Is Your Gym REALLY Sanitary?

New Year, New You craze swept the world once again. With everyone packing up their gear and heading into their local gym or fitness center, a concern that not enough people take into consideration is the cleanliness of an establishment. It might look clean, but the BIOClean Team knows that looks can be deceiving when it comes to biohazards. This time on the blog, is your gym really sanitary?

Here’s the bad news: there are no standards of cleanliness that all gyms need to meet, no federal codes. If the gym has a sauna, spa, or any sort of cafe, those individual places may have specific inspection guidelines to adhere to but the rest of the space? The machines, free weights, mats, and floors? All of that is up to the diligence of the individual gym and their clients and employees to maintain. There’s a reason gyms frequently have signs asking their members to ‘Wipe down gym equipment after use.’ For many gyms, it seems impossible (or perhaps an afterthought) to call in a committed cleaning crew after the morning or evening rushes.

Where are the ‘Hot Zones’?

Here are the main areas of concern when it comes to a sanitary gym, and how gym-goers can protect their health!

Yoga Mats

Mats are covered in bacteria from those who use them. They can cause skin infections like athlete’s foot, or the germs to spread the cold and flu. The only way to be sure you’re staying safe here is to bring your own mat and clean it after each use.

Free Weights / Weight Machines

Weights get a lot of handling and are not nearly as frequently wiped down as their cardio equipment counterparts. To keep yourself from contracting any bugs or viruses, wipe down the weights before and after you use them. If your gym doesn’t have a station for disinfectant spray and clothes (a bad sign!), carry your own antibacterial gel for your hands.

Locker Room

Locker rooms tend to be hot and humid places, making them the perfect breeding ground for infectious materials. Always wear flip flops in the showers, and never sit on the bench unclothed or without a barrier between your skin and the surface.

Shower

Speaking of the shower, if possible just shower right when you get home. The gym shower surface is home to fungi and other infectious organisms that cause ringworm, warts, and athlete’s foot. If you must use the gym showers, use an antimicrobial soap and avoid shaving (that’s a surefire way to expose yourself to infections).

Towels

Towels may look clean but there are plenty of potential worries here. The towels might be washed in the same machines as mops and other rags. The clean towels may be transported in the same bins that move dirty towels. The only way to be certain you have a clean towel is to bring your own.

Still looking for the right gym to join? When being given the tour speak to the gym staff, ask if they get they monitor their air quality, what their cleaning process and schedule is like. Ask how they handle infection control. They should have an answer for it. Look for DIY cleaning stations and cleaning staffs presence. If either aren’t easily visible, this gym might not be as clean as you hope.

New Year, New You but stay healthy while you are at it! Here at the BIOClean Team we are fighting biohazards wherever they crop up – and that includes gyms! That’s why we partner with gyms to provide the regular heavy duty cleaning services they need. People want to be healthier than ever, not fall ill with infected feet.

Can a Pet Help with Loss

Handling a loss of any kind can put an emotional burden on a person that they may not know how to cope with. It can be an intense, turbulent time and recovering from it takes time in the best of conditions. For some, Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are proving to be a useful ally in the processing of grief.  This time on the BIOClean blog, we are taking a look at ESAs and how a pet can help with loss.

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

While most commonly a dog, an ESA can be any animal, as the name implies. According to the AKC, “the pet needs to be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person with a disabling mental illness. A therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist must determine that the presence of the animal is needed for the mental health of the patient.”  In this instance, the pet may help ease someone’s anxiety, or help give them something to focus on in their daily life, a purpose of sorts. The ESA can be any breed, any age.

To be clear, these are not the same as service animals. Those animals are trained to perform very specific duties to assist someone in their everyday lives and are able to go anywhere the public can be, accompanying their owners to restaurants, etc. ESAs have more limited scope of where they can.

How Do Animals Help?

Pets give their owners a whole host of positive benefits just by being around them! Here are some of the better understood benefits.

dog paw in hand, emotional support pet

Produce Beneficial Neurotransmitters

Studies show that looking into the eyes of a pet dog increase oxytocin production in both owner and pet. Oxytocin is most commonly recognized as the bonding chemical in our brains, but it provides plenty of other positives along with bonding. These feel-good chemicals being produced create a cascade of other positive effects in the body as well. 

Provide Unconditional Love

When coping with a loss, human relationships can feel complicated, or messy. In a state of depression, even getting out and socializing can be too much. Having a pet that is constantly around providing companionship and unconditional love and affection can be the support someone needs when they can’t even get out of bed.

Regulate Daily Emotions

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that there is clear evidence that owning a pet, their presence, and even petting them all provide positive effects for a person’s emotional wellbeing. This helps stabilize moods day to day, allowing for healing and growth to occur.

Social Support

That same study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology also found that the presence and companionship of pets provides social support. This in turn provides incredibly real health benefits including better cardiovascular, endocrine,and immune functioning. Loss can devastate social support networks, having a pet can help mitigate that.

Of course, all of this applies to pets as a whole, as well. While ESAs need to be prescribed in order to receive the associated privileges, pets in general provide these same benefits to those suffering from depression, loneliness, anxiety, and other mental health problems.

Experiencing a loss is never easy. Taking care of a pet may be the help some need, providing real psychological and health benefits through the release of dopamine, the presence of positive attention and a social support that the brain and body both recognize as powerfully necessary. We hope this blog helps anyone who needs it. The BIOClean team cares and is here to help.

Fire Season Safety – Tips to See You Through Safety

Every year California goes through an incredibly destructive cycle – the winds, the wildfires, and the subsequent rains that cause mudslides and severe property damage. 

Since 2000 the wildfire cycle has gotten increasingly more extreme. As of this writing there has already been over 6,400 fires across California burning over 250,000 acres, costing millions in fire fighting and suppression and causing several fatalities. For many it isn’t too late to take precautionary actions to see your home safely through the fire season. 

Follow these four tips, and plans of action to help protect your home from the devastation.

Fire Season Safety

fire season, wildfire burns across california hillscape

Create a Defensible Space for Your Home

Defensible space is necessary to give your home the bare minimum amount of protection it needs. This consists of two zones around the home that reach out to 100ft total. The first zone is from the home proper to 30ft out. In this area homeowners need to remove all dead or dying leaves, brush, or trees, as well as make sure there is distance between vegetation and anything that might be flammable like patio furniture.

In the second zone, the next 70ft,  all leaves, grass, and branches that have built up over time need to be removed. Homeowners should pay attention to the distance between bushes and trees, both horizontally and vertically. Fires burn outward and up, able to leap from lower bushes into trees. As soon as the fire reaches the tops of trees, fighting it becomes that much harder. 

You can learn a whole lot more about creating a defensible space and other wildfire prep from ReadyForWildfire.org 

Prepping Your Home

In addition to creating a safer perimeter around your home, there are improvements you can make to the structure itself to help it better weather the wildfire season. Roof, windows, decks, and rain gutters can all be addressed to help reduce the 

Roof with wooden shingles should be re-roofed using sturdier options like tile or composite materials. Windows should be double-paned with at least one pane of tempered glass to help prevent breaking from heat. If you have a deck already, make sure any combustible items are removed from under the deck and clean out rain gutters for any ignitable debris.

If you have the means and time, rebuilding your home (deck, roof, walls, etc.) with materials that are ignition resistant can help your home make it through the fire season.

Prep a Family Plan

Creating an emergency plan that your family knows and knows how to follow can save you minutes when seconds matter. The Department of Homeland Security suggests starting a plan by answering these four questions: 

How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?

What is my shelter plan?

What is my evacuation route?

What is my family/household communication plan?

Answering these questions can give you a solid foundation of a plan. Then fine tune it by addressing any specific dietary needs, medicine, extra care your family needs. 

Track what responsibilities each member of your family can handle, can your daughter be in charge of grabbing the dog’s supplies? By giving everyone (who can handle one) a job you can share the load of emergency prep. Prepare a room in your home that can be cut off entirely from the outside air and weather the worst of it. Get a supply of N95 respirator masks and a portable air purifier to help filter the smoke. Plan several possible routes in case your primary route becomes inaccessible.

Practice, Practice, Practice

With a plan in place, you need to practice it. Making sure your family knows the plan like the back of their hands is necessary for it to be effective at all. Toughing out a wildfire or evacuating in a hurry is stressful. Doing your best to memorize the plan while it is safe to do so is critical to comba that stress response and make sure everyone knows their role and makes it through safely.

Use FEMAs Plan Documents to help your family prepare for an emergency.

And remember, if the authorities tell you you need to evacuate, DO IT! Experts are watching and predicting the route thee fires can take, and even then they are unpredictable! If it seems possible that your home can become affected, getting you and your loved ones out of harm’s way is the most critical step you can take to make it through the wildfire season.

Loss of home and belongings is incredibly painful, but cleaning up and rebuilding is possible. The most important thing is to make it through the fire season safely. From all of us here at The BIOClean Team, stay safe out there!

Why Do People Commit Suicide?

Every year, thousands of Americans commit suicide… Sadly, it’s the 10th leading cause of death in the United State affecting not only the victim, but the surviving family members and friends. Undeniably, the pressing question is. Why is sucide so common? When a loved one takes their own life, it can feel impossible to understand. What was going through their mind that lead to this most terrible, permanent decision? It can be a lot to take in. While it may be impossible to truly know why someone chose to take their own life, these are some common;y identified factors.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal ideation: 

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Why Do People Commit Suicide?

Is it depression? Often cited as the cause, depression doesn’t impact all victims, and certainly not every depressed person commits suicide, only about 5% of do. Everyone experiences a different, unique chain of events in their life that can, potentially, lead to it.

man comforting woman wondering why do people commit suicide

The ‘Main’ Risk Factors

According to the National Institute of Mental Health increased risk factors for suicideinclude the follwoing:

    • Mental health disorders
      • Depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, & eating disorders. (These place an incredible toll on the individuals’ state of mind and overall wellness)
    • Substance abuse problems
      • Substance abuse is linked with impulsivity, and the influence the substances can have on a person might make them more susceptible to suicidal ideation than when sober. The link between substance abuse and depression/mental health disorders can be a terrible combination for a person.
    • Family history of mental health disorders or suicide
      • A family history of mental health problems can suggest the presence of those same problems in family members who haven’t been diagnosed. These things are also an ongoing trauma, a difficulty for others in their family that can affect them.
    • Family violence, physical or sexual abuse
    • Being in prison/jail
      • Isolation own it own is one of the hardest things for a person to experience, we’re social creatures and rely on our social group as a support network. When people don’t have access to that support in addition to the other stresses of being incarcerated it can magnify that isolation.
    • Medical illness
      • Feeling unwell day in and day out has a tremendous impact on a person’s quality of life. In some cases it can also give a person suffering from chronic pain/illness the idea that they are a burden to others, or making their loved ones’ lives harder.
    • Exposure to others’ suicidal behavior
    • Being between 15-24 or over 60
    • A prior suicide attempt

 

 

Why people commit suicide can have a huge range of ‘reasons,’ (in quotes because suicide is never a reasonable act, it is one borne from deperation, confusion, fear of loss, and more) and when more than one of those factors are present it only increases the risk.

Why Do Young People Commit Suicide?

It is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 24. 

  • Family conflict
  • Loss of other people
  • Grades 
  • Relationships
  • Sexual identity 

For many young people, these can seem impossible to navigate and being afraid of talking with friends or teachers puts a block up between them and their support system. Without help, they may feel like there is only one choice left to them.

Why Do Veterans Commit Suicide?

Veterans are an extremely high risk population for suicide, not only due to documented cases of PTSD, but because of the high propensity to “avoid seeking help”, veterans often find themselves self medicating with alcohol or other substances. There has often been a stigma associated with asking for help, and this coupled with strong feelings of trauma, depression, or rage can propel these individuals into suicidal ideations; without family or friends even knowing they are in need of help. 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs covers PTSD in more detail.

There may be no warning signs at all. The mind is complex, and the struggles someone is going through might not manifest in any ‘visible’ ways. This can leave their loved ones double guessing what they possible could have missed. 

We can’t fix the past, we can only take comfort that we did our best with what we knew. Suicide is often an act made during an emotionally charged combination of difficult streses and complex feelings in a volatile mix, that no One Thing could fix. 

Dealing with the aftermath of a suicide can be extremeley overhwleming. Whether a close friend, family member, neighbor, or figure in the media, feelings can arise that are inexplicable and leave one questioning their environmental stability and values. 

Know, all your feelings are NORMAL and part of the grieving / healing process. 

Here, at the BIOClean Team, our goal is to assist survivors in moving forward through some of the immediately pressing and overwhelming needs. This may be a simple phone call to guide you forward with an open ear, or it may be a full cleanup. Traumatic incidents can happen to anyone, please know you are not alone. 

Not only is The BIOClean Team founder a registered nurse with over ten years or trauma and emergency experience, she is also a surviving friend of more than “a few” personal tragedies. Stacy’s personal cell is always open to families who need advice or assistance, even if no cleanup services are rendered. 

Additionally, you can rest assured, The BIOClean Team technicians are highly trained and specialized to deal with these services. They are discreet, respectful, thoroughly trained, and properly certified. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal ideation: 

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255