The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development created a toolkit for helping homeowners and residents who rent to identify housing-related hazards and taking no-cost or low-cost steps to mitigate them. Here are HUD’s eight simple principles for keeping a home healthy and safe:
1. Keep it Dry
Prevent water from entering your home through leaks in roofing systems, rain water from entering the home due to poor drainage, and check your interior plumbing for any leaking.
2. Keep it Clean
Control the source of dust and contaminants, creating smooth and cleanable surfaces, reducing clutter, and using effective wet-cleaning methods.
3. Keep it Safe
Store poisons out of the reach of children and properly label. 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.
4. Keep it Well-Ventilated
Ventilate bathrooms and kitchens and use whole house ventilation for supplying fresh air to reduce the concentration of contaminants in the home.
5. Keep it Pest-Free
All pests look for food, water and shelter. 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 Contaminant-Free
Reduce lead-related hazards in pre-1978 homes by fixing deteriorated paint, and keeping floors and window areas clean using wet-cleaning approach. Test your home for radon, a naturally occurring dangerous gas that enters homes through soil, crawlspaces, and foundation crack. Install a radon removal system if levels above the EPA action-level are detected.
7. Keep your Home Maintained
Inspect, clean and repair your home routinely. Take care of minor repairs and problems before they become large repairs and problems.
8. Thermally Controlled
Houses that do not maintain adequate temperatures may place the safety of residents at increased risk from exposure to extreme cold or heat.