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Tips to Make Your Older Home a Safe Home

 Homes built today must adhere to strict safety codes. Older homes, while offering plenty of charm and character, are more likely to have safety issues — potential problems can range from lead paint and asbestos to faulty wiring and wobbly stairs.

But you can make an older home a safe home. Educate yourself about some of the dangers associated with old homes and take any necessary action to transform your older house into one that’s as safe as possible.

The Dangers of Lead Paint and Asbestos in Older Homes

Certain materials used to build and remodel older homes are no longer used today because of safety concerns associated with them. These materials include:

  • Asbestos.Asbestos was used in insulation, shingling, millboard, textured paints, and floor tiles in older homes to make them resistant to fire. But when asbestos becomes airborne, it can be inhaled and can accumulate in your lungs, potentially leading to lung cancer, mesothelioma, and fatal scarring of the lungs. Since asbestos-containing materials are usually not dangerous when they are in good condition, it is usually best to leave these materials alone. But if

7 Container Garden Tips For Beginners

How Smoke Alarms Can Save Lives

 By the time flames are roaring through a house, it may be too late to stop the fire. Even worse, it may be too late to safely get your family out of your burning home. Fires can start and spread quickly, often while you’re asleep. So to protect yourself and your family from fires, install a smoke alarm in every crucial area of your home.

Buying a Smoke Alarm

A smoke alarm, also called a smoke detector, can sense a fire early on and warn a family of impending danger before tragedy strikes.

Smoke alarms are sold at hardware and home improvement stores, and even some supermarkets. You might even be able to get a free smoke alarm from your local fire department.

You can buy a smoke alarm that runs only on battery power or one that is wired into the electrical system of your house and runs on electricity with a battery backup. Above all, each smoke alarm you buy must carry the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label on it.

There are three types of smoke alarms on the market:

  • Ionization smoke

Christmas Trees and Trappings Can Fan Fire Risk

The risk of burns increases over the holiday season because people are cooking more, putting up potentially flammable decorations and using fireplaces and candles.

“We see a significant increase in burn patients between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Your holiday, which should be full of joy and celebration, can quickly turn tragic,” Dr. Jeff Guy, director of Vanderbilt Regional Burn Center in Nashville, Tenn., said in a Vanderbilt University news release.

Many of these injuries are easily preventable if people are cautious and eliminate potential dangers that could lead to burns.

Guy outlined a number of ways to prevent burns and have a safe holiday season.

Staying in the kitchen and being attentive while cooking can prevent most cooking fires. Keep pot holders, wooden utensils, towels, food packaging and anything else that can catch fire away from the stovetop.

Use turkey fryers outdoors and keep them a safe distance from the building. Never overfill a fryer with oil and never leave it unattended.

When you buy an artificial Christmas tree, select one with a “fire resistant” label. When buying a real tree, check for freshness. It should be green, the needles should be

Tips to Prevent Burglaries

Ever wonder if your home is a target for burglaries — if burglars look hungrily at your poorly lit, flimsy front door? View your home the way a burglar would, and think about what you see. Boosting your home security will give you peace of mind, and help prevent a robbery.

How to Make Your Home More Secure

You don’t have to barricade your doors and windows to keep burglars out of your home. But you do need to make sure that your home is protected, with no weak spots where burglars can enter or hide out. Here are some ways to strengthen your home security:

  • Door security. Use solid metal or wood doors with deadbolt locks, and hinges without removable pins when possible. If you have sliding glass doors, secure them with screws that keep them from being lifted off their tracks and lock them with a deadbolt lock. Make sure all doors in the house, including patio and side doors, are secured at all times.
  • Close the garage. Keep your garage doors and windows closed and locked, including those doors leading from the garage into the home.
  • Light your home. Make sure doors and

Simple Ways to Prevent Fireworks Injuries

Many Fourth of July fireworks-related injuries could be prevented with some common sense, according to experts who advise people to avoid using fireworks at home — even if they’re legal.

“There’s no such thing as completely safe fireworks,” Dr. Andrew Sama, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said in an ACEP news release. “A few minutes of well-intentioned fun can result in lifelong disabilities.”

Every Independence Day, an average of about 200 people end up in the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Most of these injuries are burns and nearly half of these incidents involve people’s hands and fingers. The CPSC notes that 34 percent of fireworks-related injuries affect people’s eyes, head, face and ears.

Although sparklers may seem safe, they carry hazards as well. A sparkler can burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is as hot as a blowtorch, according to the release.

The ACEP recommended the following fireworks Dos and Don’ts to ensure people’s safety this year:

Do:

  • Anyone using fireworks should be supervised by an experienced adult.
  • Only buy fireworks from reputable dealers.
  • Be sure to read fireworks labels

Guide to Eating Healthy in an Emergency

In the case of a hurricane or tropical storm, your family’s physical safety is your first concern, so it’s important for you to prepare an emergency plan in advance. But even if your home is not directly hit by a storm, your neighborhood or community could be affected for several days or longer by power outages, blocked roads, and damage to grocery stores, gas stations, and other businesses.

Hurricane disaster experts with the National Hurricane Center, the Red Cross, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency advise each household to put together a preparedness kit that includes such basics as a flashlight, a radio, batteries, maps, a first-aid kit, a manual can opener, medications — and, of course, food and water. But exactly what foods should be included?

Healthy Meal Plans

Every household should stock up on healthy, easy-to-store food items, but it’s especially important to include diet-specific foods for any family members who have high blood pressure, diabetes, gluten allergy (celiac disease), or another health condition that requires a special menu.

Read the shopping lists and sample menus below for choices that can help your family eat

Safeguarding Your Home From Flooding

Flash flooding can literally happen in an instant, and even nonviolent, slow-moving thunderstorms can overwhelm creeks and rivers, leading to serious flooding. Regardless of the cause, flooding can jeopardize your family’s safety and well-being.

Flood Control Measures to Consider

It may be impossible to prevent flooding, but flood control is possible. Follow these practical flood control tips to limit potential damage inside and outside your home:

  • Keep gutters clean and make sure downspouts drain water away from your house.
  • Maintain clear paths for storm water to travel, ensuring that storm drainage ditches are free of sticks, rocks, and other debris and can alleviate overflow that damages homes and surrounding property.
  • If you can, install a small floodwall or use sandbags to regrade your yard.
  • As a flood control precaution, install check valves and backup sewer valves to prevent water from backing up in your home’s drains.

Planning and Preparation Help Reduce Losses

Considering flood control as you perform routine maintenance on your home is the first step in safeguarding your family and property in the event of a flood. Being prepared for flooding if or when it occurs is just as important.

The Federal

Common Mistakes Growing Tomatoes in Containers

Growing tomatoes in containers is almost always an adventure. It can be incredibly rewarding or flat out disastrous. Sometimes epic failure can happen for reasons beyond your control like tomato blight or a ridiculously wet or cold summer. But there are some common mistakes (trust me, I’ve made all of them, much more than once) that if you can avoid them, will vastly increase your chances of growing tomatoes in containers successfully.

Small Containers

When it comes to tomato containers, bigger is better. The bigger your container, the more soil it will hold. The more soil you have, the better the soil holds water. Also, the more soil the more available nutrients for your plants. Consistent water and food are two of the most critical elements for happy, healthy tomato plants and large harvests.

Too Much Water

Watering your tomato plants properly is probably the main key to tomato success. Too much water and the plants drown, too little and you get blossom end rot. Inconsistent watering will also get you blossom end rot, split tomatoes, and stressed plants. So here’s a critical thing you must

Balcony Gardening for Beginners

Learn more about growing a successful flower garden when you have zero in-ground planting area, and transform a space for a couple of potted plants into your urban paradise.

Flowers for Balcony Gardens

Flowers that thrive in alpine or rock gardens are also ideal candidates for balcony gardens. Like alpine environments, balconies are exposed to unbuffered winds, and the succulent leaves and low profile of these flowers protect them from desiccation and breakage. Alpine flowers also get by on less water, making themlow maintenance and less likely to drip on neighbors below. Include Armeria sea pink for a cushion of bright pink flowers in late spring. Delosperma hardy ice plant produces daisy-like flowers over a long period. Dianthus flowers will cheer you with a spicy fragrance. The penstemon may attract passing bees and butterflies.

If you aren’t ready for the commitment of perennials, choose drought-tolerant annuals that don’t need fussing to thrive. Vinca flowers are self-cleaning; no need to deadhead. A Million bells are petunia look-alikes but won’t look like something the cat dragged in after a rainstorm.

Choose Balcony Garden Containers

Before you choose containers for your balcony garden, you should determine

5 Tips for Starting Seeds Indoors

Starting seeds indoors can be frustrating, exhilarating or sometimes a little of both. As someone who has killed hundreds, maybe thousands of innocent seedlings, I’ve improved my success rate dramatically by using these tips.

Let There Be Light: For seedlings to grow properly, they need light. And lots of it. Even if you have a south facing window, chances are that you don’t have enough natural light to grow healthy robust seedlings.

If seedlings don’t get enough light they will be spindly and won’t make it to healthy adulthood. Don’t be alarmed though, setting up an artificial light system can be easy and not expensive.

I have a simple set up in my basement using inexpensive metal shelves. I have attached shop lights using “S” hooks and the chains they came with, so they can be raised as the plants grow. Sometimes if you’re growing several types of plants under one light, one side of your shop light will have to be higher than the other, as plants grow at very different rates. I have fitted the shop lights with one cool and one warm fluorescent

7 Common Container Gardening Mistakes

Since I have made every mistake possible, many more than once, the following list of 7 common container gardening mistakes is just a start, and is in no particular order.

1. Filling a large container in the wrong place: Ever tried to lift a large container garden filled with dirt and plants? I have, and it can be overwhelmingly heavy. When using a large or unwieldy container make sure to place your pot where it will live and then fill it – you’ll save your back!

Also, if you know you are planting shallow rooted plants in a very large container (for example, herbs, annuals, succulents), you can fill the bottom third with empty plastic bottles and cover them with plastic screening. You can also use a product called “Better Than Rocks,” to take up space. It will make your container lighter and less expensive because you won’t need as much potting soil.

2. Overwatering Your Plants: To avoid over-watering your container gardens, use containers that have drainage holes – lots of them. Also, make sure to read the moisture requirements for your plants and then follow them.

Vegetable Container Gardening For Beginners

Vegetable container gardening can bring joy and bounty. The simple pleasure of biting into a tomato still warm from the sun, picked and eaten on the spot is almost unbeatable. You can grow just about any vegetable in a container and you can also save serious bucks by growing your own veggies.

However, vegetable container gardening can be a frustrating and expensive endeavor if your plants don’t thrive and produce.

The following list of basic tips apply to most vegetables and will help you and your plants get off to a good start.

Sun

Most vegetables need full sun – that means at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. Most people way overestimate how much sun an area really gets, which is easy to do. For your veggies to thrive, you will need an accurate assessment so either take out your watch and time how long the sun directly hits the spot where you want to put your vegetable container garden, or use a sun calculator to get an accurate, not optimistic assessment.

Water

Vegetable plants need water and some like

Tips for Growing Your Own Home Garden

Keeping a garden cultivates more than just flowers — the activity of gardening is an excellent way to exercise, clear your mind, grow your own healthy foods, and transform your outdoor space into a more beautiful one. So slip on your gardening gloves, head outside, and start growing your own lush plants and vegetables.

Don’t know how to get started? First consider a few factors that go into the planning and design of a garden:

  • Your climate. Your climate determines the types of plants that will grow best in your garden and the steps needed to take care of them. Do some research or speak with a professional landscaper to find out what plants are native to your area and any others hardy enough to survive the winter. If your region of the country has distinctive seasonal changes, choose plants that will peak at various seasons, so that your garden will be attractive all year long. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Hardiness Zone Map can help you determine which plants are best suited for your climate.
  • Your taste. Not everyone’s idea of a dream garden is the same. Some people prefer flowering plants, while others get

Rules for a Clean Refrigerator

Having a healthy home means doing what you can to keep your family well and safe. One simple way to do that is to maintain and clean your refrigerator regularly — it will save energy and money and reduce your family’s risk of food-borne illness.

Smart fridge maintenance involves keeping the refrigerator temperature in the recommended range, properly organizing your fridge food, and cleaning it up. Here’s how to get started.

The Right Refrigerator Temperature

Monitoring and maintaining your refrigerator temperature is one of the best ways to prevent food-borne illness, since keeping foods properly chilled can help prevent or slow the growth of microorganisms, like Salmonella and E. coli, that cause these illnesses. You should keep your refrigerator at or below 40ºF and your freezer at or below 0ºF. Consult the appliance manual to find out how to make these adjustments.

Since your refrigerator’s efficiency can change over time, it is important to check your refrigerator temperature regularly. The best way to do this is to buy and use an appliance thermometer.

You can also help your refrigerator work at its best by positioning it in a relatively cool location, out

Tips to Survive a Hurricane

Hurricane season arrives every year toward the end of summer, and the first storm of the 2011 season — Irene — is threatening the U.S. East Coast. Though it’s too early to determine exactly where the storm will hit, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that if you live along the Atlantic coast, you should start preparing well before the storm comes to your area.

While many who live in hurricane-prone areas already consider themselves pros at hurricane prep, it’s a good idea to review these safety precautions before a storm rolls in.

Before the Hurricane:

A joint report from FEMA, the American Red Cross, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggests that you plot out the safest and most effective evacuation routes before a storm strikes. Once you have an evacuation strategy in place that will keep you, your family, and your pets safe, don’t neglect these important, but easy-to-forget steps.

“Remodel” your home. Purchase plywood and other materials to board up your windows, and install straps to fasten your roof to the frame structure — this should help minimize roof damage. And don’t forget to trim those

Make a No-Smoking Zome in Your Home

There’s really no debating it: All homes should be smoke-free spaces. Not only does cigarette, pipe, and cigar smoke expose other people in your home to the dangers of secondhand (and third-hand) smoke, it sharply increases the chances of a house fire and makes your home less desirable to live in and visit.

The Dangers of Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke is more dangerous than it sounds. Declared a human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, secondhand smoke is a combination of the smoke exhaled by the smoker and the smoke coming from the tobacco product itself. This double whammy increases the risk of serious health complications and death.

A smoker in your home compromises his life and the life of everyone around him. And that includes pets: Cats exposed to secondhand smoke have double the risk of developing malignant lymphoma.

Many state governments are taking the health risks of secondhand smoke and indoor air pollution so seriously that they have banned smoking in most public areas, including restaurants, workplaces, and bars. More than half the states and the District of Columbia have put comprehensive smoke-free laws into place.

Some of the

Keeping Your Home’s Air Clean and Safe

Indoor air quality may be invisible, but it still has an impact on your family’s health and your home safety. Levels of many pollutants can be far higher indoors than they are outdoors — and indoor pollutants can seriously affect your health. Major factors impacting indoor air quality and home safety are air circulation and moisture levels.

Ted Schettler, MD, science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, says that air filters, which help capture particulate pollution, play a major part in home air quality.

Clean, efficient fans and filters on dehumidifiers, furnaces, refrigerators, and other appliances allow them to function efficiently and can also reduce moisture in the air and minimize particulate pollution in your house.

Similarly, for home safety, it’s important to vacuum or dust smoke and carbon monoxide detectors frequently, as spider webs and dust can limit their effectiveness. While you’re dusting, take a moment to test them and make sure the batteries are still working.

Take these steps throughout the year to improve the air quality inside your home:

  • Be sure air vents between the indoors and the outside aren’t blocked by snow, leaves, dirt, or other

Strategies for Preventing House Fires

Of the thousands of people who perish each year in fires, the overwhelming majority – 84 percent – succumb in their own homes. House fires can flare for many reasons, including electrical problems, outdoor fires, and unattended candles. The most common cause of death from house fires, however, is from cigarettes that have been left carelessly lit.

Keeping Your Home Safe From Fire

Many house fires start because of carelessness and can be prevented by taking simple fire safety measures to protect your home. Follow these fire safety tips to reduce the risk of house fires:

  • Be careful in the kitchen. Fire safety and prevention is especially important in the kitchen, so keep kitchen appliances unplugged when you’re not using them (of course, that goes for appliances elsewhere in the house, too). Never leave the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop, and keep flammable items away from the stovetop.
  • Use heaters wisely. Have your furnace or heating system inspected annually, and avoid potentially dangerous causes of fire like kerosene heaters. Always use a screen in front of an indoor fireplace to keep flames away from furniture and drapes, and be cautious when using space heaters

Childproofing Essentials for a Safe Home

Childproofing your house can be difficult! The process is an ongoing one to ensure a baby, toddler, and child safety at home or to keep kids safe while visiting a friend or relative’s home.

Karen Sheehan, MD, MPH, medical director of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, reminds adults to consider a child’s developmental stage when childproofing a home.

  • Infants are barely mobile, but even young babies can roll or otherwise move considerable distances.
  • Crawlers and early walkers can get into trouble anywhere.
  • Older toddlers can be extremely curious and resourceful about climbing, opening doors, and getting into places that may surprise adults.

A good approach to childproofing your home is to see each room through eyes of a child. Get down on the floor and look around. Ask yourself questions like, “What’s that? Can I put it in my mouth? What would happen if I crawl in there?”

A Childproofing Safety Check for the Whole House

Once you start childproofing, you’ll probably notice safety hazards throughout the house, from the laundry room to the linen closet. Be methodical during your childproofing “tour” of your home. Count the