Winter is here! We spend most of our time indoors in this season. Here are some easy,simple steps to take to keep your family healthy and safe during this time. 1. Get your carpets professionally cleaned. Fall produces a lot of dust and dirt that invade your home. It contains many allergens,such as ragweed pollen. Debris from fallen leaves can contain mold spores. It gets tracked in onto your carpet and stays there. Pets spend much more time indoors, so their hair and dander accumulate more. Also, dust mites continue to live in carpet throughout the year. Their feces often produce allergic reactions that can lead to illness. According to doctors at Intercoastal Medical Group, if you have ongoing allergies and they aren’t treated effectively, it could weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to viruses and other germs. That, in turn, could enable your uncontrolled allergies to evolve into a sinus, ear, or upper respiratory infection. If you are prone to allergic asthma,your sensitive air passages may be more reactive to viral and bacterial triggers. And when your allergy symptoms disturb your ability to get a good night’s sleep, that too affects your immune system and makes you more likely to succumb to infection. Should you get sick while suffering from allergic asthma, you could be at greater risk of experiencing complications from the illness. Vacuum frequently for sure, but know that vacuuming has its limits. Professional carpet cleaning like Citrusolution of Asheville provides destroys those allergens and keeps you healthier. According to Mike Holmes, professional contractor and TV host, here are some other steps to take. 2. Test for Radon January is National Radon Action Month in the US, and it’s a good time to test your home for radon. Why? In the winter, we tend to keep our houses more tightly sealed, so you can get a more accurate reading of the radon levels in your home. Why is this important? Long-term radon exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. You can’t see, smell, or taste radon – the only way to know what your levels are is to test. 3. Check and Change Your Air Filters Think of your HVAC system like the lungs of your home. You want to make sure they’re running smoothly and efficiently. What’s the best way to do that? Make sure your filters are in good shape. Generally, you can get away with only changing your filters every three month. But during months when your system is in overdrive (like during the winter), I check and replace mine monthly. This will keep your system running well, and ensure the air quality in your home is good. 4. Install a Heat Recovery Ventilator Speaking of air quality – how often do you think of the quality of the air you breathe in your home? Often times the air in our homes can actually be worse than the air we breathe outdoors. Especially now, as we’re building our houses to be better sealed and more airtight, it means that we could be at risk for breathing that same recycled poor quality air. How do we fix that? A Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) is designed to supply and distribute fresh air from the outdoors and expel excess warm air from inside the home. Not only will this help mitigate issues like condensation and wet windows, it also keeps your indoor air fresh. 5. Reduce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) The materials you choose for your home can have an overall effect on your health. There’s a good reason we don’t use asbestos in our building materials anymore. The average home contains many building materials and finishes that off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Everything from furniture, paint, cabinets, carpet, and more contain VOCs that could be off-gassing in your home for months, or even years. VOCs can have a large effect on our indoor air quality – and you’ll find that homes that have been recently renovated often contain higher levels of VOCs. There are products on the market that contain fewer, or no VOCs. When you’re choosing your finishes for your next renovation, consider looking for carpets and paints that are lower in VOCs to make your home healthier. Follow these steps, and help your family avoid those winter colds and flu!