Monday, March 8, 2010

How Healthy Is The Place You Call Home?

When we conjure up a picture of an unhealthy living environment, most of us will automatically come up with a mental image of urban slums and dense areas of industrial plants belching smoke and pollutants into the air. You might think of traffic-clogged highways and high crime rates, too. While almost any US city has these problems to varying degrees, a few of them lead the pack with regard to being the healthiest metropolitan areas in which to live and work.

A recent study tells us that San Jose, California is the nation’s healthiest major city. It is followed in order by: Washington, DC, San Francisco, CA, Seattle, WA, Salt Lake City, UT, Oakland, CA, Orange County, CA, Denver, CO and Austin, TX. Cities were ranked by health statistics, the number of licensed hospitals and health care providers, environmental factors and mortality rates. These are not the only healthy cities in the US, just the top ten according to one poll.

Most of us cannot afford to uproot our families, quit our jobs and move to a healthier environment. What if you live in a big city that’s not in the top ten? For instance, let’s suppose that you live in Philadelphia, PA. If that’s the case, your hometown is ranked 24th in the list of USA’s healthiest cities. Considering the number of cities in the United States, that’s not too bad. Of course, in every city, some areas are a little healthier than others. Some Philadelphia apartments and homes are in safer, fewer polluted areas than others, and some are nearer good hospitals and surrounded by quality health-care providers. The point is that, while there may be other cities that are healthier overall, your own city is probably a good place to live if you’re picky about your neighborhood.

Still, just as we cannot always choose the city where we live, some of us may find ourselves in less than desirable neighborhoods with no real option to get out. We may be under a huge mortgage or have a home that has been in our family for ages. Crime may be creeping into our comfortable suburbs and dangerous fumes may be carried in by the wind from new industrial areas.

You can do something to make your hometown and your neighborhood healthier. Become active in programs that promote a healthy community. Start a neighborhood watch program to combat crime. Lobby city commissioners and other government officials for more police and fire protection. Report polluters to the EPA (believe it or not, they investigate these reports, and if a company is polluting, they will fine them). All of these are pro-active moves to make and keep your home, as well as those of your neighbors, part of a healthy neighborhood. Healthy neighborhoods combine to make a healthier city.

Cities are not the only unhealthy places to live. Still, due to the higher population density and environmental factors, many are not the best place on earth to settle down and raise a family. If you love where you live, and want it to be a healthy living environment for yourself and others, get involved. Maybe next time your city will be number one.

No comments:

Post a Comment