In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a good deal of misinformation regarding how best to prevent the disease’s spread. To this day, the CDC does occasionally amend its advice. But generally speaking, it’s become clear that one of easiest ways for the virus to spread is through poor ventilation.
This is because the virus can spread through the air, and particularly through the tiny moisture droplets that people naturally expel when they breathe. You may not even realize that that these droplets are leaving your body as you breathe… but they are, and if a space is not properly ventilated the virus essentially collects in the space and is easier to catch.
Obviously, one of the ways that we can keep the virus from spreading in this way is through cutting down the number of people in one space at the same time. But this isn’t always an option. Furthermore, if one person is sick within a poorly ventilated space, it won’t matter if there are 10 people around them or only two. Those other people will be at risk of catching the virus. Additionally, a lot of people who catch COVID-19 are asymptomatic and therefore don’t realize that they have the virus. If we’re going to properly fight the spread of the virus, it’s clear that proper ventilation is key.
When an area is properly ventilated, the air is essentially being circulated in and out of that space. This means that while poor ventilation lets the same air linger with weak circulation, good ventilation will circulate that virus-laden air out of the space more quickly. This is why indoor spaces are so much riskier in regards to the virus than outdoor spaces. Every indoor space, from homes to schools and even airplanes, can fall prey to this issue. With that in mind, let’s explore how to ventilate these spaces properly.
How Can I Ventilate My Home Properly?
Homeowners have control over how to best ventilate their houses and they actually have quite a few options. They can first open their windows, using screens to keep pesky bugs and allergens out of the houses. But obviously, this isn’t going to work at all times; when the weather is cold or especially rainy, you may not want to keep your windows open. This is why it’s also a good idea to operate fans around windows and attics.
Homeowners should also consider running a window air conditioner. For the best results, they should keep the air conditioner’s vent control open, as this will increase the home’s outdoor ventilation rate. If your home has a larger HVAC system, you need to make sure that its compressor is running properly, as this is essentially the heart of the air conditioning unit, ensuring that its cooling function works efficiently. In order to function as needed, compressors have the correct fluids. When having your HVAC unit serviced, make sure that the fluids are replaced as needed. Actually, when they are replaced, about 99% of the oil will still be perfectly fit for use. This means that such fluids may not need to replaced quite as often as the others.
It’s clear that the air within homes is best circulated with a combination of air conditioning units and fans. While not all homes possess proper HVAC systems, you can have a window unit installed if you’re concerned about COVID-19 or perhaps simply use more fans.
How Do We Ventilate Airplanes?
Airplanes are notorious for their poor air quality. Many travelers were already worried about getting sick on an airplane before COVID-19 became a reality that we were all aware of. But we can’t always avoid traveling by plane. An estimated 1 billion American passengers fly each year. Fortunately, there are aways that airplane designs can prevent poor ventilation, and modern designs are actually far more ventilated than you may think.
The good thing about airplanes’ ventilation systems is that they can quickly suck contaminated particles into vents and away from passengers. However, it remains important that you not only wear a mask on a plane but also turn on your personal fan. Having the air blasting in your face may take some getting used to, but this will ideally help the air circulate a bit more efficiently. Airplanes use ventilation systems that essentially blend fresh air with recycled air, which ideally helps those systems filter the air. However, it’s still important to be cautious about air travel for the time being and to keep an eye on how airplanes are updating their ventilation practices.
How Do Commercial Buildings Stay Ventilated?
Buildings like schools, offices, and restaurants naturally experience a higher influx of people than homes and currently even airplanes. This is why it’s especially important that these buildings remain properly ventilated. However, this can understandably be somewhat challenging. Most of these buildings already have HVAC systems with filters. It’s crucial that these systems are regularly serviced with professional guidance and governmental oversight in light of the pandemic. It’s generally been advised that these systems increased their filtration and ventilation as a rule. But every building is different, and the systems need to be altered to fit the needs of those buildings.
Restaurants, for example, have been encouraged not only to clean their ventilation systems more regularly and have them professionally inspected more often but to additionally improve their engineering controls. The airflow supply should be increased in occupied spaces, and demand-controlled ventilators should be disabled. These ventilators may lower the airflow depending on how many people are occupying a space. It’s important that regardless of how many people are in the space, every area has plenty of fresh air. With the restaurant industry employing almost 15 million people, or about 10% of the American workforce, it’s vital that this industry is as safe as possible.
There are so many considerations to make in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. But perhaps the most important adjustments regard ventilation. Proper ventilation will make spaces that we can’t avoid safer and therefore restrain the spread of the virus.