10 Smart Ideas for a Healthy Home

As 2009 approaches, many people may be scrambling to make sure that all annual around-the-house undertakings are complete. But there may be a few simple tasks, such as replacing the batteries of a smoke detector or throwing out old food, that get swept under the carpet in the excitement of the final days.

While at times our last-minute to-dos may seem like unwanted chores, these tasks may be essential for a healthier life in the coming year, according to Allen Rathey, president of the Healthy House Institute.

Introducing or eliminating simple objects around the home can contribute to a cleaner home and for many, a cleaner home may contribute to a better self, he said.

"It's certainly a better quality of life to have a healthy home," said Rathey.

According to Rathey, the benefits of a healthy home can include more money in your wallet and fewer trips to your doctor.

"Having a healthy home will simplify your life and your costs," he said.

Here are 10 simple ways to create a healthier home in 2009.

Get a Humidifier

Winter may be the best season to buy a humidifier, as the air is much drier in the winter than it is in the summer months -- and your body shows it.

So said Jeffrey May, principle scientist of May Indoor Air Investigations of Tyngsboro, Mass., and author of "Jeff May's Healthy Home Tips: A Workbook for Detecting, Diagnosing and Eliminating Pesky Pests, Stinky Stenches, Musty Mold and Other Aggravating Home Problems."

Having a humidifier running can prevent dry skin and it can also help you breathe easier by loosening up the airways and clearing congestion. But according to May, a humidifier is only effective if it has a humidistat that will help to keep the moisture at the right level.

"The risk of too much moisture in the air may cause condensation to build up on walls, which can lead to mold," he said. "And too little moisture will keep the air dry."

Having a humidifier is also cost efficient, said May. Many people will turn the heat up if the air is dry. Often, humidity makes an area feel warmer, thus allowing you to turn the heater down and save on energy.

Invest in Slip Prevention

Although slips and falls are not only the fate of the elderly, recovering from a digger is often more difficult for grandma than it is for little Johnny. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of American adults age 65 and older experience a fall each year.

According to Dr. Richard Della Penna, the medical director of the Kaiser Permanente Aging Network in Colorado, most older adults who slip and fall end up with minor injuries.

"Most people who slip and fall are pretty lucky and they end up with a bruise or maybe a small laceration," he said.

For fragile, older individuals, though, slipping and breaking a hip in the bathroom can cause their world to close in on them, Della Penna said. He notes that some of his patients tend to be less adventurous because of a real fear of falling.

"What we're really talking about is a threat to our independence," he said.

Della Penna recommends three slip-preventing tips to his patients: eliminate fall-provoking clutter around the house, wear proper footwear and clothing to help prevent tripping and eliminate or modify surfaces that are likely to cause slips such as scatter rugs or wet bathroom floors.

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