In Your Child's Bedroom
Most children spend about fifty to sixty hours a week sleeping and even more time playing or hanging out in their bedrooms. One of the most important steps you can take to remove common asthma triggers is to target your child's bedroom aggressively.
Cover pillows, mattresses, and box springs in plastic or dust-filtering covers; pillows should be made of washable, synthetic material, not feathers.
Use washable, synthetic blankets; avoid fuzzy cotton or wool blankets.
Bedding, including pillows, should be wasbed once a week in hot water (hotter than 130 degrees) to kill dust mites.
If you have pets, keep them outdoors if possible. Keep them out of your child's room at all times and keep the bedroom door shut.
Replace venetian blinds or miniblinds and fabric curtains (that attract and hold dust) with smooth, pull-down shades that are easily wiped down with warm, soapy water. It's even better if you can replace all blinds and drapes with shades throughout your home.
Replace any carpet (wall-to-wall or area rugs) in your child's room with a bare wood floor or tile that can be damp-mopped regularly.
Keep clothes in drawers and/or closets with the closet door shut.
Keep any woolen clothing in heavy plastic bags.
Clean or dust surfaces in your child's room weekly. Try to use furniture that doesn't attract and hold dust (wood, metal, or plastic as opposed to upholstered when possible). Avoid shelves that hold pictures, books, and knickknacks; move those items to another room or store them in closed cabinets.
Contain clutter. Although it's difficult to remove clutter from any child's bedroom, it is essentia every night to put all toys and books in closed containers, drawers, or closets.This reduces your child's exposure to dust while sleeping.
Avoid stuffed animals. It's hard for children to give up stuffed creatures completely, but try to keep them to a minimum. At least keep them off the bed. If your child has a favorite stuffed animal, wash it regularly in hot water.
Keep all food out of your child's room to avoid attracting roaches.
If your home has a forced-air heating system, turn it off in your child's room, or cover the bedroom air vents with filters.
Many places sell supplies that help reduce allergens in the bedroom. Most linen or bedding stores carry hypoallergenic mattress and pillow covers. They can also be purchased from online or catalog stores. Some useful items include: electrostatic cloths that remove most dust, HEPA filters to remove animal dander in the air, and a dust mite reducing solution.
The Pet Question
Children with asthma are often allergic to pets that shed hair, dander, and feathers. Some studies indicate that if pets are present in the home before the diagnosis of asthma, a child may already be sensitized to pets and less likely to be allergic to them. Once a child has been diagnosed with asthma, however, it is better to avoid furry and feathered pets. If you don't remove a pet from your home, at least keep it out of your child's bedroom at all times, even when your child isn't in his room. Animal dander is very sticky, so if a furry pet lives in your home, every effort should be made to wipe down all surfaces each week.
While this can be very difficult, it is important to keep your child from picking up and playing with the animal. Acceptable options for pets include fish, reptiles, frogs, or turtles.
Tobacco smoke is the most common irritant for children with asthma. The best way to reduce tobacco smoke pollution exposure in the home is for the smoker to stop smoking. If there is a smoker in your family who has not completely quit smoking, the next best goal is to move the smoke away from your child who has asthma.
Steps to a Smoke-Free Home
Children with asthma are at a higher risk from the effects of cigarette smoke. Parents can take these steps to protect their children:
Smoke only in one room
Blow smoke out the window
Use an air purifier or smoke filter
Never smoke near a child
Never smoke in a car with a child
Smoke only outside the home
Never allow smoke in your home or car
Never allow smoke around a child
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