4 Tips for Planning a Summer Road Trip

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017

Road trips allow you to enjoy the journey and not just the destination. However, planning for a road trip can be a daunting task, especially if you have never been on one yourself. With these four tips, you can make your road trip go smoothly while enjoying your vacation.
1. Plan Your Route and Stops Before You Start Your Trip

When you take a road trip, you will be spending a large amount of time in your car no matter how far you are going. Some people are able to spend eight or more hours in the car each day while others, especially children, may not have that sort of stamina. As such, knowing your main route and where you will be spending the night can help prevent stress, keep you on track and ensure that everyone can make it through the trip while enjoying themselves.

If you are using GPS-enabled devices, it is recommended that you bring two. GPS services can sometimes be inaccurate and can leave you in a lurch. Further, even though we live in the age of technology, bringing along an up-to-date paper map can be a life-saver if you find yourself lost without cell service or battery power. If you or your friends or family members do not know how to read a map, this is a great chance to learn.

2. Know Your Budget

Budgeting for a road trip is incredibly important. On top of budgeting for hotels, food, fun and souvenirs, you should also ensure that you have budgeted some emergency money in the event that something goes wrong with your car. You do not want a blown tire to be the end of your trip.

There are also a few ways you can save some money. Some phone apps and GPS devices can help you find the gas stations with the cheapest prices. Also, gas stations that are located at exits with multiple fast food restaurants often have lower prices due to the competition. When it comes to food, packing some snacks can help keep your food costs down. Visiting a fast-food restaurant or diner every time you are hungry can get expensive quickly.

3. Schedule Some Exploring Time

The best part about road trips is that you get to travel on roads you never would have traveled on otherwise. This means that you may come across national gems that you never knew existed. Depending on where you are going, some roadside attractions, like gem mines, living farms and specialty museums can take a few hours to visit.

Having some extra time in your schedule also allows for the unexpected. For example, you could encounter road construction, accidents and even unclear directions while you travel. Since you have the extra time available, you will not have to stress too much about getting behind schedule.

4. Get Some In-Vehicle Entertainment

Spending several days on the road can get boring pretty quickly, especially if you have little ones with you. While movies and video games are probably the easiest to throw in the car, kids can miss out on the sights. Bringing along books, non-messy supplies, like paper and colored pencils, and non-electronic games can help some of the time go by. Road trip bingo games are perfect for this, as it gets them interested in their surroundings while still occupying them.

Summer road trips are a fantastic way to experience more of the world first-hand. By using these tips, you can get a strong plan together that will allow you to remember your first road trip fondly.

 

Beat Heat Exhaustion and Dehydration by Staying Cool This Summer

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

There is no better way to enjoy the summer season than by spending your free time outside in the sun with your family. However, your summer fun could end in catastrophe if you and your loved ones are not careful when spending the day out in the heat.

Identifying Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion occurs when someone becomes dehydrated and ill due to heat. Some of the symptoms include headaches, vomiting, dizziness, muscle cramps, excessive sweating and fatigue, among others. If not treated, heat exhaustion can escalate to heat stroke, which is a potentially fatal medical emergency that can result in a coma or seizures.

If you suspect that someone is suffering from heat exhaustion, there are several steps that can be taken to cool the individual down:

  • The person should be moved to a shady place or indoors where air conditioning is available.
  • Any excess clothing should be removed to help the person feel more comfortable.
  • You can pour old water over the person from heat exhaustion. You can also pack icepacks around them if they are available.
  • If their symptoms persist or you cannot get them cooled down, it is essential to contact emergency services.

Identifying Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when someone’s body does not have enough water or electrolytes to function properly. Most of the body’s water is lost through sweating on hot days. Someone who is experiencing dehydration may have a number of symptoms, including sudden headaches, nausea, dizziness and even shortness of breath. Severe dehydration can be life-threatening and needs immediate medical attention. Symptoms for severe dehydration include extreme thirst, unconsciousness, fever, low blood pressure, rapid breathing and an inability to sweat or urinate.

There are simple treatments for mild dehydration:

  • Water intake should be increased by frequently drinking small amounts. Drinking a large amount of water or other fluids all at once could lead to illness and vomiting.
  • Sucking on ice chips can ensure that fluids are going back into the body slowly.
  • Eating ice pops can help balance electrolytes. Popular sports drinks also have electrolytes, but they also contain a high amount of sugar. Therefore, these should be avoided by young children or individuals suffering from diarrhea.

For severe dehydration, the person may require an IV to replace fluids at a hospital or in an emergency room.

Tips for Staying Cool

Drinking water and staying indoors in the air conditioning are easy ways to beat the heat. However, everyone wants to enjoy the summer while it lasts. You don’t need to suffer episodes of dehydration and heat exhaustion to enjoy the great outdoors.

While keeping yourself hydrated is a must, here are several additional ways to stay cool when temperatures skyrocket:

  • Make Your Own Popsicles: One of the easiest ways to stay cool is to eat something cold. By making your own popsicles, you can even get the kids involved. Experiment with different healthy fruit juices and fruit pieces to create a tasty snack that will get everyone to sit down and take a break to cool off.
  • Stick with Cold Foods and Drinks: Keep your meals light and full of chilled fruits and vegetables. Eat small amounts during the day rather than one big meal. Digestion generates body heat and eating less more frequently will keep you cooler.
  • Leave the Kitchen Appliances Off: The oven generates quite a bit of heat. Avoid cooking foods that require the oven during the hottest parts of the day to give your air conditioner a break. Use a slow cooker for your big meals.
  • Use a Cold Cloth: If you find yourself outside working in your yard or garden, placing a cold cloth on the back of your neck will cool you down. You can also soak a cloth headband in ice water and wrap it around your head.
  • Use Ice with Your Fans: If you use floor fans, placing ice behind the fan will cool the air that is being blown into the room.

By staying cool, you and your family will be sure to have an enjoyable and memorable summer this year.

 

Preparing Your Air Conditioner for Summer

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

With the summer heat quickly approaching, it is time to get your air conditioner ready to take the heat. However, if you want your air conditioner to be reliable throughout the summer season, you will want to ensure that you provide it with the maintenance and care it needs to run efficiently even when the temperatures soar.
Set Up an Air Conditioner Checkup

While it may seem like overkill to have a professional like us come check out your air conditioner, now is the time to do it. Not only will a professional be able to do on-the-spot repairs and maintenance now so that you know your unit will turn on when you need it, but you will also see advantages in the long run. Air conditioning units that are regularly maintained generally last longer than those that do not. This means that your air conditioner will be more reliable for longer. Click on the link above to request an appointment.

However, if you need your air conditioner before you have a chance to get a professional out to give it a checkup, you can do a quick inspection of your cooling equipment yourself. Keep in mind that you will still want to have a professional come out to give your cooling unit the maintenance it deserves.

Inspecting Your Air Conditioner

Before you turn your cooling unit on, you should conduct a visual inspection of all of the equipment. Start with any exposed ductwork that your home has. Look for wear, like holes or thinning pieces of metal. Worn ductwork can make it more difficult for your air conditioner to keep your home at the desired temperature as cooled air may be lost before it reaches you. The harder your air conditioner has to work, the faster it will wear itself out.

Second, go through your home and check all of the vents. Remove anything that may be blocking them. If you have pets, you may want to remove the vent and vacuum around the opening of the duct. This will prevent pet hair and dander from being blown about your home when you first turn your cooling unit on.

If you have an outdoor unit, ensure that the condenser unit is not blocked by any items, twigs and other foliage. Blockages of any sort can have a drastic effect on the unit’s ability to cool your home. This is something that is easily done when you do your spring yard cleanup.

Finally, check the refrigerant lines and electrical wiring. If you see wear on the refrigerant lines or electrical wiring, do not attempt to fix them yourself. Just be sure to make a note and avoid turning your air conditioner on until a professional comes out to do maintenance. Refrigerant is flammable and faulty wiring could cause a fire, so it is best just to avoid those potential hazards altogether.

Consider Upgrading

If you have had your air conditioner for years and it is just not keeping up with your family’s needs, it may be time to upgrade. The cost for R-22 refrigerant has risen dramatically in the last couple of years and will soon be obsolete. Repairing old systems can be impractical because of cost. Click on the link above to view our current a/c sales price.

Replace your old air conditioning system with new R410a this Spring and save! Many newer systems are designed to work efficiently as save energy, which gets passed on to you in the form of saving money on your electricity bills.

Enjoy Your Summer without Suffering

Once you have checked your equipment and you have ensured that everything looks to be in good shape, it is time to turn your air conditioner on. Set your thermostat to your desired temperature, turn your air conditioner on and go outside. Listen to the fan on the condenser to make sure that it sounds like it is running normally. Within 10 to 15 minutes, your home should begin to feel cool and comfortable.

 

6 Fun Spring and Summer Activities to Enjoy with Your Kids

Saturday, July 9th, 2016

summer_funAlthough your kids are probably excited to get out of school and enjoy their summer vacation, the boredom can set in quickly. Although your kids do certainly need some unscheduled time for themselves this summer, there are some fun activities that you can enjoy with your kids to keep them happy and occupied.
1. Take a Picnic to the Park

If you’re looking for a fun day trip, taking your family to a new park or nature preserve may be a fun adventure. Your kids can enjoy exploring the woods or field, playing on the playground or just relaxing in the shade. Pack a light hamper with healthy snacks and water so they can load up when they need to. Many large parks and forest preserves have paths that can be traversed for even more fun.

2. Learn about Your Environment

You don’t need to go far from home for your kids to learn more about the world around them. If they have interests in birds, bugs and wildlife, pick up a guide so they can learn to identify the fauna and flora. Survival guides are also useful as they have information about whether certain plants are edible or poisonous. Having this little bit of knowledge can always be helpful, especially if the kids enjoy spending time outside.

3. Plant a Garden

Kids love to plant and play in the dirt. Give them a patch of dirt that they can call their own. This is a great way to introduce your children to growing vegetables or pretty flowers while giving them something that they can be responsible for. Depending on their age, you can help them learn how to properly grow the different types of plants or just let them figure things out for themselves.

4. Start a Project

During the school year, kids may simply not have enough time to start a major project, especially if they are balancing academics, sports and a social life. During the summer, however, they may have some time to slow down and start a project that really interests them. For example, this may be the time to introduce them to paint-by-number paint sets, crafting projects or computer art. Hands-on woodworking projects also give kids a chance to learn useful skills while they build something they can be proud of.

5. Learn a Language

Not all kids have a chance to learn a second or third language at school, especially if they go to a smaller school. Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Korean are becoming particularly popular to learn, while German, Spanish and French are common languages that kids may run across often. There are numerous computer programs that help teach new languages for affordable prices. Consider learning the chosen language along with your kids so you can all practice together. Not only will you learn faster, but you’ll all have a fun and rewarding learning experience.

6. Learn how to Cross-stitch, Knit or Crochet

Learning how to cross-stitch, knit or crochet together can be tons of fun, especially during rainy, slow days. For kids who rush through activities, needle crafts can teach them to work more slowly while still getting to experience their progress first hand. Further, this gives your child a skill that they can use to earn some cash should they decide to take their skills to the next level.

Have Fun this Spring and Summer

Keeping your kids active and learning this spring and summer can hard if you don’t know where to start. However, getting your kids involved in activities that you already enjoy or that you want to get started with can make the spring and summer months much more fun for everyone.

 

5 Ways to Keep Your Home Safe While on Vacation

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Vacation

 

No matter where you’re heading, going on vacation is exciting. However, planning for your vacation may not be as fun. Regardless, you want to ensure that your home remains safe while you’re away. By following these tips, you’ll enjoy coming home following a great vacation.

Hire a Trusted House Sitter

If you have a family member or a trusted friend who lives nearby, having them move in while you’re gone can keep your home safer. Not only can they bring your mail and newspapers in doors, they’ll be able to watch any pets you have and water your plants. Since burglars usually look for homes that are temporarily empty, having someone on the property makes your home a harder target.

For those who do not have a live-in house sitter, consider stopping the mail and newspaper service. This way, no one will be tipped off that no one is in the house. Simply call your local post office to hold your mail. Also avoid ordering packages prior to leaving so they don’t sit on your porch.

Utilize Your Neighborhood Watch Group

Many neighborhoods have watch groups that keep an eye on the neighborhood. You may be able to ask your local watch group to keep an eye on your home while you’re not around. Not only can they look for suspicious activities, but a reliable member may also help you keep your home safe by removing fliers that occasionally get stuck on your door.

Keep Your Home on a Schedule

If you don’t have someone to stay in your home while you’re taking a relaxing vacation, your home may stay dark all day long. In order to create the illusion that your home is not temporarily vacant, use timers that can turn your lights on and off. A neighbor or a member of your neighborhood watch group can take the garbage to the curb and put them back.

As a pro tip, keep your blinds open. If the blinds remain closed at all times, your home can begin to look suspicious.

Lock Up

While this seems like an obvious point, there are many homeowners who are used to keeping a window unlocked to get in if they forget or lose a key. As your preparing to head out the door, take some time to ensure all of your windows and doors are locked. Ensure that you also turn the deadbolt if you have one. This will make your home a less attractive to potential burglars.

Be Smart about Social Media

When you release details to the world through social media, you do not have any control over who sees your updates. In general, it is best to stay mum on your travel itinerary until after you return home. If you want to talk about your upcoming trip with your family, friends or house-watcher, consider hosting a casual dinner party at home or talking over the phone. If you’re meeting friends over coffee, it’s always a good idea to be aware your surroundings.

Additionally, talk to your children about being discreet when it comes to when your family will be gone. Teens and younger friends could potentially get it into their heads to cause some mischief involving your home.

Enjoy Your Vacation

By taking steps to ensure that your home will be secure while you’re out of town, you’ll be able to rest easy. Further, you’ll be able to enjoy making new memories without spending energy thinking about whether or not you’ll come back to a home that is still intact.

 

Reasons Why Your Lawn May Not Be So Green This Summer

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Brown Lawn

When the hot weather hits, you may want nothing more than to take a cool drink out back and relax on your beautiful green lawn. However, lawns sometimes begin to turn to not-so-pleasant shades of brown as the summer heats up. There are several reasons as to why your lawn may not be keeping its green, lush appearance.

 

Several Reasons Your Lawn May be Turning Brown

 

  • Fertilizer burn: When you fertilize your lawn, you are essentially adding nutrients back into the soil. However, too much of a good thing can be harmful. For example, an overdose of nitrogen can burn the blades and turn them brown. Overuse of some fertilizers may also cause excess salts to develop on the lawn, which draws the water out of the roots and causes them to turn brown or yellow.
  • Improper mowing: Brown areas can occur if the grass is cropped too short, causing the roots to become bleached by the sun. By mowing to a height of 3-4 inches, you’ll keep your roots shaded and reduce the amount of stress on your lawn.
  • Pet injury: Your furry friend can actually be detrimental to your lawn. Dog urine is high in salt, which causes salt burn. Adding Gypsum to the spot and heavily watering his favorite marking area will help to neutralize the salt content and will keep your lawn looking green.
  • Lack of water: When the summer droughts hit, the grass may begin to go dormant. This dormant state leaves lawns more susceptible to heat and other damage. If your area allows it, approximately 1 inch of water should be applied to the lawn once a week.
  • Insects: Common lawn insects may cause your lawn to turn brown. If your lawn is becoming discolored, you may want to learn about the types of these lawn insects in your area and look for the signs. A correct diagnosis is absolutely essential in order to rid your lawn of the problem. In many cases, the treatment may be a fungicide or insecticide.

 

Understanding Fertilizer

One of the most common reasons that lawns do not become lush and green is due to the misuse or misapplication of fertilizer. Different lawns in different climates need a different amount of nutrients in order to look its best.

In order to grow, your lawn needs three main nutrients:

  • Nitrogen: Maintains your lawn’s overall health and improves the plants’ green color.
  • Phosphorus: Improves the plants’ metabolic systems and helps your lawn to grow a healthy root system.
  • Potassium: Helps your lawn balance the water pressure around its cells.

Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are listed on fertilizer bags as their symbols on the periodic table of elements. Thus, nitrogen will be listed as “N.,” phosphorus will be listed as “P.” and potassium will be listed as “K.”

The amount of each nutrient in one bag of fertilizer is listed according to the percentages by weight of N.P.K. For example, an N.P.K. rating of 10-5-5 indicates that 10 percent of the bag is nitrogen, five percent of the bag is phosphorus and five percent is potassium. Therefore, a 50 pound bag that has an N.P.K. of rating will have of 10-5-5 will have five pounds of nitrogen and two and one-half pounds of phosphorus and potassium.

When it comes to your lawn, it can be difficult to find the reason as to why it is taking on an unhealthy shade of brown. In some cases, you may need to seek a professional to help determine the cause and the best treatment.

 

 

Simple Tips to Controlling Summer Pests

Friday, June 5th, 2015

With the summer heating up, it’s time to get out of the house and enjoy the great outdoors. However, the summer months also bring out a number of pests, including mosquitoes, ticks and bees. You do not need to resort to using products with harmful chemicals around your home to keep these insects at bay. By following these simple tips, you can keep these nuisances away from your home so you can enjoy your summer even more.

 

Mosquitoes

Considered to be one of the most dangerous pests, their bites result in itchy red bumps. However, these pests can also transmit a number of different diseases. In 2011, for example, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported over 700 cases, 43 of which resulted in death, of the West Nile virus that had been transmitted by mosquito bites.

17. mosquito

  • Natural Foods: Mosquitoes are attracted to human smells. Eating or using certain natural foods may actually mask your smell. For example, using citrus peels or onions as a natural insect repellent is not only safe for humans of all ages but it will also keep the mosquitoes at bay. Eating meals that include large amounts of garlic may also reduce your appeal to these pests.
  • Remove Their Habitat: Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. Removing all standing water from around your home will greatly reduce the number of these biting insects.
  • Plant Natural Repellents: Certain plants, like marigolds, catnip, basil and rosemary, are unappetizing to most insects. These plants can either be planted in pots and moved around or planted in the garden to keep the little nuisances away.

 

Ticks

While there are a number of species of ticks that can cause disease in humans, the black-legged deer tick causes the greatest concern. Often found in wooden areas or in tall grasses, this tick can transmit Lyme disease.TIck

  • Keep Your Lawn Manicured: Keeping your lawn mowed and removing weeds may seem like a chore on a hot day, but it will also make your lawn more enjoyable by repelling dangerous ticks. Since ticks love to live in overgrown wooded areas, it is also ideal to keep wood piles and brush away from the home. Similarly, keeping any swing sets or sand boxes away from these areas will also reduce the risk.
  • Watch Your Animals: Ticks are often brought into your home by hitching a ride on your furry friends. Keeping them out of wooded areas and long grass will help reduce the risk of ticks. Your pets should also be thoroughly checked for ticks if they do decide to take a stroll through the woods.
  • Where Light Colored Clothing: While ticks can be a big concern for both you and any children, they should not keep everyone from enjoying the great outdoors. By wearing light clothing, any ticks that are picked up should be readily visible before they bite.

 

Bees and Wasps

Every year, more than 500,000 people end up in the emergency room due to these stinging insects. Those who are most at risk include young children, older adults and those that are allergic to the venom in bee stings.

Wasp

  • Inspect Your Home for Colonies: One of the best ways to reduce the amount of bees is to rid your home of any bee colonies. If you notice an increase in the number of these stinging insects around your home, you may have a nest. Trying to remove a nest yourself can be extremely dangerous, especially if you are in an area that has reported sightings of Africanized Honey Bees. It may be best to find a reputable professional pest control company to take care of any hives.
  • Be Selective of Your Plants: Bees are attracted to flowering plants. If you or a family member are allergic, plant herbs and bushes nearby your home.

With these tips, you’ll be sure to reduce the number of pests around your home and backyard.