As soon as cold weather sets in, it happens. Stuffy heads, fevers, coughing … ugh! Fall and winter are officially cold and flu season because it is this time of year when the vast majority of people end up sick.
There is a great, long-running debate about why chillier times of year bring on colds and flu, but one thing is certain: There is no way to stop it. Flu vaccines help, but don't have a 100% success rate with warding the virus off. And colds? We are nowhere close to having a vaccine for those. Prevention or not, if you end up with the flu or a cold, it's yours. The only recourse is to treat the symptoms and wait it out. Thankfully, these things don't last forever.
The good news is, you can help build a more protective environment in your home that contributes to a healthier family who is less likely to get sick. CNN.com, with the help of Ted Myatt, senior scientist at the leading consulting firm Environmental Health and Engineering, Inc. and Director of Research Compliance at University of Rhode Island, came up with 5 ways to combat flu in your home.
#1 Control Humidity – According to Ted, "…recent scientific literature suggests that the low humidity levels may be contributing to the virus' survival. Homes kept at 40–60% relative humidity are likely to have fewer flu viruses lingering in the air and on surfaces like sink faucets, door handles, and countertops."
How do they work? Humidifiers spray an ultra-fine mist into the air that we breathe in. The mist is so fine you don't even know it's there. These devices don't raise the humidity so much that your countertops or clothes feel damp, but just enough to comfort and relieve the irritating dryness that plagues us during wintertime.
Don't have a humidifier in your home? They are readily available in all shapes and price ranges from miniature travel sizes to larger models for bigger rooms. Ted concludes, "In [the 40%–60%] humidity range, the flu virus' survival in the air can be decreased by up to 30%."
#2 Use UV Lights – Yes, UV light can do many wonderful tasks, including killing bacteria. Ted explains, "There's a variety of lightweight disinfection devices that use ultraviolet light on the market. You simply spread the light over the surface you wish to clean for the directed amount of time and the virus and bacteria will decrease substantially."
Think of it as a magic, germ-killing wand. UV lights are portable enough to use in every room of your home. Pack it up and take it with you to protect your health on airplanes, public bathrooms, hotel rooms, playgrounds and more.
#3 Purchase An Air Purifier – In the CNN article, Ted suggests, "During the winter months, most people keep windows sealed and the heat on full blast, causing stagnant, recycled air that can harbor airborne allergens and bacteria. Consider using a portable air purifier in the rooms you spend most of your time. Most air purifiers circulate air several times per hour, cleaning the air."
There is a wide range of portable air purifiers available these days to accommodate practically every size room. There are even some convenient air purifier / humidifier combos that take up less space and do twice the work.
#4 Disinfect Surfaces – Here's something I'll bet you didn't know: While sprays, chemicals and UV lights may kill germs, "cleaning works by using soap and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. It's important to note that you're not killing germs with this process though – you're mainly removing them and lowering their numbers.
#5 Wash Linens – "The flu virus can live on surfaces for several hours – and even longer on more porous surfaces like towels, washcloths, blankets and linens." CNN's suggestion is to wash linens in hot water and/or dry them on the highest setting to kill germs and bacteria.
We'll add one suggestion to the mix.
#6 Clean With Vapor Steam – Steam reaches higher temperatures than water so it is superior at killing germs. A vapor steam cleaner gives you a simple way to rid your home of contaminants as well as destroy allergens and dust mites. And, because steam replaces chemicals for cleaning, there are no issues with danger or sensitivities among family members.
When you understand how bacteria and viruses live and grow, and how to eliminate them on a regular basis, you can easily get the tools you need for a much healthier winter.
All these products may leave you with questions. We're always happy to help! Leave a comment below or give us a call toll-free at 800-237-9199 and mention this blog post. It's our pleasure to assist.