Keeping Your Home Safe While You are Away on Vacation

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

With the vacation season just around the corner, it may be busy planning where you want to go to relax. While you are researching your desired destination, do not forget to take precautions when it comes to keeping your home safe. The time when you are away for an extended period is when your home is at the most risk, so spending some time protecting your home and possessions will allow you to relax a little easier.
1) Hire a House Sitter

One of the easiest ways you can protect your home while you are gone is to hire someone to look after your home. A relative who you trust may be your best bet, though you can always hire a house or pet sitter through a professional agency. Even if the person is not staying in your home full-time, it will look like someone is occupying the home as long as they bring in the mail and the newspaper. If you do not have someone you can trust with your property, put a hold on your mail and stop the newspaper delivery until you return.

2) Make It Look Like Someone is Still Home

Your home should always look lived in even when no one has been at home for a couple of days. This illusion can actually be very easy to create by installing timers that will turn lights on and off at normal times. If you have a neighbor who will be around for a few days, see if they can take out the garbage can on the normal pickup days. If the landscapers normally come on Saturday, keep a visit scheduled so that your lawn looks cared for. Ultimately, you want it to look like your home is operating as it normally would.

3) Avoid Talking about Your Trip on Social Media

Although it can be difficult, avoid talking about your upcoming trip on your social media pages. By posting about your upcoming plans, acquaintances of friends who have access to your Facebook page or Twitter account may decide to mark your home as a target. Ensure that your kids are careful about revealing plans as well, especially if they are teenagers. Teens who are staying in town during any school breaks or over the summer may decide that your home would make a great place to hang out when no one is there. Once you get back from your trip, you can get more enjoyment out of posting your pictures and telling stories about the fun places you got to visit.

4) Save Money by Unplugging Electronics

When your electronics are plugged into your outlets, a small amount of electricity is still running through your home even if those electronics are not turned on. To reduce your utility bills, unplug all of your electronics and appliances with the exception of your refrigerator. You can even unplug your automatic garage door opener to prevent anyone from gaining access.

5) Install a Home Security System

If you do not have a security system installed, now is a great time to have that done. In fact, some of the new systems let you view your front door and certain rooms inside your home right from your smartphone. Many of these systems also connect to lights and other home systems, meaning you can keep an eye on your property when you are away. Even better, the system is useful when you get back by deterring burglars at night or during the day while you are at work. For an extra bit of security, make sure to leave a home security sign on your lawn or in your window to deter thieves even more.

6) Do Not Hide a Key

Finally, ensure that you know where all the keys to your home are located. If you want to leave a key behind just in case, make sure that you leave it with your trusted neighbor or relative. Leaving a key somewhere around the home is asking for trouble as many burglars are aware of all the good hiding spots. If you seem to be missing a key, you can always change the front lock before you head out the door.

Taking a vacation is all about having fun and relaxing. By ensuring that your home is properly protected, you will not have to spend your time away from the world worrying about your home.

 

Making the Most of Your Staycation

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Traveling to a new place for spring break or during the summer can be fun and exciting. However, is can also be an expensive endeavor. It can also be quite stressful, especially if you have to fly to your destination or spend hours of your precious vacation time in the car. Staying in town can be just as fun and relaxing, especially if you only have a few days to enjoy yourself.

Financing Your Staycation

Whenever you go on a vacation, you generally have to work out a budget. Between plane flights or the cost of gas, food and activities, financing a destination vacation can be expensive. If you are staying home, give yourself a budget to work with. Staying home can absolutely save you money, but focusing on spending as little as possible can also take over your focus and prevent you from having fun. Budget for nights out and for any activities so you feel more encouraged to actually make a vacation out of your time.

Turn Off the World

When you spend vacation away from home, you are probably more likely to put all of your work on hold. Your staycation should be no different. Set up an “out of office” message on your work email and let it. Turn off your cell phone and only check the messages occasionally as needed. Shut down your computers and do not turn them back on until your staycation is over.

Pamper Yourself

Part of the fun of going on vacation is to not have to cook or clean while you are away. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do this right at home. Treat yourself to a one-time maid service at the beginning of your staycation so you can enjoy a spotless home. If you like the idea of having someone else make dinner for you, you can go out to eat as you please or keep a stack of your favorite take-out restaurants nearby. This is a great opportunity to try new places.

Explore Your Neighborhood

There are always fun things to do no matter where you are. If you are staying at home for a few days, take the chance to just explore. Visit your local parks and spend the day reading and playing with the kids under the sun. Hop on the train or in the car and head downtown to see what you can find. Many towns and cities have their own museums and points of interest. Go to your local historical society to learn about the place you live. Visit the local shops to support your city’s artists and small business owners. If you need an adults-only night out, visit your local breweries to try some craft beers. You may even get to join in a game of trivia and meet new friends.

Spend the Night In

If relaxing at home is more your thing, there are plenty of ways that you can still relax. If you love to read, set up a comfortable place where you can sit and relax all day long. Make a pitcher of iced tea or lemonade, pull up a comfy chair and let your book do your traveling for you. Movie festivals are also fun ways to spend time. Pick a theme and have your friends and family contribute movies to watch. Grab a bunch of snacks, turn off the lights and enjoy the show.

The most important part of staycation is to have fun and get refreshed. During your staycation, do what makes you happy, whether that means leaving the house to go exploring or staying at home to enjoy your time away from the world.

 

Dealing with Seasonal Headaches

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

If you suffer from headaches, you know just what type of impact they can have on your productivity and ability to finish out your day. What you may not know is that, if you suffer from headaches mainly during times when the weather is changing, you could be affected by seasonal headaches. The changes in temperatures and barometric pressure during the spring and autumn season are actually a common trigger for headaches, so having a strategy that allows you to effectively deal with them can be useful.

Why do Seasonal Headaches Occur?

Studies have shown that some people who suffer headaches find that their symptoms worsen based on the changes that are occurring to the atmosphere. For example, the pain tends to be worse when there are extreme temperature changes. It has been speculated that these weather changes have an impact on the body’s hormones that act as pain messengers, like serotonin.

There may also potentially be a variety of other triggers that could cause seasonal headaches. For those who tend to suffer more headaches in the summer, exposure to heat for long periods of time could lead to headaches. Mold and other allergens can also cause those who are more susceptible to also suffer from headaches during certain times of the year. It is important to identify these triggers so that headache sufferers can either avoid those triggers or find a way to manage them.

Managing Seasonal Headaches

If you suffer from seasonal headaches or notice increased pain from headaches during certain seasons, it is always recommended that you visit a doctor to ensure that there are no underlying causes. If possible, it is also recommended that you keep a headache diary so that you can track your headache patterns. Keep track of the foods you eat, if you missed meals and how much water you are drinking. Your headache diary could help you and your doctor determine if you have triggers that could be potentially causing your seasonal allergies.

For those who have been able to identify a trigger, doing what you can to manage them can help you stay pain-free during your headache season. If allergies are a trigger, avoiding or limiting outdoor activities during the allergy season can help. Many local weather stations actually record the amount of pollen and mold in the air, which can potentially help you to plan any outdoor excursions more easily.

Strangely, hydration is often overlooked. During autumn and winter, for example, many people may be relying on caffeinated coffee beverages to get through the day instead of opting for water. Staying hydrated throughout the year can reduce the potential pain you may feel from seasonal headaches. Keeping up with a healthy diet, sticking to a healthy sleep schedule and continuing to exercise can also keep headache pain at bay.

Opting for Seasonal Headache Medications

Finally, if a headache sufferer knows that they suffer from seasonal headaches, they could potentially start a preventive medication before their headache season starts. Called calcium channel blockers, these medications block the effects of chemical serotonin. Serotonin contracts or tightens the blood vessels in the head while simultaneously lowering the person’s pain tolerance. These medications can cause side effects, so they may not be for everyone.

Because seasonal headaches can be extremely disruptive and may prevent you from spending time with your friends and family, learning how to manage your seasonal headache is a must. By taking charge of your health during your headache season, you can spend more time having fun and less time suffering from headache pain.

 

Staying Warm in Winter While Using the Heater Less

Friday, January 20th, 2017

If you live in an area that is known for getting very cold during the winter, you know just how expensive it can be to run the heater during those months. You most likely already know that blocking the drafts will keep your home warmer; however, you can still feel the cold especially at night. When you need a quick temperature boost, there are some ways that you can warm yourself up without having to rely on expensive heat.
Change Your Sheets and Comforters

Regular cotton blankets, sheets and comforters may be comfortable to sleep in during other times of the year. During the winter, however, you may find yourself waking up cold. Not only can this make it much more difficult to wake up in the morning, it may take some time for you to get your energy levels up. By changing to soft flannel sheets, you’ll feel much warmer throughout the night even when the temperatures drop outside.

Drink Warm Beverages

A warm mug of tea or coffee can make you feel refreshed and a bit warmer. Not only will you fell more awake, you’ll bring some warmth back into your hands. For the kids, you can even get some spiced apple cider brewing on the stove or some hot cocoa warming up in the microwave. They’ll love sipping on their treat while watching a family movie under a pile of blankets.

Cook Your Meals at Home

The oven is extremely adept at heating up your house. Plan some meals that you can cook with your significant other. Winter and the holidays are the perfect time to try out that recipe that you didn’t have time for. It’s also a great time to bake treats for your family and friends.

While the heat coming from your oven will make your home considerably warmer, keep in mind that you never want to keep your oven turned on just for warmth. Leaving an oven on without supervision can be a fire risk. As long as you having something cooking and you are keeping an eye on it, you should be just fine.

Exercise

When you exercise, you get your blood warmed up and moving. Simply stretching or hitting some yoga poses can make your body feel warmer, re-energize you and get you into a healthier mindset. In fact, some yoga positions and breathing techniques are actually designed to warm you up. For the best results, take some classes at your local gym or grab a DVD that you can use at home in your spare time. Not only will you feel warmer, your health will thank you too.

Wear a Onesie

Although they can look a bit silly, onesies that have attached feet can make you feel warm and toasty no matter how cold it is indoors. Onesies are not only comfortable, but they’ll also keep you warm as the material will essentially provide insulation that traps your body heat. If you have arms and feet that seem to get very cold in the winter no matter how many pairs of socks you wear, you’ll find that your trusty onesie can provide your limbs with the warmth you need.

Onesies can come in all designs and sizes. If you intend to spend some time at home for the holidays, why not grab some onesies for every member of your family? Children and adults will love to be warm and comfortable in these fun outfits.

Stay Warm this Winter

There are plenty of fun ways to stay warm this winter without having to turn on the heat. By finding ways to keep yourself warm, happy and healthy, you’ll have a brighter outlook and a less expensive energy bill.

 

Dealing with Fall Allergies

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

42. Allergies

Most people think of allergies as something that occurs only in the spring. However, if you or a family member are one of the many affected by fall allergies, you know just how difficult it can be.

Types of Fall Allergies

One of the largest contributors to allergies during the fall is ragweed. This plant can produce up to one billion grains of pollen per plant per season. Ragweed pollen has a distinct advantage in that it is lightweight and can travel hundreds of miles. The weed itself is versatile; it can grow along roadways, cracks in the sidewalk and in open fields. The pollen usually affects those between late summer and early to mid-fall.

The remaining contributors include a few other weeds and molds. The weeds may include sagebrush, goldenrod and pigweed. While their pollen can certainly cause discomfort for some, they do not pose as big a problem as ragweed for the majority of those affected by fall allergies.

Mold spores can be found throughout the early spring and summer; however, they become much more of a problem during autumn when the leaves fall. As the day warms up, the spores actually can rise into the air and affect the health of those who have to travel. In the evening, the spores return back to the ground.

Allergy Symptoms

The symptoms for fall allergies can vary depending on how each person is affected. While these symptoms are temporary, they can cause you or your family member to be utterly miserable. Someone affected by allergies may experience a runny nose, persistent coughing and itchy eyes. It can be difficult to pay attention in school or at work and can affect a person’s ability to do the best work possible.

Reducing Allergies in the Fall

Although allergies can be problematic, there are ways to prevent or reduce the symptoms so that they are manageable. Here are some precautions that can be taken by you or your affected family member:

  • Close the Windows: During the day when most mold spores are hanging in the air or ragweed is releasing pollen, it is best to keep the windows closed to prevent allergic reactions in the home.
  • Install a Whole-Home Air Cleaner: Aprilaire products can help you fight back at the particles that are harming your home and family.
  • Clean or Replace the Filters: If the air filters are clogged and you turn on the air conditioner, pollen and mold spores that were trapped can cycle back through the home. Clean filters can capture more contaminants.
  • Shower and Wash Clothing Frequently: As you walk around outside, spores and pollen can get into your hair and clothing. Showering and washing clothing will remove the allergens.
  • Vacuum and Dust Regularly: Vacuuming and dusting regularly will help remove any pollen or mold spores that are brought into the home.
  • Wear a Protective Mask: These masks can prevent a person from breathing in pollen and mold spores. While they may not be the most socially acceptable method, they can keep someone who has to be outdoors from suffering from allergies.

Get Help for Your Allergies

Fall allergies can be extremely disruptive, especially if they keep you or your family member from being unable to sleep, concentration or be as productive as possible when in school or at work. If you or your family member suffers these symptoms during this time of year, they may wish to be diagnosed by a doctor through a simple blood test or a skin test. If it is found that you or your family member is allergic to certain common fall allergens, medication may be possible.

 

How to Keep Kids Occupied During the Summer

Monday, July 18th, 2016

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When school gets out, kids go from being stuck indoors all day to having the freedom to wreck havoc on the neighborhood all hours of the day and play video games for hours on end. While they should definitely enjoy the outdoors as much as they can, bored kids get into trouble easily. Having them accompany you while you run all of your errands is not always so fun either. However, keeping kids occupied can be difficult if you do not have a plan.
Create a Reading List

Kids who continue to read throughout the summer tend to do better in school the next year. Reading keeps their minds sharp and gives them something calming and relaxing to do, especially on days when it is just too hot to play outdoors. If you do not know where to start with creating a reading list for your child, many libraries have programs that make it easy to find titles your child will enjoy.

The titles you choose may depend on your kid’s age, their reading level and what they enjoy. If you have a middle school age child, series such as Redwall by Brian Jacques and Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling may be great places to start. High school kids may enjoy reading some of the classics. Be sure to set realistic milestones so your kids do not feel overwhelmed.

Take Lessons

Taking weekly swimming classes, horseback riding lessons or even cheerleading or tumbling lessons is a fun way to keep kids who are not so active more active. Learning how to swim is a critical skill even if you do not live near the ocean. Horseback riding allows kids to strengthen their leg muscles while learning how to listen to instructions. Some instructors will even teach the kids how to properly care for the horse. Cheerleading and tumbling classes can increase your kid’s flexibility, core strength and teamwork skills. Both boys and girls of all ages can be involved in this activity.

Start Long Projects

Having several months with no set schedule gets boring pretty fast. When the boredom finally sets in, start a project with your child. Build a model airplane, build a birdhouse, start an insanely detailed paint-by-numbers kit or get going on a basic coding project. Having a side project that can keep your kid occupied throughout the summer is helpful for when it rains or if all of their friends are out of town.

If you have a backyard, consider starting a garden. Let your kids help plan what should be grown, when it should be planted and when to do the watering. Let them make some mistakes along the way and get a dirty.

Don’t Forget to Schedule Some Free Time

Sometimes having nothing to do is best. The school year is often extremely stressful for all kids, no matter what age they are. Some kids spend their summer sleeping in and staying up late. Others decide to get a part-time job to earn some spending money. Many kids want to spend a week with their friends at the mall or go aimlessly bike riding around the neighborhood. The summer time is theirs to enjoy, so just make sure they have a chance to relax.

Whether you are a stay at home parent or a working parent, keeping your children occupied when they are out of school is extremely important. Not only will you prevent them from simply wasting their summer before they have to go back to school, but you can also ensure that they learn a few skills, keep their minds sharp and get the relaxation and time to unwind that they need.

 

5 Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

S Heat Exhaustion

During the summer, it can get hot and humid pretty quickly. However, there are plenty of adults and children who are still quite happy to time outside. Whether you are exercising, gardening or just spending the day at your local park, you should be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion.

How Does Someone Become Overheated?

Everyone has a built-in mechanism that keeps them cool during warm or hot days. This mechanism, known as sweating, allows the body to release internal heat. When sweat evaporates off a person’s skin, the person feels cooler. As long as a person stays hydrated, they often have no trouble staying outdoors for hours.

A person may suffer heat exhaustion, a type of heat-related illness, when they are exposed to high temperatures in addition to high humidity levels. Essentially, the high humidity prevents sweat from evaporating as quickly. The sweat becomes a sort of insulation, causing the person’s internal body heat to continue to rise. In response, the body may produce more sweat, causing the person to quickly become dehydrated and begin to suffer from heat-related health problems.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

There are several major symptoms that could indicate a person is overheated. Their skin my feel clammy or cold and they may exhibit excessive sweating. They may experience muscle cramping and fatigue. They may also feel nauseous and even vomit. Young children are likely to become cranky.

If a person becomes extremely overheated, they could have some cognitive symptoms that could indicate that they are suffering from heat exhaustion. They could potentially become dizzy and faint. In worst case scenarios, they could show signs of shock. These include rapid, shallow breathing, a fast pulse and even unconsciousness. If a person is disoriented or unconscious, it is imperative that they get to a hospital as quickly as possible.

What to Do if Someone is Suffering from Heat Exhaustion

In general, someone who is suffering from heat exhaustion does not need to be taken to the hospital unless they have fainted, lost consciousness or cannot cool down. If this happens, emergency services should be called as soon as possible. Additionally, it is recommended that young children and elderly individuals should be taken to the hospital for treatment.

For other instances of suspected heat exhaustion, the person should be gotten out of the sun immediately. They should be given lots of water to get some fluids back into their body. Excess clothing, such as jackets, should be removed. If it is possible, sitting in an air-conditioned room or taking a cold bath can help get the person’s temperatures back down. If at any point they begin to feel worse or lose consciousness, they should go to the hospital.

Preventing Heat Exhaustion

If you are planning to spend the day outside and it is hot or humid, there are several things that you can do to prevent heat exhaustion. You can protect your skin from the sun by wearing light, loose-fitting clothing and sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 15. Additionally, bring water with you and stay as hydrated as possible. If you have young children with you, make sure that they are taking breaks to get a drink of water.

Even though the summer is all about spending time outdoors, always step inside for some cool-off time, especially if you are out during the hottest part of the day. If you have children who have been out running around all day, have them come inside for a cold snack and some water so they have a chance to sit for a bit.