4-Step Approach to Improving Your Garage and Basement Storage
Jan30

4-Step Approach to Improving Your Garage and Basement Storage

Year after year it’s the same ole problem, admit it … both your garage and your basement are cluttered-up messes. That’s the case, at least, if you’re like the vast majority of homeowners. It just seems to be a natural trend over time for those two places to gradually and inevitably become ever more cluttered and junky. But that doesn’t mean, of course, that they have to stay that way. After all, anyplace that gets messed-up can also be cleaned-up. And that’s certainly true of both basements and garages. In fact, you can make the job of cleaning-up your garage and/or basement go faster and smoother by following this 4-step process: #1: Start with Stairs and Doors Makes sense, doesn’t it? Clearing the clutter from stairways and entryways will certainly make the rest of the cleanup job easier. And importantly, it will also make the job safer. That’s why clearing away debris and clutter from your garage or basement entryways should be the very first step of your cleanup process. #2: Let There Be Light! Both garages and basements tend to be murky, poorly lit places. And it’s certainly difficult to clean what you can’t see. And let’s just be honest: When you’re cleaning a long-neglected basement or garage, you REALLY want to be able to see what you’re doing. It’s not just a matter of safety. It’s also a matter of avoiding some very nasty surprises. Because it’s quite likely that there are some creepy critters lurking in your garage or basement if it has long been neglected! The best way to temporarily increase the lighting is just to grab a couple of long extension cords and plug them into a couple of portable lamps. You can move the lamps as you work in different locations, assuring that you always have a clear view of where you’re working – and of what might be coming at you! #3: Survey the Job Now that you have accessibility and light, take some time to survey the project before you launch into it. Scope out special problems that might require special attention – areas that are or have been flooded, for example. Or places where rodents have run wild, requiring some very special cleanup attention (yuck!). Also be on the lookout for areas of mold or mildew. These can pose risks to your health, so you’ll need to take appropriate cautions while cleaning these areas. Get a good feel for what you’re facing, and any special problems you’ll need to deal with, before getting into the middle of it. That way you’ll have a game plan for helping the project go...

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7 Habits You Might Have That Could Cause a House Fire
Jan15

7 Habits You Might Have That Could Cause a House Fire

Over the years, we’ve made great progress in reducing the occurrence of home fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fires today occur at only about half the rate that they occurred in 1980. That’s the good news. The bad news is that when home fires do occur, they’re just as deadly as they’ve ever been. The average number of deaths that occur statistically for each home fire has remained about the same over the years. Also unchanged is the fact that some of the causes of house fires perennially remain the same. And many of the causes of deadly house fires come down to simple, habitual carelessness. Are you routinely flirting with disaster through any of these dangerous habits? Leaving Appliances Running Unattended. It’s likely that nearly everyone is guilty of this dangerous habit. But leaving a large appliance running unattended is risky. Though they seem ultra-reliable these days, fires that start from appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers are still common causes of house fires. That’s why experts advise that you stay home and stay awake when running a large appliance. Overtaxing Extension Cords and Power Strips. It’s so easy to do – lots easier than running another extension cord to plug-in that extra item. But overburdened extension cords continue to be a major cause of home fires. The best way to avoid this danger? Simply avoid the routine use of extension cords. Plugging devices directly into the wall is much safer. Ignoring Chimneys. Does your home have a fireplace? If so, you should make it a habit to routinely have the chimney professionally cleaned and inspected. To keep your fireplace safe, the National Fire Protection Association recommends a yearly chimney checkup and cleaning. Kitchen Carelessness. More home fires start in the kitchen than anywhere else. And the number one cause of kitchen fires? Leaving cooking food unattended. That applies to the microwave, too – a source of many home fires. Be careful about the clothing you wear in the kitchen, too. 15% of cooking-fire-related deaths occur from baggy or floppy clothing (like open bathrobe sleeves) catching fire. Candle Carelessness. The risk of burning a candle in the home is obvious: it’s an open flame. And yet candles cause deadly home fires with great regularity. To reduce the risk, never place a burning candle within a foot of anything flammable. Never leave a burning candle unattended. And make sure that candles fit snugly in candleholders, and that candleholders are placed on a stable surface. Space Heater Neglect. A third of all home fires are caused by space heaters. You can reduce the risk by...

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Is Your Car Ready for Winter?
Jan14

Is Your Car Ready for Winter?

Wintertime. The season of snow, ice, and bone-chilling temperatures. Ready or not, it’s here again. But is your car ready for winter? It’s worth making sure. Because while getting stranded on the roadside is bad at any time of the year, it’s particularly bad during winter. Could even be hazardous to your health. So here are a few quick tips for assuring that your car is up to the rigors of Mother Nature’s wintertime fury: Make sure that your antifreeze is really anti-freeze capable. As antifreeze ages, it can loose it’s ability to protect your car’s engine from freeze damage – damage that can leave you stranded, and that can be extremely expensive to repair. Checking your antifreeze is quick and easy. Buy an antifreeze tester and check it yourself, or have it checked at a shop. Replace your window-washer fluid with a mixture that is freeze-proof. A window-washer system that malfunctions because of ice blockages can be a safety hazard in slushy road conditions. Check your tires. Be sure that you have the proper type of tires installed for the expected wintertime road conditions in your area. Make certain that your tires are in good shape, with plenty of tread. And be sure to keep your tires properly inflated during the winter (colder temperatures can cause tire pressures to drop). Keep the gas tank full. A full tank can provide insurance against unplanned delays. In extreme situations, a full tank may even make the difference between life and death by providing a source of heat if you become stranded. And a full tank will also help to prevent the formation of ice blockages in the fuel system. Simple, Yet Important Tips The tips above are simple and easy. Even inexpensive. But each one of them offers you the potential of saving you a world of hurt. And after all, winter is tough enough as is without adding car troubles to your worries!...

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