When we talk about living a healthy life, so much more goes into it than eating well and exercising. Where you live and work, your surroundings, and other elements also impact your health and well-being. That’s because these factors influence the air you breathe, the chemicals you’re exposed to, and more.
For Phase 2 of our lifeinspired movement, we’re focusing on the topic of healthy housing. In the third of our three-part series of blogs on the health-housing connection, we look at ways to keep your home safe and healthy.
You can follow these tips from the National Center for Healthy Housing.
1. Keep your home clean
Maintaining a clean living space is one of the most important ways you can keep your home safe and healthy. Cleaning your home benefits you and your family in more ways than you might think:
- Rodents, insects, and other pests won’t be attracted to food scraps or have as many places to hide.
- Mold, mildew, and other contaminants won’t have a damp, warm place to grow.
- Germs can proliferate less easily in clean environments.
Keeping a clean home is at the root of every other tip on this list for a safe and healthy home. If your home isn’t clean, it’s neither safe nor healthy.
2. Get rid of pests
Everyone deals with pests at some point. Keeping a clean home can help discourage them, but it isn’t a fool-proof way to keep them out. Whether a mouse has taken up residence in your home or you brought a few fruit flies home from the grocery store (they’re the worst!), it’s important to take care of the issue quickly for a few reasons:
- Mice, rats, and other rodents may carry diseases.
- Flies can spread bacteria and other germs around your home and onto the food you eat.
- Bigger, scarier pests may become attracted to your home due to the presence of mice, flies, and other pests.
You might be able to get rid of pests on your own, especially if it’s a small group of ants or fruit flies. An exterminator can help with severe infestations. Once the pests are gone, properly maintaining your home can help prevent them from returning.
3. Maintain your home
Pests can’t get into your home as easily if you keep it well maintained. You’ll want to fix any structural issues immediately, including broken windows, holes around your home, and cracks. These give pests easy entry to your home, making it more likely they’ll become an issue.
Maintaining the cosmetic finishes in your home — especially those on the exterior — may also help. Issues with the way your home looks may be due to structural problems like leaks, rust, and rot. When concerns like these arise, it’s important to address them promptly.
4. Fix leaks quickly
Over time, your home will likely develop leaks, cracks, and other issues that make it easy for water to get inside. When this happens, it creates the perfect breeding ground for mold, mildew, and other nasty things to grow. So, it’s best to address these areas sooner rather than later.
Fixing a leak can be as simple as tightening a pipe or as complex as roofing repairs. You might be able to fix it yourself, but it’s always a great idea to have a professional take a look. That way, you’re sure the leak isn’t a symptom of a larger issue.
5. Control the temperature
Whether you’re in the midst of summer, enduring the winter, or somewhere in between, it’s important to manage the temperature of your home. Many people change indoor temperatures in their homes using an HVAC system, while others rely on devices such as fireplaces, window units, and radiators. The main goal with these measures is to change the temperature of a home to make it comfortable, but that’s not the only benefit.
Like water from a leak, humid indoor air can cause mold and mildew to grow. It can also cause unsafe conditions for breathing, especially for people who have underlying health conditions. In addition, a living environment that’s too hot or too cold can have dire consequences for your health.
If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us nothing else, it’s that indoor air quality is crucial. Stale air harbors germs, dust, and diseases that can have short- and long-term effects on your health. When you’re deliberate about ventilating your living space, you can filter out a lot of toxins you wouldn’t want to breathe in the first place. As a result, you, your family, and your guests can breathe healthy, clean air.
To help keep your home ventilated, you can consider opening windows when possible or purchasing an indoor air purifier unit.
7. Child- and pet-proof your home
Even if you don’t have kids or pets, it’s a good idea to child- and pet-proof your home. Sooner or later, you may have a guest who brings their child or pets to visit you. That doesn’t mean you need child locks on all of your cabinets if you’re child-free. It simply means being mindful of where you store items.
For example, you should store bleach and other cleaners in a safe place — preferably a locked cabinet. You might also do the same with alcohol, prescription medications, and other potentially dangerous substances. When you proactively secure these items, they’re less likely to end up in little hands or accidentally spilled.
8. Assess affordability
Finding safe and affordable housing is a delicate dance. Many people sacrifice space to live in a safer area, while others choose the opposite. Some spend more money to purchase a home or rent an apartment that has the space they want in an area where they feel safe — but this isn’t always the best idea.
According to the National Center for Healthy Housing, families that spend more than 30% of their income on housing are cost-burdened. And those that spend 50% or more are severely cost-burdened. This means they’re at higher risk for missing mortgage or rent payments and losing their homes. Avoiding this level of financial stress makes for a healthier home. Try to find a home that fits within your budget.
Prioritizing a healthy home environment is a big step toward living lifeinspired. Through this movement to create a healthier future for all, ThedaCare encourages everyone to take deliberate steps toward creating a healthy lifestyle that works for them.
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