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OUR BABIES., Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2474, 29 May 1915
[By Hygeia.i PnblisheA tinder the auspices of tho Society for the Health of Women and Children. "It is wiser to pnt np a fence at the top of a precipice than to maintain an ambulance at Uio bottom."
AIR. In order to give practical emphasis to an appeal made in this column seven years ago for the provision of a free flow of pure outside air through our houses at night wo published the following list of popular fallacies. In view of the fact that the great majority of bedrooms still remain stufty and insufficiently ventilated, we feel it iB our duty to bring the matter again before our readers in the hope that some few at least will have the wisdom to accept henceforth this the most essential of all health-giving agenoies. if not for themselves, at least for the children entrusted to their care. POPULAR FALLACIES. City air is unduly abused. Serious contamination is nearly always mainly an indoor condition. The air of bedrooms in the country is often ten times as foul as the open air of the densest city; indeed, there are very few bedrooms in which the pollution every night does not greatly exceed that of any ordinary outside air. There is no excuse for this. Air can be kept pure and healthy in the smallest town cottage by providing a sufficient inlet and outlet, and thus ensuring a free current all night. This would be provided by an ordinary fireplace and a sash window wide open —not merely opened a few inches—and unobstructed by any blind or curtain. When the bedroom itself Ims no fireplace, the door loading out of the bedroom and into the kitchen can be left open. Then, if the kitchen window be shut, the air to supply the chimney must enter through the open window of tho bedroom. If windows are kept open on both sides of a cottage, and all the doors are kept ajar, fairly good cross ventilation can be established without the aid of a chimney. In tho absence of only means of establishing a regular cross current, a window uncovered by blind or curtain and kept wide open top and bottom is the best substitute.
[If people had the slightest appreciation of the added health and happiness which would result from such simple measures, they would make nothing of overcoming the trifling objections which tend to obtrude themselves, such as the need to keep out cats or other intruders, or the need to prevent strong winds blowing on the sleepers. A wide mesh wire netting, which can be bought for a few pence a yard, will keep out intruders, and any handy man can improvise a cheap, effective draught screen (see illustrations and text pages 64 to 69, "Feeding and Care of Baby").]
That Wooden Houses Need No Ventilation.
This is often said; but it is absurd. Wooden houses need as much ventilation as any others, and by rights every passage or hall should have a ventilating shaft at least a foot across, taken right up through the roof, and not merely opening into the space under the galvanised iron.
That Night Air Is Dangerous.
The reverse is the case. Night air tends to be purrer than day air. A humorist has aptly said: "Night air is only dangerous if you keqp it bottled up in a room all night!" However, the popular fear of night air is almost uniand has arisen from the fact that in certain countries it is apt to give rise to ague. This is not really on account of impurity of the air itself, but, as has recently been proved, because) it is infested by mosquitoes, which convoy the disease. That Cold Air Is Tho Essential Cause of Colds. This lias been disproved in. many ways. (1) Arctic explorers don't catch cold until they return to stuffy, germ-in-fested houses. (2) Consumptives wlo have becomo debilitated by repeated colds find they no longer "catch cold" after a few weeks in a sanatorium, where no fires are allowed, and when the entire side of a room may bo removed so that the patient sleeps either on an open balcony or something equivalent in high mountain regions, where the cold is intense. (3) Tender, delicate babies cease to take cold if kept out in the open air as much as possible, and if, when indoors, constant ventilation is maintained_ by means of an open window and chimney. This is the condition at the Baby Hospital near Dunedin, even in midwinter,- though tie air in the bedrooms sometimes falls as low as 40deg. i Fair. Of course, every care is exercised to keep the babies out of direct draught, and to ensure that they are adequately covered. Further, sudden changes are never made. It may take a week or more to accustom to pure, 000 l air a delicate baby, or one who has been previously coddled. Colds are really catarrhal fevers due to rapid growth of germs. Cold is not the essential cause of these fevers, though chilling of the surface predisposes to an attack under certain circumstances. Thus persons who habitually coddle themselves and live in warm stuffy rooms, and who fail to take enough exercise, become readily devitalised by being chilled in any way, and in this depressed state their tissues may be unable to repel invasion by hostile germs. That Airing a Bedroom Overnight Suffices. This fallaoy is almost universal. People imagine that if they start with pure air it will not become injuriously foul in the course of the night. Thiß can be disproved at once by entering such a bedroom direct from the fresh air an hour or 6o after the occupant has_ gone to bed, or a fortiori, which he is about to get up. The room will be found offensively stuffy, and chemical analysis of the air would show it to be loaded with carbonic acid gas and other poisonous matters. A few ascertained facts and figures should satisfy anyone. For the last half century it has been recognised that for health each human being should be supplied with at least 3000 cubic feet of pure fresh outside air per hour, or 24,000 cubio feet in the course of an eight hours' night. (Hie ordinary 10ft. fedroom has. of course, a capacity of about 1000 cubic feet, and if no fresh air be admitted during the night the allowance for one occupant will be only 1000 cubic feet for eight hours, instead of 24,000 ft., his proper allowance. Indeed, tho capacity of the room makes little difference, the vital question being whether there is a freo flow of pure air through it or not. One can secure a sufficiency of fresh air in a ventilated coffin, and one would die -under the dome of St. Paul's if it were sealed! Remember, that a child should have as large a supply of fresh air as an adult. If habituated to living in pure air, even a baby will become intolerant of filth in this direction, as if guided by instinct, just as it can bo trained to abhor impurity and filth in other directions. At three years of age such a baby, left to itself, will toddle to a window and open it, rather than continue in foul air, in the same way as a cat will bury its excrement. Infancv is tho natural time lor rstablisliing quasi-inslinclivo life habits.
OUR BABIES., Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2474, 29 May 1915
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