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Resolutions for a Healthier Home in 2012

Wednesday, December 21st by Tim Snyder


Let's tell it like it is. The Holiday Season that begins at Thanksgiving and extends through New Year's Day is a time of overindulgence. With so much festivity going on at home and in the workplace, there's always far too much to eat and drink. We partake in these celebrations in a spirit of good cheer, but also with the knowledge that we'll pay for it later. As the new year begins, many of us share a common resolution to get in better shape and live a healthier lifestyle.

Not just health, but safety too

The most obvious fix for too much food and drink over the holidays is probably some extra time on the treadmill or in an exercise class, combined with healthier eating habits. But the beginning of a new year is also a good time to focus on other health and safety issues around the house. Indeed, most of these health and safety measures can be dealt with over the course of a couple of days, a lot faster than it takes to shed extra holiday pounds.

This is a good time to check the batteries in home smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace batteries as necessary. If your furnace filter hasn't been changed in several months, it's probably ready to be replaced. And how about the filter in your kitchen vent hood? After all that holiday cooking, it's probably ready for a good cleaning. Most modern kitchen vent filters are reusable and dishwasher safe, so it's simply a matter of cleaning the filter along with the next load of dishes.

Dealing with radon risks

Any discussion of home health and safety should include a strategy to protect homeowners from exposure to radon gas. Radioactive radon gas emanates naturally from rocks and soil, and can easily migrate into a home's living area after entering a basement or crawl space through a sump pit and cracks or gaps in masonry. Invisible and odorless, radon can nevertheless be lethal. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that over 21,000 people die in the U.S. every year because of exposure to radon.

If your house already has a radon system, this is a good time to call in the contractor who installed the system (or another radon mitigation specialist) to confirm that it is operating correctly. If your house hasn't yet been tested for radon, make sure to do this or have it done right away. A licensed radon abatement contractor can perform the test, or you can do it yourself, using a test kit available from your local home center or hardware store.

If your house tests high for radon (above the 4 picocuries per liter exposure threshold established by the EPA), you don't have to worry. A radon mitigation contractor will be able to install an abatement system that exhausts radon gas harmlessly into the atmosphere. It's a permanent health and safety improvement with proven life-saving value.

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