Consumer Real Estate News

    • Get Smart About Your Outdoor Power Equipment

      22 August 2019

      Your garage or tool shed may be locked and loaded with an array of impressive outdoor power tools, ready to be put to good use in the aftermath of a storm. However, this equipment can be more hazardous than the weather event itself if not used properly. Here are some recommendations from The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) for prepping to use these products in advance of storm recovery. Doing so will help ensure not only a smooth and effective clean-up, but more importantly, everyone’s safety:

      1. Survey your property. Know in advance the type of damage that might occur during a storm and the tools that you’ll need, i.e., a chainsaw, pruner or generator. Make sure this equipment is in good working order and, if not, take it to an authorized service provider for repair.

      2. Find your owner’s manuals and review them to make sure you know how to operate your equipment. You might have purchased an item, such as a generator, and never had a chance to actually use it.

      3. Have the right type and amount of fuel on hand, as gas stations may be closed after a storm, so stock up in advance. You’ll also need to store your fuel in an approved container. Use the type of fuel recommended by your equipment manufacturer. It is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol in outdoor power equipment.

      4. Have the right safety gear, such as work gloves, goggles, reflective clothing and a hard hat, if necessary. Not being dressed properly can be just as hazardous as using the wrong tools. Find all of this gear in advance of the storm so that it is accessible at a moment’s notice.

      5. Be aware of fundamental dangers that can occur, such as chainsaw kickback. Always stand with your weight on both feet, and adjust your stance so you are angled away from the blade. Hold the chainsaw with both hands. Never over-reach or cut anything above your shoulder height. Always have a planned retreat path if something falls. Keep firm footing on the ground when using pole saws and pole pruners. Observe the safety zone, which means keeping bystanders and power lines (those above you and any that might have fallen down) at least 50 feet away from your work area.

      6. Make sure portable electric generators have plenty of ventilation. Generators should never be used in an enclosed area or placed inside a home or garage, even if the windows or doors are open. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Keep the generator dry and do not use it in rainy or wet conditions. Before refueling, turn the generator off and let it cool down.

      Source: The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI)

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Bathroom Heaven: Creating a Spa Oasis

      22 August 2019

      (Family Features)--Transforming your bathroom into a personal home spa allows you to come home to a relaxing environment every day. By making space and removing clutter, along with adding decorative touches, you can achieve a stylish spa-like atmosphere in the comfort of your own home. 

      Whether you enjoy the understated, nature-inspired colors or the calming atmosphere, a spa-like bathroom can be beautiful, welcoming and relaxing. Escape the ordinary with these cabinetry ideas from the experts at Wellborn Cabinet: 

      Float your vanity. When it's time to retreat, a spa-like bathroom promises sanctuary in its design. Floating vanities mount directly to the wall, providing more floor space and creating a streamlined look. By mounting the vanity to a wall, the space is broadened, naturally making the bathroom look and feel larger while allowing for height customization.  

      Although the aesthetic benefits often come at the cost of limited under-sink storage space, this potential pitfall can be overcome with a customizable U-shaped drawer option designed to fit around the sink plumbing in your bath, allowing you to use all that under-counter space. 

      Clever, concealed storage. Style and functionality combine in bath cabinets and vanities designed to create your own private retreat where your space is serenely ordered and uncluttered. Common amongst spa-like bathroom styling is a clutter-free space, which allows for everything to be hidden behind the cabinet doors, making storage solutions vital. 

      To get the spa-like bathroom look, consider adding organizational solutions like a tiered spice rack, sliding shelves and vanity appliance pull-outs. A tiered spice rack keeps your cabinets organized and makes your morning routine easier. Sliding shelves can make your mornings less hectic with a gentle pull that brings bath essentials right to you. Conveniently store hairstyling tools in one location without compromising design or space with a vanity appliance pull-out. 

      Incorporate ample lighting. Design with relaxation in mind; the calm, warmer natural-color tones and ambient lighting help lend a relaxing vibe. Cabinet lighting adds depth, dimension and visual interest to a bathroom. An ideal lighting design goes beyond a centralized ceiling fixture and includes multiple layers of light. 

      Lighting in the bathroom is essential; illumination for everyday tasks can make your bath appear larger, add warmth and set the right mood. Lighting may also be designed to tuck cleanly inside and under cabinets to provide well-placed light without visible fixtures or distracting wires. 

      Infuse natural elements. Nature can be infused into the design by playing on textures with metals, earthy color tones, the graining in the cabinetry and the addition of a subtle waterfall separating the his-and-her vanity to provide a relaxing retreat.  

      Source: Wellborn Cabinet

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • From Bus to Playground: Back-to-School Safety Overview

      22 August 2019

      Back-to-school season is a fun, exciting time. But regardless of the age of your child,  the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urges parents and students to keep safety top of mind. Below are their top tips.

      Distracted Walking. For the five-year period from 2014 - 2018, there were an estimated 6,500 ER-treated injuries associated with walking-while-texting.
      Smart Tip: Keep your head up. Don't text or talk on your phone while walking. Distracted walking can be dangerous, especially near traffic and cross walks.

      Bicycles. From fractures to contusions and lacerations, there were an estimated annual average of 154,200 ER-treated bicycle injuries from 2016 to 2018, for children under the age of 16. 
      Smart Tip: Biking, skateboarding or riding a scooter to school? Use your head and wear a helmet.

      Playgrounds. Each year, there are more than 230,000 injuries associated with playgrounds. CPSC has investigated 40 deaths associated with playground equipment that occurred since 2014.
      Smart Tip: Leave necklaces and clothing with drawstrings at home to reduce strangulation hazards.

      Backpacks. Children shouldn't say, "Oh my aching back!" If they do, it could be the result of a heavy backpack. From 2016 - 2018, there were an estimated annual average of 7,400 kids under 19 years of age treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to backpacks.
      Smart Tip: Lighten the load. Make sure backpacks for your students are not too heavy.

      Movable Soccer Goal Deaths and Injuries. The CPSC is aware of 10 reported fatalities involving children under the age of 16 between 2000 and 2016 due to soccer goal tip overs or structural failure. During 2000 to 2018, there were nearly 3,300 emergency department-treated soccer goal tip over- or structural failure-related injuries involving children under the age of 16. 
      Smart Tip: Make sure movable soccer goals are anchored securely.

      Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Don’t Put These Items in the Dishwasher

      21 August 2019

      If you’re like most people, you’ve come to rely on your dishwasher to clean a multitude of kitchen items. But despite the convenience and deep cleaning the dishwasher offers, not everything can be safely cleaned there. Here is a list of items that should never be cleaned in your dishwasher:

      Your carving and steak knives. Dishwashing detergent can dull the blades over time, and the heat of the water and drying cycle can loosen the handles. To preserve the form and function of these knives, wash them by hand with warm, soapy water.

      Certain plastics. If your plastic items don’t say “dishwasher safe,” do not put them in the dishwasher, as they most likely won’t stand up to the heat. Even for dishwasher-safe plastics, put them on the top rack where they’re further away from the intensity of the heat source.

      Nonstick cookware. Most nonstick cookware is coated with Teflon, a substance that won’t stand up to the heat of the dishwasher and will, therefore, wear out over time. If you want to keep your omelettes from sticking, wash your nonstick cookware by hand unless the pan specifically says “dishwasher safe.”

      Fine china and crystal. The delicate nature of these items makes the dishwasher a hazardous place for them. Avoid damage to the fine finishes of china or chips to your crystal stemware by keeping them out of the dishwasher.

      Copper cookware. Popular copper cookware can discolor and get dull in the dishwasher. Instead, wash it by hand with soapy water, then restore its shine with lemon juice, salt and vinegar.

      Aluminum cookware. While stainless steel cookware is fine in the dishwasher, aluminum is not, as it can fade and oxidize when exposed to the high temperatures of the dishwasher. Aluminum also doesn’t do well with soaking. Instead, clean it with a mixture of cream of tartar and water. To remove discoloration, simmer a mixture of one tablespoon lemon juice per quart of water on the stovetop.

      Wooden utensils and cutting boards. The abrasive nature of dishwashing detergents can damage wooden items over time, and the drying cycle can cause them to warp and crack. To disinfect a cutting board after cutting raw meat on it, clean it with white vinegar or a mixture of two tablespoons bleach in a gallon of water. Rinse thoroughly and dry the board by hand.

      Cast iron. Dishwashing detergent will break down the seasoning you created when you first got your cast iron pan, and prolonged exposure to water in the dishwasher will cause it to rust. Instead, rinse your cast iron with a tiny bit of soap or an abrasive such as salt, then dry it thoroughly, leaving it on low heat in the oven or on the burner for a minute or two to thoroughly dry it. 

      Source: Real Simple Tips

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Making the Back-to-School Transition Easy From Kindergarten to College

      21 August 2019

      (Family Features)--It's time to get your household organized for another school year and all that comes with it. 

      Whether your child is headed off to kindergarten or going away to college, these useful tips can help make the transition back to the regimented school year easier and get your busy household organized for the upcoming season.

      - Tour the school. It is important to visit the school with your kids so they can get familiar with their new environment.

      - Meet the teacher. Introduce yourself to your child's teacher and discuss the best ways to communicate with him or her throughout the school year. Some teachers prefer to keep the conversation going through email, while others are more casual and utilize phone calls or in-person meetings.

      Elementary School
      - Get into a routine. Set your kids' sleep schedules back to "school time" at least two weeks before the first day.

      - Get your kids involved in sports or other activities they can do after school to keep them active. 

      Middle and High School
      - Have a conversation about technology. In this day and age, it's nearly impossible to avoid tech. Many students probably have schoolwork that requires use of the internet. It's important to have a conversation with your children about reducing time spent on their laptops for educational purposes during the week. 

      - Keep track of everyone's schedule. There are plenty of free family calendar applications available for smartphones and other devices that can help you keep up with all members of the family and stay organized.

      - Simplify the laundry routine. When it's your child's first time living on his or her own, you'll want to do everything you can to make things easier. Consider detergent pacs that fight tough stains while also being dye- and perfume-free, hypoallergenic and gentle on skin. 

      By implementing some of these simple tips, you and your kids can look and feel your best, setting up a seamless, stress-free transition back to the school year.  


      Published with permission from RISMedia.