Beware the Ides

A soothsayer cautioned Julius Ceasar to beware the Ides of March — a prophetic pronouncement given his assassination that date in 44 B.C. But you don’t need superstition to be vigilant against potential health hazards lurking in your home.

  • Carbon monoxide: Gas appliances and fireplaces can emit this toxic gas, which kills 400 Americans a year. Have them serviced and cleaned annually by a qualified technician and install a CO detector. If you already have one, change the batteries… and replace them again when you turn the clocks back for daylight savings this fall.
  • Dryer lint: Sure you clean out the lint trap, but what about the vents, where accumulations can ignite a fire? Unplug your dryer and remove the tubing that connects into the wall. Brush and vacuum debris from both ends. For longer vents, you may need to hire a professional to de–clog the system.
  • Mold: Bathrooms and kitchens are meccas for mold, which can filter into air ducts and cause respiratory problems. And because mold thrives in dark, damp spaces, it can go undetected under cabinets and behind walls. Prevent growth by repairing leaks, running the fan or opening a window when showering, and thoroughly drying any water spills. Disinfect any spore formation with bleach. If the patch is bigger than 10 square feet, hire a professional.

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