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Is Your Home Making Your Kids Sick?

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By Robin Wilson for GalTime.com

Your home is your sanctuary, but could it be making your family very sick? According to asthma and allergy experts, it's estimated that 25 million people suffer with asthma, and allergies affect nearly 50 million people in America.

Adding to the problem this time of year is that most people believe that allergies really aren't a concern in the winter months, because there is no pollen in the air. While that may be true, there are still plenty of triggers in your home that can bring on allergies or an asthma attack. The good news is there are some simple steps you can take to ensure a healthy living environment inside your home that will help eliminate the "wheezes and sneezes."

Pillows

When was the last time you cleaned or replaced your child's pillow, and what is it made out of? For allergy and asthma sufferers, make sure and use synthetic pillows over feathered ones, and anti-allergen or hypoallergenic pillow cases and covers. Wash your pillow case once a week, your pillow protector at least once a month and wash your pillow at least twice a year. Replace pillows every three years. Without a clean pillow, you could be sleeping on dust mites.

Shower Curtain

Don't use a vinyl shower curtain, because it holds mold more easily and off-gases. Use a nylon curtain instead. It's also less expensive.

Slip Covers

Use slip covers on sofas and chairs, which can be washed regularly to eliminate dirt and dust. The designs have come a long way and look a lot better than they used to.

Paint

Most parents paint their children's bedroom walls. That paint could be making your children sick, even after it's been dry for years. Use non-VOC paints in your child's bedroom, which won't off-gas, leave an obnoxious paint odor and stir up asthma or allergies. It looks just as good on the wall as regular paint.

Flooring

Wall-to-wall carpeting is the biggest no-no when it comes to flooring if your child suffers from asthma and allergies. If you must have a carpeted floor, consider using a rug or carpet tiles. Tile and hardwood floors are a much smarter choice but must be vacuumed or cleaned on a regular basis to eliminate dirt and dust. Shake out and vacuum area rugs on a regular basis as well. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

Mold

If water sits long enough, it will bring on mold. Watch for mold in the dishwasher and refrigerator pan, which can build up quickly in the kitchen. Check the toilets, sinks and showers in your children's bathroom and make sure they are cleaned on a regular basis.

Pets

Keep pets out of your child's bedroom and definitely don't ever let them on the bed. Pets should be bathed often to reduce dander.

These tips should be followed not only in the winter but all year long to keep your family happy and healthy.

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Robin Wilson is in an eco-friendly designer and CEO of Robin Wilson Home. She is an ambassador for The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and has a hypoallergenic bedding line at BedBathBeyond.com. Visit www.robinwilsonhome.com

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