Healthy Home Tips: Is Your Home Safe?

Woman with a hard hat on and cleaning gloves getting ready to work

You love your family and your home want what’s best for your children’s safety, but you might not realize the dangers hidden in your house. Don’t worry; once you’re aware, you can easily protect your children from harm and avoid dangerous situations.

We have compiled the best information from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help you easily protect your home and children.

For Allergies and Asthma:

1. Test your home for radon with low cost kits you can buy from your nearby supply store or online
2. Open windows or use fans to let in fresh air whenever someone uses chemicals in the home or garage
3. Wash bedding, including blankets, pillow covers, and mattress pads in hot water every week to keep down dust mites
4. Don’t leave out pet food or water overnight if you have problems with cockroaches and other pests

For Mold and Mildew:

5. Check the filter in your air conditioner a couple times each year and change when needed
6. When you use your air conditioner, use the “auto fan” setting to reduce mold and moisture

For Water

infographic on keeping a healthy home and household hacks and tips for eliminating or getting rid of pests

7. Do not throw chemicals in the garbage or down the drain
8. Use a back flow prevention device on your faucet to keep pollutants from washing back into your drinking water
9. If your pipes have lead, never use hot water from the tap for drinking, cooking, or making baby formula because hot water takes more lead out of the pipes
10. Even in Florida, lead can enter drinking water. Ask your doctor about testing for lead, and wash your children’s hands and face often with soap and water, especially before they eat

For Household Products: 

11.Clean up mold with a mix of laundry detergent or dishwashing soap and water OR chlorine bleach with soap and water. Do not mix chlorine bleach with any product that contains ammonia
12. Read the label of household products and look for words like “caution,” “warning,” “flammable,” “harmful,” “danger,” and “poison.” If a product has warning words on it, keep it out of reach of children and don’t eat, drink, or smoke when using the product.
13. Always store dangerous chemicals in the container they came in. Never put them in another container, especially one you might eat or drink from.
14. If a product says “work in well ventilated area,” use it only outside or with the windows open.
15. Buy Syrup of Ipecac at your local drugstore. The drug makes a person throw up and should only be used when a doctor or the Poison Control Center says it’s okay. Sometimes throwing up can make the poisoning worse, according to the USDHUD
16. Use a plunger to unclog sinks instead of chemicals
17. Always read the label to find out how to dispose of the chemicals and the container
18. Call 1-800-222-1222 for your local Poison Control Center

For Pests:

19. Make sure people eat at the table, and don’t let them walk around with food
20. Don’t leave dish water in the sink. Pests need water to survive.
21. Get rid of stacks of newspaper, papers, bags, and cardboard boxes that pests can live in
22. Place all pesticides out of reach of children
23. Wash clothing you wore while using a pesticide in a separate load of laundry

When Preparing Food (according to the USDHUD):

24. Wash and scrub all fruits and vegetables under running tap water
25. After washing, peel fruits and vegetables when possible
26. Throw away the outer leaves of leafy vegetables like lettuce
27. Trim fat from meat and skin off fish and poultry to avoid pesticides that collect in fat


infographic on ways to prevent choking and suffocating in young children as part of a healthy home tip or hack

General Home Safety:

28. Keep children away from medications and lock medications up
29. Keep children out of basements, laundry rooms, and garages
30. Store matches and other heat sources away from children
31. Keep space heaters out of busy areas, doorways and halls

To prevent choking and suffocation:

32. Don’t let your children eat hot dogs, nuts, popcorn and hard candy
33. Make sure children drink sitting up
34. Don’t let your children play with balloons
35. Keep your children away from coins, marbles, and buttons
36. Don’t let children play with cars or old appliances
37. Read a toy’s package to make sure it’s right for your children

Around the pool:

38. Watch children under 12 at all times around a pool
39. All pools, hot tubs, and spas should have a fence at least five feet high around them
40. Take all toys out of the swimming area so children won’t be tempted go back in

If you have any concerns about any condition you might have as a result of something in your home, contact a SIMED Primary care physician today by calling 352-224-2225 or scheduling your appointment online.

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Breathing Exercises for Healthy Lungs (Easy)

Old couple walking down a road with a quote over their head about illness and overcoming it

For National Healthy Lung Month (October), we asked SIMED respiratory therapists to go over the best exercises to improve lung health. Our therapists also discussed what to do if you have breathing problems including when you should seek help.

Let’s hear what Ivonne Kratzer and Teresa Brewington, SIMED’s respiratory therapists, had to say:

Why is it important to do breathing exercises and who should do them?

People with any pulmonary disease can have problems breathing normally. The breathing problems can make performing different tasks more difficult. Learning new breathing exercises can help those with breathing difficulties more easily perform basic tasks whether those tasks are walking upstairs or reaching for a can of soup.

Breathing exercises can help people with lung problems maintain regular breathing, slow their breathing down, and get rid of secretions better. The breathing exercises offer an alternative way to breathe that will bring people close to a normal state of breathing. While most people with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) who suffer from blocked air flow likely won’t be able to return to a normal breathing routine, they can slow down the progress of the disease.

 What do the breathing exercises help with?

The major muscles affected when you have breathing issues or COPD are the arms, legs, and diaphragm. If you’re short of breath, you’re not going to want to move as much as you should. When you’re short of breath and try to move your arms, you won’t be able to extend as much as you should. You need to work those muscles and the diaphragm (your major breathing muscle) to improve your everyday functioning.



1. Pursed Lip Breathing – The pursed lipped breathing exercise slows your breathing down and can help you relax. For the exercise, you’re going to breathe in through your nose and pucker up your lips like you’re going to kiss someone. Then you’re going to let your breath out again. The exercise is also sometimes called Smell the Roses.

Infographic and graphic design pictures illustrating pursed lip breathing exercise for people with breathing difficulties

1. Relax your neck and shoulder muscles.
2. Breathe in slowly through your nose like you are going to “smell the roses.”
3. Purse your lips like you are going to whistle.
4. Breathe out slowly through your pursed lips like you are gently “blowing out a candle.”

Try to blow out twice as long as it took you to inhale. This technique helps when you’re exercising, climbing stairs, or need help calming down.

2. Diaphragmatic (Belly) Breathing – The diaphragm is the major muscle used in breathing. It is located under the lungs. When you have a lung disease or are short of breath, you might start breathing with your arms or doing accessory breathing thinking it will help you. This type of breathing wears you out faster and prevents the base of your lungs from receiving oxygen. The base of the lungs is where the gas exchange takes place so keeping those muscles strong and using the base of your lungs to breath is important. Belly breathing requires concentration because you have to think about the way you’re breathing and what you’re doing with your muscle.

1. Sit down in a chair or lie down on your back.
2. Breathe in slowly through your nose.
3. As you breathe in, your belly should move out so your chest can fill with air.
4. Breathe out slowly through pursed lips.
5. As you breathe out, you should feel your belly move in.

Your diaphragm should move up and down during this technique. You can do this exercise while lying down or while sitting.

3. Rescue Positions to Make Breathing Easier – These positions will help keep your breathing calm.


1. Place both feet on the ground.
2. Lean your chest forward a bit.
3. Rest your arms on a table.
4. Open your legs and let your belly fall forward.
5. Rest your head on your arms.
6. Breathe through your nose and out through pursed lips to slow down your breathing.


1. Rest your elbows on a wall, a piece of furniture or on the kitchen sink.
2. Learn forward and put the weight on your arms.
3. Let your belly fall forward.
4. Breathe through your nose and out through pursed lips to slow down your breathing.

Many people in the hospital use these techniques to breathe easier.

The exercises should be practiced at least once a day as recommend by your physician. Once you learn them, you probably won’t even notice you’re doing them and they’ll become a part of your breathing habits. You won’t even realize you’re exercising!

What else can you do if you have lung and breathing problems?

If you have any shortness of breath, even mild asthmatics, a pulmonologist can help guide you on how to breathe better, especially in situations when you struggle most.

Avoid smoking and vaping and practice healthier eating habits (like avoiding a Polar Pop full of coke, for example). While it’s understandable that if you’re having trouble breathing, you might spend more time sitting on the couch and eating, you should try to stay active and exercise as soon as approved by your physician.

Don’t just sit around in a chair all day because you’re short of breath. Even if you’re short of breath, there’s still something you can do. Be as productive as you can, and don’t give up.

When should you see a doctor?

Most people see a pulmonologist when they are in the late stages of COPD, but more can be done if people would seek treatment sooner. Seeing a doctor as soon as symptoms present themselves and making sure you’re seeing the right doctor is essential.

Many people with COPD get misdiagnosed or avoid seeing a doctor. While they might think the issue will improve on its own, it usually only gets worse.

If you’re coughing, experiencing shortness of breath, or experiencing frequent hospitalizations, you should see your primary care doctor. Ask your doctor if they can treat the issue or if it would be better for you to see a pulmonologist.  A pulmonologist can give you a better idea of your limits and how you can get better.

Pulmonologist can help with breathing and secretion problems. Patients can learn how to move secretion out of their lungs when coughing to make it easier to breathe.

What is pulmonary rehab/therapy and why should I do it?

Patients who sit around all day can increase the strength in their legs, arms, and body through the program. They will also gain education on what’s happening with the disease in their body and how they can improve their ability to do daily activities in their lives. People who are younger or in the earlier stage of COPD benefit most from pulmonary therapy, but it can help almost everyone. 

Do you have any words of advice?

It’s important not to let the disease define you if you have breathing issues. People with COPD can get stronger and shouldn’t feel like all is lost. They should stay as motivated and active as possible.

Your illness does not define you. Your strength and courage do.


To visit a SIMED Pulmonologist in Gainesville, call 352-375-0302 or schedule your appointment online.

To visit a SIMED Primary Care physician in Gainesville, Ocala, Chiefland, Lady Lake or McIntosh, call 352-224-2225 or request an appointment online.

If you are interested in SIMED Pulmonary Therapy in Gainesville, call 352-373-6565 to sign up and for more information.

Cooking Hacks for Healthy Heart

cooking with healthy ingredients in bowls with knife
We know our patients love cooking and eating, so we spoke with our resident chef in Gainesville, SIMED ARNP Michelle Green, about how to make great tasting healthy foods. 

Here are her top hacks for healthy cooking:

1. Take Advantage of Free Healthy Recipes on the Internet

Michelle’s favorite go-to website for cooking recipes is While no one in Michelle’s family has diabetes, the food on the website is guaranteed to be healthy and make her family happy. She’s spent hours on the website, browsing through the many recipes and learning health information.
Anyone with access to the internet can take advantage of the free cooking recipes on the site. Just visit the main website, click on the food and diabetes tab, and select recipes.
Another website Michelle recommends is by the American Heart Association which includes numerous dishes certified for a healthy heart. 
At, you can also access healthy meals that everyone will enjoy. You can create your own cookbook and browse through a collection of other cookbooks and recipes like “Healthy, Tasty, Affordable Latin Cooking” or “The 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook.”
Weightwatchers also offers an assortment of free cooking recipes from which you can choose.

2. Swap out fats for healthy alternatives from the Mediterranean diet

Instead of using cooking spray, use olive oil. Instead of having just your standard hamburger, consider making alternatives like black bean burgers or turkey burgers. Cook more fish and chicken and lean cuts of meat. You can even find creative recipes that don’t include meat but provide essential nutrients.

USDA infographic on cooking holiday recipes healthier and holiday food healthier

3. Crunched for time? Turn to frozen vegetables

Michelle has two teenage boys who are always on the run, so when she needs a quick meal she heads over to the frozen vegetables. Michelle warns against buying prepared meals and canned foods. When she’s getting frozen vegetables, she makes sure they don’t have sauce and are without added flavors.

4. Substitute rice for riced cauliflower

Michelle loves riced cauliflower. Available in frozen vegetable aisles in Walmart and Publix, riced cauliflower tastes almost exactly like rice, but provides many more health benefits. Riced cauliflower can be used in casseroles and other meals as a healthy cooking substitute for rice.  
Michelle understands that for most people, money can be an issue, and riced cauliflower is affordable. Walmart sells a Walmart brand version of the product. 

5. Look for food items that include five ingredients or fewer

The fewer ingredients there are the better. Eat as clean as you can, and always check any packed products to see what is inside of them. For example, if you’re making a dish with green beans, if the ingredients in a can of green beans are only green beans and salt for preservatives, it’s a healthy option.

6. Follow the 80/20 rule when grocery shopping

The 80/20 rule states that 80 percent of the food you consume should come from the perimeter of the grocery store (except for the bakery). From the perimeter, you can get fresh cuts of meat, dairy, fresh produce, and other healthy ingredients. About 20 percent of your food can come from the aisles. This includes packaged, canned, or bagged foods, which should in general be avoided, like RiceARoni. 

7. Reference the nutrition label

Most foods and recipes have nutrition information. Check the labels and see what percent of the recommended daily value the food contains of each nutrient before buying. In general, for healthy individuals, men should try not to eat more than 40 grams of fat and women should try not to eat more than 30 grams of fat. 
People who are trying to lose weight should consume less fat, and people who have preexisting conditions (who are overweight or have a disease) will need to figure out based on the label whether the food is right for them and at what portion size. 
In general, try to eat foods with less fat and less salt. Be careful when choosing frozen or canned vegetables, prepackaged foods, and packet foods. Learn how to read labels, especially if you have diabetes. You can take classes at North Florida Regional Hospital or UF Health. 

8. Boil vegetables in low sodium broth for added flavora healthy cooking meal consists of sweet baked potatoes instead of normal baked potatoes, veggies and a little bit of meat

When Michelle cooks vegetables, she puts them in a low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth. For people who enjoy collard vegetables flavored with ham or bacon, boiling the veggies in a low sodium broth can add flavor without adding fat as a tasty healthy alternative. 

9. Substitute sour cream for Greek yogurt

If you’re cooking a recipe that requires sour cream like dips, you should substitute the sour cream for nonfat, nonflavored Greek yogurt. It’s an even exchange that adds protein and makes the food healthier. The food will taste almost exactly the same.

10. Substitute oil for apple sauce when making boxed cakes

If you’re making a cake out of the box, you can substitute oil for apple sauce as a healthy alternative. 

11. Avoid bread as much as possible

When you eat, cut out as much bread as possible from meals. You can substitute bread with vegetables. Bread acts as a filler and doesn’t provide essential nutrients.

12. Swap out potatoes for sweet potatoes

If you’re making a dish that includes baked potatoes, use sweet potatoes instead. They are more nutritious and healthy. 
Michelle Green works in SIMED Primary Care. If you could like to schedule an appointment with her office in Gainesville, call 352-376-2608 or request an appointment online.
If you could like to schedule an appointment with another primary care office in Gainesville, Ocala, Chiefland, or Lady Lake, call 352-224-2225 or schedule the appointment online.