Healthy Homes program seeking volunteers

Contributing writerJanuary 15, 2012 

What do bathroom fans, handrails, doormats, cleaning supplies, stuffed animals, downspouts, and crawl spaces have in common? They all can affect the health and well-being of people living in a home.

The average American spends about 90 percent of his or her time indoors, maybe even more during the dark, drippy days of winter. When you factor in sleeping, most people spend much of their indoor time at home.

Ensuring our homes are healthy makes good sense. This is especially true for folks with asthma or other chronic diseases, for homes with young children, and for those who are homebound. What we bring into our homes, how we live in our homes, and how we clean and maintain our homes affects air quality and home safety. Healthy homes are dry, clean, pest free, contaminate free, ventilated, safe, and maintained. Residents can control many aspects of a healthy home.

Healthy Homes is a new program to provide free visits to homes and to child care centers in Thurston County to spread the word about indoor air quality and other health and safety issues. Healthy Homes volunteers will participate in 30 hours of training and then complete 30 hours of Healthy Homes community service.

Join us for the inaugural Healthy Homes volunteer training. You do not need to be a health care provider, a building specialist, or an expert in anything. Healthy Homes needs diverse individuals who are committed to actively participating in the training sessions and who will volunteer in their communities. The organization wants people who will enjoy working together to improve their own and others’ health.

During a home visit, a pair of volunteers will meet with the residents and walk with them through their home, addressing ways the residents can reduce their exposure to toxins, asthma triggers, mold and other housing-related health risks. Volunteers also may help staff booths at fairs and other community events; do presentations; work on special projects, such as with child care providers; or write articles for community newsletters.

Volunteers are encouraged to be creative with their outreach ideas. Healthy Homes will do what we can to support efforts to become a successful volunteer.

Hands-on training begins at 6 p.m. Thursday and the session runs until 9 p.m. Training continues every Thursday evening until March 22.

If you want to learn more about the volunteer program or are interested in having an assessment done in your home or child care center, contact the Healthy Homes program at healthyhomes@co.thurston.wa.us or 360-867-2674 (TDD 360-867-2603).

Dr. Diana T. Yu is the health officer for Thurston and Mason counties. Reach her at 360-867-2501 or yud@co.thurston.wa.us.

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