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

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

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

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

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

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new analysis in the peer-reviewed medical journal, BMJ, that six-feet protocols are too rigidly small and are based on outdated science and studies of different viruses.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

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

Keep it Fresh

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

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

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

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

Check the Air Conditioner

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

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

Use Air Cleaners

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

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

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

Use a CO2 Meter

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

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

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

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

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.

Choosing a Restoration and Cleaning Company in the Chicagoland Area

Facing a disaster? We know how to help. Here’s why we’re your best bet for a restoration and cleaning company in the Chicagoland area.

Choosing a restoration company in the Chicagoland area

Disasters are devastating. Whether caused by water, fire, storms or pandemics, they can turn your world upside down in a matter of moments. Even the strongest of us can feel helpless not knowing where to turn after a catastrophe. But fortunately for those who are looking for a restoration and cleaning company in the Chicagoland area, ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons offers the cleanup help you need with the service you deserve.

OK, you might be thinking, but why ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons? After all, there are other restoration companies in Chicago who make the same claims of service and price that we do. Why not just pick one out of a hat? 

Well, consider this: if you had to undergo surgery, wouldn’t you insist on having a surgeon with extensive training, years of experience, and a sterling reputation to get you back to good health? Well, your property is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime — so you’ll want to choose a restoration company wisely. Similar to choosing the best surgeon, you’ll want to choose  a company with the knowledge, experience and reputation you can trust to make your property like-new again.

Restoration Certifications are Key

Almost all trade industries that take seriously the safety and health of consumers are required to get licensing — for example, electrical contracting and plumbing. However, the water and fire damage restoration industries are not obliged to get licensed, making it possible for anyone to start their own firm and do the job without proper training, knowledge, and skills. Unfortunately for homeowners looking for a reputable restoration company in the Chicagoland area, water and fire damage restoration is a super  complex job — one that shouldn’t be handled by those who don’t know what they are doing. 

To help instill trust in our customers and ensure we provide the best restoration and cleaning services possible, we’ve obtained our IICRC certification. The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification was established in 1972 and formulates health and safety standards and manages the quality of work done by all types of cleaning and restoration activities. It is composed of more than 50,000 certified technicians and more than 6,000 Certified Firms around the world. We are so proud to be one of them. We closely follow their guidelines to ensure each job is done correctly, and we’ve done such a good job that they even featured our co-owner and Master Restorer, Sam Simon, in their publication last year!

Aside from our certification, we offer a variety of benefits to homeowners looking for a restoration and cleaning company in the Chicagoland area. Here are four reasons why you should rely on ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons for your restoration needs:

  1. Training – We never stop learning! We’re trained to IICRC high standards in fire and water cleanup and restoration, mold remediation, carpet and upholstery cleaning, and other cleaning and restoration courses. Additionally, our professionals regularly attend industry continuing education classes to hone their skills.
  2. Scope of work – Besides being water, fire and mold remediation professionals, we’re also IICRC certified in COVID-19 cleaning services, trauma and biohazard cleanup, post construction clean up, hoarder clean up, duct cleaning, carpet and upholstery cleaning and general cleaning. No job is too big or too small.
  3. Equipment – We use the most current professional equipment to find, clean, and remove the effects of water, mold, soot, smoke, odor and more. During the past few years, there’s been a rapid advancement in the technology and techniques used in the restoration industry. These advancements allow us to restore your property quickly, reliably, and more effectively.
  4. Experience – ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is not some fly-by-night type of company. We started 20 years ago and boast an A+ BBB rating. The extensive knowledge, experience, and certifications we possess makes us the go-to Chicagoland disaster restoration company. 

We sincerely hope that you’ll never be in a situation where you need to call a disaster restoration company. But if you do, give us a shout to get the job done right. We are committed to serving as the best possible option for those looking for a restoration company in the Chicagoland area.

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

How to Stay Safe While Hosting Guests During Coronavirus

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

hosting guests safely during coronavirus

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

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

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

How to Safely Host People Outdoors During Quarantine

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

Sharing a bottle of wine

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

Having a backyard get-together/bonfire

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

Serving food

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

Throwing a pool party

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

Playing games

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

Hiking and biking

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

How to Safely Host People Indoors During Quarantine

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

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

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

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

Cleaning and Disinfecting Before Hosting Guests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hosting Guests Safely This Summer

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

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

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

How Hidden Water Can Damage Your Home

Do you know where hidden water could be lurking in your home? Learn how to find it fast and mitigate the water damage it can cause.

hidden water can damage your home

Have you ever witnessed the disappearing water trick, where a magician causes water poured into a cup to magically vanish, as if into thin air? (Spoiler alert: sodium polyacrylate, the stuff in disposable diapers, is first put in the bottom of the cup to soak up the water!)

But water will disappear even without any “magic” involved. It’s very adept at hiding and can be exceedingly difficult to find. In fact, it sometimes hides so effectively that it can’t be detected unless special meters that sense the presence of water are used. Why is this important to know? Because even though water is essential for life, it’s also one of nature’s most destructive elements. Water damage is no joke and can seriously affect the structure of your Chicagoland area home. Read on to learn how hidden water can damage your home. 

Where Can You Find Hidden Water in Your Home?

Water can be elusive because of the way that it moves. It spreads out like the letter “T” – moving out and downward from its source. Even if water looks to be sitting still, it really isn’t. Gravity continues to pull it down into the surface of the material it’s resting on. And as it moves, it spreads and soaks into whatever porous materials it comes into contact with. And after spreading out and down, it has another trick up its sleeve: It can also move upward. For example, because of capillary action in porous materials, water sitting at the base of drywall can wick up the wall at a rate of one inch per hour during a 24-hour period!

Because of water’s sneaky ways and the multiple causes for its infiltration in your home, you can find it hidden in a variety of places in the home. For example, water hides behind insulation, inside electrical boxes and outlets, behind walls and cabinets and in subfloors. Even if a surface feels dry, there may still be moisture hiding underneath or inside of it. What this can mean for your home or business is that secondary damage like mold or warping can occur. It can even ruin expensive hardwood floors. Of course, where water hides it also causes damage in your home. That’s why it’s important to act fast when you do find it. 

What Should You Do?

Water damage is a serious issue in most older Chicagoland homes. So, when you find water hidden in your home, don’t delay! The longer water is left sitting in your home, the more damage it creates. Hesitating to acknowledge the problem also increases the drying time, adding to the costs of remediation. 

When you find water hidden in your home, don’t DIY the cleanup. Instead, make sure you call in the professionals — or else you’ll risk not actually mitigating the water damage. The water damage restoration professionals at ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons  have been trusted by Chicagoland residents for over 65 years, and we have a track record of performing safe and effective water damage cleanup

We’ll be able to sniff out hidden water in your home with specialized moisture meters and thermal imaging cameras. With this equipment, we’ll be able to locate the confines of the affected area and show you the scope of the damage. Then our techs will go to work removing and drying up the moisture to ensure that no further damage occurs, bringing your property back to pre-loss condition.

Locating and cleaning hidden water in your home is no tall task for our crew. Water damage cannot hide from us! Check out our water damage restoration services, or call today 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.

Reopening Offices After Coronavirus: How to Maintain Safety

Stay-at-home orders are lifting across the nation, and offices are preparing to welcome employees back. However, with a global pandemic still looming, it’s ultra-important for businesses to ensure they are ready to reopen safely after coronavirus closures. In doing so, there are specific steps business owners need to take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as employees return to the office.  

prevent the spread of COVID-19 when reopening offices safely after coronavirus

Stay-at-home orders are lifting across the nation, and offices are preparing to welcome employees back. However, with a global pandemic still looming, it’s ultra-important for businesses to ensure they are ready to reopen safely after coronavirus closures. In doing so, there are specific steps business owners need to take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as employees return to the office.  

As they return to work, employees are looking to their employers to establish reentry procedures, as well as to ensure a clean, disinfected and healthy work environment. From coronavirus disinfection services, to reentry cleaning, to empowering employees via protective gear and extended WFH — here are some strategies you can use to promote employee safety and ensure proper cleaning and disinfection: 

Opt for professional cleaning and disinfection services

Before reopening your office, make sure you undergo a thorough coronavirus reentry cleaning. The best way to do this is to hire a professional cleaning or restoration company that can provide expert coronavirus cleaning and disinfection services. Look out for services that include fogging and the proper disinfecting products. While we always recommend DIY-ing it where you can, we cannot stress enough that your initial cleaning and disinfection before reopening should be left to professionals. 

Maintain workplace cleaning and disinfection 

Once your office reopens, you should ensure employee safety by conducting professional coronavirus cleaning services on a daily basis. Because so many people with coronavirus go unnoticed as they are asymptomatic, it is crucial to be better safe than sorry. The best way to prevent the spread of coronavirus in your office is to make sure every surface is properly wiped down each day, with fogging services every week or two. Additionally, you can encourage employees to maintain their own safety and disinfection by providing every workstation with ample hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Instruct employees to sanitize every few hours and to wipe down surfaces like office computers, desks and chairs after they are done using them for the day. 

Implement temperature checks 

Aside from commercial coronavirus cleaning services, the next best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in your office is to keep blatantly sick employees out of the space. The CDC recommends implementing pre-checks and continuous monitoring, as well as encouraging sick employees to stay home. Before reopening the office to employees after coronavirus, survey employees to find out if anyone is having symptoms currently. Make sure you monitor those symptoms as offices reopen — and strongly discourage anyone who simply doesn’t “feel well” from coming to the office if work can be done from home. Once the office reopens, implement temperature checks just outside of the office’s front doors and send those who are running a fever home.

Encourage distancing and protective wear

Just because the office reopens, that doesn’t mean social distancing is over. As a country, we will likely be responsible for maintaining some semblance of distancing until a vaccine is discovered. Encouraging distancing within your office will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the office, in the building and in your greater city or township area. Make sure all desks are placed at least six feet apart, and use email communications, announcements and workplace signs to remind people not to touch one another in the workspace. This includes handshakes and hugs. You also want to remind them not to touch one another’s things. This includes sharing pens and office supplies. Finally, institute a mandatory mask company policy. Experts say that masks may reduce the spread of viral materials by blocking droplets that would otherwise travel through the air. 

Stagger your workforce

With social distancing at the office and on public transportation, it’s simply not realistic to expect everyone in a once-full office to come back to work immediately. Instead, authorities recommend that you stagger your workforce when reopening after coronavirus. One way to do this is by alternating weeks or days for different portions of the workforce. Allow one department to come into the office for one week, another department the next and so on. Another way to safely return to the office is by implementing off-hour shifts for some employees so that some work mornings in the office, and other work at nights. If you go this route, you’ll need to be sure you are cleaning and disinfecting the office in between shifts to promote employee health. 

Empower employees to protect themselves

A lot of employees are very anxious about the return to the office. Many people are fearful of getting sick, which makes them resistant to returning to a shared space where coronavirus could easily spread. Empower them to stay safe within their own comfort level and consider postponing your office’s reopen. It’s not a bad idea to send out a survey far in advance of announcing plans to reopen in order to gather insights about your employees’ biggest concerns. That way, you can tailor your reopen plans (or postpone them) if it will cause more stress than it’s worth. This is especially true in instances where employees are managing their workloads well at home and it is not essential to have them back in the office. 

Stay current on government guidelines

News and updates about coronavirus and its disinfection is coming out on a daily, if not hourly, basis. You don’t want to miss anything important that may impact your employees’ return to the office. Businesses everywhere should be following the CDC’s resource pages to ensure safety when reopening after coronavirus. The CDC has also released specific guidelines for coronavirus cleaning and disinfection in work places. Furthermore, business owners in Illinois and the Chicagoland area should be familiar with the ins and outs of Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, which provides specific information about how Chicago workplaces will need to promote safety as they reopen phase-by-phase. 

Above all else, offices need to reopen safely, thoughtfully and with a commitment to their employees in mind. These strategies are not an exhaustive list, and with a virus as contagious and deadly as COVID-19, every precaution needs to be taken. The most successful and safe office reopenings after coronavirus will combine all of these strategies and tailor their reentry plans to employee concerns. 

Experts suggest that professional COVID-19 cleanings with a staggered workforce, extended WFH and increased personal disinfectants and protective gear are the best ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus in your office. While we can’t supply disinfectants or advise your workforce strategy, our experts can provide the expert coronavirus cleaning and disinfecting services that you need to keep employees safe and healthy. We utilize fogging and surface disinfection to be sure that your office stops any potential coronavirus outbreak before it begins. Learn more about our coronavirus cleaning services and facility reopening cleaning services. Or, call us at 773-376-1110 to schedule your reentry cleaning today. We are standing by to help you in these unusual times. 

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

Guide to Coronavirus Prevention and Disinfection

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

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

 

 

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

 

What is Coronavirus?

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

 

Who is at risk?

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

 

How do I know if I have a Coronavirus? 

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

 

How is Coronavirus treated?

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

 

How can I protect myself and my family?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

What do I do if Coronavirus spreads to my facility?

 

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

 

How does ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons disinfect my facility?

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

Top Items for Tornado Disaster Kits

Tornado season is here! Are you ready? Increase your tornado preparedness this spring with these items for your tornado disaster kits.

Spring is upon us — and with it, comes tornado season. Are you prepared? Is your family? How about your home? Without tornado preparedness, they can cost homeowners huge sums of money in losses. And even worse, they cause dozens of human casualties each year. If there’s anything we can take away from the this week’s tornado tragedy in the southern US, it’s that the best time to prepare for a tornado was yesterday. You are always better to be better safe than sorry — which is why you need to be sure you have some very important items in your tornado disaster kit. 

Here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons, our number one priority has always been to help homeowners be ready for the unthinkable and practice tornado preparedness. Our experts have lived through many tornado seasons and helped clean up their brutal destruction. We’ve seen just how unpredictable tornadoes can be, and we understand the biggest challenges homeowners, residents and victims face in their immediate aftermath. W

Based on our experience, we’ve put together a list of 7 life safety items that are essential for homeowners in their tornado disaster kit this tornado season. Proven to increase tornado preparedness, these are crucial for survival during and after a tornado, especially if one hits unexpectedly without time for evacuation. Store these items somewhere easily accessible in your home for immediate use:

Water

Of course, keeping hydrated is the most important thing you can do for your body in the event of a disaster. That’s a no-brainer. But what people forget to plan out is where that water will come from. If water lines are down or contaminated, or pipes are broken, or the power goes out, you won’t have access to your tap water. Make sure you keep some bottled water or a few gallons of water in an allocated shelter space in case you are stranded after a tornado. You never know how long you may have to wait.

Non-Perishable Food

In addition to water, stock up on non-perishable food items that will keep stomachs full – especially those of young children. Keep an eye on the expiration dates and replenish your supply as needed. We recommend having at least 5 days worth of food on hand for all members of the household.

A Radio

Keep a portable radio with extra spare batteries near your designated shelter space. In a weather event like a tornado, you can use it to listen for any updates or changes to the expected trajectory of the storm.

First-Aid Kit

We cannot stress how much of a difference a well-stocked first-aid kit can make after an emergency, especially one that is from a survival company. You never know what injuries, minor or major, will occur during a storm.

Medications

Not many people think of this one before the storm hits which can cause a huge problem for those taking life-sustaining medication. Have extra amounts of any necessary prescription medications stored away for use during an emergency. Keep a few bottles of cold medication, over-the-counter pain medication and allergy meds on hand too.

Cell Phones and Chargers

You probably don’t have to take our word for it that in the event of an emergency, you are going to want a fully-charged cell phone in your tornado disaster kit so you can stay in contact with family, friends and emergency personnel. If possible, keep a backup phone and a portable, solar-powered charger ready to go in case the power goes out.

Copies of Personal Documents

Of all the tornado preparedness items we’ve listed, this is probably one of the most important. Because there is never any certainty when it comes to tornadoes and other storms, you should keep copies of birth certificates, social security cards, house deeds, insurance cards, passports, and other important documents packed in a safe place that you can easily transport with you to your secure shelter.

Tornadoes are costly and sometimes lethal, but with these essential items for your tornado disaster kit, you’ll weather the storm more easily. 

Here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons, we know weather emergencies like the backs of our hands. We pride ourselves on our emergency restoration services and storm damage restoration expertise. We will help you begin rebuilding so you can move forward after a life-uprooting natural disaster.  Our experts are standing by to serve you in the ways you need: From more tornado preparedness tips, to dealing with the aftermath of a disaster, to restoration services and cleanup, give us a call today!

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