Is It Safe to Go Outside During Cold and Flu Season?
During the cool winter months, it’s not uncommon to suffer from the effects of the common cold, flu, and other bugs. Being cooped up indoors can contribute to the spread of cold and flu germs, especially at schools, daycare centers, and offices. But is it safe to go outside?
Read on to learn about the affect fresh air and temperature may have on your mood and your likely exposure to illness.
Why Are Colds and Flu More Common in Winter?
Did your mother or grandmother ever tell you to wear a hat in winter so you didn’t catch a cold? They weren’t wrong, but they didn’t have the full story. Colds and the flu are more common in winter for several factors, but none of those are directly related to a chilly head. There are many factors that come into play.
Three of the top reasons include:
- Proximity: When the weather is cool, or in tropical climates during the rainy season, we stay indoors in enclosed spaces packed with other people. Anytime where humans are forced to stay in close proximity (less than three feet apart), we’re likely to see an uptick in the spread of illness.
- Immune System Suppression: The ability to exercise, access to fresh air, and sunlight (vitamin D) have a positive impact on the body’s immune system. Oftentimes, our wintertime lifestyles lead to a natural suppression in our immune systems—leaving them more susceptible to germs.
- Humidity and Temperature: Temperature and humidity do matter to our body and to the ability for viruses to thrive. In general, viruses thrive in cooler temperatures. In contrast, sustained cold temperatures may impact body temperatures, and a lower body temperature may leave you with your defenses down. Similarly, breathing in dry air may exacerbate the symptoms of the cold or flu.
Does Fresh Air Kill Germs?
No. Fresh air alone will not kill viruses or other germs. Freezing temperatures are not known to kill germs, nor will temperatures less than 165 degrees kill germs. However, if you are in good health, opening your home’s windows, going for a walk or a jog, basking in the sun may help boost your immune system.
Bottom Line: Is It Safe to Go Outside in Winter?
Wondering, is it safe to go outside during cold and flu season? Yes. As long as you take the proper precautions to stay safe.
These precautions should include:
- Dress for the weather: Wear warm clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses, and appropriate footwear.
- Don’t go outside if you or someone you live with is sick: Stem the spread of viruses like the flu by working from home, avoiding stores, and keeping your children home from school.
- Avoid touching shared surfaces as much as possible.
- Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Keep a personal-sized bottle of hand sanitizer on hand for times when washing is not possible.
Right now, we’re faced with a much more sinister virus, coronavirus, the viral pandemic now spreading throughout the world and affecting our communities in the United States and Canada. At Aire Serv, we’re working to help our customers stay healthy and sane during this time of social isolation and physical distancing. Please refer to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for keeping your household safe during this time.
What Can I Do to Mimic the Outdoors in My Home or Office
During the winter, it’s hard to bring the outdoors inside, but there are steps you can take to mimic some of the benefits of fresh air.
These steps include:
- Running a humidifier indoors.
- Opening curtains and blinds to let in natural sunlight.
- Replacing HVAC furnace filters, frequently.
- Utilizing a stand-alone HEPA air purifier.
Breathe Easy with Help from Your Local Aire Serv
At Aire Serv®, we’re dedicated to providing our valued customers with HVAC and air quality solutions that help them breathe easy, year-round. From air filters and indoor air quality testing to humidifiers and everything in between, our local service professionals are ready to help. Call or request an appointment online to learn how we can help you breathe easy.