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Some of the products you use around the house may contain pesticides and harm children. Know what can be dangerous.

Keep your home free of summer pests without pesticides

Summer temperatures can be pleasant, but the warm weather is also attractive to insects and rodents.

This is the time of year when ants, roaches, mice and other pests make their way into your home, especially if they find the right living conditions. All they really need to get comfortable is water, food and a place where they can hide or reproduce.

You can fight these pests without pesticides if you follow these suggestions:

Restrict access to food sources

  • Tightly close any food packaging, like boxes and bags of cookies, chips, cereals or candy, so that ants or roaches can’t get in.
  • Store items such as flour, sugar, rice or pasta in airtight bags or plastic containers.
  • Clean any food spills or stains off the countertop, floor, and other areas throughout the kitchen.
  • Do not let crumbs sit in pet dishes, as this can attract cockroaches, ants or rodents.
  • Remember to take out the kitchen trash frequently, preferably every night.

Limit access to sources of water or liquids

  • Try not to leave water drops or other liquids in the kitchen or anywhere else around the house. Roaches can’t live more than a week without water.
  • Wash and dry your dishes immediately after each meal.
  • Repair leaky faucets or pipes in the bathroom, kitchen, backyard and any other area of the house.
  • When gardening or watering plants, don’t leave puddles or excess water. Standing water encourages mosquito reproduction.
  • Open the bathroom window after bathing to clear out the steam; these tiny drops are drinking sources for cockroaches and other insects.

Limit entry access to your home

  • Seal cracks around pipes, doors and windows to stop insects from getting inside.
  • Repair holes or tears on screen doors and windows.
  • Close off the spaces underneath doors.
  • Before coming home from a shopping trip, make sure there are no roaches hiding inside bags or grocery boxes.
  • Throw away or recycle unwanted boxes or wrappers.

Put mouse traps inside and outside the home in areas where children or pets can’t access.

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The Condition of Your Home Could Impact Your Health

This winter, much of the country has been in a deep freeze. With all the snow and ice, many people have spent a great deal of their time in the house. Besides just causing cabin fever, the condition of your home itself has a great effect on the health of you and the members of your family.

Here are some everyday things that could be causing health problems in your home.

  • Smoking inside can cause asthma and respiratory issues, and can even lead to cancer.

  • Radon, a gas which is odorless and tasteless causes lung cancer.

  • The presence of too much moisture or mold (which can come from over-use of humidifiers in the winter) may lead to asthma and respiratory problems.

To prevent these sort of issues, don’t allow smoking in your home, and be sure to install smoke detectors and regularly change their batteries, just in case a fire should occur. Test for radon, and install fan systems that remove radon vapors. Fix water leaks to prevent excess moisture from being present in your home, and keep it well ventilated.

Simple steps like these help ensure your family’s health, especially when mother nature doesn’t allow you to go outside.

For Your Health: Test Your Home for Radon

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and is estimated to be responsible for 15,000-22,000 lung cancer deaths each year. 

You can’t see, smell, or taste radon. It’s a radioactive gas that comes from the natural breakdown of the elements uranium, thorium, and radium in soil and rock. 

Radon can be present in both outdoor and indoor air, but you’re likely to get most exposure in your own home. 

To help protect your health, you can test your home for radon and take measures to lower radon levels if needed.

Tips for Saving Energy During the Winter

In the winter, when many people turn on their heaters and put up holiday lights, gas and electric bills can be much higher than usual.

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), a family spends more than $1,900 a year on electricity bills and other utilities. A big part of those costs come from wasted energy during those cold months.

However, you can save on winter energy costs if you make some changes in certain areas of your home.

Lighting

Improve the lighting in your home and save energy.

  • Replace traditional light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs, which last between six and 12 times longer. Remember to turn off any lights that aren’t in use.
  • Consider using LED lights for Christmas decorations. These use 90 percent less energy than the standard Christmas lights.

Thermostats and heating

Keep your home warm and comfortable.

  • Install a programmable thermostat for your home’s heating system.
  • Keep the doors and windows closed while the heat is on.
  • Frequently change the filters in your furnace.
  • Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

General tips

Be energy efficient throughout your home.

  • Only use the exhaust fan in the kitchen and bathrooms when necessary.
  • Repair any water leaks in the bathrooms, kitchen, laundry room, etc.
  • Use power strips to plug in portable heaters, television and cell phone chargers. That way, you can turn off the power switch when the devices are not in use.
  • If you’re thinking of replacing your appliances, make sure they have an Energy Star logo. Energy Star products are more energy efficient.

Programs for low-income families

During the winter, the government helps low-income families with their energy bills.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, helps families pay some of their heating costs. To see if you qualify for these benefits, contact your local LIHEAP office for more information.

Read this note in Spanish.