Healthier homes lead to healthier families

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The City of Fort Worth will present a series of informative articles during the week. The theme of this year’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future.

Healthy homes is a concept that promotes safe, decent and sanitary housing as a way to prevent disease and injury. There is a lot of emerging scientific evidence linking health outcomes such as asthma, lead poisoning and unintentional injuries to substandard housing.

Everyone needs a healthy home, and some of the most serious health problems for children start in their home. There are special reasons to think about children:

  • Children’s bodies are still growing.
  • For their size, children eat more food, drink more water and breathe more air than adults.
  • Children play and crawl on the ground and put their fingers into their mouths.
  • Children depend on adults to make their homes safe.

Eight principles

Fortunately, there are some really simple ways to help make your home a healthier place for you and your family. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, by following these Eight Healthy Home Principles, you can help make your home a healthier place in which to live.

  1. Keep it clean. Cleaning reduces dust and other irritants that can bother people with allergies and asthma. Cleaning can help control the source of dust and contaminants, create smooth and cleanable surfaces and reduces clutter. Use effective wet-cleaning methods.
  2. Keep it contaminant-free. Contaminants are potentially harmful substances such as lead, asbestos and carbon monoxide that can enter your home through the air or even be contained in your walls. Reduce lead-related hazards in pre-1978 homes by fixing deteriorated paint and keeping floors and window areas clean using wet-cleaning methods.
  3. Keep it dry. Too much water in the home causes mold and structural damage and provides optimal conditions for some pests, especially termites. Make sure water is not entering your home through leaks in roofing systems, verify that rain water is not entering the home due to poor drainage, and check your interior plumbing for any leaks. Inspect sinks, toilets, bathtubs and showers to prevent moisture problems.
  4. Keep your home maintained. Maintenance ensures that the vital systems (ventilation, plumbing, waste management) in your house are in good shape and running smoothly. Inspect, clean and repair your home routinely. Take care of minor repairs and problems before they become large repairs and problems. Makes sure there is access to a working refrigerator, range, water heater, working sink, toilet, and bathtub and/or shower.
  5. Keep it pest-free. Insects and rodents can trigger allergies and spread disease. Pests seek out food and hiding places, so the most important step you can take is to keep your home clean and clutter-free. 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 safe. Being aware of the most common dangers around your home can keep you and your family safe. Store poisons out of the reach of children and properly label them. 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. Add guard rails for porches and decks, handrails for stairs and ramps and make sure there is adequate lighting.
  7. Keep it well-ventilated. Ventilation is important because it helps expel dust and lingering odors, such as those from household chemicals and pesticides, and keeps your home dry and mold-free. Verify that windows and exterior doors open, close and seal effectively. Ensure that outside clothes dryer vents have a metal duct and unobstructed airflow.
  8. Maintain adequate temperatures. Houses that do not maintain adequate temperatures may place the safety of residents at increased risk from exposure to extreme cold or heat.

To learn more, contact the City of Fort Worth’s Lead-Safe Program at 817-392-7319.

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