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Reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19 in your home

Society is currently facing a very uneasy situation. The total number of COVID-19 cases is currently a stone’s throw from a million, and will continue to increase. It is estimated that up to 60% of people will contract COVID-19 within the next year, which has led to the implementation of drastic measures.

Affected countries are enforcing mass social distancing in a desperate attempt to curb the spread of the virus, both domestically and globally. Consequently, the vast majority of people find themselves confined indoors for lengthy periods of time. 

The above statements combine to highlight that the 60% of society who contract COVID-19 will likely be trapped indoors. Given that approximately 71% of the UK population live in multi-person households, it is entirely realistic (and statistically likely) to suggest that we will end up living with someone who has the virus.

Nevertheless, we are able to take a number of precautions to minimise the risk not only for ourselves and our own families, but also for the rest of society.

6 ways you can minimise risk

Continuously clean and disinfect surfaces

Isolate those who display obvious symptoms

Open windows or doors

Increase filtration

Monitor humidity

Ventilate Bathrooms

1. Continuously clean and disinfect surfaces

Evidence shows that contaminated surfaces also act as sources of transference. In part, the material of the surface determines how long COVID-19 may remain as a contamination risk. A recent study revealed that this can be up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. It is therefore vital to regularly clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces such as sink taps, door handles, surfaces, appliances, and toilets. Have a look at this article for common home cleaning sprays registered with the Environmental Protection Agency that they recommend as good combatants against the virus.

2. Isolate those who display obvious symptoms 

Research conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Laboratory of Virology found that the virus could airborne for up to three hours. Therefore, it is vital to isolate those who are potentially infected, for example by dedicating a room to them and closing the door. Put aside a set of clothing to wear when inside or interacting with the person in this room, ensuring they are not worn at any other time. This helps prevent spreading the virus to other areas of your home if the isolated person coughs or sneezes on you when you are with them. 

3. Open windows or doors

Architects chasing energy efficiency have made buildings increasingly airtight. As a consequence, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is often 5x worse than air outdoors. Due to recent social distancing measures we are now spending even more time indoors, reducing IAQ further. Opening windows and doors helps to dilute this stagnant air. Welcoming in the outdoor air doesn’t act as an open invite for airborne viruses, rather scientific studies have shown that this is effective in reducing the accumulation of airborne viruses. 

4. Increase filtration

Another successful way of reducing airborne viral particles is through the use of air filters. Operating in a similar way as a kitchen sieve would, as air flows through the filter media, particles are captured. If someone in the household is self isolating, place a portable air purifier in the room. If not, run air purifiers in rooms where people are spending the most time. In multi-family housing, contact your landlord to check the filters, they should be MERV13 or better. 

5. Monitor humidity 

It is scientifically proven that the survival and growth rates of viruses are highest in low humidity environments, whilst the human body performs better at moderate humidity levels. This optimum relative humidity for humans indoors is between 40% – 60%. To further reduce spread, run a humidifier in commonly used areas or areas used for isolation.

6. Ventilate Bathrooms

Lastly, it’s important to ventilate all bathrooms in the household. Multiple studies have found that people can shed viruses in feces. One particular study showed that children with mild infection can shed COVID19 in their feces for over a month. Furthermore, when flushing fecal waste bioaerosols are generated which can remain in the air for over half an hour. Effective ways to eliminate this include closing the lid prior to flushing, running the exhaust fan or opening a window. 

To reduce the likelihood of contracting this virus as much as possible it’s best to adopt these precautions now and follow guidelines set by your government. This virus is highly contagious; by staying home everyone has the opportunity to save lives.

We would like to credit Joseph Allen for some of the research and the inspiration behind this.

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