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Healthy home, healthy family

July 02, 2010

You want to take good care of your family. You try to eat healthful foods. You take your children to the doctor for regular checkups. You try your best to protect your family from accidents and illness. You want to live in a safe neighborhood and home.

Did you know your home might have hidden dangers to your children's health? Ask yourself the following questions. The answers to these questions will help you learn if your home is safe and healthy.

Each question contains a link to detailed questions you can ask as well as action steps you can use to help improve the health and safety of your home.

o Is the air in your home clean and healthy? http://www.uwex.edu/healthyhome/pdf/Air.pdf

o Do your children have breathing problems, like asthma? http://www.uwex.edu/healthyhome/pdf/Asthma.pdf

o Is someone in your house allergic to mold? http://www.uwex.edu/healthyhome/pdf/Mold.pdf

o Do you know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning? http://www.uwex.edu/healthyhome/pdf/CO.pdf

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o Is there lead anywhere in your home? http://www.uwex.edu/healthyhome/pdf/Lead.pdf

o Is your tap water safe to drink? http://www.uwex.edu/healthyhome/pdf/Water.pdf

o Do you have household products with chemicals in them that can make you sick? http://www.uwex.edu/healthyhome/pdf/Hazard.pdf

o Do you use bug spray or other products to keep away pests? http://www.uwex.edu/healthyhome/pdf/Pesticides.pdf

o Do you keep poisons where your children can reach them? http://www.uwex.edu/healthyhome/pdf/HomeSafety.pdf

If your browser is having trouble linking, go to http://www.uwex.edu/healthyhome/book.html

Everyone needs a healthy home. But there are special reasons to think about children. Children's bodies are still growing.

Their young brains, livers and other organs are more likely to be harmed by chemicals and other dangers than those of adults.

If children get sick, it might be harder for them to get well because their immune systems are still developing.

For their size, children eat more food, drink more water and breathe more air than adults do. When they get lead in their bodies or breathe in harmful gases, they get a bigger dose than adults would.

Children play and crawl on the ground. That means they are closer to many things that might cause health problems, like dust and chemicals. Babies and young children also put almost everything in their mouths, things that might have chemicals or lead dust on them.

Why should you be concerned? Some of the most serious health problems for children may start at home since they are likely to spend as much as 90 percent of their time indoors.

It is up to you to make sure your home is a healthy home.

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Extension in Washington County.

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