A home is a hard-earned sanctuary for you and your family, but that doesn’t mean it is automatically safe by design. In fact, there are many risks in the average American home that go overlooked by homeowners until it’s too late.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to know about risks you might face and how to prevent them from happening. To make your house a safe haven, ensure you undergo thorough maintenance every six months.

Carbon Monoxide

An appliance in the home that burns fuel can produce carbon monoxide, including everything from gas stoves, to gas ovens, the furnace, etc. Typically this isn’t a problem, provided the gas is adequately vented outside the home.

But when carbon monoxide gets trapped inside it can build up, causing flu-like symptoms in the early stages, eventually leading to death in a matter of minutes if not addressed. The first step to prevent these problems is making sure you have proper ventilation in your house to prevent the gas from accumulating.

That done, the most effective way to detect if there is a large concentration of carbon monoxide gas in the house is by installing carbon monoxide detectors. Think of these like you do smoke detectors. Check the batteries every six months to confirm that they are working and replace them once a year. Also be proactive with your appliances, checking and maintaining them regularly to make sure any gases are being properly vented.

Structural Damage

A sagging or sloping floor may be caused by a weak foundation, crumbling wood support or badly installed wood joints. Water damage can also be a cause.

Whatever the reason, damage like this can be potentially problematic if left unaddressed for too long. Sagging floors can lead to trips and falls. Water damage and leaks can lead to mold and other dangerous contaminants.

The good news is this can all be avoided by some simple maintenance. Clean your gutters to prevent water intrusion at the room, and make sure your drainage system is working. If you suspect larger structural issue, consult with a structural engineer for a better picture of what is going on under your house and prevent further damage.

Fire Hazard

It’s no secret that every home is at risk of catching fire. Insurance companies in U.S. receive more fire claims every year than just about every other risk factor, including theft, property damage, etc. And, in too many cases, homeowners never even see the risk coming.

Let’s start with prevention.

Fire is one of the most physically and emotionally damaging hazards faced in the home, so to prevent it from happening you need to install fire detectors and make sure they are working at all times. Change the batteries every year and never leave your stovetop or other open flame unattended. The same goes for your children; keep them away from the stove and make sure your kitchen doesn’t contain any flammable objects.

Beyond the kitchen, research shows that 40% of all household fires are caused because of dry lint accumulation, so clean the lint from your vents at least twice a year. Also switch off appliances when they are not in use to prevent overloading your electrical systems. Last but not least, always keep a fire extinguisher handy.

The bottom line is that the home is full of hazards, and it’s the job of the homeowner to address each of them through regular maintenance in order to keep their family safe. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.