Webinar Follow-up - Gearing Up For the Holidays
News of approved Covid-19 vaccines being delivered to the American people has breathed new life into our hope that we will soon return to normal. As we approach the Christmas and New Year holiday many Americans are contemplating small gatherings with their loved ones to celebrate having come so far in under one year. The best way to ensure your family gatherings are safe is to have your holiday gatherings virtually. But, if you have to travel, and visit family and friends for the holiday – we recommend following some basic public health safety precautions. Recently our certified PROS at COIT shared with our customers the best ways to prepare for their family and friends that might gather during this holiday season.
What is the difference: Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting
Understanding the difference in cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting is important to keeping your guest safe when they visit your home. Most important to understand is that cleaning does not kill bacteria, viruses, or fungi more commonly referred to as “germs”. Instead cleaning is done to remove “germs” usually by combining water, a cleaning product, and scrubbing. Though cleaning does not kill ‘germs’ it is still a vital step in the process as removal of dirt and debris can make way for products and methods that do kill ‘germs’ to be more efficacious.
Disinfecting and sanitizing methods on the other hand refer to products that work by killing germs. These processes do not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection. Sanitizers reduce bacteria on a surface by at least 99.9%. Conversely disinfectants kill a wider range of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and mold. These methods work great on all surfaces like natural stone including marble, granite, and limestone; upholstery, fabrics, and drapes; and carpets and area rugs on hard non-porous surfaces like stainless steel and the components of your HVAC system.
Prepping for Guest: Preventative Cleaning
Infection protection is for everyone! It is important to clean, sanitize, and disinfect thoroughly before, after, and even during your gathering. You will want to focus your attention on high touch surfaces. For ex.
- Appliances (refrigerator, oven door, microwave)
- Toilet handle
- Faucets and handles
These surfaces are touched frequently during a visit and should be disinfected frequently. Also consider leaving disinfectant wipes or spray (ex. Clorox disinfectant wipes, Lysol disinfectant spray) near these high touch surfaces so guest can aide in the efforts. Other, more obscure surfaces and items should also be cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected but perhaps less frequently. Those include:
- Credit cards
- Keys: House/car
- Vehicle surfaces
You may also want to consider using professionals like the PROS at COIT that can help set a baseline zero and establish a maintenance program. Professionals can also use specialty tools like foggers and electrostatic sprayers that coat many hard to reach areas and ensure that the cleaning, sanitization, and disinfection were all thorough.
Best Practices when hiring a professional team:
- Continue to be conscious of COVID-19 exposure when having a company enter your home:
- Create a social distance protocol within your home
- Require masks for all
- Open doors/windows if weather permits
- Meet outdoors if weather permits
- Turn HVAC fan to on
- Touchless transactions
- Maintain your space in between services:
- EPA Registered disinfectant
- Disinfect touch surfaces frequently
- Vacuum and clean floors
- Change HVAC filters
HVAC and Indoor Air Quality
Having a properly cleaned and maintained HVAC System can help prevent the spread of Covid-19. A properly functioning HVAC system will provide the necessary recycles that you need in your home or business to provide clean fresh air and to ensure that the indoor air quality is at an acceptable level. Other ways to increase fresh air circulation in your home during the holidays include:
- Open doors and windows to increase outdoor air exchange
- Ventilate rooms that are being occupied
- Lower temperatures to increase system cycling
- Air scrubbers
- Turn to thermostat to fan
In addition to increasing air flow and ventilation you may also consider upgrading your HVAC filtration to a MERV 12 or better to capture more particulates in the air, or purchasing a free standing HEPA filtration device, which according to MD Anderson cancer center, if a HEPA system is run over a period of time, it can take out a big chunk of viruses — somewhere in the high ninetieth percentile (99.94 to 99.97%). And long enough exposure to the UV light in an air purifying device can disable some viruses, including COVID-19.
HVAC Maintenance is hard to do on your own. Having a professional service your HVAC system gives you the peace of mind to know that your system is operating at peak performance and keeping the air in your home clean and safe.
Local governments and officials have signaled that If you are hosting a holiday event that includes people outside your household, consider:
- Conducting pre-party screening: Screen guests and ask them if they feel sick or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Ask your guests to stay home if they are not feeling well or if they have com into contact with any that has demonstrated symptoms.
- Limit attendance: Fewer attendees will lower the risk of spreading virus. Many local guidelines request that indoor or outdoor gatherings be no more than 10 people.
- Invite only local attendees: Guests from other regions, especially areas with high COVID-19 cases, can pose increased risks.
- Use outdoor spaces: Hold activities, especially meals, outdoors if you can. If this is not possible, use an indoor space that is well ventilated and allows for physical distancing. If a gathering is being held indoors, opening windows and doors or use of portable air cleaners can reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
- Have personal protective equipment (PPE) available: Provide masks, hand sanitizer, and tissues for guests who have not brought their own.
- Use disposable items: Single use plates, utensils, and to-go containers may limit the spread of COVID-19.
- Ask for self-imposed pre-holiday social distancing: Consider asking guests to adhere to safety principles by avoiding contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering to lower risks of virus spread.
- Share safety guidelines: Provide up-to-date to guests and share all measures you have taken to limit risks.
However you choose to celebrate this holiday season the PROs at COIT want to help you and your family stay healthy. Call us today for to schedule a clean or HVAC maintenance today.