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7 Precautions to Take When Updating Your Home


Home improvement projects often come with breaking walls, repainting, sanding, and other processes categorized under building and construction. This increases certain health risks to house occupants and builders. It is why homeowners are advised to take stringent measures to reduce the risks of toxic exposure, falls, injuries, and other mishaps during home updates. As of June this year, there were 127,486 lacerations caused by home improvement projects. The injury prevalence rate makes it crucial to take certain precautions, such as the ones discussed below.

Be wary of materials containing VOCs

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are specific gases that can harm humans and household pets. They are mostly used in manufacturing products for different industries. However, they are more common in construction materials, so it’s essential to be careful when using them. How can you detect VOCs in basic home improvement materials? Three specific sensors are used to detect volatile organic compounds, but these are not readily available to everyone. It explains why these sensors are mostly used in manufacturing environments where VOCs are released in large volumes. 

As a homeowner being cautious about these organic compounds, there are other things you can do to protect yourself and house occupants. The common home improvement materials that contain VOCs are some types of paints, construction glue, solvents, pressed wood containing formaldehyde-based resins, some vinyl flooring, and wall coverings. Did you know that some wallpapers release VOCs? You can avoid them by purchasing wallpapers with Green Guard Certification. Furthermore, wallpapers with little to no PVC might be safer. If you are looking for various wall cover varieties, you can find them here. It helps to read more about Volatile Organic Compounds to inform your decision on safe materials.

Find experts to check for lead 

According to a 2016 report on residential properties in the country, homes built before 1978 are three times more likely to contain lead. Before the ban in 1978, this chemical was a prominent material used in the construction sector. Many developers at the time used lead for electrical conduits, cladding, roofing, tank linings, and virtually anything construction. After people of all age groups became increasingly ill, authorities sought out the cause. However, according to history, lead poisoning dates back to the Roman Empire when it was known as a disease of the wealthy. Fast forward to the 19th century, it was finally banned in 1978. Considering that the average age of residential property in the country is thirty-seven years, you may not be at risk. However, it pays to take the necessary precautions to avoid accidental lead poisoning. 

Before your home upgrade begins, call a certified lead risk assessor to test for it. If any is detected, these experts will ensure proper removal and disposal of this hazardous material from your home. Lead poisoning can cause significant damage to the brain and the nervous system. Moreover, because lead dust can stay on surfaces for extended periods, it puts pets and young children at an increased risk of exposure. You should seek emergency medical care if you accidentally get lead dust in your home. Even when signs of poisoning are not evident, you may stand a higher chance of stifling its effects.

Turn off the electricity mains when wiring

More than half of the time, home updates and upgrades require breaking into walls to open up indoor space. However, few people know that the vertical and horizontal areas around switches and sockets have wires within the walls. You may want to use a quality cable detector to make detection easier. However, your safest bet is to turn off the electricity from the circuit breaker. This ensures a proper cutting off of live power in those walls. The last thing you want to happen is to get electrocuted while breaking a part of the wall during the home project. It is also a crucial reminder when you must drill into walls. The outcome can be fatal if the metal drill comes into contact with a live wire. Without turning the circuit breaker off, there is an increased risk of electrocution if the drill damages the protective earth conductor. These electrical precautions cannot be overlooked during a home update project.

Another factor to consider is if the home’s electrical wiring is outmoded and needs to be upgraded during the project. This is not something to regard as a DIY project because of its highly technical nature. However, when the work is completed, you can use a voltage detector or a neon circuit tester along your walls when the circuit breaker is back on. If any of these devices light up, you may have a poorly-insulated loose wire within the walls. The best line of action will be to call an experienced electrician to check it out.

Ensure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functional

Before the project commences, renew the batteries for your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, especially if they have not been changed in a long while. The objective is to have these devices working optimally to enhance your safety. Gasoline-powered tools emit low levels of carbon monoxide. Sometimes, however, these emissions are released in higher quantities than expected due to one fault or the other. A detector can save you from the looming danger that this can pose to you and your household. What makes carbon monoxide more dangerous is its odorless and tasteless nature. 

Many people have been exposed to it as a common combustion by-product but in very low doses. With mild exposure symptoms ranging from nausea, dizziness, and headache, it could pass off as fatigue from a stressful day. On the other hand, a high degree of exposure can affect the heart and brain. In some other instances, extremely high carbon monoxide exposure can be fatal. If you are soldering or using high-powered drills, there might be a risk of fly-away sparks. Building experts recommend having a fire extinguisher close to the home upgrading site to avoid escalation. A smoke detector will be required to provide a timely alarm that improves reaction times.

Evacuate vulnerable family members

Did you know that pregnant women, young children, pets, and the elderly are the most at risk of danger during home upgrades? If the project is not total and therefore does not necessitate evacuation, these are people to be most mindful of. This is mainly due to their delicate immune systems. Children are still developing theirs; the elderly may have weakened immunity, and pregnant women have their bodies overworking to grow a baby. 

Pets like dogs and cats are also vulnerable because they are likely to sniff or lick strange things. The best solution, therefore, is to move these groups out to a temporary place until the project is completed. The dust produced during home improvements can interfere with normal respiratory functions when breathed in. Therefore, you may want to take the necessary measures to safeguard the health of vulnerable groups in the house. Some of these measures include wearing protective masks during project hours. In situations where that cannot be an option, air filters can be useful. In this scenario, changing the filters often is advisable, but that will also depend on the duration of the home updating project. This is to enable filters adequately get rid of indoor air pollutants. 

Check for black mold before proceeding

Statistics indicate that over 50% of US homes deal with mold issues. This means the likelihood of harboring mold in your home is high. Black mold can be found behind bathroom walls, kitchen sinks, attics, basements, and almost everywhere else. The primary element needed for black mold growth is moisture. The more persistent the condensation or water infiltration, the higher the risks of black mold thriving in your home. What you want to avoid is breathing in the spores from this substance.

They can cause respiratory issues with flu-like symptoms. A small area of black mold can be washed away with a bleach solution. After that, a mold-killing primer application would ensure it doesn’t return. On the other hand, if you discover a wide area of black mold, an expert removal company would be needed. Before these professionals arrive, you may want to seal off the area with plastic sheeting to contain the spores.

Wear the right gear

Due to the high risk of injury, wearing the right gear on-site during a major home improvement project is advisable. An N95 mask with a respirator, protective helmet, appropriate gloves, and boots are the right gear for such projects. One vital thing to note is the parts of the house you wear the gear to. Experts say moving from the working area to a non-working point in your protective gear is not ideal.

The aim is to avoid transporting pollutants trapped on your gear to the rest of the house. For example, if you handle mold in the working area, the risk of moving spores around is high. Therefore, getting out of your protective gear is vital before moving to the main parts of the house where there is no improvement work happening.

Home Renovation, What are the risks associated with home renovations? Carbon Monoxide, Lead Poisoning, Volatile Organic Compounds, How can I make sure my home is safe? Health Precautions


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