Newsletter Articles - 8th Editions
"Update Your Fire Escape Plan"
Fire Prevention Week is October 9-15. During this time we urge you to:
- Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms.
- Replace any smoke alarms that are 10 years old or more.
- Review your home fire escape plan:
1. Draw a floor plan of your home showing two ways out of every room, especially bedrooms. Discuss the escape routes with everyone in your home.
2. Designate a meeting place outside the home where you will gather after escaping a fire. Tell your children they must go there so you know they are safe.
3. Practice your plan. Have a fire drill with everyone participating. See if the plan really works and make adjustments if there are problems. Do it twice using different exits. Tell your children to hurry but not to run. Show them how to crawl when there is smoke.
4. Caution everyone to leave without stopping for any possession or pet. They should get out, go to the meeting place, and stay there.
The price of home heating fuel is expected to soar this winter. Reports indicate that prices will range from 5% - 48% higher than last year, depending on where you live in the country. With the rising cost of fuel oil, many people are looking for alternative sources of heat to stay warm. Here are a few alternatives to consider:
Coal -Coal can provide a safe and relatively inexpensive source of heat for city dwellers. Many city homes, such as old row houses, were once equipped with coal bins under the front porch. Updated systems can be installed that use the same storage bin. Homes not equipped with traditional coal bins can have a system installed that includes a new outdoor storage bin. Although the initial cost may be somewhat expensive to install, a small row home can be heated with coal for an entire year for under $500.
Solar-Solar power is gaining in popularity and can be easily added to most existing structures. Traditional solar panels have been large and unsightly, detracting from the aesthetic value of a home's outward appearance. Now, smaller more efficient systems are available which can be used year round.
Radiant -Other options include radiant floor and ceiling heat. Electrical radiant elements are installed under floors or above ceilings, which radiate warmth throughout the room. Each room is equipped with a temperature control. Much like a traditional thermostat, this makes it easy to zone the home for heat efficiency. Hydraulic radiant heat works on the same premise, except these systems circulate warm water which flows through tubes under the floor or into heating units that function like baseboard heaters.
Wood -The familiar wood-burning fireplace is yet another option. However, keep in mind that the cost of firewood is expected to rise. Last year's wood crop will be used for this year. The large increase in wood demand was not anticipated during the harvest. While it is possible to buy and use newly cut or "green" wood, it does not burn as easily, nor is it as clean as aged wood.
Space Heaters -Space heaters can be very inexpensive supplemental heat sources. They should be used very cautiously and under strict supervision, as they can easily become fire hazards. Below is a list of safety tips for using this type of heating device.
- Be absolutely certain your home's smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.
- Never use a fuel-burning heater without proper ventilation. Propane or kerosene can produce dangerous fumes.
- Maintain a clearance of at least three feet in all directions around space heaters.
- Ensure that children and pets are kept at a safe distance at ALL TIMES!
- Avoid the use of extension cords. Plug the heater into an outlet using an approved power strip with a built-in circuit breaker.
- Space heaters should not be used in bathrooms. Keep them away from water and never touch them when you are wet.
- Turn off all space heaters before going to bed or leaving your home.
- All heaters should be labeled with UL or AGA certification to ensure you are buying a safety approved heater.
"How to Prevent Clothes Dryer Fires"
According to an estimate by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, more than 15,000 fires each year originate in clothes dryers. Only stoves and heating systems start more fires. In order to better protect your home, here are some precautions to take:
- Never leave home while your clothes dryer is running.
- Make sure your electrical outlet is equipped to handle the electrical load from the dryer. Overloading an outlet may result in blown fuses.
- The dryer vent must be unobstructed and the outdoor vent flap open. If air is not being vented through the duct, there may be a blockage that needs to be removed.
- Clutter should be kept away from the area surrounding the dryer. Do not store combustible materials near the dryer.
- Remove and clean the lint filter after each use. Always operate the dryer with the lint filter in place. If any threads, lint or fibers from clothing are entrapped in the internal parts of the dryer, they can combust.
Have your dryer periodically inspected by a professional. They can replace any worn parts and clean
"Make Your Own Cleaning Products!"
You probably have fantastic cleaning solutions in your pantry that you don't even know about. You might consider the following recipes for home cleaning solutions before purchasing your next commercially manufactured product.
Window Glass Cleaner Mix ½ cup of vinegar in one gallon of water or ½ cup of sudsy ammonia, 1 tsp liquid dishwashing detergent and 1 gallon of water.
Pots and Pans Soak or boil 2 tbsp of baking soda per quart of water in the pan. Let this stand until the food particles loosen. Then wash with detergent. For no-stick surfaces that are stained, a solution of 1 cup of water, 2 tbsp of baking soda and ½ cup of chlorine bleach simmered in the pan should do the trick!
Pet Stains Dab the wet area with a towel. Wash with liquid dish detergent and rinse with ½ cup vinegar diluted in 1 quart of warm water. Lay paper towels over the spot and weigh them down to absorb moisture. Let stand 3 to 4 hours and then vacuum.
Stainless Steel or Chrome Fixtures Dissolve 2 tbsp baking soda in 1 quart of warm water. Rub on and wipe off.
Rust Stains and Hard Water Deposits Apply full strength vinegar or lemon juice to the area. Let it stand until the spot is removed. This may take several applications.
Carpet Refresher/Deodorizer Achieve fragrance-free carpets by using ¾ cup of baking soda, 2 tbsp cornstarch, and ¼ cup of talcum powder. Sprinkle on carpet; let it stand for 5 minutes and then vacuum. If you would like a scented deodorizer, use a perfumed talcum powder in your favorite scent.
"Beautiful Yards Year-Round"
Year-round lawn care is essential for controlling weeds, crabgrass and other lawn invaders. Weeds germinate and grow during all seasons. Waiting to fight them in the summer can be ineffective. Continuous lawn care keeps grass green and weeds away.
Typically, the first application of weed killer should be done in the spring. Most weed control products last about 8 weeks depending on rainfall. If you are applying it yourself, follow the instructions on the label very closely. Applying more than required can actually kill the grass along with the weeds. Be careful about using chemicals that are harmful to the skin or respiratory system, especially when children will be outside. After 8 weeks, apply a post-emergent herbicide for weeds that have already sprouted. Once this second application is finished, your weeds should be under control. If they still persist, another application 8 weeks later and again in the fall might be necessary.
In early summer, add phosphorus free fertilizer to maintain thickness and color while preventing post emergent weeds. In midsummer, apply a slow release fertilizer to aid growththrough the warmer months. Later, apply fall fertilizer, which is higher in nitrogen and potash, to promote healthy root systems and deep color. Then, apply late fall granular fertilizer to help the turf get a jump start in the spring.
Watering your lawn is essential for proper growth. About 1 to 2 inches of total moisture per week is ideal. If rainfall amounts are down and your lawn is drying out, you may need to water it yourself. Let the grass recover and green up before mowing. Do not mow a brown, dry lawn. Higher green grass is better than short brown stumps. Mowing at 2 ½ inches keeps grass at an ideal height without causing it to brown.
"Pretty Up Your Path"
Unsightly dull, gray, cracked and stained concrete can be a thing of the past. There are now many new techniques in finished concrete that add texture, color and beauty to this most basic material.
Existing concrete must be power-washed and acid-etched to remove any excess dirt and debris. Remove cracked or damaged sections of concrete and repair or fill in with new concrete. Apply a thin, color-tinted polymeric concrete finish over the prepared surface. Apply the coating with a trowel at a thickness of about 20 mm. Once the overlay is applied, it can be textured using stencils, stamps, rollers or any other decorative tool.
Create a design in your sidewalk, patio or driveway. Design your own stencil or buy one "off the rack." Custom corporate logos have a special appeal. You may even decide to create your own personal message. When you have decided on your pattern, tape or mark it off on the surface. Using sand blasting equipment, etch the desired pattern into your existing concrete. Once finished, the etched surface can be left as it is or stained for an even more bold effect.
Two types of stains are generally used for this custom treatment. Chemical stains are used for acid etching. Surface colorants create a basic stain. The decision of which method to use will be based on the condition of the intended surface and the composition of the materials originally used.
It is impossible to guarantee a precise color using staining techniques because of the variables at work in the procedure. The concrete must be fully cured (approximately one month) before processing. Thoroughly wash the surface with detergent and water and rinse well. Apply the stain with a sponge, brush or spray it on, depending on the desired effect. After staining procedure is completed, wash the surface again. Let dry for at least two days before applying the sealant.
Chemical staining works through the reaction of the chemical compounds with the elements of the concrete. The chemicals react with the lime and result in a permanent color change of the concrete itself. Some stains are acid-based; others are water-based. Acid stains eat their way into the concrete, while water-based stains soak into the surface.
If you are not pleased with your path, you now have options. Choose your path wisely.
Each year, thousands of injuries and deaths occur in and around swimming pools, both public and private. At least half occur in pools of private homes. Follow these simple rules to increase your pool's safety.
1. Be sure all swimmers can swim confidently. If they cannot, make sure a responsible, experienced swimmer is accompanying them at all times.
2. Never allow anyone to swim alone.
3. Never dive into an above-ground pool. Always check water depth in an in-ground pool before diving or jumping. Make sure that the area near and underneath a diving board is kept clear.
4. Keep children safely away from pool filters. Small children can be injured by the suction force. The suction can also prevent them from surfacing if they are under water.
5. Fence the area around the pool and secure the gate with a lock to prevent entry into the pool without your knowledge.
6. Never allow anyone who has been drinking alcohol to enter the water.
7. Electrical devices such as stereos, radios and televisions should be kept away from wet surfaces.
8. Never leave small children unsupervised in or near the pool, even for a few seconds.
9. Keep a cover on the pool when not in use to prevent accidents. There are mesh safety covers available that easily slide on and off.