Gunning Daily News

Tips for Preventing Decorating Disasters This Holiday Season

November 30, 2011 5:32 pm

As spirits brighten during the holiday season, many families rely on holiday lights and festive décor to brighten up their homes as well. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is urging families across the country to keep safety in mind as they decorate their homes this holiday season to ensure that their celebrations do not end in tragedy. 

While holiday lights and other decorations add to the splendor of the season, they also contribute to the rise in incidents of home fires and preventable injuries that occur during the winter months. An average of 260 home fires begin with Christmas trees each year, with another 150 home fires beginning with holiday lights and other decorative lighting. 

With its annual holiday safety awareness campaign, ESFI encourages families and communities across the country to Make Safety a Tradition of the holiday season. ESFI, in partnership with The Home Depot, is educating consumers about the unique safety concerns of the winter holiday season. 

“The joy that festive decorations provide can cause people to overlook the inherent dangers that are also associated with them,” said ESFI President Brett Brenner. “It is critical that families follow simple instructions and inspect their holiday decorations to minimize the risk of fire and electric shock.” 

Follow these basic safety guidelines to help prevent serious electrical and fire hazards as you decorate your home and yard this season:
• Avoid using candles when possible. Consider using battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles.
• Never leave an open flame unattended. Keep burning candles within sight.
• When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree.
• When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “fire resistant.”
• Choose holiday decorations made with flame-resistant or non-combustible materials.
• Use only electrical decorations and lights that have been approved for safe use by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
• Carefully inspect each electrical decoration before use. Cracked or frayed sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections may cause a serious shock or start a fire.
• Follow the use and care instructions that accompany electrical decorations, and always unplug electrical decorations before replacing bulbs or fuses.
• Keep young children away from holiday lights, electrical decorations, and extension cords to prevent electrical shock and burn injuries.
• Avoid plugging too many holiday lights and decorations into a single outlet. Overloaded outlets can overheat and cause a fire.
• Do not mount or support light strings in a way that might damage the cord’s insulation.
• Never connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together.
• Make sure any electrical decorations used outdoors are marked for outdoor use.
• Keep all outdoor extension cords and light strings clear of snow and standing water.
• Use caution when decorating near power lines. Contact with a high-voltage line could lead to electrocution.
• Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to bed. 

Visit ESFI’s holiday safety website,,

How to Be a Good Dad in a Tough Economy

November 30, 2011 5:32 pm

With a masters in human leisure development and a business specializing in recreation services and facilities management, Tom Watson, author of "Man Shoes: The Journey to Becoming a Better Man, Husband & Father," knows the importance of fathers spending quality down time with their children. 

But with so many families financially stressed, it's the first "job" many dads are abandoning. 

"These days, many fathers are either unemployed and working hard to find work or they're working two jobs or more just to make ends meet," Watson says. "Either they don't have much time for family, or they just aren't in the mood." 

Watson offers these tips for dads trying to stay connected in a tough economy:
Share Time - It's important for your kids to know that you aren't paying attention to them out of obligation, but rather, because you need to be with them as much as they need to be with you.
A Little Time is Better Than None - Even if you can only block out a couple of hours every week, that can be enough. As long as you keep to the schedule and don't let your kids down, that time will be as valuable as if you spent the entire weekend with them.
Don't Plan Big - The pitfall is that the bigger the plan, the bigger the expectation. The truth is, kids don't care. You don't have to spend a lot of money or make big plans all the time. It could be as simple as going to the park to fly kites and eating a brown bag lunch together, and most kids would be happy with that.
Watson adds, "While it may seem to some that working hard to provide for their families is their primary responsibility as a father, that's just not so." 

For more information visit

Seasonal Stress Busters

November 30, 2011 5:32 pm

The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and fun. However, with all of the excitement also comes a whopping dose of stress—there are events to plan, gifts to buy, meals to cook and guests to pamper. Mind the following helpful hints to ease stress this season.

Exercise- Fitness is important year round, but the winter especially. With cold weather, darker days and busier schedules, it’s hard to maintain a work-out routine. However, studies have shown that regularly physical activity not only lowers stress, but bolsters your immune system, warding off wintertime sniffles.

Eat right- Between decadent meals, holiday parties, and comfort foods, nutrition often gets neglected between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Indulge in moderation and load up on leafy greens, whole grains and filling protein to keep your body happy and your mind sharp.

Laughter- Don’t let work stress or that looming visit from your in-laws dampen your holiday cheer. Spending just 10 minutes a day laughing can brighten your spirits. Watch a funny YouTube video, call a friend or play with your kids to put a smile on your face and keep stress at bay.

Down-time – Between pressing work schedules and shuttling the kids from one event to another, you can lose sight of your “you” time. Make sure to schedule at least thirty minutes in your day to relax. Spend that time doing something that puts you at ease, whether it’s taking a bath, reading a book, playing with your pets or working on a hobby.

Power off – Studies have shown using electronics—from TVs to laptops and Smartphones—before bed can disrupt your sleeping pattern. The less restful your sleep schedule, the easier it is for you to become stressed and agitated. Power off all electronics at least thirty minutes prior to slipping in the sheets for sounder zzz’s.

Word of the Day

November 30, 2011 5:32 pm

Real property. Land and buildings and anything permanently attached to them.

Question of the Day

November 30, 2011 5:32 pm

Q: Do I need to be at the inspection?

A: No, but it is a very good idea to be there. Following the check-over, the home inspector can answer your questions and discuss problem areas with you. This is also an opportune time to get an objective opinion about the home from someone who does not have emotional or financial ties to the property.

Health News: Antibiotic Resistance

November 29, 2011 5:10 pm

Antibiotic resistance is a growing public health concern worldwide. When a person is infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacterium, not only is treatment of that patient more difficult, but the antibiotic-resistant bacterium may spread to other people. 

When antibiotics don't work, the result can be
• longer illnesses
• more complicated illnesses
• more doctor visits
• the use of stronger and more expensive drugs
• more deaths caused by bacterial infections 

Examples of the types of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics include the species that cause skin infections, meningitis, sexually transmitted diseases and respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia.
In cooperation with other government agencies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has launched several initiatives to address antibiotic resistance. 

The agency has issued drug labeling regulations, emphasizing the prudent use of antibiotics. The regulations encourage health care professionals to prescribe antibiotics only when clinically necessary, and to counsel patients about the proper use of such drugs and the importance of taking them as directed. FDA has also encouraged the development of new drugs, vaccines, and improved tests for infectious diseases. 

Antibiotics Fight Bacteria, Not Viruses
Antibiotics are meant to be used against bacterial infections. For example, they are used to treat strep throat, which is caused by streptococcal bacteria, and skin infections caused by staphylococcal bacteria.
Although antibiotics kill bacteria, they are not effective against viruses. Therefore, they will not be effective against viral infections such as colds, most coughs, many types of sore throat, and influenza (flu). 

Using antibiotics against viral infections
• will not cure the infection
• will not keep other individuals from catching the virus
• will not help a person feel better
• may cause unnecessary, harmful side effects
• may contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
Patients and health care professionals alike can play an important role in combating antibiotic resistance. Patients should not demand antibiotics when a health care professional says the drugs are not needed. Health care professionals should prescribe antibiotics only for infections they believe to be caused by bacteria.
As a patient, your best approach is to ask your health care professional whether an antibiotic is likely to be effective for your condition. Also, ask what else you can do to relieve your symptoms. 

So how do you know if you have a bad cold or a bacterial infection? 

Joseph Toerner, M.D., MPH, a medical officer in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, says that the symptoms of a cold or flu generally lessen over the course of a week. But if you have a fever and other symptoms that persist and worsen with the passage of days, you may have a bacterial infection and should consult your health care provider. 

Follow Directions for Proper Use
When you are prescribed an antibiotic to treat a bacterial infection, it's important to take the medication exactly as directed. Here are more tips to promote proper use of antibiotics.
• Complete the full course of the drug. It's important to take all of the medication, even if you are feeling better. If treatment stops too soon, the drug may not kill all the bacteria. You may become sick again, and the remaining bacteria may become resistant to the antibiotic that you've taken.
• Do not skip doses. Antibiotics are most effective when they are taken regularly.
• Do not save antibiotics. You might think that you can save an antibiotic for the next time you get sick, but an antibiotic is meant for your particular infection at the time. Never take leftover medicine. Taking the wrong medicine can delay getting the appropriate treatment and may allow your condition to worsen.
• Do not take antibiotics prescribed for someone else. These may not be appropriate for your illness, may delay correct treatment, and may allow your condition to worsen.
• Talk with your health care professional. Ask questions, especially if you are uncertain about when an antibiotic is appropriate or how to take it. 

For more information, visit

Word of the Day

November 29, 2011 5:10 pm

Real estate salesperson. Person who has passed a state examination for that position, and must work under the supervision of a broker.

Question of the Day

November 29, 2011 5:10 pm

Q: How do I select a home inspector?

A: Begin by only hiring one who is qualified and experienced, someone who belongs to an industry trade group, such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). This organization has developed formal inspection guidelines and a professional code of ethics for its members. Also, membership in ASHI is not automatic; members must have demonstrated field experience and technical knowledge about structures and their various systems.

Chainsaw Safety, Part II

November 29, 2011 4:40 pm

As reported in the previous segment, I was among the millions in New England left dealing with a double-barreled punch of post-storm cleanups this fall. With all those cleanups, hospitals across the region saw a significant rise in chainsaw-related emergencies.

So we turned to the U.S. Occupational & Health Administration (OSHA) for some tips on chainsaw safety, and got the full scope on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Your PPE helps protect the head, ears, eyes, face, hands, and legs—and is designed to prevent or lessen the severity of injuries to those using chain saws.

Before you even fuel up your saw, OSHA recommends you inspect your PPE to ensure it’s all in serviceable condition.

One of the least talked about protective measures, even for occasional chainsaw users, perhaps due to cost—are chaps. But Elvex Safety Products ( of Bethel, Connecticut recommends that even casual "weekend warriors" consider donning protective chaps when operating a chainsaw.

The company states that the average chainsaw injury results in 120 stitches, and even its unique brand of chaps won't stop or prevent injuries if the chainsaw is running much faster than 2,750 feet per minute. (A full throttle chainsaw is capable of up to 6,000 feet-per-minute, reinforcing the inherent danger of that type of tool.)

Once you are equipped for safety and safely fueled, it's time to dig into the task at hand. Keep in mind these final OSHA chainsaw safety pointers:

• Clear away dirt, debris, small tree limbs and rocks from the saw’s chain path. Look for nails, spikes or other metal in the tree before cutting.
• Shut off the saw or engage its chain brake when carrying the saw on rough or uneven terrain.
• Keep your hands on the saw’s handles, and maintain secure footing while operating the saw.
• Proper personal protective equipment must be worn when operating the saw, which includes hand, foot, leg, eye, face, hearing and head protection.
• Do not wear loose-fitting clothing.
• Be careful that the trunk or tree limbs will not bind against the saw.
• Watch for branches under tension, they may spring out when cut.
• Gasoline-powered chain saws must be equipped with a protective device that minimizes chain saw kickback. • Be cautious of saw kick-back. To avoid kick-back, do not saw with the tip. If equipped, keep tip guard in place.

Hopefully, with this advice as a guideline, individuals including occasional users of chainsaws and chain driven equipment will be prepared to tackle their cutting chores with the utmost safety in mind.

Attention Holiday Shoppers: Tips to Protect You and Your Vehicle

November 29, 2011 4:40 pm

The race is on! With the holiday season now in full swing, department stores, malls and downtown streets are packed with shoppers looking for great gifts and last-minute deals. Unfortunately, it's that hustle and bustle of long lists and large crowds that opportunistic criminals are counting on to distract holiday shoppers and make them easy targets for vehicle break-ins, carjacking and other auto theft-related crimes. 

According to Help Eliminate Auto Thefts (H.E.A.T.), law enforcement agencies report an increased number of auto break-ins during the holiday season. H.E.A.T. is Michigan's statewide auto theft prevention program that coordinates citizen action with law enforcement agencies through a confidential toll-free tip line (1.800.242.HEAT) and website ( 

"The holidays are a joyous time of year filled with family gatherings and gift giving," said Terri Miller, director of H.E.A.T. "But, with overflowing parking lots and vehicles filled to the brim with purchases, the holidays are also a dream for car thieves." 

The following tips from H.E.A.T. will help you to be more careful and prepared while shopping this holiday season.
• Stay alert and watchful. While walking to your car, take a moment to observe your surroundings. Talking or texting on cell phones, digging for keys or juggling multiple packages can be a distraction, all of which make you an easy target.
• Park in well-lit, high-traffic areas. Try to avoid shopping alone after dark. If possible, avoid parking near objects that block your view of the surrounding area such as dumpsters, bushes, large vans or trucks.
• Place valuables and purchases in the trunk or out of view. Before leaving your car, make sure anything of value is locked in the trunk or out of sight.
• Remember where your car is parked. Walk directly to your car and do not spend unnecessary time wandering around the parking lot. Walk confidently and with purpose.
• Move your car. If you return to your car in the middle of a shopping trip, move to another area of the parking lot, even if it means giving up a prime spot. This will deter a thief who may have been watching you unload your purchases and then return to shop.
• If threatened by a carjacker, give up the car. Don’t resist or argue. A life is more important than any vehicle, and most carjackings involve a weapon.
• If you witness an auto theft or carjacking, call the police immediately.