Can We Expect That Cooler Temperatures Will Affect COVID-19?

As the weather changes during Fall and Winter, we have to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here’s how cooler temperatures will affect COVID-19 and its spread.

cooler-temperatures-will-affect-COVID-19

It’s well known that the start of Spring signals the end of America’s flu season. As the temperature warms up, the number of people who catch the influenza drops dramatically. So it’s natural that, as the weather cools off and we’re in a global pandemic, people are asking: How will cooler temperatures affect COVID-19? 

When Covid-19 hit late last winter, hope reverberated around the country that it would dissipate with warmer and sunnier conditions. But as much as the weather affects the flu, it doesn’t do much for COVID-19. That’s why we still saw rising cases this summer — even with warmer weather, the end was not any more in sight. So what can we expect now that cold weather is once again on the way? The reality is this: the risks of a second wave are real, and we’re not quite sure yet exactly how cooler temperatures will affect COVID-19. 

Scientists remain divided on why winter is flu season in the Northern Hemisphere, but one of the most popular hypotheses is the increased time spent in sealed indoor environments. Another is a lack of sunlight, which compromises the immune system due to a lack of vitamin D. Similar to the flu, these are also factors in how rapidly COVID-19 may spread.

Cold Chicago weather makes people stay indoors where it’s more difficult to socially distance. And as the pandemic continues, people are beginning to get complacent about meeting in large groups, which has increased the reach of the virus. The upcoming holidays, where people enjoy getting together with family and friends, may well exacerbate the problem.

Another issue is that cold air typically means dry air, and to be comfortable, people tend to turn up the heat which further dries out their homes. Why is this a concern? In cold temperatures our mucous membrane dries out, making it much harder for the nose to filter pathogens. When airways are dry, it allows the virus to have easier access to the body.

A study published in the journal Transboundary and Emerging Diseases found evidence of a potential way that cooler temperatures will affect COVID-19. Their results said that the number of COVID-19 cases increased as the air became drier and the humidity level dropped. “There is growing evidence that climatic factors could influence the evolution of the current COVID‐19 pandemic,” the authors stated. “Overall, a decrease in relative humidity of one per cent was associated with an increase in cases of seven to eight per cent.”

Temperature and relative humidity can affect coronavirus transmission as the virus can survive longer at lower temperatures, the authors said. The virus can also stay “suspended in the air” longer at lower humidity, they claimed.

For all of the reasons above, some experts predict a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic during the coming fall and winter months. In other words, cooler temperatures will affect COVID-19 by causing it to spread more rapidly.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself From the Effects of Cooler Temperatures on COVID-19? 

  • Get a seasonal flu shot because it’s possible to get COVID-19 and the flu at the same time
  • Get good sleep, don’t let your body get run down 
  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat healthily
  • Keep stress in check
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Increase ventilation
  • Use a humidifier during cold months 
  • To help keep mucous membranes moist, regularly use a drug-free saline nasal spray
  • Wear a mask
  • Practice social distancing 

All of those things will probably have a much bigger impact on the virus than the actual temperature. In any case, adhering to them could help mitigate the negative ways that cooler temperatures will affect COVID-19 and its spread.

Keeping your home and work area disinfected will also greatly help you. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides decontamination services to commercial and residential properties across the Chicagoland area, including Oak Park and the North Shore of Cook and Lake County IL. Call  us at 773-376-1110  or contact us here to schedule a consultation.

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving Chicago, Oak Park/River Forest, and the North Shore.  ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides Disaster Restoration Services including  COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration,  Mold Remediation, and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning,  Post-Construction Cleaning,  Carpet Cleaning, and Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. ServiceMaster Cleaning By Simons provides Specialty Cleaning Services For Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest, and the North Shore.  For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visit servicemasterbysimons.com.

Guide to Professional Cleaning and Disinfection for Reopening Businesses

Don’t let your business reopen without the proper safety precautions. Get professional cleaning and disinfection services today.

professional-cleaning-and-disinfection-services-for-reopening

The coronavirus has been more than a simple “inconvenience” for most of us in the Chicagoland area. It has shut down many businesses and adversely affected the livelihoods of many people. And, most importantly, it has claimed over 200,000 lives. Given the severity of the situation as businesses and offices begin to reopen their doors during Phase 4, it’s worth asking: What kind of COVID-19 professional cleaning and disinfection services will they need? 

Obviously, cleanliness and safety are top of mind right now. When businesses reopen, everyone working and visiting the premises will need to work together to practice social distancing and maintain other COVID-preventing daily habits to reduce our risk of exposure to the virus. But if a facility is just now reopening after weeks of being closed, what precautions should owners, management and administrators take? Aside from the usual social distancing, we can tell you with certainty that they will need to reopen safely with professional cleaning and disinfecting services.

Right now, we’re relying on the advice of the CDC and medical bodies for guidelines surrounding cleaning offices and keeping them safe for employees and guests alike. If a structure has been unoccupied for 7 days or more, it will only need normal routine cleaning and disinfection to reopen. This is because the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been shown to survive on surfaces longer than this time. For instance, the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that the virus exists on plastic for the longest period – up to 72 hours. On stainless steel the virus was detected up to 48 hours after transmission. For cardboard it was 24 hours and for copper just four hours. 

Dr Bharat Pankhania, clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter, says that rather than trying to remember how the virus operates on different surfaces and when you last cleaned them, “your mindset needs to be that everything, everyone, everywhere is contaminated. And whatever you handle is a potential risk.” But that doesn’t mean you need to be afraid to touch anything, it just means you should regularly wash your hands. “Do it meticulously every two hours, mindfully,” Dr Pankhania says, “and that is the solution.” This also calls to mind the assumption that your premises could be contaminated — and that you should always just assume that you need professional cleaning and disinfecting in the interest of everyone’s safety.

Additionally, what management and administrators need to be concerned with is that their premises stay clean and decontaminated after regular use has begun again. And of course, the best way to do this is to ensure regular professional cleaning and disinfection services. 

As the weather gets colder, we also need to keep in mind that we’re up against the challenge of large, indoor gatherings of people — whether they be employees, customers, students or churchgoers. Obviously, when numerous individuals regularly congregate or pass through a certain area, keeping that facility clean and disinfected becomes a huge task. That’s where ServiceMaster by Simons, a trusted Chicagoland professional cleaning and disinfection company, comes in. Our COVID-19 cleaning services are here to help, powered by professionals who truly do know what they’re doing when it comes to disinfecting your premises from the virus.

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons has developed a two-stage preventative cleaning process that provides the most effective cleaning possible. We disinfect all horizontal surfaces as well as any high-touch points such as door handles, elevator buttons, escalator rails, and so on. Next, we employ a specialized fogging system to provide the most complete coverage and disinfection of your facility. This two-stage preventative cleaning process provides the most comprehensive preventative cleaning available. We use EPA registered hospital-grade disinfectants throughout the entire process.

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons can provide regular, preventative professional cleaning and disinfection of your facility, giving you the peace of mind that your building or office remains safe. From daily cleaning to high-level disinfection, we offer all levels of service to fit your needs and budget. Give us a call to learn more!

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving Chicago, Oak Park/River Forest, and the North Shore.  ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides Disaster Restoration Services including  COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration,  Mold Remediation, and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning,  Post-Construction Cleaning,  Carpet Cleaning, and Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. ServiceMaster Cleaning By Simons provides Specialty Cleaning Services For Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest, and the North Shore.  For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visit servicemasterbysimons.com.

What’s the difference between COVID-19 and the flu? It can be hard to tell.

Wondering what the difference is between COVID-19 and the flu? If you or a loved one is sick, it can be hard to tell. We’ve got all of the info you need to know to understand which virus it could be.

the difference between COVID-19 and the flu

Remember when a cough was just a cough? Most of the time it still is. After all, a cough is just your body’s way of responding when something irritates your throat or airways. Thus, an occasional cough is normal and healthy. But in the time of a global pandemic, coughs can be a concerning red flag of the coronavirus — and many people are wondering: what’s the difference between COVID-19 and the flu, and how can I tell which one I have?

This is especially concerning when your cough persists. Then, it could be from one of the seasonal allergies we suffer from in the Chicagoland area like ragweed. But if you’re also suffering from a stuffy nose, achiness, maybe a sore throat and the beginning of a fever, then they could be signs of flu, or worse — COVID-19.

First of all, don’t panic right away if you fall ill, but do take precautions to keep yourself isolated so as to avoid spreading either virus around. It’s important to realize that COVID-19 and the flu have many overlapping signs and ailments, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms. Some of the common symptoms that COVID-19 and the flu share include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache

The similar symptoms can absolutely make it hard to tell the difference between COVID-19 and the flu, but there’s one key thing to watch out for: If you don’t have a fever and your eyes aren’t itchy, it’s probably the common flu, not COVID-19. Flu symptoms usually appear from one to four days after exposure. 

When thinking about the difference between COVID-19 and the flu, know that the coronavirus appears to be more contagious and to spread more quickly than the flu. It’s symptoms usually appear 2-14 days after exposure, and you may even experience the telltale loss of taste or smell. 

Be alert for emergency warning signs*of COVID-19. If someone shows any of these indicators, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • Confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

The only true way to know the difference between COVID-19 and the flu, and to get a definitive answer as to which one you’re suffering from is to be tested by a healthcare provider. You can discuss your symptoms with them to determine if you meet the criteria for testing.

While there’s no prevention for COVID-19 right now, you can avoid the influenza virus by getting a yearly flu vaccine. They’re easy to get at your local pharmacy and are usually available each year in the fall. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more important to be vaccinated against the flu to avoid a mistaken diagnosis of COVID-19 and preserve healthcare resources — this is especially important too given the fact that it’s so hard to tell the difference between COVID-19 and the flu. And, contrary to some leadership sentiments, there is no evidence that getting a flu vaccine increases the risk of getting COVID-19.

Your best protections against COVID-19 and the flu are to follow the guidelines provided by the CDC – wash your hands, wear a mask, and stay at least six feet apart. Keeping your Chicagoland home and work area clean and regularly disinfected is also a huge step in staying healthy. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons can assist you with that. We’re experienced in dealing with viral outbreaks. We disinfect all horizontal surfaces and high-touch points such as door handles, elevator buttons, light switches, and so on. Then we use a specialized fogging system with EPA registered hospital-grade disinfectants to provide the most complete coverage and disinfection. 

*This list does not include all potential symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other conditions that are severe or are troubling you.

Home Ventilation and COVID-19: How ventilation prevents the spread of COVID-19 indoors

How do you prevent the spread of COVID-19 indoors? Ensuring proper ventilation may be one key place to start. Get all of our top tips here.

how-ventilation-helps-to-prevent-the-spread-of-covid-19-indoors

For the past six months, Chicagoans have been bombarded with officials’ implorings to wash their hands, stay six feet apart and wear a mask.  And in turn, the ‘three w’s’ have certainly helped to curb the rise of COVID-19 in some areas of Illinois. But as the coronavirus is new (although it seems like it’s been here forever), scientists are continuing to learn new things about it and its transmission. The latest coronavirus topic? How ventilation prevents the spread of COVID-19 indoors. 

The research to this effect is definitely sound. In July, 239 scientists from 32 countries wrote an open letter to the WHO showing evidence that tiny virus droplets people expel when they cough or sneeze can hang in still air for hours, making crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation risky for the spread of COVID-19. 

Then, in late August, a team of infectious-disease experts argued in a new analysis in the peer-reviewed medical journal, BMJ, that six-feet protocols are too rigidly small and are based on outdated science and studies of different viruses. Instead, these experts now believe the evidence shows that the novel coronavirus can travel farther than six feet under certain conditions and that six feet is the bare minimum of space that should separate people, especially in poorly ventilated indoor areas.

So as Autumn approaches and Chicago area residents start to return to school and work and begin spending generally more time indoors, good home ventilation will be key to prevent the spread of COVID-19 indoors. Here’s how to ensure proper ventilation and stop the spread of the virus:

Keep it Fresh

Trust your nose. If you walk into a room or building where the air feels stuffy and stale, turn around and leave because chances are, the ventilation is insufficient. And without proper ventilation, COVID-19 could spread indoors. 

Simply put, the more outside air that enters a building, the better. Bringing in fresh air dilutes any contaminant in a building, whether a virus or something else entirely, and reduces the exposure of anyone inside. “Having 100% outside air or close to 100% is a good thing,” says Prof Cath Noakes of the University of Leeds. “The more fresh air, the less you’re running the risk of recirculating the virus through the building.”

In warm weather, it’s pretty easy to get a larger amount of outside air into a building by keeping windows and doors open (or cracked if the AC is on) and by putting a box fan in a window blowing out which can greatly increase the air exchange rate.

In cold weather, try micro-ventilation. This means that you just crack open one window in each room to permit a little fresh air to enter. To help keep the room warm, switch ceiling fans to “winter” mode. Most ceiling fans have a switch that reverses the blade direction. This reversal pulls the cold air up and pushes the warm air downwards.

Check the Air Conditioner

If a building you enter has a split air conditioner (a slim white box mounted on a wall or ceiling), try not to spend too much time there or you might risk COVID-19 spreading indoors. All air conditioners recirculate air, but smaller ones like these don’t have the filtering capacity of larger, outside units.

For your Chicagoland home HVAC, it’s recommended using a MERV-12 level filter that removes particles down to 1.0–3.0 microns as a good medium between effective filtration and likely compatibility with your existing equipment. (Note: Since higher-rate filters allow less air to flow through your furnace, it’s a good idea to check if your system has a maximum MERV rating. The wrong type of air filter can force your furnace to work harder and increase the risk of it breaking down.)

Use Air Cleaners

Lew Harriman, director of research & consulting at HVAC consulting company Mason-Grant, and a member of the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force, says concerning filtration, “Don’t let the air conditioner carry that load. Frankly, you should have an air purifier even if you’re not concerned [about airborne viruses].”

Air purifiers remove particles from the air, usually using a filter made of tightly woven fibers. They can capture particles containing bacteria and viruses and can help reduce disease transmission when used along with other best practices recommended by CDC and others. But not all air purifiers are equal. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Your best option is a cleaner that uses a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, as these remove more than 99.97% of all particle sizes
  • Think about how powerful an air cleaner you’ll need. The bigger the room – or the more people in it – the more air needs to be cleaned.
  • Scrutinize the validity of the claims made by the air cleaner manufacturer. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) certifies air cleaners, so look for their verified seal.

Use a CO2 Meter

Since the coronavirus is most often spread by breathing, coughing or talking, you can use this meter that checks CO2 levels to see if the room is filling up with potentially infectious exhalations. A well-ventilated room will have around 800 ppm of CO2. Higher numbers are a sign the room may need more ventilation.

Good air quality is just one way to help protect yourself, your families and coworkers. A higher air quality helps prevent the spread of COVID-19 indoors. The EPA states, “By itself, increasing ventilation is not enough to protect people from COVID-19. When used along with other best practices recommended by CDC and others, increasing ventilation can be part of a plan to protect people indoors.” So use ventilation alongside following the rest of the CDC’s guidelines; social distance, wash your hands, wear a mask, and treat frequently touched surfaces with disinfectants.

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons can help with two of those guidelines. First, we’re able to help properly disinfect and decontaminate your home or facility as we provide Decontamination Services to commercial and residential properties across Chicago. Second, we provide Air Duct Cleaning Services. The EPA found indoor air may be two to five times—and occasionally more than 100 times—more polluted than outdoor air and may cause health problems. To improve the function of your air purifiers, have us clean your air ducts regularly. That way you’ll be able to breathe easier – both literally and figuratively.

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving Chicago, Oak Park/River Forest, and the North Shore.  ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides Disaster Restoration Services including  COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration,  Mold Remediation, and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning,  Post-Construction Cleaning,  Carpet Cleaning, and Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. ServiceMaster Cleaning By Simons provides Specialty Cleaning Services For Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest, and the North Shore.  For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visit servicemasterbysimons.com.

Is Bleach a Safe Disinfectant? Here’s How to Use it To Get Rid of COVID-19.

Is bleach a safe disinfectant? It depends. Read this guide to understand when bleach is dangerous — and why.

is-bleach-a-safe-disinfectant?

Chlorine-based bleach has been around for a long, long, time. It was invented in Europe in the late 18th century, and many consider it the be-all and end-all solution to their cleaning needs. And now with concerns about the coronavirus (Covid-19), people are using bleach as a disinfectant at increasing rates. And with this increased use, we’ve heard households wondering, Is bleach a safe disinfectant? While bleach can be dangerous in some instances, the good news is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a diluted bleach solution for disinfecting your Chicagoland home during Covid-19. (But make sure your bleach isn’t past its expiration date or it’ll be ineffective against the virus.)

The CDC recommends using the following solution on suitable  hard surfaces:

  • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water
    OR
  • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

Be sure to let your mixed solution set for at least one minute before using it to disinfect. 

When Is Bleach Not Safe?

However, for some soft or hard surfaces, the CDC does say that bleach is dangerous — and instead recommends that you disinfect with any of these EPA-registered household disinfectants. (They meet EPA’s criteria for use against COVID-19.)

Even though in general bleach is a safe disinfectant, it’s important to remember that it can do your house great harm if you’re not careful. This is because bleach contains chlorine, which is a dangerous chemical. Here are ten reasons why bleach isn’t always the safest choice for cleaning your Chicagoland home:

  • Chlorine lacks detergency – in other words, it contains no wetting agents that allow it to penetrate soils, so surfaces must be pre-cleaned before chlorine will effectively kill germs. This is a 2-step process that requires more time.
  • Chlorine is very caustic to human tissue. It can produce irritation and burning on your skin and could cause blindness.
  • Chlorine reacts with other chemicals to create toxic byproducts and gases. For instance, when bleach mixes with ammonia, it can form chlorine gas, causing cellular damage in nasal passageways and lungs. The accidental mixture of these two products has resulted in death. It’s also incompatible with products that contain hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, and acetic acid (vinegar).
  • It may harm your children. After using, bleach remains on surfaces and continues to emit fumes. Recent studies show that children who been exposed to bleach in their homes are more likely to suffer from respiratory illness. In addition, various studies have linked the use of bleach in a household to a higher prevalence of asthma and allergies.
  • Using bleach can hurt your pets. Your cleaning products can stay on a pet’s paws or fur. Since cats and dogs often lick themselves, they may ingest harmful chemicals. Due to their tiny size, birds can become sick upon inhaling only a small amount of the fumes. Bleach poisoning in pets can result in vomiting, convulsions, and sometimes death.
  • Bleach can kill mold, BUT it depends on the surface the mold is on. Mold grows on both porous and non-porous materials. When dealing with mold on non-porous materials such as shower tiles, tubs, vinyl window trims, countertops, etc. you can use bleach to kill the mold and disinfect. But using bleach to remove mold from porous materials like drywall and wood can actually accelerate mold growth rather than killing it! How? When bleach is used on porous materials, the chlorine is left on the surface and only the water component of the bleach is absorbed into the material, aggravating the situation as this provides more moisture for the mold to feed on, where it may then produce allergens and irritants. If your Chicago area home or business has a mold infestation, call ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons to professionally remove it
  • Chlorine is extremely corrosive to metal surfaces and can permanently discolor countertops. It can also damage floor finishes, requiring them to be stripped and recoated, which is an expensive process.
  • Chlorine discolors fibers and colored surfaces. Carpets, upholstery, and clothing are just a few of the materials that may be damaged.
  • Chlorine bleach’s disinfectant power is rapidly inactivated by contact with organic matter, such as blood, saliva, tissue, urine, feces, dirt, etc. Chlorine is also weakened by sunlight.
  • Diluted chlorine bleach quickly loses its effectiveness, is unstable and can lose its disinfectant qualities very rapidly compared to other, more stable disinfectants.

Safe and Effective Alternatives to Bleach

If you’re looking for a safer alternative to bleach, here are some ideas:

  • Baking soda and white vinegar – they’re non-toxic and non-corrosive. Use them to freshen fabrics, eliminate grease, and clean glass. (Not effective against COVID-19)
  • Rubbing alcohol – effectively cleans plastic surfaces of electronics (A concentration of around 70% will kill COVID-19)
  • Hydrogen peroxide – it’s non-toxic and can be used to disinfect household surfaces. Unlike bleach, hydrogen peroxide is safe to use around food products. (Effective against COVID-19)
  • Soap and warm water – the basics! It’ll clean just about anything in your home and won’t present any health risks. (Follow up with a disinfectant to be effective against COVID-19)

Bleach is a safe disinfectant —usually. And, it’s a cheap chemical to find at the store, making a great purchase for families on a budget. However, although bleach products may be a bargain, you owe it to yourself, your family, and coworkers to use a product that truly cleans, thoroughly disinfects and is safe to use. We’re not saying not to use bleach to disinfect your home, but definitely consider if it’s safe in specific instances, and don’t be afraid to use alternatives that are just as effective if you are worried about it!

Sometimes, DIY disinfecting with bleach just isn’t an option. If you’re looking for COVID-19 disinfection or cleaning in the Chicagoland area, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We provide effective coronavirus cleaning and Decontamination Services to commercial and residential properties — complete with a stamp of disinfection! 

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving Chicago, Oak Park/River Forest, and the North Shore.  ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides Disaster Restoration Services including  COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration,  Mold Remediation, and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning,  Post-Construction Cleaning,  Carpet Cleaning, and Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. ServiceMaster Cleaning By Simons provides Specialty Cleaning Services For Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest, and the North Shore.  For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visit servicemasterbysimons.com.

What is the Right Way to Disinfect During COVID-19? Here’s How.

During COVID-19, it’s important that you protect your home or business against the virus. Here’s the right way to disinfect for optimal safety.

how to disinfect the right way to protect yourself from COVID-19

 

The coronavirus outbreak has people in the Chicagoland area clambering to protect themselves, their homes, and businesses from possible contamination. The transmission life of COVID-19 on surfaces can last up to a week and the continued spread of the disease has led to a growing number of fatalities in the US. This has produced a dramatic increase in cleaning companies getting involved with COVID-19 disinfection — and with it, people are wondering what the right way to disinfect is.

 

Some COVID-19 cleaning companies can answer that question easily — they’re well prepared and highly trained for that kind of work. But others are simply jumping on the bandwagon because they’re seeing an opportunity for a quick buck and they figure anyone can do it. But nothing could be farther from the truth: there’s a right way to disinfect your space and a wrong way. That’s why it’s important to choose a restoration company that knows how to correctly disinfect your home or business during COVID-19. 

 

How to Determine Who to Trust to Disinfect the Right Way

The EPA does not license companies that provide cleaning services. So how do you know if a Chicagoland cleaning company is safe to hire? In order to be sure that the company knows best practices for disinfecting the right way, here are some areas to check for:

Length of existence – check them out on the internet. If they’re a reputable company, they’ll belong to the Better Business Bureau. That site will let you know if they have much experience by showing the age of the business and how high (or low) the BBB rates them.

Social Media Posts – do they have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other types of social media pages? (Hint: If they don’t, then it’s hard to believe they’re a serious player.) If so, check out the pictures and videos they post. Some of them clearly show substandard practices, such as wearing improper, damaged or missing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), inappropriate application techniques, and more. In contrast, this is the type of informative video you should see.

Size – can a small mom and pop company do a proper cleaning/disinfecting job? Of course. But due to their size, many can’t afford the extra expenses that come with having to purchase the large quantities of PPE, disinfecting equipment and cleaning chemicals that are required for proper disinfection. Plus, they likely don’t have the staff needed to do a thorough job or are able to serve you as quickly as you need them to.

Proof of Training – does their website have a list of organizations that they’re associated with or belong to? For instance, ServiceMaster Cleaning By Simons is certified by the IICRC (Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification), a non-profit certifying body for the cleaning and restoration industry. Additionally, they’re allied with OSHA, the EPA and they belong to the RIA (Restoration Industry Association), among others.

Underbidding – is the cost of their services too good (low) to believe? Then remember the old saying, “You get what you pay for”. Because of their small size, lack of training and resources, some of these companies can charge very little. But remember, this is an extremely serious and life-threatening situation, so ability should far outweigh the cost. For instance, would you choose a surgeon for the sole reason he or she was the cheapest?

 

How Does ServiceMaster By Simons Disinfect the Right Way to Get Rid of Coronavirus?

ServiceMaster By Simons is uniquely prepared during this extraordinary time to clean and disinfect the right way. We’ll disinfect your Chicago area home or business as stated by the protocols set forth by the CDC and IICRC. We have decades of experience dealing with biological contaminants, and we go far beyond what regular janitorial staffers might manage. Some of the procedures we follow are:

 

  • Wearing appropriate PPE, as determined by the most up-to-date CDC guidelines.
  • Using EPA-registered and approved products from the EPA’s List N, which specifically meets the criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. After cleaning all high-touch surfaces, we also fog with an EPA-approved disinfecting solution.   
  • Cleaning before disinfecting, a step that is required for true disinfection. We apply specific cleaning techniques to reduce the reapplication of soil on surfaces. 
  • Discarding cleaning materials and single-use PPE, sealing all soiled materials for proper disposal.
  • A strict coronavirus demobilization process for our equipment, trucks, and waste storage areas.

 

This pandemic is an extremely serious situation and the health and safety of you, your family, and employees are on the line. Don’t take any chances; call in the professionals at ServiceMaster By Simons and get peace of mind that you’re disinfecting the right way and protecting your space from COVID-19. (See one of our most recent posts for disinfecting coronavirus in your home or place of business.)

 

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving Chicago, Oak Park/River Forest, and the North Shore.  ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides Disaster Restoration Services including  COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration,  Mold Remediation, and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning,  Post-Construction Cleaning,  Carpet Cleaning, and Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. ServiceMaster Cleaning By Simons provides Specialty Cleaning Services For Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest, and the North Shore.  For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visit servicemasterbysimons.com.

How to Stay Safe While Hosting Guests During Coronavirus

Hosting guests during coronavirus? Here’s how you can do it safely and thoughtfully.

hosting guests safely during coronavirus

Although it’s now summertime in Chicagoland, that season many look forward to, it will doubtless look different this year. Yes, it will still be hot (maybe hotter), with long, sunny days. And we can once more experience many simple pleasures, like walking barefoot through the cool grass and sipping water out of a hose. But what will change this year is who we will and who we won’t be able to share those moments with due to Covid-19 — and what kind of precautions we will take while hosting guests during coronavirus.

Of course, this is one of the biggest pleasures of the year — inviting friends and family over for picnics, games or just hanging out. But with a pandemic on the rise, it begs the questions: Can you still host guests during coronavirus? And if so, how do you host them safely?

The good news is that hosting outside seems to be a go with experts across the board, and hosting inside really depends on the precautions you’re willing to take. “In general, being outside is better than being inside, being farther apart is better than being close together, smaller numbers of people are better than larger numbers of people, and being sure that nobody who is getting together is not feeling well,” says Dr. Hilary Babcock, a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and medical director of the Infection Prevention and Epidemiology Consortium for BJC HealthCare.

How to Safely Host People Outdoors During Quarantine

While being outside with friends and family is safer, there are further safety steps you can take while enjoying one another’s company, including wearing a mask and providing hand sanitizer. (Note: Each time you interact with someone outside of your household, you put yourself at risk of COVID-19 exposure. The following are not guidelines and you may want to use more caution based on your own comfort level, age, location, and the health status of yourself and those around you.)

Sharing a bottle of wine

Doing so with a friend on your front porch, six feet apart, socially distanced, is a great idea. You can chat and have a lovely time. But doing so inside a bar with loads of other people who are not wearing masks is not.

Having a backyard get-together/bonfire

Staying outdoors and maintaining distance with a small group made up of those you know who have all been practicing social distancing is safer than a larger gathering indoors. Most yards have plenty of room to set chairs six feet apart.

Serving food

Ryan Malosh, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, says, “Any shared food will increase the likelihood of a person who was exposed handling your food. With good hand hygiene, the risk of transmission this way can be reduced. Anyone who is sick or who has been around someone who is sick should not be sharing food.” Having your guests bring their own goodies or only serving individual serving size snacks might be best.

Throwing a pool party

While there doesn’t seem to be any evidence showing that being in the water with others will likely lead to infection, the hazardous part is the nearness to others in the pool, where wearing a mask is difficult. A safer activity for kids might be playing in the sprinkler – or having water balloon fights!

Playing games

Games like corn hole, where you can easily keep six feet apart are the safest. But since the bean bags are being shared, you might want to either wear gloves or wipe your hands down often with a hand sanitizer. Sports such as volleyball where you’re likely to have close contact with others should only be played with masks or avoided altogether.

Hiking and biking

Even though COVID-19 remains a concern in public spaces, some parks and hiking trails in the Chicago area may still be open during this time. If possible, pick a less-used trail or go during a less popular time. If each family member and friend has access to a bicycle, you can ride local bike trails or just take an evening ride around the neighborhood. You should bring masks along with you and be able to easily keep far enough apart for safety.

How to Safely Host People Indoors During Quarantine

But what if you’re forced inside due to weather, allergies, insects, etc.? What steps can you take beforehand to ensure you and your guests are as safe as possible?

Since it’s hard to socially distance inside, be sure to wear a mask. Have extras ready in case a guest doesn’t have one. Also, while person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 through the air poses a much greater risk than conveying it via surfaces, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that are often touched at least once a day, even if you’re staying home. That’s because when objects or people come in and out of your home, there are increased opportunities for exposure.

A recent study found that the novel coronavirus can remain in the air for up to three hours and live on surfaces such as cardboard for up to 24 hours, and plastic and stainless steel for up to three days. So, it may be possible that a person could contract COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. 

Here are a few ways to make sure you are properly cleaning and disinfecting your home and keeping your household as germ-free as possible in order to keep your family and guests safe.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Before Hosting Guests

A key way to entertain guests safely during coronavirus is to be sure you’re keeping up with your cleaning and disinfection processes. By disinfecting high-touch surfaces and keeping the home clean after potential exposure, you’ll ensure that guests are safe from the virus when they visit your home.

 It’s important to note that cleaning a surface – just removing dirt and particles – isn’t the same as disinfecting it to kill viruses and bacteria. (See our article, “The Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting”.)

There are many products you can use to clean hard surfaces in your home, like soapy water and vinegar. And while cleaning high-traffic surfaces to remove contaminants, dust and dirt is a necessary step of cleaning your home, you still need to disinfect those surfaces from the novel coronavirus.

Note that not all cleaning products kill all types of germs, so you should know exactly which products kill COVID-19. The EPA has established a list of disinfectants that meet their criteria for use against novel coronavirus. You might already have some of these products in your home, such as:

  • Disinfecting wipes, including Clorox, Lysol or store brand wipes
  • Disinfectant sprays, such as Purell, Clorox or Lysol
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide

And while using effective virus-killing products is important, you also need to follow the proper techniques to thoroughly disinfect surfaces. The EPA advises that you let the product sit and remain wet on surfaces or objects for 10 minutes, and that will kill 99.9 percent of germs.

If you don’t have any disinfecting products on hand and can’t find any in stores, the CDC offers instructions about how to create a homemade bleach disinfectant spray. If you use this product, be sure to wear gloves, open windows and be careful since bleach can damage or discolor sensitive surfaces.

While you don’t need to clean your entire house every day, you should concentrate on disinfecting daily these areas that attract the most germs and your guests are most likely to touch:

  • Cabinet and drawer knobs
  • Water Faucets
  • Kitchen and bathroom counters
  • Toilets seats and flush levers
  • Kitchen appliance handles
  • TV remotes and game controllers
  • Cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices
  • Doorknobs
  • Tabletops
  • Stair railings
  • Light switches/switch plates

If you can, wear disposable gloves and toss them after disinfecting. If you wear reusable gloves, disinfect them when you’re done. And always wash your hands before and after you clean and disinfect your home.

And of course, protecting your guests and safely hosting them at home requires that both you and them keep up with good hand washing practices. That’s one of the best ways to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19. The CDC recommends an intense 20-second scrub with soap and water up to the wrists, between the fingers and under the fingernails. To encourage hand washing while hosting people during coronavirus, be sure your guests have easy access to soap and water.

Hosting Guests Safely This Summer

Although Illinois averaged about half as many new Covid-19 cases and deaths each day in June compared to May, when the state hit its apparent coronavirus peak, this is no time to relax your cleaning standards as in many parts of the country cases are still on the rise. But if you have a busy schedule, giving your property a good deep clean might seem impossible. Let ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons take on that challenge for you. ServiceMaster By Simons has provided Specialty Cleaning Services for Chicago’s homes and businesses for over 65 years.

So, although this summer will be different from all past ones, Chicagoans can still enjoy it by being vigilant about cleaning, mask wearing and social distancing. We will get through this together and have a heck of a story to tell our grandchildren.

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving Chicago, Oak Park/River Forest, and the North Shore.  ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides Disaster Restoration Services including  COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration,  Mold Remediation, and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning,  Post-Construction Cleaning,  Carpet Cleaning, and Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. ServiceMaster Cleaning By Simons provides Specialty Cleaning Services For Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest, and the North Shore.  For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visit servicemasterbysimons.com.

The Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting

Know if you’re cleaning or disinfecting your home from COVID-19 with this guide to the differences between cleaning and disinfecting.

the difference between cleaning and disinfecting

The home is supposed to be a haven for relaxation, recuperation, and escaping the pressures of the world. Unfortunately, we wind up bringing home some of the world and its germs via our dirty hands, shoes, clothing, and phones.

Even if your Chicagoland home looks clean, it could still be hiding contaminants that could affect your health. Now, in the wake of a COVID-19 pandemic, making sure you are cleaning and disinfecting your home is more crucial than ever. In doing so, it’s important to also be sure you know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting, and are using them both to combat the virus and protect the health of your family. 

Medical experts agree: Dr. Michael Schmidt, professor of microbiology at the Medical University of South Carolina and chair of the American Society of Microbiology’s Council on Microbial Sciences, says that the best way to protect your family is to be sure you’re cleaning and disinfecting your home’s trouble areas. This includes high-touch surfaces and the hard-to-reach places that you might not even see or recognize. He also has some helpful tips for recognizing the difference between cleaning and disinfecting, and using both processes to your advantage to disinfect your home from coronavirus. Read on to see what he has to say.

What is Cleaning?

Cleaning is the process of wiping down surfaces and areas of the home to slow the spread of germs and dirt. 

Dr. Schmidt points out that after washing our hands, the next best way to protect the family and disinfect your home from coronavirus and bacteria is to wipe down high-touch surfaces. This includes countertops, doorknobs, light switches, and common surfaces. You can do this twice a day with a microfiber cloth dampened in a solution of hot water and an all-purpose cleaner. 

“The slight abrasion of the microfiber cloth and the cleaning solution will lift and dilute any microbes that have settled on the surfaces,” says Dr. Schmidt. And don’t forget about your electronics and phones: “Since electronics don’t hold up well to soap and water, use an alcohol wipe with at least 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean cell phones, remotes, and keyboards.”

What is Disinfecting?

Disinfecting is the process of killing germs and bacteria using specific approved cleaning solutions/agents. Disinfecting eliminates the spread of germs. 

Disinfecting is the number one way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your home, but it should be taken on with caution, according to Dr. Schmidt. 

 “Disinfecting cleaners can give a false sense of security if they are not used properly and are only necessary if someone in the household is ill,” says Dr. Schmidt. The crucial areas to address are surfaces shared by family members and those that come in close contact with bodily fluids. If you have dirty windows, they aren’t a big health concern, but a doorknob touched after a sneeze can be.

It’s important to read labels and follow the directions on products. Cleaning products labeled as disinfectants will adequately kill viruses and bacteria if used correctly. But if the label promises to just “sanitize” a surface, the fine print might say it’ll kill 99.9% of the bacteria, but not mention if it’s effective against viruses or fungi. When using disinfectants, make sure to follow the recommended contact time (sometimes referred to as “dwell time”), which is the amount of time the surface should be visibly wet to give the product time to work.

What’s the difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting?

Cleaning shouldn’t be confused with disinfecting. Here’s the key differences: When you clean, you remove germs, but don’t kill them. When you disinfect, you kill the germs to rid surfaces and your home of them. This difference is important because though you might clean surfaces well, small amounts of germs and bacteria are left to grow — which can perpetuate the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.

Disinfect Your Home From COVID-19

Disinfecting is a process that should be left to the professionals — especially given how quickly COVID-19 can spread throughout a home. If you need help with deep cleaning and disinfecting your Chicago area home or business, contact us at ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons. We can disinfect your home from COVID-19 safely and effectively, and we’ll do it according to CDC guidelines. Not only do we use the proper EPA-approved disinfectants, but our professionals receive the necessary training and field experience to service your home or workplace to achieve the highest standards of cleanliness and customer satisfaction.

If you do choose to DIY disinfecting your home from COVID-19, make sure you are wearing the proper personal protective equipment and using EPA-approved disinfectants. Before disinfecting anything in your house, decide whether you’ll wear gloves and what kind. Rubber gloves are more durable and reusable, but disposable latex ones also work. And of course, remember to always wash your hands with soap and warm water after using any cleaning products that may be harmful or abrasive to your skin.

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving Chicago, Oak Park/River Forest, and the North Shore.  ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides Disaster Restoration Services including  COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration,  Mold Remediation, and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning,  Post-Construction Cleaning,  Carpet Cleaning, and Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. ServiceMaster Cleaning By Simons provides Specialty Cleaning Services For Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest, and the North Shore.  For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visitservicemasterbysimons.com.

Guide to Coronavirus Prevention and Disinfection

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has arrived in America — and it’s spreading quickly. As the virus reaches pandemic levels, we know how important it is to stop the spread of coronavirus in your office or home. Helping you, your family and employees stay safe and healthy is our number one priority, so we’ve assembled some top tips for cleaning your spaces to prevent germs from spreading. Keep reading this Guide to Avoiding the Coronavirus to find out more.

how to prevent spread of coronavirus - ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons - Chicago - Oak Park/River Forest - North ShoreCOVID-19 – Coronavirus Prevention & Disinfection – ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons – Chicago – Oak Park/River Forest – North Shore IL

 

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has arrived in America — and it’s spreading quickly. As the virus reaches pandemic levels, we know how important it is to stop the spread of coronavirus in your office or home. Helping you, your family, and employees stay safe and healthy is our number one priority, so we’ve assembled some top tips for Coronavirus Prevention and Disinfection, and cleaning your spaces to prevent germs from spreading. Keep reading this Guide to Avoiding the Coronavirus to find out more.

 

What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus 2019 is the name of the newest flu strain to concern health officials. The outbreak of the virus began in Wuhan, China in December of last year. Though it is thought to have begun spreading at an animal market, we now know it can also be spread from person to person. Still early in its discovery, it has proven to be deadly, with a 3.4% mortality rate in those it affects. It causes severe illness and respiratory symptoms.

 

Who is at risk?

Anybody who comes into close proximity with another person who is carrying the virus is at risk of catching Coronavirus. That risk increases during international or domestic travel to places where Coronavirus has been especially prevalent. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing.

 

How do I know if I have a Coronavirus? 

One way to assess if you have Coronavirus is by your symptoms. Fever, tiredness, and dry cough are the three most common symptoms. According to the World Health Organization, some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea. Other patients may never experience symptoms, but still, be carrying the virus around — making it hard to eradicate. A doctor can confirm the diagnosis with a laboratory test. If you have symptoms or are feeling unwell, head to your nearest medical professional as soon as possible.

 

How is Coronavirus treated?

As of now, there is no official cure for Coronavirus Prevention. Treatment measures tend to be supportive in nature to alleviate the symptoms, rather than the virus itself. About 80% of people who get Coronavirus will recover normally without complications; the most at-risk for severe illness and death are older-aged people and those with health complications or pre-existing medical conditions.

 

How can I protect myself and my family?

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, some health preventative measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus to your family and home are:

 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Wear a facemask when caring for or interacting with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose
  • Stay home when you are sick, keep kids out of school if they are displaying respiratory symptoms
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for more than 20 seconds each time

 

Aside from these preventative measures, you can also protect yourself by staying educated — keep up with the latest news for developments about the virus, and check out these government resources to learn more and stay on top of Coronavirus Prevention and Disinfection. 

 

How do I prevent the spread of Coronavirus in my facility?

 

Encourage employees to stay home when sick, and be sure to disinfect surfaces and frequently-touched items in the office each day. Promote employee wellness by allowing them to work from home in the event of mild symptoms. Ensure you are providing adequate hand sanitizer, hand soap, and disinfecting wipes or sprays for employee use. Call ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons for immediate Coronavirus Prevention and Disinfection services.

 

What do I do if Coronavirus spreads to my facility?

 

If you find that Coronavirus has infected your facility, stay calm, and remember that the situation must be handled with the utmost precaution. Close your building (if the industry allows, you can maintain operations by allowing work from home) to avoid contamination. Call your local restoration or biological cleanup company who will be able to disinfect the building with hospital-grade equipment and solutions.

 

How does ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons disinfect my facility?

 

Our professional team has developed a comprehensive process for Coronavirus Prevention and Disinfection with the proper precautions and hospital-grade disinfectants. We begin with a professional analysis of the contamination and determine a protocol based on your facility’s needs. Our highly trained technicians come equipped with decades of biological hazard cleanup knowledge and hospital-graded EPS-registered disinfectants.

 

The Coronavirus is a serious public health concern, and we urge all of our customers to do their best to follow precautionary health care measures and stay as safe and healthy as possible. We know that business can’t stop for anything: If you believe your office has been infected by the virus, give us a call today to begin the disinfection process. We are standing by to help you.

 

 

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving Chicago, Oak Park/River Forest, and the North Shore.  ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides Disaster Restoration Services including  COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Water & Flood Damage Restoration Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration Mold Remediation, and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning Post-Construction Cleaning Carpet Cleaning, and Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. ServiceMaster Cleaning By Simons provides Specialty Cleaning Services For Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest, and the North Shore.  For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visit servicemasterbysimons.com.