1. Know your enemy
Basic Information About Coronavirus
Coronaviruses are a type of organism that often cause respiratory diseases in people and animals. In the fall of 2019 a new mutation of a coronavirus was first detected in China. The new variation was soon recognized to have properties similar to the 2003 coronavirus that led to the description of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). As such, the virus was named “SARS-CoV-2” by the World Health Organization (WHO). Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 can lead to a specific form of illness characterized by very high fever and dry cough named “coronavirus disease 2019” – abbreviated “COVID-19”.
Within months of its identification, despite extensive efforts at containment, COVID-19 spread around the globe and was declared by the World Health Organization to be a “pandemic”; a world-wide epidemic of an illness for which people have no natural immunity. To address the risk, significant efforts are being directed at developing a vaccine. However, as of the published date of this document, no such preventative medicine is available. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “Nonpharmaceutical intervention would be the most important response strategy” to COVID-19. Their pronouncement means that infection control and home care of the affected are the key response measures.
It is noted that older adults, particularly those with weakened immune systems and underlying health problems, are at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 associated illness. This means that medical facilities and eldercare accommodations are especially vulnerable to outbreaks.
2. Choose a powerful disinfectant
If conducting a deep-clean at home, please take conscious steps to avoid spreading any contamination:
- everything that you use to clean must be kept clean
- until we know what will definitely kill Covid-19, use a different cloth/wipe for every separate area that you clean
As we proceed, it is important to understand that we are using disinfectant to clean, rather than disinfecting. Without rigorous testing after our work, there is no way to guarantee that areas cleaned are entirely disinfected.
When choosing a cleaning product, it makes sense to choose a brand of disinfectant you trust. If a solution is known to have the power to kill a range of viruses, as well as bacteria, this will be a good indication of potential kill power
3. Wear protective gear
Although we are discussing working in your own home, it might be helpful to understand that, as contractors delivering this type of service, we are obliged to wear gloves, gowns, eye protection, and respirators as a minimum. This is following British Standard guidelines designed to protect us, as well as our clients.
Clearly, as you live in the home you are about to clean, the chances are that you have likely been exposed to any micro-organism & viruses present. For this reason, PPE is advised as an example of best practice.
4. Clean all touchpoints
The first step in cleaning and sanitizing to break the chain of COVID-19 illnesses from secondary surfaces is to remove soil and other surface contaminants. Emphasis should be placed on cleaning surfaces more likely to be touched by occupants; commonly referred to as touchpoints. Since people are not precise when touching objects, touchpoint cleaning should extend past the focused item 3-12 inches. Common touchpoints include, but are not limited to:
- door knobs and locks
- door push bars, door edges and jambs on the side opposite the hinges
- stair and ramp hand railings
- cupboard and drawer handles
- appliance handles
- light switches
- table and desktops
- toilet seats and flush handles
- tap handles
- soap pumps
- keyboards and mice
- elevator buttons
- television remote controls
- chair armrests
- bedrails, and countertops
Typically, a trigger sprayer and a wiping cloth are used for cleaning most touchpoints. In that circumstance, spraying the cloth and then wiping is preferable to spraying the surface.
If it is an allowable application method under the EPA registration for the particular chemical, substituting pump up devices that deliver the chemical product as a foam is a technique that has multiple advantages over a sprayer for cleaning touchpoints. A foam application allows the worker to see what has been covered, allows the product to stay on the surface longer without drying, and uses significantly less of the cleaning product.
5. Applying disinfectant to the wider area
Professional cleaners have access to atomising sprayers & a range of equipment designed to broadcast disinfectant throughout a given space.
The most sensible process at home would be to address the flooring and wall spaces. These could be appraoched using similar process as before, taking care not to damage areas by ensuring you pre-test any surfaces you are unsure about wiping. This can be done in areas that are out-of-sight or less visible.
Whatever steps you take in your home, please understand that they are likely only to manage the potential risk. The chance of re-contamination after a clean is ever-present. Only regular, thorough cleaning using this method is likely to prove a worthwhile preventative measure.
Thank you for taking the time to read. We all wish you good health during these difficult times.
– some information taken from the Preliminary Report for Restoration Contractors Assisting Clients With COVID-19 Concerns published by the IICRC.
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