Pierce Pioneer

A potential summer of low air quality

Helpful advice on how Washingtonians can prepare for the upcoming wildfires and poor air quality to come

With a rainy winter behind us and a hot and dry summer ahead of us, it’s likely to expect that we’ll soon be entering smoke season, a time of year when the air quality becomes poor and forested areas more susceptible to wildfires. Below is all you need to know about the side effects of smoke season and how to best prepare yourself and your home this summer.

The first and most important thing about smoke season that people should know about are the health risks. Smoke inhalation is naturally bad for people’s skin, heart and lungs. But for those more vulnerable to COVID-19, or those recovering from it, smoke can be much more dangerous. According to the USDA, wildfires and COVID-19 cases overlap.

“Exposure to air pollutants in wildfire smoke can irritate the lungs, cause inflammation, alter immune function, and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections, likely including COVID-19,” USDA stated. To ensure you and your family stay safe, wear cloth masks outside and stay indoors when the air quality is poor.

In terms of preserving good indoor air quality, Public Health Insider advises keeping windows and doors closed and avoiding burning candles or smoking or vacuuming inside. PHI also adds that air filters such as HVAC systems or portable air cleaners can improve air quality throughout your home rather than just a single room.

Finally, remember to clear out any dried bramble or foliage around your house to reduce the risk of brush fires in your immediate area, and keep fire-resistant tools and equipment nearby. Talk with your family and keep an eye out for updates on weather and remember to stay safe!

In our want to social distance, has ordering delivery actually brought financial strain to restaurant businesses?

Since the Coronavirus pandemic began, third-party delivery apps such as Doordash, Grubhub, and Ubereats have seen double the amounts of customers and partnered businesses. Despite the large following these delivery apps have gathered, nobody seems to be on the winning side when it comes to ordering from them. To Irene Jiang of the Business Insider, restaurant owners may be losing money. 

“Diners are seeing their costs raised, either by delivery companies that need to pay delivery drivers or by the restaurant owners who raise prices to offset delivery fees,” Jiang stated. “And delivery drivers still make low, unpredictable wages frequently with no benefits.” 

Delivery services were popular pre-pandemic, but with the loss of dine-in options for many restaurants, delivery has become a way to substitute a loss of business and to help keep restaurants afloat. However, Jiang states that these local businesses are losing a large chunk of their money to pay for these delivery partnerships, approximately 30% in commissions. 

To offset these rates while supporting the community, look for restaurants that offer curbside pickup instead. Curbside pickup gives the restaurant all of the money directly and allows users and the restaurant staff to stay healthy and safe by social-distancing.

For those preferring delivery to takeout, Kerry Breen of Today would encourage checking to see if the restaurant delivers directly. “Third-party sites can charge restaurants a significant amount, meaning that only a small amount of what you’re spending goes to the restaurant you’re trying to support,” Breen stated. 

Delivery drivers are another piece of the food delivery puzzle, with drivers working on low salaries with little to no benefits during the COVID pandemic. Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura of the New York Times revealed that while drivers working for food delivery apps can earn as much as $22 per hour, including tips, many drivers say they’ve never earned anywhere close to that much.

Since many delivery drivers are relying on these apps for full time income while their places of employment are closed, it’s important to tip drivers as much as possible when placing an order. An even better way to help out your delivery drivers is to tip in cash, especially with apps like Doordash that use gratuities to provide their workers’ minimum wages. 

The blog  Maid Sailors backs this up by saying when tipping a Dasher in cash, DoorDash has no record of it. “Instead, they see that the driver has not made the minimum guaranteed amount for the order, so they kick in the amount required to meet that minimum,” Maid Sailors stated. 

“On top of that, the driver receives the cash tip that you provided. This increases the driver’s total pay for the delivery without costing you an extra penny. In addition, paying cash makes the Dasher a happier person as they can readily use the money and not have to wait until payday.”

By following some of the examples above – ordering from local deliveries, doing curbside pickup, and paying attention to the pay models of different delivery apps – customers can help our local businesses and delivery workers while not doubling the cost of a single meal.

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