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National Healthy Homes Month: How to Make our Homes Safer

June is National Healthy Homes Month. Every year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gathers partners from around the country “to increase awareness of housing-related health hazards” and “to encourage residents to take steps for safe and healthy homes.”

This year’s campaign theme is “A Healthy Home at Any Age.” HUD explains why children deserve special attention:

Creating healthier housing promotes the healthy growth and development of children and has the potential to save billions in health care costs. Everyone needs a healthy home and some of the most serious health problems for children start in their home. There are special reasons to think about children: • Children’s bodies are still growing. • For their size, children eat more food, drink more water and breathe more air than adults. • Children play and crawl on the ground and put their fingers into their mouths. • Children depend on adults to make their homes safe.

In 5 minutes, HUD says we can all make our homes safer by following these 6 steps:

1. Test your smoke alarm to “cut your risk of dying in a fire in half.”

2. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds to avoid transmitting infections to others. “Each year, about 48 million Americans get sick from eating contaminated or improperly prepared foods.”

3. Make your home smoke free and don’t let anyone smoke in or near your home. “Parents are responsible for 90% of their children’s exposure to smoke.”

4. Program 1-800-222-1212 (Poison Control) into your cell phone. “Every day in the United States, over 300 children ages 0 to 19 are treated in emergency departments for poisonings.”

5. Do a 3-minute “clean sweep.” “Pick one small area of your home — like your junk drawer or stairs — and take 3 minutes to sort the items and get rid of what you don’t need. Clutter can collect dust, mold, and other allergens and give pests a place to hide. If clutter is left on the floor or stairs, it can cause you to trip or fall.”

6. Check your locks. “Make sure locks function correctly and can be operated by a child in an emergency.”

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