Tuesday October 20, 2015
You are ready to turn on your furnace, and with it comes the potential of the flu.
According to the Center for Disease Control:
"[the] Flu causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths every season."
The flu is a respiratory virus that can result in hospitalization and even death, especially for people with weaker immune systems such as people with certain health conditions, young children and the elderly. The most common symptoms in flu season include fever, sore throat, cough, headaches, body aches, fatigue and stuffy or runny nose.
You may be surprised to know the flu doesn't just sit in the air ducts, it can also be right under your feet- on your carpet and even upholstery. The CDC reports the virus can "live" on objects for up to 24 hours. Their first recommendation is to be immunized. Additional recommendations include not exposing yourself to people who are sick and regular cleaning of any area that could carry the virus. They suggest a bi-annual cleaning of carpets and annual cleaning of ducts during the flu season.
We recommend cleaning your air ducts before you turn on your furnace for the first time this season. This means when the furnace air kicks on, the dust, along with anything it is carrying, won't be blown into the air in your home. Second, we recommend a cleaning of your carpet and furniture. Many people wait for "spring cleaning" to do this, but right now, when the air is shifting and the windows are doors will be sealing in the air, everything should be cleaned.
With potentially millions of flu particles in the air, here are a few more tips on preventing the flu virus:
- Wash your hands regularly. We have heard this in every classroom and public restroom, and yet we still need to be reminded.
- Use a cool mist humidifier in your home. The winter in Colorado is very dry. A humidifier can help with reducing coughs, but can also keep the flu away. PLOS recently published research that suggests homes with a 40-60% humidity range can decrease the flu's survival rate by up to 30%.
- The HVAC (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning) industry has promoted the use of air filters and purifiers to reduce household allergens and pollutants with UV Light. These are great for homes where allergies are a serious concern, or there is an occupant with a lowered immune system.
The flu virus is something we will likely experience in our lives, but for those with a weakened immune system, the measures to prevent it are great. If you care for a child, elderly or someone with a health concern, consider a duct and carpet cleaning appointment before the flu virus is in season.