vintage safety poster from mitzi of vintage goodness = happinessLead – in lots of places
Asbestos – in lots of places
Electrical Safety
Glass Safety
Window Treatment Cord Safety
And more — I am not the Expert — Consult with a Professional!

Precautionary Pam starting out yet another year with this critical reminder: Renovating and remodeling our mid century homes can be fun galore, but PLEASE ALWAYS REMEMBER, there are many known hazards in surfaces, layers and materials that you need to take personal responsibility to become knowledgeable about, so that you can make informed decisions about how to handle. I sometimes feel like I am a nagging broken record bringing this up all the time, but here goes again, another big reminder to start the year: 

We all care very much about managing environmental and safety issues properly, so when moving into a home and when undertaking your restoration projects, be sure to familiarize yourself with and use recommended best practices. There can be any number of environmental and/or safety issues in our old houses. For example, the EPA hosts a website on lead in the home and a website on asbestos in the home. Consult professionals regarding these materials and others, and also about the proper disposal of debris, etc.

Some other resources regarding potential lead hazards in the home:

  • —  a joint effort of the Ad Council, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. That’s their video at the top.

Other potential issues — and do not consider this a comprehensive list, as I am not an expert in the continually developing area of environmental and safety hazards in the home — include:

  • Wiring and fire safety in the house as well as in lighting and appliances…
  • Ensuring the glass in windows, patio doors and shower doors is Safe…
  • Ensuring Drapery cords are Safe…
  • Ensuring latches on old furniture and appliances are Safe…
  • Lead and asbestos in all kinds of locations…
  • Radon….
  • AND — there are many design/building code issues that are safety-related, in particular. We have building codes for a reason — safety-related ones likely because someone got hurt, or worse. Environmental/materials ones for good reasons, too.

Plus, see our page: Be Safe / Renovate Safe

Gosh, I don’t want to be a nervous nellie or debbie downer, but You are an Adult Now. It is your personal responsibility to become informed about all these issues and to GET AND CONSULT WITH YOUR OWN PROPERLY LICENSED PROFESSIONALS so that you can make informed decisions. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to your and your family’s safety and health. Thank you.

Thanks to Mitzi of Vintage Goodness fame for permission to feature her vintage safety poster, which was for sale (subsequently sold) on 

  1. Katie says:

    In a world where everyone fancies themselves a DIY-er (especially amongst bloggers!), it’s refreshing to see an advocate for safe, thorough, economical, and ecologically friendly remodeling. Here’s to doing things “the hard way”!

  2. Midge says:

    A helpful and important tip that we learned from our flooring guy is that the old 6 inch “linoleum” tiles were almost always made with asbestos! So consult with a professional first before removing them.

    1. pam kueber says:

      I don’t normally even allow this level of advice (I want EVERYONE to get their own pro) — but I will leave it up because it errs on the side of: Believe it DOES have vintage nasties before believing it doesn’t. Get yer own pro’s people – that is my advice!

  3. Robin, NV says:

    On a similar note it is also important to use materials compatible with your home’s original construction. This is most important when doing exterior renovations. Incompatible materials can lead to structural degradation. A big culprit are vinyl windows, which can swell and shrink with humidity and temperature changes and can break down over time. Others include Tyvek weatherproofing and incompatible mortars. As Pam says, check with someone knowledgeable before introducing something new to an old house.

  4. Mary says:

    I appreciate you “harping” on this, and I’m a regular reader.

    Just one thing to add: Make sure to have working smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors, in the recommended locations.

    1. tammyCA says:

      Yes, please get alarms..I’m telling family, friends now to get them as there was very sad news recently that a young classmate of my daughter passed away while sleeping next to a heater vent..too much carbon monoxide..and because its odorless & colorless one wouldn’t know.

        1. Mary Elizabeth says:

          And in our area we recently lost a 3-year-old to a fire in a house in which smoke detectors had been disabled. In addition, DH and were saved from CO poisoning a few years ago when the CO detector in our old camp trailer went off. The propane heater needed to be replaced.

          People often disable the smoke and CO detectors when they start beeping, a reminder that the battery is running out. Then they forget to replace the battery. Replacing smoke and CO detector batteries has to be a regular routine. We always replace them whenever we have to set the clocks for daylight saving time.

  5. MCM is Grand says:

    Thanks for reminding all readers of these potential hazards. It always horrifies me when I watch home improvement shows and see people gleefully tearing up their homes and working without safety gear, etc. (Of course it is equally horrifying to see the original details of a home being torn out 🙂

    1. pam kueber says:

      I happened to catch a show recently while I was in the dentist’s office — Property Brothers, I think — and was pleased when they stopped the project in its tracks to remediate asbestos!

  6. palimpsest says:

    I am not sure why you have tempered glass listed as a hazard. Tempered glass is the type that breaks into small pieces without sharp edges. rather than large shards, so it’s actually less hazardous than regular glass.

    Tempered glass is actually a form of safety glass. If you meant it *should be in places like shower doors, you’re correct, but the way it’s stated sounds as if it’s a potential hazard.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Oops! Fixed! Thanks! Repeat: Do your own research / consult with your own properly licensed pros, folks!

  7. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Pam, I don’t think you are harping unnecessarily on this topic. I think it is particularly important for you to bring this issue up, both in a periodic post and in replies to particular issues readers bring up. The reason is that many people, while renovating homes and searching on specific terms looking for information (such as “where to buy vintage. . .”) will end up at this site for the first time. So you are not only “preaching to the choir,” or the readers who have been with you for years, but also you are talking to a new audience each time.

    I would like to add that our local transfer station staff were a good resource in the removal and disposal of old building materials while we were renovating. They knew exactly how much potentially hazardous material we could bring in each week, how to package it, etc. They also had referrals for people who would come into the home and assess such materials. So in other towns the transfer station people and the local building inspector might be a first resource for finding out more about home health hazards.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Thank you, Mary Elizabeth. I agree: There seem to be many more resources and knowledgeable people around today to help with these issues — and yes, we have a great Building Inspection department in my town, I often start there!

      I will also suggest that the internet is helping in this area as well — it’s a great resource to build awareness!

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