Spring into a healthy home, Part 2: Prevent injury and illness
By Julie Jordan
Published May 3, 2019
After working to create a home with clean indoor air quality, make your home a place free of illness and injury. Lead, water, hazardous products and pesticides are some common household items that can be lethal if consumed. Falls, drowning, fires, poisoning, suffocation, choking and guns can be equally deadly. People spend over 90% of their time indoors. During spring cleaning, consider these factors [pdf] from U.S. Housing and Urban Development to ensure your home is a safe and rejuvenating environment, not one of illness and injury.
The leading causes of death in the home are falls, drowning, fires, poisoning, suffocation, choking and guns. The very young and elderly are at the greatest risk. Reduce your home's risk for injury:
- Keep your floors clear of anything that may cause tripping. Pick up hazards such as toys, shoes and magazines.
- Clean up spills right away so people won’t slip.
- Repair any stairs that are cracked or worn.
- If there are rugs in your home, use non-skid mats and throw rugs.
- When carrying large or heavy loads, make sure you can see where you’re going. Ask for help if you need it.
- Keep your home well-lit so you can see where you’re walking at night.
House paint and water pipes sometimes contain lead metal. Lead can harm growing children by causing problems with learning, growth and behavior. One in 40 children has too much lead in their body. Dust from lead paint is the biggest threat to young children. Reduce lead in your home:
- Have your home or water tested. Contact the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to find a certified contractor.
- Wash children’s hands and face often with soap and water, especially before they eat. Wash toys every week.
- Don’t let children chew or put their mouths on windowsills. Keep cribs away from windowsills and walls.
- Keep down lead-based paint dust with housekeeping. Wipe windowsills, floors, and other surfaces with paper towels, warm water and soap once a week. Rinse well.
Purify drinking water
Some rural Georgians use wells for water. Make sure the water from your well is safe to drink every year by testing it for chemicals that can make your family sick. Those using water from a utility should be aware that after it is tested by the utility the water can still become polluted after it comes into your home. Ensure your water is safe and pure:
- If you have public water from lead or copper pipes, let the cold water run for 2-3 minutes or until you feel the temperature change before you drink it or use it for cooking.
- Help protect the local water supply by disposing of possible pollutants properly.
- Test well water every year.
Contain hazardous products
Common chemicals like bleach, rat poison, paint strippers and drain cleaners can be dangerous if a child gets into them. When you and your family breathe, those chemicals go into your bodies. Thousands of children die each year from chemicals stored and used improperly in the home. Make your home safe from hazardous products:
- Try to substitute these chemicals for some that are not hazardous.
- Never leave the product or container where children can see it or reach it.
- Read the label, look for special warnings, and carefully follow instructions.
- Open windows or use fans to let in fresh air.
- Never mix products unless the label says it is safe to do it.
- Be ready in case there’s an accident. Contact the Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.
- Store them safely in a locked, secure place away from children.
Bug spray, flea powder, rat poison and garden weed killer are types of pesticides with chemicals that kill pests. They are also harmful to your family causing poisoning, birth defects, nerve damage and sometimes cancer. Protect your family from pesticides. Put them out of reach from children. Take the following preventive measures:
- Store food in tightly sealed containers.
- Clean up crumbs and spills right away.
- Empty your garbage often.
- Wash your dirty dishes right after eating.
- Don’t leave out pet food or water overnight.
- Fix plumbing leaks and drips.
- Seal cracks where roaches and other bugs hide or get into your home.