Home and Family

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Good preventive medicine -- the proactive steps one can take to avoid disease and injury -- begins with maintaining a healthy home environment for you and your family.

Learning about home fire prevention, the safe use of gas appliances, swimming pool safety, healthy cleaning practices, and safe storage of toxic products in your home are among the many steps you can take to ensure a safe physical environment. Those with specific medical conditions may require additional measures to make their home as healthy as possible. For example, asthma and allergy sufferers may require removal of potential allergy triggers in the home. Maintaining a smoke-free home always is of benefit to the health of the entire family. If you have children, "childproofing" your home (by physically limiting access to dangerous areas and situations) is critical for a safe environment.

A "healthy" home also involves a sound emotional environment. Effective communication among family members, the willingness to compromise, and strong conflict-resolution skills can help foster an atmosphere of mental well-being for everyone. Stress-management skills, including simple relaxation exercises, can be learned and practiced by everyone. Those with children at home know that achieving healthy parent-child relationships is crucial for a healthy home environment. Healthy parenting skills can also be learned and practiced to reduce stress in the home for both children and parents.

Nutritional choices are another component of a healthy home. Making good nutritional choices (such as eating adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, reducing consumption of refined carbohydrates, avoiding sugar-laden juices and sodas) can help prevent adult and childhood obesity and associated medical complications such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Parents can help their children develop good nutritional habits by serving healthy meals at home and packing healthy school lunches and snacks.

Finally, certain times and situations may require special or additional health and safety measures. Family vacations, travel abroad, summer beach trips, and holidays are all examples of situations where you can take extra preventive measures to keep your family as safe and healthy as possible.

REFERENCE: Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.


Last Editorial Review: 8/30/2012