As you deck the halls this holiday season, be fire smart. A small fire that spreads to a Christmas tree can grow large very quickly.
Picking The Tree • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. Placing the tree • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2” from the base of the trunk. • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit. • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily. Lighting the tree • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use. • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect. • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree. • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION The leading information and knowledge resource on fire, electrical and related hazards
As cold weather approaches, there are things you can do around the house.
Protect Your Pipes: Water expands as it freezes. If water inside your pipes freezes, it will expand, too, which can cause your pipes to crack and burst. Pipes also can burst when pressure builds up behind a chunk of ice, which is why it's a good idea to leave faucets dripping in very cold weather. Either way, a burst pipe can cause massive damage.
Drain water from outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems to keep those pipes from freezing.
Disconnect and store outdoor hoses; cover outdoor faucets with foam insulators.
Protect water pipes that run through unheated areas of your home with insulation, such as the attic, basement, or garage.
Pro Tip: Know where your water shutoff valve is so that you can turn off the water in case of an emergency. Typically it's located in the basement or buried near the road.
Check the Heat: The time to be sure you're going to stay warm all winter is before the weather gets too cold. Check your furnace by turning on the heat and the blower to be sure they're operating as they should.
Change your furnace filter at the start of the season and then every two to four months. Filters get dirty much more quickly if your home is dusty or if you have furry or feathery pets. Clogged or dirty filters are less efficient, which means your home might not warm up properly.
Consider installing a programmable thermostat if you don't have one. Programming it to be cooler at night and when you're not at home will save you money, and you can program it to be warmer for when you return or get up on cold winter mornings.
Pro Tip: Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans. Everybody thinks of using fans in the summer, but they can help you stay warm in winter too. Set the blades to turn clockwise to circulate warm air from the ceiling down into the room. I Inspect the Fireplace and Chimney: There's nothing like the glow of a fire to warm up a winter evening. But before you light up that first log, make sure your fireplace and chimney are clean and critter-free.
A professional chimney sweep can clean out soot and other debris that could catch fire. Keep your home's warm air from escaping out the chimney when you're not using it by keeping the flue closed all the way. You shouldn't be able to feel any cold air coming down the chimney.
You can also install glass fireplace doors or a chimney inflatable that blocks cold air from coming down the chimney and keeps in warm air.
Seal Windows and Doors: Gaps around windows and doors can make it tough to keep your house warm in winter. Caulk around windows and install weather stripping around doors as needed. This minor and inexpensive task can help you save on heating costs.
If your windows and doors are older, they may be inefficient single-pane windows or uninsulated doors. Consider upgrading to double- or even triple-pane windows and insulated doors and garage doors to boost the energy efficiency of your home.
Another option is to add storm windows and doors. Remove, wash and store screens for the spring before you have them installed.
So we've been having Armadillo problems this fall so I thought I would post some Remedies. I found the first one worked well for us. I hope these ideas help you keep those Dillos out of your yard.
4 Natural Remedies to Get Rid4 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Armadillos from the Yard of Armadillos from the Yard. 1. Wipe Away Their Food Source The armadillos are most likely digging holes in your lawn in search for food (aka insects and grubs). Remove their food source and they’ll most likely leave. One way to quickly reduce their food source is by applying beneficial nematodes to your garden or lawn soil. 2. Set up a Cage Trap Setting up a live cage trap is an effective option for armadillos that have already made your yard a permanent home. Armadillos are nocturnal animals so the traps should be set late in the afternoon and checked on several hours after darkness. Please be aware that it is illegal to relocate trapped armadillos in Florida and Texas (they are non-native species in those states). You may want to call animal control to take care of that for you. Armadillos are carriers of leprosy so you also want to avoid handling them.
3. Use a Predator Urine Spray This method is a hit or miss but still worth trying. Armadillos have a keen sense of smell so it may help to spray predator urine around your yard. You can easily purchase fox urine online. If you are a dog owner then you could also try burying a bag of dog hair or dog poop into the armadillo’s burrow. Same works for cat litter. 4. Set up a Fence Armadillos will always come and go, especially if you live in a place like Florida. If you have some highly-valued plants in your yard then consider building a fence around them. According to experts at UF, the fence should be approximately 24 inches above ground and the bottom of the fence should be buried 18 inches below the surface. The fence should also be slanted outwards (40 degree angle).
Fall has finally arrived and the temperatures are dropping. This happens to be my wife's favorite time of year and as she calls it sweat shirt weather or sweater weather. Which I personally never understood here in Mississippi, because seasons only last a few weeks except for summer. Little sarcasm there but kind of true. Regardless of the temperatures when fall comes around the leaves will start falling. When that happens It is important to start our fall responsibilities and keep our gutters clean.
Why is it important to keep the gutters clean? Gutters are designed to take water away from your home. When your gutters become stopped and water can not drain, then water will go in a path of least resistance. And sometimes that's back into your home. This can cause several issues wood rot, decay and even pest problem.
So a few hours of cleaning leaves and debris out of your gutter can save you hundreds to thousand's of dollars. And that's your tip from the Inspector.
As high-tech as our modern homes have become, we’re still at the mercy of Mother Nature every time the next big storm rolls through. While there’s not much you can do to put a stop to strong winds, power outages, and flooding, the right smart home tech can give you a leg up in keeping your home protected in the midst of an emergency.
As you put together your disaster kit and emergency plan, consider these smart home recommendations — they could make all the difference between a short-term inconvenience and a long-term disaster. Stay Connected Even When the Grid Goes Down Before you invest in several smart home tools, you’ll want to make sure you have the power you need to keep those tools going when you need them the most. Invest in an uninterrupted power supply (or UPS) to keep your Internet connection and WiFi operational during the next power outage. A UPS can kick in the second the power drops, and even a mid-range device can keep your critical systems running for 12 hours or more. If you live in an area that’s prone to hurricanes or other natural disasters that can cause long-term outages, consider investing in a small generator that can power your tech for days and keep essential appliances (like the refrigerator, HVAC system, and medical devices) up and running. Keep an Eye on Your Property, Wherever You Are Whether you’re stuck inside riding out the storm, or you’re hundreds of miles away and worried about your property from afar, a few wireless smart cameras can give you a full view of a storm and help you immediately know the difference between just a few broken branches or a devastating weather emergency. Today’s WiFi cameras are affordable and easy to install. Although they’re intended for general home security, their motion-based recording and night-vision capabilities can make them valuable allies the next time bad weather descends on your town. Many of these cameras are battery-run (allowing them to function when the power goes out), and their recordings can also come in handy for filing claims with your insurance company. You can check footage right from your mobile device from anywhere. They’re great for keeping your family safe and informed every day, but, more importantly, they can be a lifesaver in the event of an emergency. Get Alerts When Water Gets In As you outfit your house with smart home tools, grab a few water sensors to put in key areas, such as the basement and near the patio doors, where there’s a high risk of water leaks or flooding. These battery-powered sensors are inexpensive and work with almost any smart home hub, making them a valuable addition. As long as your home’s wireless network is running, a water sensor can send your smartphone or tablet a notification the instant a water emergency is detected, helping you stop a leak in a matter of minutes and avoid a potentially disastrous water emergency in the process. The Simplicity of Staying Storm-Safe These devices are simple to use and set up — they can be integrated into one system with a smart home hub set up by your local cable or Internet service provider. The right smart home upgrades will not only have a dramatic impact on your daily productivity, but they will also provide a critical safety net that can keep your family safe, and save you thousands of dollars in the midst of a weather emergency — and possibly save you even more on your homeowner's insurance policy. There’s no smarter way to be prepared in any type of weather.
Author Eric Murrell is a software developer and technology contributor. He enjoys sharing tips on how people can benefit from incorporating smart home automation and security in their homes on his blog At Home in the Future.