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Home renovation projects are done for several different reasons, whether to update styles, repair damaged or broken items or to achieve more living space. More than ever before, homeowners are choosing improvement projects geared toward making their homes healthier.
Establishing a healthy home means different things to different people. For example, to an environmentalist, a healthy home may incorporate eco-friendly or green products. To those with young children or mobility-impaired seniors, a healthy home may be one free from potential hazards. Others may view a healthy home as one that alleviates allergies.
The World Health Organizations says inadequate housing conditions, such as poor ventilation, radon, urban pollution, and moisture issues, can contribute to many preventable diseases and injuries – especially respiratory problems, nervous system disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Furthermore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ranks indoor air quality as a top five environmental risk to public health. EPA studies have found that indoor air pollution levels were roughly two to five times greater than outdoor pollution levels.
People interested in making their homes healthier can embrace these renovations and lifestyle changes.
- Be aware of furniture materials. Toxic PBDEs, which are chemicals used as flame retardants on furniture fabrics produced prior to 2006, can send toxins into the air. Some manufacturers may still use these flame retardants in new forms, but with similar risks. Before purchasing furniture, ask if a product is treated, and select naturally fire-resistant materials like wool and cotton.
- Lighten up. Lighting is often underappreciated but can have a dramatic impact on whether a home feels inviting, warm and/or uplifting. Experiment with different types of bulbs and lighting fixtures to turn drab and dreary environments into brighter places. Lighting may improve mood and productivity.
- Let the sun shine in. Modify window treatments to let more sunlight into the house. There is evidence that the sun, particularly UV light, is a potent bactericide. The Sunlight Institute advises that there’s no harm in letting natural sunlight do its work, as bacteria within eight feet of low-intensity UV light can be killed in 10 minutes.
- Inspect and service wood-burning appliances. A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology has found regular inhalation of wood smoke limits immune activity and function, and anyone who burns wood indoors should be aware of these potential health risks. Ensuring proper ventilation of smoke and routinely cleaning the chimney can help cut down on particulate matter.
- Turn to nontoxic cleaning products, pesticides and insecticides. Always opt for nontoxic, natural products when cleaning in and around the house.
- Declutter the home. A cluttered, hectic space can affect emotions and mental state, never mind attracting dust and making a home harder to clean. Spending time in spaces that do not elicit stressful feelings is healthier and can help residents to rest and recharge.
Making a home healthier can be on the list of this year’s renovation plans.
Even though dust is ever-present both inside and outside of a home, when renovations are in full swing, dusty conditions are often exacerbated. Whether a home is new or old, numerous substances can be stirred up when removing walls, refinishing floors, removing tile, or expanding living spaces. These include silica from drywall, lead, asbestos, paint particles, and even waste from bugs or rodents.
All family members should be considered when home improvements are being planned, especially the youngest household residents who may not be responsible enough to avoid accidents and injuries.
According to a recent Vital Signs report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accidental injuries are a leading cause of death among the country’s youth – with one fatality occurring every hour from something entirely preventable. The CDC notes that the leading causes of child injury include suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires, and falls. More can be done to keep children safe, and many strategies start at home.
Install security systems
A security system can be just as effective at keeping little ones inside as it is at keeping unwanted guests outside. Alarms can be set to sound anytime a window or door is breached, which can deter curious children from trying to leave the house without permission. Pair the alarm system with secure locks and high latches that can also stop children in their tracks.
Remove fall hazards
Safety devices installed on windows that are above ground level can keep children safe. Stair rails should be secure and in good working order. Temporary gates can block kids from getting on stairways. Improve lighting around staircases to help children and adults avoid falls, and remove any obstacles.
Anchor heavy furniture
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that unanchored televisions and top-heavy furniture can tip over onto children and cause severe injuries and even death. Everyday furniture can be tempting to climb; therefore, using anchors to secure furniture to walls for security is a must.
Install locking cabinets
Locking cabinets can keep medications, household chemicals, home improvement paints and solvents, and other potential poisons out of reach.
Erect fencing around pools and yards
Install fencing around pools to keep children from wandering close to the water’s edge. Towns and cities may require certain fence heights or self-latching gates to keep little ones safe. Young children should never be left to their own devices around any source of water, whether it’s a pool, tub or toilet.
Test and replace smoke alarms
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are only useful if they are functional. Homeowners should inspect such devices regularly to ensure proper operation and promptly replace old or faulty detectors to improve safety.
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Feeling secure at home is a priority for many people. Many people consider installing security systems in their homes to improve their sense of well-being. Whether one owns or rents, individuals may be surprised to learn that do-it-yourself security systems can be savvy investments.