Home And Office Coronavirus Preparation: Frequently Asked Questions

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people all across the United States need to be prepared in case their community experiences an outbreak of COVID-19.

“Be prepared” is sound, but vague, advice. What steps should you take? Don’t worry — we’ll break it down for you.

Rebecca Katz, the director of Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security, helped us put together the most useful recommendations. Katz said that preparing for a potential virus outbreak is not that different from other forms of contingency planning. If you’ve ever prepared your family for a hurricane, for example, you have a good idea of what to expect.

Here’s our coronavirus advice, presented in “Frequently Asked Questions” format:

Q: Does my family need to stock up on medicine and food?

A: Yes, increasing your stockpiles is a good idea. In this case, stocking up isn’t about riding out shortages in the future, but to enable your family to avoid excessive human contact in the event of an outbreak. (Experts call this “social distancing.”) The more you can avoid crowds, the lower your chances of catching the virus. If your community suffers an outbreak, you don’t want to spend any more time than you have to rubbing elbows with the crowd at your local drugstore.

For all medications that you take daily (e.g. blood pressure pills), Katz suggests laying in at least a two-week supply. Remember to check with your healthcare provider about extending prescriptions if necessary.

Medications that will be particularly useful to have on hand include fever reducers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

When it comes to your pantry, a two-week supply is also a good target for stockpiling food. You may also want to stock up on your family’s favorite sickbed foods, suggests Edith Bracho-Sanchez, a Columbia University pediatrician. Chicken soup, crackers, and hydrating drinks (e.g. Gatorade and Pedialyte) will be much appreciated if anyone in your home gets sick. If that does happen, you want to have everything you need to ride it out at home.

Bracho-Sanchez has some good news about COVID-19: Children seem to be less susceptible to infection than adults. Also, 80 percent of COVID-19 cases involve relatively mild symptoms, not unlike the common cold or flu.

Q: Do I need special cleaning supplies?

A: One of the many uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus is that researchers are not sure how long the virus can live on surfaces. Stephen Morse, a Columbia epidemiology professor, suggests that like other coronaviruses, COVID-19 should be vulnerable to ordinary household cleaners, particularly those with bleach or alcohol.

It’s important to frequently clean high touch areas around your home (and not surprisingly, these tend to also be the dirtiest places in your home).

Morse notes that even basic soap-and-water scrubbing is likely to kill the coronavirus. This is because the COVID-19 organism is protected by an outer layer of lipids. Household soaps are capable of breaking down lipids, including those surrounding the viral particles. Many of the common household messes we use soap to get rid of, like oil and grease on dishes, are lipids.

If your community does experience a COVID-19 outbreak and you believe one of your family members is sick, you should make time to clean heavily-trafficked surfaces several times a day. Kitchen and bathroom counters and faucets are particularly important. Dr. Trish Perl, head of UT Southwestern Medical Center’s infectious disease unit, notes that extensive research on other viral diseases has shown that cleaning hard surfaces in the home can significantly decrease the amount of virus in the environment.

Q: Do I need face masks?

A: The value of wearing a face mask in public during a viral outbreak is extremely questionable. We’ve already reported on the topic in depth; a few of the key points to consider are whether or not you have an effective mask and whether or not you are using it properly.

Many epidemiologists and other experts on infectious diseases hesitate to recommend wearing face masks preventatively because it may provide a false sense of security.

The place where the experts all come into agreement is that it’s a good idea to wear a mask if you are sick. This reduces your odds of infecting other people, both within your home and out in your community. Dr. Perl notes that a mask will be especially helpful if you are living with elderly people (age 60 or older) or individuals with compromised immune systems. These populations seem to be the most vulnerable to the current strain of the coronavirus.

According to medical research, you may be able to protect yourself while caring for a sick relative by wearing a mask. You do need to wear it at all times when you are around the sick individual. Additionally, you need to remember that the front of the mask may become contaminated — you should not touch it.

Q: What about work? Is it time to telecommute?

A: Now is the time to start the conversation with your boss about how to adjust your workflow if your community experiences a COVID-19 outbreak. You should confine yourself to your home if you get sick. But telecommuting may be a good idea while you’re still healthy, as it reduces your risk of infection.

Telecommuting should be strongly considered if you live in a large city and normally get to work via public transit. The large crowds using public transportation become risky during a virus outbreak.

Q: What should I do if I do get sick?

A: If you start experiencing flu-like symptoms, particularly a dry cough or a fever, start by calling your doctor’s office on the phone. Pediatrician Bracho-Sanchez advises against racing to an emergency room or urgent care clinic. If you do have the virus, that might just spread it to other people.

Bracho-Sanchez recommends working with your doctor’s office to try and keep contact to a minimum.

Note that if you have more serious symptoms, like persistent dehydration or difficulty breathing, you should go ahead and seek medical attention.

Q: Are there any habits I can take up to reduce the risk of infection?

A: This is an excellent time to get everyone in your family into the habit of washing your hands as soon as you come home.

Hand hygiene is important for defending yourself against all sorts of infectious diseases, from the common cold to COVID-19. Your risk for any sort of respiratory infection will go down if you wash your hands frequently. It’s also important to avoid touching your face, nose, and eyes unless absolutely necessary.

Dr. Perl says that frequent and thorough hand-washing can reduce viral transmission risk by as much as 50 percent. She recommends ordinary soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Antibacterial soap is not required. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. (As a handy self-timer, singing “Happy Birthday” twice takes about 20 seconds.)

This is also the time to make sure you’re practicing good respiratory etiquette. Whenever you feel the need to cough, cough into your elbow rather than into the open air. Wash your hands immediately after coughing. Dispose of tissues carefully after use, as they may collect virus particles.

According to Perl, these simple steps can go a long way toward protecting you and the people around you.

Swimming Pool Maintenance for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide

Pool ownership isn’t just for the wealthy. Today, more than 5 million American households have their own swimming pools. After all, who doesn’t want to have a place to relax, enjoy ice-cold drinks, and watch the kids playing?

Buying and installing a pool is just the first step. Swimming pool maintenance comes with its own share of challenges.

Common mistakes, such as adding shock directly into the water and backwashing the pool filter too often, can affect the integrity of your pool.

Ideally, you should research pool cleaning services in your area. This way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your pool is taken care of by the pros. But there are some things you can do yourself.

Not sure where to start? Here are some pool maintenance tips to help you out!

Skimming and Scrubbing Are a Must

Like it or not, leaves and debris will build up in the water and affect its quality. If you don’t do anything about it, you might be putting your health at risk.

Make a habit out of skimming leaves and other impurities off the pool’s surface daily. Use a skimmer shovel to remove bugs and leaves, a brush for scrubbing, and a robot vacuum for cleaning.

Generally, scrubbing should be done at least once a week. The same goes for pool vacuuming, although it’s better to do it daily to reduce staining.

Skim the pool’s surface daily or every few days to keep the water clean.

Balance Your Pool pH Levels

Maintaining the proper pH balance in your pool water is essential for protecting the pump, heater, and other components. At the same time, it ensures that the water stays clean.

Keep the water pH between 7.4 and 7.6.

A pH below 7 may cause the water to irritate your eyes and corrode the metal parts of your swimming pool. pH levels higher than 8 can lead to cloudy water and affect chlorine’s ability to kill germs.

If the pH is too low, add sodium carbonate to bring it back to normal. If it’s too high, mix hydrochloric acid and water in a bucket and then add it to the pool.

Use the Right Pool Chemicals

Using the right mixture of chemicals is crucial for optimum pool maintenance. Too much or too little of any substance may affect your health and compromise the integrity of your swimming pool.

At the very least, use chlorine or bromine to sanitize your pool. If you’re sensitive to chlorine, you may add biguanide instead.

Certain minerals, such as magnesium chloride and copper, help fight algae and reduce the need for sanitizers. Look for mineral sanitizer systems and use them along with chlorine to keep the water sparkling clean.

Add chlorine-free shock or calcium hypochlorite to the water at least once a week. For best results, shock the pool at night or late in the evening so that the sun’s UV rays don’t destroy the chemicals used.

Depending on your particular situation, you may also need a quality algaecide, pool clarifiers, flocculants, and other chemicals. Don’t forget to get a test kit as well.

Swimming Pool Maintenance — The Key to Crystal Clear Water

As you see, there’s a lot that goes into swimming pool maintenance. If you’re a beginner, taking care of your pool can feel overwhelming. Don’t fret — that’s perfectly normal.

A swimming pool is a major investment, so it’s not worth taking unnecessary risks. Consider hiring a professional pool cleaning team to keep your pool in top shape year-round.

Contact your local pool cleaner today to discuss your pool cleaning needs and see how they can help!

Tips For Developing A House Cleaning Schedule You Can Stick To

If your home has an unkempt appearance, it can be embarrassing and ultimately, it means that you need a monthly maid service. If you keep busy, you might not have enough time to take care of the daily cleaning needs. It might be impossible for you to devote enough time to get rid of that musty odor coming from the attic or to thoroughly clean a smelly bathroom. However, cleaning your house regularly is essential to make sure that your living space looks and feels beautiful at all times.

Here are a few tips to help you develop a cleaning schedule to make sure your house is clean at all times.

Monthly Cleaning

Frequently used rooms in your home should be cleaned regularly. A clean room is not only more sanitary but is also aesthetically pleasing and simply looks beautiful. A regular cleaning schedule will make sure that your house always looks spotless. However, if it is not possible for you to have a daily cleaning routine, one of the solutions is to hire a maid service.

Working with a professional cleaning service will help in keeping your home in perfect order. A professional cleaning service will make sure that you never have to rush to clean the home when some guests are coming over. It’s a practical option to hire a monthly cleaning service when you do not have enough time or you are not in the habit of cleaning your home regularly. It will make sure that tough to clean areas are also spotless at all times.

Weekly Cleaning – Bathroom

All homeowners want to make sure that their living space in the house is presentable and one of the most important areas in a house is the bathroom as it is used daily which means it also gets dirty easily.

If your bathroom is unkempt and unorganized, you should take a good look to find particular areas that need to be cleaned. Keeping your bathroom clean and organized can be a struggle and this is the reason, you should hire a weekly house cleaning service for cleaning your bathroom on a weekly basis.

A weekly maid service can be of immense help when you don’t have enough time to keep the bathroom clean and organized. If you are unable to find time to clean the toilet, shower stall or to scrub the tub, a weekly maid service will come handy. These cleaning professionals have the necessary training and tools to take care of tough cleaning jobs. It will save you a lot of time and make sure that your home looks pristine clean at all times.

Weekly Cleaning – Kitchen

While kitchen should be cleaned as often as possible but a weekly cleaning schedule is considered ideal in most cases. Cleaning on a weekly basis will help in keeping your kitchen sparkling clean. If you cook in your kitchen daily, it’s important to wipe down and scrub the kitchen supplies at least once a week. Also, regular mopping and wiping of the kitchen floor should be done.

Your home will feel and look good only if you take care of it. Cleaning your home regularly requires you to devote significant time and energy, and you need to have good cleaning skills. Hiring a maid service to handle your recurring house cleaning can help you keep your home spotless with a personalized cleaning plan.

 

Have a few tips of your own?  Post a comment below!

Cut Your House Cleaning Time In Half

One of the greatest challenges to keeping your home clean and orderly is how time consuming house cleaning can be. But believe it or not, there is a way to cut your cleaning time in half with a little ingenuity and experienced insight.

No matter how great the mess the following tips from the professionals will help you cut your house cleaning time in half without sacrificing efficiency.

1. Make Your Cleaning Fun

Cleaning is often done out of haste and desperation because the conditions are getting too bad to be ignored. But, the way to get the home cleaned fast is to work from a system you have practiced so much it is like a dance. Begin at the top and work your way to the bottom following a simplistic plan that makes itself easier and more intuitive each time it is practiced. Soon you will find that an hour or two of your favorite music as you step to your the “sanitation” dance is one of the most enjoyable in your schedule.

2. Define “Clean” for Your Space

Everyone has their own definition of what a clean home looks like and you don’t want to be too extreme in either direction. Take the time to decide what is a satisfactory level of cleanliness for your space and you may find that it is not as hard to achieve as your thought – you don’t have to dust the light bulbs each week for example.

3. Work Efficiently

Make sure that you are efficient in grouping your tasks and actions. Don’t begin the dishwasher until you have collected all the dishes from the house and see what else you can place in there as well. Some vases, decorative pot holders and other dishwasher safe objects can also use a good bath. Cleaning systematically also means that you can accomplish two tasks at a time, like cleaning the blinds while washing the windows.

4. Organize Your Tasks

You will want to start with the tasks that will require more scrubbing and standing like kitchens and bathrooms. Then move on to the tasks that will require more moving about like vacuuming, dusting and decluttering. Always work from “top to bottom” and “left to right” to avoid having to clean the same area twice.

5. Look for Ways to Make Your Work Easier

Some jobs can be unnecessarily difficult and time-consuming without some helpful tips. The ceiling fan can collect a lot of dust and then send it flying far and wide when you try to clean it. But if you have an old pillowcase, you can slip this over each blade and pull the dust away –– finish with a microfiber cloth.

It can be frustrating that the vacuum won’t grab that line of dust right at the edge of your furniture, don’t get upset; get a paintbrush. A thick clean paintbrush is the perfect thing for sweeping those pesky escapees into the path of the vacuum.

Final Notes on Fast and Efficient House Cleaning

Just like any skill, the art of keeping a clean house will get easier and faster as the more you practice. Furthermore, it is a lot easier to do a small cleaning before things get out of control, than try heavy-duty cleaning later. If it just becomes too much, consider hiring a professional cleaning service and your chore list will instantly diminish.

The Top Holiday Cleaning tips For A Guest Ready Home

The holidays might bring a lot of joy, but it can be a stressful time for a host. In fact, some surveys revealed that over 50 percent of all Americans feel as though cleaning is the number one cause of stress during the holidays. For some, it might even be enough to completely ruin the holidays altogether. If you find that holiday cleaning is ruining your holiday spirit, just know that it doesn’t have to.

We have come up with some of the best holiday cleaning tips that you can implement in order to improve your ability to enjoy the holidays with your friends and family.

Reasons Holiday Cleaning Can Be A Huge Headache

While holiday parties might be enjoyable, dealing with the mess that is typically left behind is never a fun task. Along with this and the added stress that it can bring a host, there are some studies that show having a clean home might even impact heart health.

Below is a checklist from the experts to get your home in the best shape for the holidays.

1. Entryway

To get things started, you want to focus on the entryway. This is where your guests will enter. Because of this, it is the area that they are first exposed to which means it will create their first impression. Because of this, you want to clean it thoroughly to create a good first impression. The entryway is also the area that experiences the most foot traffic which means it will get the dirtiest due to people tracking dirt and grime into your home from outside.

To clean this area, simply mix together soap and water and scrub the floors. You also want to regularly clean the doormat to get rid of loose dirt that might be sitting on it. You can hit the mat against the ground outdoors to get rid of the loose debris. You also want to clean your door itself to enhance its appearance and wipe the doorknob to ensure that it is clean for your guests.

2. Kitchen

You and your guests will be spending a lot of time in your kitchen. After all, that is where you will be enjoying food and drinks with your guests. Because of this, you want to spend enough time and energy cleaning your kitchen to be sure that it is thoroughly cleaned for your guests.

The best way to go about cleaning your kitchen is by cleaning your sink. Because you will be using your sink and your garbage disposal throughout the holidays, you want to avoid clogs and buildup that can cause odor to permeate. The best way to do this is by pouring boiling water down your drain. This will allow you to get rid of anything that can clog your drain. You can drop lemon peels down your garbage disposal to grind them up and create a pleasant odor to mask any unpleasant odors that might exist in your drain.

3. Guest Bedroom

The guest bedroom should be cleaned prior to hosting anyone. This is true even if your guest bedroom is rarely frequented. After all, dust can build up when it is left unused. Therefore, you should look to strip the bed of its sheets and its comforter. That way, you can clean them. You can wash each in warm water and vinegar to improve freshness. You will want to vacuum the area including the mattress itself and underneath any and all furniture that is in the room. Dust can regularly build up in these areas, so you should pay close attention to them.

4. Bathroom(s)

You want to spend sufficient time cleaning all of the bathrooms in your home. Your bathroom is an area that will have a lot of bacteria and germs that you want to kill off. You can use lemon juice in order to naturally kill off both bacteria and germs because it is antibacterial. The side benefit of using lemon juice is its ability to freshen up your entire room due to it being such a pleasant smell.

One of the best ways to clean up soap scum that you might have present in your bathroom(s) is by creating and using a mixture of water, baking soda, and ammonia. Simply place this mixture directly on the area where the soap scum is located, allow it to sit for a few minutes, and then wipe it away.

5. Post Holiday

Having to deal with the cleanup after the holidays can be very stressful. The best way to minimize the cleanup is by routinely taking time during the festivities to do mini cleanup sessions. This will reduce the amount of cleanup you have to endure after the festivities are completely over with. Get rid of excess wrapping paper during the opening of presents, wrap lights around cardboard to avoid tangles, and even call up your garbage service to see when and if they have a specific/designated time for Christmas tree removal.

Looking for even more cleaning tips from the pros? Our blog features some of the best cleaning tips you will find anywhere.