When the heat is on, the goal is a solid 40 percent

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Rev. Walter Klockers

It’s happening again. We are in a time of transition.

So be smart, and begin preparations.

What do I mean? In the past, I’ve noticed that about the middle of September, people start getting sick. Many catch a cold.

Part of the cause may be switching over from cool air conditioning to heat. This dries the air in our living spaces and places stress on our bodies.

I’ve been told that the optimal range of home humidity levels should be between 30 percent and 50 percent. Lower than this, and you may experience dry skin, chapped lips, and irritation of your nasal passages. Too high, and you run the risk of increasing mold, bacteria and dust mites.

If you have a serious breathing issue, such as asthma, hitting that sweet spot of humidity is especially important. Extremes of dry or moist air should be avoided.

Another thing to consider — the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, published research that concluded: “Experimental studies on airborne-transmitted infectious bacteria and viruses have shown that the survival or infectivity of these organisms is minimized by exposure to relative humidifies between 40 and 70 percent.”

What this means in plain English: bacteria and viruses are more readily transmitted through drier air.

Our family has small room humidifiers. We bring them out of storage once we use home heating again. We also have inexpensive digital hygrometers in certain rooms.

There is a ceiling fan in the living room, and small fans in the bedrooms. They push the air around and help evenly distribute the added moisture.

We only use water in our humidifiers that has been filtered (or distilled). This helps to avoid dust-like mineral deposits on the furniture from the use of tap water.

The humidifiers need to be periodically cleaned to keep mold and bacteria from accumulating. This is extremely important.

Our goal is to have a home humidity level of about 40 percent. That’s the sweet spot. It represents a healthy balance.

If you have a serious breathing issue, and wish to try this, first consult your doctor.

In our lives, we may experience a spiritually dry patch. Some refer to it as a “desert experience.” You may feel all alone, abandoned, hopeless, crawling on your hands and knees, in search of an oasis of live-giving water. God may seem distant, or even absent.

If so, I pray for a cool glass of water for you that gives a sense of relief, so you can find balance again and get back up on your feet.

May it be right over the next sandy hill, and much closer than you’ve led yourself to believe. May this dryness only be for a season. Don’t give up hope.

Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 30 years.

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