The public health measure that may not occur to you

by | Feb 13, 2023 | Health and Wellness

By now, most of us are probably familiar with some of the basic steps we can take to help us stay healthy. For example, singing the birthday song, twice-over, to help make sure we’ve washed our hands for long enough, wearing a well-fitting mask in crowded indoor places and to cover our coughs and sneezes with the crook of our arm, not our hands. And of course, to stay home if we feel sick.

But there’s something else you can do that might not be top of mind, and that’s improving indoor ventilation.

Good indoor ventilation can help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses like COVID-19, RSV and the flu. These viruses spread from one infected person to others through infectious particles released into the air. Good ventilation helps to reduce the levels of potentially infectious particles in the air, by replacing indoor air with outside air, which is especially important when you’re with people from outside your immediate household.

Simply put: the better ventilated a space, the less likely you are to breathe in infectious particles that can make you sick.

But what can we do to improve ventilation at home in colder weather, when gatherings are often inside?

  • There are plenty of small steps that can make a surprisingly big difference:
  • Open windows and doors whenever possible, even if it’s cold or wet outside. A few minutes of outdoor air can help.

Run a kitchen or bathroom exhaust fan continuously at low speed and open a window – even if it’s in a different room – to provide replacement air.

  • Consider using an air purifier with a high-efficiency air filter (known as a HEPA filter), that is properly sized for the room.
  • Regularly clean or replace filters in your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. If your home has a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) or energy recovery ventilator (ERV), run it continuously.

These steps may seem basic but they can affect the overall air quality in your home, especially when you’re hosting family and friends.

Find more information on ways to improve ventilation at canada.ca/respiratory-viruses.

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