How to Prepare Lung-Friendly Holiday Gatherings
It's that time of year again—holiday party season is in full swing. Chestnuts are roasting, marshmallows are toasting, and we're here to help you celebrate the most wonderful time of the year without the added worry of your lung health. Whether you are traveling or hosting at home for the holidays, here are some tips for keeping you and your loved one's lungs healthy.
Prepping Your Home for Hosting
If you are hosting a party for family and friends, there are several steps you can take to keep your indoor air clean and your guests' lungs safe. If you have friends or family members living with lung disease visiting for the holidays, find out if they have allergies and try to eliminate any irritants. Specifically, you can ask if they are allergic to animals, if you have them, and make sure to let them know if someone in your household is sick.
Real Christmas trees are tradition in many families, but the mold and pollen often found on branches and needles can be an issue for those with allergies. Also, be mindful of dust from holiday decorations that may have been in storage; wiping them down with a damp cloth will help prevent asthma or allergy flare-ups.
Certain cleaning products can also affect lung health. Instead of using bleach, aerosol spray or strong air fresheners that may contain harmful chemicals, choose products that do not contain or have reduced amounts of VOCs, fragrances, irritants and flammable ingredients. As a safer cleaning alternative, warm water and soap often will do the trick. Baking soda is good for scrubbing, and a mix of vinegar and water can clean glass.
Scented candles with fragrances such as gingerbread, pine and cinnamon are often holiday favorites for gift giving, but the smells and smoke from burning candles could be harmful to your health, even for those not living with lung disease.
Want the ambience of candles with none of the smells or smoke? Try the widely available artificial "flameless" candles. Their battery-powered LED "flames" flicker and glow so much like the real thing that you'd have to look twice to tell the difference.
Fireplaces and Wood-burning Stoves
Gathering around a fireplace or wood-burning stove may be part of the season for some, but smoke from burning wood indoors can lead to many short-term and long-term health effects, and is particularly harmful to those living with asthma, lung cancer, COPD or allergies. Instead, opt for enjoying the glow of electric fireplaces and logs that flicker without the health risks.
Need heat and not just a pretty flicker? Consider switching to natural gas to power your fireplace or heating stove. Natural gas is a cleaner source of heat for your home than burning wood.
If you decide to burn wood, be sure to upgrade to the cleanest burning devices. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopted new standards for wood-burning devices that should be fully in place by 2020, as manufacturers phase them in and make their equipment cleaner and more energy efficient. Some devices currently meet the 2020 standards and have hangtags showing this certification. Look for devices that meet the upcoming 2020 standards; not only are they much cleaner, they require less fuel to produce the same amount of heat.
Please don't burn old gift wrap, boxes or holiday party trash either indoors or out. Recycle or otherwise place them in your garbage cans.
The Lung Association is working with local communities to implement woodstove change-out programs to help residents upgrade to cleaner-burning, more energy-efficient heating appliances and technologies. Learn more about Lung Association woodstove change-out programs.
Secondhand Smoke and Smoking Triggers
To help your guests stay healthy throughout the season, protect their lungs by keeping secondhand smoke out of your home – which can be a trigger for individuals with lung disease. Make your home a smokefree space for the holidays and ask guests to smoke outside.
In addition, if you are a current smoker and want to quit smoking, or know someone who does, we encourage you to start your new year smokefree with help from the Lung Association's proven-effective Freedom From Smoking program.