Hidden safety threats are lurking around every corner of your home, office building, and even school. Many of these dangers are nearly impossible for the average person to detect, and most people are blissfully unaware of the risks posed. Hazards such as carbon monoxide (CO), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and products powered by lithium-ion batteries may not seem like everyday concerns, but each of these threats can be deadly if not properly monitored. 

Thankfully, modern day technology and new industry standards have helped empower brands to develop “smart” products to mitigate the risks of these threats—providing an added layer of consumer protections. However, products themselves are just one component when it comes to safety. To be fully prepared, consumers must also understand where to look for these lesser-known—and sometimes forgotten threats—and that’s where education and action come in.   

Here are some ways that brands can understand and promote safe indoor environments.

Carbon monoxide dangers hide in plain sight

Every person deserves to feel safe and protected from threats in their home, regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic status. Smoke, CO, and indoor air quality alarms are the first line of defense in being prepared, but it’s just as important to be informed and aware of potential risks. This is where brands can go above and beyond—sharing their knowledge, expertise, and resources. 

Carbon monoxide has been labeled the “silent killer,” due to its colorless, odorless nature. As such, CO leaks are nearly always unexpected and surprising. They can occur inside your home but also in school, the workplace, or a hotel—really anywhere with poorly ventilated gas or fuel-burning appliances like stoves or hot water heaters. 

Due to a lack of education and suitable legislation that can safeguard families and children from these threats, communities are at risk of being impacted by CO exposure; more than 400 people die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning annually. In addition to installing a combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of CO poisoning in case of exposure, especially while traveling.

The dangers of lithium-ion batteries and poor air quality

Consumers remain largely unaware of hazards associated with the growing popularity of lithium-ion battery-powered products such as e-bikes, e-scooters, laptops, tablets, hoverboards, and more. If not stored properly, used correctly, or if damaged, Li-ion batteries can explode or catch on fire at an alarmingly fast rate, posing a new and potentially deadly fire safety threats. From 2021 to 2022, lithium-ion battery fires resulted in 10 deaths and 226 injuries in New York City alone. To help prevent fires and ensure the integrity and safety of your Li-ion batteries, keep these PREPARE tips handy and always remember to evacuate immediately and call 911 in the event of a fire. 

Last year, many people across the U.S. and Canada were impacted by smoke and harmful air quality levels from devastating wildfires. Record-breaking poor air quality across many major cities spread numerous hazardous compounds, like CO and VOCs. As the smoke traveled, it made its way into homes, offices, and other indoor spaces through ventilation systems as well as open windows, resulting in unhealthy indoor air quality levels. Indoor air quality monitors are an easy and efficient way to monitor for any dangerous fluctuations and provide you with the information you need to take immediate action to safeguard your family—such as closing windows, or turning on air quality filters—when weather changes and outdoor air quality impacts the air in your home.

How to keep communities safe

It’s important to remember technology is only part of the solution. To drive systemic change and support local communities, companies like Kidde are looking for ways to rally our community to spread safety information, and other brands can too.

One way to do that is through education. We’ve focused on Cause For Alarm, our fire safety education and awareness-building social impact program that addresses gaps in education and access to fire safety measures. Safety is not the same for everyone. Research shows some communities are at significantly higher risk than others, specifically African Americans and children. To help bridge this gap in fire safety, the program provides educational resources and lifesaving devices to these at-risk communities to help better protect them in their homes.  

Another key action is to advocate for more robust legislation. This ensures that laws are implemented to protect individuals and families in commercial and residential buildings. When it comes to CO, we continue pushing for stricter regulations. With only 12 states (including the District of Columbia) offering protection across the board, there is still lots of work to be done. 

By grounding our efforts in education and advocacy, we get one step closer to making the spaces where we live, work and play safer than ever. 

Isis Wu is president of Kidde.

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