Maintaining a healthy and safe home should be everyone’s goal. Just as the proper function of a home involves the interaction of numerous systems, there are many factors that must be addressed to ensure your home provides as healthy and safe an environment as possible. Here are just a few items of the many items to consider.
- Order a radon testing kit for your home. January was National Safety Radon Month but it is certainly never too late to test your home for radon. Even if you tested your home several years ago or a recent test of a neighbor’s home did not indicate a concern, it does not mean that present conditions in your own home are the same. House renovations, energy retrofits, and weatherization projects can all contribute to changes in radon levels. The only way to find out if radon levels are elevated beyond the recommended action point is to test for it. Experts estimate that radon causes more than 20,000 deaths from lung cancer each year. Contact your local HouseMaster office to arrange a radon measurement test.
- Make your home smoke and particulate free. Never let anyone smoke in or near your home – especially if someone in your family is pregnant, has asthma or other respiratory issues. But it is not just cigarette smoke that can create a health hazard. Poorly vented fireplaces, excessive candle burning, the overuse of aerosols and products advertised to “clean” the air all add potentially harmful particulates. If you are not concerned about your own health, realize that parents control 90% of their children’s exposure to secondhand smoke and other airborne hazards.
- Check for fall hazards. Do a 3-minute “clean sweep” of your house, particularly the stairs and hallways – and especially if children or older friends or relatives spend time in your home. Regularly pick up clothes, shoes, bags, and any other clutter and clear it out of the way so it won’t cause falls. Make sure guard rails and hand rails are present and securely attached. Accidents on stairs are a leading cause of a significant number of accidents in homes. Falls, particularly on stairs, are the leading cause of injury-related deaths for adults over age 65.
- Test your smoke alarms. If they aren’t working and you are unable to replace the battery or otherwise get them working properly again, don’t delay. Call a friend, relative, professional electrician or your local fire department and ask for help right away. Don’t let one night go by without protection. Having working smoke alarms in your home cuts your risk of dying in a fire in half.
- Program your phone for poison control. It is estimated that everyday more than 300 children under age 20 are treated in emergency departments for poisonings from product found in the home. In the event of suspected poisoning emergency medical assistance should be called for immediately. However, contacting a poison control center may help provide helpful information related to the particular incident (or piece of mind) while waiting for help to arrive. In the U.S. nationwide assistance is available at 1-800-222-1222. In Canada, there are Provincial Poison Control Centers that can be contacted for local information.
Also visit the websites of the U.S. Healthy Home Program and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for more tips on maintaining a healthy and safe home, including topics like lead-based paints, mold, radon gas, asbestos containing materials, carbon monoxide, household pests, senior safety and childproofing.
Note: These tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue. More home safety and maintenance information is available online at www.housemaster.com.
P.S. Spring is just around the corner! It is never too early to start your home search or get your home ready for the Spring market. This past year was the busiest year we had in home sales in 5 years. This year could be even better! There are large numbers of homes at below-market prices & the Interest rates are hovering around 3.5%! Contact me for details today!