Tips for a Healthier Home
The National Center for Healthy Housing conducted a recent study in which 35 million homes were found to have at least one health or safety hazard. An additional six million units were found to be in substandard condition.
When we consider how critical a role our housing plays in public health, and the impact household contaminants and poor indoor air quality can have on our health, comfort, and everyday functioning, it’s important to strive towards a healthier indoor environment. Here are some tips for a healthier home and how to achieve this goal:
Watch for safety hazards – According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a majority of injuries suffered by children occur while in their home. Sustaining an injury as a result of a fall is the most common, followed by injuries from other objects within the home, such as burns from heating appliances/stoves, and poisonings from chemicals not stored properly. Suggestions for a safer home, by The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, include keeping fire extinguishers readily accessible, properly storing foor and chemicals separately, cleaning up spills quickly, and keeping play areas free from sharp objects and hard surfaces.
Regular Maintenance is a Must – It is well known that a poorly maintained home is at risk for moisture intrusion issues and pest problems. Cleaning gutters regularly, checking electrical equipment for malfunctions, sealing cracks and leaky windows quickly, checking exhausts and ducts, and regularly checking for signs of rodents, bats, roaches and termites are just some of the regular maintenance items suggested on the Healthy Homes Maintenance Checklist by the National Center for Healthy Housing.
Ensure Proper Ventilation – Improve your indoor air quality by increasing the ventilation within your home. Open a window and let the fresh air in. Studies have repeatedly shown that an increased amount of fresh air within a home can help improve respiratory health and minimize asthma symptoms. Ensure bathroom and kitchen fans are properly ventilated to the building exterior and move stale air within your home through the use of fans or open windows.
Clean Regularly – A clean home reduces the risks of potential pest infestations, allergy symptoms and contaminant exposure. Taking steps to allergy proof your home & reduce allergy symptoms will significantly help to reduce asthma symptoms, particularly for children where many links have been made between childhood asthma and indoor air quality. By reducing clutter within your home and vacuuming and dusting regularly you help minimize the risks associated with an unkemp home….and don’t forget to replace the air filters regularly in your furnace and HVAC system.
Reduce Contaminants – Make every effort to reduce the level of contaminants within your home. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), smoke, radon and mold can wreak havoc on your health and the safety of your home. Reduce cancer risks by not smoking indoors, and keep kids away from all second hand smoke. Look at labels, and use natural cleaning products to limit the amount of VOC’s and other chemicals you bring into the home. Keep any dangerous or hazardous chemicals or cleaning agents away from children and store them appropriately. If unsure of the potential presence of radon, mold or other airborne contaminants, consider professional indoor air quality testing to provide the information you need.
Reduce Humidity Levels – A dry home leads to a safer home. By eliminating the potential for mold growth and dust mites, you help to alleviate health risks by managing high home humidity levels. There are many different ways to help prevent bathroom mold and prevent mold growth in your basement which are the leading areas within the home to have moisture and water issues.
By following these simple tips for a healthier home, we can play a major role in helping to keep our families safer and happier….and there is nothing more worthy of our time investment than working to achieve this goal.