Keeping Your Home Safe

Find our most frequently requested information about safety in the home.

Air Pollution

Air pollution is a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air. Many activities pollute the air we breathe, including driving cars and trucks; burning coal, oil, and other fossil fuels; and even such everyday activities as dry cleaning, painting operations, and filling your car with gas.  When these gases and particles accumulate in the air in high enough concentrations, they can harm us and our environment. The Clean Air Act, first passed in 1970, was created to clean up air pollution and help protect the health of all Americans.

To learn more about your outdoor and indoor air quality, visit the links below. 

Outdoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality

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Home Fire Safety

On average, every three hours, someone in the United States dies from a fire. Learn ways to prevent a fire in your home and teach everyone in your family what to do if your home is on fire.

High Risk Factors

  • Cooking causes the most fires, while smoking leads to the most deaths.
  • Young children and the elderly are in the most danger from fire deaths.
  • Night is the deadliest time for fires. Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to alert you to problems while you sleep.
  • Alcohol use contributes to 40% of fire deaths because of accidents, heavier sleeping, and bad judgment.‚Äč

Prevent Home Fires

Get the basics from Ready.gov on preventing fires in your home, and learn about specific fire hazards:

Cooking 

Heating and Other Dangers

Survive a Fire in Your Home

  • Working smoke alarms cut your chance of dying in a home fire in half. Find out how to correctly use smoke alarms.
  • Make an escape plan and practice it. During a fire, you might not be able to see or breathe, which means you’ll need a plan you can follow quickly and with your eyes closed.
  • Smoke and other toxic gases kill far more often than heat. These gases disorient before they kill, so get out fast.
  • Learn more about what to do after a fire. 

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Homeowners and Renters Insurance

Homeowners and renters insurance protect your home and personal property against damage or loss, and insures you in case someone gets hurt while on your property. You may already have insurance on your home if you have a mortgage on the property, because most lenders make insurance a condition of the loan.

Renters insurance, or tenant insurance, offers renters coverage similar to homeowners insurance. If you are a renter, do not assume your landlord carries insurance on your personal belongings; you may wish to purchase a separate policy.

What Can Homeowners or Renters Insurance Cover?

Homeowners or renters insurance may pay claims for:

  • damage to your home, garage, and other outbuildings
  • loss of furniture and other personal property due to damage or theft, both at home and away
  • additional living expenses if you rent temporary quarters while your house is being repaired

Homeowners or renters insurance may also:

  • include liability for bodily injury and property damage that you cause to others through negligence
  • include liability for accidents happening in and around your home, as well as away from home, for which you are responsible
  • pay for injuries occurring in and around your home to anyone other than you or your family
  • provide limited coverage for money, gold, jewelry, and stamp and coin collections
  • cover personal property in storage

Keep these tips in mind when shopping for homeowners insurance:

  • Insure your house, not the land under it. If you don't subtract the value of the land when deciding how much homeowner's insurance to buy, you will pay more than you should.
  • Make certain you purchase enough coverage to replace what is insured. "Replacement Cost Coverage" gives you the money to rebuild your home and replace its contents. An "Actual Cash Value" policy is cheaper but pays the difference between your property's worth at the time of loss minus the depreciation for age and wear.
  • Ask about special coverage you might need. You may have to pay extra for computers, cameras, jewelry, art, antiques, musical instruments, stamp collections, etc.
  • Flood and earthquake damage are not covered by a standard homeowners policy. The cost of a separate earthquake policy will depend on the likelihood of earthquakes in your area. Homeowners who live in areas prone to flooding should take advantage of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
  • If you are a renter, do not assume your landlord carries insurance on your personal belongings.  Purchase a separate policy for renters.

For help in deciding how much insurance coverage to buy, contact your state insurance regulator.

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Mold Problems

Mold is a kind of fungus that grows in damp areas. It can cause health problems, such as cold-like symptoms, skin reactions, shortness of breath, or infections, depending on a person’s sensitivity to mold and current health condition. People with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions, or people with weakened immune systems may be more sensitive to mold. Consult a health professional if you or your family members are experiencing health problems due to mold growth.

Mold Basics

If you find mold growing in your home, you can clean it up yourself or hire a mold remediation expert. Be sure to fix any water problem to help keep mold from returning.

Reporting Mold Problems

There are different procedures for reporting mold based on where it is.

If There is Mold at Your Workplace:

If You Believe Your Children are Exposed to Mold at School:

If You are a Renter Concerned About Mold in Your Home or Other Building:

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Radon

Radon could be a problem in your home, but it's a problem you can fix. The radioactive gas comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water and gets into the air you breathe. You can't see, smell, or taste it. The two main sources of radon in your home are water and soil. 

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Living below ground level in a basement apartment or below the third floor of a dwelling may put you at a higher risk for lung cancer because of greater exposure to radon in the soil. To find out the level of radon in your home, get it tested. You can do it yourself by purchasing a test kit online from the National Radon Hotline (operated by Kansas State University in partnership with the EPA) or by phone at 1-800-767-7236. You can also get a professional to come in and test your home. For a list of qualified radon test providers, contact your state's health and environment agency

There are steps you can take to lower your risk depending on the level of radon found. Get tips on reducing radon in your home. If you get your drinking water from a private well, learn about removing radon from your water.

If you're a builder or construction contractor, get resources and learn more about radon-resistant construction techniques.

Find out more by contacting these radon hotlines and viewing a map of radon zones and programs across the country. 

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Lead

Lead is a toxic metal used in various products or materials including paint. As an environmental hazard, the government banned the use of lead-based paint in 1978. Exposure to lead may cause lead poisoning, but it is 100% preventable knowing more about lead and the ways to protect your family from exposures to lead.

Lead in Water

Lead can be found in tap water due to old pipes. If you want to get your water tested, contact your state's environmental agency.

Lead Hotline

If you think your family has been exposed to lead hazards, contact the Lead Hotline at the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323). Also available in Spanish.

Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed programs to prevent lead poisoning in children and offers information for parents, prevention tips, tools, and other resources.

Lead Information for Homebuyers or Renters

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