The Importance of Storm “Four” Knowledge

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Throughout life, there are many things you plan for. You try to structure your education so you’ll have a fulfilling and well-paying job. You may plan for a vacation weeks or even months ahead. Maybe you designed the type of home you wanted, gathering blueprints, getting contractors lined up, choosing color swatches, etc.

But unfortunately, many of us don’t plan for disasters, natural or man-made. When they happen, people may say things like, “But I never saw it coming,” and “We didn’t have time to react.” Well, the time for action is long before a tragedy befalls you or your property!

The Chicagoland area is susceptible to a variety of storms – everything from blizzards to floods to tornados. So, what can you do? According to FEMA, there are four main ways to prepare for storms that you can and should undertake NOW:

Four Main Ways to Prepare For a Storm

1. Get Informed – Chicago has an emergency management office and a Red Cross Chapter. These organizations provide vital information concerning local emergency response arrangements, evacuation plans and emergency shelters. It’s also a good idea to invest in a NOAA Weather Radio that will alert you during any time of the day or night when possible destructive conditions materialize.

2. Make a Plan

  • Conduct a family meeting that will inform everyone what your emergency plans are.
  • Have an out-of-town contact that each one knows the number to. This is who you’ll call to inform where you are after a disaster strikes.
  • Teach your children how and when to call emergency numbers.
  • Have a prearranged location picked out as the place your family will meet in case you get separated from one another. Make sure everyone knows not only the best escape routes but the safe places to go inside your home if a tornado approaches.
  • Know how and when to turn off water, gas and electricity at the main switches or valves.
  • Have fire extinguishers ready and show everyone where they’re located and how to use them.
  • Inventory your possessions and keep that list along with important documents in a safe deposit box.
  • Keep your homeowners or renter’s insurance company’s telephone numbers readily available. (Also, be sure to keep ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration By Simons phone number close at hand!

3. Assemble a Kit – this is a collection of basic family needs you’ll need after a disaster. These should be stored in a portable container and enough to last you three days. It should include food, water, a battery powered radio, a flashlight, etc. You can find a full list of items for your survival kit at redcross.org

4. Maintain Your Plan – every six months, review your plans with your family, conduct evacuation drills and restock expiring food and perishables in your kit. Also, confirm your fire extinguisher is recharged and smoke alarm batteries are replaced.

 

Alan Lakein, an author on personal time management, once wrote, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” That’s very empowering when you think about it. It’s almost like time traveling without a DeLorean or having to mess with all that space-time continuum stuff. Planning ahead for emergencies can also bring you great peace of mind. Think of it as an insurance policy against future disasters without the pesky premiums.

If your Chicagoland home or business has been damaged by ANY type of storm or disaster, be sure to contact ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration By Simons immediately. They’re the trusted name that will return your property back to pre-loss conditions – FAST!

 

About ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons:

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, is a 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons (MBE/WBE) is a family operated, IICRC & OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. We provide commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-376-1110 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com or info@servicemaster-rbs.com

How a Disaster May Add Value to Your Chicagoland Property

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Property damage from water, fire, mold, and storms can feel devastating. While experiencing a disaster, it’s hard to find an upside. But a disaster could increase your Chicagoland property value in the long run if you have the right homeowner’s coverage and restoration professionals working on the job. You see, when you file a homeowner’s claim, your contractor’s job is to get the home back to pre-loss condition. But oftentimes it turns out better, particularly if you live in an older home.

The Importance of Proper Restoration

When you experience damage to your home, it’s extremely important to have the loss inspected by ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons. Proper restoration is the key to not only maintaining the value of your home, but potentially increasing its value. If damage is left unattended or is incorrectly restored or repaired by DIY efforts or a cut-rate contractor, you run the risk of additional and significant damage in the long run.

Insurance Terms to Understand

“Pre-loss condition” is an important insurance term and concept. The definition is: the condition property was in the moment before a damage occurred. Assuming your loss is covered under your policy, your insurance will pay to bring your property back to its pre-loss condition with your deductible being your only out of pocket cost.

Besides pre-loss condition, you may also hear the term “comparable materials and quality” when dealing with your insurance company. So, this means that any irreparably damaged materials resulting from the loss will be exchanged with the same or similar material of equal quality. For example, if the laminate flooring in your kitchen gets destroyed, it’ll be replaced with laminate flooring of like quality, even if the same flooring no longer exists.

In a home that’s relatively new, you probably won’t see much of an increase in value. But in an older Chicago area home, the damage to your property may turn out to be advantageous when decades old flooring, cabinets, carpets, etc., are replaced with brand new furnishings.

When to Upgrade

One thing many homeowners aren’t aware of is that they can choose to make upgrades in the event of an insurance claim. So, if you were planning a remodel but hadn’t saved up for it yet, you may be able to afford it now. This is the time to turn your damage into your benefit. Did you know that your insurance company will still only pay for comparable materials and quality less your deductible, but they certainly won’t complain if you decide to spend extra money out of your pocket to upgrade those materials. In fact, they’re happy if you do as they’re now insuring a higher quality home, and that’s a good thing in their book.

What your insurance will cover

As an example of how this would work, let’s say your kitchen cabinets and laminate counter were ruined by water damage. Your insurance will pop for replacement cabinets and a counter of comparable materials and quality, but you’ve already been thinking about a kitchen remodel and have been saving for a future project. So, you can now combine the money you’ve been saving and the money the insurance is paying to upgrade to much higher quality materials for a significantly lower out-of-pocket cost. By doing this, you vastly improve your Chicagoland property value, especially when upgrading areas of your home like the kitchen or bathroom that can be expensive to remodel but are extremely attractive to buyers.*

Whether you upgrade or not, having your home restored professionally should be your highest priority. Doing so not only increases the value of your home but will also ensure the damage is completely repaired and won’t come back to haunt you in the future.

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is the Chicagoland company of choice for commercial and residential disaster restoration. Our expert staff handles large and small insurance losses and works closely with insurance adjusters, managers, building owners, developers, homeowners, and renters.

*Do not purposefully destroy areas of your home you want remodeled so you can save some money! Besides being unethical, your homeowner’s policy will not cover intentional acts in which you deliberately try to damage your property.

About ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons:

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and recipient of the Honorable Mentioned Award for 2020 Skokie Business of the Year. We are MBE/WBE certified, and family-operated.  We are an IICRC Certified and OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-376-1110 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com.

Biohazard Cleanup – What, When and Why?

What Does Biohazard Mean?

When you hear the word “Biohazard”, what comes to mind? You may think of situations like the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, biohazards also emanate from traumatic events where blood, human or animal residues, chemical spills, and more are involved.

Biohazard Scenarios:

  • Crime or homicide scenes
  • Suicide or death
  • Blood and bodily fluid residues
  • Hoarding scenes
  • Animal waste or remains
  • Chemical/drug hazards
  • Virus contamination

Biohazard cleanup involves cleaning, sanitizing, and deodorizing areas where such traumatic events have occurred. Cleanup after these events is a serious business that not just anyone can handle. So, the threats involved posed by bacteria, viruses, and infectious diseases can put your health and safety at risk. Oftentimes, these pathogens are invisible, making cleanup an even more difficult task for the inexperienced.

You may think that if the police are involved, someone else will clean up the aftereffects. But the state of Illinois isn’t responsible for cleaning up crime scenes. After police investigators collect evidence from the scene, it’s up to the property owner to hire a biohazard remediation company. In any case, a professional cleanup team can arrive onsite only after the police have gathered enough evidence related to the crime.

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is trained in the cleanup and remediation of all types of trauma situations. We have a team of highly professional experts in the Chicagoland area who have experience in these matters who follow proper training and safety procedures. We specialize in fast and thorough cleanup work to ensure the safety and security of everyone involved.

Does Biohazard Cleanup Require Certification?

To become a biohazard technician, obtaining certification is not required. However, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does require biohazard technicians to properly wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when dealing with bloodborne pathogens, because every time technicians handle potentially hazardous materials they’re put at significant risk.

The ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons team employs state-of-the-art protective equipment, along with cleanup and COVID-19 disinfection processes that follow strict safety protocols outlined by OSHA and EPA. Furthermore, we provide up-to-date bioremediation training for technicians that includes best practices, proprietary methods, and safety compliance.

The ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons Biohazard Cleanup Process

  • We start cleanup efforts as quickly as possible.
  • We remove all potentially infectious materials from the site.
  • Hazardous medical waste is handled in compliance with OSHA regulations. It’s then processed and sent to a licensed hazardous medical waste incinerator.
  • Technicians remove porous materials like fabric and carpeting following industry standards and Illinois state regulations.
  • Non-hazardous materials are either removed or decontaminated and sanitized if they are considered salvageable.
  • After cleanup and sanitization, affected areas are deodorized, and walls and flooring may be sealed to cover any remaining stains from the incident.

As with any type of property damage, the professionals at ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons ensure that our actions don’t worsen the sense of loss of a property owner. We strive to be exceptionally sensitive to these situations by showing extra care and compassion and do our best to understand that those involved may be emotionally vulnerable, and so treat grieving family members and other loved ones with respect and empathy.

About ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons:

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, the 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, is MBE/WBE certified, and family-operated.  We are an IICRC Certified and OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-376-1110 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com.

 

Don’t Be a Victim of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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Not very long ago, a couple made love in their car that was parked in their garage. Meanwhile, they not only left the vehicle running but were also operating a kerosene heater due to the extreme cold. Needless to say, they died due to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Although that sounds like a sad and silly way to go, every year at least 430 people die in the U.S. from accidental CO poisoning and approximately 50,000 others are forced to visit the emergency room because of it. CO deaths regularly occur in Chicago and the stories are heartbreaking.

Why CO Is Dangerous

The reason why CO is dangerous is because it interferes with the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood. Being colorless, odorless and tasteless, people can be overcome without any warning. So, symptoms caused by exposure to CO include low energy, headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, confusion, visual impairment, and (obviously) death.

CO is found in fumes produced by furnaces, kerosene heaters, vehicles “warmed up” in garages, stoves, lanterns, gas ranges, portable generators, or by burning charcoal and wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces, poisoning people and animals.

When a storm knocks out power, many rely on portable generators to keep the lights on until electricity is restored. Fred Henretig, a senior toxicologist at the Poison Control Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says he and his colleagues have been attempting to raise awareness about proper portable generator use for years, but carbon monoxide poisoning cases unfailingly surge after each big storm.

“So what people tend to do — not always but it’s not unheard of — is just set it up like right next to the open garage door and they think, ‘OK, that’s going to work fine, it will blow out,’ ” Henretig explained. “The exhaust will blow out, but the trouble is, you can’t always account for different drafts and how things get vented around.”

Check The Facts

Research suggests that in natural disasters, carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators has the potential to take more lives than the disasters themselves. A study tracking confirmed deaths related to Hurricane Irma in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina in 2017 attributed 16 fatalities to carbon monoxide poisoning and 11 to the storm itself.

Here are ways you can you protect yourself from CO poisoning, whether a disaster has occurred or not:

  • Purchase and install at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, including the basement.
  • Change the batteries in your CO detector every six months.
  • Have gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Keep vents and flues free of debris so as not to block ventilation lines.
  • Never leave a vehicle’s motor running while parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
  • Never run any gasoline-powered engine within 20 feet of an open window, door, or vent where exhaust can seep into an enclosed area, or inside a basement, garage, or other enclosed structure, even if the doors or windows are open.
  • Never use a charcoal grill, hibachi, lantern, or portable camping stove inside a home, tent, or camper.

If your CO detector goes off during or right after a disaster, leave your residence immediately and call 911. If you feel light-headed, dizzy, or nauseated and suspect you may have CO poisoning, seek immediate medical attention.

If you live in the Chicagoland area and have recently experienced water damage, fire damage, smoke damage, or storm damage, necessitating the use of a generator, call ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons immediately! The sooner we can restore your home or business to pre-loss condition, the safer you’ll be.

About ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons:

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, the 2020 recipient of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, is MBE/WBE certified, and family-operated.  We are an IICRC Certified and OSHA Certified company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore. ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides commercial disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration, Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including COVID-19 Cleaning Services, Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning to residential  and commercial customers. For more information, call 773-376-1110 or visit www.servicemasterbysimons.com.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

How to Protect Your Family Against COVID-19 When Schools Reopen

As kids go back to school, they run the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. Protect your kid from getting the virus while ensuring your family is prepared with plenty of precautions in case they do bring it home.

protect your kid against COVID-19 at school

 

Cities and states across the country are grappling with how to reopen schools safely even as coronavirus cases continue to climb in many places. Already, we’ve seen reports of hundreds of kids getting COVID-19 at school in certain southern states and cities. In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that schools will remain closed beginning September 8 through at least the end of the first quarter (November 6). With a deadly pandemic raging, officials and families alike are worried about how to keep kids safe at school during COVID-19. With lots of people in one indoor place, the fear is that reopening schools could lead to an increase in infection rates and deaths, although many issues influence the specific risks for any given school. Once schools do open, it’ll be up to each family to evaluate the risks of sending their children back to school. If you do choose to, you’ll want to make sure you’re sending them back to school safely. Here are some ways to protect your kids against COVID-19 at school.

 

Precautions Children Can Take to Protect Against COVID-19 at School

 

Parents can take steps to help reduce the risk of their kids getting COVID-19 at school. Dr. Dyan Hes, a pediatrician in New York City, offered the following tips for parents: 

Have your child wear a mask to prevent them from getting COVID-19 at school – “If your child can tolerate wearing a mask, you should really have them go to school with a mask,” she said. But she admitted that this may be difficult for young children especially. Parents should stock up on the washable variety, as children shouldn’t wear the same dirty mask day after day, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). 

Supply them with disinfectant wipes so they can disinfect against COVID-19 at school – “I really think that you should send your child to school with Clorox wipes or Wet Ones and teach them how they can clean their desk,” she said. Unfortunately, these have been in short supply. But you can make your own using either bleach or alcohol. 

Use washable backpacks – Hes said it may be a good idea to wash your child’s backpack every day because it’s possible droplets from an infected individual could land on them.

Wash hands frequently – To ensure your kid doesn’t get COVID-19 at school, make sure they know how to wash their hands correctly and frequently. Be sure they have hand sanitizer, as well: “I always say that the little kids — when they learn to wash their hands in school, sometimes they wash them so much that they get irritated and eczema, so checking your kids’ skin to make sure there’s no cracks from washing so frequently and moisturizing well, maybe putting Vaseline on their hands at night,” Hes said. 

Precautions to Take When Children Return Home From School

Thankfully, it’s rare that school age children are adversely affected by COVID-19. But if they get COVID-19 at school, the biggest concern is they might then carry it home and transmit it to parents, grandparents, or anyone who may have a suppressed immune system. “The priority is to keep a decontaminated home environment because that’s where we worry about the spread to older individuals who are definitely going to be at risk for more severe disease than kids,” said Dr. Sandra Kesh, Deputy Medical Director and Infectious Disease Specialist at Westmed Medical Group.

So, what actions should Chicagoland kids take one they get home to prevent spreading COVID-19 after school? Here are some suggestions:

  • Change clothes immediately so they don’t spread COVID-19 they may have gotten at school. “When your kids come home from school, you should have them undress at the door and wash all their clothes as best as you can,” Dr. Hes said. She also suggested leaving their shoes outside.
  • Any electronic devices they’re carrying, like phones or tablets, should be wiped down with  disinfectant wipes each day. Keep them in protective cases so they can be easily cleaned. But be careful to read the directions on the cleaning supplies so you don’t harm the device.
  • In case your kid was exposed to COVID-19 at school, have your kids remove whatever supplies they need for homework but leave backpacks in the car or at the door when they get home. Wash backpacks at least once a week and spray them with a disinfectant daily.
  • Any books or other supplies brought home for homework should be wiped down before being used.
  • If your kids take a lunchbox to school, be sure to give them a good wipe down or wash in the sink at the end of each day.

As kids go back to school, it’s important to protect your family against COVID-19. If you’re concerned that you may not be getting your home as clean or disinfected for your family as you would like it to be, let ServiceMaster Cleaning By Simons help you. We’ve been provided Specialty Cleaning Services for Chicago’s homes and businesses for over 65 years. Additionally, ServiceMaster Cleaning By Simons utilizes CDC approved and EPA registered industrial-strength disinfectants with a broad spectrum kill claim for our Coronavirus Cleaning Service.

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.

Residential Water Damage: What Do I Do If I’ve Got a Faulty Water Line?

Faulty Water Supply Line - Water Damage Restoration - ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons - Chicago - Oak Park - River Forest - North Shore IL

Faulty Water Supply Lines – Stabilization & Recovery – Residential Water Damage – ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons – Chicago

 

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, Chicagoland’s Trusted Name In Water Damage Restoration and Fire Damage Restoration, has compiled this checklist of things that you can do to help stabilize your property after the discovery of a Faulty Water Supply Line.

 

 

I’ve got a faulty water line! Now what?

 

Even though it is now spring, it looks like the chilly weather might be sticking around in Chicago for a little while longer. As the frost from the latest storms melts and soil surrounding your property corrodes, it is possible that holes or cracks may develop in your water main. If left untreated, these cracks and holes can cause extensive damage in office buildings, churches, schools, multi-family residential buildings, and standard homes, leaving property owners inconvenienced and with a hazard on their hands.

 

Why should I care about my waterline?

 

On another property, the main water line is the primary pipe that brings water into the building. This pipe is typically located underground and connects your property to your community’s water source. Your water line is not the same as your private sewer lateral, which removes used water and sewage from your property. Since water lines remain underground and under constant pressure, it is easy for them to break and cause water to flow to surface levels. Though this may seem like something fairly easy to deal with, faulty water lines can lead to contaminated water entering your property, presenting significant health hazards to those in the building.

 

What steps should I take if my waterline is faulty?

 

When you discover or even suspect that your water line is faulty, it’s crucial that you shut off all appliances in the building and avoid drinking or using tap water. There should almost always be a shutoff valve somewhere on the property that will allow you to cut off the flow of water through the primary pipe in the event of an emergency or it is being faulty. Sometimes your public utility service will shut off the water before you even notice there is a problem, but if this does not occur you can always find the property-owner shutoff valve and turn off the water yourself. You will need a water meter key to do this. After you manage to get the water to stop flowing, be sure to call a plumber ASAP so they can fix the problem before the water starts to damage your property beyond repair.

 

Why Choose ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons?

 

As an IICRC Certified Firm, ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons follows IICRC S500 Standards for professional water damage restoration. Our IICRC certified technicians will assess the water damage on-site and determine the best course of action to restore your damaged property. For example, clean water damage from a faulty water line pipe on your property is considerably different than water damage from a sewer backup. As leading experts in the field, we will quickly determine the best course of action so your family or business can get back to normal as soon as possible.

 

The different water damage restoration services we perform include:

 

 

What is our Water Damage Restoration process for a  faulty water line?

 

Upon ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons’s arrival to your property, our trained IICRC Certified project manager will begin the assessment of any damage and will plan the mitigation of the water’s damage to the property.

 

Some of the faulty water line assessments we perform include:

 

  • Identifying the specific location of the waterline and the subsequent water damage to your property.
  • Determining the water’s path throughout the property using thermal imaging equipment.
  • Determining areas in the property affected by the water damage, such as ceilings, walls, flooring, fixtures, and mechanical damage.
  • Determining the best plan of attack. We will determine the best way to dry your property and what equipment we’ll use to do it.

 

D.I.Y. – Can I handle cleaning up any water damage or faulty water lines myself?

 

Simple drying techniques are often not enough when drying water in the aftermath of a leak, spill or flood. Carpets, walls, paneling, baseboards, and floor coverings are porous, which means extensive water damage cleaning is required. Surface cleaning only removes visible contamination, but microorganisms are often left behind, which can potentially cause health problems, unpleasant odors or, worst of all, mold growth! All surfaces affected by water damage must be thoroughly cleaned, dried, disinfected and deodorized by a trained professional like the ones at ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons in order to properly eliminate disease-causing bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

 

What are the 3 basic categories of water found when water damage strikes?

 

Category 1: Known as “clean water,” this type of water originates from a sanitary source and poses no substantial risk from dermal exposure, ingestion, or inhalation. However, it may not always remain clean after it comes into contact with other surfaces or materials. Some examples of “clean water” are broken water supply lines, tub or sink overflows or appliance malfunctions that involve water supply lines.

Category 2: Known as “grey water,” this type of water contains significant contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if contacted or consumed by humans. It may contain potentially unsafe levels of microorganisms or nutrients for microorganisms, as well as other organic or inorganic matter (chemical or biological). Examples of this category of water include toilet bowls filled with urine (but no feces), sump pump failures, seepage due to hydrostatic failure, and water discharge from dishwashers or washing machines.

Category 3: Known as “black water,” this water is grossly contaminated and may contain pathogenic, toxigenic or other harmful agents. Such water sources may carry silt, organic matter, pesticides, heavy metals, regulated materials, or toxic organic substances. A sewage back-up will typically include category 3 water. Other examples of this type of are toilet bowl water (with feces), sewer back-up, seawater, rising water from rivers or streams, ground surface water or standing water.

 

What kind of equipment will we use?

 

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons uses state-of-the-art equipment and technology to get your properties’ structure dry. Our advanced technology is necessary for the efficacy and efficiency of the drying and restoration process of your property.

 

Some of the equipment used for structural drying includes:

 

  • Dehumidifiers
  • Air Movers
  • Negative Air Fans
  • Thermal Imaging Cameras
  • Moisture Meters
  • Wood Floor Drying Systems
  • Desiccants
  • Anti-Microbial Solutions
  • Truck-mounted Water Extraction Units
  • Portable Water Extraction Units

 

How much does water damage clean-up cost?

 

The average cost of drying out your property, performing restoration services from a “clean” water leak (not grey or black water) can be costly and average anywhere between $3,000 and up. Reconstruction work to correct the damage done to areas like drywall, baseboards, paneling, carpeting, and padding range from $5,000 and up, depending on the size of the affected area.

 

Will ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons guide me through the insurance process?

 

As a QRV or Quality Restoration Vendor, ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is part of the elite group of national ServiceMaster franchises chosen to take part in the national contract agreements with most major insurance companies. Some of the insurance companies we work directly with include State Farm, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Hanover, Chubb, Asco, Progressive, Travelers, USAA, Farmers, Nationwide, AIC, Zurich, American Family, and Erie, among others. That means that we prescribe to the strict guidelines and to the required estimating software administered by these insurance companies and provide a direct pipeline to your insurance company. It also means that you don’t have to be the middle person in the process. We work and communicate directly with your insurance provider to ensure your property is properly restored after water damage, bringing your home or property back to its pre-loss conditions.

 

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 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 residing in Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest, and the North Shore.  For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visit servicemasterbysimons.com.

 

 

Nasutsa Mabwa
Nasutsa Mabwa
Nasutsa Mabwa is President of ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, an MBE/WBE City of Chicago and State of Illinois certified firm. She is a 2018 Chicago Business Journal Influential Women in Business Honoree, a member of Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 and a 2018 ServiceMaster(c) Achiever Award recipient. She serves on the board for the Civic Federation, sits on the Board of Directors-Executive Committee of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, and the serves on Advisory Board for Roosevelt University’s Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate. She is IICRC certified for WRT & FSRT.