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It’s been a year and a half since the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the world, and while the latest wave of infections has passed, it’s no time to reduce caution. With winter coming and causing people to gather inside, infections are likely to pick up. Experts are predicting that more individuals will be susceptible to influenza infection this year. 

The flu kills between 12,000 – 52,000 people in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These numbers may increase during the 2021 flu season as, unfortunately, it is possible to contract COVID-19 and an influenza virus infection at the same time. 

Families and roommates who share the same living and sleeping quarters are vulnerable to passing and contracting infections and diseases between one another. This is especially true if one or more individuals are unvaccinated against highly contagious viruses such as COVID-19 and influenza. With the holidays upon us, even more American households will be welcoming friends and family members into their homes, increasing infection risk. 

There are several ways to help mitigate this risk inside your home this winter. Here are just a few:

Increasing ventilation naturally. The primary trick to stopping infection in the home is increasing ventilation as much as possible. On pleasant days, opening windows in your house or apartment six inches is all it takes to increase airflow dramatically, dispersing virus particles.

Utilizing air filters. If it’s too cold to open windows, there are other methods you can use, including air filters. Even portable air filters are extremely efficient at cleaning the air of the water droplets that COVID-19 rides on. Effective models are available for less than $200. It’s a good idea to use these in high-traffic or common spaces.

Turn on exhaust fans. You can also use the exhaust fans above your stove top and in your bathroom, which usually help move air outside and keep it circulating. If you have access to a thermostat, you can set the fan to “on” rather than “auto” when you have people visiting, keeping the fan running continuously even when heat is off, which helps keep the air flowing.

Think twice about UV lights. While many claims have been made about UV light fixtures that advertise the ability to sterilize COVID-19, experts suggest avoiding these—outside of those professionally installed in hospitals, it’s not clear how effective they are, and bathing yourself in UV can have unpleasant side effects for your skin.

What if someone in the home is sick?

If the worst has happened and someone in your household is sick, the trick is to make sure you aren’t breathing the same air. Infectious people should stay in their room with the door closed as much as possible, with windows cracked open and fans blowing outward to vent any virus particles, and with air filters on if the windows can’t be open. Wear masks in common spaces until the fever passes.

This may sound daunting, but remember—our society has had a lot of experience with COVID-19 at this point. Stick to these basic principles, and it’ll be easier to sail through the winter unscathed. 

Life Balance Technologies helps hospitals and other companies easily analyze air quality conditions and effectively manage their HVAC systems. By streamlining the process for compliance, auditing, and reporting, we help reduce costs and save lives.