Spring cleaning tips for a healthier home

Spring cleaning tips for a healthier homeWith the warmer weather upon us, spring cleaning may be on your mind. And if you have asthma, it’s a good idea to focus some of your cleaning efforts on the air you breathe inside your home.

Indoor air is an important health concern, as most Canadians spend up to 90 per cent of their time indoors. Poor indoor air quality can play a significant role in triggering certain conditions, like asthma. Here are tips on reducing some of the more common indoor triggers:

Dust and dust mites:

  • Remove or reduce dust-collecting items such as carpeting, drapes, stuffed toys and old pillows.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water.
  • Encase pillows and mattresses in covers that are dust mite-proof.
  • Keep humidity level below 50 per cent.
  • Vacuum regularly using a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or central vacuum.

Mould:

  • If the humidity level is greater than 50 per cent, use a dehumidifier.
  • Limit the number of plants in your home.
  • Fix leaks and moisture problems as quickly as possible.
  • Remove clutter and allow air to flow throughout your home, especially in the basement.
  • For small amounts of mould, use warm soapy water to clean it up. For larger amounts, hire mould abatement experts.
  • Check that your eavestroughs and drain spouts are clear of any buildup.
  • Make sure the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation so that rainwater drains away — water should flow easily away from the house.
  • Throw away musty items.

Cleaning products:

  • Many household cleaning products contain chemicals that irritate the lungs, so buy air-friendly versions or make your own.
  • When using cleaning products, air out the home by opening windows and using vent fans.

Cigarette smoke:

  • * Do not allow smoking in your home or car at any time.
  • * If you smoke, take it outside every time; when you’re ready to quit, you can seek help from the Lung Association

Find more information online at lungontario.ca.

Are there fire hazards in your home?

Are there fire hazards in your home?Besides a few well-known dangers, people often overlook potential fire risks in their homes. It takes just a few minutes to ensure you’re taking the proper safety precautions with everyday household items. Your insurance company can be a great source of information to safeguard your home, such as these simple tips from insurer, Aviva Canada.

When using electrical cords and extension cords:

  • Check before you use. Always check cords for damage before using them. If damaged, they can spark and cause a fire.
  • Invest in a high-quality power bar. If you’re using multiple small appliances and devices, choose a power bar that can handle the load. Also, never plug a power bar into another power bar.
  • Don’t run cords under carpets or rugs. Doing this could cause damage to the cord and spark a fire in the rug.
  • Use the right cords outdoors. Make sure all extension cords used outdoors are weatherproof and suitable for how you intend to use them.
  • Look for the ULC certification. Ensure that the extension cords you use is certified by the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada.

When using a clothes dryer:

  • Empty the lint trap before each load.
  • Ensure the dryer vent is clear from any obstructions.
  • Vacuum the exhaust hose every few months.
  • Only use the dryer when someone is home.

Find more tips on home and fire safety online at avivacanada.com/blog.

Top 5 tips for first-time homeowners

Top 5 tips for first-time homeownersBuying your first home can be exciting, but it is important to realize the slew of new responsibilities that come with owning property. Tasks that a landlord would take care of are now on your plate. Here are some to keep in mind:

  1. Neighbourhood by-laws. Many communities maintain regulations, such as maximum heights for fences, hedges and trees; building permits for decks; and rules for the construction of fire pits. To avoid an accidental misstep, check out the neighbourhood by-laws when you are moving.
  2. Maintain smoke alarms. According to the Canadian regulations, smoke alarms must be installed outside of each sleeping area and on each level. Maintenance of these devices include testing them every month, cleaning and changing their batteries as directed by the manufacturer, and replacing any that are over 10 years old.
  3. Check seldomly used bathrooms. Grime and dirt build-up can cause your faucets and toilets to malfunction or get damaged. Avoid this by running the taps and flushing the toilets of guest bathrooms occasionally.
  4. Curb appeal. Don’t forget to maintain your outdoor property as well. Take pride in your new home with a well-manicured yard. This may not be everyone’s favourite chore, but Stihl’s Lithium-Ion Homescaper Series can help in easing the load with lightweight and powerful tools making the job much easier.
  5. Emergency fund. Now that you own your home, you are solely responsible for any and all repairs. These can be costly, and often come by surprise. Avoid an unplanned financial burden by keeping an emergency fund for household maintenance and repairs.

Find more information about helpful tools online at stihl.ca.

House hunting or selling your home? Check radon levels

House hunting or selling your home? Check radon levelsOne of the biggest mistakes both buyers and sellers make is not testing for hidden health hazards. But if you’re a buyer, you want to make sure that your new home will provide a healthy living environment for you and your family. If you’re a seller, showing that your home is free from certain dangers can help close the deal and offer potential buyers peace of mind.

One hazard that Health Canada is recommending that all homeowners test for is radon, a radioactive gas that comes from uranium in the ground and can get into a home undetected.

Since long-term exposure to radon is known to cause lung cancer, it’s a smart move to check its levels. Testing is simple — you can either purchase a do-it-yourself test kit or hire a certified radon measurement professional. The DIY kit will include instructions on how to set up the test and send it back to a lab for analysis once the testing period is over.

To get a realistic estimate of the radon exposure, all measurements should be made in the lowest lived-in level of the house where people spend more than four hours per day. Potential measurement locations include family rooms, living rooms, dens, playrooms and bedrooms. A lower level bedroom is preferred because people generally spend more time in their bedrooms than in any other room in the house. Similarly, if there will be children in the house, lowest level bedrooms or other areas such as a playroom are preferred.

Health Canada recommends a long-term test for a minimum of three months. If you’re selling, this means you should complete the test before listing your property. If you’re buying, you will need to make sure there is enough time to complete the testing or request that a clause be added to the sale agreement to allow for high radon levels to be fixed. The cost of a radon reduction system, if needed, is very small compared to the cost of the home.

A dream home doesn’t become a nightmare if it tests positive for high radon levels — techniques to lower radon levels are effective, affordable and will improve the home’s indoor air quality. A radon mitigation system can be installed in less than a day, and in most homes will reduce the radon level by more than 80 per cent for about the same cost as other common home repairs such as replacing the furnace or air conditioner.

Find more information at www.canada.ca/radon.

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