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.
Hurricanes are a risk that all southern and eastern coastal communities are in danger of. The storms can form and can strengthen rapidly leaving little time for proper preparation. This list details things you can do within a week to help get your family and your home ready for the impact.
- Pull out your insurance documents. Make note of your coverage limits and your deductibles. Consider how much you’d need to cover the cost to replace your home’s structure, your personal belongings and your automobile. Call your agent(s) to confirm that you understand everything correctly.
- Make a video inventory of your entire house including inside drawers, closets, etc. For higher priced and valuable items make sure to get the make/model, serial number and any other information that would be required to prove the value. Upload the video(s) to the cloud.
Extra Tip: Anyone with a child renting their own place should make sure that they have an active renter’s insurance policy and that they follow these same steps.
- Much like an emergency kit but not in place of, pack everyone in your household a bag or suitcase with everything they would need for 2-3 days such as outfits, chargers, weather gear, etc. Critical medicine, food and water should be in every bag in case one gets lost. Don’t forget to pack one for your animals!
- Make sure everyone has a phone list of emergency contacts (at least each other, a local contact and a contact that is out of the area). These should be programmed into phones and a printed copy should be in every bag with instructions on where to go if you get split up. You should have a safe place planned locally and another safe place to meet should you have to evacuate.
Extra Tip: When cell service is bad a text message may go through when a phone call won’t. Plan basic, short text messages to be shared among your emergency contacts such as “Safe. At Mimi’s”.
- Take any movable items outside your home and move them inside. For items that are too heavy or large to move in, use cables or chains to secure them down so they can’t be blown around.
- Consider purchasing a heavy-duty gasoline container to be filled and stored it in a cool, well-ventilated area. You don’t want to wait for an evacuation order to start running vehicles and gas cans to the station. Not only could the station run out of fuel before you get there, waiting would take precious time from other preparations and delay your departure.
- Prepare to board up. Measure all window and glass door openings (include the framing). Purchase plywood pieces and pre-cut them to fit your measurements. Some lumber stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s may even have a panel saw and can cut them for you. Grab a box of screws and a drill if you don’t have one.
Extra Tip: Consider purchasing a generator. If you do purchase one, first test all your carbon monoxide detectors, then pick a safe place that you’ll be able to run it. The running place should be outside in a well ventilated are (no garages or basements!), that is dry and where you can quickly connect to it. Watch this video by Lowe’s for some other important generator tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaLamTvTQc0
Questions? Concerns? Recommendations? Give us a call or send us an e-mail. We’re happy to help!
Brrr, what a cold snap!
Not only is it below 32 degrees F, with the wind chill and the heavy rain yesterday we have a recipe for severe pipe freezing. You can take a few simple steps to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting, but if it’s too late there are other steps you can take to lessen the damage they cause.
To Prevent Frozen Pipes
- If the property is only a seasonal property used in the warmer months, winterize it when not in use.
- If you’re going away for a few days turn the water main off and open your faucets.
- Keep your thermostat no lower than 65 degrees F day and night. Make sure you have enough fuel for your heating system, and have the system checked annually by a licensed professional.
- Keep all your interior doors open so warm air can easily circulate. Open doors to cabinets that have plumbing running in them.
- Make sure any exterior walls that have plumbing in them are insulated.
- For pipes in un-heated areas, wrap them with insulation. Self-sealing foam insulation is easy to install, comes in different sizes to suit your pipes and is very affordable! Don’t forget the corners. They make special pieces for those, or you can miter the corners of straight pieces and foam tape the joint.
- Seal any holes to the outside of your home (like where you may have had to drill for cable wire access) with expanding foam or calking.
- Before freezing temperatures hit, make sure to shut off exterior water supplies like outdoor spigots and showers.
- Install frost-free spigots. After installation you should still shut off the water supply and drain them before the temperatures start to dip below freezing.
- SMART Tip: Install water detection sensors and/or smart thermostats. Something to keep an eye on things while you can’t, and alert you if something does go wrong.
To Thaw Frozen Pipes
Maybe the cold snap came as a surprise, or maybe the heating system failed at just the wrong time. Whatever caused the pipes to freeze, there are things you can do to property thaw them and hopefully avoid any breaks.
- If you turn on the faucet and water doesn’t flow out, the plumbing is probably frozen. Leave the faucet open.
- If you’re not sure where the freeze is, or if you can’t get to the frozen area, call a licensed plumber.
- If you know where the freeze is and can easily access it, make sure to thaw it slowly and very carefully. Start by turning up the thermostat to increase warmth in the area.
- SLOWLY apply heat to the frozen section of the pipe. A hair dryer would work well. You could also use a heat gun, but NEVER use an open flame device. Once the water is able to start working its way past the freeze it will help unfreeze the section. If you’re successful you should hear the water finally running out of the open faucet. Double check for any leaks!
What to do with Burst Pipes
First off, don’t panic. These things happen, and there are professionals who can help you with this exact situation.
- Start by turning the water off at the main. If you can’t get to the main, you can call the town and request that it be shut off at the street. Assess if your heat and electricity are working (as long as you can do so safely!).
- Call a licensed plumber to fix the broken pipe.
- Call a property damage restoration specialist to help you with emergency mitigation services (Whalen Restoration Services to the rescue!). You’ll want the water extracted, any wet structure treated with an antimicrobial treatment, and you may need some drying equipment to run for days.
- If the water has affected your electricity, call an electrician to get that back up and running so you can power lights and drying equipment.
- If the water has affected your heating system (or if the system failing was what allowed the pipes to freeze) have a professional assess it and get it back up and running as soon as possible to prevent any additional damage from the cold.
- Call your insurance company and report the claim.
Now these may not be in the exact order that you’ll need to do them, but it’s a great checklist.
Questions? Concerns? Reach out to us! We’re happy to help!
Leave your shoes at the door
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.”