There are five essential points in securing the health of houses :

1. Pure air
2. Pure water
3. Effective drainage
4. Cleanliness
5. Light

Without these no house can be healthy. And it will be healthy just in proportion as there are deficient.

(1) To have pure air your house must be constructed so that the outer atmosphere shall find its way with ease to every corner of it. House architects hardly ever consider this. The object in building a house is to obtain the largest interest for the money, not to save doctor's bills for the tenants. But, if tenants should ever become so wise as to refuse to occupy unhealthily constructed houses, and if so thoroughly as to pay a Sanitary Surveyor to look after the houses where their clients live, speculative architects would be speedily brought to their senses. As it is, they build what pays best. And there are always people foolish enough to take the house they build. And if in the course of time the families die off, as it is so often the case, nobody ever thinks of blaming any but Providence for the result. Ill-informed medical men aid in sustaining the delusion by laying the blame on "current contagions". Badly constructed houses do for the healthy what badly constructed hospitals do for the sick. Once insure that the air in a house is stagnant, and sickness is certain to follow.


The very first canon of nursing, the first and last thing upon which a nurse's attention must be fixed, the first essential to the patient, which all the rest you can do for him is as nothing, with which I had said you may leave all the rest alone, is this : TO KEEP THE AIR HE BREATHES AS PURE AS THE EXTERNAL AIR, WITHOUT CHILLING HIM.

Even in admitting air into that room, few people ever think where that air comes from. It may come from a corridor into which other rooms are ventilated, from a hall or room always unaired always full of the fumes of gas, dinner, washhouse, water-closet - and with it, the room is aired, or as it is called - poisoned it should be said.

Always air from the air without, and that too through those windows which the airs come freshest. From a closed room, especially if the wind do not blow that way, air may become as stagnant as from any hall or corridor.

Again, a thing I have seen both in private house and institutions. A room remains uninhabited; the fireplace is carefully fastened up with a board; the windows are never opened; probably the shutters are always kept shut; perhaps some kind of stores are kept in that room; no breath of fresh air can possible enter into that room, nor any ray of sun. The air is stagnant, musty and corrupt as it can possibly be made. It is quite ripe to breed smallpox, scarlet fever, diptheria, or anything else you please.

Extracted from NOTES ON NURSING What it is and what it is not.
By Florence Nightingale : Harrison, London, 1859. * Page 8, ** Pages 14/15.