Holiday safety: Use caution when storing and moving holiday decorations
One thing that many people may overlook is the storing and moving of holiday decorations. If you’re like millions of Americans, you may store you holiday lights, ornaments, outdoor decorations, and even gift wrap in the attic. While the attic is a perfectly appropriate place to store seasonal items, it’s important to store and move them with care as your attic may have asbestos.
What Dangers Lurk in Your Attic?
Many attics, in homes across the U.S., are unfinished which means that much of the structure is exposed or the space is minimal. Aside from a few sharp nails and maybe a small rodent problem, attics are typically harmless. However, the safety of your attic may greatly depend on the era of your home. For instance, if you live in a house built between the early 1900’s and the late 1970’s, there may be asbestos materials in your attic.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used for its natural resistance against fire. It is found in a variety of building materials from floor tiles to siding to roofing materials and insulation. If your home has an attic that has never been renovated, it’s likely that asbestos containing insulation, such as vermiculite was used to keep your home warm. Before you store anything in your attic, ideally you should know whether or not asbestos materials are present. Materials containing asbestos are relatively harmless unless the materials become damaged or have been manipulated in anyway; when this occurs, the asbestos fibers become airborne and can be breathed in or ingested.
Unfortunately, exposure to asbestos can be harmful and lead to lung diseases, such as mesothelioma or asbestosis, that are diagnosed decades later. According to Belluck & Fox Law Firm, once exposed to asbestos, a person has a life-long risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.
Rethink the Attic
Each time you visit your attic, look around for signs of wear and tear such as loose insulation or tears or deterioration in building materials; these materials have asbestos. If your attic has asbestos containing materials, don’t attempt to repair or remove them on your own. Even seemingly small repairs or a removal of a small piece can be hazardous. Only asbestos removal professionals should handle and dispose of the dangerous materials. Do not continue to store boxes, even rarely used items, in the attic if an inspector has found asbestos in your attic. When you remove items from storage be careful not to disturb the structure of any materials, don’t let children or pets around areas that have asbestos and limit your exposure to the materials. Even materials that are slightly damaged may be danger to your health.
This holiday season, decorate with care and keep your season safe and bright.