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2020 on loop

In my home, school is finally out and my kids will be “enjoying” their summer break at home, stuck in the same place they’ve been occupying for more than a year now.

My two kids, who are now teenagers, face the possibility of enduring another year of this lockdown lifestyle because of the Philippine government’s uniquely scatter-brained and incompetent response to the Covid-19 pandemic. There will be no trips out of town, no face-to-face interactions with friends, very limited contact even with cousins.

Despite these limitations, my kids should consider themselves privileged. They live in a comfortable home. Our internet and power is more or less reliable (knock on wood). They have their own digital devices that keeps them connected to what is left of their world. They can eat three square meals a day and even have snacks. If they need or want something, they can make it or ask for it and as long as it is reasonable, their parents try to make it happen.

Twitter account @HerdImmunityPH that has been tracking the government’s rate of vaccination reports that as of May 9, 1.79 percent of Filipinos have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and 0.41 percent are fully vaccinated. It estimates the date that we reach herd immunity at February 2027 or 5.8 years in the future. When your country of 100 million is vaccinating less than 70,000 people a day, this pathetic new normal might take forever before we can enjoy a better normal.

So as the kids go on “summer break” it is our duty as parents to prepare them for at least another year of being cooped up in the house.

The past year has seen most of us making improvements in our homes to make the places where we’ve been staying 24/7 a little more comfortable. As we prepare for the coming year(s) we will need to do a bit more preventive maintenance than we are used to.

Here are some activities I am considering for our lockdown home in the coming weeks or months:

Aircon units need cleaning. This will be necessary after months of regular use and even more important, as we are still in the midst of the dry season. Those who are still considering installing aircons will have to consider the cleaning process, keeping in mind pandemic protocols. Split-type aircons are more difficult to clean so that means maintenance personnel spending more time in the affected rooms. Window-type aircons, while less aesthetically pleasing, are easier to clean because the entire unit can be pulled out and the cleaning done outdoors. This is something to keep in mind.

Internet redundancy programs. With majority of family members expected to be cooped up at home for another year, internet is a lifeline for work, school and leisure. Our homes need to have a backup plan for internet outages. First line of defense would be a UPS or power bank backup power supply for the power interruptions that have been becoming more common lately. The second line would be a backup internet connection which could be as simple as a hotspot phone that everyone can connect to or another home wifi unit that can be connected to the home network.

Backup electrical power supply. Brownouts have been becoming a thing of late and with everyone stuck at home with nowhere to go, power interruptions have become twice as inconvenient. Those who have been considering getting a backup generator might want to pull the trigger already since we are not going anywhere anytime soon. In my case, I have finally decided after eight years to “upgrade” our home’s PV system to be grid-tied and net metered because in the past, when nobody was home most of the day, it was not worth it. Now that the home is fully occupied and consuming energy most of the time, adding solar panels makes more sense. This is not a backup electrical supply because being grid-tied means a brownout will also deactivate the PV generation but committing to it lowers energy costs of the home. I’ll give a review of this experience once the process is finally complete but looking back, my ROI would’ve been better if I did this this a year ago. It’s just that nobody expected our government’s pandemic response to be this lame.

As we have seen from 2020 and half of 2021, we expect to be spending a lot more time at home for the foreseeable future. Given that timeline, whatever improvements we make will still be worth it. Whether you consider that a curse or a blessing, it’s up to you, but if there’s one thing this pandemic has taught me, it’s that you can’t go wrong with home improvements. Especially if you are already the anti-social type to begin with.*

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