The Importance of a Healthy Home
Where we live plays a big part in our quality of life. Our homes are where we eat, sleep, play, and bathe. It is where we raise our families and much of our day is spent in or near our home. In fact, children spend 70% of their time at home and older adults spend up to 90% of their time at home. Without quality housing people cannot meet their basic needs. They cannot join in their community. For many families, poor housing even hurts their health.
Housing is linked to people's health: dust, mold, secondhand or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and pests make asthma worse; radon and ETS cause lung cancer; lead based paint contributes to child lead poisoning; carbon monoxide and household products poison people; and building flaws contribute to falls and accidents. These housing-related dangers can cause a lot of harm to communities. They lead to missed school and work days, poor quality of life, and financial hardship. This is especially true for older adults (? 65 years), children, people with disabilities and communities of color, who are disproportionately impacted by poor housing conditions.
How to Create a Healthy Home
Many young children spend most of their time at home. There are many simple ways parents can protect their children's health and safety. Infants and toddlers who grow up in safe and loving families are more likely to become healthy teens and adults. At a very young age, children pick up habits and behaviors that will influence their health when they're older. Children learn healthy behaviors, self-control, and how to make healthy choices at home. The National Center for Healthy Housing recommends the tips below to make sure your home is a healthy space for your family.
Keep your home:
- Dry: Mites, roaches, rodents, and molds all grow well in damp homes.
- Clean: Clean homes have fewer bugs and harmful substances.
- Pest-Free: Mice and cockroaches can cause asthma episodes in children. If you have mice, cockroaches, or other bugs make sure to use the appropriate treatment. However, limit pesticide use. pesticide residues in homes could cause neurological damage and cancer.
- Safe: Most injuries among children happen in their home. Falls are the most common, followed by injuries from household objects, burns, and poisonings.
- Contaminant-Free: Chemicals possibly found inside your home include lead, radon, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and secondhand smoke. There are many more asbestos particles, radon gas, carbon monoxide, and secondhand tobacco smoke inside than outside.
- Ventilated: Increasing the fresh air supply in a home, e.g., by opening windows, improves lung health.
- Maintained: Poorly maintained homes are at risk for moisture and pest problems. Deteriorated lead-based paint in older homes is the leading cause of lead poisoning, which affects around 240,000 children in the United States.
Try these tips for a healthier home
- Don't smoke inside your home.
- Make sure your child cannot reach or get to an area with peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint. Make sure there are never paint chips on your floor or carpet.
- Use chemicals, household cleaning products, and pesticides according to label instructions. Store out of reach of children, in a locked cabinet if possible.
- Don't wear shoes inside your home.
- Put doormats by every door leading into your home.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom if your child has allergies or asthma.
- Vacuum carpet and floors frequently. Dust surfaces with a damp cloth.
- Supervise young children in the bathtub and anytime near water.
- Use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent young children from falling.