Most people look at their home as a safe place. You think of your home as a place to rest, to heal, to rejuvenate and live. Some of the things in our home that could hurt us were brought into our home by the homeowner. There’s a lot we can do to make your home safer.

1. Stick to a regular cleaning schedule. Wipe all surfaces with a damp cloth rather than dry dusting, which can often just brushes dust back into the air. Have a no-shoes policy and beef up doormats. Your clothing and shoes bring in a lot of unwanted dust, pollen and animal life. Good interior and exterior doormats will trap dirt from your shoes. Provide everyone with a pair of clean slippers. Get vacuum cleaner with a sealed HEPA filter to trap allergens.

2. Try to remove all carpeting. Wall-to-wall carpeting is very difficult to keep clean. Whenever possible install hard flooring. Use area rugs made of wool, cotton, bamboo or hemp.

3. Store all food in airtight glass containers. That includes pet food.

Don’t tempt bugs and mice.

4. Be careful with your cleaning supplies. Harsh chemical cleaners can cause a lot of problems. It’s quite easy to find safe and effective cleaners if you read the label. Buy products that are free of dyes, perfumes and chemicals you don’t know. Using spray furniture cleaner, glass cleaner or a spray air freshener just once a week can increase your risk of developing asthma by up to 75%.

5. Cover all your mattresses and pillows. Use zip on dust mite covers to protect you while sleeping. Clean under your bed. Clutter can attract dust and make it harder to clean.

6. All of your bedding, towels and kitchen towels should be washed in hot water or dried on a high temperature. Always dry clothing completely. Damp clothing will create an environment for mildew and mold to grow. Don’t let dirty items hang around. Dirty clothes attract moths. Keep your closets fresh and bug free by washing and thoroughly drying items before storing them.

7. Keep your bathroom clean and well ventilated to the outside. This will help you deal with mildew and mold. If mold does build up use a cleaner that is used to kill mold. Use this cleaner as directed.

8. Keep animals out of the bedroom.

9. Open your windows to let in fresh air. Use your fireplace sparely. Don’t allow smoking in your house.

10. Remove any mold in your basement. Use concrete or hard wood flooring. Repair any leaks or water damage. Use a dehumidifier to reduce dampness in your basement. Be sure to clean your dehumidifier at least once a week.

11. Keep the temperature in your home between 68 F (20 C) and 72 F (22 C) and try to keep humidity 50 percent or below. Clean or replace filters in your central heating and cooling systems and in room air conditioners at least once a month.

12. Control insects and mice with inexpensive traps. You can also hire a professional exterminator. Remove all insect and mouse droppings. Try to prevent re-infestation.

13. Try to buy furniture made of leather, wood and metal. Dust mites can infest fabric-covered furniture but can’t penetrate leather. You should never sit on your furniture until you’ve changed the clothing you wore outside.

14. If you have potted plants spread aquarium gravel over the dirt to help control mold. Clean out dead leaves. Don’t overwater your plants.

15. Don’t leave dirty dishes around. Wash your dishes, sink and faucets everyday to remove mold and food debris. Always clean your cabinets and countertops with detergent and water. Frequently check under-sink cabinets for plumbing leaks. Clean your refrigerator regularly and pay close attention to door gaskets and drip pans where mold can grow. Install an exhaust fan over the stove that vents to the outside to get rid of cooking fumes and reduce moisture in your kitchen. Fumes from your stove can contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heterocyclic amines, higher and mutated aldehydes and fine and ultrafine particles that can cause cancer. Having an exhaust fan reduces your risk.

16. Don’t use room air fresheners. Most air fresheners emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause a lot of health problems. VOCs have also been shown to cause headaches.

17. Remove wallpaper in your bathroom and install tile or paint the walls with mold-resistant enamel paint. Install a ventilation fan that is vented to the outside. Change your vinyl shower curtain. Vinyl shower curtains also emit VOCs and other potentially lung-irritating compounds, like phthalates. Natural fiber curtains can be thrown into the wash.

18. Your laser printers can emit VOCs and particles that have been associated with asthma. Those VOCs can also harm your lungs. Keep your printer in a well-ventilated area at least 10 feet away from your desk.

19. Clean your ceiling fans so they don’t spread accumulated dust particles throughout the house.

20. Use radiator heating instead of forced air. Forced air heating can harbor mold. Have your ducts cleaned at least once every five years.

Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician.

If you have a fitness question or concern you would like addressed write to: “Tips to be Fit” P.O. Box 53443, Philadelphia, PA 19105 or tipstobefit@gmail.com. If you’ve missed an article of “Tips to be Fit” just search “Tips to be Fit.”

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