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

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.

 

After a Fire in Your Chicago Home: What to Save, What to Toss

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One of the hardest tasks to deal with after a fire is deciding what you can keep and what to toss. Many objects are obvious losses but others may leave you unsure whether they’re salvageable or not. You want to save money yet you also need to stay safe. So, the following are some tips on how to handle some of the more questionable items that may have been exposed to fire and smoke.

Food

Throw out all food that’s been in contact with smoke and/or firefighting chemicals, including fresh produce, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, opened containers, food packaged in cardboard, foil, paper, plastic, cloth, screw-topped jars and canisters, and any foods stored outside the refrigerator that were exposed to smoke or fumes.

Some canned goods may still look good on the outside but heat damage can re-cook the ingredients in the can. This activates bacteria that causes food spoilage, making them unhealthy to eat.

But won’t foods that were in a refrigerator or freezer be safe?

Sometimes seals on those appliances aren’t air-tight and smoke can leak inside to damage food. If the electricity went out during the fire for more than 2 hours, then it’s likely spoilage occurred so all items should be discarded.

Medicines & Cosmetics                    

The Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) says the effectiveness of drugs can be destroyed by high temperatures from a fire. If you think your medicines have been exposed to excessive heat, consider replacing them. The same is true if they’ve come into contact with firefighting extinguishing chemicals.

As to cosmetics, high heat can change their composition without showing any visible signs. They could end up damaging hair and skin. Plus, they can absorb the toxic fumes that go along with all fires, which is not anything you want to put on your skin.

Clothing

Clothes, bedding, and other fabrics can often be salvaged after a fire with proper cleaning and disinfecting. However, if anything is burned, throw it away. Use even stricter judgment when considering your child’s or baby’s clothing as they’re more susceptible to any leftover toxic residue.

Aren’t clothes safe from smoke residue and odor?

No. Rapidly expanding air during a fire easily penetrates clothing even when plastic covers are used to protect them. As the air inside the home cools down and fresh air begins to circulate, garments covered by plastic with the odor inside are not subject to the normal airing-out process. This allows the malodors to thoroughly penetrate the garment.

But what about clothes that were packed in plastic bags and stored inside of drawers and closed closets?

To add to the problem, the plastic itself will attract and retain odor to a considerable degree and so must be removed and disposed of ASAP.

Never try to salvage any possessions that could put your health at risk. When in doubt, throw it out! If you live in the Chicagoland area and have any other questions or concerns about what can be salvaged after a fire, or if you need to schedule fire restoration services, please contact ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons today.

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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.