If you’re one of the estimated 40 million people in this country whose allergies flare up when Autumn arrives, this time of year can be very unpleasant. While many associate allergies with spring and the pollen produced by flowering plants, Fall can actually be the worst season in which to deal with them. And those of us who own a Northeast Florida home are not exempt from such miseries.
Most of our problems in this part of the State are related to either weed pollen or mold spores. Our great weather allows us to have longer growing seasons, so these kinds of allergies tend to extend well into November. As the temperatures drop, our local plants tend to release more pollen and the moist, cool air generates increased mold growth on leaves and other surfaces.
Probably the most prevalent cause of our fall allergies is ragweed. Each plant of the common and giant varieties can produce more than a billion grains of pollen per season. Carried by the wind, it can turn up hundreds of miles from its source.
Your Northeast Florida home is no stranger to humidity, and the cooler fall air creates an ideal environment for an increase in mold growth. The damper the conditions, the more mold there will be. Its spores can spread through the air – but unlike pollen, mold doesn’t die off when the weather turns cold. It goes dormant and can reappear in early Spring.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to these Fall allergens and others, such as dust mites, pet dander, and even cockroaches. Allergy control begins at home, and by taking the precautions outlined below, you can enjoy all that Autumn has to offer.
Consider investing in a good dehumidifier to keep humidity levels below 50 percent. In your garage and attic, make sure boxes aren’t damp and check to see that insulation hasn’t gotten wet from recent heavy rains.
Clean your vents and change filters before turning on the heat for the first time. Sometimes mold and other allergens get trapped in the vents during Summer, when our humidity is at its highest.
The main sources of indoor allergens are pets, wall-to-wall carpet, soft furniture, stuffed toys, damp areas, indoor plants, mattresses that aren’t in allergy covers and pillows and bedding you can’t wash in hot water.
But it’s also important to avoid bringing outdoor allergens into the house Stay inside and keep doors and windows closed in the morning and at midday, when pollen is at its highest. Check for any cracks or leaks. You can go online to find the daily pollen count in your area.
Leave your shoes at the door, use a mat, and take a shower, wash your hair and change clothes after you’ve been working or playing outdoors.
Hardwood or tile flooring makes it easier to prevent allergens from being trapped in soft material all throughout the house. But if you have carpeting, be sure to clean it on a regular basis and shampoo if necessary. Use certified asthma- and allergy-friendly vacuum to help control dust mites.
Keep all inside surfaces clean and uncluttered. Replace drapes and blinds with roll-down shades or washable curtains. Wash your bedding, uncovered pillows and stuffed toys every week in water that’s at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Dry them in a hot dryer cycle.
People with pet allergies are reacting to animal dander, which is shed skin cells. There’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic pet. Some animal dander simply has fewer allergenic proteins. It helps to bathe and brush your pets often. Close the doors to bedrooms to keep them out when you’re not home. And remember that long-haired pets can bring pollen inside when the count is high.
The key to reducing mold is moisture control. Fix all leaks and other causes of dampness right away. Be sure to use bathroom fans and clean up any standing water. Wearing a mask, scrub any surfaces that have visible mold with detergent and water, and dry them completely.
Finally, do an online search to find the HEPA filter that’s best for your Northeast Florida home. HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air,” and these filters are made of a fine mesh that’s specifically designed to trap small particles such as pet dander, pollen, and dust mites so they won’t be able to circulate through your HVAC system. Many vacuums come with HEPA filters installed as well.
We hope these useful suggestions from Artisan Homes will help to make your Fall more pleasant.