Express Newspapers - Snow warning: Why turning the heating up could KILL - and children are especially at risk
SNOW is forecast in the UK again today, causing yet more chaos with cancelled flights and school closures. But no matter how cold it is - turning the heating up could be dangerous due to humidity levels.
Snow in the UK has continued to fall today, and freezing temperatures are hitting the UK yet again.
There have been more weather warnings, and forecasters claimed there will be more ice and fresh snow in Scotland and eastern England.
The government has warned that elderly people should take care specifically - making sure they are warm and do not slip on ice. Children too should be wrapped up.
However, even inside your house the cold weather can pose a risk, or more accurately, the central heating that combats it.
Snow forecast in the UK is leaving more Britons at home, especially children as many schools close thanks to the conditions. But turning the heating up in your home could cause health problems.
Research carried out by Opinion Matters on behalf of Ecoair found that humidity in our homes in the winter often rises above optimum levels and can be harmful for our health as well as damaging our homes.
The home experts found that 79 percent of Brits have lived in a property affected by condensation, damp or mould and one in five (21 percent) of Brits are unaware of the issue of excess moisture in the home.
What is more almost half of those surveyed (43 per cent) will have children living or staying in their homes over winter.
Children are particularly at risk from infections caused or exacerbated by living with high humidity and it’s important to protect them during the colder wetter winter months.
This can result in mould or black mould, which have dangerous spores that can cause toxins.
The NHS said mould can cause: “Allergens (substances that can cause an allergic reaction), irritants and, sometimes, toxic substances.
“Inhaling or touching mould spores may cause an allergic reaction, such as sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes and skin rash. Moulds can also cause asthma attacks.”
Turning the heating up to stay warm can cause damp, as HealthGuidance.org explains: “Do not try to quickly warm your house up by turning the thermostat on high. This is a common mistake that fails to recognise how a thermostat actually works.”
It adds: “Mould is a serious problem for anyone who has it in their home and it can have a lot of detrimental effects on our health as well as on our furniture and belongings.”
Is turning your heating on and off cheaper, or should you keep it on at all times to save money?
Rooms that are humid are most likely to suffer from mould, so unsurprisingly bathrooms top the charts of rooms most affected by humidity issues.
Over half of bathrooms, 52 per cent, have high amounts of humidity and are most likely to have mould.
What are the signs of mould?
Signs of humidity include damp, mould, mildew, condensation, rotting or warped wood, or peeling paint.
Why is humidity dangerous and what are the signs?
"Airborne microorganisms thrive in humid conditions. The survival and breed rate of bacteria, viruses or dust mites for example, will escalate as soon as humidity levels rise above 60 per cent,” said Ecoair co-founder and MD, Sally Fok.
“This level of humidity is not at all uncommon in UK homes during the colder wetter winter months and the visible signs do not necessarily present themselves immediately.
“As well as risking your health, you’ll likely also end up with costly damage repair bills.”
Why is humidity particularly dangerous for children?
“Children have weaker immune systems so there is an increased chance of them catching infections.
“Bacteria and viruses thrive and spread rapidly in a humid environment, so once an infection is brought home by any member of the family, excess moisture present in the air will increase the risk of everyone else in the house becoming infected.
“A humid environment will also aggravate existing conditions such as asthma or eczema and can trigger numerous allergies.
“So to keep children healthier and defend against winter bugs during the colder months, it is strongly advisable to check humidity levels and ensure they remain below 60 per cent.”
How can we protect ourselves against excess moisture build up?
“Ventilate. It is SO important. Good air circulation – even in winter - will allow excess moisture to escape and is key to warding off illness.
“Open windows regularly and use vent fans every time you are cooking and after taking a shower or bath. Allowing the air to circulate is a quick way to release trapped humidity.
“For those looking for a more immediate and controlled solution or in the case where humidity is continually showing levels higher than 60 per cent, a dehumidifier can successfully restore and maintain the correct moisture levels in the home by extracting moisture from the air.
"Once humidity levels in the home are brought down to below 60 per cent, airborne bacteria and viruses will not only stop breeding, but will struggle to survive.
“To control heavier cases of condensation on windows, damp or mould, it is advisable to bring the humidity down to 40 per cent during the winter months.”