Lead has been determined to be a significant health hazard if ingested, especially by children. Lead damages the brain and nervous system, adversely affects behavior and learning, slows growth, and causes problems related to hearing, pregnancy, high blood pressure, the nervous system, memory and concentration.
Lead in drinking water is a direct result of lead that is part of the plumbing system itself. Lead solder was used in pipe fittings in houses constructed prior to 1988. Lead has been used in plumbing fixtures, such as faucets. And in some older homes, the service water pipe from the main in the street to the house is made of lead. The transfer of lead into water is determined primarily by exposure, which is the length of time that water is in contact with lead. Two other factors that affect the transfer are water temperature (hot water dissolves lead quicker than cold water) and water acidity (“soft” water is slightly corrosive and reacts with lead). The current federal standard for lead in water is a limit of 15 parts per billion. The only way to find out whether there is lead in the house’s water is to have the water tested by an approved laboratory. If there is evidence of lead in the system, consider having your home’s water tested for lead. If the house has a water filter, check to see if it is certified to remove lead.
For more information on lead in drinking water, call the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-462-4791, or visit the website of the EPA Office of Water at www.nachi.org/go/epasafewater
The Safe Room
A safe room, also known as a panic room, is a fortified room that is installed in a private residence (or business) to provide a safe hiding place for inhabitants in the event of an emergency.
Why are safe rooms used?
Some reasons include:
- to hide from intruders. The protection of a safe room will afford residents extra time to contact police;
- to hide from would-be kidnappers. Many professional athletes, actors and politicians have installed safe rooms in their homes;
- for protection against natural disasters, such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Underground tornado bunkers are common in certain tornado-prone regions of the United States;
- for protection against a nuclear attack. While safe rooms near the blast may be incinerated, those far away may be shielded from radioactive fallout; and
- to provide social distancing in the event of a serious disease outbreak.
The safe room’s location must be chosen carefully. You should plan multiple routes to avoid detection by an intruder who may be blocking the main route.
Designs vary with budget and intended use. Even a closet can be converted into a rudimentary safe room, although it should have a solid-core door with a deadbolt lock. High-end custom models costing hundreds of thousands of dollars can have a tamper-proof and bulletproof door, concrete floor, thick steel, soundproof walls, video monitors, computers, an air-cleaning system and protection against bacterial and chemical infiltration, and a self-contained power-generating system.
Items to keep in a safe room:
- bottled water and non-perishable foods;
- communication devices independent of the safe room’s video-monitoring system, including a cell phone and charger, a landline, and a two-way radio;
- blankets and pillows;
- extra clothing, outerwear and footwear;
- a first-aid kit with extra prescription medications;
- flashlights and batteries;
- sanitation supplies;
- weapons; and
- gas masks. Where an odorless gas might be a threat, an electronic device may be installed to detect any noxious fumes or poisons.