Opening a window could be a key factor in helping to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, an expert has suggested.
As temperatures start to take a turn for the chilly, more of us will be abandoning outdoor meet-ups in favour of seeing friends and family inside – in areas where it’s allowed and while sticking to the rule of six, of course.
So ensuring our homes are as COVID-safe as possible is very important.
While we know we need to be washing our hands and maintaining social distancing when meeting other households indoors, scientists believe there’s an additional precaution we can take – opening a window.
Professor Shaun Fitzgerald, a University of Cambridge scientist who sits on the Sage environmental working group, told The Times that ventilation could become almost as vital to preventing the spread of the virus as handwashing and social distancing.
Why? Because it stops the viral particles building up in the air inside rooms.
For anyone feeling concerned about a long, cold winter spent shivering with the windows flung open, Professor Fitzgerald has some words of reassurance: you don’t need to have all the windows in your home open fully.
Thankfully, it turns out you actually need less fresh air in winter because of the temperature difference between the toasty inside and the chilly outside.
“The bigger the temperature difference between the inside and the outside, the more airflow you will get,” he tells The Times.
“So you can actually get away with not quite as much opening area in winter.”
Professor Fitzgerald suggests opening a high window if you can and leaving it open for an hour after meeting anyone indoors.
This isn’t the first time the benefits of having good ventilation have been discussed in terms of helping to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.
Back in July a group of scientists signed a letter, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases saying that COVID-19 is not only spread by touch and droplets sprayed from the mouth and nose but, also via very tiny airborne particles of liquid and material, known as aerosols, that stay suspended in the air.
One of the scientists, Susan Roaf, professor of architectural engineering at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, went on to tell MedicalXpress that an effective way to reduce the spread in this way is by simply opening the windows.
According to Professor Roaf, opening a window allows the virus to escape, which means the amount of it in a room can be reduced, leading to a lower risk of infection.
Back in April, and at the beginning of UK lockdown, scientists also discussed the benefits of opening windows and blinds, revealing that doing so could help stop the virus “settling” indoors.
Having discovered evidence the virus can survive on surfaces, researchers from the University of California, Davis, recommended people open windows to “dilute virus particles indoors”.
Pulling back curtains or blinds also lets in natural light, “a free, widely-available resource” that could break the pathogen down, the scientists revealed.
Indeed, the NHS also says there are things you can do to reduce the chances of spreading any infection to the people you live with and one of the recommendations is keeping windows open in the room you’re staying in and shared spaces as much as possible.