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Summers are upon us, and the temperatures across the country continue to rise. The National Capital Region is at 38°C as I write this article, and the weather app I use tells me it feels like 40°C.
Despite these numbers, some people are opting not to switch on their air conditioners (AC’s) and coolers because they fear the spread of COVID-19 through these machines.
What’s the connection you wonder? Read on.
There are half a dozen WhatsApp forwards doing the rounds which say that one should refrain from using these appliances during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Explaining the veracity of this statement, Dr Rajesh Kumar Gupta, Additional Director, Pulmonology and Critical Care, Fortis Noida says, “AC’s or coolers can be used at home without any worry whatsoever. If there are symptomatic people at home, the only thing they should do is isolate themselves.”
“However, central air conditioning in offices, malls, buses, trains, airplanes, and such, are what could be a potential risk. It is so because the re-circulated air may spread aerosols that infect a large number of people,” he adds.
He also goes on to say that, “the risk can be reduced considerably if the recommended fresh air change (15 per hour) is done without fail.”
Therefore before public places are re-opened, the filtration process should be checked, and strict adherence to maintain air hygiene should be enforced.
The Refrigeration and AC Manufacturers Associations (RAMA) said that it is absolutely safe to use these appliances with a few additional precautions, and has joined hands with the Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE) to implement air conditioning and ventilation guidelines in the residential and commercial spaces.
It is recommended that one set the temperature of the room air conditioner between 24-30 degrees. 24 for humid climate and 30 for drier conditions.
Other guidelines to follow:
1. Ensure that the room where the air conditioner or cooler is placed is well ventilated. When the AC is not in use, the windows in the room should be kept open to allow the air to circulate.
2. Increase the frequency at which the filters of the air conditioner and coolers are being cleaned.
3. If you feel the air in the room is getting very dry, place a bowl of water in the room when the air conditioner is being used.
Exercise these guidelines and stay safe.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)