Gunning Daily News

Creating a Bathroom that Maximizes Safety without Sacrificing Style

August 8, 2012 4:16 pm

(ARA) - For today's generation of aging adults, individuality and independence are values they've lived out for decades. As the years go by, lifestyle changes become a necessity, due to limited mobility and health concerns, but it doesn't necessarily mean giving up personality.

Aging in place, in the comfort of your home, is a priority for countless people. That often means making adjustments to your home, but some alterations can contribute to making your space feel more institutional and less "you." A balance between style and safety is the key - and finding it is easier than you might think.

One of the most hazardous rooms in the home is the bathroom. Its slippery surfaces and tendency to be crowded with products and objects makes it a hazard for slipping, tripping and other mishaps. As you consider making alterations to your home that enhance security and safety, it's the logical place to start.

* Clear away clutter. Bottles and jars and grooming tools frequently crowd counters, closets and the corners of tubs and showers. Make use of hangers, shelves and wall-mounted baskets to keep things neatly tucked away, providing a cleaner environment that's also better looking and less likely to cause trips or spills.

* Bathe in safety. With limited mobility, moving in and out of the tub can be difficult, if not downright dangerous. One renovation solution to that problem is installing a walk-in tub.

* Choose rugs carefully. Bath mats and rugs are both functional and decorative. They can add a splash of color while also effectively collecting water that might otherwise pool on the floor and lead to slipping. However, rugs that don't stay in place can present a problem of their own and lead you to trip. Opt for mats and rugs that have non-skid backing, but which still look harmonious with the rest of your bathroom decor.

* Bring things up to the right height. Your bathroom routine can be an active one, which can present problems if your health limits your ability to move or bend easily. Having a commode and a sink at a higher level that prevents you from overexertion during your daily routine will add to the comfort and safety of your bathroom.


Word of the Day

August 8, 2012 4:16 pm

Property tax. Assessment levied by city and county governments on real and personal property to generate the bulk of their operating revenues to pay for such public services as schools, libraries, and roads.

Q: What is a bridge loan?

August 8, 2012 4:16 pm

A: It is a short-term bank loan of the equity in the home you are selling. You may take out a bridge loan, or interim financing, to help with a knotty situation: closing on the home you are buying before you close on the property you are selling. This loan basically enables you to have a place to live after the closing on the old home.

The key to a bridge loan is having a qualified buyer and a signed contract. Usually, the lender issuing the mortgage loan on the new home will write the interim financing as a personal note due at settlement on the property being sold.

If, however, there is no buyer for the property you have up for sale, most lenders will place a lien on the property, thereby making that bridge loan a kind of second mortgage.

Things to consider: interest rates are high, points are high, and there are costs and fees involved on bridge loans. It may be cheaper to borrow from your 401(K). Actually, any secured loan is acceptable to lenders for the down payment. So if you have stocks or bonds or an insurance policy, you can borrow against them as well.

Are Your Ducts and Dryer Fire (and Mold) Safe?

August 7, 2012 5:40 pm

When it comes to being successful in the service industry, millions of entrepreneurs and business people have learned to “find a niche and strike it rich.” I believe this is the aim of the folks I recently discovered at Sir Dry (

The company and its franchisees have a singular goal, to help protect you and your family from dryer fires and other hazards that may lurk between your clothes dryer and its vent cap discharge.
Besides claiming to offer a successful system for ridding dryers and dryer vents and hoses of mold, they also have the tools to clean – really clean – your dryer system to eliminate the threat of lint and other discharge from causing a fire.

Sir Dry technicians recommend that dryer vents be inspected and cleaned every 6 months for optimum protection. Their average inspection takes between one and two hours - additional time if work needs to be done.

Sir Dry uses specialized equipment that rotates within the vent and an internal video camera that ensures a vent is thoroughly clean and safe. They even bring specialized equipment to float the dryer to ensure that the floor will not be damaged during cleaning.

The technician provides a before and after photo of your dryer vent so you can be assured it is clean and safe. Sir Dry also says that anti-cling products used in the dryer can contribute to flammable accelerants in the vent, which cannot be effectively removed with an ordinary vacuum.

Technicians will also be happy to check your dryer and bathroom vents for mold. Both areas are perfect breeding grounds for mold spores, but no match for an anti microbial product Sir Dry offers to combat mold growth.

Sir Dry also installs dual sensor smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; sets up a schedule to change batteries in various detectors, advises homeowners on fire extinguishers, and replaces them yearly with professionally maintained extinguishers as part of an ongoing personalized safety program they will be happy to discuss during a visit.

Helpful Hints for Traveling Abroad

August 7, 2012 5:40 pm

Traveling to another country is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. Whether you’re heading off on a solo adventure, packing up the family, or going on your honeymoon, it’s important to be prepared so you don’t have to face a scary situation in a foreign country.

The Huffington Post has released an article discussing guidelines travelers can take to make the most of their trip abroad. International travel company Sara International Travel detailed in a press statement that travelers need to become educated on the political and social customs of the country they intend to visit. Sara International Travel provides travel packages for Muslims making their pilgrimage to Mecca.

"For your own safety, it is important to educate yourself on the laws of the country," commented Imam Zameer Sattaur, founder of Sara International Travel. "Spitting in public is a punishable crime in some countries while it may be a common practice in your own." Vacationers are expected to be aware of and follow the laws of the country they are visiting. Tourists breaking the law can be held accountable for their actions if it goes against the locale's customs or regulations.

Study traditions and customs. Individuals heading to Hajj or Umrah may be unaware of Saudi Arabia's traditions and customs. Research what clothing is acceptable and what customary practices entail. Travelers should familiarize themselves with phrases that help them navigate the area and find emergency assistance.

Know where the U.S embassy is. It is recommended that travelers locate the U.S. embassy in the country they are visiting and make several copies of their passport. In the event that their original passport is lost or stolen, travelers should keep a copy in their suitcase at all times. In addition, travelers are advised to leave a copy of their official documents and the address and contact information of where they are staying with someone at home.

Visit the doctor. Some countries are prone to disease or bugs that could affect non-natives. Travelers should schedule doctor visits far enough in advance to receive any necessary vaccinations. Tourists would also be wise to learn the country's cuisine. "Becoming well versed in what the local cuisine consists of will keep travelers aware of what they are eating and what they need to avoid as discussing food allergies with a language barrier could prove difficult," stated Sattaur.

Keep an eye on belongings. Foreign travelers should keep a close watch on their belongings at all times. Keeping wits centered and focused will pay off in the long run, so avoid imbibing in too much alcohol when exploring a foreign place.


Five Tips for Summer Picnic Food

August 7, 2012 5:40 pm

Picnics are a great way to enjoy the last of those lazy summer afternoons in the sunshine and can be a cost effective family day out. Emma Bridgewater, the handmade kitchen and dinnerware company, has created top five tips for the perfect picnic for summer 2012.

1) Keep food simple

Think about how practical certain dishes are when you prepare for a picnic. Dishes that work brilliantly around a dining table may not be so sensible served balanced on a picnic rug. Finger food eliminates the need for cutlery and will usually mean less mess at the end of the meal!

2) Choose foods which travel well

Hopefully you'll be taking advantage of a really beautiful day, in which case your picnic will be just one part of the day's fun. With this in mind, choosing food which travels well means dishes remain intact and that your sandwiches aren't disappointingly soggy by lunchtime! The most delicious sandwiches are often the simplest . Use lettuce or baby leaf spinach to surround mayonnaise-based sandwich fillings to keep the bread dry.

3) Create a finger-food salad

Chop up chunks of cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrot and celery sticks to make a finger-food salad. Serve in bowls with hummus for dipping for a delicious raw vegetable treat. This way you can still serve healthy food without the need for knives and forks.

4) Keep the desert simple
Bring a sponge cake and a bowl of fresh strawberries, blueberries or grapes for a refreshing end to your picnic. Avoid sticky foods and cover cakes and sugary deserts to keep insects at bay. Keeping desserts simple is also likely to reduce the amount of cleaning up required at the end of the picnic!

5) Serve fresh and fruity drinks
Homemade lemonade or fruit juices can be kept cool with an ice pack in your picnic hamper. Serving drinks in sturdy tumblers with a wide base mean they won't get spilled when you spread out on a picnic rug on uneven ground. Wine glasses and champagne flutes may look elegant at a picnic, but can leave guests struggling to hold a delicate glass, cutlery and plate of food.


Parents Can Help Prepare Students for a Safe School Year

August 7, 2012 5:40 pm

Placing a child on the school bus for the first time can be a big step for parents, but today's school buses are extremely safe and reliable ways for students to travel. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, school buses are approximately 13 times safer than passenger cars and 10 times safer than walking to school. And in 2011, First Student, the largest provider of student transportation in North America, celebrated its safest year ever. These days, school bus safety goes way beyond flashing lights and stop signs.

Parents can help ease their children's transition to the school bus by following a few simple tips:
• Meet your child's bus driver. It's important for your child to know his bus driver's name and bus number.
• Set up a consistent routine with your child. Kids, like adults, thrive on consistency. Begin preparing for school at least a week in advance by waking up and eating breakfast earlier. Once school begins, establish a schedule and routine, which includes having plenty of time to walk to the bus stop.
• Make sure your child's belongings are clearly marked. Put your child's name and bus number inside her backpack where it's easy to access.
• Talk to your child about bullying before the school year begins. First Student drivers are extensively trained on how to recognize and prevent bullying, so your child should know that the driver is a trusted adult who can help if bullying occurs at school or on the bus.
• Talk to your child after school every day. If you sit down and ask your child every day about his school day, your child will feel more comfortable telling you if there is an issue.


Word of the Day

August 7, 2012 5:40 pm

Property tax deductions. The Internal Revenue Service allows homeowners to claim as itemized personal deductions money paid for state and local realty taxes, as well as interest on debt secured by their homes. It also allows for the deduction of loan prepayment penalties, and the deduction of points on new loans.

Q: Can the Seller Also Include Contingencies in a Contract?

August 7, 2012 5:40 pm

A: Yes. For example, if you decide to sell your existing home first before buying another one, you can make the sale of your home contingent on finding a replacement home. Some sellers opt for this contingency to avoid a double move, such as moving to a hotel or rental until a new home is found and made available.
However, there is one problem with this type of contingency: it can inconvenience the buyer, particularly if his own home is in escrow. He may not be willing to wait for you to move.

This strategy has a better chance of working when the market is relatively strong, your home is a rare find, the price and terms of the transaction are very favorable for the buyer, or the buyer is in no hurry to move.

Considering a Composite Deck, or Already Have One?

August 6, 2012 5:58 pm

On several occasions over the years, I have featured reports promoting the advantages of composite versus wood materials for porches, decks and balconies.

But a recent blog from a New England home inspector offers a few words to the wise – whether you already have composite features, or are considering adding or replacing existing deck or other structures with composite materials,

Jason Horn is one of the lead inspectors at Stonehollow Inc. ( He was recently inspecting a decade-old home, specifically two decks constructed of a composite, maintenance-free materials.

He discovered several issues including boards cracking and splitting along the edges caused by incorrect spacing during installation. He also found deterioration of the wood joists under the composite decking because while wood decking absorbs moisture and releases it, composite does not.

So, moisture trapped under the decking and on top of the joists can keep joists from drying properly - becoming more susceptible to rot and decay. Some other issues to consider according to Horn, are:

Cost: Traditional wood decking goes about $15/ sq. ft., while composite decking material is $30-$36/ sq. ft. And labor cost tends to be higher due to additional steps that are required during composite installation.

Scratching: Composite decking combines wood and plastic, but the material is not indestructible. The surface of the boards can be scratched rather easily, and composite decking can’t be resurfaced.

Stains: One of the most common complaints about composite decking is mold. Horn says composite decking requires special cleaning chemicals to kill the mold and remove some of the finish. But this leaves decking more porous and susceptible to future mold growth.

Color fade: Horn knows wood decking can fade too, but you can re-stain wood. He also says there are products claiming to restore stained composite decking, but did not speak to their effectiveness.