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Start your summer right with Memorial Day safety

As we happily head into this Memorial Day weekend, let’s take a moment to be thankful for our troops, and honor the passing of the members of the military who died in active duty.    Memorial Day weekend is here, and with it comes outdoor fun in the sun. Whether you’re road-tripping or celebrating at home, be aware and take a few safety precautions to ensure a happy and safe holiday weekend. No matter which way you slice the numbers, according to AAA this long holiday weekend is poised to be one of the busiest on record.  

Travel

- Make sure your car is ready for the trip. Pack a first-aid kit, bottled water and some energy bars in case you get stranded. Bring a car adapter for charging your cellphone. - Schedule your road trip at times to help avoid the holiday travel congestion. Leaving before rush hour Friday or early Saturday and driving back Monday before 3 p.m. or after 10 p.m. should make for less traffic hassles. - Never leave people or pets inside a parked car. Temperatures inside a vehicle can climb to dangerous levels quickly, even on a cloudy day. - If you plan on drinking alcohol, designate a driver who won’t drink.  

Being outside

With the temperatures rising, it’s important to know how to stay safe during times of excessive heat. - Eat small meals and eat more often. - Stay hydrated, avoid caffeine and alcohol. - Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing. - Take frequent breaks if you are working outdoors, avoid strenuous outdoor activity.  

Grilling

Seven out of every 10 adults in the United States have a grill or smoker, and this weekend marks the symbolic start to summer and grilling season. - Never leave your grill unattended, and have a fire extinguisher available. - Propane and charcoal BBQ grills are for outdoor use only. - The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. - Keep children and pets away from the grill area. - Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill. Heavy food build-ups can cause nasty flare-ups.  

Water safety

BOATING - Have one life jacket that is US Coastal Guard approved for everyone on board. - If a child is under the age of 13, they must have a life jacket on whenever the boat is in motion. - The rules for driving a boat are similar to those of a vehicle - people cannot drink and drive a boat. SWIMMING - Everyone, including experienced swimmers, should swim with a buddy in areas protected by lifeguards. Always remember the penguin credo, never swim alone!  #skipper    - Adults, actively supervise children and stay within arm’s reach of young children and newer swimmers. - Understand what to do to help someone in trouble, without endangering yourself; know how and when to call 9-1-1; and know CPR.  

Always remember

Have a first aid kit nearby and emergency contacts programmed into your phone. You never know when an accident can happen, and better to be prepared just in case.  

SOURCES https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/how-to-avoid-grilling-mishaps-this-memorial-day-weekend/70005010 http://www.redcross.org/news/press-release/Red-Cross-Offers-Summer-Safety-Tips-for-All-Season-Long
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Home Essentials: How to nail your basic toolkit 

Are you a new homeowner, or maybe new to a temporary home? In either case, you’ll want to have a basic toolkit for minor home repairs. Imagine having to shell out big bucks to a handyman every time you want to hang a picture or adjust squeaky door? So not cool.

The best gift I received when I moved into my first apartment was a stocked toolbox from my dad. Not the housewarming gift I was hoping for, but in the following months and after it’s weekly use, I was in total appreciation of his foresight.

 

So, where to start?

Get yourself to the hardware store, grab a cart and let’s get shopping. Building a good toolkit usually happens over time because it can be costly, but you should start out with some essentials. For about $60, you can build a starter kit. Here are the must-haves:

• Claw Hammer • Screwdriver Set • Adjustable Crescent Wrench • Channellock Pliers • Tape Measure • Level • Carpenter Pencils and Sharpener

Make sure to keep your core set of tools in a toolbox or bag at all times.

 

Ready to add more?

Within six months to a year, you may be ready to expand your toolkit. With a few added tools, you’ll have the means to put up shelves, paint a room, change door locks and more. The estimated cost for adding the below tools will be around $200.

• Utility Knife and Blades • Ratchet Set • Cordless Drill and Drill Bits • Manual Saw Set: Hacksaw and Wood Saw • Stud Finder • Basic Painting Set • Flash Light

 

Having so much fun that you want to try more?

Most hardware stores, especially large national chains like Home Depot and Lowe’s, both host classes and workshops designed to help new homeowners get comfortable with doing their own work around the house, making their own improvements, and fixing their own problems without spending a ton of money on contractors or specialists. For example, Home Depot’s weekly workshops will show you how to do things like install decorative molding, install tile flooring, properly paint interior walls, and more—all things you may never have had to do as a renter.

Lowe’s also has a how-to project center with walkthroughs for common household projects:  Take me there

 
Sources: https://www.fix.com/blog/diy-home-repair-kit/ https://lifehacker.com/where-can-i-learn-home-improvement-skills-1535195959
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Spring ahead and lose an hour of sleep. Whose idea was this?

Do we love to spring ahead or hate it? In a year filled with 8,760 hours, why do we think it’s such a big deal? It’s just 0.01141552511415525% of a year.

Aside from what you may have heard over your lifetime, farmers are not to blame and it was not created by Benjamin Franklin. Daylight saving time was actually first instituted by Germany on May 1, 1916 in an effort to conserve fuel during World War I.

Do we still need it today? U.S. states are starting to decide on an individual basis. The Florida Senate just approved a bill that once they spring ahead on March 11, 2018, they could remain there. The approval means the bill will go to the governor’s desk, but it doesn’t mean the “spring forward” clock change Sunday at 2 a.m. will put the state on permanent daylight saving time.

Currently, states can opt out of daylight saving time to stay on standard time, but cannot make daylight saving time permanent. So, it will be interesting to see what transpires in the coming weeks.

Most areas of the United States observe daylight saving time (DST), the exceptions being Arizona, Hawaii, and the overseas territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.

Whether you love it or hate, know that it’s a good time to do a few inexpensive, routine updates in and around your home.

1 - Replace the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector batteries.

These alarms save lives! For just a few dollars and minutes of your time, you can economically and quickly replace the batteries and know your family is safer.

2 - Prepare a storm kit for your home and car.

This can be a lifesaver in a power outage or if you get stranded in your car in bad weather. Make sure you have a long-lasting LED flashlight, a reflective vest for walking at night, non-perishable snacks, water and a warm blanket. Go to www.ready.gov/build-a-kit for more detailed kit information.

3 - Check your sump pump.

Spring often brings rain so make sure your sump pump is draining properly. Do not wait until a major snow thaw or rainstorm to find out that the pump’s motor is shot and you have 4” of water in your basement. It’s also a good idea to invest in a backup battery in the event of a power outage.

4 - Inspect the exterior of your home.

Did you just get through a harsh winter? Take a walk around the outside of the house: Are there cracks in the concrete? Is the driveway in good condition? Check the roof for signs of loose or broken shingles. Look up at the chimney for signs of wear. Check the facade and foundation for cracks or signs of water pooling.

5 - Change your clocks.

If you have any clocks in your home that run on batteries, make sure to set them ahead one hour before you head to bed. If you have an older model car like me, make sure to change the clock on your dash as well. Then when you wake it you’ll be on the right track.

As for keeping your body on track, you know that it’s coming, so maybe hop into bed an hour early on Saturday night.

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Fall’s transformation is here, how will you change?

The first day of fall is Friday, September 22

As the leaves begin to fall and the heat of summer fades, we naturally begin to think about how we need to prepare for the changing season. Do we start to replace summer clothes for sweaters, pants, and boots? Is it time to think about putting down the storm windows? When do we move the shovel and salt closer to the garage door?

These are all great questions and items on many people’s lists. But how else can we better prepare ourselves for what else might be coming next?

 

Disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can

As we prepare for fall, we also come to the end of National Preparedness Month (September 2017). We hope that you have thoughtfully taken steps to prepare yourself, your family and your home for potential natural disasters and national emergencies. With the devastation we’ve recently seen with Hurricane’s Harvey and Irma, and the recent earthquakes in Mexico, we know that disaster can strike at any time and any where.

Here’s a checklist to help guide you in making a plan for you and your family:

www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

 

The importance of property insurance

Homeowners insurance not only protects your home, which may very well be your largest investment, but gives you a sense of security. The general assumption is that whatever happens to your home is covered. In actuality, typical perils (causes of property destruction) that are generally not covered are flood damage, earthquake, mold, acts of war and parts of the property in disrepair (including worn-out plumbing, electrical wiring, air conditioners, heating units and roofing). A few of these can be added as separate policies.

Educate yourself on what your policy does and, more importantly, does not cover.

 

Home health

It’s also important to consider your home and how to prepare it for the upcoming colder seasons. Here’s a helpful Home Fall Checklist from our friends at Better Homes & Gardens:

www.bhg.com/home-improvement

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How to keep your home safe while on vacation

The kids are out of school, you’ve got time of work and it’s time to pack for your summer family getaway. You’re all set to go, but is your house ready for you to be away on vacation?

A house or apartment left empty while you’re traveling is a tempting target for criminals. It’s imperative that before you go, take a few key steps to keep your home safe and sound while vacationing. These basic preventative measures, which take just minutes of preparation, can work wonders to help you keep your home safe from power surges, broken pipes, home invasions and more.

— Unplug anything that doesn’t need to stay plugged in, including televisions and computers, to protect them against power surges. This will help you save money as well; many appliances draw energy even when they’re turned off.

— Ask a friend or neighbor to stop by the house randomly (to avoid a pattern or anticipated time) to remove boxes from the doorstep, check the mail, pick up any delivered newspapers and take notices and fliers from the door. Ask them to park in your driveway if they live close by, and  make sure they have all your correct contact information.

You can also place a hold on your mail online at USPS.

house key chain

— Don’t tip off criminals on the web by announcing on social media that you will be leaving your house unattended for two weeks. If the temptation to post is unavoidable, ensure that all possible security measures are in place on all social sites.

— Consider shutting off the water to your washing machine, dishwasher, and toilets if you’re going to be away from the house for longer than a week. This can help prevent nasty, and potentially expensive, shocks when you return.

Another option is to install wireless leak sensors in flood-prone areas like your basement, laundry room, or bathroom, to notify you of leaks before significant damage is done.

— Keep expensive and irreplaceable items such as old family photos, artwork, electronics, and stamp collections off the ground in case of water damage. Store them up on shelves and/or in waterproof containers.

— If you have outdoor furniture, bring glass tables, chairs, and umbrellas inside to avoid wind/storm damage to yard items or the exterior of your home.

— Schedule random light timers throughout your home. This will give the appearance that someone is there and will help to deter burglars and vandals.

— Remove your spare key, that plastic rock isn’t fooling anyone. If a criminal figures out you’re away on vacation, it’s likely that he or she will check your porch for a spare key.

Most importantly, make sure you look all doors and windows before heading off to paradise. Once you've taken these few precautions, travel safe and enjoy your time away, knowing that you're home is fully prepared for you to be gone for a while.

_____

Sources:

http://www.philly.com/philly/business/real_estate/20160724_Vacationing__Tips_for_keeping_the_house_safe_while_you_re_gone.html

Keep Your Home Safe on Vacation: 9 Essential Tips

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Color My World Happy.

In what season are you most happy? Is there a season that you look forward to all year?

After conducting an impromptu CRS office survey this week, turns out that we’ve fallen in love with Fall. For our sports fans, football has finally started and MLB playoffs are in full swing (#cubs). Food-lovers have chosen autumn for all the wonderful pumpkin-related offerings like pumpkin latte, and it’s time to switch back to hot coffee. For some, cool nights unleash a craving for hearty beers, whose colors mirror those of the turning leaves. More nostalgic folks long for the time to wear boots and sweaters while pulling the cozy blankets out of the closet. With the smell of crisp fall air and refreshing cool breezes, time spent with family by the fireplace is savored and remembered throughout the year.

I was not surprised when CRS employees chose Fall as their #1 season. The reason being, our home office is located in Phoenix, AZ where the summer high temperatures can get to 115° and lows at night are in the upper 90s. So when the average highs drop down into the 80s, it’s a welcome relief from the sweltering summer days and ongoing efforts to stay cool.

Having grown up in Ohio and then lived in Chicago for 16 years, Summer was undeniably my favorite season. Chicago summers offered a myriad of outdoor activities not to be missed: From farmers’ markets to music festivals to heading to see my Cubs at Wrigley. But I must say, #IMWITHFALL now that I’ve been an Arizonian for 2 years. The basic AZ summertime goal is to get thought it without melting, passing out from heat exhaustion or getting air conditioning-induced frostbite.

So whether you choose fall for sports, weather or family, all that matters is that you enjoy it to the fullest. Here’s a few fall and winter tips to lengthen your house or condo’s lifespan and energy efficiency:

Prepare your house for Fall:

   www.bhg.com/home-improvement/maintenance/weatherizing/your-homes-fall-checklist

Prepare your house for Winter:

   www.bobvila.com/articles/502-winter-preparation-checklist/#.V_WAsJMrIUE

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Fall is around the corner, get your house ready.

house-tress-comboThe first day of Fall, September 22, is just over one month away. Before the weather starts to cool down, it’s time to make sure that your house is ready for the next season. Here’s a few fall home maintenance tips to keep in mind during the dropping temperatures.

 

Check your furnace

Since your furnace has been vacationing for a few months, turn it on and make sure that it is working properly. Hiring a professional to come out and take a look can help to make sure that you do not have any serious issues to deal with throughout the season. Change the furnace filter regularly if you have forced-air heating.

 

Clean your fireplace

Hire a professional to come out and clean out your chimney and fireplace. Built up soot can easily start a dangerous fire in your house the first time you try and light a fire this fall.

 

Replace batteries

Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors save lives every single year. Don’t go into winter with dead batteries or an improperly working smoke or CO detector.

 

Check your seals

Take a look at all the weather stripping around all your doors and windows. If you find any missing or damaged weather stripping, get it fixed as soon as possible. Any gaps in the seals can lead to much higher energy bills as you try to keep your house warm.

 

Clean out your gutters

Take the time to thoroughly clean out your rain gutters. Any leaves and debris that is clogging your gutters can easily cause water to back up, and potentially freeze, causing serious damage to your roof or walls.

 

Review your Homeowners Insurance

The change in seasons is also the perfect time to look over your home insurance policy to make sure that you have the right amount of coverage.

 

Take notice of your walkways

Are you noticing that the days are getting shorter? Check to make sure you have appropriate outdoor lighting to help prevent accidents for you and your visitors. Do you have any cracks or crumbling areas that need repaired?

 

Shovels, snow blowers and salt

Make sure your snow shovels, snow blower and ice scrapers (for the car) are in good working order. Have a bag of salt in an easy-to-reach location.

 

General cleanup

Rid your home of accumulations of old newspapers and leftover hazardous household chemicals. (Check with your state or local Environmental Protection Agency about the proper way to discard dangerous chemicals.) Store flammable materials and poisons in approved, clearly labeled containers. Keep a clear space around heaters, furnaces, and other heat-producing appliances.

 

Sources:

www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/cozy-colder-weather-5-ways-prepare-your-home-fall-and-winter-part-1

www.bhg.com/home-improvement/maintenance/weatherizing/your-homes-fall-checklist/#page=0

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