Fire Dangers Don’t End When the Flames are Dowsed

 

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One of your worst nightmares has occurred. You’ve experienced a fire at your Chicagoland home or business. So, once the firemen leave, your first inclination may be to go inside the structure to see what you can salvage and start the cleaning process. But cleaning up after a fire is much more complicated than regular cleaning. It’s also very dangerous. Because once the last flame has been snuffed out, the dangers from a fire continue.

Soot Hazards

Since fire destroys all materials, the soot that covers everything you touch and that you kick up in the air after a blaze is full of toxic substances. That’s why the highly trained professionals at ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons wear heavy duty personal protection equipment (PPE) on fire mitigation jobs until all the soot is removed.

Here are some of the poisons found in the soot and ashes of a building fire:

  • Mesothelioma (cancer) causing asbestos fibers from building materials
  • Carbon materials can produce carbon monoxide, ammonia, and nitrogen oxides
  • PVC can create hydrogen chloride, phosgene (used as a chemical weapon during World War I), dioxin, Refrigerant-40, bromomethane (a pesticide), etc.
  • Hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide (poisonous gasses)
  • Petroleum based items can produce formaldehyde, acrolein, furfural, cresols, and other harmful chemicals
  • Even wood smoke releases more than 100 chemicals also found in cigarette smoke

Children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are predominantly at risk when exposed to smoke and soot. Its adverse effects have been known since the 19th century when the British Parliament passed the Chimney Sweepers Act 1875, partly in response to its association with cancer – the first ever occupational health legislation.

Professionals Not Immune

A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health has found that firefighters have higher rates of cancer than the general population due to exposure to smoke and toxic soot because many did not wear the proper gear. In fact, The International Association of Firefighters says cancer is now the leading cause of death among firefighters.

“It was never really something we thought about when I first started 32 years ago. It was a badge of honor to come out with all your gear dirty,” said Peter Silva Jr., a former firefighter. “If you didn’t wear your mask in there you were a strong, aggressive firefighter, and if you went in with your mask on, you were kind of ridiculed at times.”

Because of these dangers, incident commanders are now ordering firefighters to keep their masks on until they’re away from the smoke and soot and washed down by decontamination teams on the scene. Once back at the station, they’re being told to change into a second set of turnout gear while industrial washing machines clean the dirty outfits.

If fire professionals take this issue seriously, shouldn’t you? The advice of Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn is priceless. He says, “I’ve buried way too many friends over my 33 years. Too many friends … so I tell them, ‘Think about your wife, your husband, your boyfriend, your girlfriend before you take that mask off your face.”

Because of these dangers, only fire remediation experts like those at ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons should be in charge of cleaning up after a fire. We have the experience, knowledge, equipment and PPE needed to safely and thoroughly clean and repair your home or business. We also make sure there are no lingering odors. And since smoke and soot affects not only the structure of your Chicagoland home or business but also your belongings, we will ensure that those items that are salvageable will be returned only after being meticulously cleaned and sanitized.

About Us: 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

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

How to Determine Who to Trust to Disinfect the Right Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

How to 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.