When all you do to clean is sanitize your bathroom and kitchen countertops, you’re not really keeping your whole home healthy. And with cold and flu season upon us, it’s time to take your cleaning habits to the next level. Here are a few ways you can keep your whole home healthy this winter.
Get a Flu Shot
No one enjoys the flu. In fact, once in a while, a bad case of the flu may prove dangerous, and a patient may end up hospitalized for treatment. Now, don’t expect your life to be in danger if you start sneezing, but then again, be ready to take influenza pretty seriously. The flue can cause a variety of symptoms, including sneezing and congestion, a fever, aches, chills, vomiting, and more, and it may take days for a person to recover. Most often, a flu patient will miss several days of school or work, since they are in no shape to go out and about. Good health advice for the flu may include wiping down surfaces at your living space and office regularly, such as doorknobs and handles, stairway railings, computer keyboards and mice, and anything else that is often touched with human hands. Even if something is not discolored or smelly, it may be incredibly germ-ridden, and that’s the real danger. Don’t be alarmed, but a typical computer keyboard, such as one at work or in a library, may be even dirtier than a toilet seat. Maintain a regular schedule for wiping surfaces, where frequently-touched items can be wiped daily and others might be scoured weekly.
Good health advice for the flu extends to inoculation. Children and babies need proper shots to boost their immune system and avoid deadly viruses, but older Americans may need some shots, too. Bear in mind that a cold may last over a week, and children and the elderly are especially vulnerable. Getting a routine shot can help keep your immunity current, and many urgent care centers or hospitals may host flu shot drives every year. This should prove easy since the United States is home to some 7,500 urgent care centers. A good piece of health advice: take the whole family there, young and old, to get some front-line defense against noxious influenza strains. Prevention may be greatly preferable to coming down with an illness and waiting it out. You can also consult your doctor at a family medicine office to see if other shots are in order, too.
Wash Your Sheets Regularly
Many items and surfaces in your home will need to be regularly wiped, dusted off, washed, or otherwise treated so that they are not dirty. This can also help an item look, smell, and feel much better, too, and that’s a lovely bonus. In fact, many homeowners report that it simply feels great to go to bed with freshly washed sheets. So, make sure that you have a good schedule for washing all of your bedding as needed, which ranges from pillowcases to the sheets and fitted sheets as well. Good health advice suggests that washing all of your bedding once every two months should be sufficient, though some homeowners may opt to wash their bedding as often as once per month.
Over time, skin flakes, dried sweat, and more may accumulate in your bedding, which can make it less pleasant to use, and that can attract a lot of dust mites and other critters. More serious problems may take the form of bedbugs, and in areas prone to bedbug infestations, homeowners should take great care to clean their bedding regularly and be careful of borrowing clothes or bedding from other people. And when someone recovers from the cold or flu, it may be a good idea to wash all the bedding for the bed where that person had been during their illness.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Dentistry is a pretty big industry today, and for good reason. Most Americans care a great deal about their teeth and gums, since problems with their teeth or gums may prove painful and expensive to deal with. Not only that, but discolored or crooked teeth, or tooth gaps, are often considered unattractive by most beauty standards. Many people with bad teeth are embarrassed to let people see those teeth in public, and this can even harm their personal image during job interviews, dates, and other activities. Missing or painful teeth may also make eating and speech difficult or uncomfortable.
Take heart: there are many dental offices in the United States, and some are specialized pediatric dentists (for children) while others are family dentists, able to take on a whole family of patients at once. If need be, you can look up local dentists and find a good office for your needs, such as if you just moved to a new city. Dentists often accept a wide variety of healthcare insurance policies, too, and some doctors are available in mobile offices. These are outfitted RVs that allow a dentist to visit a patient anywhere. Any dentist may offer some very good health advice for their patients, too.
Dental health advice for everyday life involves brushing the teeth with a good toothbrush and toothpaste after every meal, to wash away sugars and other debris that enamel-damaging bacteria like to feed on. Further dental advice discourages anyone from chewing on ice cubes or other hard items, as doing so may crack or chip tooth enamel. Dental health advice extends to contact sports, where athletes are urged to wear mouth guards. This is especially true for children.
Clean Your Air Vents
No discussion of home health advice is complete without addressing the HVAC system in your house. It may be easy to take the air for granted, but often, bad air can present itself and wreak havoc. Dirty air ducts or blower fans will scatter VOCs and other compounds, not to mention dust, bacteria, and even pollen, which may greatly lower air quality. This may set off allergies or asthma in some people exposed to such air, and even if no one present has allergies, bad air is harmful in other ways. Many studies have shown that poor indoor air quality will lower the cognitive functions of everyone who breathes that air, such as in offices and other public buildings. Tests in Sweden confirmed that a person who breaths very clean air may score 100% better than someone who breathes very dirty air. Bad air can be a headache, both figuratively and literally.
A homeowner is urged to follow general air health advice and dust off all air vents in their home, and diligently replace furnace air filters as needed. An outdoor AC unit may need cleaning, too. And for deeper work, HVAC contractors can be hired to scour the inside of air vents and wipe off the blower fans (homeowners may have difficulty reaching such hardware). In fact, there might be animal nests or bodies in the air ducts, and workers will remove such debris, too.
Replace Your Fire Alarm
The threat of fire is a serious one, and this may be especially true in winter when dry air and lit fireplaces are present. Not to mention standalone space heaters or candles. A fire alarm system should be checked routinely to ensure that its batteries are fresh, so they will go off if a fire starts. As a bonus, homeowners should review their fire extinguishers and ensure that they are easy to locate and still ready to use. Fire extinguishers may expire, and after that date passes, they cannot function correctly, so they must be replaced.
How else can you make your house safer against fire? Look over all electrical cords and make sure to repair or replace frayed wires, since exposed metal wires are very hot and can easily ignite a carpet, papers, or drapes. Also, make sure that drapes are nowhere near candles or a fireplace, or other open flames. Finally, good fire-related health advice can involve fire escape routes, and the house should be checked to ensure that all doors and windows can make for a good escape route. Make sure that they open properly, and clear away any items that may block a person’s access to them.
Get Out of the House
Good health advice also calls for the great outdoors. There’s really no substitute for Mother Nature, and you don’t have to be Daniel Boone to enjoy fresh air and sunshine for awhile. Most Americans spend a lot of their time indoors and performing sedentary activities, such as gaming PCs or in a cubicle at work. But this is not natural, and the human body and mind will object to that. So, take some simple health advice and get back into nature. This can be pretty easy, and it’s nearly always cost-free, too. Taking a half-hour walk before or after work may be all you need, and it probably won’t be very intrusive on your schedule, either. A good walk can get the heart moving and stretch your legs nicely.
Your mind will benefit from this health advice, too. Exercising outdoors exposes you to sunlight, which has been proven to greatly improve mood and help boost your body’s vitamin D production. You may not even need to order vitamin D supplements when you’re getting enough sunlight on your skin, and fresh air can feel great to breathe in. Lastly, just being around nature can cheer you up, such as at a park, where greenery and flowers and ponds are a natural aesthetic. What is more, there is a growing movement to try shinrin-yoku, the Japanese concept of “forest bathing.” Studies show that being immersed in nature like this provides a real mental benefit.
Protect Your Furry Friends
Good health advice is essential for any species living in your house. Many Americans own pets, with dogs and cats being the most common. Your vet and similar animal health services can provide your pet with exams and medicine, but you can take your pet’s health into your own hands, too. This especially applies to dogs and outdoor cats, who will be exposed to the elements rather than stay in a cage or tank inside the house.
Extremes of weather may impact how you allow your pet to roam outside. During summer, shade and water are essential, and in winter, your pet may need protection against the cold and snow. Some dogs, such as Siberian Huskies, are naturally adapted for the cold, but others are not. So, you may limit your pet’s time outside so that they don’t get too cold, and you can even buy a dog-sized sweater or jacket and have your furry friend wear it. This can protect them from cold wind and cold snow, as dogs may roll around in or even lay in the snow. And when you let your pet back inside, make sure to towel it off and get its fur dry, since melted snow in its fur may make your pet very cold. Cold water will chill a mammal’s body much faster than cold air, after all. And when you walk your dog in winter, you might give your dog some dog-specific boots to wear, to protect its paw pads from very cold concrete or roads.
Take a Breather
You may also experience some stress during winter for a variety of reasons. Short periods of sunlight may dampen your mood, making plans for Christmas or Hanukkah may sap your mental energy, you may have to drive carefully on icy roads, and you may end up feeling cooped up at home. Stress is something that may affect just about anyone, but you are not powerless against it. Good health advice applies to the mind too, and if the roads permit it, you can actually have a good time outside to relieve some stress and “get away from it all.” In some cases, the snowy ground and trees may look beautiful, and you can take a day trip to a local park and stretch your legs.
Also, try keeping a gratitude journal and consult it often, to keep up your good cheer and keep everything in perspective. You can also find stress relief from practicing yoga and meditation, which are not to be dismissed as “new wave nonsense.” In fact, many studies have confirmed some very real mental health benefits from yoga and meditation, which make for excellent antidotes for stress. You may use scented candles or calm background sounds for meditation, though that’s not required. Meditation can be done for any length time, for as much as an hour or as little as ten minutes. Choose a duration and a time of day for meditation that work well for you, and try to be consistent. You may feel your stress and anxiety leaking right out of you, no medications needed. Many people meditate early in the morning right after getting out of bed, but meditation right before bed or right after work can also work out well.