Home Ventilation: Protecting your family from viruses
February 23, 2021
While masks, hand-washing and social distancing have become the most talked about virus prevention measures, there is another safety measure that doesn’t get much airtime. We are referring to home and work ventilation and their role in protecting your family from viruses such as Covid-19.
To understand why proper ventilation is such an important factor in reducing the spread of Covid-19 and other airborne viruses we first need to understand how these viruses are spread before we can look at ways we can protect ourselves and our families.
Is ventilation an important factor in preventing COVID-19 from spreading?
Research released by the Department of Health and Social Care shows that being in a room with fresh air can reduce the risk of infection from particles by more than 70%. In fact, ventilation is such an important factor in preventing the spread of coronavirus that the UK Government released a video as part of their Hands. Face. Space. Campaign focussing specifically on this important issue.
How can home ventilation protect you against viruses?
So now that we know that proper home ventilation is an important virus defence mechanism, we need to understand why. Viruses such as the Coronavirus are spread in two ways. Firstly through droplets, which land on surfaces and then come into contact with a host, and secondly through aerosols which are tiny airborne particles that are breathed in. While ventilation doesn’t prevent the former, it can go a long way in preventing transmission from aerosol particles. Since ventilation moves air around the home it disperses these particles and lowers their concentration, in turn reducing the chance of infection. While ventilation is a great way to eliminate aerosol particles, it should always be employed in combination with other safety measures.
Ventilation when cleaning and disinfecting
When it comes to reducing the spread of the virus through droplets the most effective method is regular cleaning and disinfecting. And this doesn’t only mean washing your hands (although that is very important). It’s important to disinfect surfaces which may have come into contact with the virus, but it is also essential to ensure that the space you are cleaning is well ventilated.
Ventilation not only reduces the buildup of hazardous chemicals found in cleaning products, but it also reduces the chances of virus particles being resuspended during the cleaning process.
Improving the air flow
Even when we’re not facing a global pandemic improved airflow can have a host of benefits for your general health and wellbeing. From reducing the chances of moulds and mildew forming in your home to ensuring you get the oxygen you need while you’re sleeping at night. A simple step, like opening a few windows can have a positive long term effect on your family’s health.
Reduce indoor airborne contaminants
Ventilation also helps reduce the amount of contaminants in your home. This can be something natural like the buildup of excess carbon dioxide from respiration, or alternatively pollutants, cleaning by products and mould spores. In short, a well ventilated home is a healthier home.
How to improve ventilation in your home
The good news is that, while proper ventilation is essential, it can be quite easy to achieve, often as simple as opening a window or door. But with that said there are some principles that you should bear in mind. Ventilation is all about airflow, that means the air needs a path to move through your home, so if you do open a window it is important to ensure that there is another opening or artificial ventilation mechanism (such as a fan) to help circulate the air.
Open your windows
Opening a window is probably the simplest and most accessible way to improve ventilation. However, there are two major barriers to leaving your windows open for extended periods of time. Firstly, it provides a possible access point for opportunistic thieves, which poses a security risk. And secondly, it can be difficult in the case of bad weather, particularly in the winter months, when an open window can let cold air in.
One product that helps with both these issues is the LockLatch, a lockable window latch, which can be fitted to just about any window. LockLatch (or the smaller, more compact MiniLatch) allows you to keep your windows open, but securely locked, while also giving you the flexibility to adjust the size of the opening or close the window completely when the weather isn’t playing along. Alternatively, you can install a MiniLatch which allows for a smaller opening to help keep bad weather out.
Fans to improve air flow
For homes or apartments where cross ventilation isn’t possible, you will need to find a mechanical means to help circulate air and a fan (whether it is a standing fan or ceiling fan) is a great way to create these artificial air currents.
Air conditioning system with strong filters
A slightly more expensive way to mechanically ventilate your home is with an air conditioning unit. These devices can help circulate air in the home, but it is also important to ensure that adequate filters are installed and that they are clean. While air conditioners recirculate some of the air from the home, as long as you keep a window open and have a HVAC filter installed on your product the risk of virus particles in this recirculated air is greatly reduced.
Keep your doors open
Just like windows, doors are one of the best ways to keep your home well ventilated. However, doors come with the same (if not more) security and weather concerns. It’s not always possible to leave a door open, but with a LockLatch (which can be installed on any type of door in minutes) these issues are largely mitigated. LockLatch also features an adjustable arm which allows you to control the width of the door opening meaning you can adjust it to a smaller opening in the case of bad weather, or open it wider when the sun is out.
Ventilate rooms overnight
Getting enough oxygen while we sleep is an essential part of everyday health. Simply opening a window at night can help you to wake up feeling sharper and well rested. However, many people are wary of sleeping with their windows open due to security concerns. Once again, LockLatch solves this problem, by allowing you to keep your windows open all night, without compromising your home security.
Install extractor fans
Extractor fans are particularly useful in rooms with poor natural ventilation, especially bathrooms and kitchens. These devices not only move air around, but also pull particulate out of the air preventing the buildup of aerosols which can spread viruses.
Ways to prevent the spread of viruses
It’s important to remember that proper ventilation should be just one of many measures you take to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Every precaution adds another layer of protection for you and your family, so proper ventilation should always be accompanied with the supporting measures outlined below.
When you aren’t wearing a mask, it’s important to follow proper sneeze etiquette. Sneezing sends both droplets and aerosols into the surrounding air, so it’s important to cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze to stop this occurring. Instead of sneezing into your hand (where the droplets can be transferred to a surface or another person) rather sneeze into the crook of your elbow as this lessens the chance of you inadvertently spreading the virus.
Washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water is one of the most effective measures for reducing the spread of Covid-19. You should wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds whenever you have been outside or have touched anything that could possibly transmit the virus. A good tip is to sing happy birthday twice while washing your hands to make sure they are adequately cleaned.
As we have already mentioned proper ventilation reduces the amount of aerosol particles in the air, but the virus is also spread by droplets which land on surfaces. That’s why regular cleaning and disinfecting of these surfaces is such an important part of your virus defense plan.
Keep a good immune system
While it’s one thing keeping your space free of the virus, this should be supplemented by looking after your immune system. People with compromised immune systems are not only more likely to catch the virus, but the effects can be far more severe. It’s important to ensure that you and your family take immune boosters such as Zinc and Vitamin C to give your body the best chance of preventing infection.
Following on from the point above, a healthy diet is one of the most effective ways to improve your immune system. As a general rule you should have a varied diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, a well as pulses (such as beans and lentils). If you are looking for more guidance, nutrition.co.uk has put together a useful guide with a variety of resources.
Try to avoid stress
While it might be impossible to completely avoid stress, particularly during a pandemic, it can have a knock-on effect in other areas of your life. Stress can seriously impact your body’s natural immunity so ensuring that you find ways to destress (get enough sleep, exercise and find time to relax) should form part of your Covid-19 defence plan.