Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun
At first, Ivana and Philip Lipscomb didn't pay much attention to the small crack on the living room ceiling in their Rodgers Forge rowhouse. But one day in late January, they noticed the crack had grown, extending the entire length of the room, and the ceiling was sagging. The couple decided to tackle the repair project the very next day. They never had the chance. That next morning the Lipscombs were awakened by a crash so loud that their neighbors heard it. "It sounded like a bomb," Ivana Lipscomb said. "We all jumped. The kids started screaming." They ran downstairs to find the entire living-room ceiling lying on the floor. "I was freaked out when I saw the thickness of the ceiling and the nails," she said. "If my kids were under the ceiling, they would be dead." Michael Cleary, owner of Five Arches Plastering, says that while it is unusual for an entire ceiling to collapse, it isn't unusual for pieces of plaster to fall from a ceiling if it is damaged by water. Homes built between the 1920s and the 1940s are particularly at risk because the plaster was applied using straight nails, he said. "What you really want to look for is any sagging in the ceiling," Cleary said. "It's usually pretty obvious."
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Linda Hutchinson of Catonsville has had the misfortune of experiencing two dryer fires. One occurred more than 30 years ago while she was living at home with her parents when delicate clothes in the dryer overheated and caught fire. The second fire occurred in her own home one evening several years ago. "I just happened to go over to open the dryer [and] this flame just came out," she recalled. She rushed to get her children out of the home and called the Fire Department. "It got really, really hot, and it just flashed," she said. Hutchinson was fortunate that firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze before it could do extensive damage. She learned that lint clogging the exhaust had caught fire. Capt. Bruce Schultz, who oversees the fire marshal's office in Baltimore County, said lint build-up is a common cause of dryer fires. To help prevent a problem, the lint filter should be cleared before each use and the exhaust tube cleaned two or three times a year, he said. "Over the years, you get a lot of lint built up," he said. "You need to be checking the lint trap in the dryer and where the discharge is."
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We like to think of our home as a safe haven where we can rest, unwind and enjoy times with friends and family. But there's danger lurking where you least expect it. Matches, sharp knives, pesticides and swimming pools pose obvious danger. But other dangers are waiting where you might least expect them. Here are 10 often-hidden household hazards. --Liz Atwood, For The Baltimore Sun