Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Safety Tips

The holidays should be a magical time for children. Yet each year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 8700 people for injuries, such as falls, cuts and shocks, related to holiday lights, decorations and Christmas trees.

Keep the season merry with this list of safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Safer Trees and Decorations

•When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean the tree won’t catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly.

 •When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.

 •When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.

 •Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.

 •Use only noncombustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children.

 •Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use nonflammable holders and place candles out of children’s reach.

 •Take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food, which may tempt a child to eat them.

 •Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair." Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial-snow sprays.

Bright Ideas for Lights

 •Indoors or outside, always use lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory that indicates conformance with safety standards.

 •Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets.

 •Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.

 •Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.

 •Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.

 •Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores).

 •Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.

 •Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

Friendlier Fireplaces

 •Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.

 •Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result, as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

 •Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tenant Tips for Paying Rent

Tips from Apartment Owners Association of Southern California.
As a tenant, a wrong decision relating to the financial part of renting can result in the major life change of having to move home. Put simply, there are three key issues relating to rent that all tenants should consider before signing on the dotted line to avoid any potential pitfalls later on.
Firstly, it’s important to look at how much rent you can afford to pay. Just like the banks evaluating a home loan, most property managers are looking for prospective tenants to have a net income of three times the rent they will be paying. For example, if a single person is looking to rent a $200 apartment, they will need to be earning at least $600 after tax a week. Likewise, if there is to be more than one occupant, their combined net income should be three times the rent. Even if a property manager doesn’t insist, history shows that not sticking to this formula will almost certainly result in difficulty over paying the rent at some stage.
Secondly, consider the way you will pay your rent. The best way is to set up a direct debit such as Payment Gateway, to make sure the rent is paid on time, every time without you having to do a thing. There is generally a small cost attached to using any direct debit, but the reality is there’s not really any “free” way of paying rent – even if you were to pay in cash there would be a time and travel cost attached to getting into the agent’s office.
Lastly, look at when you pay the rent. Tenants have an obligation to pay on time and in advance otherwise they are in breach of the lease agreement. The catch is there’s usually a lag of between one and four days from when a payment leaves your account and arrives in the agent’s account.  It’s a good idea to set up the payment a couple of days before the due date to make sure you aren’t in default. If your pay date is later than your due date, pay a couple of days extra up front when you begin the lease to synchronize the dates.
All in all, if you line up your financial ducks before you commence a tenancy, you’re unlikely to end up in trouble over the rent later.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Winter Electric Savings Tips

  • Keep your thermostat at or below 68 degrees. If you are cold, put on a sweater or sweatshirt.  Remember, you are saving up to 5% on your electric bill for every degree of temperature change.
  • On sunny winter days, open your curtains, drapes, and blinds to let the sunshine in to warm up your house.
  • Put clear plastic over some of your windows.  This will work like insulation and prevent cold air from getting in your house.
  • Make sure windows and doors close well so they do not let any cold air in.
  • Repair any broken or cracked window glass.
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure you have a tight-fitting damper and keep it closed when you are not using the fireplace.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

5 Thermostat Tips to Save Money!

Thermostats, where they are located in your home, and how you set them can be the most important factor in determining the size of your fuel bill.  Here are five tips to help save money.

1. When you’ll be out for an evening, turn down the thermostats. If you’ll be away for a weekend or more, lower the thermostats to 55 F. You’ll save on heating without risking a freeze-up of your water pipes.

2. Whenever you can lower your thermostat dramatically for a few days or more, you’ll save a little on the operation of the refrigerator and freezer, which won’t need to work so hard to maintain their cool.

3. How low can your thermostats be set? At our house, we’ve gotten accustomed to 68 F as a comfortable norm. Reduce the heat just 1 degree at a time and try it for a week. Each 1-degree drop for an eight-hour period reduces your fuel bill about one percent. Gradually, you might be able to go down 3 or even 4 degrees comfortably and save a chunk of money.

4. Try turning down the thermostat 5 to 10 degrees at night, and then turn it up again in the morning when the coffee is brewing. If you can get used to that, you’ll save 5 to 10 percent of your heating bill.

5.  Once common myth is that when you reduce the thermostat for only a few hours it will take more heat to bring your home back up to the desired temperature. This is not so. You will save money and fuel because your heating system will not have to keep your home so warm. You will use less energy overall even when you warm up your house from a cooler temperature

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Renter's Insurance - A Good Idea

Are you wondering what the benefits are in buying renters insurance? Do you think it's just another way for the big insurance machine to get your money? Unlike other kinds of insurance such as auto or homeowners, renters insurance is an affordable way to protect one's assets, get legal assistance against lawsuits and offer medical help for guests. So, before you discount it as just another household expense, weigh the costs. Renters insurance offers a lot of benefits that you will want to take advantage of.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It's the New Year!

With the new year upon us, it's time to check those smoke dectector batteries.  A little prevention goes a long way.  Happy new year to all!