We’re all aware of the potential risks associated with air pollution like factory fumes and car exhausts, but don’t always give the same attention to the pollution that can affect our air indoors.
In fact, research found that the quality of indoor air can be up to 5 times worse for you compared with that outside, and can cause a number of health hazards – headaches, sinus problems and sore throats being just a few.
It’s probably unsurprising that office air quality can be quite poor, what with multiple people sharing an enclosed space. Dust and dirt can build up, and outdoor air pollution can even become trapped and concentrated inside.
When many of us spend such a large portion of our lives working in an office environment, it’s important to take steps to ensure the air quality is as clean as it can be. Here, Envirovent share their top tips on how to improve the air quality in your office.
Keep the office clean
A clean, clear workspace is integral to good quality air. Dusting, de-cluttering and general good housekeeping can help to prevent pollutants and allergens. Regular hoovering helps too – try to do it at least 2 times a week, and clean out the filter of the vacuum often.
Introduce office plants
Plants are thought to be really effective in absorbing toxins and chemicals from the air, including the likes of carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Plus, they’re a nice way to brighten up the office! Ferns, lilies and palms are all great choices for additional air purification, according to NASA’s famous study.
Clean up spillages
Moisture and dampness creates the perfect home for fungi or mould to grow. Not just unsightly, mould can also exacerbate conditions such as asthma and eczema, so it’s important it’s not given an environment in which it can thrive. Make sure spillages are mopped up promptly, and be sure to report any water leaks as soon as they occur.
Warm, humid air also encourages mould, as well as dust mites and other allergens. To prevent this, the humidity should ideally sit at around 30-50%. Using dehumidifiers and air conditioning, especially during spring and summer, can help keep it at an optimum level, while simultaneously working to filter out pollutants.
Adequate ventilation is a key part to ensuring good air quality in any office environment. Regulations, such as approved document F provide guidance on the requirements for ventilation to provide a good healthy environment.
Don’t block air vents
Furniture, boxes or other items that have been placed in front of air vents can block the airflow, negatively affecting the circulation of fresh air. Bear this in mind when designing the office layout, or when it comes to storage.
Share the responsibility
Ultimately, it’s everyone’s responsibility to contribute towards cleaner indoor air; after all, it affects everyone’s health and happiness. Common sense and vigilance go a long way, so encourage everyone in the office to be aware of policies and best practices. Whether it’s storing food correctly, disposing of rubbish, or simply not smoking in certain areas, small steps can have a great influence.
Human beings are creatures of habit. We all have certain likes and dislikes. One thing most folks can agree on is the preference to be comfortable while at work or leisure when indoors. Temperature and ventilation certainly play big roles in making the indoor environment comfortable. It’s common to notice changes in temperature and adjust the thermostat to maintain comfort. But detecting humidity, oxygen levels, and indoor air quality issues isn’t always as easy. Headaches, stuffy sinuses and feeling tired might very well be related to the air you breathe. What’s in your building’s air?
Studies conducted by the EPA and Harvard among others have found that humans spend 90% of their time indoors within shared spaces. Some studies have even shown that indoor environments can have higher levels of pollutants than what can be found outside. Many of the indoor pollutants either originate in or can be picked up and redistributed by the building HVAC system.
Under normal operating and maintenance conditions the HVAC system can monitor and correct for a multitude of IAQ conditions in your building’s air. But as maintenance is deferred, the air handing unit can become fouled, foster microbial growth, and begin to under perform, eventually breaking down. It is estimated that a little as 3/16 of an inch of dirt lodged in between the fins across an evaporator coil can decrease the efficiency of the unit by 21%!
Other factors, besides the HVAC system, like new office equipment, furniture, renovations and even additional employees can have a negative impact on IAQ as well.
Luckily, the EPA provides a guide to better understand indoor air quality and what can be done to maintain and improve it. “An Office Building Occupant’s Guide to Indoor Air Quality can be viewed here.
A closer look at indoor pollutants.
When examining the pollutants that can affect indoor air quality there are three main categories to consider: biological contaminants, chemicals/gases and particles.
Biological contaminants such as bacteria, fungi (including molds), dust mites, animal dander and pollen can all affect building health. A properly maintained and cleaned HVAC is key to minimizing the growth and distribution of biological contaminants throughout the building. Bacteria and mold can flourish inside of a cool and damp air handling unit. Typically, a musty odor is associated with microbial growth. If excessive concentrations are left unchecked an entire host of health related issues including asthma and allergies can occur.
Chemicals and Gases
Emissions from products used in the building can also contribute to indoor air quality issues. Everything from cleaning products to office equipment like copy machines can put harmful compounds into air, this includes gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Monitoring ventilation rates and controls is important. It is crucial to have a healthy mix of fresh outdoor air exchanged with the indoor air to maintain optimal quality.
Particulates like dust, dirt, paper fibers or other substances can be brought into a building from outside or produced by activities, like printing, that happen inside of the facility. Good housekeeping and proper filtration can alleviate most particulate issues. Remember, filtration should be designed to fit the specific environment and building use.
OSHA goes into detail about these categories and IAQ management in their guide located here.
Be Proactive and Vigilant
Always stay on top of HVAC maintenance and cleaning. Regular hygienic cleaning, like Pure Air Control Service’s PURE-Steam, can prevent IAQ issues emanating from the HVAC system. PURE-Steam is a high temperature, low pressure, cleaning service that kills microbial growth and flushes dirt from deep within the evaporator coils. It can improve overall system performance and cleanliness. Beyond the HVAC system, Pure Air Control Services also provides PURE-Decon room disinfection, that utilizes a hydrogen peroxide and silver mist to get rid of bacteria, fungi and viruses.
If you have never cleaned your HVAC system then IAQ testing would be a good first step to determining any potential issues. Even a simple HVAC Hygienic Assessment can be helpful in looking at the cleanliness and performance of the system regarding building health and energy efficiency.
Finally, be in-tune with your building’s occupants. Pay attention to common health complaints and where they are concentrated. These complaints are often the frontline in the IAQ battle, and provide early detection to get out in front of any issues before they get worse.
Understanding how IAQ is connected to your HVAC system is a critical step in developing a maintenance plan for the optimal health, comfort and energy efficiency of your building.
Each year forest fires and wildfires in the United States, especially in the western regions, have become an increasingly serious issue. Outdoor air quality becomes severely poor from the massive amount of smoke and debris produced by the fires. But did you know it can negatively impact indoor air quality as well? Wildfire smoke can produce a variety of chemicals that are hazardous for health and hygiene. The chemicals released during forest fires and wildfires includes but are not limited to carbon monoxide, acrolein, and formaldehyde which can be toxic depending on the exposure dosage and susceptibility of the individual. In general, it has been observed that most deaths attributed to wildfires are from smoke inhalation. There are steps that can be taken to keep building occupants healthy and safe during wildfires and associated activities. The most important step is to visit a healthcare professional as soon as possible if you experience any symptoms that might be related to smoke inhalation. Individuals with a history of lung and heart problems must be extra careful and avoid exposure to the poor air quality.
Protection of closed environments from the infiltration of smoke and contaminated air is one of the first, most crucial, precautions to undertake. This can be initiated by inspecting the building filtration system and the “tightness” of the building envelope, paying close attention to any openings or leakage. Environmental inspection, diagnosis and proper management of Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system is essential in order to restrict the circulation of bad air within a closed structure.
Testing various indoor contaminants either using simple Do-it-yourself (DIY) test kits or with the help of an indoor air quality professionals are highly encouraged to determine the quality of air within an occupied space. Use of professional grade air purifiers can also be helpful in such events. It might be necessary to evacuate the premises should the indoor quality degrade to poor conditions during the fire event. Upon your return to the building if lingering indoor air quality conditions persist then a remedial plan to minimize the smoke damage will need to be pursued to ensure the building can be safely occupied again.
ENVIRONMENTAL DIAGNOSTICS LABORATORY (EDLAB):
The Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory (EDLab) (established in 1992) at Pure Air Control Services, Inc. (PACS) is an environmental lab offering complete and comprehensive indoor environmental microbiology laboratory services. They include: microbiology, aerobiology, chemistry, allergen assays and microscopy designed to meet all your indoor air needs. EDLab supports IAQ investigations by assisting with strategic sampling plan development and supplying media collection equipment while performing a wide range of environmental analyses.
Pure Air Control Services, Inc. is a nationally recognized indoor air quality (IAQ) firm headquartered in Clearwater, Florida. Since 1984, PACS has provided IAQ services to governmental agencies, educational institutions, commercial properties, energy engineering firms and other mechanical contractors. PACS is a privately-owned company with established credentials and experience in all areas of IAQ and indoor environmental problem solving.
Jay Sandos lives in Johnson City with his wife and three children, all under 6 years old. It was in their basement playroom that he found dangerous levels of radon, a cancer-causing gas that experts say all homeowners should test for but many aren’t aware that they should.
“Everybody is concerned about their children,” Sandos said. “We all have all these things in our house to protect our family and I was a naysayer too until I got the test kit.”
“You will not know unless you test. There’s nothing you’re going to smell, there’s nothing you’re going to notice, there’s nothing you’re going to feel different,” said David Coffey, President of RADON1, a testing, and mitigation company based in East Tennessee.
Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas that can be deadly when it concentrates indoors.
The American Lung Association calls it the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and the second leading cause overall, killing about 21 thousand annually. “It’s kind of like breathing second-hand smoke in many ways,” said Janice Nolen, the organization’s national assistant vice president for policy.
A new “State of Lung Cancer” report from the American Lung Association shows that Tennessee has the fourth highest rate of lung cancer in the country.
There’s evidence that radon plays a big role in these rates.
An informational map from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that some of the highest estimated radon levels in the country are right here in Northeast Tennessee.
“It’s important not to get too caught up in the maps. The maps can give people a false sense of security. We’ve had high radon levels, elevated radon levels, in every county in Tennessee,” said Jan Compton, radon program manager for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
“Any level over 2pCi/L needs attention and anything over 4 pCi/L definitely needs to be cleaned up,” Nolen said. “We’ve seen places that have a lot higher levels.”
The Sandos’s playroom, for example, tested at nearly 10 pCi/L.
Coffey said he’s found over 40 homes in Northeast Tennessee that have tested at 100 pCi/L.
There is good news.
“You can fix it, solve it and be done with it for about the price in your home or buying a new television set,” said Nolen.
President of the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors Aaron Taylor estimates that radon mitigation costs between $1,200 to $1,500.
Just testing your home is free, according to Compton. TDEC distributes free test kits to homeowners upon request.
Test kits are also available in most home improvement stores for under 20 dollars, according to Nolen.
The EPA recommends homeowners test every individual room in their basement and ground floor.
Compton said homeowners should test during colder months–when radon levels are highest–generally between November and January.
The agency also suggests retesting every two years.
Radon and real estate
Sandos said that he was not aware of the radon levels in his children’s playroom until 6 to 8 months after he moved into his Johnson City home. “Them being in that room, again underdeveloped lungs and everything, getting more than double the radon limit…without us knowing it, we just felt like that was a huge issue,” Sandos said.
Coffey believes that radon testing, by a certified professional, should be required as part of a real estate transaction.
Some states have already adopted strict laws surrounding radon and real estate. By September of 2015, 29 states required disclosure of radon hazards upon the sale of a house and 25 required licensing of radon inspectors and/or mitigators, according to the National Conference of State Legislature.
Lawmakers in Tennessee have yet to impose these regulations.
“You can’t sell me your house without a certified person telling me whether that house has termites or not but you can sell me that house if it has the second leading cause of lung cancer and there’s no regulation on that. That needs to change,” Coffey said.
Experts agree licensing is critical because if mitigation is done wrong, it can actually make radon levels worse. “Because it’s not regulated, two guys with a hammer and truck can go out and call themselves radon contractors,” Coffey said.
Taylor agrees the Tennessee legislature has lagged behind other states when it comes to these changes. “We do trail when we institute state laws but I can see it heading that way as we progress,” he said, adding these are changes NETAR may advocate for in Nashville this March.
Knowledge about the potential benefits and possible problems of air duct cleaning is limited. Since conditions in every home are different, it is impossible to generalize about whether or not air duct cleaning in your home would be beneficial.
If no one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses and if, after a visual inspection of the inside of the ducts, you see no indication that your air ducts are contaminated with large deposits of dust or mold (no musty odor or visible mold growth), having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary. It is normal for the return registers to get dusty as dust-laden air is pulled through the grate. This does not indicate that your air ducts are contaminated with heavy deposits of dust or debris; the registers can be easily vacuumed or removed and cleaned.
On the other hand, if family members are experiencing unusual or unexplained symptoms or illnesses that you think might be related to your home environment, you should discuss the situation with your doctor. EPA has published the following publications for guidance on identifying possible indoor air quality problems and ways to prevent or fix them.
You may consider having your air ducts cleaned simply because it seems logical that air ducts will get dirty over time and should occasionally be cleaned. While the debate about the value of periodic duct cleaning continues, no evidence suggests that such cleaning would be detrimental, provided that it is done properly.
On the other hand, if a service provider fails to follow proper duct cleaning procedures, duct cleaning can cause indoor air problems. For example, an inadequate vacuum collection system can release more dust, dirt and other contaminants than if you had left the ducts alone. A careless or inadequately trained service provider can damage your ducts or heating and cooling system, possibly increasing your heating and air conditioning costs or forcing you to undertake difficult and costly repairs or replacements.
You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:
There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. There are several important points to understand concerning mold detection in heating and cooling systems:
Many sections of your heating and cooling system may not be accessible for a visible inspection, so ask the service provider to show you any mold they say exists.
You should be aware that although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation. For about $50, some microbiology laboratories can tell you whether a sample sent to them on a clear strip of sticky household tape is mold or simply a substance that resembles it.
If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.
If the conditions causing the mold growth in the first place are not corrected, mold growth will recur.
Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects)
Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.
Original Article Source:https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/should-you-have-air-ducts-your-home-cleaned
It is wild to think that in 2004 I started this crusade with Samantha the founder of the Sparkle foundation. I was 26 years old and want to help make a difference. I helped her with 2 families by donating gifts and wrapping presents. Now, fast forward to 2018 here we are.
The Sparkle Foundation, located in the received 107 nominations this year for single mothers needing assistance over the holiday season. The Sparkle board worked tirelessly to narrow the list down to 50, 50 women we knew we could make a difference for. We’ve taken their stories and shared them with you this year. Some of the stories will hit home. Some of the stories will move you, and some of the stories will leave you in tears. We share these stories, for I firmly believe that it is important to know who you are assisting and why.
These 50 women have beat incredible odds illness, financial difficulties, all struggling to raise children on their own. If you’re looking for a way to give back to the community this holiday season I encourage you to check out the DreamLists. Hear the stories of women that are just like many of us, or someone you know.
I always say living a life of purpose is what it’s all about and being a part of something bigger than yourself is what drives a person. Be a part of changing someone’s life this holiday season, whether it be with a pair of socks, toys for their children, tires for a mother’s car or the gift of food to put a holiday meal on a table.
Sparkle is a recognize 501(c)(3) nonprofit by the IRS. The biggest thing that sets us aside from other charities is that 100% of every dollar, 100% of every gift, and 100% of every volunteer hour goes to the families that need it the most.
Be a part of the Sparkle, for it is a part of you.
People with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mold.
If you or your family members have health problems after exposure to mold, contact your doctor or other health care provider.
Controlling moisture in your home is the most critical factor for preventing mold growth.
If you plan to be inside the building for a while or you plan to clean up mold, you should buy N95 masks (or a respirator with a higher protection level) at your local home supply store and wear one while in the building. Make certain that you follow instructions on the package for fitting the mask tightly to your face. Even if you go back into the building for a short time and are not cleaning up mold, you need to wear an N95 mask.
After natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, excess moisture and standing water contribute to the growth of mold in homes and other buildings. When returning to a home that has been flooded, be aware that mold may be present and may be a health risk for your family.
People at Greatest Risk from Mold
People with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mold.
People with immune suppression (such as people with HIV infection, cancer patients taking chemotherapy, and people who have received an organ transplant) are more susceptible to mold infections. People with a weakened immune system, especially people receiving treatment for cancer, people who have had an organ or stem cell transplant, and people taking medicines that suppress the immune system, should avoid cleaning up mold. Children should not take part in disaster cleanup work.
Possible Health Effects of Mold Exposure
People who are sensitive to mold may experience stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing, or skin irritation. People allergic to mold may have difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath. People with weakened immune systems and with chronic lung diseases, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs. If you or your family members have health problems after exposure to mold, contact your doctor or other health care provider.
Safely Preventing Mold Growth
Clean up and dry out the building quickly (within 24 to 48 hours). Open doors and windows. Use fans to dry out the building. Position fans to blow air out doors or windows.
When in doubt, take it out! Remove all porous items that have been wet for more than 48 hours and that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried. These items can remain a source of mold growth and should be removed from the home. Porous, noncleanable items include carpeting and carpet padding, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, floor and ceiling tiles, insulation material, some clothing, leather, paper, wood, and food. Removal and cleaning are important because even dead mold may cause allergic reactions in some people.
To prevent mold growth, clean wet items and surfaces with detergent and water.
Homeowners may want to temporarily store items outside of the home until insurance claims can be filed. See recommendations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
If there is mold growth in your home, you should clean up the moldand fix any water problem, such as leaks in roofs, walls, or plumbing. Controlling moisture in your home is the most critical factor for preventing mold growth.
To remove mold growth from hard surfaces use commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions for use (see product label). Use a stiff brush on rough surface materials such as concrete.
If you choose to use bleach to remove mold:
Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes
Open windows and doors to provide fresh air. Use fans to dry out the building. Position fans to blow air out doors or windows.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.
For more information on personal safety while cleaning up after a natural disaster, see Response Worker Health and Safety.
If you plan to be inside the building for a while or you plan to clean up mold, you should buy N95 masks (or respirators with a higher protection level) at your local home supply store and wear one while in the building. Make certain that you follow instructions on the package for fitting the mask tightly to your face. Even if you go back into the building for a short time and are not cleaning up mold, you still need to wear an N95 mask.”
Original Article Source: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/mold/index.html
Ash from the Woolsey and Hill fires can have a far reach, raining down on communities many miles away.
Areas of California have not only been completely devastated by the recent wildfires in Northern California and the Malibu area, but many far away from the flames have been impacted in other ways with power outages or debris from the fires.
Ash may look like fun snowflakes to children, but make sure they don’t play in it – especially when it’s wet or damp. And make sure any toys they play with are washed.
Don’t forget to also wash your pets that may have gotten ash on their fur.
Always wear gloves during clean up, along with long-sleeved shirts and long pants to avoid skin contact. Wash ash off as soon as possible if it gets on your skin.
If you eat vegetable or fruits from the garden, make sure you wash them before eating.
Don’t spread it around
Don’t use leaf blowers — they will push ash into the air and spread it out.
“Instead, gently sweep indoor and outdoor surfaces, followed by wet mopping,” the post reads. “A solution of bleach and water may be used to disinfect an area.”
Your regular home vacuum won’t cut it, and even shop vacuums can’t filter out small particles. Instead, they blow small particles into the air where they can be breathed in. However, HEPA-filter vacuums can filter out small particles.
Use a disposable mask, an easy item to find at home or hardware stores, when cleaning up. Make sure it has a rating of N-95 or better.
Avoid washing ash into the storm drains whenever possible. Ash and soot can become very slippery when combined with water.
“Walk carefully, wear boots with good soles, and use as little water as possible when cleaning an area of ash,” the post reads.
Throw it out
If ash has gotten onto plastic bottles, toss them.
“It is not enough to rinse off the bottles as these particles contaminate the caps, making them very difficult to decontaminate,” the advisory reads
Food that has not been stored in waterproof or airtight containers and has been covered with ash should be discarded. This includes products that have been stored in cardboard or other soft packaging, according to the sheriff’s department.
Food stored in sealed, previously unopened glass or metal cans or jars, such as baby food, should be safe for use, but the containers should be cleaned before they are opened and contents transferred to another container before being eaten.
If a power outage has impacted your area for a short time, your food should be safe. But if your power has been out for several hours, it’s best to throw away perishable foods such as meat, dairy products and eggs.
Items that have thawed in the freezer should be thrown away — do not re-freeze thawed food.
“Remember, if in doubt, throw it out.”
Original Article Source:https://www.dailynews.com/2018/11/14/need-to-clean-up-ash-from-the-woolsey-fire-follow-these-guidelines-for-safety/
House fires are terrifying because the flames can cause intense bodily harm that results in serious injury and even death. Once the fire is put out, many homeowners are relieved in the sense that the threat to their life or health has ended. However, the flames themselves are not the only potential source of health issues. Many of the byproducts of a fire are toxic. Fires leave behind smoke, soot, corrosive byproducts, and even mold that negatively affects your health. It is important to know the health risks caused by the byproducts of a fire to keep yourself and your family safe in the aftermath.
All fires involve smoke and everyone knows that smoke inhalation is extremely dangerous because of the chemicals it contains. Smoke is the byproduct of incomplete combustion and contains the following toxins:
Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN): The potential health effects of carbon monoxide are well known as many homes have carbon monoxide detectors for safety. Less people know about the risks of the other major chemical in smoke, hydrogen cyanide. Hydrogen cyanide is over 30 times more toxic than carbon monoxide and inhaling a combination of both can be deadly. Smoke inhalation is the leading cause of fire related deaths.
Chemicals from Burnt Materials: When materials such as wood, drywall, and flooring are burned in a fire, they release hundreds of chemicals in the smoke that are harmful to your health. Some of the dangerous chemicals released by burning household materials include hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen chloride, carboxylic acids, nitrogen oxides, acid gases, sulfur dioxide, and much more.
After the fire and smoke have cleared, there is still a substance present that can spread throughout the home and cause health issues as well as property damage; soot. Soot is dangerous because it spreads and settles everywhere including the air ducts where it can get redistributed into the air. Most health problems caused by soot result from inhalation but soot can also get absorbed in the skin and eyes. The main health effects from soot include lung irritation and respiratory issues such as bronchitis and asthma as well as more serious issues including heart attack, stroke, and even cancer.
Few people associate mold growth with house fires but if a house fire is extinguished with water, this excess moisture can quickly lead to mold growth. Moisture is the main cause of mold growth and organic materials that are wet from putting out the fire can become contaminated with mold within 48 hours. Mold not only adds to the health risks already present after a fire, but also causes even more property damage that makes the restoration process longer and more expensive.
If a fire breaks out in your home, make sure that everyone evacuates safely and do not return to your home until it has been restored and deemed safe. The byproducts of a fire are just as dangerous as the fire itself and can cause serious health effects long after the fire has been put out. It is of extreme importance to begin the fire damage restoration as soon as possible by hiring professionals that can safely remove dangerous byproducts from soot and smoke. These professionals have effective cleaning products and personal protective equipment to keep themselves safe during the restoration process
Expert in emergency fire and water restoration services, fire cleanup and water damage cleanup, mold removal, as well as carpet and upholstery cleaning services. Contributor to several restoration and cleaning blogs.
Thanksgiving is a traditional American holiday responsible for bringing family and friends to the table year after year. Young and old alike come together to share delicious, mouth watering food and express gratitude for everyday blessings and triumphs. A beautiful holiday, sure, but a beautiful holiday that will do some temporary damage to your pristine home kitchen. Eek!
Preparing a massive Thanksgiving feast for hoards of family members and friends alike is an overwhelming idea to many. Even if many of us are experienced Thanksgiving hosts and hostesses, the task of shopping, preparing, cooking, and cleaning an enormous meal in ones own house is an exhausting task for anyone to fathom. Although its never an easy feat to prepare an enormous meal by hand, there are a few organizational tips, tricks, and hacks that will make your holiday prep a little easier this year.
Want to simplify your mealtime preparation this holiday? These Thanksgiving tips & tricks will make difficult kitchen tasks a pinch. Bon appetit!
At the store:
1.) Split up your supermarket trips
An entire feast’s worth of grocery bags is a lot for anyone to carry, and if you try to buy all of your Thanksgiving supplies in one trip you’re bound to forget an ingredient, or come across supermarket shelves so bare you’d think the apocalypse was here. Plan your time and split your shopping trips up, which will save you the pressure of trying to cram everything in the trunk in one trip.
2.) Make a thorough list
Plan your Thanksgiving dinner menu in advance, then making a detailed list of what you’ll need to pick up. Divide your list into perishables (milk, produce, eggs) and nonperishables (spices, canned goods, flour). Buy your nonperishables first, then return for the turkey, dairy, and vegetables a few days before you start cooking your feast.
3.) Prioritize your refrigerator
Sure you can fit it all in the fridge, but can you successfully shut the door? Empty your refrigerator of everything that isn’t essential, like jars of jelly, salad dressings, or anything expired. Plan ahead that you’ll need the extra space, and try to use up as much leftover food as possible in both the freezer and refrigerator.
4.) Designate a place for dry/extra storage
Because refrigerator space is precious on Thanksgiving, anything that doesn’t need to be refrigerated should be stored in a cool, dry place. Store hearty produce like potatoes, apples, and cranberries in the basement, garage, or trunk of the car. Any food that needs to stay chilled? Use a beach cooler filled with frozen ice packs to store the turkey, casseroles, or any other food that needs to stay cool. An iced cooler stored in a low temperature location should keep your food fresh for at least 24 hours.
5.) Create a prep list
A organized prep list lays out (in order) all of the tasks you need to accomplish two days prior to your Thanksgiving feast.
Identify what can be made a day ahead of time. Recipes like pies and gratins can be prepared in advance and refrigerated.
Identify which dishes will take the longest to make on Thanksgiving day, then prioritize your recipes and allow yourself with a little extra time with each one.
Look at cooking temperatures and see what dishes can go into the oven simultaneously. Use your smartphone or timers to set alarms to keep track of both the dishes in the oven and on the stovetop.
6.) Organize recipes
Nothing is worse than rifling through recipes when you’ve got hot food on the stove and six other things to do. If you make copies of your recipes in advance, you can then stick them on appliances with magnets, or tape them onto the cabinets at eye level. This will not only save precious counter space, but you can slip the recipes into plastic sleeves and file them away for next year.
7.) Designate your help
Although many of your Thanksgiving guests genuinely want to help you put together a beautiful meal, the old saying holds true that too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. To keep a busy kitchen from feeling too crowded, try to move as many activities out of the kitchen as possible. Set up a drink station in the living room, or a small prep table outside of the kitchen for extra work space.
8.) Time to Eat
Although you’ve planned your meal timing perfectly, there are a few helpful tricks to keep some tricky food items hot.
Keep your gravy piping hot? A thermos will do the trick just fine.
A cooler will retain heat, and can hold stacked foil dishes or covered pots.
A microwave oven is insulated, and can be used as a resting place to keep a hot dish warm for a half an hour.
A Crock-Pot will keep your mashed potatoes, rice, or stuffing warm (you can even set it to low for longer periods or time).
9.) Something sweet
Although you and your guests are ready for your famous pecan pie, it’s impossible to clear the dishes and serve dessert at the same time. Taking a coffee break between courses is the perfect way to give time to clear the table after dinner. Create a dessert station in the dining room with plates, forks, and coffee cups. Press the brew button when you (and your helpful guests) are clearing the table, and have the cream and sugar bowls ready in the refrigerator ahead of time. Your coffee will be ready and the table will be clear, making it the perfect time to present the dessert.
10.) The dreaded cleanup
Dinner is finished and your want nothing more than to put on your house slippers and spend quality time with your guests, but you dread the mountain of pots and pans waiting for you in the kitchen. After dinner, fill big pots with soapy water and use them for soaking utensils and plates. The cooler can also be used for soaking larger items, and as long as everything is immersed your cleanup can be put off until you’re up to it. Set up a lined garbage can ahead of time so food scraps can go directly into the trash, and voila! Your mountain of dishes is a problem for tomorrow.