Common Things in Your Home That Are Actually Really Dangerous

By Corinne KerstonLast Updated Apr 18, 2020 9:11:27 PM ET
baby reaching for pan

Things like heights, sharks, spiders and clowns are common fears. But did you know some of the most dangerous things out there could be right in your home? We’re not saying there’s a scary clown hiding in your closet, but some of the most common household items are actually really dangerous.

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Check out this list to find out 30 seemingly innocent things in your house that could potentially harm you.

Laundry Detergent

Teens are always up for a good dare. Even better if you can film that dare, put it up on YouTube and have it go viral! So, in 2017 a new challenge craze emerged that involved Tide Pods. The brightly colored packets of laundry detergent became the target of teens everywhere, with kids challenging each other to eat them. Yes, eat them. As you can probably guess, this is not the best idea.

Laundry Detergent
Photo Courtesy: Your Best Digs/Flickr

Consequences for teens range from being grounded to getting sick or being hospitalized. But it isn’t just teens who are in danger of eating laundry detergent. Thousands of children ages five and under are harmed by detergent each year, either from consuming it or getting it in their eyes. 

Dryers

People love their modern-day appliances. They’re convenient to use and help get things done fast. Your dryer is definitely among those modern conveniences. While your dryer may eliminate the need to hang dry everything (with the added bonus of fluffy and soft towels), dryers can actually be quite dangerous. 

Dryer
Photo Courtesy: iStock

If your lint trap gets over filled, it could catch fire. Additionally, dryers pose a hazard for little kids who are curious and like to climb. You can avoid these dangers by keeping your lint trap clear and making sure your little ones don’t go playing around the washer and dryer. 

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Batteries

Most people have a drawer in their home dedicated to batteries of all sizes. After all, how else would we power our TV remotes? (And what would we do without television?) While batteries may seem harmless, the acid inside them is actually extremely corrosive. 

Batteries
Photo Courtesy: iStock

If the acid leaks out and gets on you, it could burn your skin or your eyes. Not to mention if the acid is accidentally ingested, it could potentially be fatal. Even if the battery isn’t leaking harmful battery acid, it could still be harmful. Smaller batteries like coin or button batteries can be choking hazards for young children. 

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Extension Cords

Another potentially harmful convenience is the extension cord. Extension cords make it easy to plug things in from afar, and with all the appliances in homes today, plugging things in has become an essential part of home living. But these cords pose a huge tripping hazard. 

extension cord
Photo Courtesy: Mike McCune/Flickr

How many of you have tripped on a cord while walking around your home? Boom! You’re in for a major fall. Beyond that, extension cords have been known to cause house fires. Overloaded cords can overheat and deteriorated cords or connections can catch fire. To prevent risks, use extension cords properly. 

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Hot Tubs and Swimming Pools

What’s more lavish than having a hot tub or swimming pool in your own backyard? Hot tubs are perfect to help you relax after a long day, and a swimming pool provides hours of fun and exercise. As a good pool owner, you probably take the time to clean it, scrub it down and use chlorine to kill bacteria. So, you’re safe, right? Wrong. 

swimming pool
Photo Courtesy: iStock

Even with a fully chlorinated pool, you could fall prey to a chlorine-resistant parasite called cryptosporidium. This parasite causes illness and even death. Even if you don’t have the parasite in your pool, any large area of water poses a drowning hazard for anyone who can’t swim. 

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Scarves

Scarves are fashionable, go with many outfits and keep your neck warm. But they may not be as safe as you think. In fact, a scarf was responsible for a freak accident in 2012 when an 18-year-old girl was strangled to death while on a Go-Kart. 

scarves
Photo Courtesy: Tony Hisgett/Flickr

Another stroke of bad luck occurred in 2014 in Canada when a woman died after her scarf accidentally got caught in an escalator. The bottom line is that scarves can get caught in any number of things and potentially strangle a person, either causing death or an extreme amount of discomfort. 

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Flat-Screen TV

Flat-screen TVs made their debut in the ‘60s, but they didn’t gain popularity until the ‘80s. Since then, old box style TVs have essentially become obsolete. Why wouldn’t you buy a thin TV that takes up much less room? If you have little kids, the same flat-screen that delivers your high-def shows could be a danger in your home. 

flat screen TV
Photo Courtesy: iStock

Each year, thousands of kids (most under the age of 3) are taken to the hospital due to TV-related injuries. Little kids generally like to climb, pull, rock and touch everything they can. This can cause large, unsteady items – like your huge flat-screen TV – to fall over and potentially crush your curious child. 

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Ceiling Fans

If you don’t have an air conditioner in your home, a ceiling fan is the next best thing. But like other conveniences on this list, ceiling fans also pose a risk. If they become loose or detached from the ceiling, they could actually fall. 

Ceiling fans
Photo Courtesy: iStock

Simply checking on your fan connection periodically will help ensure it’s not loose. Also, if your ceiling fan isn’t used often, it can accumulate dusk on top of the blades. Turning it on without wiping it down could be harmful to anyone with a bad dust allergy. 

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Toothpaste

People use toothpaste everyday to keep their teeth clean and breath smelling minty fresh, but most have probably never stopped to read the label. If you have taken the time to check out the back of your tube, you’ll see there are some serious warnings. It instructs you to seek immediate medical attention if ingested. 

Toothpaste
Photo Courtesy: iStock

While you’re probably tempted to just ignore that warning, the truth is, toothpaste is actually quite harmful if swallowed in large quantities. Common ingredients like triclosan and sodium fluoride are poisonous in large amounts. If ingested, you could experience symptoms like diarrhea, convulsions, slowed heart rate, difficulty breathing and even shock. 

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Storage Chests

Odds are that you played hide and seek as a child and know the best hiding places were quiet, dark and hard to access. This, of course, made storage chests some of the best places to hide. Unfortunately, this prime hiding spot also makes storage chests really dangerous for young children. 

storage chests
Photo Courtesy: iStock

According to a report by the Consumer Project Safety Commission, incidents often occur when young children climb into the chests to sleep or to hide and get trapped inside. With no ventilation and no way out, children have suffocated to death in storage chests. Keep your storage chests locked at all times to prevent an avoidable tragedy. 

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Air Conditioners

Your air conditioning unit is a blessing on hot, long summer days. However, they can turn into a real nightmare if they’re leaking. Units that leak refrigerant are very harmful and can poison you. The chemical used to cool the air conditioner is called fluorinated hydrocarbon, better known as “Freon.” This chemical is an odorless gas, so chances are you’re not going to know it’s leaking. 

air conditioner
Photo Courtesy: iStock

Short-term exposure or limited exposure is only slightly harmful to humans, though that still doesn’t mean it's a good idea to sniff it. But if inhaled deeply and often, Freon can cut off the oxygen flow to your lungs and other cells. It can also cause seizures and heart palpitations.

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Magnets

Magnets are often found on your refrigerator holding up important papers or prized artwork. They could also be cast aside in your junk drawer. Either way, everyone has magnets in their homes, but it’s the smaller magnets (especially the round ones) that pose a dangerous choking hazard. 

magnets
Photo Courtesy: iStock

But there’s more. If a little one swallows multiple small magnets, they don’t always pass through the gastrointestinal tract easily. The small magnets could actually stick together in the intestines and either block or compress portions of the bowels. This could cause stomach pain, perforation or even sepsis.

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Flea and Tick Products

Flea and tick medication may keep Fido and Kitty itch-free, but they’re harmful to humans if ingested. These medicines work because of pesticides in the ingredients that help get rid of the bugs. But if you’re keeping these medicines in your home, they could be within reach of young humans. 

flea and tick products
Photo Courtesy: iStock

Exposure to flea and tick products can cause nerve damage or other issues – and it’s not just in humans. Recent studies show some animals react badly to the medicines, resulting in tremors, loss of muscle control or seizures. Keep these medications on a high shelf or stored in a cabinet so both human and fur children alike can’t access them.

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Nonstick Pans

Non-stick pans make cooking and the subsequent clean up quick and easy, but the material that makes the pans non-stick may not be so good for you. Non-stick pots and pans are coated with polytetrafluoroethylene, or Teflon. While this chemical makes cooking an omelet a breeze, it could also be emitting cancer-causing chemicals. 

non-stick pan
Photo Courtesy: iStock

According to Environmental Health Perspectives, this chemical has been linked to lymphoma, kidney cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer. As if that weren’t enough, polytetrafluoroethylene has also been linked to weight gain. Maybe it’s time to go shopping for some new, chemical-free pans.

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Mothballs

Like flea and tick products, mothballs are meant to kill unwanted pests. Naphthalene is the active ingredient in mothballs, which is essentially a pesticide. Exposure to naphthalene can wreak havoc on your red blood cells and is said to cause kidney damage and even cancer. It can disrupt the way blood carries oxygen to your vital organs, like your brain and heart. 

mothball
Photo Courtesy: iStock

Ingesting naphthalene can cause symptoms from vomiting and abdominal pain to seizures or coma. Children have been known to exhibit symptoms after wearing clothes stored in mothballs for a long time. So while mothballs have their use, be careful to wash clothing that has been in close proximity to them before wearing.

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Air Fresheners

Air fresheners can help make your home smell good and give off a refreshing scent that’s long-lasting. Plus, they can aid in masking smells for a more – ahem – discrete bathroom break. But those nice smells don’t come without their drawbacks. 

air fresheners
Photo Courtesy: With Associates/Flickr

Air fresheners are often made with a bunch of toxic chemicals, and longtime exposure can affect hormones and the reproductive system. Children who are still developing are especially susceptible to these chemicals. Use these products sparingly and keep them securely stored out of reach of children.

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Oven Cleaner

After baking that lasagna everyone raved about, you’re left with a lot of praise, but you may also be left with a big mess. Splattered food and caked on grease needs to be cleaned off your oven. If you’re working with just soap and water, you might have a hard time getting caked-on messes out of your oven.

oven cleaner
Photo Courtesy: iStock

There are countless oven cleaners on the market that make cleaning this mess easy, but these cleaners are usually made with chemicals and corrosives used to cut through all the mess in the oven. If these corrosives are ingested or inhaled, it can affect your respiratory system or gastrointestinal tract.

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Furniture Polish and Stain

Oil-based furniture polish and stains make your wood furniture look shiny and new. Coupled with the softness of an old cloth, furniture polish can make an old, drab piece of furniture sparkle like new. But they are also extremely flammable, making them dangerous to have in the home.

furniture polish and stains
Photo Courtesy: iStock

Like other chemicals, the ones found in furniture polish can be dangerous if ingested or exposed to your skin. However, even inhaling them for long periods of time can pose great issues to your health. These products should be used sparingly and cautiously. Wear a mask while using and be sure to apply the polish in a well-ventilated room.

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Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Like oven cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner is also very corrosive and full of chemicals. If you want a sparkling clean bowl, a toilet-specific cleaner is the way to go. Most toilet bowl cleaners make claims that they kill up to 99 percent of germs, but they don’t do that using natural products.

toilet bowl cleaner
Photo Courtesy: Marco Verch/Flickr

Toilet cleaners can cause skin or eye infections, or even surface burns on people with very sensitive skin. It gets worse if you mix these products with other chemical cleaners. The resulting chemical mix can sometimes emit toxic fumes. Your best bet? Wear gloves and a mask when cleaning and don’t mix your cleaners.

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Flaking Paint

If your home was built in the late ‘70s or earlier, that paint job on your house could actually be harming you. Older homes were often painted using lead-based paints. The bad news? If lead is built up in the body over time, it could lead to lead poisoning.

flaking paint
Photo Courtesy: Dean Hochman/Flickr

Even worse news is that it can take up to several months or years to see the effects of lead exposure. And it’s most definitely worse in small children, as they are more vulnerable to lead poisoning. At high levels, lead poisoning can be deadly.

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Mold

Mold spores can be anywhere, and those who are sensitive to damp, dingy spaces are much more susceptible to getting sick when exposed to mold. Mold can cause throat irritation, coaching, wheezing and nasal issues; but for those with lung illnesses, mold can be even more harmful. 

Mold
Photo Courtesy: iStock

And then there’s the dreaded black mold. Black mold is unlike other molds. It is toxic and the resulting illnesses can be severe. (It's also really hard to get rid of). To avoid mold of any kind, do your best to keep excess moisture in and around your home to a minimum.

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Tylenol

What would we do without modern advances like Tylenol? Lots of people have a habit of reaching for those little white pills any time there’s an ache or pain. Why? Because they work. Oftentimes, they are taken without a second thought. 

tylonel
Photo Courtesy: Mike Mozart/Flickr

But Tylenol, or acetaminophen, can actually be dangerous. If taken in high doses, the liver cannot metabolize all the medicine. Additionally, if combined with other types of medicine the dosage can be lethal. In fact, Tylenol is the cause of roughly 500 deaths in the United States each year.

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Stairs

With the population rising and space running out, it only makes sense to start building houses up. Stairs make accessing upper and lower floors easy, but they can also be a danger. In fact, an estimated 12,000 people fall down stairs and die each year.

stairs
Photo Courtesy: Mike Mozart/Flickr

Do your best to prevent stair-related accidents by using slip resistant flooring or mats, and be sure to hold onto the handrail while ascending and descending. And skip the socks if your stairs are carpeted. Walk, don’t run, and be sure to watch young children or the elderly around stairs.

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Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover allows you to change your nail color as often as you change your clothes. But in order to remove the strong lacquer painted on our nails, the polish remover has to be strong. (It goes without saying that nail polish remover isn't made up of water and flower essence). Most are made using acetone, a toxic chemical that works well, but can be fatal if swallowed. 

nail polish
Photo Courtesy: Travis Wise/Flickr

In fact, acetone can cause chemical burns both externally and internally, leading to internal bleeding. Plus, inhaling too much of the strong fumes can cause respiratory disorders. Use nail polish remover sparingly and try not to breathe in its fumes.

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Candles

Candles are often used for their lovely fragrance and ambience. They can also set the mood for a relaxing evening or a meditation practice. But with all the wonderful benefits of candles they still make our list because they are, well, flammable.

candle
Photo Courtesy: SrdjanRadovic99/Flickr

Unfortunately, candles can often get knocked over or forgotten and according to the National Fire Prevention Association, candles cause roughly 3 percent of all house fires. If you are going to use candles in your home, be sure to take precautions. Don't use more candles than you need and never leave them unattended.

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Light Bulbs

Light bulbs are another everyday item that most people have in their homes. Light bulbs are used to power our lamps and lights, allowing people to read, watch Netflix or just chill. But there's actually a correct bulb for every light and using the wrong one can not only create the wrong kind of lighting, but it can actually cause a fire. 

light bulb
Photo Courtesy: george tan/Flickr

When buying light bulbs, check the recommended wattage for your appliances. If you’re not sure, do research online to make sure you’re getting the right wattage. Also, bulbs can contain mercury – a harmful substance – so always dispose of your used light bulbs wisely and safely.

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Power Tools

Most people know how to properly store weapons safely in their home, but what about power tools? While not a loaded gun, power tools can be equally as dangerous if left unattended and within reach of young children. Not only that, but power tools often emit sparks or flying fragments that can harm or injure your eyes or other body parts. 

power tools
Photo Courtesy: iStock

Larger tools like hydraulic lifts can come crashing down on limbs – or worse. Do yourself a favor and be smart when using and storing power tools and equipment. Take the proper precautions before operating and store them in a safe place away from small children.

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Christmas Trees

Who doesn't love a real Christmas tree? It's the ultimate festive decor and smells just like … Christmas. Nothing is more synonymous with the start of the holiday season than the piney smell of Christmas trees. And while real trees beat out fake ones any day of the week, it's the real ones that are at risk of catching on fire. 

christmas tree
Photo Courtesy: Rexness/Flickr

To keep your risk of a house fire on Christmas morning low, make sure your tree is fresh and doesn’t dry out. Also, be sure to unplug it at night and when you’re not at home. Dispose of it shortly after the holiday as it will only get more and more dry as time goes on.

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The Furnace

In colder temperatures, a furnace can be your best friend. It can help you beat the bitter cold and keep your home warm and toasty throughout the winter. But like everything else on this list, furnaces can pose a great danger.

furnace
Photo Courtesy: iStock

With high heat and gas power, furnaces can be give off gas fumes or even catch on fire. Luckily, there are precautions you can take to prevent an avoidable tragedy. If you keep your furnace well-maintained and get it inspected each year by a professional, it’ll greatly reduce your risk.

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Blind Cords

Most don't give much thought to the thin cords that control blinds. Usually somewhat tucked away, the cords are just there. But curious little hands can easily get to these cords. And unfortunately, their little heads can fit and get entangled in the cords, too. 

blind cords
Photo Courtesy: iStock

Luckily, there are more modern window treatment options out there today that do not include corded blinds. But if your home is still rocking these vintage window accessories, consider replacing them or ensure the strings are hidden and up high where little ones can’t reach them.

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