Thursday, February 08, 2007

Avoid Flu Germs at Home

There are flu shots, the flu mist and antiviral medications. These have their promise, in a limited way. The flu shot is only effective against certain flu strains, and, in some communities, is rationed. The flu mist, ditto. Antiviral medications have limited effectiveness, and best used in hospitals and dormitories - places where people are packed tightly into one breathing space. Antibiotics, which are only deadly to bacteria, are useless.

The best protection is prevention -

Avoid personal contact in general. Don't approach the coughing vicinity of folks who are sick. Wash your hands before touching your face in public places, at work, or even around a sick family member. Don't touch tissues that someone else has used for coughing, sneezing or nose blowing. Ask people (especially children) to cover their nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing. Do not share eating utensils, drinking glasses, towels or other personal items. Clean your hands often – with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based, waterless hand sanitizer. Try not to use public restrooms.

People at extreme risk (babies, elderly, the immunocompromised) should wear a mask when going out. Or even gloves. People who have the flu can also wear a mask, to prevent spreading those germs in public.

In the home -

Lysol should be a help. Spray your doorknobs, fridge handle, phones, remotes, computer keyboards, switch plates, sink taps - anything often touched by multiple persons. Bleach is a wonderful antibacterial cleanser for most of these surfaces.

Healthlink, at the University of Wisconsin suggests cleaning surfaces thoroughly with soap and water or another strong cleanser. They continue: "After cleaning, if you need to use a disinfectant, apply it to the area, and let it stand for a few minutes or longer, depending on the manufacturer's recommendations. This keeps the germs in contact with the disinfectant longer. Wipe the surface with paper towels that can be thrown away or cloth towels that can be washed afterwards. Even if you use gloves, wash your hands after cleaning or disinfecting surfaces."

The University of Vermont Center for Health and Wellbeing website offers:
"Don't share silverware, towels, or bedding with anyone in your home until these items have been washed with soap and hot water.Clean surfaces (counter or tabletops, door knobs, bathroom fixtures, etc.) that have been contaminated by body fluids (sweat, saliva, mucous, or even vomit or urine) from the patient with a household disinfectant used according to the manufacturer's instructions. Wear disposable gloves during all cleaning activities. Throw these out when you are done. Do not reuse them."

You can also boil your toothbrush (for just a minute in water and vinegar) or get a new one (and keep it in a separate place) if you share a bathroom with someone who has the flu.

Prevention from within -

Take this time to eat right, get enough sleep, lessen your stress levels, and make sure you are getting enough vitamins, whether in supplements or the food you buy (ie - organic is a good bet, or food fresh from a farmer's market). Drink lots of fluids to help keep your immune system up. Be good to yourself.

The Daily Buzz recommends taking at least 250 milligrams of vitamin C, a B-complex, and vitamin E. They also mention adding garlic to your diet. Garlic contains allicin, a compound with antiviral effects.

The Alternative Medicine site at Bella also offers great tips to keep your immunity up to par this season, with this Total Immunity article.

There's another great piece about using aromatherapy to prevent or treat flu bugs at Bella's Fragrance topic.

Not abandoned, just behind :)

This blog is considerably behind. I am not staying at the Paragon Hotel any longer - I stopped working on this blog as soon as I moved into 989 Elements, which is a great living space (with some points of contention for the resident - I'll get to that later).

Prevent Flu Germs at Work

Steps towards a cleaner, safer, flu-free workplace:

Have you thought about how many people have touched that lightswitch, doorknob, keyboard and pen? How many folks have put their face up to the phone receiver? I'm not trying to scare you, but since viri and bacteria are commonly passed through touching common items (or by having someone cough on them), it's way too easy for germs to gain the upper hand in an office environment.

The Canadian Health Website writes: "Viruses can live for up to 48 hours on the surfaces of toys, coffee makers, doorknobs, computer keyboards, and other hard surfaces. It can take up to a week for flu symptoms to appear, and in that time you can infect others. To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, it's a good practice to wash your hands often with hot water and soap."

I like to also carry an antibacterial hand gel in my purse, and use this frequently during the day - especially after shaking hands (don't do this in their presence!). Lysol is nice to keep in your desk drawer for morning and post-lunch spray downs (someone might have used your phone, pen or computer while you were out).

Try to (quietly) keep a few feet of distance between you and your co-workers. Wash your hands after personal contact or using common items; use your own coffee mug and utensils. Use your own pen. Try not to touch your face a lot or rub your eyes - those fragile membranes are prime portals for those viruses to enter your body.

Honestly, I don't espouse germ paranoia, but during the flu season, it only makes sense to use preventative techniques. The recent flu viruses are worse than usual, lasting several weeks, decimating employees in their workspaces. Lots of those who are sick are even still working, contaminating everything they touch, sneeze and cough on. Don't catch it!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Baking Powder Uses

Everybody knows how useful Baking SODA is. Did you know that Baking POWDER can be just as useful in keeping your home clean?

Baking soda is actually the primary component IN baking powder, so it's no surprise that pretty much anything you can do with baking soda, you can do with baking powder. If you get confused between the two, baking powder usually comes in a can. Baking soda usually comes in a box.

Since most people use far more baking soda when cooking, they often end up with leftover baking powder that has expired. Here are some great uses for your old baking powder.

Carpet Freshener
One of my favorite uses, it really does well with odors. Mix in a drop or two of your favorite fragrance, and sprinkle on the carpet. Let sit for 10 minutes before vaccuuming up.

Scrubbing Compound
Sprinkle the baking powder onto your counter, sink or tub. Use a wet sponge to scrub out the stains, and then rinse clean.

Dishwasher / Washing Machine

Sprinkle some baking powder into your washing machine or dishwasher to add an extra boost of cleaning power.

Organize Your Scarves

I like fashion scarves and have a lot of them - silk scarves, handpainted ones, vintage ones. Scarves are an easy way to add personality, color and versatility to an outfit. The problem: how to organize them?

I've tried many storage solutions, from sticking them in a drawer or a basket (in which I find I never use the scarves on the bottom), to draping them over a clothesline behind the bedroom door (which works but looks messy).

So I like my newest solution: a Scarf Hanger Spinner I found at The Container Store. It features six loops of chrome dangling from a natural wood frame that hangs in my closet. I have two scarves on each loop to store 12 scarves.

I like that this hanger spins, so I can easily view all my scarves and not just reach for the same three I seem to wear most often. With the wood handle, it's a nice-looking addition to my coat closet (where I use only wood hangers).

The chrome loops are also attractive, but, being thin metal, tend to put bend creases in my scarves at their hanging point. So this isn't a perfect solution by any means for scarf display and storage. It's just the best answer I've stumbled across. The hanger is also rather expensive at 7.99, but there may be less expensive options on the market.

The scarf spinner I found at the Container Store is not available as far as I can see at Amazon, but there are a few options there if you like to look at some pictures of other scarf hangers -