The 50 Deadliest Items in Your Home
Don't let these seemingly innocuous items put your life at risk.
Your home is a place of refuge, somewhere to relax and recharge after yet another long day at work. Unfortunately, for many of us, it’s also full of potential hazards. According to the National Safety Council, more than 18,000 Americans die from accidents in the home every year, and tens of thousands are critically injured. While, short of living in a bubble, you can’t avoid every danger, knowing all the deadly things in your home can help keep you safer in the long run. Don’t let the risks inside your home weigh too heavily on your mind, though—the 30 Ways to Fight Stress will have you breathing easy again in no time!
Tucked away in your basement, the functionality of your dryer is unlikely to be something you think of regularly, but you might want to reassess. According to FEMA, there are 2,900 dryer fires each year, causing five deaths and $35 million in property damage. To reduce your risk, make sure you clean the dryer’s lint trap and exhaust vent and make sure you get it serviced regularly.
Aspirin use can aggravate stomach conditions and cause bleeding in the digestive tract. For those with blood clotting conditions, aspirin can prove especially dangerous because of its blood-thinning ability. Aspirin poisoning is also the 13th most common cause of fatal poisoning from an ingestible substance, meaning it’s essential to keep your intake to a minimum and make sure you’re keeping those aspirin bottles well out of reach of little ones. Instead of popping another aspirin, boost your brainpower with the 15 Over-the-Counter Drugs That Will Make You Smarter!
According to research conducted at the University of Georgia’s Department of Horticulture, numerous popular indoor plants, including Peace Lilies and Snake Plants, produce volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which can cause damage to the respiratory tract, liver, and central nervous system. When you add in the poisoning risk from the pesticides and fertilizers used to help them grow, you’ve got a potential recipe for trouble. And for more great health advice, here are 29 Ways to Hack Your Body Clock and Maximize Every Day.
A squeaky-clean oven may be more pleasant to prepare food in, but oven cleaners can pose a risk to your health. These chemical cleaners are meant to get rid of food that’s been baked onto your oven for years, meaning it’s pretty caustic and corrosive stuff.
Getting oven cleaner on your skin can easily cause chemical burns, while using your oven’s self-clean mode after spraying oven cleaner can fill your home with ultra-hot chemical fumes, causing respiratory distress, or even death. Yikes.
Having a pool at home may seem like the ultimate luxury, but it can present a real danger to your safety, too. The CDC reports that 3,536 people are killed in unintentional drownings in the United States each year, many of which happen in private or public pools. The good news is that there are easy fixes to this potential hazard: put up protective fencing around your pool, use a pool cover when you’re not swimming, don’t wear loose clothing that could get caught in a filter or drain, and make sure to skip the laps when you’re under the influence.
It may get your whites whiter, but bleach can also be deadly. Bleach can cause chemical burns, and if accidentally ingested, can cause serious internal bleeding and even death. Even cleaning with bleach can present some real dangers: according to the CDC, bleach is also a major cause of inhalation injuries, which can damage your lungs and cause long-term health issues.
Sure, that plug-in pheromone diffuser may keep your cat from losing its mind every time the doorbell rings, but it could be doing more harm than good. Pheromone diffusers often have a flammable, waxy build-up that congregates around their heating element, putting you at risk for a house fire.
In the immortal words of the Insane Clown Posse, “Magnets, how do they work?” While Shaggy and Violent J may be waiting for their answer for some time, one thing is clear: magnets present a serious danger to your health. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if ingested, magnets can cause intestinal perforations, obstructions, and bleeding, all of which can lead to your untimely demise.
Refinishing that antique table you picked up over the weekend is a job best done in the great outdoors. Wood stain not only gives off dangerous fumes, it’s highly flammable, presenting a potential fire risk if kept in the home. Even worse, there are reports of stains heating while they dry, so even if you’ve tossed those stain-soaked rags in the trash, you haven’t necessarily eliminated your fire risk. For appropriate disposal, put the cloths you used to apply the stain in a container filled with water before tossing.
Great for your glutes and bad for your safety, stairs are among the biggest hazards in your home. According to the National Safety Council, over a million injuries take place on stairs every year, including more than 12,000 deaths. To minimize your risk, go barefoot on the stairs, use the handrail, and leave those cool banister slides to stunt people.
Even if you consider yourself pretty handy with a stud finder, you might want to double-check the installation on that flat screen TV. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that approximately 43,000 people will suffer injuries related to tipping furniture or electronics. When in doubt, use special TV straps to mount that sucker to the wall, and make sure your wall bracket is properly anchored.
Nail Polish Remover
That polish remover is more dangerous than you think. According to the National Capital Poison Center, nail polish removers can cause severe chemical burns both internally and externally, potentially leading to internal bleeding, and the strong fumes can cause respiratory distress.
That trunk you’re using to keep clutter at bay could be putting you at risk for major physical trauma. Heavy wooden trunks have a reputation for being finger-crushers, and even worse, can cause head injuries if they fall on you while you’re peeking into them. In 2010, Target issued a massive recall on woven storage trunks after a toddler suffered brain damage from a falling lid.
Sure, that wood stove makes your apartment feel like a charmingly rustic cabin, but it may not be worth it in the long run. Improperly-vented stoves can put you at risk for a house fire or carbon monoxide poisoning, and the American Lung Association lists exposure to wood smoke as a potential risk factor for lung cancer.
Lighting some candles and cranking the D’Angelo seems like a pretty sexy way to start an evening, but a fire isn’t such a sexy way to end it. The National Fire Prevention Association reports that candles cause approximately three percent of all home fires, with an average of 25 candle-related fires breaking out every single day. Keep your home safe by making sure candles are completely snuffed, properly disposing of matches, and never leaving a candle burning in a room you’re not in or when you’re sleeping.
Keeping your toilet clean doesn’t have to mean a potential injury down the line. Many bleach-based toilet cleaners can cause chemical burns and may even be fatal for family pets whose beverage of choice comes from the commode. Many toilet cleaners are also brightly-colored or resemble something edible, making them a hazard for children with curious palates, too.
Curling up under an electric blanket may seem romantic, but it’s also a risky way to keep warm. Scrunching up that blanket while you sleep can fray its wires, putting you at risk for a fire, and electric blankets can cause heat-related injuries, particularly in pregnant women, children, and the elderly.
A less-than-ideal apartment kitchen can often mean getting creative while you cook, making hotplates a popular home appliance. However, hot plates have the potential to cause serious burns or start an electrical fire; in 2015, a hot plate was cited as the cause of a fatal fire that killed seven children in New York.
Using the wrong light bulb in your lamp can do more than make your lighting less-than-optimal: it can also put you at risk for a fire. Scarier yet, many CFL light bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, which can be harmful for humans and pets alike. If you break a bulb, turn off your ventilation system, have everyone leave the room, open a window, and both wet and dry clean any areas that may have been affected by the shattered bulb.
Before you pop another acetaminophen to treat that hangover, consider the potential harm you’re causing to your health. Not only is it possible to overdose on the stuff, acetaminophen can cause serious liver damage or even death, so heavy drinkers, liver transplant patients, or anyone with liver health issues should talk to their doctor before taking some.
Even if you fancy yourself pretty handy with a table saw, those power tools can be a hazard to you and those around you. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, power tool injuries cause up to 400,000 visits to the emergency room every year.
Don’t let those charmingly chippy shutters fool you: lead poisoning is no joke. Chipped paint may indicate the presence of lead, which, if ingested or inhaled, can cause organ failure, brain damage, and death. Think your home is safe because it was built after 1978? Everything from toys produced overseas to cosmetics have been shown to contain lead, and, as evidenced by the scandal in Flint, it can even show up in your water.
That hot tub may be setting the stage for some bump and grind, but it’s also setting you up for potential injuries, too. Hot tubs not only present a drowning risk, they can cause people to suffer potentially-fatal heat exposure. Scarier yet, the combination of people and heat presents the perfect petri dish for the growth of flesh-eating bacteria.
Deck the halls all you want, but don’t burn your house down in the process. The National Fire Protection Association reports an average of 210 Christmas tree fires each year, causing $16.2 million in annual property damage. Minimize your risk by buying a freshly-cut tree, opting for LED lights, unplugging your tree at night, keeping trees away from heat sources, tossing broken lights, and keeping your tree adequately watered.
Keeping your furnace well-maintained is the first step in keeping your home safe. Furnaces are not only a fire hazard, they also present a potential for gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning, so make sure you’re getting yours serviced at least once a year.
Don’t let a faulty AC pose a risk to you or your family. The Electrical Safety Foundation International reports that air conditioners are responsible for 7,000 fires each year, and improperly-installed window units can cause serious trauma or even death to people walking below.
Those swirling blades in your lawnmower do a number on your grass and your health. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that lawn mowers caused more than 83,000 injuries in the U.S. alone in 2011, and revving your mower’s engine in the garage can even put you at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.
The little battery giving your device life could be putting yours at risk. Battery acid is highly corrosive, meaning it can burn your eyes and skin, and batteries can be fatal if ingested.
Working out is good for your health—until it’s not. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 460,000 people are seen in U.S. hospitals each year for exercise equipment-related injuries, with about 30 deaths related to exercise equipment occurring annually. Stay steady on the Stairmaster and don’t let the 7 Most Surprising Everyday Exercise Killers get between you and better health!
Before you think of bringing a trampoline home, consider the fact that trampoline accidents cause nearly 100,000 injuries each year. In fact, trampolines are so dangerous, most insurance companies will even ask you if you own a trampoline before issuing you a policy.
Don’t let your pursuit of coziness land you in the hospital. More than 25,000 U.S. house fires start with a space heater, so make sure yours is far away from flammable materials and unplug it when you leave the room or go to bed.
Non-Stick Pots and Pans
If you’re feeling a little worse for wear, it could be your cookware. The fumes emitted from non-stick cookware can cause flu-like symptoms, and chipping pots and pans can taint your food with flakes of non-stick coating and metal.
Almost 1.3 million people are killed on the road each year, with as many as 50 million additional injuries stemming from car accidents. Just as scary is your carbon monoxide poisoning risk in your car; running the car in the garage or driving with a blocked tailpipe can lead to serious injury or death.
When in doubt, use a power strip. Extension cords cause approximately 3,300 house fires each year, and nearly 4,000 falls.
Before you fire up the grill this summer, make sure you have some safety rules committed to memory: always make sure the coals are fully out, turn off the propane, and never a grill inside. If you forget, you could be one of the nearly 17,000 people injured or killed by grills each year.
Don’t let that relaxing steam turn into something scary. Saunas put users at risk for overheating, respiratory failure, and can even be a good breeding ground for bacteria, like staph and E. coli.
Smoking cigarettes is bad for more than just your lungs. Researchers at the University of California, Davis estimate that cigarettes cause 100,000 fires in the United States alone each year.
Your love for accessories might just put your life in danger. Scarves present a surprising strangulation risk, particularly when worn in or on motor vehicles, elevators, or escalators. In fact, scarf-strangulation is so common that the Journal of Health Education Research & Development has a term for it: long scarf syndrome. Instead of giving another scarf as a gift this holiday season, turn to the 100 Unusual Gifts for the Person Who Has Everything!
Those ammonia-based cleaners may leave your mirrors glistening, but they’re more dangerous than a streaky surface ever was. Ammonia is not only corrosive, making it dangerous if applied to skin or ingested, it also can turn into a toxic gas that has a suffocating effect if inhaled. Ditch the ammonia-based cleaners today and discover the 20 Ways to Never Get Sick at Work!
While a few mothballs on your closet shelf might not present a real danger, children are often drawn to these, as if they’re candy. Unfortunately, not only do mothballs present a choking hazard, the ingestion of naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene—the most common active ingredients in moth balls—can cause organ damage or death.
There’s a reason worrying about leaving the stove on is so common: gas stoves can be downright dangerous. Not only do stoves put you at risk for burns and house fires, a little gas leak can turn your home into a tinderbox or lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Polish those pearly whites, but do it carefully. The fluoride in your toothpaste, while harmless and beneficial for your oral health in small quantities, can cause serious health issues if ingested—from damage to your central nervous system to metabolic problems. Oh, and for great advice on keeping your teeth shiny, here are the 20 Secrets for Whiter Teeth After 40!
Guns don’t kill people, except for all the times that they do. In addition to countless homicide and suicide deaths, 3,800 people in the U.S. died from unintentional gun discharge injuries from 2005 to 2010.
This might make you want to break out that old shovel again: the Amputee Coalition reports that approximately 9,000 people lost a finger in snow blower accidents between 2003 and 2016. Your snow blower’s gas engine can also ignite, and clothing, like long scarves, can get caught in your machine, putting you at risk for strangulation.
Before you decide to channel your inner Bob Vila, make sure you have a spotter. According to the incredibly cheerful Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 43 percent of fatal falls involve a ladder, and up to 81 percent of falls that require an E.R. visit started on one.
Keeping your chimney clean does more than just keep Santa soot-free. When chimneys are used over the years, soot can stick to their interior, blocking the proper exit of smoke, putting you at risk for lung damage, a house fire, or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Don’t even think of bringing that portable generator inside when the power goes out. Portable generators can emit toxic carbon monoxide, which has the power of silently poisoning.
That air freshener could be putting your home in jeopardy. Not only can air fresheners put people at risk for respiratory health issues including lung cancer, but also plug-in air fresheners have the potential to overheat and cause a fire.
Don’t let that bubble bath relax you so much you decide to take a snooze in it. According to the CDC, nearly two-thirds of falls in the home happen in the bath or shower, and hundreds of people drown in the tub each year in the U.S. alone.
Sitting on your couch might just be the most dangerous thing you do all day. Research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reveals that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to heart disease, diabetes, and early death. And for more great health advice, reduce your risk of disease with the 40 Ways to Never Get Sick After 40!
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