By the HELP Committee and Havre Public Schools for Havre Daily News
Children face potential environmental threats every day in their homes, schools and playgrounds. They are particularly vulnerable to pollutants and toxins because their patterns of behavior are different from those of adults and their bodies are still developing.
Children's bodies are less able to process and eliminate environmental pollutants than adults. Pound for pound, a child breathes more air, drinks more water and eats more food than adults, so it is especially important to protect the air kids breathe, the water kids drink and the food kids eat from environmental contaminants of any kind.
Below are some tips for protecting children from environmental threats.
Help your children
Don't smoke or let others smoke near your kids.
Keep your home and pets as clean as possible. Dust, mold, certain insects and pet dander can trigger asthma attacks and allergies.
Limit outdoor activity when air pollution is bad, for example, during fire season .
Protect your children
from lead poisoning
Wash children's hands before eating and wash bottles, pacifiers and toys often.
Wash floors and windowsills to protect kids from dust and peeling paint contaminated with lead, especially in older homes.
Run the cold water for 30 seconds to flush lead from pipes.
Get kids tested for lead. Check with your doctor.
Protect your children from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning
Have fuel-burning appliances, furnace flues and chimneys checked once a year.
Never use gas ovens or burners for heat and never use barbecues indoors.
Never sleep in rooms with unvented gas or kerosene space heaters.
Don't idle cars or lawn mowers in the garage.
Install a UL-approved CO detector in sleeping areas.
Keep pesticides and other toxic chemicals away from children
Put food and trash away in closed containers to keep pests from coming into your home.
Don't use pesticides if you don't have to. Look for alternatives.
Read product labels and follow directions.
Use bait and traps instead of bug sprays when you can and put where kids can't get them.
Store where kids can't reach them and never put in other containers that kids can mistake for food or drink.
Keep children, toys and pets away when using pesticides and don't let them play in fields, orchards and gardens after pesticides have been used.
Wash fruits and vegetables under running water before eating.
Protect your children
from too much sun
Have them wear hats, sunglasses and protective clothing.
Use sunscreen on kids over 6 months and keep infants out of the sun.
Keep them out of the midday sun. The sun is most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Safeguard your children
from high levels of radon
Test your home for radon with a home test kit.
Call your state radon office if you learn that the radon level is 4 pCi/L or greater.
If you have any questions about this or related topics, contact the HELP Committee and Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line at 265-6206 or e-mail email@example.com.K12.mt.us