Helping to stop the spread of the Flu and other cold viruses
The recent Coronavirus outbreak is certainly testing our preparedness and response to possible pandemics. It’s a serious reminder to how quickly things can escalate when it comes to viruses that can be spread person-to-person. Flu season comes every year with reminders on good practices to help prevent the potentially fatal illness, but it seems the cautions have heightened with the news of the new danger that’s traveling the globe. Even if you’re not quite ready to start stocking up to prepare for the possibility of a mandatory 2-week quarantine, you should at least start really working on improving your day-to-day practices to help prevent the spread of many illnesses. Here are some ideas to help you that.
Are you washing your hands for a full 20 seconds?
Set a timer on your phone for 20 seconds and while it runs see how many times you can hum happy birthday before the alarm goes off. Use that a measure to how long you should be washing your hands every time.
To work or not to work?
If you wake up and you’re obviously suffering from some illness like a cold or the flu then please do everyone a favor and unless you’re leaving to seek treatment, stay home. Rest up. Keep up on the fluids. Your co-workers should even thank you for considering their health too by you not wanting to risk sharing your illness with them.
When was the last time you cleaned your keys?
I’d bet if there’s two things you touch throughout the entire day it’s your phone and your keys. That includes touching them after or while visiting public places that are known to be breeding grounds for bacteria and that have surfaces to share viruses. Don’t just wash your hands after visiting these places, but also clean your phone and your keys that you probably touched in the meantime.
Clean, clean, clean…
Hopefully you all have at least that one person at your workplace that as soon as a sniffle is heard they are all around the place with the disinfectant spray or wipes. Why not make a schedule where someone is assigned to the beginning and end of every day to wipe all of the common surfaces? Each individual should wipe down their own pens, pencils, phones, staplers, etc. Wipe down common surfaces at home too.
Air purifiers & humidifiers for the win.
You can disinfect surfaces, but how do you clean the air? Air purifiers can be great at reducing harmful airborne germs and allergens, and studies have shown that keeping a relative humidity of more than 40% can reduce the flu virus survival rate. Between those two units and keeping up on changing your air filters you are making a significant increase in air quality.
Signs of spring burst all around the Cape back in February. Although it may not be time to start packing away your winter clothes just yet it is a great time to start on your annual cleaning & organizing. This year why not go a little greener with it?
Your Air Nix the air fresheners and open up those windows! Toss the scented aerosols and freshen things up with fresh cut flowers instead. Forget chemicals and use mixes of baking soda and essential oils for deodorizing. Use low-VOC paints.
Your Papers Register an address and you almost immediately start to get paper solicitations and direct marketing cards there. Open a line of credit and you open the flood gates to other financial institutions who want you to “switch and save more!”. On average the amount of paper waste we make every year adds up to over 2000 pounds! What can you you do to go green here? Of course you can recycle the paper, but you can also start lessening the amount delivered in the first place. Call the sources of all of the unwanted mail and opt out. You can also sign up for paperless billing invoices and save your receipts digitally. Not only will you be saving the environment, you’ll be saving yourself the time you would normally spend filing it all away!
Your Water Use less and keep it clean! If you’ve been putting off fixing that running toilet, do it now! Check all of your faucets for drips and adjust them accordingly. A faucet that drips 1 drip per minute actually wastes up to 34 gallons a year and you’re paying for it. Consider swapping out your shower heads for low-flow models. Be conscious of how much water you’re using when you’re brushing your teeth and doing dishes (turn it off while you scrub!). Be mindful of what you’re putting into your drains. Instead of flushing unwanted prescriptions, bring them to a local prescription drop box or call the pharmacy you received them from and see if they have a take-back program.
Your Stuff Recycle and donate. Old tattered clothes can be used as rags or kept for messy projects like painting the ceiling. Donate clothes in good condition to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, church group or homeless shelter. Donate old pillows and towels to your local animal shelter. Buy a trash can that helps you sort out your plastics and bottles from your trash, and sort and recycle all of your boxes. The more you organize and re-purpose things to keep them out of the landfill the better.
Your Energy Vampires are everywhere! Think of how many things are still plugged in at your home right now. The coffee pot? TV? Phone chargers? Computer? All of these things are still slowly using electricity. Put a stake in it and unplug any electrical devices when you’re not using them. For areas with multiple devices use a power strip so you only have to pull one plug from the outlet. Have you had a home energy assessment done yet? Mass Save offers them for Massachusetts residence. They gave homeowners all new energy efficient light bulbs and power strips for their entertainment centers (for FREE!).
Whether they’re strict about it or not we all know someone with the “no shoes in the house” rule. Although some may find that policy annoying or even sometimes odd for guests you may want to consider adopting the practice for your own home.
I’m sure you’ve heard “a little dirt never hurt anyone”, but how about pesticides, lawn fertilizer, the flu, E. coli and C. diff? What is C. diff? It’s a dangerous bacterium that causes terrible symptoms from diarrhea and cramping to kidney failure and fatal inflammation. It’s nasty stuff but what’s even scarier is how possible it is that you’re carrying it or something similar around on your daily footwear! Something as simple as propping your feet up on the ottoman after a long day can actually be a bad idea.
Take a look at the numbers.
The University of Arizona shared that the bottom of shoes contain on average 421,000 different types of bacteria, 96% detected coliforms (bacteria used to indicate the sanitary quality of water and food), and 27% detected specifically E.Coli.
As shared by TODAY, a study by the University of Houston found that 26.4% of shoes carry that awful sounding C. diff.
The University of Utah’s study concluded that bacteria on your shoes are transferred into your home at a rate of 90 to 99%!
So leaving your outdoor shoes on in the house is highly likely to carry quite a bit of bacteria throughout your home where you eat, relax, breathe and sleep. For healthy adults that may only bring a threat of being sick for a few days, but for children, elderly and people with compromised immune systems it can be extremely dangerous.
Still not sold on the daily practice of dropping you shoes at the entry mat? You can keep your home healthier by at least spraying them down with a disinfectant and then thoroughly washing your hands. It’s not as good as taking them off and spraying them down, but it’s certainly healthier than not doing either. And as Mom always said, “no shoes on the table.”
Happy New Year! I love January for the fresh start it brings to mind. Start your year off right by updating your new calendar with your scheduled appointments and tasks, and tackling this month’s list of your home to-do’s early! You’ve got this!
Test all of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
Keep an eye out for bargains on discontinued appliances and tools. Before buying, make sure the warranties are still valid.
Organize your home improvement files. Review warranties and product manuals for recommenced maintenance for furnaces, equipment, appliances, and tools. Update your calendar to keep everything on schedule.
Update your home inventory list. Add new items that you received as holiday gifts. Photographs to go with your room-by-room list will be very helpful in the event of a fire, flood, or other disaster.
Review your homeowner’s policy. Make sure you have enough coverage under your contents section (your updated inventory list comes in to play here), and be aware of the different deductibles you may be subject to. For instance, a wind deductible is usually higher than a standard policy deductible, and groundwater is often not a covered loss.
Remove drain traps from under your sinks and clean them thoroughly along with the pop-up drain plugs. Test your water heater temperature pressure relief valve by lowering the test lever and allowing some water to flow through the pipe. If no water flows or if it only trickles out, replace the valve.