Avoid Hazards In Your Home
When making sure our families are healthy, we often consider nutrition, medical care, accidents and illnesses, but do we consider hidden dangers that may be in the home? Some of the most serious health problems can occur right in your home.
Here are a few suggestions of things you can do to keep your home healthy.
Often indoor air can be more dangerous than the outdoor air. Asthma in children has doubled over the past 10 years. Allergies and asthma can have a lot to do with indoor air. One thing that can help improve air quality is to remove moisture. Dampness can cause mold to grow, which can trigger severe allergies or asthma in individuals. Mold is often visible or has a musty smell. Common areas where mold grows are bathrooms and basements, although it can grow wherever there is moisture. It may grow in the attic, under leaking roofs, on wet clothing/towels that have not dried quick enough, in windows where condensation collects, in air conditioners or under wallpaper or carpets. It is important to fix the leak or moisture problem right away. Use a dehumidifier in areas that are prone to dampness. Make sure rain water runs away from the home’s foundation. Squeegee or towel dry shower walls after bathing. Do not store items in cardboard boxes, which may hold moisture.
Keeping carbon monoxide out of the home is important to consider in a healthy home. Make sure gas ovens, hot water tanks, dryers and heaters are working properly. Carbon monoxide cannot be seen or smelled, but it can be deadly. All homes should have carbon monoxide alarms near each sleeping area and on each floor of the home. Some ways to prevent carbon monoxide in the home are: never use the oven as a heater, do not start your car in the garage (even with the door open), have your heater and/or fireplace checked each year by a qualified technician and turn off any appliance that starts to sound funny, smell funny or have a yellow or orange-colored flame. If you do not have a carbon monoxide alarm or have not replaced one recently, do so today.
Consider harmful products that may be in the home. Chemicals like bleach, pest killers, drain cleaners and laundry detergent can all become hazardous if used improperly. Read the labels and follow all directions for using products. Lock up chemicals and keep them away from children when not using. Wear safety gloves and/or goggles when using some chemicals. Be careful not to mix chemicals together because often times a dangerous reaction can occur. If the label says to ventilate while using, make sure there is enough fresh air. Keep prescription and non-prescription medications up and away from children. Keep the poison control number handy in case of an emergency: 800-222-1212.
Keep the home free from pests including mice, rats, flies, roaches or mosquitoes, which may carry disease or get in food. Ways to keep pests out include sealing any cracks and crevices in the home, making sure that screens are free from holes and inspecting boxes and bags before they enter the home for roaches. Also, keep tight lids on trash cans. Another way to prevent pests is to keep your home clean. Wipe up spills, sweep up floors and wash dirty dishes right away. Discard or recycle newspapers, boxes and bags as they make great homes for the pests. If pesticides are used, follow the directions and keep away from children and food sources. Always wash your hands after handling any type of pesticides.
FALLS, OTHER HAZARDS
Finally, is your home safe from falls and other injuries? Keep floors and stairways free from clutter and electrical cords. Remove throw rugs that could cause falls or use rugs with nonslip rubber backing. Install handrails both inside and outside on both sides of the stairs if possible. Make sure the home is well lighted. Choose toys that are age appropriate for children to prevent choking hazards. Pools are great recreation but, can be dangerous for children. If there is a pool in the back yard, put a fence around it. Most importantly, always keep an eye on children if they are near or in the pool and have them take swim lessons to help prevent any possible injuries near water.
There are many things that can be done to have a healthy home, but it is up to you do to so!
Cheryl Kaczor is an assistant professor for West Virginia University Extension Services and is a families and health agent in Marshall County. She has a master’s degree in community health promotion from WVU.