How To Have A Safe Virtual Thanksgiving During The Pandemic | 12 Tips

This is the seventh blog in a series on Stay Safe During The Pandemic.

Thanksgiving is coming. It is Monday, Oct. 12, 2020 in Canada and the third Thursday in November in the USA. With the second wave of the pandemic in full swing, at least in my area, it may very well turn out to be a virtual celebration. Here are twelve tips on how to plan a safe virtual Thanksgiving celebration.

how to have a safe virtual thanksgiving

October 7, 2020 by Deborah Esplin

In my area, outside and inside gatherings have now been banned. We are in the full impact of the second wave. However, when I started the research for this blog post, it was still possible to have a small outdoor gathering.  Now, we know that Thanksgiving will be a virtual celebration in my area. Other parts of the country and the continent may still be able to have some kind of celebration in person, but not in my area.

The first Thanksgiving recorded in Canada was in 1578 when Martin Frobisher served a meal of tinned meat and mushy peas upon touching land in Newfoundland. In 1606 Samuel de Champlain held a large feast in November for the colonists so they could fatten up before the lean winter coming. It was a strategy to reduce starvation.

Harvest celebrations are common all around the world. In North America, the indigenous populations have had harvest celebrations. In the UK harvest celebrations are also common. It is said they were adopted from the celts.

In Canada, Thanksgiving became an official holiday in 1957. And it is standard in practice across the country and very similar to the American Thanksgiving. A typical Canadian Thanksgiving meal would include a turkey, often cooked with maple syrup, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, rice, corn, cranberry sauce, and some kind of pie.

Traditionally family and close friends that do not have family around gather for a long and large meal and spend a few hours eating and socializing. Thanksgiving is considered a very important holiday for families to gather together.

Therefore, not being able to have Thanksgiving with families celebrating in person is going to be a shock and disappointment for many people. But there are ways to do this without being physically present with each other.

How To Have A Virtual Thanksgiving

Here are 12 tips for you.

1. Start Planning Now

To avoid being depressed on the day about being alone and not celebrating, start planning now how you will connect and celebrate with family. With email, video chat, telephone and social media groups, there are lots of ways to get together and brainstorm about how to make holiday fun.

2. Get Creative About Ways To Get Together Virtually

Thanks to technology, we have many choices about how we can still celebrate together from our own homes. There are so many options for connecting through social media and video chat. I’m sure that each family has figured out the options they like best. Set a time and a date to connect over the weekend.

It could be just to have a conversation or play a game or people can set up their devices in the kitchen and cook together. We have many options now to connect while being physically distant.

3. Hold A Contest

It could be a house or garden decorating contest, a table decorating contest, a cooking, or a pie-making contest. It could be a craft contest with the kids. Then you can review the results, share them on social media if desired, and even give out awards.

4. Send Flowers To Family Members

Especially for older members in the family that may find it very hard to be alone for Thanksgiving, they might appreciate receiving flowers as a reminder that you are thinking of them and holding them in your hearts.

5. Send A Gift Basket

A gift basket is another possibility. Maybe someone in the family just had a baby or someone else is all alone. A gift basket can be a great gift to cheer people up.

Here are some options for gift baskets:

Gourmet Gift Baskets 15% off 

Chocolate Gift Baskets 15% off

Baby Gift Baskets 15% off

Anniversary Gift Baskets 15% off

Gourmet Chocolate Gift Basket

Bon Appetit Gift Basket

Movie Night Gift Basket

Spa Luxetique Vanilla Spa Gift Basket

6. Have A Cooking, Baking Competition

Decide on something that you will each make and then compare the result. Whether it is cooked turkeys, the stuffings, the pies, or side dishes that are made. Share recipes and have a good laugh. You can even have a competition to make each other’s recipes instead of your own favorites and see who likes which ones the best.

And if your family is close, you can drop off your result for tasting.

7. Stay Adaptable And Flexible

We are going to have to do things differently this year, but that does not mean that we can not celebrate. It also doesn’t mean that we can make this a fun and memorable holiday. It just means we need to be creative about how to make it fun and special.

Remind yourself that being flexible will make the holiday easier and make it more fun.

8. Adjust Your MindSet

Prepare yourself mentally for the fact that you may not be celebrating with your family in the same room. Accept that fact. We are living through a very unusual time and to come out of this pandemic with fewer deaths and less damage, we have to keep our distance from people that do not live in our household. None of us like this fact. None of us want to celebrate Thanksgiving alone or just with our immediate household, but, at least in my area, we do not have a choice this year. I would rather give up being with the extended family this year, to help keep us all safe.

Reframe the negative and figure out how to make it positive despite the downsides. Thanksgiving can still be fun and we can still celebrate. It will just be different. Not bad, just different.

9. Stay Positive

A positive mindset will help you find fun and creative ways to celebrate remotely. Keep reminding yourself to be positive. Start your day with a positive affirmation. It could be a reminder of something you enjoy in life, or something that you appreciate, or something that you want to do that day that will bring positivity into your life.

We have to celebrate this way this year, but it will not be like this every year. At some point, the pandemic will end. And we will have in-person, extended family gatherings again.

10. Don’t Get Mad, Don’t Get Sad, Take Action

Use your energy to figure out your plans for the weekend. It is okay to be mad and sad for a bit, but taking action will help you to feel better in the long run. If you take action, you will have a tangible result at the end. You will be able to be glad and proud of your Thanksgiving celebration this year.

11. Say Thanks

Everyday, think of something you are grateful for and say thanks for it. This could be a part of your morning coffee, your first few minutes of waking up, or during your daily exercise. Make it a daily habit to think of one thing and say thank you for it.

It has been scientifically proven that the practice of gratitude is beneficial for people’s health, as described in this article in Forbes Magazine.

12. Cook And Deliver

If you have family or friends nearby, you can always cook your Thanksgiving dinner and then deliver a care basket of the cooked food to them. Even if you can’t say hello and just drop the basket at the door, still you are bringing cheer and home-cooked food to people. That is always appreciated. You can always chat after by phone or video.

These are just some ideas. Please comment below on other ideas. Let’s use our brains, our hearts, and technology to make this a great Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving Canada and in a few weeks to the USA.

Here is the companion video to this post.

There are other posts in this series:

5 Best Ways To Test Your Face Mask And Top Tips To Choose A Face Mask

What Should We Do To Prepare For The Second Wave Of The Pandemic | 12 Tips

5 Tips On How To Keep Your Home Safe From COVID

Safe Home Delivery Tips And Should You Wash Your Groceries?

Best Practices Against Covid In The Home 5 Tips To Keep Your Food Safe

9 Tips On How To Stay Safe While Shopping During Covid


Check out posts on other topics here: Blog Table of Contents.

Join my monthly newsletter to get new posts in your mailbox and access to the recipe cards and tip sheets.

Please leave a comment. How will you celebrate Thanksgiving this year? I would love to know what you think.


5 Best Ways To Test Your Face Mask And Top Tips To Choose A Face Mask

This is the sixth blog in a series on Stay Safe During The Pandemic.

What are the 5 best ways to test your mask? Do you know? What are the most important things, the top tips, to look for to choose a good face mask? What are the important things to do to properly fit and wear a face mask? How many layers should a face mask have?

face mask
Face Mask

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my Affiliate Disclosure in the legal page link in the footer for further information. If not otherwise stated, all prices are intended in Canadian$.

Sept. 25, 2020 by Deborah Esplin

Top 5 Ways to Test Your Mask

1. The Candle Test

This test looks at whether you can make the flame of a candle move or even go out. It is not a completely reliable test for aspects of mask efficiency. With this test, you can see if your mask is stopping or slowing down the flow of air, but it is not as reliable for. judging how well the mask will stop coronavirus particles.

A COVID-19 virus is up to 140 nanometres in size, and 10,000 of the virus can fit on the head of a pin. That is a small particle. It is small enough to pass between the holes in the mask, however, if the airflow is reduced, then the movement of viral particles through the mask will also be reduced.

You will need a lit candle and your mask. Put on the mask and make sure that it fits tightly over the nose and cheekbones and is positioned under the chin. get about 6 inches or 15 cm away from the flame. Take a deep breath in and blow out as hard and fast as you can. See if the flame moves. If the flame moves, you can stop. This means that your mask is somewhat effective at reducing airflow but not to an ideal point.

If the flame did not move, get 3 inches or 8 cm away from the flame and blow again. If the flame did not move then you have a mask that is effective at cutting airflow.

2.a. Water Permeability Test on the Outside of the Mask

This test is for disposable masks and masks that are supposed to have a water-resistant coating on the outside. This is to make it harder for moist air, that could contain COVID-19 particles to pass through the outer layer of the mask.

You will need a glass of water and an eyedropper.

Take the mask and drop a couple of drops of water on the outside of the mask. The water should bead and not soak in. If the water soaks in then you do not have a good mask (with the exception of cloth masks that do not have a water-resistant coating. This test does not apply.)

2.b. Water Permeability Test on the Inside of the Mask

The inside layer of the mask, which touches the skin, is supposed to be water absorbent. This way the moisture in your breath will be absorbed by the material and less of the moisture will pass through the mask to the world outside.

Take the mask and drop two drops on the inside. You should see the water being absorbed and not beading.

3. The Light Test

This test is to see how tight the weave is in the materials used to make the mask and to see how much light passes through the mask. Good masks will have a tight weave, which means smaller holes, and less light will come through all the layers.

You will need a flashlight or a strong light source. Take the mask and put it over the flashlight with the outside of the mask visible. Can you see the holes between the weave? If so, you do not have a mask with a tight weave.

Turn the mask over and put it against the light with the inside out and see if you can see holes between the weave.

Was the mask reducing the strength of the light or was the light passing through as strong as if the mask was not there? If the mask does not cut the quantity of light coming through a little, then that is not good. It means the weave is too loose.

4. Layer Count And Thickness Test

Ideally, a mask should have 3 layers. Disposable masks are made of three layers: the outer layer made of non-woven, water-resistant material, the middle layer which is a melt-blown plastic and it has a tight structure to capture particles, and the inner layer which is water absorbent and should be comfortable against the skin.

For the disposable masks, the middle layer should be fairly thick and you should not be able to see holes in the material or see through the material

For a fabric mask, it is also recommended that the mask have three layers or two layers and a pocket for a filter. Many health care professionals prefer 100% cotton but some masks are also made with a polyester/cotton blend. However, the mask is more comfortable if the layer next to the skin is our cotton.

For fabric masks, the fabric should be woven, not knitted, and it should be thick and have a tight weave. However, a very thick fabric can make it harder to breathe and make the mask hotter. It is a compromise between comfort and protection. That is why several layers are recommended.

5. The Burning Test

This test only applies to disposable masks. Cut the mask in half and take a match to the cut edge. Does it melt or burn slightly or does it catch on fire and burn with a flame?

Disposable masks are supposed to be somewhat fire-resistant and should rather melt instead of burning with a bit flame like a piece of paper. The more your mask burns, the less fire-resistant it is.

Here are two YouTube videos where I researched some of these tests:

How Do You Spot A Fake Face Mask?

What is a good quality face mask?

5 Top Tips to Choose a Face Mask

A. The tightness of the weave is very important. Get a facemask with a tight weave that does not stretch. If you can see the individual fibers and spaces in between the fabric is not thick enough or tight enough. Fabric with a thread count of at least 180 is recommended.

B. Do not get a mask made of stretchable material. As the material stretches the spaces between the fibers open up and the holes get larger. Therefore, the mask becomes less effective at reducing airflow and potential virus contamination of other people.

C. The mask should be multi-layer. Three or four layers is recommended or two layers with a filter in the pocket.

D. If you have a filter pocket, put a filter in the pocket. Face mask filters, pre-cut to fit most masks, are available on Amazon. If you do not have filters that come with your mask, you can take two kleenexes and fold them in half to make 4 layers and use that as a filter, or as a last resort, you can use a paper towel folded in half and cut to shape.

E. You need to have a snug fit of the mask. It should not be loose over the nose or cheekbones and it should not keep sliding down your face and off your nose. The better the fit, the more effective the mask is.

If you have problems with the fit and snugness of your mask you can cut a section of pantyhose and wear it over your mask. This may look and sound strange, but it will help hold the mask in place and tight against your face.

You can also buy double-stick skin tape that is made to tape cloth to skin. Here are two options of tape:

Natia Double-Sided Skin Tape

Fashion Body Tape

Some of the top reviewed and popular masks on Amazon are presented below.

EnerPlex Premium 3-Ply Face Mask, 3Pack  This mask comes in three colours and four sizes and includes a sizing chart. The reviews are very good. The mask goes high up the nose so it is less likely to cause the fogging of glasses.

Safe+Mate with Back Strap & Filter Pocket, 3 Pack. This mask has ear loops and a strap around the back for increased comfort. There is a filter pocket and you can purchase filters separately for the pocket.

Euroca Face Masks with Filter Pocket, 2 Pack & 4 Filters. This mask is made of cotton and has adjustable nose clips and ear loops. It has very high reviews for comfort and fit for all sizes of faces. The mask is reusable and comes with filters for the pocket.

Check out the companion video here:

Check out the other posts on this topic of How To Stay Safe During The Pandemic.

Best Practices Against Covid In The Home 5 Tips To Keep Your Food Safe

9 Tips On How To Stay Safe While Shopping During Covid

Safe Home Delivery Tips And Should You Wash Your Groceries?

5 Tips On How To Keep Your Home Safe From COVID

What Should We Do To Prepare For The Second Wave Of The Pandemic | 12 Tips

Check out posts on other topics here: Blog Table of Contents.

Join my monthly newsletter to get new posts in your mailbox and access to the recipe cards and tip sheets.

Please comment. I would love to know what you think.



What Should We Do To Prepare For The Second Wave Of The Pandemic | 12 Tips

This is the fifth blog in a series on Stay Safe During The Pandemic.

Do experts think there will be a second wave? What do you need to do to prepare for the second wave of the pandemic; coronavirus, COVID-19, according to experts? Should you get a flu shot or other vaccinations? What else should you do to be ready? Here are 12 tips and recommendations, from experts, on what you should stock up and things you should do to be ready for the second wave. Winter is coming. Cold and flu season is coming. We need to prepare.

September 8, 2020 by Deborah Esplin

Will there be a second wave?

Experts say there will be a second wave.    It has already started in some areas of the world. Some countries in Europe have started their second wave as case numbers start to rise. During the summer some areas of Asia started to see coronavirus case numbers rise.

The question that experts can’t answer is how bad will it be? In the Spanish pandemic, the second wave was actually worse than the first. To prevent the second wave being as deadly, experts have the following tips to help you.

What To Do To Prepare For the Second Wave of COVID

One of the key elements of the tips and recommendations below is to reduce the times when you need to leave the house or go to public spaces, reduce your contact with sick people, and have your home and mental outlook prepared for the second wave of coronavirus.

Items To Stock Up On To Prepare For The Pandemic

Stock up on non-perishable foods

It is a good idea to have a one-month supply of non-perishable food in your home so that if you get sick or can not go out for any reason, you will still have the food you need, on hand. If you can stock up on non-perishable foods then you can also reduce the frequency of your visits to the grocery store of the frequency of home deliveries. Look at my article on safe shopping and my article on safe home delivery for more tips.

Stock up on essential medicines

Make sure that you have at least a one-month supply of essential over-the-counter medicines and prescription medicines. Anything you can do to reduce the number and times that you leave the house is a good plan over the next 6 months.

Ensure to have a supply of face masks and hand sanitizer

Stock up on essential supplies like face masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes, if you like to use them. Alternately, you can watch my video on how to make your own surface sanitizer or disinfectant following the recommendations of the Canadian government. Check out the video here.

Stock up on cleaning products

While you are stocking up, also make sure to have at least a one-month supply of soap (dish and hand soap), bleach, isopropyl alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide. All of these are good for cleaning surfaces and getting rid of coronavirus. You can check out my blog post, 5 Tips On How To Keep Your Home Safe From COVID, where I talk about how to clean the surfaces in your home to eradicate the COVID-19 virus.

As well, stock up on distilled water if you have essential machines that require it.

Things To Do To Prepare For The Second Wave

Get regular appointments out of the way

As much as possible try to schedule regular appointments to be carried out in the near future so that you get them out of the way before winter, before cold and flu season, and before the second wave really takes hold. Plan your regular appointments like teeth cleaning or dental checkup, regularly scheduled medical appointments, hair cuts, eye doctor visits, etc.  for the near future.

This way these regular appointments that you have periodically will be taken care of and you will be able to stay away from these places during the second wave. Of course, this does not apply to emergency needs. Those are important to take care of whenever necessary regardless of the pandemic.

Get a flu shot when it becomes available

Last winter, 2019 to 2020, in the US, there were 39 million cases of the flu minimum and over 24,000 deaths from the flu. Add in the fact that we have coronavirus, COVID-19 circulating in the population, as well, it is a bad recipe. Anything that you can do to reduce your chances of getting the flu and staying healthy will reduce the risk that you get hospitalized for the flu and reduce the chances of your immune system being weakened by getting the flu.

Anything that you can do to prevent a possible hospital stay means the beds are kept free for COVID cases and you reduce your exposure to the virus. Anything that you can do to keep your immune system strong, is also to your benefit.

Get a  pneumonia vaccination

If you are prone to pneumonia, get a pneumonia vaccination. The World Health Organization recommends getting vaccinated against respiratory illnesses.

The Cleveland Clinic recommends that children under 2, adults over 65, smokers, and anyone with chronic diseases that affect the lungs, kidneys, or heart get a pneumonia vaccination.

The Center for Disease Control lists some of the illnesses that can result in pneumonia as a primary or secondary illness, where you can get a vaccination: Haemophilus influenza type B, influenza (flu), Measles, Whooping Cough, Pneumococcal, and Chickenpox.

The pneumonia vaccine will not protect you from getting COVID, but it will help protect you from getting pneumonia. Anything that you can do to reduce your chance of getting pneumonia is a good idea. Pneumonia is a very serious illness and you want to protect your lungs and your health.

This vaccination will not stop you from getting COVID but, at least, it will help prevent you from getting other respiratory illnesses that can weaken your lungs and reduce immune system strength.

Continue the behaviour recommendations

Prevention magazine recommends that we continue all of the behaviours and recommendations that were put in the place at the start of the pandemic:

    • Keep the required physical/social distance from people that are not living in the same household as you.
    • Wear a mask when you are in indoor, public places.
    • Do not touch your face when you are outside the home.
    • Do not shake hands, kiss, or hug people to greet them when they do not live in your home with you. And if someone in your home is sick, then do hug or kiss them while they are sick.
    • Follow all of the recommendations for the area where you live.

Continue frequent hand-washing

Continue following the frequent hand-washing recommendations, especially if you have been out of the home. Also, follow the recommendations for when to sanitize your hands. You can see my blog post here with recommendations. Safe Home Delivery Tips And Should You Wash Your Groceries?

Stay home when you are sick

The CDC recommends that people who are sick, even with a cold or flu, stay home for the first couple of days.  It may be hard to tell the difference, in the early days, between COVID symptoms and cold or flu symptoms. In case you do have coronavirus, staying home when you are not sure, helps protect everyone else.

Plus, even if it is a regular cold or flu, by staying home you do not spread those viruses to others. And some people can react much more severely to a regular cold or flu virus. During the pandemic, it is important to be cautious and to protect yourself and everyone else.

Stay informed of requirements and recommendations in your area

Prevention magazine, in the same article reference above, also recommends that you stay aware of the recommendations and requirements to follow in your area. Listen to the news and stay abreast of any changes in requirements to follow.

Mentally prepare yourself

Prevention magazine, in the link above, also recommends that people mentally prepare for the fact that they will need to continue to follow the behaviours and requirements throughout the winter. We need to accept that this is the new normal for a while. The pandemic is still here and we need to mentally adjust and prepare for what this means over the next 6 months.

In the northern hemisphere, winter is coming, lower light levels are coming, harsher weather is coming and people will be indoors more than during the summer. Cold and flu season is coming. The holiday season is coming.

Take the time to mentally prepare for the fact that you may not see family and friends as often or as easily as it was possible during the warmer months. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, and other holidays may become distance celebrations this year. Just as we managed with Easter and Passover in the spring, we will manage these other holidays as well.

We are fortunate to live in the internet era where we do have tools to connect and celebrate remotely. Take full advantage of these tools. Talk to family and friends and plan your distance celebrations.

Consider the resources you need to mentally prepare and gather them around you. Maybe you want to talk about this with family and friends. Maybe this is a time to find a new hoppy, join virtual groups with the same interest and make new friends and connections. Find ways to stay connected with family and friends, even if it is virtual.

We will maybe have to stay away from family for a while. Outdoor gatherings will become harder as the weather gets colder. But It will not be forever. Remember this is a temporary situation. The second wave will not last forever. The pandemic will not last forever. Winter and shorter days will not last forever. The pandemic will end at some point. Winter will turn to spring. So take the second wave day by day. If you do feel you need more support than what you have from family and friends, search it out. Keeping your mind and outlook positive and healthy is very important during this time.

All of these factors will make this winter harder than usual. Mentally prepare for that. It will be tough, but we can get through this together.

Following these recommendations will help reduce the severity of the second wave and help keep more people healthy and safe.

Other blog posts in this series.

9 Tips On How To Stay Safe While Shopping During COVID

Best Practices Against COVID In The Home 5 Tips To Keep Your Food Safe

5 Tips On How To Keep Your Home Safe From COVID

5 Tips On How To Keep Your Home Safe From COVID

Check out my video on this topic.

Check out posts on other topics here: Blog Table of Contents.

Join my monthly newsletter to get new posts in your mailbox and access to the recipe cards and tip sheets.

Please comment. I would love to know what you think.



5 Tips On How To Keep Your Home Safe From COVID

This is the fourth blog in a series on Stay Safe During The Pandemic.

Here are 5 tips on how to keep your home safe against Coronavirus, COVID-19 from the Canadian government, and other experts.

How To Keep Your Home Safe From COVID

In some of the previous tips presented in the previous blogs on this topic, the government recommends that you disinfect your surfaces  after you have put food from outside the house on them and that you disinfect your surfaces and utensils before and after preparing food.

What is a disinfectant?

It is a process to remove most of the bacteria and viruses from surfaces. Sterilization is the complete removal of these microorganisms, while disinfection is the removal of most of the bacteria and viruses.

What is a sanitizer?

Sanitizing is a process to reduce the number of bacteria and viruses, but it is less strong than disinfection.

How to make a home disinfectant

Here is the recipe from the Canadian government on how to make a home disinfectant. Mix 5 mL of household bleach, 5%, in 250 mL water.

How to make your own sanitizer.

Mix 5 mL of household bleach, 5%, in 750 mL water.

With these solutions, you take a clean cloth or a paper towel, dip it in the solution and you have your disinfectant or sanitizing wipe to clean surfaces and keep your home safe.

Of course, you can use disinfectant or sanitizing wipes from the store as well. But if you run out, or you want a less expensive solution, the above recipes are approved by the government for disinfection and sanitizing. These products will keep your home safe from coronavirus, COVID-19.

TIP: If you use plastic measuring spoons and cups for cleaning chemicals, do not use them for food. Even after washing, the plastic can absorb the cleaning chemicals and then pass those chemicals to your food. Have dedicated plastic utensils for measuring cleaning products or use glass and clean it well after.

Do we need to use bleach to adequately clean surfaces against COVID-19? Or not?

Bleach: the pros and cons

There is a debate on this subject. Bleach is a very strong alkaline and it can be harsh on the environment and for the people working with it over time. At the moment, bleach is being used all around the world, in larger quantities than usual, to clean surfaces because of coronavirus. Do we really need to use all this bleach in order to keep our homes and surfaces safe from COVID?

Bleach can damage your clothes, irritate your skin, and breathing the fumes is not good for the lungs. It is an irritant and a corrosive. Bleach can damage certain types of materials, so you want to check first that it is safe for the surface where you intend to use it.

If you do clean with bleach, there are several recommendations in this article from healthline published in 2019 . Make sure that the area where you are cleaning is well ventilated so that you are not breathing in the fumes. Do not mix bleach with any other chemical, as harmful or poisonous gases can be created.

This article from The Washington Post, 2019, has tips on the use of bleach from a professor and doctor of osteopathic medicine. As bleach is a disinfectant and not a cleaner, it will lose the ability to disinfect on dirty surfaces. First, you need to clean any surface that you are going to disinfect, to get rid of the dirt.

Always dilute the bleach as it is too strong, even at 5%, to be used undiluted.

Wear gloves when you work with bleach so that your skin is protected. If you are going to use bleach to clean a surface with a brush, wear eye protection as well as gloves.

Never mix bleach with another cleaning product or natural cleaner like vinegar. When mixed with certain products, bleach will produce a poisonous gas that can damage your lungs or kill you.

According to an article published June 29, 2020 on bleach toxicity, Bleach Toxicity by Thomas Benzoni and Jason D. Hatcher, bleach is very good at killing coronavirus within 1 minute with a 0.1% concentration of hypochlorite bleach.

However, safety around the use of bleach is very important. It will irritate any human tissue it comes into contact with and is not intended to be taken internally. You do not drink or inject bleach, even a dilute solution. Annually, there are trips to the hospital by people who have incorrectly handled bleach. Safe and correct handling is very important.

On the other side of the coin, there are experts that say that soap and water are adequate to kill coronavirus, so do we need to use so much bleach?

Soap and water pros and cons

An article in The National Geographic Magazine  says that using soap and water is more than adequate to inactivate coronavirus, COVID-19. The article quotes a leading virologist at Cambridge University, Jane Greatorex, who says that using bleach is like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. The article presents the evidence on why soap and water are effective against coronavirus.

Also, NBC News reported on March 17, 2020, reported that soap and water are good enough to get rid of coronavirus on surfaces. The article quotes an organic chemist who clarifies that many soaps we use are actually detergents which means they will not only clean but disinfect as well. The article also talks about other household cleaners that are effective against coronavirus, COVID-19.

Consumer Reports magazine lists products that are effective at de-activating coronavirus: soap & water, bleach, isopropyl alcohol 70% or more, hydrogen peroxide 3%.

Plus a medical professor from the University of Alberta says that soap and water are enough to deactivate the virus and have been proven to be effective. To understand how soap and water work on coronavirus, COVID-19, see my blog where I describe the process.

There are other household products that are effective against coronavirus

Hydrogen peroxide, 3%, and Isopropyl alcohol/rubbing alcohol, 70%, are both effective at disinfecting surfaces, instead of bleach. See the article on cleaning your home from the Center for Disease Control in the US.

Use these products as they come out of the bottle. They do not need to be diluted. Please note that hydrogen peroxide can discolour fabrics and isopropyl alcohol can damage some plastics.

Do vinegar and other natural products kill COVID?

Vinegar is a weak acid and it is good for certain types of cleaning, but it is not strong enough to get rid of coronavirus. Therefore, do not rely on vinegar for that purpose. David Suzuki and a medical professor from the University of Alberta, Dr. David Evans,  say do not rely on vinegar or tea tree oil to clean coronavirus off of surfaces.

As well, vodka and other drinking alcohols do not have enough alcohol in them to be effective according to the consumer reports article. Products from the liquor cabinet are not effective either. Keep them for your drinking enjoyment.


In summary, there is not a consensus on the best way to eradicate coronavirus from surfaces. Both the Canadian government and the CDC, recommend using soap and water to clean your surfaces then using a disinfectant as a second step. Other experts recommend soap and water only as being adequate for the home. All of the above products have good evidence that they will eliminate or reduce the number of coronavirus on a surface to keep your home safe.

The decision is yours on what you decide to do. Your personal circumstances make a difference as well. Are there ill people in your family, people with asthma, COVID, or people that work in high-risk situations? What are the ages of the people in your household? All of these play a part in your decision.

Products approved for removing viruses from surfaces

Both the US and the Canadian governments have lists of products that have been proven or that are recognized as effective against coronavirus, COVID-19.

Here is the link to the US list from the Environmental Protection Agency, and here is the link to the Canadian government list.

It is recommended that any products you do use for cleaning in the home and to clean viruses from surfaces have been approved for that use. The approval also means that the governments or agencies have verified that the product will be effective for what it claims to be able to do.

Tip Summary On How To Keep Your Home Safe From COVID

  1. The recipes for making a home disinfectant and home sanitizing solution.
  2. If you use plastic for cleaning chemicals, do not use it for food.
  3. Experts say that soap and water are enough for cleaning in the home.
  4. Vinegar and tea tree oil are not strong enough to eliminate coronavirus.
  5. Isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are strong enough to eliminate coronavirus.
  6. Home liqueurs like rum, gin, and vodka are not strong enough to eliminate coronavirus.

For more information on the subject of keeping your food and home safe from CIVID, check out my previous three blog posts:

  1. Best Practices Against COVID In The Home 5 Tips To Keep Your Food Safe
  2. 9 Tips On How To Stay Safe While Shopping During COVID
  3. Safe Home Delivery Tips And Should You Wash Your Groceries?

Check out my video on the topic in this blog.

Check out posts on other topics here: Blog Table of Contents.

Join my monthly newsletter to get new posts in your mailbox and access to the recipe cards and tip sheets.

Comments are welcome. I would love to know what you think.

The weekly motto:

Music is a language that touches the soul in a way that words can not.


Safe Home Delivery Tips And Should You Wash Your Groceries?

This is the third blog in a series on Stay Safe During The Pandemic.

How long will coronavirus, COVID-19 last on surfaces?

Do we need to wash our groceries?

What do you need to do to stay safe with home deliveries and take-out food?

Box of tangerines.

Do you wonder about these questions or even have debates about them with family and friends? This article will look at recommendations from the Canadian government and experts on these questions.

Tips From The Canadian Government For Take-out Food And Deliveries

Pay online or use contactless methods

Try to pay online when you make your order. If that is not an option, then try to pay using a contactless method by tapping your card, or using your phone to pay.

If you are going to pay by cash then both you and the delivery person should be wearing a mask, as you will have to get closer than 2 metres to hand-over the cash.

Keep a 2 metre distance

You and the delivery person should maintain a 2 metre, 6 foot distance. Most delivery people now will drop the delivery at your door, ring your doorbell and then distance themselves from the door before you open it.

If the delivery person must get close to you for a signature, as an example, or for another reason, then you should both wear masks.

Wash your hands after handling food or deliveries

Once you bring the food or delivery in the house, immediately wash your hands.

Put your food away

If the delivery was food, it should be put away as soon as possible. See the previous blog post, dated July 29, 2020 on Best Practices Against Covid In The Home To Keep Your Food Safe, for more information on the steps to follow when bringing groceries home from shopping and what to do once you are home.

Wash your hands

After putting your food away, wash your hands again.

Do not eat from takeout container

This tip is from the Mayo Clinic, Can COVID-19 (coronavirus) spread through food, water, surfaces and pets? The article states that it is best to bring your take-out food home, wash your hands, then transfer the food to a clean plate for eating. Then you should wash your hands again before your eat. If you put the take-out containers on a counter, you should wash the counter and then wash your hands again.

With these tips you will ensure that having items delivered to your home and eating take-out food is still safe.

How long will COVID-19 last on surfaces?

Research was done reported in the National Institute of Health in March 2020, New Coronavirus Stable on Surfaces For Hours, and it was also reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2020, Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as compared with SARS-CoV-1.

This research showed that generally the virus could survive on copper for up to 4 hours, cardboard for up to 24 hours and plastic and stainless steel for up to 3 days. A second study was done and published in the Lancet, Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions.

Heat Inactivates Coronavirus, COVID-19

The above study found that the virus is heat sensitive and is rendered inactive after 5 mintues at 70 C. As well, on different surfaces, the virus was no longer active after 3 hours on tissue paper, after 2 days on wood and cloth, after 4 days on glass, and after 7 days on stainless steel and plastic.

What Is The Risk Of Getting The Virus From A Surface

The chances of getting coronavirus, COVID-19, from a surface are determined to be very slim. The surface has to be contaminated by someone who is contagious, then someone else has to touch the surface while the virus is still active and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes.

If people are washing their hands whenever they touch a potentially contaminated surface and when they come home, then even if they did get the virus on their hands, they should not be able to get sick, because the handwashing would take care of that.

Should You Wash Your Groceries?

There have not been any reports of people getting the virus from their groceries and for the reasons just mentioned above, governments and experts, do not feel it is necessary for people to wash their groceries.

For example, see this article, from the CBC, Why it may be harder to catch COVID-19 from surfaces than we first thought.

The FDA and CDC, in the US, also have the same recommendation. The risk of getting coronavirus from a surface is very low. See this article for a summary, Food Safety and COVID-19: A Guide For Handling Groceries And Takeout.

The Consensus is?

The consensus from experts and the Canadian and US governments alike is that you do not need to wash your groceries. Follow all the other tips in this article and the two previous ones; Best Practices Against Covid In The Home To Keep Your Food Safe  and 9 Tips On How To Stay Safe While Shopping During Covid, and you will be keeping yourself and your food safe from coronavirus, COVID-19.

What If You Want To Wash Your Groceries

If you want to wash your groceries because you feel safer or less anxious, you can do that. The Canadian and US governments feel it is not necessary to go to that amount of work, but you can do it if you want.

With the exception of fruits, vegetables, produce and any food that is in a porous type of packaging. Any kind of disinfectant, soap or cleaning chemical could be absorbed by the food and render it unsafe to eat. Do not wash these types of foods with soap.

In my blog of I covered the tips on how to wash your vegetables, fruits and produce. Check that this post, Best Practices Against Covid In The Home To Keep Your Food Safe, for more information.

Next week the fourth blog in this series, Stay Safe During The Pandemic, will look at how to make your own disinfectant and santizing solutions, how to clean with soap and water, and general cleaning tips for your kitchen and home.

Check out my video on this topic:

Check out posts on other topics here: Blog Table of Contents.

Join my monthly newsletter to get new posts in your mailbox and access to the recipe cards and tip sheets.

Comments are welcome. I would love to know what you think.

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Problems Bring Opportunities : Solutions Bring Learning


Best Practices Against Covid In The Home 5 Tips To Keep Your Food Safe

This is the first blog in a series on Stay Safe During The Pandemic.

Revised July 29, 2020  Originally published July 24, 2020 Deborah Esplin

These tips and best practices come from the Canadian Government on how to keep your food safe from COVID.

  1. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if you do not have access to soap and water.

Why is the hand wash method effective?

The hand wash method, described in tip 1 is effective but why? Soaps are formulated to chemically bond with oils, proteins, and sugars and pull them from a surface. That surface can be a dirty dish or your hands. COVID is a virus and viruses do not have protective membranes. COVID has an oily coating. So when you wash your hands with soap, the soap bonds with the oily coating around the virus, pulling it away and leaving the virus without protection. The virus is inactivated. That is why it is so important to use soap. Just using water will not clean your hands.

Why warm water? Because soaps are made to work better in warm water. They are more effective.

Why 20 seconds because that is the minimum time you need to get in all the cracks and crevices of your hands.

These are the reasons why it is important to wash hands according to the method so that you will remove dirt, bacteria and Coronavirus.

How to wash fruits, vegetables, and produce

  1. Wash your fruits & vegetables under running water.

Fruits, vegetables, and produce are porous and can absorb soaps. You do not want to wash them with a disinfectant, sanitizer, or soap unless it is a product that is specifically formulated for fruits, vegetables and produce. The foods can absorb the soap and it may not be good for your health. The government recommends putting them under running water to wash away anything.

COVID is not a food-borne illness. You will not get food poisoning from it. A good rinse should be adequate.

Cook your food

  1. Cook your food to recommended safe internal temperatures.

In my blog and video on Outdoor Cooking Eating Do’s & Don’ts, I talked about the minimum internal temperatures to cook various meats and the minimum temperatures to hold cold food. The heat from cooking will deactivate the virus. Click HERE for the blog and HERE for the video. They both review the temperatures from various governments; the USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK.

Keep different foods separate

  1. Keep the raw and cooked foods separate and use separate tools or wash tools with soap and water.

Raw foods can carry all kinds of contamination, bacteria, viruses, bugs, mold, twigs, and more. It is important to keep them separate. You do not want to accidentally contaminate your cooked burgers with E. coli by putting them back on the plate that held the raw burgers. If there were E. coli in the raw meat, you will now have it in your cooked meat.

Clean your surfaces

  1. Disinfect surfaces that come into contact with food

The government recommends that you disinfect your food prep surfaces. In two weeks, I will cover how to make your disinfectant using the recipe from the government and I will also cover other ways to clean and disinfect.

With these tips, you can be confident, that your food and surfaces will be safe from Coronavirus and just general bad bugs that can give you food poisoning.

Tip Summary

  1. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if you do not have access to soap and water.
  2. Wash your fruits & vegetables under running water.
  3. Cook your food to recommended safe internal temperatures.
  4. Keep the raw and cooked foods separate and use separate tools or wash tools with soap and water.
  5. Disinfect surfaces that come into contact with food.

Check out my video on this topic:

Here is a link to the next blog post in this series: Best Practices Against Covid In The Home To Keep Your Food Safe

Other blog posts in this series:

9 Tips On How To Stay Safe While Shopping During COVID

Safe Home Delivery Tips And Should You Wash Your Groceries?

5 Tips On How To Keep Your Home Safe From COVID


Check out posts on other topics here: Blog Table of Contents.

Join my monthly newsletter to get new posts in your mailbox and access to the recipe cards and tip sheets.

Comments are welcome. I would love to know what you think.


9 Tips On How To Stay Safe While Shopping During Covid

This is the second blog in a series on Stay Safe During The Pandemic.

Revised August 2, 2020  Originally published July 28, 2020 Deborah Esplin

Do you wonder how to shop safely during the pandemic? During this time with coronavirus, COVID-19? What should you do to be safe when you get home? We will look at the 9 tips from the government of Canada that answer these questions.

Safe shopping tips during covid
Safe shopping with a mask.

Safe Shopping During Coronavirus, COVID-19

Sanitize your hands at the store entrance

Whether it is required in your area or not, this is a good idea. That way we stop adding to the contamination that people bring into the store and leave in the store. If stores do not have a supply on hand, then bring your own.

Bring your own reusable grocery bags if permitted. Otherwise, use the store bags

If you have reusable grocery bags that can be thrown in the washer that is the best. Then you can use them once and wash them and you know they will be clean. If the stores don’t permit you to bring your own bags, then follow the remaining tips below to be safe.

Maintain a physical distance of 2 metres between people

The stores seem well organized in my area in terms of putting lines on pavement outside the door and at the check out stations. But they are not necessarily that well organized in helping people keep their distance in the aisles. If the aisles have not been marked for one-way traffic, then the best is to follow the flow of people and go in the same direction as everyone else. You may need to slow down your shopping trip so that you wait until aisles are clear and you can safely proceed and keep the distance.

Wear a non-medical mask or face covering in public

Whether it is required in your area or not, wearing a face mask in indoor, public spaces is a good idea.

There have been several studies carried out on people that test positive for the virus but do not feel ill and do not have symptoms. In China, this study was carried out and reported in the journal of Nature Medicine in July 2020. The study found that spread of the virus by asymptomatic people is a significant source of transmission in the population. However, the World Health Organization, in June 2020, says there is not enough research to have a definitive answer on this question. Research is ongoing and there are several studies that do point to the virus being spread by people who do not know they are sick. This article, in the Advisory Board , has a good summary of the research.
For these reasons, by wearing a face mask, we protect other people from our own breath. If we all wear face masks, we protect each other.

Don’t touch items you will not buy

As much as possible, do not touch an item unless you are going to buy it. This way we reduce the contamination between put on the items in the store and we reduce the potential contamination that we can pickup while shopping.

Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth

When you are outside the home and/or wearing a mask, do not touch your face or any part of it. If you hands have become contaminated, you could contaminate yourself. If your mask has become contaminated, you could contaminate your hands and then yourself.
We touch our faces, according to this study, an average of 23 times per hour. Most of the time we are not aware of this. It is a good idea to become aware of when you are touching your face and making a conscious effort to not touch it.

Sanitize your hands when you leave the store

If hand sanitizer is offered by the store when you leave, use it. That way you will not keep any potential contamination on your hands while you continue your errands.

Wash your hands when you get home

This should not surprise anyone. Governments and health experts around the world have been saying this for several months. Whenever you come in your home from having been outside you should wash them with warm water and soap. In my blog last week, Best Practises Against COVID-19 For Your Food (link), I talked about why soap and water are effective. Check that out for more information.
When you come home, if your hands have become contaminated, you don not want to spread that contamination around your house. By washing your hands as soon as you enter, you will prevent that from happening and keep your home safe.

Put away your groceries

Once you have returned home and washed your hands, you put away your groceries.

Wash your hands after putting away the groceries 

Once all the groceries are put away, you wash your hands again. In case there was some contamination on the groceries, you will get it off your hands.

My Safe Shopping Routine

I have a small bag, which I call my COVID kit, and there I have clean masks, baggies for dirty masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
I sanitize my hand and shopping cart when I enter a store. I wear a mask and stay away from people. I will remind people to keep their distance if they get too close. When I leave the store, I sanitize my hands again so that I will not contaminate my car. In case there is no sanitizer at the exit I have my own in my kit.

When I get home, I wash my hands, and put the bags of groceries on the floor. I pull out my food items and put them on the counter for sorting, then I put them away. Then I wash my hands again. I will then wash or disinfect my kitchen counters, put the grocery bags in the wash. With a disinfectant wipe or cloth and disinfectant liquid, I will go clean all the high touch surfaces of my home.
Then I wash my hands again.

With these tips you can feel confident that you are doing enough to be safe when you go out shopping and when you return home.

When Should You Wash Your Hands 

According to the Center for Disease Control, in the US, these are all the times when you should wash your hands.
Before, during and after preparing food

Before eating food

Before and after caring for someone who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea

Before and after treating a cut or wound

After using the toilet

After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

After glowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste

After handling pet food or pet treats

After touching garbage

After having been in a public place

After touching a surface or item touched by many people

Before your touch your eyes, nose or mouth

The American government recommendations closely follow those of Canada.

If you work in a food plant, you would also wash your hands at every task change, when you enter food production areas, and often, everytime you change rooms, after smoking, after breaks, after touching your face, after coughing or sneezing, and after picking up items from the floor.

Check out my video on this topic:

Here is a link to another blog post in the series: Best Practices Against COVID In The Home To Keep Your Food Safe.

Check out posts on other topics here: Blog Table of Contents.

Join my monthly newsletter to get new posts in your mailbox and access to the recipe cards and tip sheets.

Comments are welcome. I would love to know what you think.

The Weekly Motto – Change brings opportunity. Embrace it.