Winterize Your Home for a Healthy Season Indoors
With December comes two things: festive holidays and the return of frigid weather. Meaning homeowners across Michigan are sealing up their household for the next few months. While the goal is to keep rooms warm and comfy while minimizing the energy bill, it’s also important to make sure your indoor living environment is as healthy as possible as we move indoors.
The average American spends 93 percent of their day indoors, so you’re probably in constant contact with others—even those who have a cold or flu. Plus, the dry air allows moisture from sneezes and coughs to hang around. In addition to getting your annual flu shot and washing your hands, there are a number of things you can do to lower your family’s risk of getting sick this season. Consider the following as you winterize your home:
- Manage your home’s humidity levels. Humidifiers are great for reducing the number of airborne viruses and keeping your sinuses under control. But when humidity levels are kept at or above 60 percent, the conditions become ideal for mold growth, which can trigger allergic reactions like sneezing and skin rash. One indicator of high humidity levels is moisture collecting on windows, walls and pipes. If you see these signs, lower your humidifier’s speed setting accordingly.
- Cuddle up to a clean and safe fireplace. It is important to note, indoor fires produce harmful particles, however, no one can deny the cozy appeal of a roaring fire. EPA-certified wood stove inserts burn 70 percent more efficiently than open fireplaces, meaning significantly fewer toxins are released into the air. The compact stoves are designed to slide right into a home’s existing fireplace When you’re choosing your logs, go with hardwoods like maple and oak (they burn hotter and cleaner) and never use wet wood.
- Clean and sanitize all the important places. Some of the highest concentrations of germs can be found in the kitchen, with more than 75 percent of dish sponges and rags containing salmonella and E. coli. The National Sanitation Foundation also found that bathroom light switches, refrigerator handles, stove knobs and microwave handles all have high levels of harmful bacteria. These areas should be included as part of a regular weekly cleaning routine, while surfaces used in preparing food should be cleaned after each use. Use nontoxic cleaning solutions so you aren’t breathing in dangerous chemicals.
- Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) emergencies. Carbon monoxide has no odor or color but it can be deadly. Installing a CO detector will help you monitor its levels. Homes with fuel-burning appliances (such as furnaces and clothes dryers) tend to have greater concentrations, so pay special attention to properly venting and maintaining these appliances. Warning signs of faulty equipment include streaks of soot around the appliance and rusting on pipes and jacks.
How else are you preparing you and your family for a happy and flu-free winter? Share your top tips with us in the comments below.
Photo Credit: kryzhov