The hot and dusty environment of the UAE can surely take its toll on your health, but there might be bigger threats to your health lurking in your own home. The experts at ServiceMarket have identified 5 hidden dangers in your home that you should be aware of. You can follow this handy guide to create a healthier environment in your home.
Carbon monoxide is a gas which has no smell or taste so you cannot detect it in the air and this is why it is called a ‘silent killer’. Carbon monoxide can enter your bloodstream and prevents the blood from absorbing oxygen. If you have a constant low level of carbon monoxide in your home then this can lead to headaches, dizziness, stomach pain and shortness of breath, and you may also feel sick. Of course you may put this down to other causes but if you always feel better when you are not in your home then it will be worth looking into the cause in your house.
Carbon monoxide is produced when fuels like gas, oil, wood and coal don’t burn fully. Appliances that use these fuels include: gas fires, boilers, central heating systems, water heaters and cookers.
Other causes can include a barbecue in a garage or the smoking of shisha pipes that burn charcoal and tobacco and can cause carbon monoxide to build up if the area is not properly ventilated. Some paint fumes and some cleaning fluids can also cause a build up. If your flames on your gas appliances are burning yellow instead of blue and if your pilot light frequently goes out then this can be a sign of a fault.
It is always worth having carbon monoxide monitors in your home and these can be installed at the same time as you are getting smoke alarms.
Always have your appliances like cookers and boilers installed by a professional handyman and get your appliances serviced at regular intervals. You can ask a professional to check to see if you have any items that may have leaks.
Salmonella is the main cause of food poisoning. The symptoms for this include diarrhoea, stomach pain and vomiting. It can take from 12 hours to a few days for this to develop but most people do recover without any treatment. However, you have to watch that you do not become dehydrated and children, pregnant women and older people are more susceptible to salmonella so it is best to see a doctor if you suspect you have food poisoning and you are in one of these groups.
You normally get salmonella by eating food that is contaminated. Meat, chicken, eggs and milk can be affected and other food such as shellfish and vegetables can be contaminated by manure in the soil or sewage in the water.
It is very important in your home to think about how you store food. You cannot determine by looking at or smelling food if it has salmonella, so you should take steps to keep your kitchen and food clean:
- Keep all your surfaces, utensils and chopping boards clean. Use different coloured chopping boards for different types of food to stop cross contamination.
- Wash all fruit and vegetables before you eat or prepare them.
- Keep raw and cooked food separate from each other.
- Store raw food below cooked food in the fridge.
- Cook food thoroughly. Buy a thermometer to insert into meat or fried food to check the correct temperature has been reached.
- If you are handling food always wash your hands thoroughly before you prepare food and before you eat.
If someone has salmonella then you must wash all the bedding and towels on a high temperature wash. Clean all the taps and toilets after use with detergent and disinfectant. Once the person is well again you may want to book a cleaning service so everywhere can be thoroughly steam cleaned and disinfected. Regular deep cleaning can also work wonders to keep your home clean and your family healthy.
Mold is usually something that you can see and smell. Mold can be a variety of colours including black, brown, white, yellow or pink and can look furry. It can grow very quickly in moist areas and it can grow on paint, paper, wood and materials – in fact nearly any surface. A bathroom with poor ventilation can be an ideal breeding ground.
Mold is particularly bad for those who suffer from asthma and have breathing difficulties. You can have an allergic reaction to mold spores which can cause a runny nose, sneezing and watery eyes.
If your house is particularly humid you could use a dehumidifier in areas where mold may grow. During certain months the humidity can be worse than at other times. Keep your rooms well ventilated especially after cooking or using the shower. If it is a persistent problem it will be worth calling in a professional cleaning company to help. Consider getting a painter to coat your rooms in mold resistant paint as well as this can be well worth the slightly higher price.
You can remove mold by using a specialist cleaner or with washing up liquid and hot water. Make sure that you use protective clothing such as gloves and long sleeved clothing, eye goggles and even a respiratory mask to protect you from breathing in spores. Vacuum the whole area and steam clean thoroughly. Throw out anything that has mold on it. It is always worth calling in a professional cleaning company who will have all the necessary equipment.
If you have mold you are also likely to have mold mites. They feed on mold and can reproduce very quickly. They enjoy living in kitchens with food that has gone off or in bathrooms or behind furniture. They can cause allergies and skin irritation and breathing problems. Throw out any food that is moldy and make sure that the storage areas have been thoroughly cleaned.
Your AC system could be a breeding ground for mold especially if you have turned it off for a while during the winter. Always get your units thoroughly cleaned and serviced regularly by a professional company, especially if you suffer from allergies or asthma.
Dust mites are tiny insects which are less than a millimetre long and have translucent bodies so they cannot be seen by the naked eye. They live off human skin and thrive best in humid conditions. They can be found in the home in bedding, carpets, furniture and curtains. The dust mite droppings can cause allergies.
The mites feed on the flakes of people’s and pets’ skin that everyone loses daily. They love environments that are warm and humid.
You can help to control dust mites by using a dehumidifier to keep down humidity, Wash all your bedding at least once a week on a high temperature wash. If you have cushions that can’t be washed the mites can be killed by putting them in the freezer for a few hours. Vacuum the mattress and pillows when you change the bed or book a professional mattress cleaning service.
When you are choosing toys for your children try to pick ones that are washable. This is particularly important if it is going to be a toy that the child will take to bed with them. Also, try to avoid bedding which is made of wool or has feather fillings.
Flooring will be better if it is tiled, wooden, laminate or linoleum as this will be easier to wipe down and keep clean. This will help to keep down the dust. Use a damp cloth as a dry one will just spread the dust and allergens around. Use a vacuum cleaner that has a good filter and clean it regularly.
Chemicals and Pesticides in your home
Inside your home you probably have a cupboard with insect repellent, cockroach spray and other pesticides. The most important thing with these products is to make sure that they are securely kept away from children. These products need to be stored correctly as they can be dangerous to your health. They can cause problems with breathing and nerve damage. Always wash your hands carefully after using the product and make sure that the area you are using them in is well ventilated. Make sure that you follow the instructions carefully on the label and keep the product away from food and drinks.
We now use more cleaning products and air fresheners in our houses than ever before. It is important to think about what and how much we are using. These products emit high levels of pollutants especially in small areas. There are many environmentally friendlier products available and steam cleaners are gaining more and more in popularity as they do not use any chemicals. Look for natural alternatives or make your own chemical free products.
If you employ a pest control company they should always discuss with you the type of pesticides they are going to use. Try to stay out of the house while they are using any chemicals in your home and make sure you open windows to air the house well. Make sure that any pets are also out of the house during the process.