Over the last couple of weeks, it has become increasingly apparent that the calendar has clearly forgot to tell the weather that winter doesn't officially start for a couple more weeks. With all but six states in the U.S. having snow on the ground, it is a safe bet that there are a lot more people spending time indoors. During this time of year, it is actually common for people to experience worse allergy and asthma symptoms. Though most offending plants are dead or nearly dead, mold spore counts can be high from decaying fall foliage, cold weather induced asthma ramps up, and lower humidity inside your home can mean more dust. Because most modern homes are very tightly sealed, indoor pollutants and allergens build, so for some, the more time you spend indoors, the worse your allergies seem to get. Keeping all of this in mind, here are some top-to-bottom tips to get your home allergy ready for winter.
- Furnace Filters - Starting in most people's basement, the furnace or HVAC filter is often the first line of defense against dust and other indoor allergens. Ductwork can be a hotbed for dust, pollen and microbes, and firing up the furnace for the first time can flush all of this out into the air you breathe. Traditional furnace filters should be changed at least every three months. Generally by this point, they've filtered all they can really hold and are likely seriously impeding air flow. If you have a permanent or semi-permanent filter, like a Permatron, now is a good time to rinse/wash it. Either way, cleaning or replacing your furnace filter is a good first step in reducing indoor allergens.
- Laundry - Do you use any sort of anti-allergen detergents or laundry additives? It is a good idea to stock up. Things like wearing layers, having family visit/stay with you, and unpacking winter clothes or winter bedding can all contribute to a lot more laundry. And for those things that may have been in storage, like your winter comforter or favorite "ugly sweater," Washing them before you first use is always a good way to get rid of any dust or odor they may have picked up.
- Fireplace or Burning Wood - Though I'm not sure how many people still grow up like I did, primarily heating your home with wood, wood burners and fireplaces can quickly foul up the air in a house. From not properly managing the draft and flue to simply needing to have the chimney cleaned, there can be a variety of causes of this. A mask with carbon and air purifiers can help with some of this, particularly when you're starting or stoking a fire.
- Replacing Air Purifier Filters - The times when you need to replace your air purifier filters will vary. Some filters last years, like an Austin Air filter, while other may only last you a couple months, like 3M Filtrete filter. For air purifiers to keep your indoor air clean, overlooking filter replacement can present a serious roadblock. Check your user's manual, or if it's a model you've purchased from us, check out site to see when you need to replace the filter. Keeping your HEPA filter current can really help in reducing allergens in your bedroom and throughout your home.
- Pets - As you spend more time indoors, so to do your pets. This can mean more hair, more dander, and more sneezing! Regular baths help, but bathing too frequently can cause more problems than what you solve. Humidity levels are generally lower during the winter, so more frequent baths can strip away the oils that your pet produces to keep its skin and fur healthy as well as lead to things like doggie-dandruff and lot of itching and scratching. In between baths, things like pet wipes and AllerPet can really make a difference. AllerPet denatures the proteins found in dander to neutralize these allergens without bathing. Pet wipes are a quick and handy way to cleanse away loose pet hair and dander from your pet's winter coat. And don't forget to brush! Winter coats are often thicker, and this can mean more pet hair floating around your home.
- Bedding - Many of us put our winter clothing and bedding away when spring rolls around, and when you dig it out for winter, it can sometimes be dusty, have an odor, or best of all, have critters! For bedding and clothing that's been stored away, washing it before you use it can be very helpful. Comforters and blankets, in particular, can be hotbeds for dust mites, so once through the washer and dryer (with hot water and at high heat, respectively) can go a long way in keeping allergens out of your bed. Additionally, if you're like me and enjoy having a foot warmer during winter, (also known as my dog) an extra dust mite mattress or duvet cover simply thrown over your bedding can block the dander and the pet hair that your furry friends often carries.
- Vacuum - If you have a replaceable HEPA filter, when was the last time you checked it? Generally about one year is all the use you get from a vacuum HEPA filter, and often if you are noticing odor when you are vacuuming it can be because you need to replace the filter or the dust bag. Replacing these components at regular intervals can not only keep the surfaces and the air in your home cleaner (provided you have a sealed system, certified HEPA vacuum), but also reduce strain on the motor and keep this handy home appliance performing at its best.
And just a reminder, with the holiday season upon us, keep in mind shipping times if you are wanting your order to arrive before the 25th. Standard deliveries, if ordered by Dec. 16th-19th should arrive before Christmas. This will vary a bit depending on your specific location. Expedited deliveries (1-2) day, can be ordered as late as the 19th and arrive on time. Of course, all of this is weather dependent, and we all know, the weather in much of the country hasn't been the most cooperative this past week.
Author: K. Gilmore
Shhh... it's so quiet.
The Blue Air Purifier
Hardly hear it hum
My dear Christina
Oh how I love your kittens
But not allergies
Its flu season now
Time to use my Respro mask
Keep me safe outside
Hot drinks for cold nights
No milk in my hot cocoa
No egg in my nog
Has lots of stuff for your nose
They will help you breathe
There's only 24 hours left to take advantage of our 15% Off Thanksgiving Sale. Use coupon code "thanks2013" to take a season's best 15% off your order. From a warm, cozy blanket, to HEPA air purifiers, humidifiers, and HEPA vacuum cleaners, save big on the best brands and products to help keep your home comfortable all year round!
Sunday I was raking up an area on the side of the house. I often neglect it simply because it's a smaller space, but it does tend to fill with maple and oak leaves as well as pine needles. When I was done, it was nearly dark, but I noticed white splotches on the ground. No, it's not snow. It was entirely too warm for that... Mold!
Mold spores are all around us, and given the right conditions, mold can quickly turn from spores to actively growing colonies. Fall leaves often present the perfect opportunity for mold growth. The dead leaves provide the perfect cellulose based food source, and when enough of them fall in any area, they form an insulating barrier over the soil. This barrier helps to trap warmth but more importantly moisture, which is critical for mold growth. In this situation, all of the conditions for mold growth are set, oxygen, food, and moisture.
This type of scenario is fairly common during this time of year, regardless of where you live in the U.S. Actively growing mold colonies can create problems for anyone but particularly those who deal with allergies and asthma. The substances produced by mold colonies can range from the benign to the toxic and cause symptoms that can include dermatitis, sneezing, runny nose, congestion, red eyes and wheezing. So what can you do?
Well, the easy approach is stay holed up for the winter and "much like the bear do," sleep your way through winter. For most of us though, that notion is nothing more than a pleasant fiction. Besides, by the time spring rolls around, you'll still be dealing with mold. Removing it can be simple enough, provided you have the time and the right tools. Raking up and bagging leaves is the tried and true way to remove much of this problem, but while you're doing so, there are a couple of things you should do to reduce your exposure to mold.
I always wear gloves. It's not because I have delicate hands, but there can be a variety of decaying leaves, pine needles and other debris that can range from being bone dry to gelatinous mush. Second, I always wear a mask. Something as basic as an N95 respirator can effectively block mold spores.
Even when the weather is dry, there can be, and still often is, mold lurking under the leaves or pine needles. Dust is also a concern under these conditions. I often mulch the leaves into a bagger before dumping them into a refuse bag, and this can create a LOT of dust. Any time I do not wear a mask, my throat and nose will feel "funny" for a while afterwards. It's some odd mix of dry but congested and feeling like I inhaled sand. I also change my clothes before and after to also help keep from bringing the dust and mold spores inside and spreading them all over the house.
Generally, if you can manage to keep the leaves and pine needles picked up, you will go a long way towards reducing the mold or fungus that can pop up in your yard or garden. Now, if I could only figure out a way to shake the hell out of those trees to get the last of the leaves off.....
Author: K. Gilmore
In general, vacuums are loud. I mean, really, how can they not be? Most vacuum cleaners are essentially a motor and a bag (or container to hold the stuff you vacuum up). The motor creates suction that draws in air, debris, dirt, then traps the particles while allowing the air to pass back into the home. The problem is that not only does the motor produce noise as it runs, but you also have the suction created by the vacuum - that "giant sucking sound" (anyone remember Ross Perot?).
These two things often combine to make most vacuums so loud that you simply cannot hear the phone ringing, someone knocking on the door, or even someone in the same room trying to talk to you. Ultimately, brand matters little in this regard. From Dyson and Kirby to Eureka and Hoover, and everything in between, most vacuums are loud. But are ALL of them loud enough to rattle your windows? With the help of my family, I've decided to give you a photographic representation of a better way.
Looking for a quieter vacuum, particularly one that offers filtration as good as a HEPA air purifier, suction as powerful as any available, a warranty that surpasses all competitors, and a choice of styles, features, and colors? A Miele is your best bet! And I am fully confident that this completely unscientific photographic representation offers all the proof you need.
Shop Miele Vacuums
Special thanks to my sister, sister-in-law, and nephews. The Miele pictured is the Auto-Eco (formerly the Bolero).
Thanks for messing up the shot!
Author: K. Gilmore
There is not much that I can definitely say about life. It is a truly unique experience that many of us likely take for granted too often (me, again). For some, we're thankful for being in a position of financial security or our jobs/careers. Some of us are thankful for our health and being able to enjoy this life of ours. Others are thankful for being rich with loved ones, children, family and friends. Still others among us are simply thankful for a roof over our heads and food in the pantry. Most basically, every one of us who is reading this right now can be thankful for this day. Each day we draw breathe is a day where our tales are yet unwritten, and with that brings hope, and the opportunity for each of us to author another page in the story that is our book of life.
So between the turkey and football, the fellowship and friendship, I simply wanted to take a couple minutes to let my inner optimist out and offer thanks for all that I have in this life, both large and small.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Author: Kevin Gilmore
The most popular humidifier category is ultrasonic humidifiers. The appeal of ultrasonic humidifiers starts with their ability to put a lot of moisture back in air very quickly and often ends with them being some of the absolute quietest humidifiers available. In between there are a pretty wide variety of features and control options that help to differentiate these models. Most perform best as cool mist humidifiers, and the majority offer digital controls with a built-in hygrostat so that you can not only set your humidity level, but see what current conditions are in the room. Check out our Top Five Ultrasonic Humidifiers.
The deepest offering of any category is cool mist humidifiers. Not only does this encompass all of the ultrasonic models but also evaporative humidifiers and air washers. Cool mist humidifiers do just what the name implies, deliver soothing, cool mist to help relieve symptoms associated with asthma, allergies, eczema and the flu. In this category you will find a variety of styles, but each is effective in combating these winter symptoms. Compare our Top Five Cool Mist Humidifiers list.
The next category is our warm mist humidifier selection. Warm mist humidifiers are a favorite not only for the comforting warm steam they emit but also because many offer the ability to use a medicine cup or essential oils. A traditional problem with warm mist humidifiers is that by boiling the water, they presented a potential safety issue around kids or pets. As the years have passed, some manufacturers have overcome this problem and offer true warm mist without the potential problems. Additionally, a large portion of ultrasonic models offer a "pre-warm" feature, and while the mist that comes out isn't as hot as the old school, boiler-style models, it does help to kill germs and is warmer than the standard cool mist. Heat things up with our Top Five Warm Mist Humidifiers.
Last but not least are compact/child humidifiers. Though this category has a split purpose, child humidifiers vs. travel/portable humidifiers, many of the features that make the models the best are shared by each half. Features like size, ease-of-use, and weight all factor into decided which humidifier will be right for your child's bedroom or which is handy to take along with you on your holiday trip to see family. Go compact or fun with our Top Five Child/Portable Humidifiers.
Author: Kevin Gilmore
There are a few things that set Anton apart from other ultrasonic humidifiers. The first thing you'll likely notice are the colors. Unlike others, this model actually offers you a variety of colors. Even more than that, the color selection goes beyond the standard black, white and grey that typify most humidifiers.
For those interested, "Azurro" is not only the Italian word for light blue, but it's also an old Italian pop song from 1968, though the spelling is a little different. Trivia aside, the colors range from the regular to the vibrant.
The next thing that makes Anton unique is its size. Empty, it weighs about 4lbs. and stands less than a foot high. This makes Anton a great fit in smaller bedrooms, dorm rooms and nurseries. Despite the small stature, Anton is stable. Like the Oskar, it has a steel base that keeps it firmly in place regardless of what surface you place it on. Anton is literally small enough to fit in the palm of my hand!
At this point you've probably guessed what particular group of people the Anton is perfect for - kids and teens! Not only do the colors make it a better fit, but the size does as well. These two things are the only reasons why it's an excellent model kids, teens and young adults. As an ultrasonic humidifier, Anton is extremely quiet, so the low hum wouldn't even disturb a sleeping baby, but since there's not boiling mechanism it's also very safe. Lastly, the Anton humidifier is very easy to use. Granted, it lacks some of the features of more expensive models, but in its simplicity, it is ideal for those who just need a humidifier to keep their indoor air more comfortable and helps relieve things like dry skin, chapped lips, night time coughing, sore throats and dry sinus passages. There are basically three controls - a power button, a slide to set your humidity output and a button to dim/turn off the small indicator light for use at night.
All of these things combine to make Anton a great humidifier for kids, teens or even your college age, young adults. Size, colors and ease of use set it apart, and not matter which color you select, each Anton can provide soothing cool mist moisture during the harsh winter months.
What's next? Choose your color and shop Anton humidifiers by Stadler Form, of course!
Using a group of 15,000 twins, Danish researchers looked at things like time to pregnancy, the outcomes of those pregnancies in wide range of the participants, including those with asthma, allergies and people that lacked both of these. Even when researchers adjusted for differences in things like socioeconomic status, body mass index, and other factors, an association between asthma, how well the asthma was being treated and time to pregnancy emerged.
The shortest time to pregnancy, TTP, was demonstrated in women without asthma. The longest TTP was for women over 30, with asthma that wasn't being treated. These two variables, treatment of asthma and age, also played a role in the association. Asthmatic women who were over 30 generally tended to see a longer TTP than those who were under the age of 30. And, women who's asthma was untreated, also tended to see longer TTP than those who were treating their condition.
While not definitive, this study highlights a few things. First, if you're a woman with asthma, treat it. Not only can effectively treating your asthma improve your quality of life, but it make lessen the effect that asthma has on fertility. Second, age matters. The older you get, the greater impact allergic disease, like asthma, can have. Lastly, the study broadly indicates that a systematic disease that can create systematic inflammation (like asthma) can have an effect on a seemingly unrelated process like reproduction.
To read the abstract of this study.
Author: K. Gilmore