June is National Healthy Home Month. Usually when we think of “healthy” we think diet and exercise, but there is another way to improve your and your family’s health. Making sure you have a healthy home will decrease the risk of health-related issues such as allergies and asthma, and in some cases even cancer, along with other home-related accidents. Here are some ways to work towards having a healthy home.

Test your smoke alarms. Making sure you have working smoke alarms can cut your risk of dying in a fire in half. Get a carbon monoxide detector while you are at it.

Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds: Each year millions of Americans get sick from eating contaminated or improperly prepared food.

Make your home smoke-free: Do not smoke inside your home and do not let others either. Parents are responsible for 90 percent of their child’s exposure to smoke.

Have the poison control number on hand: This is especially important when you have children or pets in the house. N.C. Poison Control is at 800-222-1222 and Pet Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

Check your locks: Make sure you have working locks on your doors, and if there are children in the house, make sure they can operate the lock.

Test your home for radon: Radon is a gas you cannot see or smell, but can accumulate in basements and in high concentrations can cause cancer and other health conditions. The Jackson County Cooperative Extension office still has free radon testing kits.

Test for lead paint: If you have a home built before 1979 then you need to have the paint tested to see if it contains lead.

Pest free: make sure your home is pest free by filling in any holes you may have in basements or other areas of your house. Mice can get into dime size holes and rats can squeeze through quarter size holes.

Mold: The best way to prevent mold is to keep your home dry, clean, and well ventilated.

Indoor Air Quality:

Most American’s spend about 90 percent of their time indoors. Having proper indoor air quality will help reduce many of these pollutants listed above (mold, radon, carbon monoxide, second hand smoke and pests). You can ensure good indoor air quality by making repairs to your house before they become big problems, make sure bathrooms and kitchens are vented properly, and clean your home regularly to prevent mold, dust and pests.

Start with these healthy home suggestions to ensure you and your family are living in a healthy home.

For more information about healthy homes contact the Cooperative Extension Office at 586-4009 or email ekmcclur@ncat.edu.

Emily McClure is Cooperative Extension family consumer sciences agent.