Source: RLS Media
“There are simple precautions that residents can take to help protect themselves from Legionnaires’ disease, such as regularly flushing water at their taps, cleaning their showerheads, and maintaining their water heaters,” says epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan.
“Additionally, home and car air-conditioning units do not use water to cool the air, so they are not a risk for Legionnaires’ disease growth.”
According to the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), residents, particularly those at high risk, should engage in best practices to limit the growth of Legionella in household water systems and devices. If you are at an increased risk for Legionnaires’ disease:
– Consider avoiding hot tubs, decorative fountains, power washing, or similar activities, which may generate increased amounts of aerosols or mist. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintaining your hot tub an indoor and outdoor decorative fountains according to the manufacturer’s instruction
– If using medical equipment that requires water for use or cleaning, such as non-steam generating humidifiers, CPAP or BiPAP machines, nasal irrigation devices such as Neti Pots, and attachments for nebulizers, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and maintenance. This often includes using sterile water instead of tap water in the device.
– Clean and/or replace your showerheads and faucet aerators (screens) per the manufacturer’s instructions whenever buildup is visible. Cleaning might require you to remove the showerhead and hose and soak in a solution (such as white vinegar or a bleach solution) to remove buildup. Specialty biological 0.2-micron filters on your showerhead can be helpful for the severely immunocompromised.
– Keep your water heater set to a minimum of 120F. Setting the heater to a higher temperature may better control Legionella growth, but to avoid scalding, include a thermostatic mixing valve, which allows you to store water at a higher temperature within your water heater to help kill bacteria while eliminating concerns with water being too hot at sinks or showers.
– Conduct routine flushing of sinks and shower taps that are not used often can increase the risk of Legionella growth in other areas of the home. Let your faucets and showers run for at least three minutes when they have been out of use for more than a week.
– Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintaining your water heater and expansion tank, including periodic flushing, draining, and sediment removal.
– Clean and/or replace all water filters per manufacturer’s instructions. Drain garden hoses and winterize hose bibs. Detach and drain the hose, shut the water valve off inside the home, and drain the pipe when not in use for the season.