As allergy season is starting to kick in, keeping our homes healthy and allergy-free is key to avoiding major allergy outbreaks. For adults, allergies (hay fever) is the 5th leading chronic disease and a major cause of work absenteeism and “presenteeism,” resulting in nearly 4 million missed or lost workdays each year, resulting in a total cost of more than $700 million in total lost productivity.
The air that we breathe can have a tremendous impact on our health and our overall comfort level in everyday life. Pollutants, allergens and chemicals can negatively affect our lungs, eyes and noses, causing us to feel less than our best. Every time we enter our home, we drag in a whole host of unhealthy things from the outside on our shoes, our clothes, and our belongings. Some of the most impactful contaminants from the outside include dust, pollen, mold, and dirt; and in bad weather, water, snow, ice and mud.
Designating a space or a buffer zone where you can remove shoes and transition from the outdoors into your indoor environment is instrumental in maintaining clean and healthy air inside your home. This will help reduce symptoms of asthma and allergies, improve indoor air quality, decrease unwanted pollutants, and in certain cases increase energy efficiency. Lastly, it will help make house cleaning a lot easier!
Here are some tips to keep your home allergy free this season:
Designate a Shoe Space: Remove shoes at the door. This will eliminate tracking allergens throughout your home, but instead will keep them contained at one spot.
Slippers and Socks: Institute a “no shoe policy” inside your home at all times, even for guests. Remove shoes immediately upon entering your home. Go barefoot, or wear socks or indoor slippers inside the house. You might even want to buy special slippers or cozy socks for guests. This will dramatically reduce the amount of tracked dirt, dust, pollen and other contaminants into your home.
Location: Locate a buffer space where it will be most useful. Ideally, you want it to be right near the most used entrance to your home. In many homes, good locations for buffer zones include entrances to and from the kitchen, garage or utility rooms.
Flooring: Ideally, the floor of your transition zone should be a hard surface that’s easy to clean, is highly resistant to moisture, and doesn’t collect dirt or dust. If you don’t have a hard surface at your entrance, consider laying new flooring just at your entryway (about a 5’ x 5’ surface area). Look under extra credit for more information about proper flooring.
Do you suffer from allergies? What do you do to help minimize allergens and their affect on you and your family?