Keeping Your Home Safe When Using Space Heaters

 It seems like every year we hear depressing stories about adults or children (or pets) suffering a personal injury or death due to fires started by use of space heaters in homes.  The National Fire Protection Association reports that from 2005 to 2009, 79% of home heating fire deaths and 69% of injuries from home heating fires were caused by use of stationary or portable space heaters.

So, what can we do to protect our families from the dangers of space heaters?  Space heaters need plenty of room around them, so we should all keep adequate space around space heaters.  Also, space heaters should not be left on while you are sleeping.  A great list of tips for use of space heaters can be found at the Home Safety Council Website.

A list of recently recalled space heaters can be found on this page at the CPSC website as well. Please take a moment to review it to see if you might have a space heater that has been recalled.

On another note, readers of this blog will notice that I’ve been very late in getting it updated.  I’ve been absorbed in starting a new law firm and have not been posting nearly enough recently.  One of my New Year’s resolutions is to blog more frequently, so look for more posts on a more regular basis to the blog, and I welcome all ideas for new topics readers would like to see addressed.

Safety Hazards in Your Home

 When we think of safety in the home, we normally think of things like the purity of our water, lead in paint, and other well-known safety hazards.

But there are other hazards as well that are perhaps less well known but nonetheless important. Men’s Health magazine has compiled a list of 6 safety hazards in the home. Here’s the list:

  • Poisoned Produce – produce can be become tainted by things like Salmonella that can be found in raw poultry.  For example, raw chicken defrosting in the fridge can pose a risk of Salmonella dripping onto produce.   What to do?  be sure to wrap poultry in plastic wrap and keep it away from other items in the fridge.
  • Legionnaires Disease – the bacteria that can cause this disease can be found in water pipes.  What to do?  –  every 3 months, turn up the water heater to above 140 degrees, and run all faucets for 10 minutes.
  • Mercury in Light Bulbs – when compact fluorescent light bulbs break, they can release mercury gas, which is a neurotoxin.  What to do?  Hold the bulbs by the base rather than the bulb when inserting or removing them, and put the spent bulbs in the original box or double plastic bags after removal.
  • Sponges – who would have thought the humble sponge was a potential source of problems, but it turns out, according to the article, that a used sponge can harbor up to 10,000 bacteria per square inch.  What to do?  First, DON’T put them in the microwave, as suggested by The  Journal of Environmental Health recently, since there have been reports of dry sponges catching fire. A better idea is to simply put them in the dishwasher or to boil them once per week.
  • Furniture – the worry here is particleboard furniture, such as some bookshelves, because the particleboard may be glued together using formaldehyde, which is an irritant for the eyes and skin of some people. What to do? The article recommends applying a coat of varnish to the particleboard furniture to trap the vapors.
  • Radon – this is the gas that comes from decaying uranium in the soil, and it is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. What to do?  Your home should be tested for Radon at least every 2 years.  If found to be at levels that are a concern, a ventilation pipe can be installed to fix the problem.

As you can see, most if not all of these potential hazards have fixes that are relatively easy and inexpensive.  I was certainly not aware of some of these hazards, and I hope readers will find this information helpful.