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Staying Elfy

Here are some tips and guidelines on how to help keep your holiday home Virus free. Remember that health is the best gift you can give yourself and your family at Christmas and all year long. Even if you do decide to invite friends over don’t forget to practice Social Christmasing.

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CDC Disinfectant Use

Home risk reduction strategies when no one is ill include:

  • Increase ventilation of fresh air into the home to dilute airborne germs and pollutants.
  • Upgrade to a MERV 13-rated air filter in the heating/cooling system. That efficiency level can capture virus-carrying sneeze droplets. Higher ratings are more efficient but may overly restrict the air flow and cause problems, so consult an HVAC professional if you want to upgrade further.
  • Prevent very low relative humidity below 30 percent, which can make people more susceptible to respiratory infection. This is rarely an issue in warm, humid Louisiana climate, but it can happen during cold winter weather when the heating system is running.
  • As an added precaution, close the toilet lid before flushing to reduce exposure to any germs released into the air by the turbulence, and run the bathroom exhaust fan during and for a few minutes after flushing.

When someone in the household is sick or quarantined:

  • Isolate the affected person in one room.
  • Exhaust air from that room to the outdoors to keep the isolation room’s air from circulating to other parts of the house. This can be done with a small window fan on low speed blowing to the outside.
  • Avoid sharing a bathroom. If that’s not possible, run an exhaust fan continuously. 
  • Close off or cover the central air vents in the isolation room if there is another way to control temperature. Provide a window air conditioner or a room space heater for that room as needed for comfort. In mild weather, open windows.
  • Use a room air cleaner in the isolation room. 
  • Continue the strategies for when no one is sick in the rest of the house occupied by healthy household members.

When no one is ill but the household includes a person at high risk:

  • Isolate the high-risk person in a separate room and bathroom if possible. Keep the door closed. This is to protect the at-risk person in case another household member has the virus without symptoms.
  • Use a window fan to ventilate the room with outdoor air blowing from outside to inside.
  • Close or cover the central air vents into the room and provide a room air conditioner or space heater as needed.
  • Use a room air cleaner in the isolation room.
  • Healthy indoor air quality tips for all homes:
  • Pollutant source control is top of the list. Never allow smoking indoors, don’t burn candles and always use the range hood when cooking. Buy and use only low VOC cleaners and household products (read labels). Avoid overuse of disinfectants, such as bleach, which produce unhealthy fumes. Do not rely on air filters or air cleaners as a substitute for pollutant source control.
  • Try to maintain 40-60 percent indoor relative humidity for optimal health and comfort.
  • Make sure all drain traps have water in them to prevent sewer gas in the home.
  • Clean and capture dust with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner or damp-wipe methods.
  • Clean high-touch surfaces often, especially door handles, light switches and countertops.
  • If the home was built before 1978, assume it could have lead-based paint and asbestos-containing materials. Home repair and renovation projects that disturb paint or asbestos materials can create a serious hazard. Hire only EPA Lead-safe Renovators to do work on the home.
  • When choosing new door, cabinet and faucet handles, consider brass. Uncoated copper and its alloys, as well as silver, can have anti-microbial effects. Although more research is needed, a recent study by the National Institutes of Health and CDC reported that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, remained viable for up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces versus up to four hours on copper.

References:

  • magnoliareporter.com/living_and_learning/education/article_78b1ccf8-8fbc-11ea-a2d1-3be98c36dbe0.html
  • cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection.html

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