6 hacks to outdoor-ify your indoors to reduce COVID-19 spread

(SACRAMENTO)

Outdoors is safer than indoors when it comes to COVID-19 transmission. This has been one of the golden rules since the start of the pandemic.

“Being outside provides more air flow so the virus is more easily diluted,” said Daphne Darmawan, pediatrician at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

But how can you reduce your COVID risk while indoors, if you are around those who are not part of your household? In addition to using the scientifically proven safeguards of masking, testing, hand hygiene, and getting vaccinated and boosted, here is one more tool for your toolbox: improve the ventilation in your home.

Here are 6 hacks to accomplish just that, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  1. Bring as much fresh air into your home as possible. Open windows and doors. Keep them open while you have visitors indoors for increased airflow.
  2. Filter the air in your home. In homes where the HVAC (which is your heating and cooling system) fan operation can be controlled by a thermostat, set the fan to the ‘on’ position instead of ‘auto’ when you have visitors. This allows the fan to run continuously, circulating air, even if the heating or air conditioning is off. Other ways to improve your HVAC:
    • Use pleated filters. These collect more particles than standard filters. Make sure the filter fits correctly.
    • Change the filter every three months – or according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
    • Make sure your HVAC system is inspected and maintained by a professional every year to ensure it is operating efficiently.
  3. Add a portable high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air purifier. A HEPA air purifier can help purify air from pollutants, including COVID-19 particles. But note that these can only filter the air in a single room, not the whole house. Make sure you buy one that is the right size for the room where it will be used. Check the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) in your HEPA air purifier and make sure it meets or exceeds the square footage of your room. Be sure to change the filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Turn on the exhaust fan in your bathroom and kitchen. Fans above your stovetop and in your bathroom that vent to the outdoors can help move air outside. But even fans that don’t send air outside can still improve air flow in these areas. Keep these exhaust fans turned on when you have guests and keep them on for an hour after your visitors leave.
  5. Use fans to improve air flow. Place fans as close as possible to an open window blowing outside. This helps get rid of virus particles in your home by blowing air outside. Even without an open window, fans, including ceiling fans, can improve air flow inside. Point fans away from people to avoid directing contaminated air at others. Don’t leave fans unattended with young children.
  6. Limit the number of visitors inside your house and limit the time guests spend indoors. While you have guests in your home, make sure everyone wears a mask, including those who live in your home. Keep visits as short as possible. Try to gather in larger rooms or spaces where you can maintain distance.

Related links

CDC’s Interactive Ventilation Tool

Clinical Trials at UC Davis