Healthy Homes – Keep It Safe – Ask The Handyman St Louis – Get It Done

Healthy HomesThis year, we’ve run articles on the Healthy Homes Program, where we focused on the principles of Healthy Homes: Keep It Dry, Keep It Clean, Keep It Pest Free, Keep It Ventilated.  The next principle to discuss is Keep It Safe.

Safety around the home is something that we think is common in every home, yet injuries are the leading cause of death and disability among children and young adults.  Injuries are not accidents.  They are preventable.  Of these injuries, falls are the leading cause (33%), followed by poisoning (27%), and fires and burns (18%).  Safety is the reason that most municipal governments have required codes for homes, such as a smoke detector in every bedroom, handrails required for stairs and deck steps, anti-tilt devices for ovens.  Even ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI’s) are designed and required in order  to prevent injuries.  These codes go a long way in helping to keep a home safe. 

There are however, many areas where it is up to us.  For example, if you have young children and you open your windows, do you have a window safety guard?  Do you lock up your medicines or household chemicals?  82% of homes have medicine in unlocked drawers and 69% of homes with young children have chemicals in unlocked areas.  Any product that has a label that says warning, danger, or caution should be in a secure location or locked away.  Too often, peoples store products like drain opener under the kitchen sink, where it is easily accessible.

When we hear about injuries or deaths around the home, it may seem incredible that preventative actions weren’t taken, but sometimes we just don’t realize there is a potential problem.  For example, a household with no children really doesn’t need safety locks on drawers or doors, or covers for electrical outlets.  However, if there are grandchildren that visit the home, this could be a problem.  If you should ever see a potential problem in a friends home, be a friend, and let them know about it. 

Through our recent training to become a certified Healthy Homes inspector, in conjunction with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation St. Louis Chapter, we have developed a 65-point, whole house inspection for families who deal with allergy and asthma issues to help identify and remedy environmental issues that cause problems.  We’re offering this inspection at a reduced rate of $90 for the next month for anyone affiliated with, or who mentions the AAFA-STL when scheduling their appointment (normal value is $140).  What’s more, for every 5 inspections performed, Get It Done is offering one hour of service to AAFA-STL clients.

Healthy Homes – Keep It Pest Free – Ask the Handyman St. Louis – Get It Done

Healthy HomesNationally, 1 in 15 people have asthma. In Missouri, almost 9% of children have asthma , and in St. Louis, the figure is 1 out of 5!  Asthma is the #1 reason children visit the emergency room and the #1 reason children are hospitalized.

Recent articles concerning The Healthy Homes program discussed the first and second basic principles, Keep It Dry and Keep It Clean.   Continuing in our series is the third principle, Keep It Pest Free.

While it makes sense to keep out unwanted pests, we may not realize what the presence of pests can mean.  Between 1980 and 1994, the prevalence of asthma increased 75% overall.  Some of the pests associated with asthma or asthma symptoms include dust mites, cockroaches, and mice dander.  According to a 2007 American Housing Survey, overall 5.5% of homes had signs of mice in the past in the past three months.  The presence of pests is two-fold.  First, no one wants cockroaches or mice in their home.  So, in an attempt to get rid of the bugs or mice, we use pesticides.  This may or may not take care of the pest, but its use may be causing another problem.    The health effects associated with pesticides include: eye, nose, throat irritation; skin rashes, stomach cramps, nausea; central nervous system damage; kidney damage; and increased risk of cancers.  Overall, almost half of all households with children under five stored pesticides within reach of children. In 2007, Poison Control Centers reported 16,000 pesticide exposures requiring treatment.

So, what are we to do?  First, keep them out!  Block any pest entries, passages, and hiding places.  Second, reduce the availability of their food.  Don’t leave dishes in the sink overnight and keep food stored in plastic containers or bags.  If you already have mice, be sure to empty your kitchen trash nightly.  Clean up the crumbs, and never leave grease out overnight.  Use traps and appropriate pesticides.

Be careful when using pesticides, as many are toxic, even those designed for home use.  Never use a spray pesticide or fogger.  Instead, use baits and powders, such as gel baits, traps, and borate powder.  Be sure to keep even these items away from children and pets.  Good spots are next to walls, baseboards, under sinks, in cabinets, and near plumbing fixtures.

Through our recent training to become a certified Healthy Homes inspector, in conjunction with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation St. Louis Chapter, we have developed a 65-point, whole house inspection for families who deal with allergy and asthma issues to help identify and remedy environmental issues that can cause problems.  We’re offering this inspection at a  reduced rate of $90 through the end of January for anyone affiliated with, or who mentions the AAFA-STL when scheduling their appointment (normal value is $140).  What’s more, for every 5 inspections purchased, Get It Done is offering one hour of service to AAFA-STL clients.

AAFA-STL is a nonprofit organization that has been serving the asthmatic and allergic needs of the St. Louis community for over 31 years.  AAFA-STL’s medical assistance program, Project Concern, provided uninsured and underinsured children with life-saving asthma and allergy medications, equipment, and more.