The flu season is upon us – again – and according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “This year’s flu season may be especially severe“. According to the CDC, “This is the first year we had the entire continental U.S. be the same color on the graph. Meaning there’s widespread activity in all of the continental U.S. at this point”. An influenza strain known as H3N2 is the most prevalent this year and the vaccine developed to protect us is “about 30% effective”, the CDC says. For most people, getting the flu is uncomfortable, but little more. Some people however, including those with underlying health conditions, are more vulnerable. The most vulnerable are the elderly, children younger than five (and especially younger than two) as well as residents of nursing homes and longer care facilities. If you are concerned, and want to protect your family against the spread of the flu, here are some precautions you can take to keep your family safe.
1) Get a Vaccination
With only a 30% effectiveness rate, you may think, why bother? But some protection is better than none. And if you do get the flu after getting the vaccination, it is likely that your bout with the flu will be much milder than someone who didn’t get vaccinated at all. This is especially important if you are a member of one of the most vulnerable groups.
There could still be up to 13 weeks of flu season remaining. Be aware that there is often a rise in the prevalence of the ‘B’ strain of influenza later in the season. Getting vaccinated may help protect your family.
2) WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY!
This is probably the single most important thing you can do. The reason is that we are constantly touching the same places: door knobs, keyboards, money, steering wheel and so on.
You can use SNiPER to wash your hands – it is perfectly safe. Just spray your hand, then ‘air-wash’ them to help spread the spray effectively on both hands. Hold them up to air dry for 1 minute.
If you have the flu:
a) Don’t go to work (or school). You will potentially spread it to others! Stay home for 24 hours after the fever subsides.
b) If you can see a doctor within the first 48 hours, you may be able to take antiviral meds to shorten the length of time you are sick and reduce it’s severity.
c) Cover your mouth and sneeze into a tissue or handkerchief – not into the air!
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3) How can I keep the rest of the family safe if one member gets the flu?
Spray ‘high contact’ areas with SNiPER Hospital Disinfectant. The CDC tells us that “Most people are at peak contagiousness in the three or four days after becoming sick, but you may be able to infect others from a day before to seven days after developing symptoms“. Spraying high contact touch surfaces will reduce the likelihood of spreading contagions. High contact areas could include doorknobs, push plates on swinging doors, light switches, handles, even money! Take a small 4oz bottle of SNiPER to the gym and spray the equipment you use.
Replace your air filters. If they don’t need replacing just yet, spray them with SNiPER to kill trapped germs.
If you have a ‘fogger’ use it to treat many surfaces (and the air) efficiently. See https://blog.nokout.com/to-fog-or-not-to-fog/. If you don’t have a fogger, you may be able to use a common household Vaporizer to treat a room. See https://www.nokout.com/Vaporizer-How-to-use.html. Treating rooms or your home in this way can reduce exposure to other family members, so this makes perfect sense.
4) Use that Humidifier
Recent studies show that it is not so much the cold weather that helps spread the flu, but the relative humidity. According to one expert, “We don’t have the airtight evidence that a humidifier reduces your chance of getting sick, but we know that dryness is bad for you. Low relative humidity can dry out your nasal passages, making you more vulnerable to the flu virus and other bugs.” The ‘sweet spot’ appears to be a relative humidity range of 40% to 60% for overall health. See: https://blog.nokout.com/safe-humidifier-use-eases-the-pain-caused-by-dry-air/
SNiPER is a great tool in your toolbox to fight the influenza virus, and protect your family, because, while there are many disinfectants capable of killing germs, most other disinfectants are highly corrosive, or highly toxic or just plain dangerous. SNiPER has the lowest toxicity rating that the EPA gives in ALL FOUR Categories: inhalation, ingestion, to skin, and to eyes, so it is safe for you, your family and your pets also.
The cold dry air of Winter is a real pain – dry eyes, dry itchy skin, dried-out mucosal membranes in the nose and throat, and so on. When suffering from this ‘winter condition’ many people turn to the use of room humidifiers or vaporizers for relief, and this is a great idea! Safe humidifier use eases the pain caused by the cold air of winter because breathing moist air can soothe the respiratory tract and ease congestion and coughing. But too much moisture can be a negative rather than a positive.
Humidifier as Biological ‘Farm’
Many molds and fungi infestations can exist and perhaps thrive, on humidity they pull from the air. Excessive humidity can also increase growth rates for dust mites, contributing to allergic reactions. And since humidifiers and vaporizers are wet for long periods of time, they can become a little ‘farm’ for the growth of biologicals such molds, mildews, fungi and so on. When a humidifier is allowed to operate as a ‘mold farm’ they can spread spores and other biological elements around a room. Yuck! So let’s look at how to use a humidifier safely.
The key – as with so many things in life – is balance. We need to find the ‘Goldilocks zone’ that is not too humid, and not too dry. Not too humid to prevent runaway growth of biologicals and not too dry to provide relief from that itchy feeling.
Hitting the Goldilocks Zone
A ‘hygrometer’ is a nice little tool to accurately measure the relative humidity. They are available starting at $4 or so (for a cheapie) that might last you through the winter. Between 45 and 55 percent relative humidity will be enough to feel comfortable but not so much as to allow biological growths we prefer to inhibit.
Humidifier / vaporizer maintenance becomes a safety issue if you start using one regularly. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations carefully! If your water has a high mineral content, calcification can build up on furniture, walls or other areas in a room. Use distilled or de-mineralized water to minimize any buildup. Change the internal filters regularly.
As a further deterrent, you can add a bit of SNiPER disinfectant to the reservoir to prevent growth of mold inside your unit. Periodically, add four ounces to a quart of water in your machine. This will be sufficient to keep your machine clean and free of biological growths.
With good cleaning and maintenance, a humidifier or vaporizer can provide comfort and health benefits during the months of cold dry air. Be safe! Keep that machine clean and safe, and it will keep you more comfortable and healthier.
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There is a great way to treat a room for odors, where you don’t know the exact source. Learn more here: https://www.nokout.com/Vaporizer-How-to-use.html
As part of your normal weekly cleaning, remember that humid air will often condense near windows. Spray a bit of SNiPER there every week to prevent the growth of mold in the little puddles of condensate near those windows.
Living the mold-free life is good for you, good for your family and good for anyone who visits your home.
Brrrr! When these cold winds blow, we all put on an extra layer of clothing and hunker down inside. And if you want to reduce your energy bills, you can get to work to seal your home against that cold so that you will enjoy lower energy bills. The Federal Energy Star program tells us “Most people can save as much as 20% on their heating/cooling costs just by sealing all the air leaks in their house”. This is especially true if you live in an older home.
Those Leaks are Money! What you can do about it.
- Check your weatherstripping around doors and windows. Maybe you can just get the caulking gun out and go around repairing things that need a bit of love. But if it’s too far gone, weatherstripping is cheap.
- Check the places where there are gaps and holes in your walls, such as behind the electrical outlets, where plumbing comes out of the walls, floors, ceilings and under the sinks. If you can feel air moving, seal it up!
Ted’s Tip: Light an incense stick and watch the smoke to easily see where air is moving, and more important, where it is coming from or going to. Seal up those places and come back later with the incense to make sure you got it all. Be quick though, you don’t want to smoke up your home!
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- Foam gaskets can go behind switch plates and outlets in walls to stop the flow of air.
- Look for dirty spots in your insulation that could mean air flows. If it is dirty, it could be trapping dust as it goes by, thus alerting you to a small air leak. Repair any leaks with low-expansion foam.
- Other dirty spots may indicate unwanted air flows near ceiling and floor joists. You can seal these leaks with caulk.
- That foam sealant is also great for closing larger gaps around windows and baseboards. Smaller gaps can be sealed with caulk.
- Check your dryer vent as a place where air leaks may occur. That foam is really handy stuff and is useful for sealing around these vents.
- Check the weatherstripping around doors at the bottom very carefully. If there are gaps or the material has hardened, replace them with pliable materials that can seal properly.
- Check fireplaces and chimneys. Sealing these requires fire resistant materials. Also check the flue, An open flue in an unused fireplace can leak an enormous amount of air. Be sure and check that the flue itself is not warped or damaged and thus, unable to seal properly.
What does this have to do with Nok-Out or SNiPER?
Spending a little time and effort to seal up your home can save you plenty in energy bills. So it is well worth doing. Now that after you have sealed your home effectively, it is important to think about what cleaners you use. The reason is that now that your home is sealed up, if you use cleaners with toxic components, how will you get that toxic stuff out of your tightly sealed home? If that toxic stuff can’t escape, then it will begin to accumulate and the indoor environment in which you live, can become much more toxic than the air outside. This is how “Indooor Air Pollution” can become a problem.
Both SNiPER and Nok-Out are easy on your indoor environment. Use one or both of these instead of bleach or ammonia and breathe easier in your home.
See our previous blogs regarding IAP here:
Few things on this planet smell as bad as cat pee odor. It’s bad enough just putting up with that ammonia smell when cleaning the litter box, but when Kitty misses the box, has an accident (Awww, pore old kitty!), or reacts badly to your extended absence by spraying the walls, it is a whole different story. This is NOT something that you can just learn to live with. That cat pee odor is the worst and getting rid of that odor can be quite the challenge. When enzyme-based products have failed you, Nok-Out will remove cat pee odor permanently.
When a cat first pees, it is mildly acidic, but within an hour or so, bacteria begin to break down the urea, releasing ammonia. After a few hours, it may have a pH of around 11-12. Ammonia produced from cat pee will leach the blue and red dyes right out of the fibers comprising your carpet. The result you see may appear to be a yellowish stain. In truth, however, the other colors are now gone and that yellowish color is all that is left. No stain remover in the world can restore lost dyes to those fibers. So it is important that you try to get all of that out of your carpet asap! If your cat has left you little puddle, blot up as much of that as you can, as soon as you can, to prevent this chemical change from ruining your carpet.
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Marking vs Peeing
Cats squat to pee. But when they are marking territory, they usually back up to a wall or fence and eject their pee sideways onto the fence or wall, and their tail will twitch in an unusual manner. This is typical of marking or spraying behavior. If it occurs outside on your fence, it is often not really noticeable to humans. But inside your home – OMG! This can cause you a real pain in the nose!
Go to your local hardware store and get yourself a little UV flashlight (blacklight). Cat pee is a strong source of phosphorus and will light up like a little neon sign under a blacklight. Go around in the evening with the lights out or low and examine the walls for telltale signs of this marking behavior. Take your Nok-Out with you and spray the areas affected carefully as you find them. Spray Nok-Out – give it a quick wipe, spray one more time and walk away allowing it to air dry. Cat pee on the walls may drip down and go between the baseboards and the wall. Spray there too!
Removing Cat Pee Odor from Hard Surfaces
Older cats and younger cats may have accidents near the litterbox. You can simply wipe up the puddle and spray directly on that area – and then walk away, allow it to air dry for maximum effect. Hard surfaces are easy! It’s the soft ones such as carpet and upholstered furniture that are trouble, because it can be difficult to get at all of the source.
Removing Cat Pee Odor from Carpet
The number one rule for getting Nok-Out to work well is direct contact with the source of the odor. As an oxidizer, Nok-Out is literally unable to do what it does without that direct contact. If you are lucky enough to find a small, fresh puddle that has not yet sunk through the fibers to the floor under your carpet, get an old towel and carefully blot as much as you can. Try to absorb it into the towel rather than pushing the cat pee deeper into your carpet. Spray the area with Nok-Out and use your fingers to try and work it down into the fibers a bit; again, you are trying to get Nok-Out to go to the same places the cat pee went, in order to make contact with all of the cat pee.
If you are dealing with a situation in which cats have peed repeatedly on the carpet in some room, use that black light to try and determine the extent of the damage. Maybe it can be cleaned away using a rental carpet cleaner by following these instructions. If it is really bad, however, it may be smartest to simply replace the carpet in that room. You can treat the hard surfaces – floor and walls – easily, with Nok-Out. Replacing the source of so much grief is often easier than trying to salvage something that has been abused badly.
Nok-Out is non-toxic and can be used safely in your home. It is non-corrosive and requires no special handling or equipment to use. Give Ted a call at 866 551 1927 with any questions. Buy some Nok-Out today and breathe easier!
Not All Water Damage is from Bad Weather
You leave for work one day, and then when you come home, you open the door and see that there is water everywhere – your home is flooded. The water supply line to your washer burst during the day and now there is 2 or 3 inches of water on the floor throughout your house. You need to act quickly to avoid costly water damage . It’s not Harvey or Irma, but it is a real mess nonetheless. Here is what to do.
First – turn off the water. You should be able to turn the valve just before that burst water supply to shut off the water. But if it is not accessible, then you will have to find the valve for the whole house.
Next – take photos of everything as documentation for the insurance company. And that is your third step – call your insurance agent and find out if they will send an adjuster and what they require you to do.
Get rid of that water!
Water is the stuff of life, but when it gets out of control it can create it’s own problems, even in a small-flood issue like this. Your most important task to minimize water damage is to get everything dry within the next 48 hours to prevent the growth of mold, mildew and fungus.
If it is a large amount of water you have to deal with, the easiest solution is to call a carpet cleaner and request immediate water extraction services. Their truck mounted machines have tremendous vacuum power and large storage tanks. They can vac up that water quickly, and they may have powerful ‘air movers’ that can speed drying.
If it is not so much water, you may be able to use a shop ‘wet vacuum‘ to vacuum up that water. Peel back the carpet (unhook it from the ‘tack strips’) and pull the carpet back until you see dry floor underneath. The pad underneath is cheap – don’t hesitate to bundle it up and just throw it outside, where you can later decide whether to replace it or dry it for re-use.
Be aware that the reservoir is small in a wet-vac, and you will have to stop and empty the tank frequently. Remember that water is heavy!
NOTICE: It is crucial to get standing water out from under your carpet as quickly as possible. If the restoration company tells you they can extract water through your carpet and pad using ‘deep extraction tools’ – fire them and get a new company! There is a time and place for such tools – but a flooding event is not one of them.
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Keep the Air Moving
Once you have vacuumed up as much as you can, point fans at wet areas, turn the fan in your HVAC to the ‘On’ position, borrow more fans, do everything possible to keep air moving and keep that water evaporating.
If the drywall is waterstained higher than the baseboards, you may need to remove those baseboards to check for trapped water. Hope and pray that there is no water trapped in the walls behind the baseboards!
It is absolutely crucial that you get your home dry within 48 hours or mold WILL start growing. Mold only needs one thing to start growing – water. In dry conditions, spores which are floating around us everywhere may land on the carpet. But since it is dry, nothing happens, mold does not begin to grow. Add a bit of wetness, however, and natures little recyclers come to life and start growing resulting in water damage.
Remember that bleach DOES NOT KILL MOLD. It will weaken the mold and it may make it change color, but bleach does not kill mold.
SNiPER kills mold and if you spray the air using atomizing sprayer, you can kill the spores in the air too. SNiPER is so safe because it is not a poison. You don’t need to wear protective gear to apply it, it doesn’t leave toxic residues, and it is non-corrosive, so you can spray it down – and walk away. Nothing could be easier.
We have several documents to help guide you in dealing with mold.
Disaster! Your home has been flooded! Two feet deep. And all that water came with a LOT of mud and muck that has started to stink. What to do? How can SNiPER or Nok-Out help with flood recovery? Restoring a home that has been flooded is an immense amount of work that is complicated by the sludge left behind because that sludge is likely to have everything from toxic chemicals to overflow from sewage ponds in it. Given that you must dry everything within 48 hours to stop the growth of mold, mildew and fungal infestations, you have a powerful need for a disinfecting odor eliminator to help you restore your home, your car, your offices. This is a perfect use for SNiPER, because with this one product, you can both disinfect and deodorize as part of flood recovery.
You need to disinfect not only for the nasty pathogens that may come from the sewage ponds, but also because natures little recyclers (mold, mildew, fungus) will begin growing within 48 hours if you cannot dry it out. Some – not all! – but some of those molds are actually quite toxic and you really don’t want that stuff adding to the problems.
Many stinks in the world are of biological origin. A good example is sweat. Our perspiration is not smelly, until bacteria living in our skin start eating it. Their excrement is what stinks – not your feet! So killing or holding down the growth of biologicals can help keep horrible odors at bay. As both a disinfectant and odor eliminator, SNiPER is perfect for flood relief, and home restoration.
How can SNiPER help my flooded home?
After you have pumped out the water, after the carpet and the upholstered furniture has all been thrown out to the curb, after the baseboards have been removed and holes poked in the drywall to allow trapped water to escape, it may well still be damp. But you can already begin spraying SNiPER even if it IS still a bit damp. Lightly spraying those damp areas that have stayed wet for 48 hours will slow the growth of biologicals and is an important part of flood recovery. It will not prevent the growth, but it can slow it down until your home has dried out further. The only thing that will stop the growth is for the area to be dry and SNiPER can retard growth enough to help prevent the entire structure being eaten by mold.
If mold has already started growing visibly, spray directly on it. (Be safe! Wear an N-95 mask, gloves and eye protection. If you start feeling ill or woozy, stop, go outside and breathe fresh air, before deciding if you can continue.) Use a soft scrub pad from the kitchen and try to scrub the crud loose, wipe it away, spray one more time and then you can walk away, leaving it to air dry naturally. If possible, use a ‘fogger’ for maximum efficiency in spraying. See below for links to many of our ‘how-to‘ articles on controlling mold.
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Why can’t I just use bleach?
Bleach doesn’t kill mold. Let me say this one more time – bleach does not kill mold. It will weaken the growth and it will make it change color, but bleach does not kill mold or the spores. SNiPER kills both – safely.
What about my furniture?
That overstuffed sofa that you like so much is likely to take several days to dry in the best of conditions. It is highly likely that mold will begin growing deep inside the stuffing where you cannot see it. Given the difficulty of drying and then removing the odor from that sludge, it is unlikely that sofa will ever be usable again. It is possible that you could clean it up, but given the demands on your time and the difficulty associated with cleaning it up, you will have to decide if it is worth trying to save it. It will certainly be a long row to hoe if you want to save it!
What about clothing? Can SNiPER save my clothes?
Yes – SNiPER or Nok-Out can be added to loads of laundry and if there is visible mold present, SNiPER will kill it. See https://www.nokout.com/Laundry-Odors.html for instructions.
“My home is mostly dry, but still damp in some places. I know mold is growing because I can smell it. Should I worry about the spores in the air?”
Yes – you should worry! Breathing in mold spores is not a good idea. Spraying the air with SNiPER will kill the spores. A professional would use a fogger to spray the air, because this machine can create droplet sizes that are small enough to float around on the breeze. Wonderful machines, but expensive. A slower alternative is to use a common household vaporizer or a room humidifier. These can do the same thing but are very slow. We have a good article for you here.
I have a 2500 ft2 house. How much SNiPER do I need?
A very good question. And, one that is not easy to answer because it depends on so many things, such as ‘how much do you spray’?, ‘should I spray more here’? ‘am I spraying enough? or not enough’? and so on. We think that you will need around 1.5 gallons to make it around the house once spraying economically. But you may find that you need more than that.
In general, spray enough that the area becomes wet, but not so much that it runs down the wall as if you had sprayed too much paint. Do not wipe it away, instead, allow it to air dry. SNiPER is non-corrosive and will not damage the sprayed surfaces.
A very important consideration is the bacteria that come up out of sewers during a ‘big flooding’ event. Wherever that nasty water went – it carried those bacteria with it. These bacteria can easily pass to you if you touch something wet and then later, touch your mouth. Stop this mode of transmission by spraying interior surfaces with SNiPER.
Wear the mask (N-95) to avoid the possibility of breathing in spores and other muck. If you begin to feel ill – stop! Go outside and recover. Consider hiring a pro to do this for you. Here are symptoms to watch out for:
- rashes or hives
- eye irritation
- nasal passage/sinus congestion or irritation
- difficulty breathing
Keep children away from standing water and mud, which is often contaminated with toxic chemicals and sewage. Pay attention to dangerous debris such as boards with protruding nails. Unplug all electronics and electrical devices. Make sure that gas is shut off. Avoid drinking tap water until you are sure it is drinkable again.
Some of our ‘How-to’ mold articles