What Makes Home Inspection An Essential Part Of Living?

Home is not just brick and mortar. It is where our soul finds peace. It is the place which makes us happy, secured and comfortable in a world of billion people. But as we grow and change the bits and pieces of our life we often tend to ignore things that ensure the longevity of this abode of peace. We are either busy mending its exterior or beautifying its interior. We simply do not look deeper. Majority of the people in India are not familiar with the idea of the home inspection. Ask your neighbour Malhotra Ji, he will tell you about everything from buying a property to getting the best electrician in the area. But ‘home inspection?’ – Well, you can almost visualize the clueless expression on his face.

Inspection of the home is a service area that needs to be explored in our country for better living, prosperity and growth. Even if people are aware of the theoretical part of the home inspection they have hardly travelled the road in reality. This article will help you to gain insight into home inspection and push you towards a path you will never regret.

What is a home inspection?

Professional home inspection is a process through which condition of your home or property is examined thoroughly by certified home inspectors. All accessible areas of your home, for example, wall, ceiling, floor, doors, windows, plumbing & electrical systems and alike are examined to identify the existing or possible issues /damages and give long term solutions.

In simple terms, home inspection means the Health and safety Check Up of your Home or Property. To understand its area, elements, coverage, 3D of issues; read So What exactly is Home Inspection?

What is the significance of home inspection?

Most common problems in Indian homes are damp, leakages, excess amount of moisture as also electrical accidents, fire and safety hazards. Damp is a major cause of worry, as the reason being that India has a humid climate which affects a property be it old or new. Besides, faults or issues in the building also tend to become problematic with years. Hence, it is essential to have the right kind of technology that keeps you ahead in your home game. Here is why a home inspection is a boon in your life.

Saves your property and family

Inspection is a great way to become aware of the areas of the house that can act as a hazard or create problems in the future and also suggest solution for it. Let us give you examples – There is a negligible crack in the wall near your window. You notice it, ignore it for some time or plan to postpone it till the next painting session. What follows next? – A damp patch, an obvious sign of seepage, and swelling of the wall paint. Worse happens when dots of fungi start appearing on the damp patch.

Now let’s talk health.

Don’t we really know that germs flourish in damp conditions? Dampness on the wall not only spoil the look of your home but impacts the health of your family too. But we are happy to take anti-allergic pills and use inhalers regularly thinking there is no choice. Why not take a definitive step now and get to the root of the problem with the help of home inspection.

Find salient and hidden defects of the home

No home is perfect. Your home can also be the safe haven of one or many hidden defects. As you already know that every house has seven basic elements (walls, ceiling, floor, doors, windows, plumbing and electrical). These elements can conceal issues which can create serious threat in the proper functioning and safety of your home. So protect your home from masked hazards.

Save you from future repair and maintenance costs

With the help of home inspection,you will get aware of issues and solution. Getting issues rectified on time can save you from further associated problems.

Issues pointed out by the home inspector should be considered because something as small as a leaking pipe could turn into a bigger problem later.It is better to fix a problem when it is small than to wait and let it become a bigger problem.Repair and maintenance costs go up all the time. Also add to that the cost of material also keeps increasing all the time. Last but not the least, the amount of inconvenience caused by a repair work is also a factor.

Hence, in long run it will save future repair & maintenance cost as well as give you a peace of mind.

Makes life better

When our house is falling apart or when we don’t feel comfortable in it, the standard and the spirit of living a good life evaporates. Our surrounding acts as a promoter of a healthy mind. A home inspection is one such initiative that opens doors of possibilities and allows us to fix the errors and have a better home along with life.

Keeps accidents at bay

Accidents are unpredictable events. But what about getting the opportunity of identifying areas that can cause an accident? Wouldn’t you like to take serious actions and extinguish the possibility of an accident? If it’s yes then home inspection is what you need right now.

Basically, Home inspection detects the unsafe areas of home. Safety is one of the key aspects that a home inspector focuses on during an inspection. It is the need of the hour to have a safer home.

So, only a homeowner needs a home inspection, right?

Wrong. You need a home inspection if you are a home or property buyer, home seller, interior designer, real estate developer or real estate consultant or are in any relatable profession. A home inspection can be beneficial for you in a number of ways. Even your office / shop / school / showroom, etc needs a thorough property inspection.

What is the process of a home inspection?

A home inspection is not only about home inspectors arriving at your door checking the house and walking out. It is a procedure that is followed step by step by trained professionals. Let us understand it very briefly.

It can be best explained in 4 phrases:

  • Areas: All the areas of your home e.g., bedroom, bathroom, living area, dining area, kitchen, balcony, loft, terrace, servant quarter, etc are inspected.
  • Elements: All the 7 elements (wall, ceiling, floor, door, window, plumbing, electrical) of each area as all any additional element is checked.
  • What is Inspected? The condition of the house and other important details is looked into. These include types of materials used, finishing& installation, operation & functionality.Last but not the least, safety aspects are also reviewed.
  • 3D of Issues: The process of inspection results in:
    • Detection of the issues / problems
    • Describing the issues.
    • Directing the solution to each issue / problem.

The working procedure of the inspectors may vary from the company to company and their policies but the central idea of creating a safe and secured shelter remains the same.

Watch the video to get a clearer idea:

Now, that you know about home inspection and its numerous benefits, it will be easier for you to formulate better decisions when it comes to your space. Always remember time, choices and decision matters. So watch your steps and support constructive and comprehensive approaches that will help you to keep your home healthy and safe.

6 Staircase Safety tips for Homes/Offices to prevent from Slips, trips and falls

Staircases are being used from the ancient times and the importance of the staircase remains the same even in the 21st century. These are very common walking surface in most workplaces, residential complexes and individual homes.

The Staircase is an important component of a building which helps in commuting between floors and roof. Improperly designed staircases can cause falls which may lead to severe injuries or accidents if the necessary guidelines are not followed properly. A combination of deficiencies in design, lighting, maintenance and others are usually the culprits in stairway slips, trips and falls.

Let us first understand some of its basic parts. Staircase typically consists of:

  1. Landing Platform
  2. Handrail or Stair Rail System
  3. Steps (Riser & tread) – A step is composed of tread and riser. Tread is the horizontal top surface to press beneath the feet. The riser is the vertical portion between each tread on the stair

To prevent falls or accidents due to staircase, below are some informative tips for safer stairway design, maintenance and use etc:

1. Optimise Riser and Tread Design

Trips and falls that occur during stairway ascent are often attributed to variation in the riser, tread. Stair riser heights should be 7 inches maximum and 4 inches minimum & tread depth to be minimum 10 mm. To know more, click here1.

Ideally, all tread and riser dimensions should be uniform throughout the entire stairway. When we use stairs, we tend to follow the same steps again and again until we reach on a plain surface. So, make sure that there are no uneven steps in your staircase and all steps areof the same size.

2. Do not neglect Stair rails or handrails

Stair rails and handrails are needed for very different purposes. Stair rails protect pedestrians from falling off the edge of the stairs or landings while handrails help pedestrians keep their balance and provide leverage when ascending or descending stairs. They greatly reduce the chance of a fall, they are strongly recommended, regardless of the number of steps.

You need to install stainless steel handrails that are slip-resistant because they can provide you utmost support and they need less maintenance cost. And, if you already have handrails, check its functionality.

3. Eliminate Tripping Hazards

Firstly, these can happen due to distinct level difference at the transition area between the entrance of staircase and other associated area at office or individual home or lobby at the residential complex. Secondly, we tend to keep a lot of items around stairways that are major tripping hazards. Here are a few to be mindful of:

  • If electrical cords are left open, use some tape to pin electrical cords along the baseboards, so that it is out of the way.
  • Furniture near or on the landings should be rearranged to keep pathways free.
  • Do not store anything on the stairs, even temporarily. While there is plenty of decors that can add to the aesthetic of your stairs, but remember it all increases the risk of falls.

4. Prefer Anti-slip Surface

This is one of the most important factors that can prevent accidents. The staircase should be made with slip-resistant materials, otherwise, can be dangerous especially for children and elders. You can reduce the risk of the slip by using anti-slip materials in the stair treads and landing surfaces.

People often use anti-slip materials on the leading edge of the treads to prevent slip-related incidents. Slip-resistant or anti-skid paints2 are also available and you can use them on your staircase.

5. Ensure better Visibility

Staircase should be illuminated by enough lighting so that users can watch each and every step precisely. If you have children and elders in your family, you should not compromise with your lighting system, because better visibility will ensure safety for your dearest ones. Low light can be an issue for the elders and it can prevent them from noticing steps clearly.

6. Maintenance and Use

Many stairway accidents occur due to poor maintenance, non-attention and use. Keep stair treads clean and in good condition. There can be rusted handrails, loose fasteners resulting in the further deterioration with time. If left unattended can lead to accidents or injuries.

Apart from these, there isa last tip which can only be followed by individual homes i.e Install Safety Gates for Babies & Young Kids – If you have little ones roaming around, place child safety gates at the top and bottom of your staircase, so that they cannot access it by themselves.

Conclusion

The fact is, most falls can be prevented; and that prevention starts by acknowledging that there are always risks when using the stairs.By implementing simple strategies, keeping your stairs in good shape, and staying focused, you can help put an end to falls and serious injuries in homes and offices3. Also, read how to use stairs safely4.

We hope this content is helpful in creating awareness about safety of your staircase. If you still want to take professional advice for checking its safety and other problems, you can click here.

Beware a Damp House is Wrecking Your Health

Ever wondered how damp in your house is playing with your health? Yes, the dampness on the wall here and there not only spoil the look of your home but impact the health of your family too. India being a tropical country, the building structures here are exposed to a high amount of moisture and humidity. Thus, they become more susceptible to damp development. When you are living in such a home, one thing leads to another and before you even know, your health is at risk too. Research suggests that on an average, we spend around 16 hours in our home. So, it is easy to apprehend how much at risk we are of developing health disorders due to damp. Common human health hazards associated with a damp house include:

  • Upper respiratory (nasal and throat) symptoms
  • Asthma symptoms in sensitized persons with asthma
  • Cough
  • Wheeze
  • Allergies
  • Skin Diseases
  • Migraine Headaches & Depression

What are the reasons and how does damp wreaks havoc on our health? We have listed out a few points below for you:

1. Flourishing Pathogens

When you have damp in your home, it means excess moisture has been accumulated. Guess what it is best for enabling pathogens and all kinds of germs to flourish and reproduce in higher numbers. Besides viruses and bacteria, other microorganisms like fungi and algae also proliferate in a moist environment. These microorganisms, being pathogenic, bring forth health disorders of various types. They release harmful chemicals in the air that pollute the indoor atmosphere or act as allergens causing mild to severe irritations in different parts of the body. If dampness persists these irritations tend to become chronic in nature.

2. Humid conditions make transmission faster

If multiplying by leaps and bounds was not enough, the transmission of viruses and bacteria and other microbes is facilitated in humid conditions. When you present them a humid indoor environment, they tend to spread exponentially.

Look at what’s happening in the current pandemic situation! Earlier it was said that COVID-19 can flourish only in cold climates. But more recent evidence shows that it can be transmitted in all areas including hot and humid places1. Actually, virus thrives inside the human body the normal temperature of which is 36.5-degree to 37-degree Celsius. This is regardless of the external temperature and weather conditions. So, apart from maintaining basic hygiene, it is advisable to keep your house as damp-free as possible to restrict the transmission of viruses.

3. Flourishing dust mites

Dust mites are popular in households where the temperature is considerably high and the moisture level is also in excess. They are the catalyst to give rise to allergy, stuffy nose, respiratory problems and asthma. So, if you have experienced stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and breathing problem then you might want to look into the condition of your house. These symptoms can further give birth to health problems that will cost you in the long run. It is better to invest some money in your house now or at least take suitable care.

4. Welcoming pests

Well, mosquitoes and flies infested every part of the house, spiders spinning cobwebs in every corner, the occasional screeching of mice or musk-rats- is this how you picture your home? Damp build-up welcomes all these pests and other unwanted ones too. They have a directly proportionate relationship with damp which means the greater the damp in the house, the more is the number of pests. Now would you want to live in a house with humans or disgusting pets? If the former option is your choice then get rid of this unhealthy living condition immediately. It affects your immune system, breathing pattern and slowly destroys your health.

5. Cold climate

Several types of research have shown that a cold indoor climate is the result of dampness in those regions where it is not naturally cold outside. Unmaintained house, damaged roofs and walls are the common causes but it could also be because of the lack of proper ventilation. Humans can stay overall healthy if the environment in which he or she is living is dry with optimum moisture content in the air. If the house becomes a place where it is difficult to breathe then it is obvious that the environment isn’t right.

Cold indoor atmosphere adversely affects respiratory health. A significant number of people in the world suffer from asthma2 which is often linked with damp indoors. Chronic coughing, wheezing, breathing difficulty are the health problems which lead a person towards asthma. And asthma could be life-threatening. It just gets worse if not treated in the right way with the right amount of attention.

Other diseases that are common in the inmates of damp houses are:

Allergic Rhinitis: Characterized by frequent sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, itchy eyes, and post-nasal drip, allergic rhinitis is an inflammatory condition of the mucus membrane inside the nose. It is caused by viruses, bacteria, and allergens. Some of the external triggers of allergic rhinitis include humidity3 chemicals, and air pollution (indoor or outdoor) etc.

Skin diseases: Most of the skin infections are caused by fungus. Fungal spores are the causal agent of these diseases. To understand more, click here4.

Migraine: One of the most common triggers of migraine is the weather. Whenever there is high (or low) humidity, there is a change in the oxygen levels in the air. The air becomes saturated with moisture in high humidity conditions reducing oxygen levels significantly. As a result, it becomes difficult for the brain of the people with migraine to receive the right amount of oxygen to function properly. Result? – Unusual expansion or contraction of the blood vessels to compensate for the lack of oxygen, exerting tremendous pressure on the nerve fibres. Therefore, indoor humidity too may trigger a migraine5 headache.

Depression: Dampness and growth of fungus in poorly ventilated homes have been long associated with depression6. One should be careful about it before it takes the turn of clinical depression.

To make your life a little easy, here are some common signs of damp to watch out:

  • Damp patches – A patch is a sign of damp commonly seen on the ceiling, walls, behind the WC in the bathroom etc. Damp patches on walls are generally the result of penetration7, where water from outside gets into the brickwork through gaps and cracks.
  • Musty damp smell – The first and the foremost thing about damps are they are musty and smell bad. The freshness of a room gets evaporated with damp walls. So, always keep an eye on this.
  • Peeling and flaky paint – The most common thingin a house that has been ignored. Once you start noticing this, get a professional inspection done and get it fixed.
  • Cold in-house atmosphere – Do you wonder why your house feels cold be it summer or winter? Well, it’s the damp dude!
  • Discoloured walls – Discoloration is characterized by localized darkening of the original color of walls.

You can read this article for a better understanding of the same.

You should take proactive steps to reduce indoor air pollution because if you want to live a healthy life, your home is where you should start. Our environment plays a major role in our mental and physical well-being. So when it’s damp and dirty, it is not only creating a negative space you are living in but also and most importantly it is affecting your health in a way you might not anticipate. In such cases, it is sooner the better. Go for a professional damp inspection which will help in detecting the source of dampness with help of thermal imaging technology and take decisive action to eliminate damp from your house at the earliest.

Understand the problems due to incorrect slope in wet areas of your home

Whenever you need to drain the water off your floors, whether it is your bathroom floor or any other wet area of your home,the proper slope at flooring helps to run the water off efficiently. Incorrect floor slope can cause water to run in the wrong direction, instead of gently sloping towards the drain.

Now a question would arise in your mind – ‘What is Slope?

The Slope of a surface means the surface of which one end or side is at a higher level than another, a rising or falling surface.

When you install tile in wet areas, do you ensure that everything slopes to the drain? If not, let us understand its importance through this content.

Firstly, let us know the areas of home/ office where slope plays a significant role.

Slope requirement in your home or office

There are floor surfaces in an apartment or home that require slope. Each surface given below needs a different slope:

  • Bathrooms
  • Balconies
  • Kitchen
  • Terrace
  • Drains & Plumbing lines

Apart from floor surfaces, window sill and chajja also have a slope requirement. But we would be focusing on the slope at flooring. Slope requirement also depends on two factors, click here1 to know more.

Generally, there can be two cases of incorrect slope i.e slope in improper direction and inadequate or insufficient slope.

Let us discuss what problems can occur due to inadequate slope or slope in improper direction at flooring.

Problems due to inadequate/improper Slope

Due to incorrect slope, floor water will not drain easily through floor drain outlet and will lead to formation of water pocket or accumulation at a corner.

If it is not rectified in time, it can lead to following problems or issues:

  • Damp / seepage related issues in the adjacent wall or floor surface
  • Fungus issue on floor surfaces
  • Strength of Flooring & wall surface will get decreased
  • Unhealthy living conditions in the house
  • Safety hazard

Solution for this issue: We recommend review and if required, floor tiles to be relaid maintaining proper slope towards floor drain outlet and adequate strengthening with requisite type of sealant at floor and wall tile junction.

Ensuring that a proper slope is provided around the drain for water to flow out easily is very important. Good drainage in wet areas like shower area in the bathroom is a key to preventing problems related to damp/moisture, so read content related to recommended slope2 for it by Home guides.

You can also read content on How to slope a floor for drain3.

Lastly, we would like to conclude, Flooring with proper slope is ideal for bathroom floors, balconies terraces etc; floors on which water flows on frequently. You don’t need it much for areas like your living room, drawing room, or any other room that stays dry. The main objective of sloping is to protect the property from damage that is associated with incorrect slope.

We hope this content will be useful in creating awareness about the problems that may arise due to incorrect slope at flooring in wet area.

How to care for your homes in this monsoon

It is almost the middle of the year and after the exhausting summer, it is time when fresh splatter of rain will touch and drench Mother Earth. Nature will bloom again with freshness and greenery. Amid all gloom, there will be some fragrance of hope again. But as we know, advantages come with a lot of unwelcome disadvantages; similarly, the soothing season of monsoon comes with some real problems.

The picture of monsoon is generally associated with black clouds, roads flooded with water, thunder and strong winds. But have you ever wondered what damage it can do to your home? We all spend a lot of money turning the bricks and pillars into our dream home. Rain may cause problems like seepage and dampness in it. The risk increases if the building is an old one. So, what can we do to avoid this? Here’s a list of measures which will ensure that your home keeps smiling even in the strong monsoons.

Prevention is better than cure. Doing something after an incident happens is not what the wise men & women do. It is always better to adopt some preventive measures before the monsoon arrives and damages your house or any other property e.g., office. It is advisable that you check your entire house before the arrival of the monsoon, but even if you are late do not skip. Go ahead and check the house for any issues that may turn problematic, when it is still drizzling and pouring less frequently. Pay special attention to the external walls. Take care of the terrace and the roof. Check if the waterproofing1 is in good condition. Inspect the outlets and the drains. If you find any damage or blockage, repair and clean it in earnest.

Here are seepage-prone areas of a house that can get worse during the monsoon. Check the condition of these areas in your home too and brace up for the long rainy season.

Choosing paint of your house

Choosing a waterproof paint for both the interior and exterior of your house is really important. Primer/sealer should be used along with the paint for better protection. Sealers don’t allow external moisture to enter the walls and enable them to stay strong for a longer period. Here’s2 how a sealer helps to protect your walls.

It is also important to choose a paint that is durable enough and can withstand water for years. Some paints have the tendency to get washed off. So, opt for water-resistant paint3 varieties. If your house has not been painted for years, get it painted once with waterproof, good paint before the monsoon. These days, special exterior waterproof sealants4 are also available. But you don’t always need them unless there is a requirement for some extra caulking.

Checking the Drainage

Ancient civilizations paid special attention to the drainage system of their houses. A good drainage system does not allow excess water to accumulate in the house. Any blockage in the drainage system of your house should be ideally checked at the start of the monsoon, otherwise, it will invariably lead to seepage and damp. You cannot afford that to happen to your house and increase the health risk for your family. Check for any leakage in the pipes and water outlets. Take the help of professionals if needed because not all fractures and leaks will be visible to the naked eyes.

Look out for cracks in the wall

Cracks in the walls of your house may appear due to many reasons. While some are superficial and only paint-deep, most cracks tend to make the walls weak from within by causing seepage. Also, ensure that your ceiling is in good condition and it has no cracks. Rainwater often seeps through these cracks. Do you remember noticing a watery patch up there during last year’s monsoon? Then, better check the place closely once again because a temporary dry surface does not mean that everything is alright with the ceiling.

Choice of Doors and Windows

Try to avoid wooden doors or windows as they have a tendency to swell up during the monsoons due to increased moisture in the atmosphere. If you are having metal door, grease it properly with oil and lubricants used and specially designed for door hinges. Metal (read iron) frames rust easily in moisture. So, opt for stainless steel or aluminium frames. Also, repair the small things like gaps between the door/window panes and the frame, gap around the exterior door and window frames, knobs, etc in order to prevent moisture intrusion in your home.

Ventilation of your house

A home should not be congested. It should have proper ventilation to ensure fresh air to enter the household and allow the entry of sunlight. A suffocating home leads to several diseases. If you don’t have proper ventilation in each room of your house, ensure that now. Whenever the humidity in air increases during the rainy season, your home accumulates moisture too. A humid environment is best for the growth of disease spreading germs and bacteria. The poisonous fungus also grows in a humid climate. Therefore it is necessary to properly ventilate one’s house.

Interior is not just about decoration

We all love to decorate our interiors. In fact, we invest handsome amounts to make our interior attractive. During the rainy season, try to avoid heavy curtains to protect your interiors. The heavy curtain doesn’t allow sunlight to enter the house and as a result, your home may become excessively humid. A sudden increase in humidity causes damage to wooden furniture and walls. Ensure your home interiors stay safe. Allow sunlight to get into the house in every possible way.

Checking the Electrical Connections

Check throughout the house for any disturbance in the electrical connection. Any damage in the wire and connections may lead to accidents. Make sure your house is shock-free to avoid such accidents.

Every house, old or new, can have damp areas that can get worse during heavy rains. Are you sure your home doesn’t have one such place?

Home is not just interior but exterior too

Many of us love gardening. Planting small plants and trees around the house enhances the beauty of your house. All plants don’t have the same water requirements. Most of the plants wither because their roots die in excessive water. Keep these plants under a shade during the monsoon season.

The pathways outside your house may get unwelcome guests. Algae and mosses grow on pathways and make it slippery. Clean the pathways with chlorine or any acid solution to avoid accidents. Also, do a chlorine treatment of swimming pools as dirty rainwater enters the pool during monsoon.

Protecting your clothes

Always wear properly washed and dried clothes in monsoon season. If you are using a wooden wardrobe, place some naphthalene balls or neem leaves between your clothes to avoid the growth of germs, odour and moisture. What else? Don’t dry your washed clothes inside the house. Also, see to it that they don’t absorb rainwater. How do you do that! Semi-dry your clothes in the dryer of your washing machine and hang them outside when the sun is out. Sounds too much of an extra bit of work? Well, monsoon calls for some extra care and you better give it to your home and wardrobe.

A sustainable tip before the final wrap-up

Monsoon has already hit the cities. One of the best ways to avoid water logging in the terrace of your house is by rainwater harvesting. Rainwater harvest is basically storing the rainwater for reuse. You can use it for several purposes like watering your plant. One of the best and easiest ways to practise rainwater harvesting at home is by keeping a huge drum on the terrace to store the water. But ensure the drum doesn’t turn into a curse! Mosquitoes breed in uncovered, stagnant water. So, cover the drum with a good lid and keep a small opening to let the rain enter the drum.

Another healthy tip for monsoon season is to try to avoid big and heavy carpets for the floor as they attract moisture.

As the American author of fantasy and science fiction, Beth Revis writes, “Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.” To enjoy this bliss, you must take good care of your beloved home, in the first place, to make it strong enough to withstand the wrath of a storm or heavy downpour. We have already shared a detailed checklist for monsoon but our objective of this content was to tell you the ways to take care of your home in this season. Cracks and leakage, invisible seepage and damp can do more harm to this peaceful nest of yours than you can ever imagine. You think of ignoring a small crack in the wall or terrace and decide to repair it after the monsoon is over and it becomes unthinkably problematic in a fortnight.

We hope this content will keep your home healthy and happy and you too. Happy Monsoon!

Tips to keep Employees safe from Coronavirus at Workplace

As states and cities begin to lift lockdown restrictions on stay-at-home orders, the time has come to resume work but very cautiously. The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has created many new challenges, especially for businesses looking to re-open and which are already open. With COVID-19 global numbers crossing the mark of 7 million1, and India with more than 2.7 lakh positive cases; the uproar and fear for this illness are hardly going to rest soon. One thing which needs to be realized is that we have to learn to live with this disease.

It is vital for companies to implement new strategies and safety precautions. Employers must take suitable precautions to re-open their business to create a safe, protected work area for employees, customers and others. So, we thought to provide you some tips that will ensure the safety of employees from the virus in office spaces:

1. Discourage Biometric Sensor usage

The biometric sensors are touched at the entrances of most office by all. Due to this, it becomes a transmissible spot for the spread of any kind of virus and bacteria. Offices should adopt the practice of attendance through manual way for some time till the virus spread settles.

2. Open Conversation about the virus

The general discussion for COVID-19 should be done without any hesitation between an employer and the employees. As a responsible employer, there can be posters displaying tips or measures at commonly used places for employees to read and follow. For example – tips for properly washing hands, awareness tips about preventive measures for coronavirus, etc.

3. Avoid Events / Conferences for some time

The events and conferences are kinds of networking opportunities for people to meet. To promote safety for your employees and organization, the best you can do is make them avoid crowded places. So postpone or avoid events and conferences for some time. Of course this would put a strain on many businesses, for this there is a better option of making use of technologies like video conferencing / virtual meetings.

4. Routine Cleaning & Sanitizing of commonly touched areas

There are areas like washrooms, conference rooms, kitchen, canteen that are used by entire office staff at some or the other point of time. These commonly used areas need proper cleaning, sanitization and disinfection. In the present situation, when offices are reopening, it is important to have office cleaning and sanitized2. After getting sanitized with proper stepwise process by professionals3, follow routine cleaning & sanitization of office as suggested by them.

Apart from this, placement of sanitizers, soaps, and hand-washing gels(touch-less) is also a must requisite for the office spaces. This will make the office a safe place for interaction and maintain work feasibility.

5. Create awareness about boosting Immunity

The only thing that we can do to fight against Coronavirus is to strengthen our immunity at this time as vaccines are not yet available. Hence it is important to boost immunity. If possible,create awareness among employees regarding this. They should try to pack their food from home because getting food delivered from outside in the office may increase the risk of contamination. They can also carry foods rich in Vitamin C like oranges and amla, drink ginger tea, herbal tea and warm water to keep oneself warm and eat healthy and hygienically prepared food when in office. To more about how to boost immunity, you can read and share the content by Narayana health4.

6. Social Distancing in the Office

Keeping more distance between people has proven to be a key in controlling the transmission of COVID-19. With social distancing becoming the new normal, the layout of offices may be changed. Larger spaces with fewer people, and the approach of the “six-feet office5” are all starting to make their way into post-COVID-19 office designs around the world. And those who cannot change the layout of office at this time, can create a schedule of the alternate day coming to office and work from home for employees. This will help in maintaining social distancing.

7. Avoid fake information spreading

Being responsible management, in times of crisis like these, the spread of fake and unverified information will only cause more panic and chaos. Educating employees on checking the credibility of the information derived will help promote a calm office culture.

Conclusion

There is a saying ‘Prevention is better than cure’. These are general tips for keeping employees safe from Coronavirus at the workplace. But there are other aspects which should be followed to protect against Coronavirus at the workplace, so one can also refer to Do’s and Don’ts for Office work6 during the pandemic.

Our objective is to create awareness about the safety of employees and its importance during this present pandemic situation with the help of this content. This can be useful for both employers and employees.

Why Inspection in Schools is a Must?

Learning from tragedy

Remember the massive blaze that broke out at a coaching centre in Surat one year ago? The incident1 claimed lives of nearly 20 students. Disturbing visuals that went viral across the internet showed some students jumping off the multi-storey building of the institute in a desperate attempt to escape the fire. Investigations that followed revealed that the building lacked the statutory permission including those related to fire safety.

“There was no escape route available for the students who got trapped on the top floors,” said a fire official. Neither any safety equipment was reportedly installed in the building.

This was not a one-off incident. An audit of the Kota fire safety department2 that was conducted soon after the Surat tragedy found that as many as 90% of buildings of coaching institutes and hostels across the city, barring a few big ones, did not have adequate fire safety arrangements. Fire incidents were not uncommon in these hostels.

Now, imagine what would be the consequences of such incidents if they happened in a school. The sheer thought of it sends chills down the spine – isn’t it? With small children all around, the schools are supposed to be the safest place on earth.

Therefore it is an appropriate time to place more importance on the health & safety issue of educational institutes of our country and make inspection a compulsory and regular affair in schools.

Key Inspection-worthy Areas in a School

From school gate to the classrooms, from staircase to the bathrooms – each and every accessible area in a school needs to be inspected at regular intervals.

1. Main gate
The most important part of an educational building – the gate is a symbol of many things, many emotions. It is the entryway to the world of knowledge and character-building. From the security point of view, it is the gate that restricts the access to unauthorized individuals and helps maintain internal discipline. Therefore, it must be strong enough and conform to the guidelines set by the National School Safety Council for prevention of any external and internal threat.

Inspection in a school checks for the following aspects of the main gate:

  • The material it is made of and hence, the strength to withstand environmental challenges
  • The strength to safeguard the school children and staff against any undesired mob
  • The locking system and if that is child-proof
  • The hinges and the wheels (if any)

2. Staircases
The steps should not be too steep but wide enough to enable students to stand properly when in a queue. The handrails should be strong and continuous, with rounded edges. The railings of the staircase should not be too widely spaced as small children may weld their heads between them by mistake and get stuck or fall off accidentally through them while running up and down.

3. Walls – Interior & Exterior
“A school is a building that has four walls… with tomorrow inside.” – So, you know how important it is to have walls that are strong, clean, and hygienic?

A school authority must be careful about maintaining them right from the completion of construction. The exterior paint must have weather coat to withstand environmental stresses. The interior wall paint should ideally be dust-resistant and environmental friendly. Any crack on the wall must come under the scanner because you never know if it is a normal one that has happened due to settling of the structure on the foundation or something to worry about. There are many causes behind cracks and only trained professionals can identify them and suggest action. Whatever be the reason, cracks, if left unattended, may lead to seepage in the long term or accumulation of dirt and microorganisms.

Another sign of bad health of walls is the presence of watermarks or damp on it. Flaky paint is also a common symptom. Again, there can be multiple reasons behind damp. Only a professional inspection service can pinpoint the exact reason. School authorities must look into that reason and act on it with a sense of urgency.

Dampness makes wall structure weak from within and triggers growth of microorganisms thereby leading to the deterioration of internal air quality. Damp leads to unhealthy conditions and threats of disease.

4. Ceilings
The condition of the ceiling in every floor in a school building is as important as the walls. On rare occasion, it may sag due to panels loosening or pulling away of the plaster coats. There can be other structural problems like overloading of a ceiling joint. Or, it could be something more common such as a leak which is causing fast deterioration. Any problem in the ceiling if not addressed in time may lead to a major accident. Plus, damp has its own bad effects on health too. So, inspection must be carried out occasionally, especially before & after monsoon, to check for any issues that may later become a cause of concern.

Roof, though not kept accessible for the students, must also be checked during inspection for any cracks, waterproofing related problem, etc.

5. Floor
Floor, apparently a safe part of a building, can become a major cause of accident in school. The authority must remain careful about its slipperiness. It should be mopped and cleaned daily. Also, the right level of friction must be maintained to do away with any slips, trips, and falls. Hollow or broken tiles if any should be located and repaired or replaced depending upon the defect.

6. Doors and Windows
Strong, well-fitted doors and windows are a bare minimum thing in a school building. They must open and close properly, make no unusual noise, and should not let in rainwater or wind (windows) when closed due to sealant deterioration or improper installation. Locking system of the doors should be differently chosen. On classroom doors, the latches should be at a particular height, beyond the reach of the small children. In case of bathrooms, the doors must have an easy locking system so that no student can accidentally lock himself/ herself up.

7. Plumbing
The five major parts of a school’s plumbing are: Water Storage, Water Supply, Fixtures (in bathrooms, pantry, drinking water bay, canteen, etc.), Sewage, and Septic System. All these five parts should be maintained properly. Even the minutest of leakage or clog can lead to a major disruption. But the challenge with plumbing maintenance is most of the problems arise in places that are out of sight – under the floor, behind the walls, below the tank, etc. So, they are difficult to detect until they start to manifest somewhere else. Only trained inspectors who are equipped with advanced technology tools can track them and suggest the right solution.

8. Overall electrical safety
The electrical system of a school can be compared to the body’s nervous system with the panel box acting as the brain and power lines acting as nerves branching out from it and running throughout the building. There are other parts as well such as fuses or circuit breakers, switches, regulators, and so on. A problem in any part of this extensive system can either lead to a major power failure or a fire incident. Possibilities of shocks can also not be ruled out. So, it is crucial to keep the entire electrical system under check and in proper condition 24X7.

9. Fire safety
Although not a structural issue, an inspection service in school would cover this as it is integral to the safety of the school children and staff. The important fire safety measures that should be taken by the school are:

  • Adequate number of fire extinguishers installed at strategic areas
  • More than one emergency exits
  • Map evacuation routes
  • Access to alarms
  • Access to the terrace or balcony at the time of a fire outbreak
  • Regular practising of fire drills

10. Other structures and passages
A school building has other areas and different supporting structures such as shades, columns, and stage, etc. Small passages are also there to facilitate easy movement and connectivity. All these structures and passages must be checked at regular intervals for any cracks, damp, and other related damage issues and repaired immediately.

School maintenance is an organizational activity that is carried out by the authority. To make it more effective, property inspection must be made a regular programme. It will not only enhance the health, safety and security of the premises but will also improve the overall delivery of education to a significant extent.

5 Ways To Make your Home Shock Proof For Kids

In present day to day lives, we are all surrounded by electrical products and spend our entire day around it. Whether it is lights, cables, wires or switchboards or power outlets, extension cables, phone chargers or any other electrical appliance, everything is related to electricity in a way. Electrical appliances are now a necessity to use. But, when you live in a house with kids, you need to be more cautious about the surroundings. You need to manage the electrical appliances in such a way that it does not come within the reach of kids. Because even a second of negligence can result in serious consequences. So, it’s better to be extra vigilant when it is about safety of kids at home.

When we talk about child proofing a home, the first thing that our mind visualizes is a kid inserting his finger in an electrical socket. Doesn’t it? This is one of most vulnerable zone for kids. As we all know, electric current moves at an alarming pace and any direct contact can result in anything from minor distress to disabling the person, and causing death as well. Thus, a home needs to be shockproof for kids. So in this blog, we will be giving you a few tips to make your home shockproof for kids:

1. Use of sockets with safety shutter/ guard

Kids and babies are somehow extremely interested in electrical sockets, and they tend to put their finger, keys or any other object in them. And you know how fatal that can be. So, the best way to prevent shock through electrical sockets is to install sockets with safety shutter1/ guard inside.

2. Make Use of Socket Safety cover

More often than not, kids try to imitate their parents and put plugs in sockets which can be dangerous. To avoid this, make use of socket safety cover2 which will restrict babies from putting finger directly into electrical sockets or inserting any other object in the socket which may cause electrocution.

3. Use ISI marked wires in your electrical system

Non ISI marked wires are less fire resistant and have tendency to melt with high loads. They also do not have good insulation. Non ISI marked wires will have less longevity, are less safer/ eco-friendly as compared to ISI marked wires. So, it is better to have ISI marked wires which will be a step towards safer home and also would be better in longer run. This practice is not specifically to be done only for childproofing but it is useful for safety of everyone.

4. Install plugs and switches properly

If possible, fix switches and plugs at a certain height, out of reach of children.

For switchboards which can or may come in reach of kids in bathroom and balcony area, Splash guard can be installed over the switch board. Splashguard is a cover for switch/ socket board from splashing of water in wet areas.

5. Check other Electronic devices

Kids are more likely to climb over television sets, get interested due to their colours and visuals. So, parents need to make sure that their television sets are secured properly to the wall and better to be mounted at certain height away from their reach.

In bathrooms, appliances like electric trimmers and water heaters should be used cautiously. Since water is an excellent conductor of electricity, care should be taken while using small appliances near sinks. We must not leave these gadgets unattended with kids. All the light fittings and electrical outlets must be appropriately away from the shower area. In kitchen as well, appliances like microwave, OTG, toasters, etc, must be unplugged after use, so that kids might not turn them on accidentally.

Conclusion

You cannot bind the children in any particular space, but you can certainly create a safe zone for them by installing proper electrical devices/ components at your home. Ideally, all the wires should be away from children’s reach, and all kinds of old, cracked or tattered cords & damaged electrical outlets must be avoided. Hopefully above tips help you to make your home safe for kids.

Apart from shock proofing your home for kids, the best all-round protection from electric shock for any home is a well-planned installation of electrical system, consisting of high-quality ISI marked Wires and Cables, Miniature Circuit Breaker (MCB), Safety Device and Residual Current Circuit Breaker (RCCB). To know more regarding Electrical safety at home, you can read our blog.

And, If you require your electrical system to be checked/ inspected, you can visit our service page.

Why Home Inspection Cannot be Guaranteed?

Your kid falls sick (stomach-ache and fever). You take her to the doctor. The doctor prescribes medicines and assures her speedy recovery and staying fit in the forthcoming days only if certain do’s and don’ts are followed to the tee. You come back home hoping that your kid will be fine and she does recover in an expected manner. But some days later, she again falls sick and you discover it was all because of her unhygienic practice of eating lunch without washing her hands, particularly in school. So, the point is, do you get angry at your doctor that she couldn’t guarantee a disease-free, painless future for your child? No. Right? The same thing applies to a service as evidence-based as home inspection.

The team of professionals visiting your home will check each & every corner of it. Based on the current condition of the property and their understanding of the subject will provide you with a detailed report. It may be so they find your home having little or no issues at all. The report may not indicate at any immediate danger also. But will that guarantee a problem-free future for your home? The answer is ‘No’. You may still have problems arising in your home in coming future. That will not make the inspection you had recently any less effective or a failed one.

Following are the reasons why a property inspection is not guaranteed:

1. Natural calamities

Who on earth can predict an earthquake? Scientists all around the world are putting their best efforts into developing a system that can forecast an earthquake, but they are yet to build one. Imagine such a destructive phenomenon hitting your city soon after you have done an inspection of your home. You will be lucky if your home manages to stand upright, unaffected from the tremor but can you really guarantee for its zero damage? Cracks on the wall near the foundation are common in buildings where Richter scale readings are higher during an earthquake. And these can never be predicted in a home inspection.

Leave earthquake, even a ravaging storm can lash your town causing damages of small to big magnitude. Your glass windows can break; a big tree standing right next to your house can get uprooted and crash on your boundary wall causing it to come down; your balcony shade can blow away, and so on and so forth. Worse? After a heavy shower, the exterior paint1 of your house can become dull!

You cannot expect your home inspection report to predict all these things ever. The precaution it can suggest you is to repair an old part of the building or to replace a weak part with a strong one. You follow them and leave the rest of it to Nature God.

2. A Sudden renovation

Human taste gets upgraded with time. Trends tend to influence it in a big way. And what is a better place than one’s own home to manifest it! Yes, you got it right. We are talking about home renovation which is totally need-based (or home remodelling preference-based). In both the cases, you bring about major changes in your home and while doing so you may go wrong with some parts or processes. For example, you decide to replace the old tiles of your home with new, trendy ones. As your tile installer pulls the old tiles out, the waterproofing layer gets damaged accidentally.

Or, say, you gift yourself a new home theatre system for which you need to do an elaborate wall-mounting job. If something goes wrong during installation the concealed electrical wiring system of your house can get damaged. The same thing can happen during the installation of new bathroom fittings; there, you even run the risk of damaging your water pipeline. Result? – Seepage in the wall.

3. Repair work in the upper floor or adjacent flat

You get your flat inspected. And it passes the inspection with flying colours. The technicians do not indicate at any major problem looming large on your property. You are happy that your dream abode is healthy and then, all of a sudden, you start hearing a heavy sound with that intermittent shrill noise of drilling machine. To your utter surprise, you come to know that your upper floor neighbour has undertaken a renovation job! What do you? Nothing! – Because it is their flat and you really do not have any say in how they plan its repairs. But does that repair work affects your unit? Yes, it may. Any elaborate flooring repair can give rise to seepage like problems (that never existed before) in the ceiling of the lower floor.

The chance of such problematic, unexpected guests invading your home increases if the repair jobs are carried out in your adjacent flat. An unskillful drilling or plumbing repair there can make your home susceptible to cracks and seepage also. No home inspection service can warn you about such problems from before. The best way to avoid damage in these cases is going to your neighbour and requesting them to be careful about their repairing process.

4. Real-time basis and Lack of maintenance

Inspection is essentially a real-time procedure. A property is inspected at a given time under a given weather condition. This can vary after a certain time as the weather changes. Accordingly, observations made may also get changed.

One more important factor is maintenance. If you do not maintain your home properly or do not do the repair jobs as suggested by your inspection report it will not last long. Thereafter, problems will arise with every passing day, wrong usage, varying time and changing weather conditions.

5. Security breach

A professional home inspection checks for basic security issues in a home but to what level your property needs security depends on the premises and the locality where you live. For some houses, having a strong main door with an eyehole and proper locking system may be enough. For other properties, even having a CCTV at the main entrance may not be adequate. There might be a need for multiple CCTVs in every floor and sensors attached to the doors.

Times are changing. So, you better take top-level measures for your home because an inspection can never guarantee you zero breach of security.

Home inspection is a non-invasive and visual process. The professionals report what they see and what they understand from the current condition of the areas and elements. Moreover, the scope of the study is so big and they have to take so many factors – internal as well as external, into account and as well as it is real time based. Hence it is not possible to guarantee the soundness of everything over a long term. So, does that make inspection any less necessary? Well, yes, if you think seeing a doctor for the same disease within a short interval is illogical! Look at the bigger picture and you know why inspection is the best thing you can do for your home. For more information, write to info@macj.in.

Hygiene Caution: Check Before You Eat Outside

Who doesn’t love the aroma of freshly fried samosas on a rain-soaked afternoon? Don’t you just look forward to dining out on your special days? And what about the takeaway that you frequent on weekdays while returning home from work? Saves you the hassle of cooking, right? To be very frank, we are a generation which depends a lot on foods bought from outside. But are we aware of the health hazards that we are inviting to our life? Do we follow all the basic healthy rules while eating out?

Let’s get a reality check.

  • Who washes hands outside?
  • How clean is the eating place?
  • How is the food?
  • Do we get to know how many times the same cooking oil has been used for frying?
  • What is the source of water?

Do we care to do and/or check these things while buying food from outside? If ‘yes’ then how often? And if your answer is a scary ‘No’ then here is a list of cautions that you must pay attention to:

Wash your hands before eating food outside

Most of us don’t, do we? When is the last time you washed hands before putting that paanipuri or phuchkas inside your mouth? Did you go to the restaurant washroom and washed your hands before plunging into the Biriyani? Well, we rarely forget to take a snap of the food and post it immediately on Instagram, but the same doesn’t stand true for a simple and most basic healthy habit – washing your hand.

Do wash your hands thoroughly or use an alcohol-based hand rub to sanitize your hands before eating. When you eat washing your hands1, the bacteria and germs that are left on your fingers and palms can be transferred to the inside of your mouth. This can cause illnesses and infections. When you put your hands on those surfaces, the virus gets transmitted to your body and enters the respiratory tract causing mild to severe illness.

Check the cleanliness of the eating place

When hunger gets the better of you, you do not really care where the outlet you are buying the chaat or phuchka from is situated. Roadside shops are often located just beside big uncovered bins. On a rainy day you will even find the fast food outlets’ floors all muddy and stained. These are never the places that we should collect our foods from. But then again, what if the front is neat and clean and behind the kitchen door, it’s nothing short of hell? Do your brief research and then only gorge on the plate. After all, it’s your health that will be at stake.

Check what you are eating?

Tasty and delicious of course! – But what about its quality? Most of the restaurants heat and reheat a pre-prepared food and serve it to you as you place your order. It is true that heating kills a lot of germs but consecutive heating and cooling and reheating make the matter worse. Be it a fast food outlet or a posh restaurant, reheating is the major cooking process. Ever thought how many pathogenic germs are making an entry into your guts day in and day out?

Is there a way to avoid such food and still deal with your hunger pangs when you are outside?

Well, just be cautious about what you are ordering. Occasional binging on rolls, phuchkas, ghugnis, and chaats is okay but ideally, you should always try to hop by a cafe or restaurant that has proper kitchen setup and order for food like fresh salads and sandwiches with your choice of veggies and cheese. They are, by far, the safest fast food items to eat. You can also try grilled delicacies as they do not require reheating or oil to prepare.

Be careful about the source of water?

Even if we overlook the hazardous substances present in food and have our fingers crossed thinking that cooking kills pathogens, the problem does not end there. What about the water served to you? Where from did it come? If it is not from a sealed bottle, can you vouch for its purity? You can’t. So, carry your own bottle if you are not dining at a proper restaurant that is expected to have a water purifier installed in its kitchen.

Now you may ask that it has been so long that you are having food from outside and you do not experience any distress. Really? Don’t you? Let us correct you and say that you do, but you are not aware of it.

Health hazards and diseases caused by unhealthy eating habits

  • Obesity: Outside food, be it the street food or restaurant-bought or simple fast foods, are always high in carbohydrates and Trans fats. The starchy, complex carbohydrates make you gain weight while fat gets concentrated in the belly and hip regions. A silent killer, this obesity, will grow slowly but steadily and one fine morning, you find your dresses aren’t fitting you anymore. This particular disease makes way for other disorders like cardiac problems, diabetes and so on.
  • Hypertension: With the high-energy density as contributed by the high amount of sugar and fat present in junk food, blood pressure rises and hypertension sets in. Type II diabetes also sets in.
  • Undefined diarrhoea: The unhygienic procedure and surroundings the food is prepared in gives rise to bacteria and protozoa in the food, which, when consumed, can lead to stomach upset and diarrhoeal disorder in human body.
  • Food poisoning: With all the toxic substances in the food present, poisoning “to bantahai”. Manifested in the form of vomiting, nausea, weakness, loose motion, headache – food poisoning is quite common when you are a regular buyer and consumer of food from outside.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. These diseases might be communicable or non-communicable. Heightened levels of cholesterol in blood, increased amount of glucose, and cardiovascular risk are a few of the long list of diseases that will eventually spread inside you.

Does that mean you should stop eating food from outside? Well, certainly not. See to it if you can control the urge of eating food outside. Besides, take the following measures:

A Quick Recap

  • Wash your hand or carry a sanitizer with you whenever you have plans of consuming outside food (irrespective of the food)
  • Only choose shops and outlets with neat and clean surroundings
  • Check if the food feels cold inside and hot outside. This indicates incomplete heating. Ask for thorough heating. It’s better to have it late than unhealthy.
  • Make sure you order sealed bottle of mineral water when eating outside. Even better, always carry sufficient water with you.
  • It is not really possible to give a visit to the kitchen from where your food is coming out prepared. A lot of outlets offer the opportunity of experiencing live kitchen. It will be wise to choose them.
  • Why not bring yourself up to cooking and prepare little something (at least every alternate day) for yourself instead of relying on outside foods everyday? – Saves you money and makes you learn a skill!

Apart from this, If you are fond of eating street food then you can also read some tips for eating street food in India2 and avoid sickness.

Here’s a pro-tip on how to keep your home kitchen clean and germ-free.

Washing hands time and again and whenever handling food items is certainly one way to prevent its contamination. Consume thoroughly cooked food which has been heated at high temperature for at least 30 minutes or more.

Eat healthy and stay healthy keeping contamination at bay. Outside foods have their own taste and flavour which may be homemade food cannot match. Just be a little on the safe side and choose wisely before satisfying your tummy with junk food.