Mary Mastroeni
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Mary Mastroeni

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Is Your Plumbing Prepared for Winter?

October 4, 2011 8:03 pm

Preparing your home's plumbing for the winter is vital to minimizing the risk of potentially expensive repairs. Burst pipes, faulty boilers and radiators all need an inspection to ensure they're in good working condition. Being prepared is better than being taken by surprise, so spend the time to ensure your home is completely "winterized," that way you will also lower the likelihood of you having to call the plumbers in. 

Your radiators are a key component, not only in your home's heating system, but also to your comfort during the cold winter. Bleeding your radiators is a good way to restore their performance and efficiency. There is an easy way to determine whether your radiators need bleeding; check if they're hot at the top, but cold at the bottom. A simple home remedy is to get your radiator key and a cloth, and locate the square shaped bleed valve which is usually located near the top of the radiator. Turn off the heating, and gently turn the radiator key, while holding the cloth underneath to catch any dripping water, and let the air escape until water starts flowing. Tighten the valve again and move on to the next unit. 

Boilers can have a serious impact on your home's energy efficiency, so the first step is to ensure you have a modern boiler. Older boilers tend to use a lot more energy that their modern counterparts and it is recommended that if you boiler is older than 15 years you should look at replacing it. If you have a modern boiler, you should have it properly serviced before the winter. 

Pipes, more specifically frozen pipes, are often hardest hit by the winter. With some simple precautions, you should be able to avoid any damage to your home's plumbing system. All exposed pipes need to be covered with good lagging. Lagging provides protection to exposed pipes and taps during the cold winter and is more of a necessity than a good investment. Lagging helps reduce the risk of your home's pipes bursting, keeping condensation build up around the pipes to a minimum and improves energy efficiency. That means good lagging could not only protect your heating and plumbing, but it could even save you some money in the process. 

There are a number of plumbers and plumbing companies that will install lagging for you. However, be sure that the company you choose is a reputable and / or trusted authority—dealing with damaged pipes and a broken heating system in the middle of winter could be extremely inconvenient, not to mention potential financial implications. 

For more information, visit www.dyno.com.

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A Child's Risk of Being Hit by a Car - 4 Times Higher on Halloween

October 4, 2011 8:03 pm

An estimated 40 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 could hit the trick-or-treat trails this Halloween according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The nation's emergency physicians want all of them to enjoy the holiday traditions safely and not experience any Halloween horrors that would include spending time in the emergency department.

"Children should be out having fun and spending time with family and friends," says Dr. Sandra Schneider, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "They should not have to spend Halloween in the ER because of some injury that could have been easily prevented."

The risk of a child being hit by a car is roughly four times higher on Halloween than any other night of the year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other common Halloween injuries include eye injuries from sharp objects and burns from flammable costumes.

Emergency physicians recommend that children "trick-or-treat" at organized Halloween festivities, such as local churches, shopping malls or schools. This way, children are not walking in the dark and it allows constant adult supervision. 

In addition, ACEP suggests that adults following tips for a safe and fun
Halloween:
• Make sure your child stays on the sidewalks as much as possible (off streets) and obeys all traffic signals.
• Discuss the importance of staying together in a group. Require at least one adult to serve as chaperone during trick-or-treat gatherings.
• Make sure your child knows the potential dangers from strangers. Make sure they know never to accept rides from strangers or visit unfamiliar homes or areas.
• Avoid costumes that could cause children to trip, such as baggy pants, long hems, high heels and oversized shoes.
• Avoid costumes that obstruct the child's sight or vision.
• Avoid masks if possible. If your child must wear one, make sure it is well ventilated.
• Make sure costume fabric, wigs and beards area made of flame-resistant materials, such as nylon or polyester.
• Keep candlelit Jack-O-Lanterns away from children so they can't get burned or set on fire.
• Make sure costumes are visible at night: avoid dark colors. Add reflective tape to costumes so your child is more visible to motor vehicles.
• Make sure you see all of the candy before your child eats it. Avoid candy that is not wrapped in its original wrapper, as well as all fruit.
• Take a flashlight while trick-or-treating as visibility decreases long before it gets really dark.
• Check accessories such as swords, knives, wands and other pointed objects. Make sure they are made from flexible materials and have dulled edges.

For more information on this and other health-related topics, go to www.EmergencyCareForYou.org.

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Word of the Day

October 4, 2011 8:03 pm

Lease-purchase option. Opportunity to purchase a piece of property by renting for a specified period, with the provision that the lessee may choose to buy after or during the leasing period at a predetermined sale price.

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Question of the Day

October 4, 2011 8:03 pm

Q: How do I find government-repossessed properties?

A: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) acquires properties from lenders who foreclose on mortgages that it insures. These properties are then available for sale to potential homeowner-occupants and investors only through a licensed real estate broker. HUD will pay the broker's commission up to 6 percent of the sales price.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also acquires properties as a result of foreclosures on VA guaranteed loans. These acquired properties are marketed through a property management services contract with a federal bank that then lists them for sale with local real estate agents.

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Keep Your Home from Being a Target: 8 Ways to Help Keep Burglars at Bay

October 3, 2011 5:03 pm

Just-released statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation tell us a home is burglarized in the U.S. every 14.6 seconds—with an average loss to homeowners of more than $2,000 per theft. But, suggests Consumer’s Report, there are plenty of ways homeowners can help keep their homes from becoming a target for thieves.

Here are eight simple but effective suggestions for protecting your home and valuables:

1. Lock the garage door—leaving it open, or unlocked in your absence, is an invitation to thieves, who can simply close the outer door and gain access to your home from inside.
2. Don’t hide spare keys—Experienced burglars know where most keys are hidden; under a mat, above the door, in a planter box or under a statue. Instead of hiding one, give a spare key to one of your neighbors. 3. Don’t store ladders in an unlocked shed—Burglars can use them to gain access through an upper story window.
4. Think about a noisy alarm system—Silent alarms are fine, but most thieves know it will take at least 10 minutes for authorities to show up after an alarm is tripped. A noisy alarm will send them running.
5. Trim trees and landscaping—Trees near the house can offer a burglar easy access. Untrimmed shrubbery offers a pretty good hiding place.
6. Light up the dark—A darkened exterior gives a thief an entry advantage. Make sure your yards—front and back—are well lighted when you are away.
7. Secure sliding glass doors. Put a dowel down in the channel so the door cannot be opened wide enough to enter.
8. Don’t rely on a barking dog—Thieves may attempt to circumvent them by feeding them treats laced with tranquilizers or worse. Use timers to turn on lights, TVs, radios, etc. in random patterns.
9. Don’t ‘advertise’ at the curb—If you’ve just purchased a big-screen TV, a new appliance or other large item, cut the outer carton into small pieces that will fit inside the trash can.
10. Don’t post vacation photos on Facebook—at least not until after you are home. Wily thieves troll social media sites for such photos to learn when families are away.

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The Art of Choosing the Perfect Interior Designer

October 3, 2011 5:03 pm

Don’t have the eye of a designer and the taste of a decorator? Or perhaps just looking for a little extra guidance? No matter what level of skill one processes in design, according to Lloyd Princeton of iMatchDesigners, anyone can have the home and business they have always dreamed of from the inside out in one easy process.

Here, Princeton shares his personal advice on how to efficiently achieve the best results for your design project in the timeline and budget desired.

• Look and Style: Select someone whose design style fits the look you’re going for. If you don’t know what your style is yet, encourage them to flip through the designers past work and portfolios and see what jumps out.
• Personality: Find someone you feel you can be open and honest about your likes and dislikes. Most importantly, find someone who understands the role you to play. If you want to be really involved, you can consult them on all details. If you want to hand over the reins, the designers will take full charge and create your project with minimal consulting.
• Scope of Project: Make sure the designer outlines the complete scope of the project. This helps avoid unforeseen costs and other surprises. If budget is an issue, be willing to compromise. Know when to splurge on the main pieces—the sofa and chandelier—and when to choose less expensive pieces for accessories like end tables and lamps. Also breaking up the project into phases helps keep the budget on track.

For more information, visit http://imatchdesigners.com.

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Keep Listeria Out of Your Kitchen

October 3, 2011 5:03 pm

If you eat food contaminated with bacteria called Listeria, you could get so sick that you have to be hospitalized. And for certain vulnerable people, the illness could be fatal.

Unlike most bacteria, Listeria germs can grow and spread in the refrigerator. So if you unknowingly refrigerate Listeria-contaminated food, the germs could contaminate your refrigerator and spread to other foods there and increase the likelihood that you and your family will become sick.

Those most at risk for listeriosis—the illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes—include pregnant women, older adults and people with compromised immune systems and certain chronic medical conditions (such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and transplant patients). In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and serious illness or death in newborn babies.

Recently, a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis tied to contaminated cantaloupes has caused illnesses and deaths. Listeria has also been linked to a variety of ready-to-eat foods, including unpasteurized milk and dairy products, Mexican-style or soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, processed deli meats, hot dogs, smoked seafood and store-prepared deli-salads.

Donald Zink, Ph.D, senior science advisor at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, says FDA is aware of cases of foodborne illness caused by bacteria that can live in the kitchen and spread to foods.

Consumers are advised to wash all fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking, even if you plan to peel the produce first. Scrub firm produce such as melons and cucumbers with a clean produce brush.
To further protect yourself and your family from Listeria, follow these steps:

Keep Refrigerated Foods Cold
Chilling food properly is an important way of reducing risk of Listeria infection. Although Listeria can grow at refrigeration temperatures, it grows more slowly at refrigerator temperatures of 40 degrees F or less.
• Keep your refrigerator at 40 degrees F or lower and the freezer at 0 degrees F or lower.
• Wrap or cover foods with a sheet of plastic wrap or foil or put foods in plastic bags or clean covered containers before you place them in the refrigerator. Make certain foods do not leak juices onto other foods.
• Place an appliance thermometer, such as a refrigerator thermometer, in the refrigerator, and check the temperature periodically. Adjust the refrigerator temperature control, if necessary, to keep foods as cold as possible without causing them to freeze. Place a second thermometer in the freezer to check the temperature there.
• Use precooked and ready-to-eat foods as soon as you can. The longer they are stored in the refrigerator, the more chance Listeria has to grow.

"If you have leftovers in your refrigerator, it’s best to throw them out after three days, just to be sure,” says Zink. “It's better to be safe than sorry."

Clean Refrigerator Regularly
Listeria can contaminate other food through spills in the refrigerator.
• Clean up all spills in your refrigerator right away—especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages, raw meat, and raw poultry. Consider using paper towels to avoid transferring germs from a cloth towel.
• Clean the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with warm water and liquid soap, then rinse. As an added measure of caution, you can sanitize your refrigerator monthly using the same procedures described below for kitchen surfaces.

Clean Hands and Kitchen Surfaces Often
Listeria can spread from one surface to another.
• Thoroughly wash food preparation surfaces with warm, soapy water. As an added precaution you should sanitize clean surfaces by using any of the kitchen surface sanitizer products available from grocery stores, being careful to follow label directions.

You can make your own sanitizer by combining 1 teaspoon of unscented bleach to one 1 quart of water, flooding the surface and letting it stand for 10 minutes. Then rinse with clean water. Let surfaces air dry or pat them dry with fresh paper towels. Bleach solutions get less effective with time, so discard unused portions daily.
• A cutting board should be washed with warm, soapy water after each use. Nonporous acrylic, plastic, or glass boards can be washed in a dishwasher.
• Dish cloths, towels and cloth grocery bags should be washed often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
• It’s also important, to wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.

For more information, visit www.FDA.gov.

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Word of the Day

October 3, 2011 5:03 pm

Lease. Contract that conveys the right to use property for a period of time in return for a consideration, usually rent, paid to the property owner.

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Question of the Day

October 3, 2011 5:03 pm

Q: What happens at a trustee sale?

A: When a homeowner falls behind on three payments, the bank will record a notice of default against the property. When the owner fails to pay up, a trustee sale is held, and the property is sold to the highest bidder. The lender that initiated the foreclosure proceedings will usually set the bid price at the loan amount. Successful bidders receive a trustee's deed as proof of ownership.

Trustee sales are advertised in advance and require all-cash bids, which can include cashiers’ checks. Normally, a sheriff, constable, or lawyer conducts the sale and acts as the trustee. Because these sales typically attract savvy investors, inexperienced buyers should come extremely prepared.

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Word of the Day

September 30, 2011 8:03 pm

Junior mortgage. Any mortgage, such a second or third mortgage on a property, which is subordinate to the first one in priority.

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