It’s June and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has kicked off this year’s National Healthy Homes Month, an annual campaign highlighting the direct link between housing quality and residents’ health.
National Healthy Homes Month serves to educate families and communities about the importance of creating and maintaining a healthy home by addressing home-based hazards, including reducing moisture and mold, improving ventilation, controlling pests, and maintaining indoor air quality.
This year’s theme of Connecting home, health, and YOU, highlights the link between housing quality and health, and is designed to raise awareness of the need to lower costs for families by preventing injury and illnesses, improving and preserving the supply of affordable housing, and improving the quality of life for vulnerable populations.
We spend about 90 percent of our lives indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s why it’s vitally important to understand the relationship of your home to your health.
Everyone deserves to live in a healthy home. A home can support the health of your family as much as lifestyle and diet. It is important for people of all ages to know how to make their home safe and healthy.
Currently, millions of U.S. homes have moderate to severe physical housing problems, including dilapidated structure; roofing problems; heating, plumbing, and electrical deficiencies; water leaks and intrusion; pests; damaged paint; and high radon gas levels. These conditions are associated with a wide range of health issues, including unintentional injuries, respiratory illnesses like asthma and radon-induced lung cancer, and lead poisoning.
The health and economic burdens from preventable hazards associated within a home are considerable, and cost billions of dollars.
So, what can you do?
Fortunately, there are some really simple ways to help make your home a healthier place for you and your family.
By following HUD’s Eight Healthy Homes Principles below, you can help make your home a healthier place to live in.
What are the Eight Principles of a Healthy Home?
1. Keep It Dry
Prevent water from entering your home through leaks in roofing systems, rain water from entering the home due to poor drainage, and check your interior plumbing for any leaking.
2. Keep It Clean
Control the source of dust and contaminants, creating smooth and cleanable surfaces, reducing clutter, and using effective wet-cleaning methods.
3. Keep It Safe
Store poisons out of the reach of children and properly label. Secure loose rugs and keep children’s play areas free from hard or sharp surfaces. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep fire extinguishers on hand.
4. Keep It Well-Ventilated
Ventilate bathrooms and kitchens and use whole house ventilation for supplying fresh air to reduce the concentration of contaminants in the home.
5. Keep it Pest-free
All pests look for food, water and shelter. Seal cracks and openings throughout the home; store food in pest-resistant containers. If needed, use sticky-traps and baits in closed containers, along with least toxic pesticides such as boric acid powder.
6. Keep it Contaminant-free
Reduce lead-related hazards in pre-1978 homes by fixing deteriorated paint, and keeping floors and window areas clean using wet-cleaning approach. Test your home for radon, a naturally occurring dangerous gas that enters homes through soil, crawlspaces, and foundation crack. Install a radon removal system if levels above the EPA action-level are detected.
7. Keep your home Maintained
Inspect, clean and repair your home routinely. Take care of minor repairs and problems before they become large repairs and problems
8. Thermally Controlled
Houses that do not maintain adequate temperatures may place the safety of residents at increased risk from exposure to extreme cold or heat.
Is your home healthy? Learn more about healthy homes, asthma, and lead at www.hud.gov/program_offices/healthy_homes/nhhm
Take a Healthy Homes Do It Yourself Assessment for your home at: https://healthyhomes.fcgov.com
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