Gunning Daily News

Tips for Safe Spring Cleaning

April 16, 2011 9:43 am

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2011-Now that spring has officially arrived, homeowners are taking the time to take stock of what is in their homes and do a thorough spring cleaning. While it's a great thing to do, it's important to stay safe while you're doing it, especially from falls and poisoning-two of the top causes of home injuries.

The following tips will help you stay safe while cleaning your home:

-When cleaning out closets or re-organizing things, always keep stairs, steps, landings and all floors clear.

-When hauling items from room to room, carry loads you can see over, and keep one hand free to hold banisters and railings.

-Five gallon buckets are often used while cleaning and present a serious drowning danger to young children. Never leave a bucket or any standing water unattended and be sure to store buckets empty and upside-down.

-Follow safety recommendations when using harsh products, such as wearing gloves and masks. Do not mix products together because their contents could react with dangerous results.

-Never use gasoline to clean something and never use or store gasoline in your home, even in tiny quantities. Gasoline vapors can explode with just a spark. If you must keep some, use a special safety container and store it in an outside shed.

-When you clean out your cabinets, look at the labels on the products. If you see the words "Caution," "Warning," "Danger," "Poison," or "Keep Out of Reach of Children," be very careful. These products should be locked up when you are not using them.

-Remember to put things away so people cannot trip on them. Safely tuck away telephone and electrical cords out of walkways. In homes with children, make sure toys and other items are always safely put away when not in use.

-If you need to climb to clean something, use a stepladder or ladder. When using a ladder, stand at or below the highest safe standing level. For a stepladder, the safe standing level is the second rung from the top, and for an extension ladder, it's the fourth rung from the top. Before using, make sure the rungs are dry.

For more information, visit www.homesafetycounci.org.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Word of the Day

April 16, 2011 7:13 am

Sales contract. Contract that contains the terms of the agreement between the buyer and seller for the sale of a particular parcel or parcels of real estate.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Q: Are there routine steps I can take now to avoid major home improvements later?

April 16, 2011 7:13 am

A: Get in the habit of taking an annual inventory of every single space in your home to check for potential problems. Examine the roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical wiring basically everything. Try to fix trouble spots as soon as you uncover them. This proactive approach will help you avoid major repairs to your home later.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


5 Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Environment

April 16, 2011 7:13 am

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2011-Studies show that one in three people in the United States are living with extreme stress, with an estimated 67% of all doctor visits being stress related. The best way to reduce the stress in your life is to evaluate your environment. Reconsider these five areas and see how you can lessen the stress in your world.

Sounds

Too many background noises can contribute to the stress and tension of your day in the office it might be ringing phones, workplace chatter or copy machines. At home it could be television volume, computer games, or children playing. If the sounds at work or home are causing you stress, take control. Begin by turning down your own sounds and noises like cell phones, chatter and radios, and kindly ask others to do the same.

Sights

Poor lighting can cause eye strain and increase fatigue. Better lighting can be an instant mood booster. Be sure your work environment has adequate lighting. Experiment with full spectrum bulbs at your desk or try working by a window, if possible. Also, try to get some daily exposure to the sun.

Surroundings

A cluttered, messy or disorganized work or home space can be stressful and distracting. Take the time to develop a system that works for you. Try to create a relaxing, inviting and pleasant vibe in both places. This will not only keep you calm, but will be welcoming and tranquil for any guests.

Systems

We all know that systems and technology can make life easier, but often offer too many interruptions, information overload and stressful accessibility. Make sure to give yourself a technology break on a regular basis- take a walk outside, chat with a friend or co-worker or practice some quiet meditation. Log off and disconnect whenever possible. Create a system or schedule for reading e-mail, responding to text messages and checking voicemail to eliminate overload and response time stress.

Space

Find a space at home, work or in between where you can breathe deeply, mediate, visualize or practice other stress management techniques. Spending time in nature, even looking at nature pictures, has been shown to reduce stress levels.

For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Electrical Safety Tips to Keep in Mind This Spring

April 16, 2011 7:13 am

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2011-Spring's warm weather is a great time for yard work, swimming and many other outdoor activities. At work or at play, it's important to keep electrical safety in mind. Tucson Electric Power (TEP) offers these tips to help you stay safe around electricity when you're outdoors this spring.

-Look up and look out for overhead power lines. Be mindful of any nearby lines before you climb a ladder or extend the handle of a pool-cleaning tool.

-Keep materials, tools and all parts of your body at least 15 feet away from any overhead power lines at all times. If you plan to get any closer, state law requires you to make arrangements with TEP that will allow your work to proceed safely. Keep this in mind when installing or repairing an antenna or satellite dish or preparing your evaporative cooler for summer use.

-Before you trim tree limbs and shrubs, watch out for power lines that could be hidden by foliage.

-Inspect power tools and electric lawn mowers for frayed power cords, broken plugs and weathered or damaged housings before every use. Don't use damaged equipment until it has been repaired properly. Keep tools unplugged and stored in dry areas when they are not in use. And always use an insulated extension cord designed for outdoor use with the correct power rating for that equipment.

-Always keep power cords and electrical equipment away from water, wet grass or other wet areas. Keep this in mind when using electric-powered mowers or other lawn equipment.

-Never fly kites or model airplanes near power lines. If a kite does get tangled with overhead lines, don't try to get it down yourself, as a kite string can conduct electricity.

-Keep vegetation and permanent structures away from the large, green ground-level boxes that house components of underground electrical systems.

-Treat all electric lines with caution and respect. Even low-voltage electric lines and cords can be hazardous if damaged or improperly handled. And if you Ever see a downed power line, call 911 immediately; don't get near it.

For more information, visit www.tep.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Insurance Questions Potential Homeowners Should Ask before They Buy

April 16, 2011 7:13 am

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2011-Insurance Information Institute says insurance is often the last thing people think about when buying a home, but it should be a key factor.

When it comes time to buy that dream home, the cost to insure it is often overlooked. The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) says there are two questions every potential homeowner should ask before they buy: How much will the home cost to insure? And, will separate coverage be needed for certain disasters, such as flood or earthquake?

Insurance is an expense you will have for as long as you own the home. Before purchasing a home, there are important factors to consider that will affect the cost of insurance. The I.I.I. has created the following checklist to help:

-How far is the home from the fire department? Houses that are near a fire station with professional firefighters usually cost less to insure.

-What is the condition of the plumbing and electrical systems? Poorly maintained, unsafe and/or outdated systems can cost more to insure.

-Is the home vulnerable to wind damage? Find out if private insurance is available, or a state-run insurance program. Is there a windstorm deductible, and how high is it? A home on or near the beach may be more costly to insure than one inland.

-Is the house at risk from flooding? Flood insurance is not covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy. However, it is available from the National Flood Insurance Program which is serviced by private carriers and from a few specialty insurers.

-What about earthquake risk? Earthquake insurance requires an endorsement or a separate policy.

-Is the house well built and well maintained? Homes built by reputable builders using disaster resistant materials and designed to meet current building codes are likely to better withstand natural disasters.

A knowledgeable home inspector and your insurance agent can be helpful in answering these questions. The home's loss history report can also provide useful information about its claims history of water damage, fire and other losses.

For more information, visit www.iii.org.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Word of the Day

April 15, 2011 10:43 am

Right of survivorship. A feature of joint tenancy giving the surviving joint tenants the rights, title and interests of the deceased joint tenant. Right of survivorship is the basic difference between buying property as joint tenants and as tenants in common.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Q: What is the difference between a conventional and non-conventional loan?

April 15, 2011 10:43 am

A: They are the same as conforming and non-conforming loans. A conventional, or conforming, loan is one not insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or guaranteed by the Veterans Administration (VA), two federal government agencies that make homeownership possible and generally more affordable for a large segment of the population.

However, that said, many major banks and private lenders now offer non-conventional, or non-conforming, loans for lower-income borrowers and those with blemishes on their credit.

In fact, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now the leading sources of non-conventional loans, thereby making the process of buying a home a lot easier for more people but not necessarily cheaper. The interest rates on these loans are much higher than rates on conventional mortgages.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


5 Tips to Help Discuss Family Finances with Your Children

April 15, 2011 10:43 am

RISMEDIA, April 15, 2011-The third annual Parents, Kids & Money Survey from T. Rowe Price reveals that 86% of parents feel they-more so than educators or others-should have primary responsibility for teaching their kids the basics of personal finance. Yet, parents on average only grade themselves a B- for serving as role models regarding their saving and spending habits, with more than one-third grading themselves a C or lower.

Similarly, parents on average grade themselves a B for their personal knowledge about money, with more than one-quarter grading themselves a C or lower. Just 28% of parents say they are very prepared to discuss basic financial principles such as setting goals, the importance of saving, smart spending, inflation and diversification. Parents actually find it easier to discuss drugs and alcohol with their kids than family finances. They also find talking about investing just as difficult as talking about coming of age.

In addition, two-thirds of parents think they could be doing more to teach their children about money. The survey results are released in recognition of Financial Literacy Month, which occurs in April.

"The need for financial education has never been greater," says Stuart Ritter, CFP , a T. Rowe Price financial planner and father of three. "There are opportunities each and every day to share important lessons with children, and with kids able to grasp many of these important financial concepts at a young age, these conversations can start as early as elementary school, if not sooner. Parents don't need to be experts, but they should be able to share the basic tenets that will put their children on the right financial path."

Ritter offers parents the following tips for discussing family finances with their kids:

Take advantage of everyday teachable moments such as going grocery shopping, opening the household bills or planning a family vacation to reinforce financial lessons and make them more memorable.

Help your kids set specific savings goals. Help them set both short- and long-term goals to provide real-life incentives and make the general advice to "save" more concrete. This will also better equip them to make smarter spending decisions.

Emphasize prioritization and focus on tying spending decisions back to the goals when your kids want something else. This can be a better approach than simply saying "no" and helps put the decisions in a context they will understand while making it easier to discuss the trade-offs.

Have open communications about the financial choices the family has to make and be careful about how you react to money issues. While you don't need to reveal all financial details such as exact household income, it's important to let kids know that the topic of money is not taboo and is open for discussion.

Make money conversations fun. This will better engage your kids and avoid the eye rolls that tend to accompany these types of discussions.

For more information, visit www.troweprice.com.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.


Tips for Childproofing Your Garage

April 15, 2011 10:43 am

RISMEDIA, April 15, 2011-While you have probably spent countless hours childproofing the inside of your home, it is crucial that homeowners don't overlook the garage when it comes to keeping your children safe. Now that spring has arrived, your children will likely spend a lot of time outdoors in the coming months. Here are some ways you can protect your children from harm in and around your garage.

Door to house. Install a lock on the door leading outside or to the garage. Consider a self-locking Dutch door that allows you to pass groceries into the house without letting your toddler out.

Driveway blind zones. Always make sure children are safely out of the way before backing your car out of the garage or driveway. Some vehicles are now available with an optional rear-view video camera that shows the driveway in an in-dash display.

Garage-door openers. Test an electric garage-door opener's sensitivity by placing a 2-inch-high block of wood on the floor in the door's path. If the door doesn't reverse direction and go up, don't use the garage door opener. Open and close the door manually, or replace the garage-door opener. In addition to reversing when they come in contact with something, openers may be equipped with optical sensors that prevent the garage door from closing if a child or anything else gets in the way.

Hazardous substances. Store matches, antifreeze, charcoal lighter fluid, windshield wiper fluid, gasoline, and oil as you would medicine-in their original containers, out of your child's sight and reach in a locked cabinet. Dilute any antifreeze spills by hosing them off. Antifreeze can contain ethylene glycol, a toxic chemical that smells and tastes sweet. It's particularly hazardous to children or pets that may lick it off driveways and garage floors.

Laundry supplies. Stash detergent, bleach, and other laundry essentials in a locked cupboard. Keep all chemicals in their original containers; never transfer them to soda bottles or other beverage containers.

Ride-on toys. Don't purchase a riding toy until you're certain your child is mature enough to use it safely. Attach a tall flag on the back of a tricycle so it's visible to motorists. The lower it is to the ground, the safer a wheeled toy is. Always supervise a child when riding. Be sure your child has a safe riding area, where they can navigate without the risk of going into traffic, down steep hills, on steps, or into driveways. If there's no safe place to ride, use a riding toy only for visits to the park. To keep children away from the garage, store tricycles and ride-on toys in the house.

Stairs. To prevent falls down basement stairs, install a lock as high as you can reach on both the front and back of the basement door. Make sure stairs are well lit and keep all clutter and toys off steps.

Water heater. Reduce the setting of your hot-water heater to 120 F. An infant's skin burns much more easily than an adult's.

Workbench. Make your workbench off-limits, whether you're working there or not. Lock up power tools and all small or sharp objects.

For more information, visit www.consumerreports.org.

Copyright 2011 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission from RISMedia.