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Extension marks National Healthy Homes Month
By Jessica Smith
MSU Extension Service
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The Mississippi State University Extension Service is celebrating National Healthy Homes Month by equipping Mississippians with knowledge to solve housing challenges.
The month-long celebration, coordinated by MSU Extension's Healthy Homes Initiative, provides opportunities to engage in local activities and empowers families to protect themselves from hazards in their homes.
June's theme is "Healthy Homes: Just What the Doctor Ordered," with emphasis on healthcare providers and institutions. National Healthy Homes Month will focus on the principles of healthy homes and an associated set of activities each week.
Some of the educational focus will be on home assessments, home-hazard health screenings and healthy home maintenance, said David Buys, health specialist with the MSU Extension Service.
“On average, we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, so it is critical that we keep those spaces clean and updated,” Buys said. “There is a strong link between housing and health, especially for vulnerable populations like children and older adults.”
Data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy survey shows that 17 percent of Mississippi’s houses have severe housing problems caused by overcrowding (more than one person per room), expense (housing costs more than 50 percent of household monthly income) and incomplete plumbing or kitchen facilities.
Addressing housing conditions is among the most important primary prevention strategies that Extension can offer to its communities. Through the Healthy Homes Initiative, MSU Extension provides trainings and workshops on how to keep homes healthier.
“During 2016, MSU Extension agents reached 1,091 community-dwelling older adults, residents of HUD-subsidized housing units, child-care providers and families with healthy homes education,” Buys said. “Among a sample of 39 child-care providers, there was a 100 percent increase in knowledge and behavioral intent related to indoor air quality, hazardous household products and pest management.”
An evaluation of 14 independent living residents showed 78 percent had replaced their smoke detector batteries in response to safety and accessibility education. “This data shows that our efforts are truly making an impact,” Buys added.
Director of MSU Extension Gary Jackson said keeping Mississippians safe and healthy is one of Extension’s top priorities.
“We know that the indoor environment matters greatly for our people’s health,” Jackson said. “Through our Healthy Homes Initiative, Extension agents throughout the state are equipping Mississippians to keep their home environments healthy, clean and safe to ensure the best outcomes for people living in them.”
The Healthy Homes Initiative offers interactive workshops that focus on how to create and maintain healthy homes. Call the local Extension office or visit http://extension.msstate.edu/hhi to request more information or a workshop in your area.