When you're baby-proofing your house, you probably go for the most obvious targets: outlets that small fingers could probe, steep basement stairs that curious crawlers might attempt and shelves that could topple over when given just the right push.
With so many safety hazards to address, it's easy to overlook some invisible dangers that could risk your baby's health — namely your home's air quality. Babies spend most of their time indoors, and the air they breathe can stunt their lungs' development — along with their mental and physical growth.
Luckily, it's easy to make your home's air breathable for babies and parents alike. Follow the tips listed below to ensure that your air is just as safe as other aspects of your home.
1. Change Your HVAC Filter
The first tip is the simplest: change your HVAC filter. Your air conditioner and furnace suck up debris, dust and allergens that float through your home. They then dispel the debris and dust as they blow warm and cool air throughout the house.
You should change your filter at least every three months, and as frequently as once a month if you have pets. If you have a new baby in the house, especially one with lung problems, changing the filter once a month will prove especially beneficial.
2. Use HEPA Filters to Vacuum
Vacuuming removes harmful particles before they make their way to your HVAC system's filter. To remove the most particles as possible from your floors, invest in a High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance (HEPA) filter that removes even the tiniest allergens and dust mites from the air.
3. Reduce VOCs Around the Home
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are toxic gases released from certain solids and liquids, including substances like paint, glue, oil, aerosol containers, wood preservatives and household cleaning products. Breathing in VOCs can cause reactions like throat irritation, headaches and dizziness. Over time, breathing in too many VOCs can lead to cancer and kidney damage.
You can reduce VOC emissions around your home by substituting household cleaners for more natural cleaners. For instance, instead of buying dangerous oven cleaner, use baking soda and vinegar instead. You should also pay careful attention to the furniture you buy — paint, wood preservatives and varnishes used on rocking chairs, cradles and cribs can all contain VOCs.
4. Decorate Early or Not at All
As mentioned above, paint contains harmful VOCs. If you're preparing your baby's nursery, make sure you take care of painting and remodeling long before the baby arrives. Don't paint once your baby is born — the paint fumes are incredibly toxic. If you can, don't remodel or repaint other rooms in the house right before the baby is born either.
5. Spend Some Extra Time Cleaning the Baby's Room
Dusting and vacuuming other rooms in the house will go a long way toward reducing allergens and dust circulated by your HVAC system. However, pay particular attention to your newborn's room.
Vacuum or dust the floorboards and wipe down windowsills with a wet cloth. If you live in a humid area, take some extra time to check your baby's room for signs of mold. Many types of mold are harmful to developing and adult lungs alike.
6. Make Sure Your HVAC System Is Fully Functional
The cleaner and more efficient your HVAC unit is, the cleaner your home's air is. Whether you haven't scheduled an HVAC tune-up in a while or you hear an ominous rattling coming from inside the air conditioner, don't put off repairs for too long — especially if you have a baby. Instead, call professionals for seasonal tune-ups, preventative maintenance and repairs.
At ET Ferrell & Son, we offer expert HVAC maintenance and repair services. Contact us for help with your current air conditioner and furnace.