Follow rules for safe environment for kids
When it comes to environmental safety, there are many risks that parents often face when raising children.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), young children are more susceptible to environmental exposures because their bodies are still developing. They are often eating, drinking and breathing more in proportion to their body size; and their behavior can expose them to a myriad of dangerous chemicals and organisms.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also states that unlike adults, children cannot control their environment and are unaware to protect their own health.
EPA suggests that parents should follow these nine main guidelines on a day-to-day basis to ensure their child's environmental safety:
• Help children breathe easier
- Don't smoke and don't let others smoke in your home or car.
- Keep your home as clean as possible. Dust, mold, certain household pests, secondhand smoke, and pet dander can trigger asthma attacks and allergies.
- Limit outdoor activity on ozone alert days when air pollution is especially harmful.
• Protect children from lead poisoning
- Get kids tested for lead by their doctor or health care provider.
- Test your home for lead paint hazards if it was built before 1978.
- Wash children's hands before they eat; wash bottles, pacifiers and toys often.
• Keep pesticides and other toxic chemicals away from children
- Store food and trash in closed containers to keep pests from coming into your home.
- Use baits and traps when you can; place baits and traps where kids can't get them.
• Protect children from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning
- Have fuel-burning appliances, furnace flues, and chimneys checked once a year.
- Never use gas ovens or burners for heat; never use barbecues or grills indoors or in the garage.
- Install in sleeping areas a CO alarm that meets UL, IAS, or Canadian standards.
• Protect children from contaminated fish and polluted water
- Be alert for local fish advisories and beach closings. Contact your local health department.
- Take used motor oil to a recycling center; properly dispose of toxic household chemicals.
- Learn what's in your drinking water - call your local public water supplier for annual drinking water quality reports; for private drinking water wells, have them tested annually by a certified laboratory.
• Safeguard children from high levels of radon
- Test your home for radon with a home test kit.
- Fix your home if your radon level is 4 pCi/L or higher. For help, call your state radon office or 1-800-SOS-RADON.
• Protect children from too much sun
- Wear hats, sunglasses, and protective clothing.
- Use sunscreen with SPF 15+ on kids over six months; keep infants out of direct sunlight.
- Limit time in the mid-day sun - the sun is most intense between 10 and 4.
• Keep children and mercury apart
- Eat a balanced diet but avoid fish with high levels of mercury.
- Replace mercury thermometers with digital thermometers.
- Don't let kids handle or play with mercury.
- Contact your state or local health or environment department if mercury is spilled - never vacuum a spill.
• Promote healthier communities
- Walk, use bicycles, join or form carpools, and take public transportation to reduce air pollution, including greenhouse gases.
- Spearhead a clean school bus campaign in your community.
- Develop safe routes so that children can walk to and from school, limiting vehicle use and increasing physical activity.
* List provided by www.EPA.gov
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.