Lead is a toxic metal that can cause a variety of extremely dangerous health problems – and commonly shows up in older homes. In fact, if even traces of lead are ingested or absorbed into the body, serious health problems are likely to occur, including brain damage, kidney damage, nerve damage, and many others.
Before the 1980s, many everyday products contained high amounts of lead, including the paint that was used in every household. Once lead was soon found to have adverse health affects, it was banned from use in 1978. That means that if your home was built before 1978, you probably have lead-based paint somewhere, even of it’s lurking under newer layers of paint.The presence of lead based paint presents the biggest risk to children, who might put lead-based paint dust or paint chips in their mouths or in their hands, absorbing it into their blood, and just by breathing in lead dust, both children and adults are at high risk of lead poisoning.
Toxic mold can grow unchecked in your home wherever there is moisture, often hidden behind the walls, above ceilings, and under the floors. In fact, the most dangerous molds emit mycotoxins, which can cause illness and health problems if breathed, or even hospitalization or death in extreme cases.
Mold will only grow where there is a continuous source of moisture or dampness, like a plumbing or roof leak, or even where groundwater seeps in. It only takes mold 24-48 hours to grow so mold should be treated with extreme caution. Of course lenders mandate you get a detailed Pest Inspection – including detecting mold – when you buy a home and take out a loan, but homeowners should remain diligent and look for signs or water leaks or the presence of mold regularly.
Creepy crawlers like rats, mice, other rodents, wasps, bees, spiders, and snakes are no fun to have around, but there are far more dangerous uninvited guests that may try to take over your home. In fact, termites and other wood-destroying pests of mass destruction can cause some serious damage to your dwelling. However, since infestations and the insects themselves are so small and hard to detect, the damage often is hidden in wood framing, below subfloors, structural beams, or inside any other wood that makes up your home. The most common variety is subterranean termites – and they also happen to cause the most damage to your home, but dry-wood termites, wood boring beetles, damp-wood termites, and carpenter ants are other species that invade a home, even rendering it unlivable if not remedied.
- Home fires
Firefighters in the U.S. respond to 374,000 residential fires every year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). That means we have a home fire every 10 seconds, or a fire big enough to call the fire department every 60 seconds. Even more dire, about 13,000 people lose their lives in home blazes every year, or one every three hours. The monetary damage incurred from house fires is an alarming seven billion dollars a year.
Studies show that most home fires are started when residents fall asleep with cigarettes, inadvertently start kitchen fires, or because of faulty electrical wiring.
- Carbon monoxide
High levels of carbon monoxide gas are a silent and invisible danger in the home. Even short exposure to carbon monoxide can cause serious health problems because once breathed, it effectively replaces oxygen in the blood, killing off cells and starving vital organs of necessary oxygen flow. The scary thing is that carbon monoxide can come from a variety of common household items and appliances, and is odorless, colorless, and can incapacitate or kill within minutes in some cases.
- Water damage
Water that seeps into the home is one of the most serious threats to cause major damage. Of course burst pipes or broken sewage lines cause major damage and can be exorbitantly expensive to fix. But just as dangerous are the smaller, slow leaks and water intrusions, leaking in through faulty roof lines, unsealed windows and doors, or other openings, or pooling up under sink cabinets, in basements, and in crawl spaces. Even small drips can rapidly cause wood rot and provide a perfect breeding ground for termites and other wood-eating pests as well as an ideal place for dangerous mold to sprout.
- Home thefts and invasions
According to the FBI, there are approximately 2.5 million home thefts and forced entries every year, or about 1 in every 30 households. The average loss for each home burglary is $2,230, which adds up to about $4.7 billion every year. But far more than just losing property or money, your family’s safety is at stake when someone enters your home unlawfully. The psychological toll and feelings of violation can remain far after the monetary damages are forgotten, often making a house no longer feel like a home.
Unfortunately, we live in one of the most litigious societies in the world, and that means virtually anyone can sue anyone or anything, whether it’s founded in reality and fairness or not. Visitors, uninvited guests, and even service workers who come on your property and then get hurt can sue you for huge damages, causing a huge process of frustration and jeopardizing everything you’ve worked so hard for. Slip and falls, dog bites (about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year!), failure to protect children from a pool or trampoline, and tree branches falling on people or property are some of the common lawsuits against property owners.
- Natural disasters
Considered acts of God by insurance companies, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, hail storms, sink holes, mud slides, and forest fires are just a few of the long list of natural disasters that can befall a home. In California, the fear of a sizable earthquake is a valid concern, and recently, wildfires have become more prevalent, forcing homeowners or sometimes whole neighborhoods to evacuate. Of course no one can predict when a natural disaster will hit – or prevent it – but homeowners are often woefully underprepared.
According to United Policyholders, about two-thirds of U.S. homeowners would be underinsured if some sort of adverse weather or geological event struck.
- Cyber crime and identity theft
Is identity theft really a danger to homeowners worth mentioning? It sure is. In fact, identity theft and other cyber crimes are more prevalent than ever in the United States – and growing at a frightening rate. Evert year, approximately 16 million people have their identities or financial data stolen and used fraudulently, costing them upwards of $50 billion dollars. To put that effect of cyber theft in perspective, that amount is three times more than the combined losses from all other types of personal, like burglary, motor vehicle theft, property theft, etc.
Whether it’s malware that infiltrates your computer and steals info, hackers who steal your passwords and commandeer your financial information, or cyber criminals who assume your identity and open new accounts under your name, the damage could cost consumers tens of thousands of dollars and take years to clean up – without the thieves every physically entering the home.