University of Maryland Extension

Extension Offers Healthy Homes Demonstrations in University Housing

Tour attendees learn about kitchen safety through University of Maryland Extension.
Image Credit: 
Christine Garcia

This January, the University of Maryland Extension’s Health Smart Impact Team joined forces with the University of Maryland Department of Residential Facilities to offer a demonstration and valuable tips on how to keep homes free of common health hazards.

The free tours occurred in an on-campus Leonardtown Community apartment in College Park, and attendees included renters, homeowners, home environmental health workers, researchers and educators. The demonstrations were part of a pilot program for continued Healthy Homes efforts on a larger scale.

Kate Manchisi, the Healthy Homes program coordinator for University of Maryland Extension, said the team’s programs aim to improve personal and family health in the community by increasing awareness of strategies to improve indoor health, including air and drinking water quality and safety. “You can take action, big or small, to make your home healthier and safer,” she said.

The program also supports key partnerships with external healthy homes efforts by promoting resource and information sharing and assisting with “train the trainer” course development, Manchisi said.

The Healthy Homes team suggested many simple strategies to improve living environments. They include:

1.   Prevent pests by putting food away in sealed containers, wiping spills and cleaning up crumbs.

2.   Test your basement for radon gas with a home test kit, available at home improvement stores.  

3.   Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning by installing carbon monoxide detectors (at least one near sleeping areas).

4.   Do not store household cleaning chemicals under the sink where children can reach them.

5.   Use an exhaust fan that vents outside if you have a gas stove.

6.   Liquids cause more burns than flames, so keep your hot water heater close to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

7.   Clean mold with mold cleaner and water as soon as possible.

8.   Check for physical signs of bed bugs when changing bedding or staying away from home. Look for dark spots (excrement), tiny white spots (eggs), live bed bugs and rusty reddish stains.

9.   Install smoke detectors on every floor.

10. Test your home for lead paint if it was built before 1978.  

For more information about the University of Maryland Extension’s Healthy and Safe Environments program, visit http://extension.umd.edu/healthy-environments/home/about

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