Gunning Daily News

Outdoor Fire Safety: Burn Bans, Restrictions, and Environmental Impact

September 28, 2011 5:39 pm

Outdoor burn bans are placed to protect the environment and prevent destructive fires. They make private wood fire burning illegal or only allowed by permission of the local fire department or local government. If your country has a burn ban in place and you looking for a way to enjoy an outdoor flame this fall, you will be happy to know that gas fire pits are exempt from many burn bans and provide a way to keep fires burning.

Burning a fire that runs on clean-burning fuel, like natural gas, will not produce the carcinogenic smoke created by a wood-burning fire. This means less impact on the environment, and neighbors won't complain about smoke floating into their yard. Gas fire pits not only meet requirements for many burn bans, they are also convenient with very little maintenance. No wood to buy, no soot, smoke, or ashes, and no messy clean-up. Clean-burning fuel options include LP, natural gas, denatured alcohol (non-pourable gel fuel), and pellet fuel.

Dan Shimek, President of The Outdoor GreatRoom Company states, "there isn't a 'surefire' way to bypass all burn bans. However, by choosing a UL listed gas fire pit it is possible to have year-round enjoyment of fire, in a way that is both safe and legal."

Stainless steel gas burners units generate a controlled fire, eliminate sparks, and do not create toxic smoke. State and local codes vary, as does the duration of individual bans. Research local codes online and check with code officials in each affected zone to and determine if UL Listed gas fire pit tables are a viable option.

From small urban balconies to shared campsites, UL listed gas fire pit burners make it easier than ever to rekindle the warm glow of a fire year-round.

Top 5 reasons to choose a gas fire pit table:
1. Safety & Peace of Mind. UL listed products are tested for safe use.
2. Eliminate Smoke that carries toxic particles and irritates neighbors.
3. Convenience. No hauling wood, no messy clean-up.
4. Quick to Start. Electronic ignition starts the fire.
5. Style and design. Pre-fabricated or DIY custom surrounds.

Top things to consider when buying a gas fire pit table :
1. UL listed burners ensure safety testing and approval.
2. Stainless steel burners and components won't rust.
3. Electronic ignition. Makes starting the fire simple and safe.
4. Remote control options offer convenience.
5. Natural Gas. If using NG, consult with a professional before making your purchase.
6. Attractive Propane Tank Covers. If using LP (liquid propane) gas, see if the fire pit table has the provision to house a tank underneath. If not, shop for an attractive tank cover that matches your space. Most fire pits use a 20lb propane tank - the same type used for gas barbeque grills.

For more information, visit .

Short on Cash? Try These 5 Ways to Stretch a Tight Budget

September 28, 2011 5:39 pm

Cricket Communications, a leading provider of innovative and value-driven wireless services, has teamed up with personal finance and savings expert Robert Pagliarini to offer easy tips to help people stretch already-tight budgets. Pagliarini is the author of The Other 8 Hours, Six-Day Financial Makeover and a certified financial planner.

"As the economy struggles to recover, people are looking for new ways to save money," says Pagliarini. "But no one wants to cut all of the fun and entertainment out of their lives, especially with deeply personal devices like cell phones and electronics."

Cricket has partnered with Robert to offer creative money-saving tips that can help save families hundreds of dollars each month.

PERK System - List all of your expenses and decide which ones you can "Postpone," "Eliminate," "Reduce" and those you must "Keep." Don't let the simplicity throw you. It's easy but incredibly effective and helps you prioritize and get your spending in line. The rest of my tips focus on expenses you can "Eliminate" and "Reduce."
"Budget" Nights Out - A night out can be much needed, but dinner bills, movie tickets and parking fees each month can quickly start to resemble a mortgage payment! Don't skip the night out completely, but consider eating at home before the movie. You can even invite your friends over for a cooking night—and they can return the favor the next time.
Small Cutbacks, Big Savings - Don't forget about the small everyday expenses you rack up – they add up to big savings. If you can cut out some coffees and brown bag your lunch a few times each week, you can save $150 a month.
Technology That Saves You Money – It seems counter-intuitive, but there are ways to cut your costs with new gadgets and services. You can slash your cable bill by using video subscription streaming services, online DVD rentals and an HD antenna—you still get 90% of what you watch through cable/satellite providers for one-fifth of the price.
Cell Phones - The average family spends well over $1,000 a year on wireless service, and that's before you start adding in costs like extra lines and fancy phones for the kids, apps and song downloads. For anyone who has ever given their kid a smartphone, you know this can be a recipe for a financial disaster.
The easiest, most pain-free way to save money is to stick with a fixed cost, pre-paid plan where you can save hundreds of dollars each year, without sacrificing all of the fun apps, games and music that you can't live without.

For more information about flexible service plans, visit

Planning a Party? Follow These Group Event Planning Hints

September 28, 2011 5:39 pm

Whether planning a wedding, meeting, reception, convention, or party, the costs can add up fast. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. This can be done in a variety of ways that will save money. 

First get prices from multiple venues and hotels. Use competing proposals to compare prices and as leverage to lower the price of the preferred venue. If a block of hotel rooms is needed, hold the event in the same hotel where the guestrooms are located. The greater the number of guestrooms the lower the rate should be, and this will provide extra leverage to lower the price of the event space and can also be used to lower the catering costs.

Do not forget to compare hotels rates to rates from internet. If planning multiple events then commit to the same location for both. This is effective in lowering the cost of both events.

Hotel and conference centers are flexible when it comes to food and beverage pricing. They are more than willing to meet a required budget and reduce costs. Using a preferred outside caterer is another way to lower catering costs or this can be used to assist in negotiation of in house costs. These principals can be applied to audio/visual expenses as-well, another area that is open to negotiation.

If the event can be held during an off peak time or season there will be a much greater chance of getting a lower price. Good luck planning your next event.

For more information, visit

Word of the Day

September 28, 2011 5:39 pm

Interim financing. Short-term loan usually made during the construction phase of a building project or until a permanent, long-term loan can be obtained. Also called a construction loan.

Question of the Day

September 28, 2011 5:39 pm

Q: Where can I find foreclosure properties?

A: Look in the legal notices section of your local newspaper. A notice is also usually posted on the property itself and somewhere in the city where the sale will take place.

However, real estate agents are the best source for information about foreclosures before they begin. Often a property will be listed and the agent will know if it is approaching foreclosure. Perhaps the best way to get the information is to have your agent put the word out that you are looking for properties with pending foreclosures.

Another source can be the bank or financial institution that holds the mortgage. Of course, they generally will not give you the names of those who are facing foreclosure, but they may give the property owner your card or phone number.

Buying foreclosures is not easy. Savvy investors are highly skilled at nabbing these properties. Inexperienced buyers may find themselves surrounded by pretty stiff competition. They will need to get as much information as possible, including a "foreclosure inspection report" and an appraisal from the lender.

5 Ways to Deal with a Whining Child

September 28, 2011 5:09 pm

Children can be great complainers, and it doesn’t take them long to learn that they can sometimes win your consent or attention by whining until you give them what they want. But, according to child development experts, there are better ways to hang onto your sanity and make your child more cooperative and pleasant in the bargain.

Here, from a panel of experts at Chapman College in Orange, Calif., are five proven ways to deal with a whiny child:
1. Pretend you don’t hear your child’s request when said in a whiny fashion. Go about your activities as though he had never said a word. Ignoring the whining sends a message that it doesn’t bring results.
2. At the first pause in the child’s complaining, say brightly, “Oh, I’m sorry. Were you talking to me? I can’t seem to hear that whiny tone. If you’d like to talk to me in a friendlier way, I’d love to hear what you have to say.” This sets up a clear standard for what you expect when communicating, and will surely get the child’s attention if he or she begins to whine out of habit.
3. Give your child a sense of control by offering choices whenever possible. “Would you rather go to the library or the park?” “Would you rather have green beans or peas?” A child who has some measure of control is better equipped to handle life’s little disappointments.
4. Redirect the blame when she complains. If she whines that she always has to clean her room, remind her calmly that if she kept it picked up all week long, she wouldn’t have to clean up all at once. Doing this teaches that she needs to accept responsibility for the actions she chooses to take.
5. Every now and then, play a game in which you are the child and he is the adult. Role playing shows your child how awful he sounds when he whines, and gives him a chance to vocalize solutions that can ultimately make both of you happier.

Before You Start House Hunting

September 27, 2011 5:09 pm

Right now is the ideal time to purchase a home, whether it’s your very first home or a vacation location for your family to relax at during the summer. But before you dive into the house hunt, there are a few things you should do to assure you’re fully prepared.

1. Determine your price. Don’t waste time looking at homes out of your price range. Before you begin looking, sit down with your family or spouse and set a realistic price range, including the amount of money you can afford to put down. 

2. Make a wants vs. needs list. Sit down and make a list of what you’re looking for. Make a detailed list of the absolute necessities, like good local school systems, versus things you simply want, such as a modern kitchen for the chef in the family or a guest room for relatives. Differentiating between wants and needs will make your search more focused.

3. Talk to your bank. Sit down with your bank and discuss your finances, determine your mortgage rate and figure out an affordable monthly payment. Don’t forget to factor in unexpected expenses, such as medical bills or a job loss.

4. Check your credit. Has it been a few years since you ran a credit check? There is nothing more heartbreaking than finding your dream home only to have the bank refuse to give you a loan due to credit. If your credit isn’t where it needs to be, work on building it up before you begin hunting.

Home Inspection-What Homeowners Need to Know

September 27, 2011 5:09 pm

If you're in the process of buying or selling a home, you've likely been hearing quite a bit about home inspection. Home inspections play a critical role in providing homeowners with details about what repairs and upgrades need to be made to the home, and supply a more complete understanding of the home's overall condition. 

During a home inspection, a home inspector will perform a visual inspection of over 400 items within the home. Some of these items include: the structural components of the home, the foundation, roof and the visible electrical, plumbing and mechanical operating systems of the property. 

As a home buyer, a certified home inspection will allow you to feel good about the fact that you've made a sound purchase decision. A home inspection provides pertinent details about every aspect of your home, and reduces the risk of unwanted surprises after you move in. 

As someone selling their home, home inspection (also known as property inspection) allows you to prepare for or repair potentially problematic items. Home inspections help you sell your house faster, get the best price, and reduce the chance of last minute surprises that could complicate the sale. 

When you hire a home inspection company it pays to do your homework. Look for a reputable, highly experienced company. 

Consumer Reports Poll: 48 Percent of Americans on Meds Making Risky Health Care Tradeoffs

September 27, 2011 5:09 pm

As a result of the flagging economy, Americans are making risky tradeoffs that could be dangerous to their health, according to Consumer Reports' annual prescription drug poll. Forty-eight percent of Americans who currently take a prescription medicine told pollsters they'd cut health-care costs, for example, by putting off a doctor's visit or medical procedure, declining tests, or ordering cheaper drugs from outside of the U.S. That's an increase of 9 percentage points since 2010. The full results are available online at 

The survey also found that to save money, 28 percent of Americans who take medication have resorted to potentially dangerous actions: for example, they skipped filling a prescription (16 percent), took an expired medication (13 percent), or skipped a scheduled dosage without asking a doctor or pharmacist (12 percent). Larger numbers (35 percent) of low-income Americans took these risky steps. 

Doctors could be doing more to insulate their patients from undue expenses. For example, not all doctors are routinely prescribing generics, which can be a tremendous money-saver; four out of ten respondents (41 percent) said their doctor only sometimes -- or never -- recommends a generic. "Doctors need to be stewards of their patients' resource concerns. When you walk into your doctor's office, you are a patient, first and foremost, but you are also a consumer, and your doctor should be tuned into this, especially during these tough times," says John Santa, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. 

The survey found that doctors are only slightly more likely to recommend a generic substitute for a brand-name medicine than not. Fifty-four percent of those polled said their physician "always" (26 percent) or "usually" (28 percent) suggests generics, versus 41 percent who said "sometimes" or "never."

While generics account for the majority of prescriptions among those taking drugs regularly, 39 percent of Americans reported a concern or misconception about generics.

Despite the costly burden of prescription drugs, very few doctors raise the issue of cost during their meetings with patients. Only 5 percent of patients found out the cost of a prescription drug during a doctor visit, while two-thirds (64 percent) first learned about cost when picking up their medicine at the pharmacy.
The number of Americans taking a medication who said that information about whether a doctor accepts money or gifts from drug companies is very valuable has increased significantly by nine percentage points since 2010 to 43 percent today.

Along the same lines, a strong majority (88 percent) of Americans who take a prescription drug harbor some misgivings about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on the prescribing habits of their doctors. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) agreed completely or somewhat that pharmaceutical companies have too much influence on the drugs that doctors prescribe. Just over half (52%) agreed that doctors are too eager to prescribe a drug rather than consider alternate methods of managing a condition. And half (49 percent) agreed that the drugs that doctors prescribe are influenced by gifts from pharmaceutical companies. 

"Some doctors are still taking money from industry and they may be lagging when it comes to suggesting alternatives to drug therapy, prescribing less expensive generics, and talking to their patients about cost issues. This is not a time for doctors to cave into industry influence nor is it a good time to be passive about the fiduciary interests of their patients," says Santa. 

The poll serves as a reminder that a large swath of Americans regularly take multiple prescription drugs to treat their conditions, and the sticker shock associated with paying for all those drugs is taking a toll:
• Half (49 percent) of Americans currently take a prescription drug, and among them, the average number regularly taken is 4.5 medicines. Consumers earning less than $40,000 and those aged 65 years or more take the greatest number of prescriptions (5.7 and 5.5 medicines, respectively). 

• Monthly out of pocket spending for those who regularly take a prescription drug is $59, a slight drop of $9 from two years ago. The decline appears to be driven by the increasing use of generics in response to household budget pressures.

"Our polling suggests that the burden of prescription drug prices is coming down as our medicine cabinets are more frequently filled with generic drugs. But the costs of multiple prescriptions has proved to be onerous for many Americans, so much so that some consumers are making unhealthy tradeoffs," says Lisa Gill, prescription drug editor, Consumer Reports Health. 

Some advice for consumers:
• Consumers should not change the dosage of their prescription drugs on their own. If cost is a concern, it's best for patients to raise the issue with their doctors when they prescribe medication, especially if the drug is being used long term for a chronic condition. Consumers might also talk to the office nurse or a pharmacist.
• Ask about the possibility of taking a generic instead of a brand name drug. Generics use the same active ingredient as brand-name drugs, are regulated in the same manner, and must prove their "bioequivalence," which means they release the same amount of the drug at the same rate as their brand-name counterpart.
• Pharmacists can be a helpful resource. They can point a consumer to a discount drug program. They know the pros and cons of drugs and their costs and they likely have a comprehensive record of an individual's medicines.
• Many chain pharmacies offer a month's supply for about $4 or a three month's supply for $10, though restrictions apply. Local independent pharmacies may be willing to match these prices.
• Avoid free samples when possible because they're usually available for newer, more expensive medications for which no generic is available, and that can cost a consumer when its time to fill the prescription.

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Word of the Day

September 27, 2011 5:09 pm

Interest. A fee paid for the use of money; also a share or right in something.