Before you run over to the Army–Navy supply story for a bio-hazard mask, take the following steps. Some are very simple and even the most ambitious can be done with common household tools.

—Make sure exhaust fans and dryer exhausts vent outside

— Ventilate your attic and crawl spaces to prevent moisture build–up

—If using cool mist or ultrasonic humidifiers, clean them according to the manufacturer's instructions and refill them with fresh water daily

—Thoroughly clean and dry water–damaged carpets and building materials (within 24 hours, if possible) or consider replacing

—Keep the house as clean as possible. House dust mites, pollens, animal dander, and other allergy–causing agents can be reduced, although not eliminated, through regular cleaning

Additional tips include:

—Keep pets away from home furnishings like beds and couches that can collect their dander fi Wash bed linens regularly to inhibit dust mites

—Keep the relative humidity at 30 percent to 50 percent, both for optimal home comfort and to control the growth of biological irritants like mildew. Bonus: it'll kill dust mites, too

—Clean and disinfect the basement floor drain regularly. Do not finish a basement below ground level unless all water leaks are patched and outdoor ventilation and adequate heat to prevent condensation are provided. Operate a dehumidifier in the basement if needed

—Make sure all fireplaces, wood–burning stoves, ovens, and stovetops are in proper working order and adjustment, with adequate ventilation to the outside

—Properly seal paints, solvents, pesticides and chemicals of any type in your home. Keep quantities to a minimum. Whenever possible, keep such items stored in the garage
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