Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting for a Healthy 2023

With many illnesses circulating, including the common cold, flu, RSV, hand-foot-mouth disease, and the COVID virus, the new year is an excellent time to reevaluate hygiene habits. How often do you clean and disinfect items used daily, such as electronics or water bottles? Did you know there is a difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting?

  • Cleaning – Regular cleaning will remove most germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Use water and soap to reduce the risk of infection from surfaces in your home. Experts recommend cleaning first before sanitizing or disinfecting since dirt and other impurities may make it more difficult for chemicals to kill germs. Areas of focus include high-touch surfaces such as light switches, electronics, doorknobs, countertops, etc.

  • Sanitizing – Sanitizing reduces the remaining germs on surfaces after cleaning and can be done with a weak bleach solution or commercial sanitizing spray. For nonporous objects, sanitize by boiling, steaming, or using a diluted bleach solution. Depending on the item, you may be able to put it in the dishwasher on a sanitizing cycle. 

  • Disinfecting – Disinfecting kills most bacteria and viruses that remain on surfaces after cleaning and sanitizing. By disinfecting after cleaning, you can significantly lower the risk of spreading disease. According to the CDC, it is not necessary to sanitize or disinfect daily unless someone in your home is sick or someone who was recently ill visited. To disinfect, use an EPA-registered disinfecting product or a stronger bleach solution. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds immediately after using disinfectants.

Consider these cleaning tips for regularly used items.

Electronics – Many of us use our phones, tablets, touch screens, remote controls, and other devices dozens of times a day. And while the best way to keep germs from spreading is to wash our hands frequently, we can also reduce the risk of infection by regularly cleaning the items we use. The CDC suggests following the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for cleaning electronic devices, but general tips include putting a wipeable cover on devices to make cleaning and disinfecting easier and using a slightly damp, lint-free cloth. Do not spray anything directly on the device, and keep liquids or moisture away from openings.

Water bottles – Experts recommend washing and sanitizing bottles after each use to keep them clean and not sharing a water bottle with someone who has cold-like symptoms. If your bottle is dishwasher safe, you can clean and disinfect it there. If it is not, Michigan State University Extension suggests you wash the bottle in hot water with a teaspoon of unscented dish soap each day to reduce the risk of illness from bacterial growth. Soak the bottle in soapy water for a few minutes, rinse it with warm water, and let it completely dry before the next use. Avoid leaving water in your water bottle for long periods. 

And don’t forget the health precautions we learned during COVID. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and avoid sharing personal items with them. Stay up-to-date on immunizations, and stay home when you do not feel well.

                                                                                  ****

How to Keep Your Water Bottle Germ-Free. Retrieved from https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/how_to_keep_your_water_bottle_germ_free 

When and How to Clean and Disinfect Your Home. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hygiene/cleaning/cleaning-your-home.html

How to Sanitize Your Phone and Other Devices. Retrieved from https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/how-sanitize-your-phone-and-other-devices#:~:text=Our%20mobile%20phones%20connect%20us,day%20as%20a%20preventative%20measure

By: Emma Parkhurst, USU Extension assistant professor, health and wellness

Emma.Parkhurst@usu.edu, (435) 919-1334




Cleaning Tips to Keep You Healthy

We all know it is important to clean and disinfect to reduce the risk of getting sick, but with many illnesses circulating, including the common cold, flu, RSV, hand-foot-mouth disease, and the COVID virus, now is an important time to reevaluate hygiene habits. How often do you clean and disinfect items that are used daily? Can you reinfect yourself with items such as a toothbrush or reusable water bottle? Consider this information.

Toothbrushes – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we now know the risk of catching COVID after touching a contaminated surface, such as a door handle, is low. But what about personal items like a toothbrush – is there a risk for reinfection? Although it’s commonly recommended to replace your toothbrush after an illness due to the chance of becoming re-infected, professionals agree this isn’t typically true for viruses. After your body has fought off a virus, such as the flu or COVID, in most cases your immune system will have developed the necessary protection to prevent reinfection of that particular virus.

With that being said, it is possible to infect others if the contaminated toothbrush comes into contact with another brush. Additionally, a toothbrush can be the cause of reinfection of a bacterial illness, such as strep throat. Since bacteria will die in the presence of oxygen, bacteria on a toothbrush that properly air dries between each use generally is not an issue for reinfection. However, bacteria can colonize if the bristles do not dry completely, which is why some professionals agree it is best practice to replace a brush after a bacterial illness. The CDC recommends against using dishwashers, microwaves, or other means to disinfect toothbrushes, as these methods may damage the brush.

Water bottles – How do you avoid reinfection from a commonly used item that travels back and forth with most people? According to Michigan State University Extension, you should wash the bottle in hot water with a teaspoon of unscented dish soap each day to reduce the risk of illness from bacterial growth. Soak the bottle in soapy water for a few minutes, rinse it well using warm water, and allow it to completely dry before the next use.

Alternatively, you can clean and sanitize bottles in the dishwasher if they are dishwasher safe. Avoid letting your water bottle sit with water left in it for long periods of time. Although COVID and the flu primarily spread through respiratory droplets from an infected person’s coughs or sneezes, experts recommend washing and sanitizing bottles after each use. Do not share a water bottle with someone who has cold-like symptoms.

General cleaning and disinfecting –To reduce the risk of infection from most illnesses, consider the following recommendations:

  1. Clean regularly using a household cleaner that contains soap or detergent. Using this type of cleaner will reduce the number of germs on surfaces, which decreases the risk of infection. Areas to focus on include high-touch surfaces such as light switches, electronics, doorknobs, countertops, etc.
  2. If someone in your household is ill or someone who has been in your home within the last 24 hours falls ill, it is recommended to disinfect to kill any remaining germs. Always follow the directions of the disinfectant and wash your hands immediately after use.
  3. Wear a mask when cleaning areas the sick person used, and open windows and use fans to help increase airflow.
  4. Remember all the usual precautions – wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when water and soap are not available, cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough, avoid close contact with sick people and avoid sharing personal items with them, immunize yourself from infectious diseases, and stay home when you do not feel well.

    By: Emma Parkhurst, USU Extension assistant professor, health and wellness, Emma.Parkhurst@usu.edu                                                                        

References:

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Toothbrush. Retrieved from https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/toothbrushes

Use and Handling of Toothbrushes. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/infectioncontrol/faqs/toothbrush-handling.html

How to Keep Your Water Bottle Germ-Free. Retrieved from https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/how_to_keep_your_water_bottle_germ_free

Reduced Risk of Reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 After COVID-19 Vaccination — Kentucky, May–June 2021. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7032e1.htm

Cleaning Your Home. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/disinfecting-your-home.html




Safely Cleaning Your Home After a Flood

Many parts of the state have recently experienced flooding. It is important to properly clean and sanitize wet and muddy household furnishings, carpets, clothing and surfaces as quickly as possible to avoid damage and contamination. Consider these tips from the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) for cleanup.

            * Call your insurance carrier within 24 hours if possible.

            * Document the damage with photos prior to the cleanup process. Even if all items are not covered under your policy, it is best to have full photo documentation.

            * Consider calling a disaster recovery expert. Floodwater may carry silt, raw sewage, oil or chemical wastes that can cause a range of bacterial, viral and parasitic diseases. Proper cleanup methods are critical and require disinfecting, not just cleaning.

            * Consider all water unsafe for drinking, cooking and cleaninguntil you have checked with your local health department.

            * Check with local authorities to determine how to dispose of household items that have been contaminated by sewage or that have been wet for an extended period of time. Some locations have regulations and specific procedures for bagging, tagging and disposing of contaminated items.

            * When cleaning, wear protective clothing including long-sleeved shirts, long pants, rubber or plastic gloves and waterproof boots or shoes.

            * Take anything that was wet for two or more days outside. These items could have mold growing on them, even though you may not see it.

            * Throw out any items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected, such as mattresses, carpeting and stuffed animals.

            * Launder your flood-soiled fabrics when water is clean and safe, electricity is restored and the washing machine has been checked for damage.

            * Throw away fresh foods that may have come in contact with flood water, including glass jars of commercial or home-canned foods. Canned food items may rust and weaken sealed seams, allowing contamination into the contents. Cardboard and plastic containers are also easily contaminated.

            * All countertops, appliances, floors, shelves, pots and pans, etc., should be washed with warm/hot soapy water followed by disinfecting. To disinfect, use a solution of ¾ cup of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Keep surfaces wet for two minutes, then rinse with clean water. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners. Discard wood and plastic items such as cutting boards, utensils and food storage containers that have been in contact with contaminated water, as they may harbor bacteria.

            * Clean clothes and other water-soaked fabrics. Wet textiles are the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Although your first instinct may be to wash these items in very hot water, high-water temperatures may set any stains. Click here for instructions from the American Cleaning Institute on how to “scrape and shake,” pre-wash, pre-treat and wash.

            Experiencing damage to personal property by flooding can be devastating, but knowing there are steps to salvage items that have been exposed to mud and debris can help give you some peace of mind.

By: Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor,  kathleen.riggs@usu.edu, 435-586-8132




The Dirt on Laundry: How Often to Wash?

How often do you wash your pajamas and pillowcases? Or how about your coats and comforters? In general, most people don’t wash their clothing, bedding and other items often enough. It’s important to note that phosphates in our detergents have decreased over the years, so your clothes may not be getting as clean as you think, and washing regularly is even more important.

The American Cleaning Institute gives advice on how often to wash specific items. Consider these tips:

* Every time you wear them: tights, leggings, yoga pants, exercise clothing, T-shirts, socks undershirts/underpants and swimming suits.

* Every two days: hand towels and dish towels.

*Every three to four times you wear or use them: bath towels, bras, slips, dresses, sweaters, skirts, pajamas, slacks and jeans.

* Weekly: sheets, pillowcases and bath mats.

* Monthly: mattress pads, bathrobes and pillow liners.

* Every three months: outerwear and jackets, shower curtains, throw blankets, throw rugs and vests.

* Once or twice a year: blankets, comforters, heavy coats, bed pillows and pillow shams.

For more laundry tips, click here to see Teresa Hunsaker on KSL Studio 5, or visit https://studio5.ksl.com/laundry-checklist-here-is-how-often-wash-everything/.

By: Teresa Hunsaker, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences faculty, (801) 399-8200, Teresa.Hunsaker@usu.edu




Seven Tips to Help You Take Stock before Restocking Food Storage

Shelves of homemade preserves and canned goods

 Whether you plan to preserve your garden produce or hit the seasonal case lot sales, take stock of what is still in your freezer, pantry or food storage room.

Family changes, including new additions or downsizing, make taking inventory imperative. Adding 50 quarts of fresh home-canned tomatoes or two more cases of cream of chicken soup to the shelves just because that’s what you’ve always done may not serve you well any more.

Basic guidelines for effective food storage are generally straightforward. Here are seven tips:

  1. Store only high-quality foods. You may be familiar with the saying, “You get out of something what you put into it.” While this may not be specifically referring to food storage, it is still a true statement. If you preserve bruised or over-ripe produce, don’t expect it to magically turn into high-quality apple pie filling or firm, tender green beans. This is also true of dry goods that may already be old or unclean.
  1. Practice first in, first out. When stocking your food storage areas, place recently purchased items behind existing food. This will help ensure that food is consumed before spoiling and before the expiration and best-if-used-by dates. If you purchase items in bulk, not all items may be individually dated. Keep a marker close by to include the date.
  1. Date packaged, frozen meats. Many people raise their own livestock or hunt wild game, and it is not uncommon to have home freezers full of packaged meat. These also need to be dated and rotated to help you avoid freezer burn and tough meat.
  1. Store what you use, and use what you store. There are those who love to give advice about food storage. Just because it is suggested that powdered milk or honey be part of every family’s emergency or long-term food storage plan, it doesn’t mean you have to do it. If your family prefers canned milk or granulated sugar, go with what you know you will use. Moreover, if you don’t cook with dried beans, for example, perhaps you would be better off storing commercially canned beans.
  1. Avoid going into debt to purchase food storage. Looking over case lot sales ads can be exciting, but walking into the store with cases of food items strategically placed throughout the store raises the excitement to a whole new level. Before leaving home, make a list, determine how much you will spend, and stick to it. If you plan to buy a half case of canned corn, stick with your plan, even if you have to have an employee divide a box for you.
  1. Store foods appropriately. It can be very disappointing to take a bag of rice from your pantry shelf only to find it has been nibbled on or has been infested with weevil. Pests feed on or breed in flours, cereals, grains, dried fruit, nuts, candy and other stored foods – if they can get to them. Take time to clean and disinfect the entire area if evidence of pests is found. And to avoid this from happening in the future, as soon as the foods arrive in your home, take time to transfer them into air-tight containers or divide them and place in smaller bags and store them in the freezer.
  1. Keep food storage areas clean, organized and pest free. If the only space you have to store food is in a garage or storage shed, it will take additional planning to keep your food items safe, clean and not forgotten. It may require you to install insulated cabinets with doors and avoid storing grains in unsealed containers in the same space.

There are a variety of food storage inventory sheets for tracking food that comes in and goes out. Try an internet search for “food storage inventory sheets” and click “images.”

By: Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences faculty kathleen.riggs@usu.edu, 435-586-8132




Spring Cleaning with Homemade Products

Spring Cleaning Products.jpg

Try these DIY cleaning products to get your home sparkling clean this spring.


As spring approaches, our thoughts are turned to…spring cleaning!  We’ve been cooped up in our houses all winter and we’re ready to see the shine of clean walls, windows, and floors!  But with the plethora of products available, it is difficult to decide on which ones to choose and which ones we can afford!  So the answer is…homemade cleaning solutions. Now is a great time to revive an article written by Carolyn Washburn, a USU professor from Washington County.  Thanks to her list of homemade cleaning products, we can have products that are less expensive, less toxic, and are safe and effective.

Some of the basic supplies needed include baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, borax, cornstarch and salt.  Here are a few of her recipes:

Four recipes for general cleaning:

  • 1 tablespoon ammonia, 1 tablespoon liquid detergent, 2 cups water.
  • 1 cup vinegar, 1 gallon water.
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 teaspoon borax, hot water.
  • ½ cup ammonia, ¼ cup vinegar, ¼ cup baking soda, 1 gallon water

Five recipes for cleaning windows:

  • ½ cup vinegar and 1 gallon water (2 tablespoons to 1 quart).
  • ½ cup ammonia and 1 gallon water.
  • 1 tablespoon ammonia, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 quart water.
  • 3 tablespoons denatured alcohol, 1 quart water.
  • 3 tablespoons dish detergent and 1 tablespoon “Jet Dry” in ½ pail of water for outdoor windows.

Other cleaning solutions she suggests include:

Baking Soda

Baking soda neutralizes acid-based odors in water and absorbs odors from the air. Sprinkled on a damp sponge or cloth, baking soda can be used as a gentle, non-abrasive cleanser for kitchen countertops, sinks, bathtubs, ovens and fiberglass. For laundry, add up to a cup per load to eliminate perspiration odors and neutralize the smell of chemicals. It is also a useful air freshener and carpet deodorizer.

Vinegar and Lemon Juice

White vinegar and lemon juice are acidic and neutralize alkaline substances such as scale from hard water. They are natural cleaning products as well as disinfectants and deodorizers. Acids dissolve gummy buildup, eat away tarnish and remove dirt from wood surfaces. Vinegar can be used as a softener in laundry cleaning. Lemon juice can be mixed with vinegar and baking soda to make a cleaning paste.

Borax

Borax is a natural cleaner and bleach. It can boost other cleaning products, but be cautious when using it since it can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation. Don’t use borax around food, keep it out of the reach of children and pets and be sure to rinse it out of clothes and off surfaces.

Cornstarch

Cornstarch can be used to clean windows, polish furniture and clean carpets. As a window cleaner, use it with water, vinegar and ammonia. To use on stains and to polish, use a mixture of water and cornstarch. Sprinkle on carpets to remove stains and odors.

Salt

Salt as a cleaner is one way to be a little “greener” at home. It is inexpensive, does not harm the environment and is readily available. Salt mixtures can remove yellowing, clean tarnish, remove lipstick, get rid of mold and can work as a drain cleaner.

Soap vs. Detergent

Liquid dish soaps and detergents are necessary for cutting grease, but they are not the same thing. Soap is made from fats and lye. Detergents are synthetic materials. Unlike soap, detergents are designed specifically so they don’t react with hard water minerals and cause soap scum. If you have hard water, buy a biodegradable detergent without perfumes. If you have soft water, you can use liquid soap.

Ammonia and Denatured Alcohol

Additional cleaning products are ammonia and denatured alcohol. Be careful not to mix ammonia with a bleach product, as it can produce a harmful gas. These toxic products need to be stored carefully and used in well-ventilated areas. Be sure to keep all homemade formulas labeled and out of the reach of children.

Happy Cleaning!

 


GaeLynn.jpgThis article was written by GaeLynn Peterson. Gaelynn is a long-time resident of Wayne County where she serves the residents as Utah State University faculty with an emphasis in FCS and 4-H. She has an M.S. in Psychology and has worked with at-risk students before joining the USU family. As a mother of seven and grandmother of 28, she has had a lot of experience working with youth, and she loves it! She enjoys traveling, camping, Lake Powell, and any beach.

 

Learn more about homemade cleaning products: https://extension.usu.edu/admin/files/uploads/mpp-2009-04-01-s-004.pdf

 




A New Year, a New You: Strategies to Simplify Your Life in the Kitchen

simplify your kitchen.jpgHave you made the goal to simplify your life in the new year? Try these strategies to simplify your life in the kitchen.


Organize

Keep shelf-stable items and utensils that you frequently use visible in the kitchen. Move spices you use often to the front of the cabinet and invest in a tiered tower or spice rack so everything is visible at once. Store dry goods such as flour, sugar, grains, and beans in airtight glass jars or plastic containers on the counter or on a visible row of the pantry. Store cooking utensils in a holder on the counter or in a drawer next to the stove (Bittman, 2014).

Stock Up

Having basic pantry, refrigerator, and freezer staples on hand can make it much easier to throw together a quick dinner. If the thought of purchasing all of the items at once seems overwhelming, add a few items to your list each week and in a couple of months, you will be set. Here is a basic list to get you started (Bittman, 2014):

  • Extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, and/or vegetable oil
  • Vinegars – balsamic, red wine or sherry, and/or white wine
  • Dried herbs and spices – salt, black pepper, chili powder, curry powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, sage, rosemary, tarragon, dill, basil, and thyme
  • Dried grains – brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat couscous, dried whole-wheat pasta
  • Dried and/or canned beans – garbanzo, black, kidney, navy, and/or cannellini
  • Canned tomato products – tomato paste, canned tomatoes (diced, crushed, whole)
  • Nut butters*
  • Brown sugar, honey, maple syrup
  • Flours – whole-wheat white flour, white flour, cornmeal
  • Baking soda, baking powder
  • Nuts and seeds* (walnuts, almonds, etc.)
  • Chicken and/or vegetable stock or bullion

*refrigerate to preserve quality

In addition, stock up on frozen vegetables – corn, mixed vegetables, peas, spinach, edamame – and fruit when items are on sale.

Plan Ahead

Planning several days or a week of meals at once may seem like an overwhelming task, but once you get into the routine, you will likely find it saves a great deal of time. There will be less trips to the grocery store and less time spent thinking about what’s for dinner.

Tips to get started:

  • Ask your family for favorite meal ideas.
  • Start small. Select one or two recipes you know how to make and add one or two new recipes per week.
  • Need help choosing recipes? Think about your weekly schedule. Are there going to be late nights at work or sports games to attend? If so, you may want to plan a slow cooker meal or a meal you can remake from leftovers for this busy night. Look at what is on sale at your local grocery store and consider what produce is in season, which means it will likely be less expensive.
  • Gather your recipes for the week and create a grocery list. First, check to see which items you already have at home. Include the other ingredients on a list. Organize your list according to the sections of the grocery store: produce, dairy, meat/seafood, dry goods/spices, and the freezer section.
  • Make notes about which recipes your family likes and dislikes. After a month or so, you’ll have a substantial list you can use to create a rotating meal schedule and you can add in new recipes if you choose to.
  • Visit Choosemyplate.gov for more grocery shopping and meal planning tips.

Cook Once, Eat Twice

  • Grains: Double a batch of grains, such a rice. Immediately separate, cool, and refrigerate the extra portion. Use the leftovers the next night in a stir-fry or casserole.
  • Meat/Protein: Roast extra chicken, pork, or beef. Use it the next night in a soup, tacos, or green salad.
  • Beans: Cook extra beans and use the leftovers for bean burritos or taco bowls.
  • Roasted vegetables: Roast extra vegetables and use the leftovers for a pureed soup or hearty vegetable stew. Or try roasted vegetable tacos or a roasted vegetable grain bowl topped with nuts, seeds, or crumbled cheese.

Remember to follow food safety rules for leftovers. 

  • Cool and refrigerate food in shallow containers promptly (within 2 hours of cooking).
  • Cold food should be stored at 40 F or lower.
  • Discard refrigerated leftovers after 3-4 days.
  • Remember to label and date frozen items. Store frozen items in containers such as gallon freezer bags or freezer grade plastic or glass containers and ensure that your freezer remains at 0 F or less.
  • Thaw frozen items in the refrigerator or microwave. Never thaw food on the kitchen counter or at room temperature.
  • Remember to reheat all leftovers to 165 F throughout.
  • Visit Foodsafety.gov for recommended freezer and refrigerator storage times or the National Center for Home Preservation’s Guide to Freezing Prepared Foods for more information on freezing leftovers. Additional information from the USDA on food safety and leftovers can be found here.

This article was written by Brittany Bingeman, Extension Assistant Professor FCS, Washington County

References:

  1. Bittman, M. (2014). How to cook everything fast. New York: Double B Publishing, Inc.
  2. Kitchen Timesavers. (2017). In Choosemyplate.gov. Retrieved from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/budget-time-savers.
  3. Leftovers and Food Safety. (2013). In United States Department of Agriculture

Food Safety and Inspection Service. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/leftovers-and-food-safety/ct_index.

 




How to Prepare Your Home for Fall

Prepare your homeNow is the time to prepare for those impending cold winter months.


It’s here, you can feel it in the  air—fall, and fall brings the falling temperatures that herald winter.  The fall Equinox is a good time of year to start thinking about preparing your home for winter, because as temperatures begin to change, your home will require maintenance to keep it in tip-top shape through the winter.

As winter approaches with its guarantee of ice, snow, and frigid temperatures, taking action early is all the more helpful for you. You’re better off preventing any potential problems now, because once the chill of winter arrives anything that goes wrong in your home will inevitably be nothing but a headache to fix. Careful planning and preparation will ensure your utilities will run efficiently and your home will be protected during the winter, and in the end will save you time, money, and frustration.

Here is a checklist of considerations:

Outside:

  • Check all weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors.  Replace or repair as needed.
  • Check for cracks and holes in house siding; fill with caulking as necessary.
  • Remove window air conditioners, or put weather-proof covers on them.
  • Take down screens (if removable type) and clean and store them.
  • Drain and shut off all outside faucets and sprinkler lines.
  • Clean gutters and drain pipes so they won’t be clogged with leaves.  Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to direct water away from the home.
  • Check roof for leaks and repair.
  • Check flashing around vents, skylights, and chimneys for leaks.
  • Check chimney for damaged chimney caps and loose or missing mortar.
  • Check chimney flue; clean obstructions and make sure damper closes tightly.
  • Clean siding. Paint or seal if you have wood siding.
  • Inspect wood framing from termites and re-treat as necessary.
  • Trim trees away from the house. Have dead trees and branches removed by professional tree trimmers, or do it yourself.
  • Insulate any water pipes that are exposed to freezing cold.
  • Make sure you are stocked with rock salt, sand, snow shovels and any other items you will need during the winter.
  • Buy firewood or chop wood. Store it in a dry place away from the exterior of your home.
  • If your home has a basement, consider protecting its window wells by covering them with plastic shields.
  • Drain gas from lawnmowers.
  • Apply sealant to decks to help prevent wood damage from extreme freezing/thawing cycles.
  • Service or tune-up snow blowers.
  • Replace worn rakes and snow shovels.
  • Clean, dry and store summer gardening equipment.
  • Winterize your lawn, which includes fertilizing and possibly re-seeding, to keep the grass strong and able to reserve food over the winter.  Check with your local nursery or county USU Extension horticulturist for specific questions about your lawn.
  • Clean and store your outdoor lawn and patio furniture to protect them from winter damage.
  • Drain out your outdoor hoses and sprinklers and bring them inside so they cannot freeze or crack. Also drain the water in birdbaths and cover them.

Inside:

  • Check insulation as much as possible; replace or add as necessary.  Gas/electric companies may have an insulation program going—check with them for possible assistance and insulation checks.
  • Have heating system and heat pump serviced; have humidifier checked; change or clean air filter on furnace.
  • Drain hot water heater and remove sediment from bottom of tank; clean burner surfaces; adjust burners.
  • Check all faucets for leaks; replace washer if needed.
  • Check and clean humidifier in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Clean refrigerator coils.
  • Test and check batteries on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Install or replace weather stripping on all doors and windows. Check for cracks around pipes and electrical outlets entering or exiting the walls.
  • Prepare an emergency kit—flashlights, candles, batteries, bottled water, blankets, etc.  This is the time of year for power outages and having things readily available is smart.  This is also flu season, so preparing your home with supplies for treating the flu might be helpful too.
  • Buy a battery backup to protect your computer and sensitive electronic equipment.
  • Replace warm-weather clothing with cold-weather clothing, and warm-weather bedding with cold weather bedding.
  • Place a boot tray by the door for people to place their wet boots and shoes in before they enter the home.

This article was written by Teresa C. Hunsaker, USU Extension, Weber County, Family and Consumer Sciences Education




Ask an Expert // Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

 

 

Storing FruitHave you been to a farmers market yet this year? Whether it’s from a farmers market or a grocery store, don’t let that fresh produce spoil on your counter. Here are some tips on how to store fruits and vegetables so they last longer. 


One of the benefits of shopping at farmers markets is the fruits and vegetables are often fresher than those at most grocery stores. Much of the produce was picked within a couple of days, or even hours of the market. Fresher fruits and vegetables will last a little longer before they begin to spoil. But, there are also some additional things you can do at home to help your produce last even longer. Follow these fruit and vegetable storage recommendations to reduce the amount of produce that spoils before you can use it.  Use this chart to identify fruits and vegetables that spoil the quickest and be sure to use those first.

Storing Fruits and Veggies


This article was written by Heidi LeBlanc, Food $ense State Director, and Casey Coombs, RD, CD; Policy, Systems, and Environments Coordinator, Utah State University Food $ense

 




Poison Prevention // Liquid Laundry Packets

Liquid Laundry Packets

Liquid laundry detergent packets are convenient, but to a child the brightly colored, shiny packets may look deceivingly like candy or a toy. Check out these tips to keep your children safe and prevent an accident with liquid laundry packets.


As a parent, you play an essential role in the safety of your children.

You have probably thought about car seat safety, cords on window coverings, and how to prevent drowning or burns. But what about laundry safety?

Children act fast and accidents can happen in an instant. Accidents involving liquid laundry packets can easily be prevented with safe use and storage.

You can make a difference by ensuring you and your friends and family are properly using and storing liquid laundry packets by keeping them up high and out of reach of young children.

Prevention is simple.

  1. Make it a habit to always store packets out of reach and sight of children
  2. Always store laundry packets in their original container or pouch until they are ready to be used
  3. Do not let children handle laundry packets
  4. Be sure to read the product label before use

The liquid in these pre-measured packets is harmful if put in the mouth, swallowed, or gets in the eye. Immediately call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222 if there is an accident.

Locking detergent packets up in a cabinet is an effective way to keep these products out of reach of young children, especially when little ones begin exploring closets and cabinets at an early age.


Information from the American Cleaning Institute. Print their activity sheet to help teach your children about poison prevention from household cleaners.