How Healthy is your Home?

These days, lots of families are living healthy lifestyles through diet and exercise. But, how healthy are their homes?  In May, I presented a series of Healthy House workshops for several groups around town.  Topics seemed pretty random – Home Pest Control, Mold, Clutter, etc. but each topic effects every household and can be linked to a healthy environment!

There are many factors that can play a role in whether a home is safe and sound.

“Homes can have lots of issues that may impact a family’s health. Some things are obvious, like pests and clutter. Others may not be as obvious, such as lead and volatile organic compounds. Or, other problems like mold caused by a leaking pipe, may start out small and grow quickly,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.

June is National Healthy Homes Month, which makes it a perfect to time for families to give their homes a check up.

Here are five easy tasks homeowners can accomplish in 5 minutes or less to make their homes healthier and safer.

Test the smoke alarms to ensure they are in proper working order. According to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development data, working smoke alarms slash the chances of dying in a fire in half.

Make the poison control number handy in case of emergencies. More than 300 U.S. children and youth ages 0 to 19 are treated daily in emergency rooms for poisonings, according to HUD.

By programming the number for poison control into every family member’s cell phone and posting it near every landline in the house, help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 800-222-2222.

Wash your hands. Clean hands will contribute to the overall health and safety of the house.

“Wash with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds, which is about the same amount of time it should take to sing the very familiar song, Happy Birthday, twice,” Peek said.

Check the locks. Homeowners should check all the door and window locks throughout the house as a safety precaution.

“It’s important to not only check to make sure they’re in good working order, but you also should make sure any young children in the house can operate them, especially in case of an emergency,” Peek said.

Cut the clutter. Take 5 minutes each day to reduce clutter around the house. Clutter often attracts dust, mold and other allergens as well as gives unwanted pests a good place to hide. Cutting down on clutter also can reduce fall hazards around the house.

This is the second annual National Healthy Homes Month, which is presented by HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes.

For more information on how to create a healthier, safer home, visit www.hud.gov/healthyhomes and contact the nearest county Extension office.

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