Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Survey your home for health hazards

First responders often describe a “survey of the scene” before they enter a hazardous incident. A survey of your living environment can be equally beneficial.

A hazard assessment provides an opportunity for an individual to develop a plan of correction, prioritizing from most critical to least critical.

While people can identify public health hazards on their own, it can be invaluable to have a third party assist in the assessment. We tend to become very accustomed to our environment. How often have you missed your significant other’s new haircut or glasses? This same principle applies to a home assessment.

So, what can you do? One way to look more critically at your living environment is to use a maintenance checklist. One helpful checklist can be found at www.centerforhealthyhousing.org. While this is a good starting point, the list may need to be modified due to personal and environmental considerations such as the age and construction of a home, or specific health conditions of the tenants.

I would also recommend contacting your local health department. Health departments maintain vital information on the history of your home and community. Public health nurses, environmental sanitarians, and public health educators can help determine the most critical hazards and possible remedies.

There are currently two free programs at the Uncas Health District serving the residents of Bozrah, Griswold, Lisbon, Montville, Norwich, Sprague, and Voluntown. They include:

Healthy Homes Program. A home hazard assessment is conducted by a health district inspector and a report is provided to the owner or occupant recommending interventions that may mitigate housing-related hazards.

Free radon kits. Available on a first-come, first-served basis in recognition of National Radon Action Month in January. To learn more about these programs, contact Devon Thornton at 860-823-1189 or dthornton@uncashd.org.

Remember, prevention is the key when it comes to public health.

Patrick R. McCormack, MPH, is Director of Health for the Uncas Health District, based in Norwich. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Mr. McCormack or any of the Healthy Living columnists at healthyliving@wwbh.org

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