your gas appliances are properly installed and vented, and kept clean and in good working order. Annual inspections by a qualified technician also are recommended. To reduce a chance of fire, be sure to keep all combustible materials away from furnaces, water heaters, ranges or other gas appliances.
- Electrical Safety FAQ
Ø What sorts of electrical safety risks can I look for on my own?
* Check electrical cords to make sure the wires are not beaten-up, cracked or loose. Whenever the cords need to be repaired, take the item to a professional repair shop, employ a qualified electrician, or replace with a new item.
* Make sure cords are not coming across thresholds or below carpets and avoid pinching cords against walls or furniture. If needed, have a qualified electrician put in more outlets.
* Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) reduce the danger of electrical shock by interrupting the electrical circuit when a electric shock hazard exists. Your home should have GFCIs about kitchen countertops, in bathroom(s), near laundry and utility sinks, in the garage, outside areas, in crawlspaces, and in unfinished basements.
Performing routine home maintenance regularly can no doubt save you thousands in repair bills later !!