Information for Residents: Keeping your Home Healthy and Safe during COVID-19
Keep the Air Inside your Home Healthy
- Get fresh air. Open doors and windows occasionally or use fans to replenish the air and dilute concentrations of pollutants inside your home.
- It’s better to avoid cleaning with products with strong scents, such as bleach. If necessary, remove harsh chemicals inside the house and within reach of children. Discard old chemicals that are not being used.
Reduce Excess Humidity
Reduction of moisture levels helps reduce the number of dust mites and the possibility for mold growth and prevents the paint from being damaged which can potentially expose lead-paint hazards. High moisture alone, even without mold, is associated with a higher risk of wheezing, coughing, and asthma symptoms.
- If possible, repair or seal minor water leaks through roofs or walls, around doors or windows, and from water pipes.
- Run the exhaust fan in your bathroom when bathing or showering and the kitchen exhaust fan when cooking. Leave the bathroom exhaust fan running for at least 15-20 minutes after getting out of the shower/tub to ensure that the moisture is cleared out from both the bathroom and the ventilation ductwork. If the cover of the exhaust fan is dirty, vacuum it to remove any attached dust and increase ventilation efficiency.
- Make sure your dryer is vented to the outside. Also, clear the dryer’s lint screen every time you use the dryer, and periodically clean out your dryer’s venting ductwork if you have the right tools. These two steps will make the dryer work more efficiently and even reduce the possibility of fires caused by clogged venting ductwork.
- If available, use a dehumidifier if the humidity levels inside the home are still high after implementing the recommendations indicated above.
Reduce Allergens and Pollutants
- Don’t smoke! If you do, always smoke outside, away from windows and doors. Make sure to close all doors and windows to the inside of the house to keep smoke outside. Wash your hands after smoking and change your clothes before spending time with someone else in your household. This will reduce the chances of the worsening of asthma symptoms in any member of your family suffering from this or any other respiratory affliction.
- Vacuum (with a HEPA vacuum, if possible) and clean surfaces, counters routinely and mop floors at least once a week to remove accumulated dust and any food particles that could provide nourishment to mice or cockroaches.
- Replace the air filter in your HVAC system periodically so it does not become a reservoir for household dust and all the allergens associated with it.
- To control dust mite allergens, wash sheets and bedding at least once a week, drying them at high heat. If available, use dust mite-proof mattress and pillow covers.
- Now is a good time to tackle the clutter in your home, especially in the bedroom of people with asthma or any other respiratory condition. This will help reduce the allergen levels from dust mites and pests by eliminating places where cockroaches and mice may hide or even make their nests.
Prevent Fires and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- This is a great time to install, test, and change the batteries in your smoke and CO alarm.
- Replace any defective or deteriorated electrical cords or power strips to avoid short circuits that could lead to a fire.
- Don’t use your oven or kerosene space heaters to heat your home. The utility in your community may allow you to delay or miss payments on your bills right now without shutting off your service. Contact your utility provider if you’re concerned about your bill.
Prevent Household Injuries
- To prevent trip and fall injuries maintain adequate lighting, especially on staircases, by replacing any burned or defective light bulbs throughout the home.
- In pre-1978 homes, look for areas with paint that is chipping or peeling. Use duct tape to cover window sills or small areas on your wall, to reduce lead dust until you can get these areas fixed using lead-safe practices. Vacuum any dust accumulation on wooded window wells.
- Check asbestos-containing materials regularly for damage. Don’t try to remove asbestos that is already in place; it is best left undisturbed.