Spring … On the Road

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How to get a cleaner, healthier home this spring
Springtime is the best time to get
your home and outdoor equipment
ready for the approaching warm
weather, and the sooner you start the
sooner you will be ready to enjoy the
spring and summer months.
Here are some suggestions to make
your home as healthy and as clean as
Themed Section:
Spring …
On the Road
Warmer weather is just
around the bend, and that
means the return of spring
road trips and fun in the
sun. Loaded with advertiser
tie-in opportunities, this
section has all a reader
needs to ready his or her
ride to hit the open road
in the months ahead.
Begins on 10
Themed Section:
All About Pets
Families increasingly go above
and beyond for their pets,
and this section has everything a pet owner needs to
ensure the family pet is as
healthy and happy as
possible. Advertisers won’t
want to miss this opportunity
to run alongside a host of
pet-themed features focusing
on an array of topics, from
pet adoption to pet health
and much, much more.
Page 16
Get rid of mold and mildew
When the house is closed up tight for
the winter, it’s easy for mold and
mildew to take hold and grow, and such
growths can adversely affect your respiratory system while potentially causing
sinus congestion and eye irritation.
Mold and mildew growth also creates
unsightly stains, damaging paint and
wall finishes as a result. Spray Nine®
Cleaner/Disinfectant is very effective at
controlling mold and mildew, addressing not only existing mold and mildew
around the house, but also preventing
any future problems.
Further prevent mildew by venting
bathrooms or opening a window to dry
out the room after showering. Also
check for and remedy any leaks that can
contribute to mold and mildew growth.
In attics, basements and utility rooms,
consider the use of a desiccant, which
will remove moisture from the air.
Protect against allergens,
viruses and bacteria
Effectively cleaning a home can
involve several preventive measures to
keep everyone free from viruses and bacteria. Spray Nine® Cleaner/Disinfectant
takes just 45 seconds to disinfect a surface
of harmful bacteria, including those associated with food poisoning, whooping
cough and even infections such as MRSA.
Registered as a hospital grade disinfectant
by the Environmental Protection Agency,
the spray takes even less time to disinfect
a surface against viruses, doing so in just
30 seconds while protecting a home’s
inhabitants from viruses including
Influenza A2, Poliovirus Type I, a type of
polio, and others that can cause the common cold and respiratory illnesses.
Spray Nine® can be a very effective first line of defense against flu
viruses and other bacteria.
Another way to redue the spread of illness is to make sure everyone in the
household washes their hands when
coming in from school, work or from
Say ‘Au Revoir’ to Odor
Readying a home for fresh, spring
days also entails ridding its interior of
odor. Spray Nine® Brand Odor
Eliminator neutralizes offensive odors
on contact by “caging” their molecules
so they are no longer detectable to the
nose. Homeowners can eliminate odors
in their kitchens, carpets and even their
musty basements, ensuring the home is
odor-free for the long winter months
ahead. In lieu of smoke and pet odors,
Odor Eliminator provides a fresh floral
scent and can even be added to compatible cleaning solutions to freshen the
home as you clean.
Think about adding houseplants as
well. Plants are natural air filters and
can go a long way toward cleaning the
air of contaminants and odors.
Outdoor equipment
The warm-weather season is also
barbecue season. Spray Nine® Brand
BBQ Grill Cleaner does double duty as
a heavy-duty cleaner and a hard surface
disinfectant. It easily dissolves grease,
fat and burned-on food for quick
cleanup with less effort. The cleaner
also kills foodborne germs that contaminate food preparation surfaces, including Salmonella and E.coli in just 45
seconds. It can also be used on propane
tanks, countertops, stainless steel,
painted surfaces, BBQ covers, and
ceramic and tempered glass.
Remember, when cooking food on
the grill, do not reuse marinade after it
has touched raw meat or poultry.
Promptly scrape down the grill surface
while the barbecue is still warm to
remove most of the drippings and
scraps of food for easier clean-up.
Patio Furniture
The warm weather enables people
to venture outdoors and commune
with nature. Prepping the patio furniture for a new season of use often
involved a lot of elbow grease and
time. But Spray Nine® Brand Patio
Furniture Cleaner cleans, kills germs,
helps control mold and mildew and
destroys bacterial odors in a matter of
minutes while digging out grease,
grime, fingerprints, bird droppings,
suntan lotion, and other tough stains
from outdoor and poolside furniture.
The key benefit is its ability to kill
harmful germs like Salmonella enterica, E. coli and Athlete’s Foot Fungus.
Tackle spring cleaning projects with
ease. More information is available at
Your dream home doesn’t have to be just a dream
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Lawn & Garden Time • On the Water
April Timely Features
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The dream of owning your own vacation home is one shared by men and
women all over the world. Who wouldn’t
want their very own sanctuary from the
hustle and bustle of every day life?
According to Andrew Nadalin,
President of Pace 2000 Inc., a leading
custom home builder in Port St. Lucie,
Florida, many people not only want
their own vacation home, but they
already know what it is they want from
their home.
“We’re finding that customers have
very definite ideas of what they want in
their dream homes,” says Nadalin.
“They’ve waited until just the right
time to make that dream come true, and
they don’t want to compromise the
image they have in their mind of what
their ultimate home will feature.”
When it comes to finding a place to call
home away from home, consumers tend to
prefer somewhere that offers year round
warm weather and unlimited games of
golf, as well as proximity to local shopping hotspots and access to community
activities. This puts a premium on warm
weather locales such as Port St. Lucie,
which was named one of the 10 fastest
growing cities in the country, providing
vacationers all the warm weather golf,
shopping and nightlife they need.
Located at the southern end of mainland St. Lucie County, in the southeastern part of the state, Port St. Lucie has
been called the Jewel of the Treasure
Coast. More than 300 years ago, several
Spanish galleons carrying gold and silver are thought to have shipwrecked off
the southeastern shore of Florida, dump-
ing their vast treasures into the ocean.
And the Treasure Coast was born.
But locale likely won’t be all that’s on
the minds of men and women shopping
for a vacation home. Before shoppers
start their search, Nadalin offers the following advice.
• Consider custom built. Many consumers might think custom built homes
are beyond their price range, but such
homes are growing in popularity.
“Sometimes customers come to us with
a lot already chosen, other times we help
them find just the right lot,” says Nadalin.
“But they always have definite ideas about
what is going on the property.”
Much of the benefit of a custom built
home lies in the options a homeowner
has as opposed to a resale where many
of the decisions have already been
made. Buyers who choose a custom
built home can select the features and
layout they want, instead of being
forced to live with the design preferred
by a home’s previous owners.
• Work with someone you can trust.
Because it’s a vacation home, chances
are buyers won’t know any local
builders or contractors they can trust.
Nadalin notes that buyers should be
comfortable with a builder and avoid
those who aren’t ready and willing to
discuss their history.
“It’s important to look for a builder
that can deliver hands-on experience,
dedication and commitment to the project,” says Nadalin. “The builder
should have as much passion for fulfilling the quest for the dream home as the
customer does.”
Shop around for a builder, asking
other residents of the community if they
can recommend any professionals and if
there are any to avoid. Once you have
narrowed down the list, ask to see some
past and current projects, and be as diligent as possible when doing your homework on a builder. If a builder is reticent
about his company and work history,
it’s best to cross him off the list.
More information on how to find the
right builder to make your dream home
www.pace2000homes.com. SH122950
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How to find the right spa for you
Minerals may promote a
good night’s sleep
Few things are as relaxing as a trip to a spa. Once a spa
visit is complete, men and women typically notice they’re
more relaxed, their bodies feel much better, and they now
feel rejuvenated.
Once upon a time, spa treatments were considered a luxury only the wealthy could afford. However, spas have
become more affordable over the years, and though not necessarily inexpensive, spas can now be enjoyed by people
regardless of which tax bracket they fall into.
That’s especially true for savvy spa shoppers who know
what they want and how to find the right spa for them. The
following are a few tricks of the trade to ensure you find a
spa that suits your needs without breaking the bank.
• Don’t assume the most expensive spa is the best spa.
Regardless of what you’re buying, it never helps to
assume the most expensive item is automatically the best.
This same principle can be applied to spas. Fees for spas
can range from very cheap to exorbitantly expensive, and
a more affordable spa might just be equal to, if not better
than, a high-end spa where a single treatment might cost
as much as a month’s rent. When researching where to go
for a spa treatment, consider all options and you might
just find an affordable diamond in the rough. A less
expensive spa might not have the advertising budget of its
high-end counterparts, as the proprietors could be looking
to save that advertising money so they can make your
treatment more affordable.
• Get a recommendation from someone you trust.
Oftentimes, the best spas are so good their customers
feel the need to spread the word. When shopping for a
spa, ask coworkers, friends or family members if they
can recommend a facility. When doing so, also ask if
there’s any particular spas to avoid. That latter question
is important because even though spas can be a relaxing
way to escape the daily grind, veteran spa customers all
seem to have at least one horror story of a spa treatment
gone awry.
• Use the Internet to your advantage. The Internet has
done wonders for spa lovers looking to enjoy a treatment
without going broke. Web sites like Groupon.com and
LivingSocial.com offer daily discounts on a variety of
things, including spa treatments. Sign up for such Web sites,
which typically allow you to tailor your interests so you
won’t be inundated with e-mails for discounted products you
don’t want. Spas pay attention to such Web sites and know
if their competitors are offering special deals, so this is a
great way to get a good price on a spa treatment.
Spa treatments are more affordable than ever, especially for savvy shoppers who know what to look for
in a good spa.
• Look for a spa that will work with you. When
looking for a spa, discuss any issues you might have
prior to booking an appointment. For example, if you
have sensitive skin, inquire about the products that will
be used during your treatment. Men and women with
preexisting physical conditions, be it a back issue or
muscle spasms, should inquire about the staff’s experience at dealing with such conditions and which
techniques the therapist will use so injuries aren’t exasperated. Shoppers with preexisting conditions should
look for spas that have a history of dealing with such
conditions. Consider asking the physician who treats
your condition for a recommendation.
• Don’t overdo it. Even if affordable spa treatment
offers are flowing into your e-mail inbox at a breakneck
pace, try your best to avoid overbooking treatments. A
massage, particularly more intense treatments, can tax
the body, and you don’t want to go overboard and end up
with feelings of soreness or exhaustion. A reputable spa
won’t allow you to book more than two or three treatments per day, so be wary of any spa that allows you to
book as many as possible on the same day.
The soothing benefits of a good spa treatment are no
longer a luxury strictly for the wealthy. Just be sure to
choose a spa carefully before booking any treatments.
Recognizing the symptoms and risks for colorectal cancer
As men and women know full well,
cancer does not discriminate. Few
and far between are the men and
women whose lives have not been
touched by cancer in one form or
another. Be it a personal battle with
the disease or a connection via a
friend, family member, coworker, or
other acquaintance, nearly everyone
can cite someone in their life who has
battled a form of cancer.
According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, among cancers
that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading
cause of cancer deaths in the United
States, claiming the lives of more than
50,000 men and women in 2007, the
most recent year for which statistics are
available. In Canada, a country with
roughly one-tenth the population of the
United States, the Canadian Cancer
Society reported that colorectal cancer
was expected to claim the lives of
nearly 9,000 Canadians in 2011.
Such figures illustrate the importance men and women must place on
educating themselves about colorectal
cancer and its symptoms and potential
risk factors. First, however, it helps to
understand just what colorectal cancer
is and why it is so deadly.
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts
in either the colon or the rectum, which
make up the large intestine. Often
referred to as colon cancer, colorectal
cancer can begin anywhere in the large
intestine and the majority of colorectal
cancers begin as abnormal growths
called polyps that develop inside the
colon or rectum and become cancers
over a long period of time.
Who gets colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer does not discriminate. In fact, of the roughly 53,000
cases of colorectal cancers reported to
the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services in 2007, there was a
nearly equal split of cases between men
and women, with men accounting
slightly less than 800 more cases than
women over that time.
Are there known causes
of colorectal cancer?
Despite its prevalence, colorectal cancer can rarely be traced to a specific cause.
According to the CDC, roughly 75 percent
of colorectal cancers occur in people with
no known risk factors. However, the following may increase a person’s risk of
developing colorectal cancer:
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• A personal or family history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
• Inflammatory bowel disease, such
as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
In a very small percentage of colorectal cancer cases, the cause is linked
to a genetic syndrome such as familial
adenomatous polyposis or hereditary
non-polyposis colorectal cancer, also
known as Lynch syndrome.
Are there symptoms
of colorectal cancer?
Both colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms. This is especially true initially,
when people could be living with
polyps or cancer and not even know it.
Such is the reason screenings for colorectal cancer, which should occur regularly when men and women reach age
50 are so important. But in some cases,
the following symptoms may appear:
• Blood in or on your stool
• Persistent stomach pain or aches
• Inexplicable weight loss
Though causes of colorectal cancer
aren’t always known, studies have shown
exercise and maintaining a healthy
weight can decrease risk. More information is available at www.cdc.gov/can
It’s 3 a.m. and you’re staring at the
ceiling unable to fall asleep. Or, you’ve
drifted off restfully only to awaken and
not be able to fall back asleep. If these
scenarios sound familiar, you could be
experiencing insomnia. Millions of
people suffer from insomnia and wonder if there is any treatment available.
Statistics by the National Sleep
Foundation and Better Sleep Council
indicate that anywhere from 30 to 50
percent of people experience some
degree of insomnia during their lifetime.
Women are more likely than men to
have bouts of insomnia. Age, genetics as
well mental health play a large role in
the risk factors for insomnia. It is estimated that 90 percent of people who are
depressed suffer from insomnia.
Those experiencing bouts of insomnia lasting more than a few days may
grow anxious and concerned about the
situation — further compounding the
problem. Visits with general practitioners may yield a prescription for sleeping pills for the short term. While effective, sleeping pills are not typically a
long-term solution and can become
physically or mentally addictive.
Global sales for all sleeping pills,
called hypnotics, will top $5 billion in
the next several years, according to
pharmaceutical estimates. You may
want to consider other methods for
improving sleep quality.
Most people experiencing sleep disturbances understand the benefits of
employing good sleep hygiene. This
includes going to sleep at the same time
each night and waking at the same time.
Alcohol and caffeinated beverage consumption should be stopped several
hours before bed time. Exercise and
some exposure to the sun can reset a
sleep-wake cycle. For those who need a
little more help, the use of vitamins and
minerals may be all that’s needed.
Several research studies have shown certain minerals cab be effective at inducing
sleep and helping people fall asleep and
stay asleep through the night.
Research indicates that taking the
supplements magnesium and calcium
can do more than just support strong
bones. According to James F. Balch,
M.D., author of “Prescription for
Nutritional Healing,” “A lack of the
nutrients calcium and magnesium will
cause you to wake up after a few hours
and not be able to return to sleep.” Lack
of these nutrients also may prevent fast
onset of sleep. Calcium and magnesium
have both been referred to as natural
sedatives. Calcium works best when
it’s balanced in a 2-to-1 ratio with magnesium. That means for every 200 mg
of calcium taken, 100 mg of magnesium should be taken as well.
But not all forms of magnesium
work best. It has been found that magnesium chloride has the highest absorption rate of many different kinds.
Calcium lactate gluconate is also popular for its quick dissolution in water.
In a study called, “The Role of
Magnesium in Sleep,” magnesium was
determined to be a possible method of
combating insomnia. Researchers
found that sleep was induced rapidly
and was uninterrupted. Test subjects
didn’t report any residual tiredness the
next day, as is common with other
sleeping pills. Also, the calming effects
of the calcium caused anxiety and tension to be diminished during the day.
“Calcium helps the brain use the
amino acid tryptophan to manufacture
the sleep-inducing substance melatonin,” says William Sears, M.D. “This
explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are
one of the top sleep-inducing foods.”
While it’s best to get nutritional content from foods, supplementation can be
helpful if deficient in certain vitamins
and minerals. Before adding any supplements to your diet, it is best to discuss
your intentions with your doctor. He or
she can determine if this course of treatment is safe or risky.
Did you know?
Blinded as a toddler, Frenchman Louis Braille would go on to change the
world, overcoming his disability and making it easier for millions of others
to do the same. Though not initially blind in both eyes after an accident
in his father’s workshop at the age of three, the infection that resulted
eventually spread to his other eye, blinding young Louis in both eyes
before his fifth birthday. In 1821, at the ripe old age of 12, Braille learned
a complex communication system devised by the French Army. Though
the system was difficult, Braille was inspired to develop his own system for
reading and writing. Within three years, Braille’s system of six raised dots
was largely complete. Sadly, his system was not officially adopted until
two years after his death.
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How to reduce
prescription medication costs
Rodent baits can poison more than just mice
For the millions of people who rely
on prescription medications every
day, the day when a drug faces
generic competition is one many circle on their calendars. That’s because
generic prescriptions are often significantly less expensive than brand
name medications, and consumers are
able to save substantial amounts of
money once a brand name drug faces
generic competition.
But many men and women currently
taking a brand name prescription might
be quick to point out that, while generic
medications cost less, brand name prescriptions often rise in price in the
months before they face generic competition. Such was the findings of a
2011 study from the AARP Public
Policy Institute that examined the 217
brand name drugs most commonly
used by people in Medicare. Prices of
drugs facing generic competition in
2010 rose by an average of nearly 14
percent in 2009, an increase that was
nearly twice the amount of all other
drugs. So while drugs might be more
affordable once they can be purchased
generically, consumers can expect
brand name drug manufacturers to
drastically increase their prices in the
months prior to facing generic competition, as the manufacturers are, in a
way, looking for one last big revenue
score before their patents expire.
That’s a troublesome reality for anyone taking a brand name prescription,
but especially so for older men and
women living on fixed incomes.
Though drug manufacturers aren’t
likely to change their practices, there
are still ways men and women can
reduce prescription medication costs.
• Ask for generics. If there are
generic alternatives to brand name
medications available, always ask a
physician for those medications instead
of their more expensive brand name
counterparts. Don’t just assume a
physician will prescribe generics.
Sometimes doctors prescribe brand
name medications despite the availability of cheaper and equally effective
generic medications.
• “Test drive” a drug first. Just
because a doctor prescribes a drug does
not mean the patient will respond to that
drug. Many men and women find they
are too sensitive to a given medication
and stop taking it after just a few days.
Unfortunately, they paid for a full pre-
scription and cannot return the pills they
don’t plan to use. Individuals who have
a history of sensitivity to medications
should “test drive” a drug first, ordering
just a few pills or asking a physician for
samples to see how well the body handles them. This won’t necessarily matter
for people with flat-dollar copayments
(you will essentially have to pay two
copayments if the drug proves effective), but those without such a plan can
save themselves some money if medication does not work out.
• Buy in bulk. Men and women who
have been taking a certain medication
for a long time and expect to keep taking it might want to consider buying
the medicine in bulk. This can save
money; just make sure pills purchased
won’t surpass their expiration date
before you take them.
• Inquire about combination medications. Sometimes medications used to
treat the same condition can be purchased
as combination pills. This will only
require one prescription instead of two.
On a similar note, men and women
taking medications for two different
conditions might also be able to take
just one medication that treats both
conditions. For instance, some blood
pressure medications have proven
effective at treating other conditions as
well. But don’t experiment on your
own. Consult your physician about
your medications and ask if any of
them can be used to effectively serve
double-duty and save you money.
• Look for programs that offer relief.
There are programs that offer some relief
with regards to paying for prescription
medications. Discuss such plans with a
physician to determine your eligibility,
which might be determined by your age or
current prescriptions.
Ireland by the numbers
8: The number of top global technology companies that call Ireland home.
15: The number of medical devices firms located in Ireland.
30: Number Europeans, in millions, who enjoy beef due to exports from
10: The number of the top-selling prescriptions made in Ireland.
16.4: Billions of premiums of cross-border life insurance policies across
Europe provided by Irish insurance firms.
4,581,269: The number of people residing in Ireland.
360: The number of kilometers of Ireland’s one land border with Northern
155: The amount, in liters, of beer consumed in the country per person per
year. Ireland ranks No. 1 on the list.
495,000: The number of people residing in Dublin, the capital city.
120: The ranking of Ireland in terms of the most populated places on
Looking for more St. Patrick’s Day features?
Search Metro’s cumulative Editorial Library
of MetroCreativeConnection at
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Rats and mice are animals that most people would prefer remain outdoors and away from their homes. But as
seasons and homes change, the likelihood that rodents
will venture inside increases. This leaves homeowners
looking for ways to alleviate the problem, and
many choose poison to evict their unwanted guests.
Though effective on mice, poisons can prove harmful to
pets as well.
Rodents, particularly house mice, can become quite
adapted to living in a home year-round. As long as there
is food and a water source, as well as shelter, a mouse
can comfortably keep up residence. Although rats are
feared much more than mice, mice can actually do more
damage in a home. They breed prolifically, can gnaw
through wiring and cause fires or electrical problems,
contaminate everything they come across with urine
and feces, and can carry a host of diseases. Anything
from salmonellosis to Lyme disease may be transmitted
by mice.
The National Pest Management Association says that the
house mouse is the most common rodent pest in most parts of
the world. A female house mouse can give birth to up to a
dozen babies every three weeks and as early as when the
mouse is 2 months old. That can add up to 150 babies per year.
Signs mice are present
Mice leave many different signs in a home that alert
homeowners to their presence. This includes small dropping pellets and urine. Mouse urine can have a unique
smell. Signs of nests, including wadded pieces of scraps,
insulation, paper, and other materials can signal a mouse.
Also, sounds like scraping, squeaking or scurrying in the
walls may be present. Mice may leave dirty smudge
marks over routes they routinely take. A mouse that has
ample food may nest very close to the food source, traveling only a few feet. Holes or nests might be around
food or areas where food is routinely stored.
Treating a mouse problem
The common methods of handling mice is to put out
baited suicide traps or place poison around the home in
places where mice have been seen. Most people think that
putting the poison where pet cats or dogs can’t reach it
limits their risk for poisoning, but this is not always the
case. According to veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker, even
pet owners who hide the bait around their homes can wind
up with a poisoned dog or cat.
Most rodent poisons contain warfarin. This is an anticoagulant that prevents blood from clotting. The mice ingest the
poisoned grain or pellets, and the warfarin gets into their
bloodstream. The rodent will not be affected immediately —
often it scurries away somewhere else where it essentially
bleeds to death in 1 to 2 days.
Dogs and cats can be poisoned in two ways. They may
ingest the rodent bait outright and exhibit no immediate symptoms. Afterward however, there may be some bleeding from
the nose or blood found in urine or feces. Blood may accumulate in the abdomen. Lethargy, pale gums and weakness can
also be signs of toxicosis from warfarin.
Some dogs and cats that like to hunt bait may consume
a rodent that has been poisoned by warfarin. Even if you
do not use it in your home, a neighbor may apply the poison. Since mice wander, it is not unlikely that a poisoned
mouse could end up on your property or in your home,
where a curious cat or dog may investigate. Some pets
have been known to consume rodents. Both ways can be
fatal if not caught early.
Avoiding the use of poisons or relying on live traps can prevent warfarin toxicosis. Urge neighbors to do the same if you are
very concerned about your pet. Make sure to supervise dogs and
cats when outside and don’t allow them to consume rodents.
Warfarin can also be deadly to small children. It is
important to avoid using bait where a child may wander
in its path. Children often put foreign objects in their
mouths, and it is not unlikely that a mouse could track
poisoned bait somewhere else in the home without your
Avoiding accidental pet poisoning can mean skipping poisoned baits and looking for other extermination methods.
Precautionary measures older travelers must consider
Whether retired or simply an empty nester, older men and
women often love their increased opportunities to travel and
see the world. Without kids to cater to or college tuition to
pay, men and women approaching retirement age, or those
who have already passed it by, find themselves with more
free time to take to the highways and skyways and experience other cultures.
While traveling is a great way to make the most of one’s
golden years, traveling as an older adult isn’t the same as it
might have been back when you were a carefree teenager or
twenty-something backpacking through Europe. Before setting out to see the world, older travelers should consider a
host of factors.
Older travelers tend to travel abroad more than they do
domestically, so be sure all documentation, including passports for each traveler, is up-to-date. If you’re traveling for
an especially long period of time, be sure your passport is
valid beyond the length of the trip. The United States
Department of State also notes travelers must determine if
the country they plan to visit requires a visa to enter.
In addition to passports and any visas you might need,
make sure your driver’s licenses and auto insurance policies
are current and will remain so through the trip. This is important for travelers who plan on renting a car during their vacation. Don’t forget to bring your driver’s license and proof of
auto insurance (as well as contact information for your insurance company should an accident occur) on your trip.
Climate & Geography
It’s also important to consider geographical conditions
before establishing any travel plans. Older men and women
tend to have more health issues and might even be on prescriptions that can make it challenging to travel to certain
areas. Before committing to a trip, consult your physician
about the possible effects a certain climate might have on
you personally. Some people might be sensitive to altitude
and therefore unable to travel to high-altitude locations without putting themselves at serious risk.
When considering climate and geography, don’t overlook
a region’s history or likelihood of natural disasters. If a given
destination has a history of hurricanes, earthquakes or
tsunamis, then consider that before making plans. It’s still
possible to enjoy such destinations, but you’ll want to travel
when such storms or natural disasters are not in season.
Luggage & Wardrobe
When traveling, it might be comforting to overpack because
it can give you the feeling you’re prepared for any situation
that might arise. But don’t pack so heavily that your luggage
Traveling as an older adult might require more
caution and planning than it does for young jetsetters, but such measures won’t diminish the joy of
your travels.
becomes a nuisance to take from place to place. If you’re traveling to especially tourist-friendly regions, keep in mind such
locales often have all a traveler needs should he or she have
forgotten something or experiences an emergency.
When packing your clothes for a trip, keep your
wardrobe as conservative as possible. Anything too flashy
could draw the attention of con artists or thieves, as
tourists often make for easy marks. But don’t forget to
pack some formal attire as well, as clothing that is too
casual might make it hard for you to gain access to certain
tourist destinations or restaurants.
Contact Information
While a vacation is an escape for many people, you don’t
want to escape from the world entirely. Make sure loved
ones back home have your itinerary and know where you
will be staying should an emergency occur. If traveling
abroad where you won’t have cell phone service, choose
resorts or hotels with Internet access and ensure friends or
family members you will check in periodically via e-mail.
While staying in touch might not be reminiscent of the
carefree travels of your youth, doing so will help your
loved ones rest easy and will prove invaluable should
something unexpected occur.
When traveling, older men and women should consider a
host of factors before making plans and always make safety
a priority.
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Osteoarthritis affects millions of aging men and women Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations around
While there are many benefits to getting older, few people
associate the aging process with all the good things that
occur as a person approaches their golden years. Instead,
aging is more often associated with aches and pains than
grandkids and trips around the world.
Though such associations are unfortunate, they are
rooted in the reality that aging often comes with a few ailments. One such ailment many older adults deal with is
osteoarthritis, which, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, affects more than 12 million men
and women over the age of 65 in the United States alone.
In Canada, one in 10 adults has osteoarthritis, proving this
most common form of arthritis does not discriminate
based on geography.
But as prevalent as osteoarthritis might be, the millions of
men and women currently living with the condition are proof
that it doesn’t have to ruin a person’s golden years. In fact,
learning about osteoarthritis, its risk factors and prospective
treatment options can help those men and women currently
living with the condition or those concerned about developing it down the road.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, or OA, is also referred to as degenerative
joint disease. The most common type of arthritis, OA
occurs when cartilage begins to wear away. Cartilage is an
essential part of each joint, helping to absorb shock and
enabling the joint to move smoothly. OA most often
occurs in the body’s weight-bearing joints, which includes
the hips, knees and spine.
When a person has OA, the cartilage in a joint stiffens and
loses it elasticity, which makes it more susceptible to damage. Joints will be stiff in the morning, a stiffness that can
last roughly 15 to 20 minutes. As the day progresses and the
joints are used more and more, the pain can intensify and
swelling can occur. This is typically because, as the joint’s
cartilage continues to deteriorate, the tendons and ligaments
are stretching and causing pain.
Are there symptoms of OA?
There are symptoms of OA, but these can vary greatly
from individual to individual. Some people experience few
symptoms of OA even if X-rays indicate their joints have
undergone significant degeneration. In addition, the pain
associated with OA isn’t necessarily constant, and some people can go years without experiencing any OA-related pain.
Such instances are most common among people with OA of
the hands and knees.
Those who do exhibit symptoms of OA can do so in a
variety of ways. Men and women with progressive cartilage
degeneration in their knee joints might become bow legged
or develop a limp, which will worsen as the cartilage continues to degenerate.
OA of the spine often causes pain in the neck or lower
back. Severe pain can be caused by bony spurs that form
along the spine, and numbness and tingling of affected body
parts can result as well.
Men and women with OA of the hands can also exhibit
symptoms, which are usually bony deformities along the
joints of the fingers. Heberden’s node is a bony enlargement
at the small joint of the fingers that occurs because of bone
spurs resulting from OA in that joint. A bony knob that
occurs at the middle joint of the fingers, known as
Bouchard’s node, is also quite common among men and
women with OA of the hands. While neither of these nodes
is especially painful, they are associated with limited motion
of the affected joint.
Patients with OA at the base of the big toes might notice
the formation of a bunion, something that researchers suggest is possibly genetic, as it can be found in numerous
female members of certain families.
The Arthritis Society in Nova Scotia notes that, early on,
men and women with OA will find their symptoms are typically only triggered by high impact activities. However,
eventually the pain can be triggered by daily activities and
might not subside until men and women get adequate rest.
Some people even feel pain for most of the day, including
when they are attempting to fall asleep at night.
Can OA be treated?
OA can be treated, but men and women must recognize
that it cannot be cured. As mentioned above, some people’s
symptoms can disappear for years at a time. But they will
return, and treatment, if it was ceased, must then continue.
OA is most common among people who are overweight,
so one of the most effective ways to reduce pain from OA is
to lose weight and get regular exercise. This takes pressure
off of joints that are being heavily taxed. To lose weight,
choose a low-fat diet that features plenty of vegetables,
fruits, lean proteins and whole-grains. For a more specific
diet, consult a physician.
Though exercising when pain from OA is significant
might seem counterintuitive, exercise is actually great for the
joints. Each person is different, so consult a physician before
beginning a new exercise regimen. However, don’t shy away
from aerobic exercises, including walking, swimming or
even riding a bicycle, or strength-training exercises like
weightlifting, which makes the muscles stronger and more
capable of supporting the joints. And as with any exercise
routine, don’t forget to stretch.
Another treatment option for joints hurting because of OA
is the application of a heating pad or a cold pack. Cold and
heat can be applied several times per day (always cover the
skin with a towel prior to application to avoid skin damage).
But those nursing an injury should only apply cold for the
first few days.
Medications are another treatment option for OA.
Discuss medications, which can include over-the-counter
anti-inflammatory pills, such as Advil, Aleve or Motrin,
prescription medications, and corticosteroid injections,
with a physician who can help determine the best course
of action.
While surgery is not a necessary course of treatment for
the majority of OA sufferers, for some it is. Surgical options
can be a minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure, a joint
fusion surgery wherein the joint is removed and bones are
held together with screws, pins or plates, or a complete or
partial joint replacement. Another surgical option is an
osteotomy, a procedure where a section of the bone is cut
and removed to improve joint alignment and stability.
More information about OA is available at the Arthritis
Society Web site at www.arthritis.ca.
A better work environment serves employees, company
Many people spend more time in the
office than they do at their own homes.
As a result, the environment at the
workplace is especially important, and
businesses big and small should
attempt to make that environment as
enjoyable and supportive as possible.
A positive workplace environment
not only benefits the company’s
employees, but it also benefits the company. Numerous studies have shown a
link between workplace environment
and error rate, willingness to
collaborate with other employees and
even absenteeism. For example, a study
by the United Kingdom’s Commission
for Architecture & the Built
Environment and the British Council
for Offices found that something as
simple as good lighting and adequate
daylight throughout the office can
reduce absenteeism by as much as 15
percent. In addition to minor changes
around the office, there are several
other things companies can do to
improve the workplace environment.
• Increase and improve communication. Particularly in the current economy, where uncertainty seems to be
reigning over many businesses, open
and honest communication with
employees is especially important. As a
result, communicate more frequently
and effectively with staff. Let staff
know the company is always open to
suggestions, and respond to all suggestions to let employees know their opinions matter.
• Emphasize respect for others
throughout the company. No one
wants to come to work and feel disrespected. Foster a culture of mutual
respect wherein everyone knows bad
behavior between employees simply
won’t be tolerated. Workplace bullying is not that uncommon, and
employees who feel bullied or disrespected at the office are bound to be
unhappy and less productive. Make
sure everyone from the company CEO
to the summer interns are aware that
they must respect others and that they
deserve respect regardless of their
position within the company.
• Involve employees when instituting changes. When attempting to
improve a workplace environment, go
straight to the source for ideas on
improvement. Employees are on the
ground floor every day, and they are an
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invaluable resource as to what’s working and what’s not working with
regards to the environment at the
office. Use them to help institute positive changes, and the result will likely
be an improved environment as well as
employees who feel more valued.
• Show appreciation. A 2011 study
from Massachusetts-based employee
recognition solutions provider
Globoforce found that 41 percent of
workers studied are not satisfied with
the level of recognition they receive at
their jobs. Companies hoping to foster
a more positive work environment
should always show appreciation to
their employees when a job is well
done. Appreciation can come in many
forms, but companies should never
avoid expressing gratitude or appreciation simply because they expect their
employees to perform their jobs well.
While it’s important to set high expectations for employees, always give
recognition and appreciation when
employees meet those expectations.
Fostering a better workplace environment can be done in a variety of
ways and lead to happier, more productive employees.
the globe
Saint Patrick’s Day is a day synonymous with celebration. Though Saint
Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, people of all ethnicities enjoy the festivities each March 17. The following are some of the more well-known
Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations around the globe.
• New York City. Perhaps the most famous Saint Patrick’s Day parade in
the world, New York City’s annual Patty’s Day march down 5th Avenue has
been around since 1762 and remains a must-see for all fans of Saint
Patrick’s Day traditions.
• New Orleans, Louisiana. While New Orleans might be most famous for
Mardi Gras and all the revelry that accompanies it, the city also hosts a
unique and raucous Saint Patrick’s Day parade. Just like Mardi Gras, the
Saint Patrick’s parade in New Orleans includes floats, jazz bands and, of
course, costumed revelers.
• Florence, Italy. Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in Florence are an
ongoing event, with 10 days of music, food and drink. While Italian cuisine
is loved the world over, during their Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations the
Florentines offer their take on Irish food and drink, making this celebration
one of the world’s most unique.
• Oslo, Norway. Saint Patrick’s Day festivities in Oslo include a parade
past the famed Oslo Cathedral. Revelers are encouraged to dress up, as
parade participants dress up like famous Irish characters and people
throughout Irish history, including Saint Patrick himself.
• Toronto, Canada. Though just a quarter-century old, Toronto’s Saint
Patrick’s Day parade is now one of the largest in North America. Featuring
more than 2,000 marchers representing 100 organizations, Toronto’s
annual celebration of Saint Patrick covers roughly two miles and includes
floats and lots of live music.
• Seattle, Washington. The city of Seattle’s Irish Heritage Club hosts its
own Saint Patrick’s Day parade and, in fact, a week of celebrations officially known as Irish Week. A two-day Irish festival includes Irish music,
singing and dancing as well as several contests and activities for kids.
Helpful hints for mattress shoppers
When the time comes to buy a new
mattress, consumers typically exercise due diligence, knowing full well
that a bad decision could have lasting effects and lead to many
sleepless nights. While shopping for
a mattress, consumers can find
themselves inundated with information, which can be confusing and
make the process much more difficult. However, the following are a
few helpful hints consumers should
consider to make the process go
more smoothly.
• Protect the mattress.
Warranties are especially important
to men and women shopping for a
mattress, and understandably so.
Shoppers want to know that they are
protected by a warranty should their
mattress not live up to expectations.
Most mattresses come with a
decade-long warranty, but consumers should know these warranties are voided if the mattress
gets so much as a single stain on it.
As a result, consumers should
always purchase a waterproof mattress cover and immediately place it
on the mattress once it arrives.
• Be patient. Chances are, many
mattresses on the showroom floor
will feel great, especially if your
existing mattress is highly uncomfortable. But the goal is to buy a mattress that will feel comfortable over
the long term. Discuss your preferences with a salesman, and he should
be able to steer you toward the right
fit. The process might not go as
quickly as you wish, but the decision
is one that will have positive or negative ramifications for years to come,
so be patient and ensure you make
the right call.
• You can negotiate. The price of
a mattress is very negotiable, so
Consumers must stay patient and
exercise due diligence when shopping for a mattress.
don’t be discouraged by sticker
shock. Manufacturers typically have
very negotiable pricing, and mattress
salespeople have lots of wiggle room
when it comes to price. So don’t be
afraid to haggle over the price to get
the deal you desire.
• Don’t dwell on coil count.
Confusion often enters the mattressbuying process when consumers
start focusing on coil count. Many
mistakenly assume more coils is
always preferable. However, that’s
not necessarily the case. Innerspring
mattresses typically come with interlocking coils or independent coils.
Interlocking coil mattresses have
fewer coils because the coils are tied
together with wire, while independent coils are greater in number
because each coil’s responsibility is
greater. Which type of mattress is
best for you won’t depend on number of coils, but a host of other factors, so don’t overemphasize
coil count.
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Living with fibromyalgia
Make fruits fun for kids
Few look forward to getting older,
and that is largely because of the toll
the aging process can take on the
human body. While certain conditions
may be largely associated with the
senior population, middle age women
are paying more and more attention to
fibromyalgia, a condition that affects
roughly 4 percent of the American population and 1 percent of those living in
England. Statistics Canada indicates
that 390,000 Canadians have been
diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
While those figures are considerable,
there may be even more people living
with fibromyalgia. That’s because
fibromyalgia, despite its prevalence,
remains somewhat mysterious. What is
known is that the illness primarily
affects women and is characterized by
widespread pain throughout the body.
Those with fibromyalgia experience pain in response to stimuli that
for other people would not be perceived as painful. Experts surmise
that elevated levels of a particular
nerve chemical signal, called substance P, could be to blame for those
who are affected. There is also evidence that more nerve growth factor
in spinal fluid, as well as a decreased
amount of the brain chemical serotonin, could be other influences.
The National Institute of Arthritis
and Musculoskeletal and Skin
Disease says that stressful or traumatic events, such as car accidents,
illness, certain diseases, and repetitive injuries, could be linked to the
onset of fibromyalgia.
The pain of fibromyalgia may be
widespread, and often affects the neck,
shoulders, arms, upper back, chest, and
buttocks. There may be tender points
that elicit more pain than other areas,
clues that the condition is in fact
fibromyalgia. Other symptoms include
fatigue, not enough non-REM sleep,
anxiety, forgetfulness, and irritable
bowel syndrome.
To receive a proper diagnosis, it is
important for individuals to discuss all
of their symptoms with a physician.
Each patient is unique, and the symptoms may come and go.
The Mayo Clinic identifies certain risk
factors that increase the liklihood a person will experience fibromyalgia.
• Gender: Females are diagnosed
more than men. It is believed that
female reproductive hormones may
play a role in pain perception.
Fibromyalgia can cause pain
throughout the body.
• Rheumatic disease: A history of
arthritis or lupus could increase the risk
of fibromyalgia.
• Family history: Members of the
family who have fibromyalgia may
pass the condition on through genetics.
Getting diagnosed may require a
series of tests and questions. The
American College of Rheumatology
developed certain criteria for a diagnosis. These include widespread
pain that lasts at least 3 months, in
addition to 11 tender points on the
body out of a possible 18. Some doctors will diagnose it with less stringent criteria.
Treatment is a customized
approach depending on symptoms
and may include analgesics that
reduce pain, antidepressants that
help with fatigue and sleeplessness
and anti-seizure drugs that may also
reduce pain can be prescribed.
Physical and mental therapy can also
alleviate stress, which seems to
exacerbate symptoms. Some people
find success with the use of alternative therapies, such as yoga, massage
and acupuncture, to alleviate pain.
Although there is no cure for
fibromyalgia, getting an accurate
diagnosis and a treatment plan in
place can help alleviate the multitude
of symptoms that seem to accompany
the illness.
Paddy’s Day craft for kids
With overflowing spirits, pub
crawls and boisterous parades, St.
Patrick’s Day celebrations are
largely geared toward adults.
Although children may experience a
little bit of the festivities, they may
not be able to participate fully in all
of the activities.
That is why parents, teachers and
caregivers can develop child-friendly
activities that will enable children to
enjoy the festivities of the day but also
to do so in a way that is safe and ageappropriate.
One of the easiest ways to engage
children for the holiday is to enable
them to create hand-made decorations
and games that can be displayed. With
a few simple supplies, children can create a variety of festive items to share
their enthusiasm.
An idea to get them started is to construct a rainbow and pot of gold complete with leprechaun.
To do so gather the following supplies:
• poster board
• clean, empty gallon milk
• crepe paper in rainbow colors and
in black
• gold foil circles
• construction paper
• glue
• scissors
• glitter, if desired
1. Draw and cut out a leprechaun
using various shades of construction
paper. Glue it to the posterboard.
2. Cut out half of the milk container
to form a “pot.” Use glue to adhere
black crepe paper to it. Attach to the
3. Stick gold foil circles to form the
“gold coins” that will be filling the pot
of gold.
4. Cut out pieces of crepe paper from
the rainbow colors and attach to the
posterboard to form the rainbow. Let
the pieces end right near the pot of gold.
5. Allow kids to embellish further
with glitter and any other things they
may have on hand.
Display the leprechaun with a pot of
gold at the end of the rainbow in a
prime spot during your St. Patrick’s
Day celebration.
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Many parents can attest to the challenges in encouraging children to eat
healthily, including incorporating
plenty of fruits and vegetables into
their daily diets.
Children tend to become picky
eaters for a number of reasons,
according to the UCSF Benioff
Children’s Hospital. Some children
are just naturally more sensitive to
taste, texture and smell of some
foods. Others may learn their picky
eating from parents who pick and
choose among their meals. Still
other children learn to be selective
through bribes and punishments
around mealtime.
However, there needn’t been fussing
and feuding over food choices — particularly produce — when parents employ
a few creative ideas to entice children to
dig into healthy foods.
1. Ask for your child’s help: Have
your child ride along to the grocery
store and take an active role into picking out healthy foods that he or she may
be willing to try. Most nutrition experts
find that if children take in interest in
what they will be eating, and are instrumental in making some choices, they
will have a higher rate of eating those
meals and foods.
2. Understand your child’s eating
habits: Some children will eat the
crown of broccoli but leave aside the
stems. There are kids that will eat anything as long as it’s dunked in ketchup.
They maye enjoy pears as long as they
are cut up into pieces with the skin
removed. Pay attention to how your
child likes to eat the food and present it
that way. It could mean fewer arguments at the dinner table.
3. Explore new flavor combinations: Oftentimes mixing certain flavor
combinations can entice children to eat
foods they may have never considered
trying. Just think about the popularity
of fruit juices mixed with vegetable
purees. Some children have an inclination toward favorite flavors or just can
benefit from a little variety, which can
sometimes prove challenging when
produce is out of season. Try Grapple®
brand apples, which combine the fresh,
familiar flavor of Washington apples
Grapple slices for a mouth, a blueberry
nose, or whatever you come up with.
6. Be patient with new foods: It can
take a few attempts and repeated exposure to get children to try new foods,
says the Mayo Clinic. Serve new foods
along with children’s favorite foods,
like Grapple slices added to a peanut
butter sandwiches.
More information is available by calling 1-800-232-2636 or visiting
www.grapplefruits.com and Facebook at
apples. Grapple brand apples are available in many grocery stores nationwide
from October through May.
Here are more ideas about incorporating these apples in tasty snacks.
Add a fun twist to a favorite fruit.
with the aroma and taste of concord
grapes. Through a patented process,
premium Washington State apples are
infused with grape flavor to create a
product that “Crunches like an Apple,
Tastes like a Grape™.” The health benefits of Grapples are just the same as
other variety of apples, and there are no
artificial ingredients added or genetic
altering. The process of making them
does not add any extra sugar, calories,
carbohydrates or anything else; in fact
the apple maintains its natural supply
of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and
fiber. Parents can rest assured that all
ingredients have been approved by the
USDA and the FDA.
5. Try creative presentations:
Simply presenting the foods in a unique
way can make them fun to eat. Try making fruit creations, such as “snowmen”
out of stacked grapes, or orange and
peach skewers. Children may be more
inclined to drinking fruit smoothies
mixed with yogurt, or giving foods fun
names, such as banana bombs, which are
just chunks of banana rolled in honey
and granola. All it may take is creating a
fruit face on a plate with different fruits
resembling features. Try kiwi eyes,
Crunch Grapple Slices
Core, cut and slice 2 Grapples, crush
⁄2 c of your favorite cereal like Chex or
Rice Krispies, mix 1 teaspoons packed
brown sugar and 2 tablespoons peanut
butter together. Spread the brown sugar
and peanut butter onto Grapple slices
and roll in cereal.
Grapple Kabobs
Core, quarter and cube a Grapple.
Slice some cheese into similarly sized
cubes. Skewer the apples and cheese
alternately on toothpicks, adding a
raisin or other dried fruit. If packing
for school lunch, dip the apples into a
little lemonade first to keep them
from turning brown.
Dried Grapples
You can easily dry your own apples
without any preservatives. Cut a
Grapple into 1⁄4 inch thick slices. Dip
them into a bowl of lemon water or
lemonade. Spread out on a metal rack
and set into a warm oven (180 F) for
two or three hours. Turn off the oven
and let them cool.
Baked Grapples
Place a cored apple in a buttered
ramekin. Add 1 teaspoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and a 1⁄4 teaspoon
of cinnamon into the center hole. Bake at
350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Cool
for 10 minutes.
Live comfortably on a budget
Seniors are one of the fastest-growing segments of the population, as medical advancements have increased life
expectancies considerably. Many Baby
Boomers have entered retirement age
and are joining the ranks of other
seniors on fixed incomes. This means
they’ll also have to implement strategies to live comfortably on less money.
Statistics Canada states that as of a
2005 survey, the average net worth of
individuals age 65 and older was
roughly $303,000. This amount is characterized by money in savings, income
provided by pensions and government
assistance. In the United States, the
average income of seniors in 2008 was
around $29,000, well below the national
poverty average, according to the
Congressional Research Service tabulations of data from the March 2008
Current Population Survey.
Upon retirement, many retirees are
faced with quite a reduction in income
and the stark reality of making ends
meet with this new level of income.
Those who are successful are often
those who are adapting and are able to
budget cleverly. Here are some ideas to
do just that.
• Set priorities. What are the necessities that you absolutely cannot skimp
on? These may include a mortgage or
rent, utility bills and any other loan payments that have already been established. These amounts will have to be
deducted from monthly income before
you will discover just how much money
will be leftover for other things.
• Downsize. There is the option to
cut back on certain things to free up
more money. Many people find it is
wise to sell their home and move into a
smaller condo or apartment. Not only
will the expenses be less, there’s a
good chance the complex will offer
maintenance — further saving you on
unexpected expenses. Consider downsizing your car as well. Rather than
making high monthly payments for a
brand-new auto at the dealership, you
may be able to get a preowned vehicle
for a lower payment schedule. Or you
may have enough in savings to pay for
the used car outright, saving you the
expense of a monthly payment.
• Consider shopping at consignment
stores. Consignment stores are popping
up in all different areas, including exclusive cities and towns. Shopping consignment stores no longer carries the stigma
it once did. Many times the merchandise
in consignment stores is brand new or
has only been used once. This could be
the ideal place to turn for housewares,
clothing, accessories, and even gifts for
others. The prices are typically marked
well below retail value, and you may
find some well-known brands.
• Shop store sales. With the popularity of shows teaching others how
to save big with coupons, many people believe this is the best way to save
at grocery stores. However, the people doing the couponing are often
capitalizing on buying in bulk and
clipping mass amounts of coupons —
not practical for senior households. It
could be in your best interest to simply shop for the items you buy frequently at the store that is selling it at
the lowest price. It may increase the
number of stops on your shopping
trip, but you can get a really good
deal in the process.
• Get crafty. Sometimes things that
are sold at stores for a high price can be
replicated at home easily with just a few
materials. From tufted headboards to
curtains to decorative pillows, chances
are with a little ingenuity you can make
these items yourself. Or, enlist the help
of a friend or family member to assist
you in a project that is slightly beyond
your level of expertise.
Living on a fixed income can require
reassessing priorities and making a few
changes to the household budget.
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Home improvements eligible for tax breaks or rebates
Homeowners often look to make improvements to their
homes to improve aesthetics, save money or make their
homes more energy efficient. What they may not know is
that certain home improvements may qualify them for manufacturer or energy supplier rebates and even federal tax
credits that can help a person save even more.
Not all products are eligible each year, so it’s beneficial to
know what tax incentives are out there regarding home retrofits. Here are some programs to keep in mind.
In Canada, the ecoEnergy Retrofit — Homes program has
been extended until March 31, 2012. Owners of most homes,
including four-season recreational properties and low-rise
multi-unit residential buildings of three stories or less with at
least 50 percent residential space, might be eligible, according to Natural Resources Canada. Applicants can receive a
federal grant for up to $5,000. Owners of multiple dwellings
can receive up to $1,000,000. Eligible improvements include
heating and cooling systems, ventilation systems, hot water
equipment, insulation, air sealing, windows/doors/skylights,
and water conservation products.
U.S. residents who made home improvements in 2011
may be eligible for tax credits when filing a 2011 tax return.
Installation and replacement of biomass stoves, HVAC systems, insulation, metal and asphalt roofs, nonsolar water
heaters and windows/doors can earn a person up to 10 percent of the cost, up to $500, or a specific amount from $50 to
$300. Improvements must have been done to an existing
home and principal residence by December 31, 2011.
Federal tax credits for 2012 include geothermal heat
pumps. These are similar to ordinary heat pumps, but use
the ground instead of outside air to provide heating, air
conditioning and, in most cases, hot water. Use of small
residential wind turbines and solar energy systems,
including solar water heaters and photovoltaic panels, are
Installation of insulation and other energy-saving
products could make you eligible for a tax rebate.
also eligible. These tax credits offer 30 percent of the cost
of the renovation with no upper limit.
Visit http://Energy.gov/savings to determine any additional rebate and savings programs that may be offered in
your state. Canadian residents can log onto
http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/corporate/1513 to find out about other
grants and incentives in their province or territory.
Homeowners looking to do improvements can go online or
consult with a tax professional to determine which improvements may be eligible for tax credits or incentives. With the
energy saved and the credit, it could add up to considerable
savings on the new product.
Simple ways to improve fuel economy
The economy might be slowly
recovering, but saving money is still
foremost on the minds of many people. Men and women have looked to
save money in a variety of ways,
including at the gas pump. While
there’s little drvivers can do to reduce
the cost of a gallon of gas, there are
ways they can make the gas last a little longer.
Improving fuel economy is nothing
new to many motorists, but some might
still be surprised at the myriad ways
they can get more bang for their buck
with regards to fuel costs.
• Don’t break the law. Obeying the
speed limit might save your life, and it
can also save you money. Typically,
fuel economy decreases rapidly as a car
reaches and surpasses 60 miles per
hour. According to the U.S.
Department of Safety, drivers can
assume that each five miles per hour
they drive over 60, they are paying an
additional $0.26 per gallon for gas.
• Empty the trunk. Though it might
be more convenient to keep your golf
clubs in the trunk of your car, extra and
unnecessary cargo in a vehicle’s trunk
drastically reduces fuel economy. An
extra 100 pounds in a vehicle can
reduce miles per gallon by as much as
2 percent, so keep a trunk free of items
that aren’t absolutely necessary.
• Stop idling. Many people let their
car idle for several minutes on cold
mornings. But today’s newer vehicles
don’t really need to idle to warm up,
and idling can be very taxing on fuel
economy. Depending on the size of the
car, idling can use between a quarter to
a half gallon of fuel per hour. If you
still insist on letting the vehicle idle, a
few seconds of idling should be enough
to warm the engine up.
• Embrace cruise control on long
There are many different ways to incease fuel economy, including buying a hybrid car.
drives without lots of stopping and
starting. Maintaining a constant speed,
which a vehicle does when drivers utilize cruise control, can help save fuel,
as it’s less taxing on an engine to continue at one speed then it is to constantly switch back and forth between
high and low speeds.
• Inflate the tires. Poorly inflated
tires lower gas mileage and also pose
a safety hazard. The DOE notes that
properly inflated tires can improve
gas mileage by as much as 3 percent.
Ideal tire pressure is different for each
vehicle, so check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for recommended tire
pressure. Some vehicle manufacturers
also include the recommended tire
pressure on the vehicle itself, be it in
the driver’s side door jamb or in the
vehicle’s glove compartment. Tire
pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall
might not be the ideal tire inflation for
your particular vehicle, so always
adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendation instead.
• Drive the car you need, not the
car you want. Drivers who truly need
to save money at the pump should consider the type of vehicle they’re driving, and whether it’s the car they need
or the car they want. For instance,
office workers who own a pickup truck
but don’t use it to haul items might
want to consider a smaller vehicle that
gets better gas mileage.
Improving fuel efficiency is a great
way for motorists to save money and
reduce the expenses associated with
vehicle ownership.
For Customer Assistance Please Call: 1.800.223.1600
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Photovoltaic solar panels can help power your home and your car.
Never buy gasoline again?
Solar panels revolutionized the way
people power their homes, dramatically
reducing the reliance on electricity. The
sun is nature’s largest power plant, and
it can provide more renewable energy to
the earth in one hour than fossil fuels
can produce in a year. The same solar
panel technology is now being used on
vehicles to run some of the components
in the car. But powering an entire vehicle on car-mounted panels may still be
years away.
Right now, select models of cars
have a solar panel on the roof of the car.
The Audi A8 and the Prius have solar
operated fans that can reduce cabin temperature. The Fisker Karma has a panel
big enough to add extra solar-powered
energy to the battery to fuel about 5 allelectric miles a week if the car is parked
in the sun all the time. Auto manufacturer Fiat recently inked a deal with
Irish solar manufacturer SolarPrint to
add solar panels to some of its model’s
roofs. The manufacturer says that using
low-cost photovoltaic material to offset
drain from energy-hungry components,
such as air conditioning and heating
systems, is expected to reduce fuel consumption by up to 15 percent.
On the other side of the coin, many
other manufacturers have not jumped
into the solar power game, saying that
there simply isn’t enough roof or hood
space to include enough panels to be
able to make the car run entirely on solar
power. Also, the aesthetics of the car can
be reduced by the appearance of panels.
PV power tends to be expensive as well.
Because of the high manufacturing
costs of PV cells and the large area
needed to collect sunlight, solar power
is one of the most expensive forms of
generation methods. U.S. Energy
Information Administration and
Statistics Canada estimate that the
amount of electricity generated in the
U.S. and Canada from solar sources is
between 0 and .01 percent as compared
to other generation sources.
But there are some people that say
the larger picture for solar panels makes
them advantageous in spite of the initial
cost. Plus, there is a work-around for
drivers interested in ceasing trips to the
gas station altogether. Individuals can
drive a plug-in electric car that is powered by PV panels mounted on a home
roof. Not only can these solar panels run
many electrical components of the
house, but they can essentially fuel a car
for the rest of the car’s life. Some PV
systems can displace $90 worth of electricity every month. They can also generate enough power equivalent to $100
of gasoline in the same time period.
Although PV systems may be costly
up front, many vehicle owners say they
pay for themselves in a few short years.
And with gasoline prices continually on
the rise, solar kits may make sense for
drivers looking to save money in the
long run.
Solar power misconceptions
Solar energy, provided through various methods of harnessing the power
of the sun, is something that interests many eco-conscious homeowners
for its ability to cut down on the amount of electricity needed from another
source. However, there are certain myths and misconceptions that surround solar power.
• Many people think that a northern climate or an area where there is not
a lot of sun is incompatible with solar energy. However, you don’t need to
live on the equator to benefit from solar energy. Germany is actually the
world leader in solar photovoltaic energy with more than 9,000 Megawatts
produced, even though Germany is not known for sunny skies or warm
• Solar panels and solar collectors are not the same thing. Typically, solar
panels immediately turn harnessed sunlight into electricity. Collectors will
trap and store sunlight as heat, which can be used later.
• Many people avoid solar energy, feeling it is too expensive. While it can
be a big financial investment, there are estimates that the cost of installment
is recouped in 1 to 4 years, depending on the panels used. There also may
be government incentives for using solar power.
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How to choose a builder
Whether the kids have all grown up
and moved out or if the kids are on the
way and it’s time to expand a living
area, building a new home is an exciting, yet often agonizing, experience.
The reasons for building a new home
are many, but regardless of the reason,
the process of choosing a builder
should remain the same.
Andrew Nadalin, president of Pace
2000 Inc. and a fourth generation
builder and craftsmen, offers the following advice to prospective homeowners with their eyes set on building a
dream home to call their own.
• Look for a builder with a solid
reputation. A builder’s reputation
speaks volumes, but it doesn’t have to
speak for istself. That’s because a
builder who has spent years providing
personal service, innovative design and
quality workmanship will no doubt
have a host of happy former customers
ready and willing to offer their input. If
during the interview process a builder
appears reticent to share his work or
experiences with previous customers,
this should be a red flag. Reputable
builders will be proud of their work and
more than willing to show it off.
• Find a builder who is flexible.
You will be paying to build your home,
not the builder’s home. A builder
should be flexible and ready and willing to meet your needs, no matter how
unique they might be.
• Look for a builder who does
more than build. A good builder
should do more than just build. A
builder should provide a network of
qualified professionals to make the
process go more smoothly. This network should include real estate and
building consultants, interior designers,
architects and engineers. Such connec-
By: Carla Jordan
tips that’ll make your next gathering both tasty and stylish,
plus, a family-fave recipe that’ll put your home on the map
as potluck heaven.
Organize Participants
Divide the meal by categories so guests will have a balance of appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts from which
to choose. Cooks needn’t commit to a specific recipe but
it’s helpful to know up-front that a well-rounded meal is in
the making.
Agree on Advance Prep
All dishes should be cooked prior to arrival so only a quick
re-heating is required. Everything should also hit your
doorstep ready for presentation to avoid last minute searches
for serving bowls and platters.
tions can provide peace of mind and
will also illustrate that a builder is both
respected in the community and is
intent on ensuring your home becomes
the dream home you envision it to be.
• Don’t build on the cheap. Buyers
who plan to build their own home are
in the unique position to ensure their
home is as safe and high-quality as possible. This isn’t always the case when
buying a resale, so make the most of
your opportunity and use only top-ofthe-line construction materials and features and choose a builder with experience in working with such materials
and features. Building on the cheap
could prove disastrous in the not too
distant future, so don’t sacrifice on
quality when building a new home.
More information on selecting the
right builder is available online at
www.pace2000homes.com. SH122951
Easy way to clean up in a snap
It’s the season for spring cleaning,
and homeowners no doubt have a slew
of projects on tap in the weeks to come.
Clothes will be sorted and donated and
unnecessary items thrown in the trash.
Sometimes, however, there’s little time
for a thorough cleaning, so a quick tidying
up is done when guests are coming to visit.
There are many ways to tackle the clutter
and get a home presentable in no time at
all. When you’re short on time, consider
these ways to give living spaces the
appearance of cleanliness.
• Assess the kitchen sink and move
all the dishes awaiting washing into
the dishwasher. Wipe down the inside
of the sink with a disinfecting wipe or
a clean sponge.
• Wipe down the countertops quickly
with a wipe or sponge. Wet a paper
towel or rag and attack any errant spots
on the stove and floor, which will
become sticky and attract more dirt.
• Fold or hang dish towels in a way
that camouflages any stains.
• Place a small pan of water on the
stove with some nutmeg and cinnamon
and bring to a simmer. This will disguise any smells lingering from last
night’s dinner.
• Take down magnets and notes
stuck to the refrigerator and temporarily place them in a zipper-seal bag.
• Use a static-charged sweeper sheet
to grab any hairs, dust or pet fur from
the floor.
Living Room
• Go to the sofa and turn the pillows to
the side that is not often facing outward.
Potluck’s Back — Let’s Eat!
Consider this the “company side” that
may not have any stains or mars in the
fabric. Fluff the pillows to clear out dust.
• Use a handheld vacuum to clean up
any crumbs or dirt on tables or in the
sofa cushions.
• Wipe down coffee tables with a
damp cloth to clear away dust and
• Wet the fingertips of rubber gloves
and glide your hand over upholstery to
rid furniture of pet hair.
• Keep a basket handy to neatly store
newspaper, magazines or books.
• Dim the lights and light candles.
It’s harder to spot dirt in a dim room.
• A premoistened wipe can quickly
clean the sink and counters from driedon contact solution or toothpaste.
• The same wipe can be used to rid
the mirror of errant spots of splatter.
• Use the same cloth to wipe down
the toilet seat and the rim underneath.
Use the toilet brush to scrub inside the
bowl to remove any rings.
• Put new hand towels on racks or on
the counter.
• Glide a lint roller over the bath mat
to remove hair and fuzz.
• If a child’s room is messy, close the
door and make the room off-limits.
• Make your bed and fluff the pillows.
• Take dirty clothes to the hamper and
put away anything left out. If desperate,
pile it into the closet to attend to later.
• Neaten the night stands next to the
bed, removing personal effects or storing it in the drawers.
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Choose Easy-Fix, Crowd-Pleasing Recipes
To appeal to guests varying tastes, save the exotic for later
and dust off mom’s (or grandma’s) cookbook. Traditional
potluck dishes like casseroles, chili, soup, bread, and cakes
are always popular and easy to make.
Dress Up the Table
Remember the special tablecloth mom used for Sunday
dinner? Create some memories for your own family with a
pretty fabric tablecloth, cloth napkins (pretty and ecofriendly!) and some candles. A few minutes is all it takes to
create a festive look that’ll make guests feel honored to have
gathered around your table.
Bean Pot Beef Stew
Photo courtesy of www.CelebratingHome.com
A slow cooker (like Celebrating Home’s Venetian Home Spice Bean
Pot shown here) is potluck perfect. It’s sized to feed a crowd and to
go from kitchen to table without missing a stylish beat.
Call it a sign of the times or just plain good luck for those
of us yearning to swap fast food fare for some tasty home
cooking. Potluck gatherings are back and one of this year’s
hottest trends in entertaining.
Although these communal “luck of the pot” meals (where
everyone brings their favorite dish) hearken back to the late
19th century, they found their footing in the mid-1950’s when
it seemed like every mom in the neighborhood was filling
casserole dishes for church socials and family get-togethers.
“There are three primary reasons driving the return of
potluck — our schedules, the economy and childhood memories,” says Chef Jeff Gillis, www.CelebratingHome.com.
“We live such fast-paced lives that divvying up the cooking
makes home entertaining more realistic than putting all of the
burden on the hostess. Making one dish instead of several
also helps stretch the budget — something we’re all looking
to do these days. And, let’s face it — after years of dashing
through the drive-thru, wouldn’t you like to sit down to some
home-cooked food, even if it’s only once a week?”
Got potluck fever but not a clue what to do? Here are four
This twist on an American favorite yields a hearty, flavorful entree that takes less prep time because it slow
cooks in the oven in a bean pot.
1 pound round steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
6 cups beef broth (or stock)
11⁄2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 bay leaves
2 cups potatoes, cubed
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Rub steak with olive oil and coat with salt and pepper.
Let steak sit at room temperature in bean pot while
preparing all other vegetables. Chop and dice everything,
then add to bean pot. Add beef broth (or stock), thyme, bay
leaves, diced tomatoes and salt and pepper. Cover and
bake in 375 F oven for 3 to 4 hours until meat is tender.
*Recipe courtesy of www.CelebratingHome.com
Things to look for when shopping for your dream home
A dream home means different things to different people. To
some, an ideal home sits atop a hill and has enough rooms to
accommodate generations upon generations of family members.
To others, a home small in stature but with views to die for is all
a homeowner needs.
While preferences may vary on the home itself, there are
a few things buyers of all shapes and sizes prefer when shopping for the home of their dreams.
• Agreeable weather. Vacation home shoppers often prefer year-round warm weather so they know their respite from
the cold is never too far away. For example, a locale such as
Port St. Lucie, Florida boasts an average temperature of
73.7° F, providing the ideal getaway to snowbound men and
women stuck in the throes of winter.
• Affordability. A dream home stays a dream for many people because of the misconception that it is beyond their financial
reach. “While a seaside villa in Italy might never be a reality,
there are places where it is still affordable to own and maintain a
vacation home,” says Andrew Nadalin, President of Pace 2000
Inc. Compared to neighboring counties, St. Lucie County and
Martin County represent the piece of South Florida that is still
considered affordable. Endowed with the rich quality of life
South Florida has to offer, both St. Lucie and Martin counties also
offer and affordable cost-of-living vacationers will appreciate.
• Accessibility of activities. While an escape from the
hustle and bustle of everyday life is great, no one wants to
escape to a place with nothing to do. When shopping for a
place to buy or build your dream getaway, be sure there’s
plenty of accessibility to popular activities like boating, fishing, diving, surfing, canoeing, or kayaking.
• Proximity to other hotspots. Even if you’re looking for
a place to simply unwind, a dream home’s proximity to
hotspots or other exotic locales never hurts. Port St. Lucie,
for example, offers all a vacationer needs to relax and
unwind, and it’s only 90 miles from the Bahamas by boat
and a short drive to Miami, Palm Beach and Orlando.
• Proximity to major airports. Unless you plan on living in
your vacation home year-round, you’ll want the home to be
somewhere that’s close to major airports. This makes it easier
to get to your home and flights won’t be as expensive.
More information on finding your dream home can be
found online at www.pace2000homes.com.
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Save money on energy bills
Home is where the heart is, where families grow, and generally where the most
of our leisure time is spent. Working with
green technology for the best insulation
will keep your house warm, welcoming,
comfortable and cozy — and will save
you money, all at the same time.
Insulation advancements are on the
horizon at all times, experts say. Take a
look at innovation by Icynene, for
example. Their soft, expanding spray
foam insulation and air barrier material
protects homeowners from the harmful
outdoor environment and from energyrobbing air leakage. Icynene pioneered
the spray foam technology and now
leads in industry training.
Why are homeowners turning to
spray foam insulation? Experts tell us
that older insulation types, such as
fibreglass, will settle, compact and sag
over time, decreasing their insulation
properties. Spray foam insulation is
energy efficient, says Icynene, and it
has a high R-value due to its ability to
seal and insulate at the same time.
The spray foam solutions are created
with water blowing agents and renewable and recycled content, which help
reduce greenhouse gas emissions to
support a healthier environment. Spray
foam insulation can be used in new
home construction or additions and
insulation upgrades to existing homes
(attics, crawlspaces) during remodeling
projects. With spray foam insulation
you can maintain healthy indoor air
while reducing your HVAC equipment
needs and saving on energy bills. In
addition, homeowners can conserve
construction materials without the need
for excess sealing and still achieve
optimal airtightness. Spray foam insulation doesn’t pass off gas over time,
performs at peak levels for the lifetime
of your home, and, because airborne
moisture is controlled, the durability of
the building remains unthreatened by
the growth of mold and mildew.
More information on this topic is
available online at www.icynene.com.
Protect your roof from ice dams this winter
Is there ice build up on the edge of your roof this winter?
If you haven’t closed the insulation gaps, major damage can
be caused to this part of the house by ice damming. This
starts with air leakage and it is preventable.
Experts at Decker Home Services tell us that as your heating system produces warm air, it spreads throughout the levels of your house and some of it can escape through the ceiling of the top floor. This air then comes into contact with the
inside edge of the roof and, when melting snow falls onto
that portion, it can slowly trickle down and freeze. As more
ice builds, a dam is created on the edge, and this can cause
water to leak into your house.
If any portion of the home is made of wood, water is especially harmful to it. This can cause mold and unwelcome,
costly repair bills. If ice damming sounds familiar, it is wise
to fix the problem at once.
Specialized insulation will do it, experts say. Products like
the Icynene spray foam prevent air leakage and alleviate
cases of ice damming. At the same time, high quality spray
insulation increases your home’s energy efficiency, reduces
your heating bills and provides a more comfortable indoor
More information is available online at icynene.com.
pound or 2-pound spray foam insulation.
Icynene specialists tell us that the energy
efficiency of R-value in combination
with the air barrier of spray foam is vastly
superior to that of traditional methods.
Simply adding extra layers of fiberglass
or cellulose to the interiors of your walls
will eventually prove ineffective.
“Insulation that is compressed will
not provide its full rated R-value,” says
data from the U.S. Department of
Energy. “The overall R-value of a wall
or ceiling will be somewhat different
from the R-value of the insulation itself
because some heat flows around the
insulation through the studs and joists.
Therefore, it’s important to properly
install your insulation to achieve the
maximum R-value.”
Spray foam insulation requires less
upkeep and lasts longer than traditional
insulation. More information is available online at www.icynene.com.
New homes are getting smaller
From the early 1990s to the beginning of this century,
“bigger is better” certainly was the mantra of the homebuilding industry. All across North America buyers could
browse among home developments boasting homes of 3,000
square feet or larger and multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.
But according to new data, home buyers are seeking less
space today but more in green amenities.
Research by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association
has found that many people now desire smaller homes
with multipurpose rooms and energy saving features.
They’re not ready to trade in their two- and three-car
garages just yet, though. Plus, a survey of International
Furnishings and Design Association members forecasts
that McMansions will become a thing of the past and
more emphasis will be placed on smaller, more ecofriendly homes. Family rooms will grow larger, as will
kitchens. Other rooms in the home will disappear, including the living room.
Many homeowners and potential home buyers realize that
with girth comes a cost. In today’s fragile economy, the ability to cash in on the dream of homeownership may come at
the compromise of a smaller, better-planned home.
According to Tim Bailey, the manager of Avid Canada, a
research and consulting firm for the building industry,
“While many consumers are willing to forgo space, they are
not equating this with having to forfeit functionality. Design
creativity is requisite to adapt to this changing preference.”
If you worry about mold in your
home and are trying to find solutions,
you can take one simple step to help
prevent it from happening.
Mold is commonly found in houses
that have poor wall insulation. As
moisture builds up, the interior of the
walls can slowly rot. This gives off a
foul smell and reduces the overall stability and quality of a property. You
may need to completely strip your
walls to effectively repair them.
Such a repair can be expensive, but
in order to prevent this situation from
occurring, you can choose an alternate
kind of insulation for your home. Spray
foam insulation, like Icynene, is a good
choice, especially for preventing mold.
Unlike other insulation, spray foam
protects your walls against moisture by
forming an air barrier.
Prevention of mold, dust, dust mites
and other common airborne irritants
will improve the quality of the air in
your home and ultimately the investment value of your house.
More information on this topic is available online at icynene.com. SH122959
How to choose the most
effective insulation
The R-value of spray foam trumps traditional insulation
If you keep topping-up your walls
and ceiling in hopes of better insulation
for your home, you're going about it the
wrong way. Adding layers of conventional insulation is not effective,
experts say. Your insulation is not
effective in the short- or long-term if
it’s not done by a reputable company
and with the right material.
In homes, heat (and money) flows in
or out through convection — better
known as air leakage. In fact, air leakage is the biggest source of energy loss
in your home, accounting for as much
as 40 percent. Insulations, such as
fiberglass, allow air to pass right
through, while spray foams (like those
offered by Icynene) block air flow.
Depending on your needs, a licensed
installer will recommend either the 0.5-
Spray foam insulation combats mold
Here are some things that you will and will not find in
newer homes moving forward.
• The dining room is becoming extinct, with larger, eat-inkitchen/entertaining spaces the norm. The kitchen will be the
main room of the home and be renamed the “kitchen lounge.”
• Separate rooms are evolving into spaces that serve many
different purposes.
• Although the sizes of bathrooms may be scaled back, the
amenities will not. Spa-style bathrooms with luxurious products, high-tech features and televisions will be on the rise.
• The master bedroom suite may not shrink in size, but it
could be combined to form a home office and exercise space.
• Expect to see more high-tech offerings, such as voice- or
motion-activation devices in the home. Lighting, entertainment gear, heating/cooling systems, and even blinds could
be hooked up to a master control system.
• Thanks to an increasing number of people working from
home, the presence of a dedicated home office is a given in
newer homes. Nearly 40 percent of industry forecasters say
that they expect one in every home.
• Home storage solutions will also be a vital component of
new homes. Builders will create clever solutions for mixing
storage into more compact spaces.
• With aging Baby Boomers comprising a larger segment
of home buyers, expect to see more one-level homes, or at
least homes where there is a master suite and the majority of
the living space on the first level.
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If you can’t decide between spray
foam and traditional insulation, such as
fibreglass or cellulose, a brief overview
can reveal the cost-effectiveness and
reliability of each.
Experts tell us that fibreglass and
cellulose are dated insulation methods
that have certain limitations. For
instance, the large gaps and permeability of traditional insulation allows for
significant heat loss in the winter and
air conditioning loss during the summer. These products may have a
cheaper up-front cost than spray foam,
but in the long run, money is lost due to
increasing energy bills as a result of air
leakage. Additionally, traditional insulators have poorer sound barriers and
are less effective against controlling
airborne moisture.
Spray foam, either open or closedcell, is now the leading insulation
method. This innovation gives homes
and buildings effective protection
against air penetration, moisture buildup and sound penetration. The long-
term benefits of spray foam trump
fibreglass and cellulose. You can be
assured that your energy bill will be
reduced by as much as half when you
replace a traditional insulation with
spray foam.
To find out if your project is ready
for spray foam insulation, take a look
online at icynene.com and contact a
licensed dealer who will provide a free
Planning your renovation smartly
As you tear apart the wallpaper,
replace the cupboards and strip the
floorboards, experts caution not to
reach for that bucket of paint before
investigating the innards of your
Insulation and infrastructure are significant to the foundation and value of
your property, so bringing in a home
inspector or appraiser allows you to
make corrections early, before you've
finalized the renovation plans.
Common problems centre on air
leakage and poor insulation issues,
experts tell us. The latest research, for
example, indicates that traditional
fibreglass and cellulose insulation are
less reliable than contemporary spray
foam insulation.
Foams, like those from Icynene, are
known to decrease the presence of
common airborne irritants, reduce air
and water penetration and reduce
energy costs. When you sell your
home, spray foam insulation stands to
give a better return on investment than
dated insulation.
More information on this topic is available online at icynene.com. SH122957
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Things to consider before buying auto insurance
Tips for selling a car
Selling a car is not always so
easy. Vehicle owners are well aware
that a new vehicle’s value is drastically diminished the moment it is
driven off the dealership’s lot. As a
result, sellers often don’t know
where to begin when the time comes
to sell their vehicles.
Vehicle owners typically put a car
up for sale because they feel they can
get more for it from a private citizen
than they will get from a dealership as
a trade-in. But before listing a car or
truck for sale, owners should consider
a few factors.
Sale price
Vehicle owners typically emphasize
sale price more than anything when they
decide to sell their car. Though sale price
bears considerable weight, guides such as
the Kelley Blue Book, which sellers and
buyers can access for free online, will
likely dictate the sale price, even if the
seller feels such guides undervalue their
vehicle. Buyers know all about these
guides, and will be reticent to pay more
than what these guides suggest is the
value of the car. But there is always room
to negotiate. Sellers should, if the car is in
pristine condition, set a sale price above
the suggested value so, if buyers do want
to bargain, the sale price ends up being
closer to the suggested value and not substantially below.
Make the vehicle a better buy
Particularly in today’s economy,
buyers are looking to get more and
more for their money. This actually
helps sellers, as buyers are now more
inclined to buy a used vehicle because
it might prove a better value than a
brand new car that immediately diminishes in value the moment buyers sign
on the dotted line.
That said, there are numerous ways
sellers can increase their vehicle’s curb
appeal. First and foremost, sellers
should always address any mechanical
issues before putting a vehicle up for
sale. For example, if the car is having
transmission troubles or the brakes are
wearing down, don’t put the vehicle up
for sale until those things are taken care
of. If you don’t want to fix problems,
then you must disclose this information
to prospective buyers, which will certainly reduce the amount of money you
will get for the car.
When addressing what’s under the
hood, change the oil, replace the air
filter (which often improves the ride
considerably), check tire pressure and
inflate the tires as needed.
Aside from mechanical issues,
another big plus to potential buyers is
a car that looks good. Home shoppers
don’t want to buy a dilapidated
shack, and car buyers don’t want to
buy a car with a bad paint job and a
cracked windshield. Such things suggest to prospective buyers that you
didn’t care enough to maintain the
vehicle, and they will certainly
assume you neglected what’s under
Cleaning a vehicle’s interior is one
way sellers can make their car
more attractive to prospective
the hood as well. Get the vehicle
detailed and wash it at least once a
week until it’s sold.
In addition to addressing the exterior, clean the interior as well. Vehicle
owners tend to live in their cars, and it
shows. Clean coffee stains from cup
holders and remove all trash from the
vehicle, including anything that has
accumulated under the seats, in the
cushions and even in the trunk over
the years. Remove all excess items
from the trunk, as buyers are typically
impressed by a spacious trunk.
Once stains and trash have been
removed, shampoo the carpets and
seats and vacuum the car thoroughly.
It’s amazing how easily a vehicle’s
interior can be transformed with a little elbow grease, and buyers are
always impressed by a clean interior.
And don’t forget to hang a pleasant —
but not overbearing — air freshener
from the rearview mirror.
Prove your maintenance record
Sellers who have diligently kept
records of their vehicle’s maintenance
should present these records to
prospective buyers. This will indicate
you were a responsible owner and
give buyers a feeling of security about
the purchase. If you did not keep
records but strictly adhered to a maintenance schedule, contact the auto
body shop where work was performed
to see if they have any records. Most
records are stored in a computer system, so this isn’t necessarily a long
shot, especially if maintenance was
performed at a dealership.
Selling a car won’t necessarily be
easy in the current economic climate,
but sellers can employ a host of strategies to make their vehicle more appealing to prospective buyers. SC123938
Did you know?
According to Motor Trend magazine, the Toyota Corolla is the best selling automobile of all time. With more than 32 million units sold between
its introduction in 1966 and 2009, the Corolla edged out the Ford FSeries, Ford’s line of full-sized pickups that has sold 30 million units since
its inception in 1948. Third on the list, which tracked vehicle sales through
2009, is the Volkswagen Gold, which has sold more than 25 million units
since 1974.
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Auto insurance is necessary for anyone who drives.
Though some places allow motorists to drive without insurance, doing so is an unnecessary risk, one that could prove
costly should an accident occur.
When purchasing auto insurance, many drivers hope
to save as much money as possible. That’s understandable, as many drivers go years without ever filing a
claim, giving some the feeling that they’re paying for
something they will never use. However, when an accident does occur, paying for those premiums proves well
worth it.
While it’s important to get the best rates and not overpay
for auto insurance, there’s more to shopping for auto insurance than simply finding the cheapest policy. The following
are a few things drivers should consider when shopping for
a new auto insurance policy.
• Determine the amount of coverage you need. How
much auto insurance coverage a driver needs depends on
what the local law requires. Some areas, including densely
populated cities with more drivers on the road, tend to
require more coverage than others because the risk of accident is greater. In addition, some places require all
motorists purchase personal injury protection, or PIP,
which pays for a driver’s medical expenses as well as any
lost wages or additional costs that occur as a result of an
accident. PIP is not required everywhere, but motorists
should weight its pros and cons if they live in a region
where PIP is not mandatory.
The amount of coverage a driver needs is relative, but
Consumer Reports recommends adequate coverage for
bodily injury liability is $100,000 per person and
$300,000 per accident, and an additional $100,000 for
property damage.
For drivers leasing or financing a vehicle, the leasing or
financing agreement will typically spell out the minimum
coverage required, and drivers can choose to increase that
coverage if they feel it’s necessary.
• Explore payment options. Drivers who want to reduce
their insurance costs without reducing coverage should
explore their payment options. In many instances, drivers
who choose to make annual or bi-annual payments instead of
monthly installments can save some money is so doing. If
your current insurance provider does not offer such an alternative, then shop around for a company that does.
• Re-examine your driving history. Speeding and traffic
tickets might sting initially, but they will disappear from
your record over time. When shopping for auto insurance, reexamine your driving record. In the United States and
Canada, accessing these records can typically be done by
contacting the local branch of the Department of Motor
Using the Internet to shop around for auto insurance
quotes is one way drivers can save money on their
next policy.
Vehicles. If an old speeding or traffic ticket is close to being
removed from your record, wait until those disappear before
purchasing a new policy.
• Shop around. Drivers often lament paying so much
for auto insurance, a safety net few drivers use but all
must pay for. Despite that, many motorists continue to
overpay for their insurance because the popular misconception is that shopping for a better policy is inconvenient
and tedious. But the Internet has made it much easier for
consumers to shop for a better auto insurance policy.
When shopping for quotes online, have your vehicle registration and identification number as well as your driver
history on hand so the quote is as accurate as possible.
Print out each quote and then compare them to find the
best deal. If another company is offering a deal significantly better than your existing policy, discuss that with
your current provider, who might match the rate to keep
you as a policy holder.
• Shop for discounts. Another thing to consider when
shopping for an auto insurance policy is the availability
of discounts. Many companies reward policy holders for
good behavior, such as driving without an accident and
earning good grades in school. Other companies even
offer a one-time accident amnesty, forgiving drivers for
their first accident by not raising their rates when an
accident occurs. These discounts can add up to substantial savings over the course of the policy, so do your
Advice from the Pros: Do Not Neglect Auto Service
The average age of a personal vehicle
on the road today is more than 11 years,
according to recent news reports. In
tough economic times, it’s natural to rein
in spending. But the experts at the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive
Service Excellence (ASE) warn that
putting off routine auto maintenance or
ignoring service intervals is false economy. Small issues can morph into more
expensive repairs. For example, failure
to replace worn brake pads or a faulty
oxygen sensor — both relatively easy
services for qualified auto technicians —
can result in expensive brake rotor service or costly replacement of the vehicle’s catalytic converter.
Frequently neglected items include
oil changes, tire and brake service,
wheel alignment, air and fuel filters,
and transmission service, according to
ASE-certified auto technicians.
Besides, a well-maintained vehicle
gets better gasoline mileage, pollutes
less, is safer to operate, and lasts longer
than one that’s neglected, notes ASE.
To help consumers choose a repair
shop that fits their needs, ASE offers
the following checklist:
• Look for a neat, well-organized
facility, with vehicles in the parking
lot equal in value to your own and
modern equipment in the service
• Look for a courteous staff, with a
service consultant willing to answer all
of your questions.
• Look for policies regarding estimated repair costs, diagnostic fees,
guarantees, and acceptable methods of
• Ask if the repair facility specializes
or if it usually handles your type of
repair work.
• Look for signs of professionalism in
the customer service area, such as civic,
community, or customer service awards.
• Look for evidence of qualified
technicians: trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced course work, and
certification by ASE.
• Look for the ASE sign or logo; it
means the shop employs nationally certified technicians.
The National Institute for
Automotive Service Excellence
(ASE) was founded in 1972 as a nonprofit, independent organization
dedicated to improving the quality of
automotive service and repair
through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive technicians.
ASE-certified technicians wear
blue and white ASE shoulder insignia
and carry credentials listing their
exact areas of certification. Their
employers often display the blue and
white ASE sign. Visit www.ase.com
for seasonal car care advice and more.
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How to save money on a new car purchase
Buying a new car is one of the
more expensive purchases a consumer can make. Aside from a home
or paying for college, perhaps no purchase requires a bigger financial
commitment than a new car.
While purchasing a new car can be
intimidating, there are ways buyers can
take control of the car-buying process
and save money as a result.
• Shop online. Much of the fear
associated with buying a new car can
be traced to the dealership.
Consumers fear being taken advantage of by aggressive salespeople who
work on commissions and are motivated by selling the car for the highest
price possible. However, shopping
online removes that fear and has made
it easier for consumers to save when
purchasing a new car. Unlike traditional automobile salespeople,
Internet department sales staff often
earn their bonuses on how many cars
they sell, and not how much they sell
each car for, which motivates them to
get consumers the best price.
Shopping online also removes the
hassle of visiting the dealership and
the often awkward and uncomfortable
back and forth of the negotiating
process on the dealer’s turf.
• Get preapproved for a loan.
Another way to save is to shop
around for the best financing deal
before shopping for a car. Many people seek preapproval for a loan
before shopping for a home, and the
same can be done when buying a car.
Shopping around enables you to get
the best deal, which isn’t always the
one you’ll find should you rely on
the dealership to arrange for the
• Negotiate everything. One of
the more agitating things about buying a new car is the seemingly endless list of add-on fees that suddenly
appear after the buyer and dealer
have agreed on a vehicle price.
Dealerships often want buyers to
think such fees are non-negotiable,
but that isn’t actually true. Even if
the contract has already been drawn
up and includes the fees, until you
have signed on the dotted line, those
fees are negotiable.
• Shop in a buyer’s market. Near
the end of the year is typically the best
time to buy a current model vehicle.
Between August and October is a great
time to find a deal, as dealerships are
looking to move inventory to make
room for next year’s models.
Some consumers, however, find it
difficult to shop for a car at the end of
the year, as the costs associated with
the holidays make it tough to afford a
new car. If that’s the case, consider
shopping for a vehicle at the end of the
month, when salespeople and dealers
might be motivated to sell cars to meet
a monthly quota.
• Shop around your current
vehicle. If you have a trade-in, don’t
simply assume you’ll get the most
money for it via a trade-in. You
might earn more money selling it privately, or you can shop the vehicle
around to several dealerships as a
straight sale. Getting the best price
for the vehicle, whether that’s
through trading it in or selling it privately, can lessen the financial blow
of buying a new car.
Buying a car no longer has to be an
intimidating process where the consumer is fearful of getting fleeced.
Nowadays, there are a variety of ways
the consumer can take control of the
process and make out financially.
Assessing your abilities as an aging driver
When a person first earns a driver’s license, they’ve
earned more than just the right to legally operate an automobile. To many drivers, a driver’s license is symbolic of
freedom and self-sufficiency.
The significance of a driver’s license never truly dissipates, which makes it difficult for aging men and women to
address their abilities as a driver and whether or not they can
still safely share the road with other motorists. Though many
drivers can safely stay behind the wheel well into their
golden years, others begin to recognize their skills are starting to diminish as they approach senior citizen status. For
those who want help gauging their abilities as a driver, some
self-examination can help.
Assess your eyesight
Healthy eyes are essential to being a safe driver, and drivers can assess their eyesight in a number of ways. In addition to visiting an eye doctor for an eye examination, drivers
should look for signs that they’re having difficulty with driving. If signs and street markings aren’t so easy to read anymore, you might need a new prescription for eyeglasses.
When the glare of headlights at night makes it difficult to
see, your driver’s seat might need to be adjusted or you
might want to consider antiglare eyeglasses that make it easier to see at night.
Assess your comfort level
Safe drivers are also comfortable drivers. To assess your
comfort level as a driver, ask yourself the following questions before getting back behind the wheel.
• Is it troublesome to look over your shoulder and
change lanes?
• Has steering become difficult?
• Has your reaction time when switching from the gas
pedal to the brake pedal decreased?
If you can answer “yes” to any of the questions above,
then it could be that you’re beginning to lose strength,
coordination and/or flexibility, which can make it more
difficult to operate a motor vehicle. Answering “yes”
doesn’t mean you have to give up your driver’s license.
In fact, your doctor might be able to prescribe therapies
or medicines or suggest a fitness regimen that can make
it easier for you to comfortably drive a car. In addition, if
you’re having trouble steering or operating a motor vehicle in any way, you might just want to find a vehicle
that’s easier to drive, such as one with an automatic
transmission that has power steering and brakes.
When assessing your comfort level, also examine your
A long, monotonous trip could induce a condition called highway hypnosis.
Highway hypnosis can be dangerous
Road trips are a popular getaway once
the weather warms up. People take to the
roads in droves, whether for vacations or
simply to enjoy the scenery along the
way. With more people on the highways,
there could be a heightened risk of accidents for a number of reasons.
Though road rage, driving while
intoxicated and other road dangers are
well documented, many people do not
know about something called highway
hypnosis — which could be responsible
for erratic driving on roadways.
Think about a time when you were
behind the wheel of a car on a long
stretch of road, such as an interstate.
Perhaps you lost track of the exits you
passed or wondered how you ended up in
a particular location when you don’t
remember getting there. Maybe you actually fell asleep or drifted off of the road.
According to the U.S. Department of
Transportation’s Federal Highway
Administration, the main cause of roadway departure crashes is driver drowsiness and inattention. Driver fatigue is
often caused by highway hypnosis.
Highway hypnosis, also known as
“white line fever,” occurs when someone
has been driving a vehicle along a long
stretch of roadway for an extended period
of time. The monotony of a long drive can
induce sleepiness or forgetfulness. It can
lull the brain into a sort of trance, and the
body is essentially operating on auto pilot
while the mind is off somewhere else.
Highway hypnosis is most common during the late-night hours when the time of
day also plays a role in drowsiness.
The concept of highway hypnosis is
nothing new. In fact, engineers who
created the Indiana Toll Road in 1957
designed curves every two miles on
average to allow for a variation in the
road conditions. Many other roadways
are built with rumble strips or other
variations in the scenery to reduce the
monotony of the road.
Highway hypnosis occurs more
than people would like to believe.
However, there are ways to help prevent highway hypnosis.
• Take frequent rests on a long trip to
stretch your legs and get some fresh air.
• Try not to drive during the hours
that you are normally sleeping.
• Bring a road trip partner along and
make conversation.
• Don’t eat a big meal before beginning a long car ride.
• Open the windows and get circulation going.
• Keep your eyes moving between
your mirrors and the road to improve
conscious thought.
• If you are still unable to fend of
feelings of drowsiness or some of the
other symptoms of hypnosis, pull over
and take a long rest until you feel more
capable to drive.
What to do if a tire blows out
Aging drivers should weigh a host of factors when
determining if it’s still safe for them to be on the
mental state while driving. If other drivers make you
uncomfortable or traffic signs are confusing, this can make
it difficult to safely operate an automobile. Such feelings
when driving could also be a side effect of a particular
medication, so discuss the issue with your doctor to see if
that’s the case and if there are any alternatives.
Honestly address loved ones’ concerns
Aging drivers are often the last to notice if their abilities behind the wheel are starting to diminish. Loved ones
are often put in the position of talking to aging drivers
about their abilities, and this can cause friction. If loved
ones have expressed concern about your abilities as a driver, honestly address these concerns, even if it’s initially
hurtful or embarrassing to do so. Your loved ones are
sharing their feelings out of genuine concern for your
well-being, so don’t look at it as an assault on your selfsufficiency. Some organizations, including the AARP
and AAA, offer driving classes for mature drivers to help
them more adequately handle the challenges aging drivers might face.
Aging drivers face obstacles they may or may not be
prepared for. When such challenges arise, that doesn’t
necessarily mean it’s time to stop driving entirely.
Instead, honestly weigh a host of factors before deciding
if it’s still safe for you to be behind the wheel.
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Accidents that occur on the roadways are unpredictable and can be
caused by just about anything. Impaired or distracted motorists might
heighten the risk of an accident, but even things like a squirrel running
across the street and scaring a driver can lead to an accident.
Tire blowout is another potential cause of accident, and such blowouts
might be more common than motorists expect. For instance, a 2005 study
from the French National Institute for Transport and Safety Research found
that, between 1996 and 2002, nearly 61,000 vehicles were involved in crashes
with property damage and/or injury on a particular stretch of highway. More
than six percent of those accidents involved tire blowout, a problem many
motorists might mistake as something that only happens in movies.
But tire blowout can put motorists in a precarious position, especially if
they don’t know what to do should one of their tires blow out. Surviving
tire blowout can be done by adhering to the following tips.
• Don’t respond by hitting the brakes. It might be counterintuitive to
squeeze the gas pedal when a tire blows out, but doing so puts drivers in control of the vehicle and keeps it going in the intended direction. Immediately
slamming on the brakes will cause the vehicle to turn, possibly turning the
vehicle into oncoming traffic, a guardrail or other cars traveling in the same
direction. When squeezing the gas pedal, drive straight down the lane. Within
seconds of pressing the gas pedal, slowly begin to release it.
• Coast to a slower speed. As the accelerator is released, allow the
vehicle to coast to a slow speed, but not a speed so slow as to put driver and
passengers at risk. Once the car is coasting between 25 to 30 miles per hour,
use the turn signal and slowly turn toward the side of the road where the tire
is blown. For example, if the front right tire is blown, turn toward the right
shoulder. You want to turn toward this side because it’s always safest to limit
your own exposure to oncoming motorists when changing the tire.
• Check tire pressure when you can pull into a parking lot. When you
have safely made it to the shoulder and the tire has been changed successfully, find a filling station or other parking lot and check the tire pressure on the tires that did not blowout. A blowout is often the result of an
underinflated tire, so if one tire blows out due to underinflation it’s quite
possible the others might as well.
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Share the road safely
Streets provide means of transportation for motorists, bicyclists,
and pedestrians. When so many different people come together on the
roadways, particularly of varied
shapes and sizes, there’s the potential
for safety problems if everyone isn’t
working together.
Although most drivers must pass a
test and driver education classes,
including practice on roadways, the
same testing measures are not in place
for cyclists. Even though bicycles are
not powered vehicles, they are governed by the same rules of the road as
trucks, cars and motorcycles.
While there may be the potential
for injury, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention state that it is
relatively low when safety procedures are met. At the forefront of
bicycle safety is wearing a helmet.
Males of the age 9 to 15 cycling in
the summer without a helmet make
up the highest number of bicycle
incidents in the United States,
according to the American Academy
of Family Physicians.
Even with low incidences of bicyclerelated injuries, it may still be prudent
for avid cyclists to take a class or refresh
their knowledge of bicycle rules of the
road. In most areas of North America,
bicycles and tricycles can be operated on
all roads unless otherwise prohibited.
Areas where bicycles are often prohibited include bridges and tunnels. A drivers’ license is not needed to operate a
bicycle, but rules may vary if the bicycle
is powered or has been modified with a
small engine. It is best to check with the
Department of Motor Vehicles to determine the rules where you live.
Cyclists must ride on the same side
of the road as vehicular traffic and in
the same direction. Just like motorists,
cyclists must obey all traffic control
signs and signals. Both cyclists and
motorists should yield the right-of-way
to each other — one does not have preference in right of way.
Many cyclists fail to signal their
turns and ride in a predictable manner. This can be dangerous and lead
to accidents. Hand signals can be
used to indicate turning intentions if
electronic signals are not installed. If
riding at night or during dusk, a
headlight and reflectors can help promote visibility, as can a rear, red
flashing light.
Riding on roads is not as safe as riding on sidewalks, but most cities and
towns prohibit the riding of bicycles on
sidewalks, particularly in urban centers. When any riding is done, a helmet
should be worn for personal safety — it
also may be the law.
Avoid bicycle accidents by following the rules of the road.
Because bicycles may be harder to
see and hear than cars and motorcycles, there are some other safety precautions cyclists can take to avoid
• Do not ride in the blind spots of
other vehicles.
• Do not assume you can overtake or
pass a vehicle that has the power to go
much more quickly than you.
• Do not follow cars too closely to
allow for adequate reaction time.
• Wear light colored or reflective
clothing so that motorists can see you
on the road.
• Use a bell or horn for further indication that you are in the area.
• Do not assume that because you
are on a bicycle you can dart in and out
of traffic.
• Be aware of parked cars on the side
of the road. SmartMotorist.com says
that approximately 5 percent of bicycle
accidents occur when someone opens a
parked car door in front of an oncoming
Along the same vein, motorists can
be more aware of cyclists on the road.
• Give cyclists a safe distance when
• Slow down when passing a cyclist.
• Do not assume you have dominance over the cyclist.
• Do not try to goad the cyclist or
scare him or her by veering in the direction. This cat-and-mouse game can be
Cyclists and motorists can share the
streets safely when they use some common sense and follow the same rules of
the road.
GPS usage tips
Today’s drivers rely heavily on GPS
technology, or global positioning system devices. GPS has revolutionized
the way people drive and use maps and
While there are no hard statistics on
the number of people who own GPS
devices, thousands of people have
either a GPS device that comes preequipped in a car that they purchased
or a stand-alone device that was
bought after the fact. These devices
come pre-loaded with maps that work
with satellites in space. The GPS
receiver figures out the distance to
each and uses this information to
deduce the location of the device in a
process called trilateration.
GPS devices have made paper maps
obsolete for many people. While GPS
devices can be very convenient, espe-
cially on road trips, there are some tips to
keep in mind.
• Place the GPS device where it won’t
obstruct your vision or take your eyes
off of the road for a good deal of time.
• Don’t treat the GPS as if it is infallible. Even with map updates and other
accessories, a GPS can still make mistakes. Use common sense, especially
where it would seem the GPS is guiding you in the wrong way.
• Do not play with the controls
while operating the car. If you need to
adjust something on the GPS, do so
only after pulling over to a safe area.
• Have a general idea where you
are going so you’ll know if the GPS
is potentially guiding you in the
wrong direction and can maneuver in
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Travel tips for a safe and successful road trip
A good road trip can be the ultimate spring or summer
experience. With the open road ahead, life’s troubles seem to
melt and there’s just the oneness of the driver and the road.
For a road trip to be successful, it’s not just a matter of taking to the road and putting the pedal to the metal. There are
a host of considerations to make, which can ensure safety
and peace of mind when beginning your excursion. The hot
sun that can bake the roadway — and your body — can also
take its toll on your car, contributing to breakdowns. And
there are other factors to be aware of.
Maintenance should never be overlooked when it comes to
prepping for a road trip. At the least, The National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration recommends that drivers have
their tires, battery, belts, fluids, and air conditioner checked
by a qualified mechanic prior to starting any long trip. But
the list does not stop there. There are many other precautions
to heed before taking to the road.
• Be sure to have all necessary documents on hand.
Nothing can stall a road trip faster than getting pulled over by a
police officer and being without your license, registration and
proof of insurance. These are required documents to operate a
vehicle, and it’s definitely worth a second check in your wallet
and glove compartment to be sure they are where they should be.
• Get an oil change. Driving long intervals can be taxing
on a car engine, as can the start-and-stops associated with
getting stuck in road trip traffic. Do yourself and your car a
favor by getting an oil change to ensure there will be proper
lubrication of the engine and that thick, old motor oil won’t
contribute to a breakdown.
• Update your GPS. If you will be using a GPS device as
your primary tool for navigation, update the device’s maps
before departure. Roadways are always being changed, and
without downloading the proper updates, you could end up
driving in circles instead of moving on to your destination. In
addition, many GPS models come equipped with pinpointing
points of interest, or POI, such as restaurants, tourist areas,
hotels, and rest stops, which should be update before beginning the trip. Follow the guidelines spelled out in the owner’s manual that comes with your GPS unit. Consumer
Reports also advises knowing the local ordinances regarding
GPS use. For example, a windshield-mounted unit is not
allowed while driving in Minnesota.
• Plan who will drive when. A long road trip — one that will
be done primarily in one day — could necessitate splitting up
the trip between two or more drivers. Not only does this banish
boredom, it also reduces the risk of driver fatigue. NHTSA estimates that approximately 100,000 police-reported crashes in the
United States each year involve drowsiness and/or fatigue.
• Protect your eyes. The weather and the position of the
sun could change depending on where you are driving. If
you wear glasses or contacts for driving, be sure you have
them with you. Keep a few pairs of sunglasses in your car
to shield your eyes from sun glare. If the sun proves problematic, pull over for a little while or try an alternate route
that prevents oncoming sun on the windshield. While you
are packing sunglasses, also be sure to bring along — and
wear — sunscreen, as the sun’s rays can be magnified
through the window glass.
On road trips, bring along a friend so that you can
share driving responsibilities and fend off fatigue.
• Bring along refreshments. Frequent stops for bathroom
breaks and simply to stretch your legs are adviseable, but
limit rest-stop fare whenever possible. Not only do these
foods tend to be unhealthy, they are often expensive. Keep
your road trip budget down by packing healthy food and
drinks that you can enjoy on the go.
• Keep on top of your car’s fuel level. Play it safe when
gassing up the car. On rural roads or stretches of country
with which you are unfamiliar, you never know how far
away filling stations might be from one another. That means
you should take the opportunity to top off the gas tank whenever you get the chance. This way you always will be confident you have enough gas to get to the next station. Don’t
risk coasting into your destination on fumes, unless you want
to arrive at your destination hitched to a tow truck.
• Be wary of hitchhikers. Although hitchhikers are few
and far between nowadays, there is still the possibility of
coming across someone thumbing for a ride on the side of the
road. Do not pick up a stranger who is hitchhiking, no matter how reputable the person may seem. If you come across
someone who has broken down, offer to call for help instead
of allowing the person into the car.
• Use the bathroom at every stop. You never know how
few and far between restrooms will be. Unless the idea of a
road-side pit stop is high on your list of road trip excitement,
play it safe and use the restroom whenever stopping. Few
things can make a stretch of road seem more interminable than
the pressure of a full bladder.
• Plan for sightseeing. Part of the enjoyment of a road trip
is to actually take the scenic route and enjoy roads which you
may have never traveled before. This is not a race and no
awards will be given out at the end for making good time.
Therefore, slow down and enjoy the scenery. Isn’t that why
you’re driving, after all?
Road trips seem to be an essential part of the spring and
summer season. They can be all the more fun and safe when
you heed a few road trip rules of the road.
Weighing the options of oil change locations
The debate may continue as to
whether a car still needs its oil changed
every 3,000 miles or if motorists can
extend that figure to more than 5,000
miles. In addition to how frequently oil
needs to be changed, drivers also must
decide where to go for an oil change.
Customers have different choices
when it comes to oil changes. Some
don’t mind getting a little messy and
choose to change their oil right at
home. There are also lube stations that
specialize strictly in oil changes. Then
there is the option of having the oil
changed at a dealership service station.
As with any decision, it helps to weigh
the pros and cons of each option before
making a final decision. According to
the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act of
1975, routine service can be done anywhere and will not void your warranty.
Regular warranty work only has to be
done by the dealer. Unless a dealership
can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt
that damage was caused by a vehicle
owner or a third-party lube station, then
the warranty will remain valid.
There are certain reasons a person
may want to go to a dealership to have
an oil change. It is typical of dealer service stations to train their mechanics in
the specific design of the automobiles
they are servicing. That means they’ll
have first-hand knowledge and be familiar with the design of the engine and the
characteristics of the make and model of
the car better than anyone else. This can
ship. Quick lube stations typically
have access to manufacturers’ data to
ensure the correct type of oil and filter are used. Larger companies may
have an extensive training program
that goes over the latest technology
and the models of cars.
Another benefit to a lube station is
that an appointment is not always necessary, which may not be the case with
a dealership. With a number of service
bays and substantial staff on hand,
there also could be a shorter wait time,
which is a boon to busy individuals.
give drivers peace of mind that they are
getting the right parts and that the service work is being done in accordance
with their service warranty.
Some dealerships also offer service
plans that discount the cost of oil changes
if done at the dealer service station. This
service package might even be part of a
finance deal, so the cost of the oil changes
could already be paid for. The oil changes
may be done in conjunction with other service work, including tire rotation.
Third-party station
One of the main advantages to
using a private lube-type company is
that they are usually less expensive
than services provided by a dealer-
Doing an oil change at home is obviously the most cost-effective option.
But it’s the most labor-intensive as
well. You also will need to have specific tools for the job, as well as 5 to 6
quarts of motor oil on hand.
Jacking up the car to have access to
the underside of the engine will be necessary so that you can reach the engine
pan plug to drain the old oil. Wrenches
as well as buckets to drain the oil are
other tools to keep on hand.
Used motor oil is not something that
can simply be tossed in the trash or
poured down a drain. It must be carefully contained and recycled to avoid
harming the environment.
Because of the work involved in an
oil change at home, many people opt to
have it done elsewhere. Remember,
while there are many places that are
qualified, it’s up to the driver to decide
where to go.
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How to maintain a healthy environment inside your vehicle Safe ways to take pets on the road
Over the last several years, homeowners have increasingly
emphasized clean air in their homes. The growing popularity
of home air purifiers suggests today’s homeowners want to
make certain the environment inside their home is as healthy
as possible.
While protecting the environment in a home is important,
it’s equally as important for motorists to maintain a healthy
environment in their vehicles. The average American spends
roughly 10 to 15 hours per week inside a car, where dust,
odors, smoke and other potentially sour smells can make riding in a car rather unpleasant. In addition, air pollution and
allergens inside a vehicle can pose a significant health risk to
drivers and their passengers. Fortunately, there are several
steps drivers can take to maintain a healthy environment
inside their vehicle.
• Improve air quality. Perhaps the best way drivers can
ensure their passengers have a healthy environment while
traveling in a car is to improve the air quality within the vehicle. The GoPure Automotive Clean Air System from Philips
quickly and effectively purifies the air inside a vehicle by
eliminating harmful gases, dust, pollen, smoke, odors, and
bacteria. Employing a 3-stage filtering process, the GoPure
system, which can be easily placed beneath a seat, in the rear
of the vehicle or on a seatback, captures big particles, such
as human hair and pet hair, during the pre-filter stage before
the HEPA filter removes these particles and others, including pollen and pet dander. In the final stage, GoPure’s
advanced HESA filter removes harmful gases and even bad
odors, such as those caused by smoke, ensuring the vehicle’s
interior is not only healthy, but also pleasant for drivers and
passengers alike.
• Clean the vehicle’s interior. Many automobile owners
pay particular attention to the appearance of their vehicle’s
exterior. However, those same drivers don’t spend nearly as
much time, if any, tending to the vehicle’s interior. But a
neglected interior doesn’t just fall victim to spills and dirt or
other particles brought in from the outside. Over time, a
neglected interior might begin to grow mildew, which is both
unhealthy and unpleasant. In general, clean the vehicle’s
interior once a month to prevent mildew growth and the
buildup of dirt and grime.
• Don’t fall in love with the “new car smell.” Few consumers can resist the famed “new car smell.” Though enticing, the new car smell is actually an outgassing of toxic
chemicals from newly formed plastics, and the chemicals in
these gases have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births, and early puberty in laboratory animals. Though this doesn’t mean consumers
The GoPure Automotive Clean Air System from
Philips purifies air within a vehicle, creating a healthier environment for drivers and passengers alike.
should avoid buying new cars, it should inspire consumers to
address the new car smell immediately. GoPure’s HESA filter can easily and effectively remove the harmful gases that
stem from the new car smell, while continuously removing
additional odors as the car ages.
• Vacuum carpets, floor mats and between seats.
Carpets and seating are another collection point for dirt and
pollutants and need to be vacuumed thoroughly. Make sure
to get the floor mats, the floor under the floor mats and all
the way under the seats. Pound your seats with something
large like a baseball bat to loosen and knock out all the dirt
and soil that has settled into the creases and stitching.
• Protect newer vehicles on hot days. Hot weather can
take its toll on drivers, and it can also wreak havoc on their
vehicle’s interior. Heat from the sun can cause the vehicle’s
plastics, vinyl or leather parts to emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which, according to the Environmental
Protection Agency, can produce both short-term and longterm adverse health effects. Whenever possible, park in the
shade or use a sun shade on the windshield. In addition,
slightly opening the windows in spring and summer promotes air flow through the cabin, helping reduce the risk of
VOC buildup inside the vehicle.
More information about the GoPure Automotive Clean
Air System from Philips is available at
www.philipsgocure.com or 800-257-6054.
Let these films satisfy your need for speed
Car guys and gals love their vehicles,
but they also love their movies about
cars. When not tooling around in your
ride this spring and summer, the following car movies should satisfy your
need for speed.
Bullitt (1968): Steve McQueen stars
as the San Francisco cop looking to
find the kingpin who killed the witness
under his protection. The actor did
much of the driving of the ‘68 Mustang
in this movie, leaving only the riskiest
maneuvers to his stunt double.
American Graffiti (1973): A coming
of age movie set in the 1960s about four
teenagers going off to college. They spend
one last summer cruising the Sunset Strip
and getting into trouble. Starring Richard
Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford and Ron
Williams, this classic was directed by
George Lucas of “Star Wars” fame.
The Cannonball Run (1983):
Eccentric competitors engage in an illegal cross-country car race. A who’s
who of stars, including Burt Reynolds,
Jackie Chan, Farrah Fawcett, Dom
DeLuise, and Dean Martin star in this
action-packed flick.
Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000): A
retired car thief must get back into the
business, stealing 50 cars in one night to
save the life of his brother. Stars Nicholas
Cage and Angelina Jolie.
The Fast and the Furious (2001):
An undercover cop infiltrates the
underbelly of Los Angeles street racers.
This movie spawned a series of sequels
with more automotive special effects
than substance.
Transitioning to a booster seat
The World Health Organization notes
that nearly one million children die each
year across the globe as a result of unintentional accidents. Car crashes are the
leading cause of unintentional accidents,
annually causing 260,000 fatalities and
around 10 million injuries.
Though invented in 1921, child seats
were rarely used in the ensuing
decades. When child seats were used,
their function was largely one of transportation and not safety. It wasn’t until
roughly 40 years later that child seats
became more prevalent and their focus
shifted toward protecting children. In
1962, Denver’s Leonard Rivkin
invented seats aimed at protecting a
child. Tennessee became the first
American state to require use by law.
Many safety seats on the market today
are designed to keep children safe at different age and weight levels. However,
for many parents this can be misleading,
considering the purpose of some seats is
to raise up a child to a height where the
child is able to use the vehicle’s safety
belts in proper position, as is the case
with belt-positioning booster seats.
A booster seat is designed to sit a child
who is roughly four years old and weighs
at least 40 pounds, though height isn’t
factored into the equation. Some children
exceed the weight or height of a convertible or standard five-point-harness seat,
but may not be mature enough or of the
age to move into a booster seat. Parents
are often left with questions of how to
remedy this situation.
It is important to keep a toddler or
preschooler in a forward-facing harnessed seat as long as possible. Today
there are many safety seat manufacturers that have realized the health benefits that these seats provide, including
their capacity to prevent injury. There
are seats available that can accommodate children up to 80 or 100 pounds
and may be an option before moving to
a booster seat.
If a child is mature enough, meaning
he or she doesn’t try to escape the seat
or wriggle around and slump, the child
may be ready to move into a booster
seat. A high-back booster seat is one
that can be used if the car has low seat
backs or no head rests. It helps to properly align the shoulder strap of a
lap/shoulder strap combination, which
may also prevent slouching. Booster
seats may start at a minimum weight of
30 to 33 pounds. However, the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration
recommends waiting until the child is
40 pounds and four years of age before
w w w. m e t ro c re a t i v e c o n n e c t i o n . c o m
transitioning to a booster seat. That is
unless the child has simply outgrown
the car seat, meaning the straps don’t fit
correctly, shoulders are higher than the
harnesses, and feet dangle too far over
the edge of the seat.
The American Academy of Pediatrics
also says it is best for children to ride in a
seat with a harness as long as possible, at
least to four years of age. If your child outgrows his seat before reaching turning
four, consider using a seat with a harness
approved for higher weights and heights.
They also say that all children whose
weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use
a belt-positioning booster seat until the
vehicle seat belt fits properly, typically
when they have reached four feet in height
and are between eight and 12 years of age.
In Canada, children under the age of eight
who weigh 18 kg or more but less than 36
kg (40-80 lbs.), and who stand less than
145 cm (57 inches or 4 feet, 9 inches) must
travel in a booster seat that meets the
requirements of Canadian Motor Vehicle
Safety Standards.
Understanding safety seats can be
confusing to some parents. When in
doubt, check with a hospital, pediatrician or even a police station for determining the right seat for use. SC123876
To those who feel a vacation isn’t
complete unless the family pet comes
along, you’re not alone. The U.S.
Travel Association says that 49 percent
of Americans feel the pet is just another
member of the family and 18 percent of
U.S. travelers plan to take their pets
along the next time they travel.
Canada, Australia, New Zealand and
the United States have softened laws
regarding international travel with a
companion animal. With the Pet
Passport Scheme, or PETS, individuals
may travel freely with their pets to
member countries on approved carriers. Some procedures include certification of rabies vaccination and the animal’s microchip or tattoo number.
Car trips are common forms of travel
with a companion animal in tow. While
many pets are easygoing, there are some
who are unaccustomed to traveling with
their owners and may even balk at riding
along. Acclimating and protecting your
pet for travel will require a little patience
and some pointers.
Secure the pet
Just as you would buckle up when
entering the car, so should you buckle
up a pet. It is important to ensure the
animal is not a moving target around
the car should an accident occur. Not
only could you risk injury to the pet,
but you also risk injury to yourself if
the animal becomes a projectile.
Even if an accident does not occur, a
jittery pet, or one who is content to jump
from back seat into the front, could prove
a distraction while driving. He or she
could also bump into the gear shift or get
stuck under the gas or brake pedal. It is
much better to keep the pet secured.
Pets may travel in a well-ventilated
carrier. Larger dogs may need to be
belted into the car with a special dog
harness. There are also barrier screens
and gates that can be installed, typically in SUVs, to restrict the pet.
Some pets just do not enjoy being
placed in a carrier or riding in a car.
They may need some coaxing and
practice to become comfortable if a trip
is planned. The ASPCA suggests getting the pet used to a longer trip by taking a series of short trips first over the
course of a few days or weeks. With
each trip, gradually increase time spent
in the car.
It may help to bring along a pet toy
or blanket that is soothing to the animal, so he or she associates the car with
a safe place, just like home.
Even after several attempts to acclimate your pet to the idea of a car trip,
the animal may still not be happy about
the idea. Talk to a veterinarian about
other strategies or whether a mild sedative could make the travel easier.
Safety tips
Although many pet owners are
aware of certain dos and don’ts when it
comes to traveling with a pet, many
still engage in behavior that could be
dangerous to the animal.
One of the common offenses is letting
the pet ride with his or her head outside
of the window. While this may seem like
heaven to the dog or cat, this puts the pet
at risk of being injured by flying objects,
including debris in the eyes. It can also
Stashing your toy-sized pooch in
your purse is not a safe way to
travel with a companion animal.
increase the risk of the animal falling out
of the moving vehicle.
Another mistake many people make
is leaving the pet inside of a car — even
for a short duration of time. The
ASPCA warns that even with the windows open, a parked car can rapidly
heat up and heatstroke can occur. A
similar thing takes place in the winter
with the car getting much too cold. If
you anticipate having to make stops, be
sure to go where you can take the pet
out and along with you.
Comfort and care
An animal out of his or her environment or element could become skittish.
Try to keep a pet’s feeding schedule as
close to normal as possible. This will
minimize the chances of discomfort or
even digestive aggravation. Bring along
bottled water or tap water from home
because drinking water from an unfamiliar area could result in unwanted
digestive distress, which could prove
uncomfortable for pet and owner alike.
As an added precaution, you may
want to invest in rubberized floor liners and waterproof seat covers, says
the ASPCA. This helps if the animal
gets carsick or has an accident.
Removable seat covers can also
prove advantageous for collecting fur
and keeping the interior of the car
less messy than need be.
It is important to always carry proper
identification for your pet, as well as
documentation of vaccinations. For
those who have not yet microchipped
their companion animal, now may be
the time to do so. The microchip is a
very small device implanted under the
skin of the pet, usually by the scruff of
the neck. It will transmit contact information when a specialized transmitter
is waved over the microchip.
There’s also the old-fashioned method
of having your dog or cat collared with an
ID tag. Using this in conjunction with a
leash and harness will help reduce the
chances of losing your pet while on the
Credit history and car loans
Consumers know that a credit score can have a great impact on the ability to make purchases, even finance a car. Although it is essential to have
a good credit score to achieve a low interest rate and be able to finance
a vehicle, many shoppers fail to consider what financing a car can do to
their credit scores afterward. If the person makes all payments on time and
has a good financial history with a financing company, a car loan can be a
boon to one’s credit score. However, if payments are routinely missed, the
vehicle may be repossessed and the infraction can have long-standing
effects on a person’s credit score, even making it more difficult to buy a
car in the future.
w w w. m e t ro c re a t i v e c o n n e c t i o n . c o m
Improve vision for a safer ride
Asphalt driveways tend to be less expensive to install than concrete.
Concrete vs. asphalt driveways
Many homes come with a driveway. Whether leading to a garage or
not, the driveway is a convenient
place to park one or more cars. If a
driveway is in need of repair or
replacement, owners often choose
between asphalt or concrete.
There are certain factors that come
into play when making a decision.
More often than not, cost is a main
consideration and frequently the driving force behind any driveway decisions that are made. Until you realize
all of the subtleties behind these materials, you may not be able to make an
informed decision.
According to the Do It Yourself Web
site, concrete can cost up to 45 percent
more than asphalt to install generally.
But if the price of crude oil is high, and
crude oil is a component of asphalt
composition, then the asphalt could be
more expensive. The best way to compare prices is to get a few estimates for
each material.
Depending on climate, both asphalt
and concrete can be prone to cracking.
In many cases, it is more expensive to
mend cracks in a concrete driveway
than in one made from asphalt.
Weather compatibility
If you live in a very hot climate, you
may want to choose a concrete driveway. Asphalt tends to get soft in the
heat, which can contribute to grooves
and dents in the surface. Whereas concrete driveways work better in warm
climates than cold ones. Salt used on
roadways can damage concrete, and
cold-weather shrinkage can lead to
cracks in the concrete.
Rate of repair
Despite the cost, some people
choose concrete driveways because
they tend to have a longer life with
less maintenance required. A concrete
driveway can last as long as 50 years.
Asphalt driveways can last around 30
years, but if they’re not properly
maintained, may start deteriorating
after just a few years. That’s because
asphalt is petroleum-based and very
elastic. If left to dry out without adequate sealing, the driveway can
become brittle and start to wear away.
Concrete driveways can be sealed to
preserve their quality, but most people associate sealing with asphalt.
This should be done every 5 years or
so to prevent the breakdown of the
oils in the asphalt. The first application of sealant should be applied no
sooner than 8 to 12 months after
installation to allow the asphalt to
properly cure. Asphalt that is ready
for sealing will start to take on a grayish hue.
A light-colored concrete can be
stained easily from fluid leaks from the
underside of a car or leaves. It may take
powerwashing to remove the stain adequately. However, stains are much less
visible on dark asphalt.
But asphalt can do its own type of
staining. The oils released from the
asphalt can stick to the undersides of
shoes and be carried indoors. If you
don’t remove your shoes upon entering, these oils may eventually discolor
vinyl or tile floors or get imbedded
into the carpeting.
What you see is what you get with
asphalt. There really are no decorative
options — it’s merely a simple and
practical driveway material. On the
other hand, concrete can be colored or
stamped to provide designs and aesthetic appeal. If you desire a higher-end
driveway, then concrete may be right
for you.
Both driveway materials will do
what they’re supposed to — providing
a durable surface on which to park your
car. If you’re looking for low installation costs, then you may want to choose
asphalt. For the utmost in durability,
perhaps concrete is best.
Did you know?
Space is often at a premium when transporting children in a car. Safety
seats tend to be cumbersome and take up a lot of the seat room in a vehicle. In most areas, law mandates some sort of safety seat is necessary until
a child is 8 or 9 years old and meets a certain weight maximum. That can
mean many years of squeezing the kids into the car, or missing out on carpool opportunities due to safety seats. But a new category of inflatable
safety seats could change the way many drivers view car and booster seats.
Products like GoBooster® and BubbleBum® were the invention of innovators in Europe who have now brought their creations to North America.
There are also many other brands still being produced in Europe, including the Luftikid®. Inflatable booster seats are lightweight and durable.
They often weigh less than 2 pounds. Plus, they inflate and deflate quickly,
making these seats the ultimate in portable options.
There’s no need to worry about safety, either. In ordered to be sold in
the United States and Canada, any type of child safety seat must be rigorously crash tested to comply with strict vehicle safety standards. With a
smaller profile, these seats can also save room in a vehicle, preventing the
need to upsize to a larger truck or van.
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As the motor vehicle industry continues to evolve, the
emphasis drivers and manufacturers place on safety continues to increase. But even though technological
advancements have vastly improved driver safety, accidents still happen.
One of the more concerning trends with regards to traffic
accidents is when they occur. In spite of the fact that there
are five times as many motorists during the day, statistics
indicate that one-third of all accidents and roughly half of all
traffic fatalities occur at night. Though that might seem
counterintuitive, this peculiarity can largely be traced to a
driver’s visual acuity, which is reduced by 70 percent at
night. Simply put, the human eye is not adapted for nocturnal vision, so drivers must take steps to improve their vision
and visibility within their vehicle. The following are just a
few of the ways drivers can do just that.
• Replace headlight bulbs every two years. Addressing
automobile lighting is one of the most underperformed
vehicle maintenance tasks. In fact, many drivers do not
even consider replacing their headlight bulb until it fails.
But as a bulb ages, its light output is drastically reduced by
a host of factors, including humidity, electrical resistance
and filament fatigue. Industry experts recommend replacing headlight bulbs every two years, and motorists should
add bulb inspection and/or replacement to their list of routine maintenance tasks.
• Upgrade your headlight bulbs. Perhaps the best way
drivers can improve nocturnal vision is to upgrade their
headlight bulbs. Philips, a leading innovator of automotive
lighting, makes a series of upgrade headlight bulbs that put
out more light and create longer beam patterns than the
standard halogen bulb found on many of today’s vehicles.
Philips even produces a special headlight bulb for motorcycles that not only improves vision but creates a unique
orange reflection that helps distinguish the motorcycle
from other vehicles on the road.
• Inspect and replace wiper blades when necessary.
Similar to headlight bulbs, wiper blades are often
overlooked when it comes to vehicle maintenance. But
many motorists would be shocked to discover that industry
experts recommend wiper blades be replaced at the change
of each season or on three month intervals. That’s because
the longer a wiper blade is on the vehicle, the more brittle
and ineffective it becomes, putting drivers and passengers
at risk. Drivers can also purchase inexpensive treatments
Philips X-treme Power headlight bulbs put 80 percent
more light on the road, which helps increase reaction
time to avoid accidents.
designed to make the rubber more pliable and extend the
life of the wipers. In addition, when inspecting or replacing
wiper blades, top off the windshield washer fluid as a precautionary measure.
• Install daytime running lights, or DRLs. While many
drivers will admit to having trouble driving at night, just as
many, if not more, might also concede they struggle with visibility at dusk or even during the day. But DRLs operate
whenever the vehicle is moving, helping to increase visibility during the day and at dusk. While most DRLs are based
off the car’s headlights, causing the headlights to wear down
over time, the new LED DayLight DRLs from Philips operate on their own and use high powered LEDs which draw
less power from the vehicle. These LEDs are incredibly
bright for maximum visibility in daylight and have a much
longer life expectancy than headlight bulbs.
• Clean interior glass and mirrors. Another way to
improve visibility is to clean interior glass to remove any
film buildup that can reduce vision and create a hazy reflection from the sun. This is especially important for motorists
who smoke in the car, as this film is typically thicker. When
addressing interior glass, take the time to adjust all side and
rearview mirrors properly to cover all of the views around
the car, especially the blind spots.
More information about Philips Upgrade Headlight Bulbs
is available at: www.philips.com/automotive. For
Philips LED DayLight Daytime Running Lights go to:
Oh, ‘deer’: Get the facts about this road hazard
Deer can be found all over the country, and healthy deer
populations are increasingly creeping into residential and
urban areas seeking food and mates thanks to developments
encroaching on deer habitats. This increases the chances of
motorists having run-ins with deer on the roadways around
their homes and places of business.
State Farm® estimates that 2.3 million collisions between
deer and vehicles occurred in the United States during the
two-year period between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2010.
That number marks a 21.1 percent increase in the number of
incidents from statistics gathered just five years earlier. West
Virgina and Iowa rank first and second, respectively, as the
states where a driver is most likely to collide with a deer.
Vehicular crashes can cause serious damage to a car and
even be fatal. According to National Geographic, the average white-tailed deer can stand at 6-feet-tall and weigh
between 100 and 200 pounds. That animal stands as a formidable foe should a collision with a car occur. It may seem
like one is hitting into a barrier or an impenetrable object.
There are certain tips that can reduce the chances of a deer
and vehicle collision.
• Keep in mind that deer are most active between 6 and 9
p.m. At dusk, they may be harder to see.
• Take note of posted deer crossing signs. These are
erected in places where deer are most actively crossing.
• Deer generally travel in herds. So drivers who see one
deer should expect to see others nearby.
• Use highbeams when driving at night to better illuminate
rural areas.
• Drive slowly in areas where deer are likely to be, such as
by open fields.
• Car-mounted deer whistles are not a reliable deterrent
• Do not swerve erratically to avoid a deer collision. This
can result in a collision with another car and increase risk of
injury and damage.
In areas where deer collisions are prevalent, extra insurance
coverage may be needed on vehicles. Therefore, drivers should
speak with their insurance providers.
Learn the proper way to rotate tires
Rotating tires is something that many people do religiously while others put off the task until they notice a problem with the car’s performance. An important component of
vehicle upkeep, rotating tires not only extends the life of the
tires, but it also helps ensure safer driving.
There are some who are unfamiliar about how and when to
rotate the tires and the benefits this
routine maintenance can provide.
This also could be a factor in why
people procrastinate on tire rotation.
One may not realize that the
front tires often bear the brunt of
the work in vehicle operation.
Making turns or parallel parking
requires the force of the front tires.
Vehicles that are front-wheel-drive
have front tires that supply the main
motive power for the vehicle,
according to Edmunds.com. The
frequent use and requirements of
the tires produces friction on the
road, and eventually heat. The front
tires wear more quickly than the rear tires. In order to extend
the life of the tires, drivers must periodically rotate them.
Tire rotation essentially means moving the front tires to the
rear and vice-versa. This means the front passenger side tire will
be moved to the back passenger side position. The same thing
will occur on the driver’s side. There’s a reason for this. Tires
have unique wear patterns that are related to the suspension and
the alignment. Should you switch the tires in a criss-cross pattern, it could affect the alignment and lead to a bumpy ride.
These scenarios can depend on the vehicle and the tire,
however. Certain vehicles have tires of different sizes in the
rear and front, which prevents front-to-back rotation. There
are also cars that have tires that are unidirectional, where
they are specific to one side of the
car and asymmetrical, with a tread
pattern that changes from the
inside of the tire to the outside.
Though these tires are rare, you
can’t rotate them at all.
Tire rotation is adviseable to preserve balanced handling, traction and
even outer tire wear. But how often
should it be done? Many tires should
be rotated every 3,000 to 5,000 miles,
even if they don’t show signs of wear.
Some service stations will do tire
rotation at the same time that oil
changes are done because the car is
already on a lift.
Don’t expect tire rotation to correct wear problems due to
worn mechanical parts or as the result of improper inflation
pressure. Rotation is not the only tire maintenance task to do
to ensure safe tires.
Consult with a service station to determine the best pattern
for rotating your tires and the ideal time interval between
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On the road again
Ready your car for spring and summer travel
The return of warm weather marks
the return of road trips for millions
of motorists across the country.
Whether going to the beach or heading off to parts unknown, hitting the
open road with the windows down is
a time-honored tradition for drivers
of all ages.
But such road trips can prove disastrous if drivers don’t take the right
steps to prepare their vehicles for
spring and summer travel. The following are a few ways motorists can
ensure their car is ready to tackle the
open road.
• Tighten things up. Loose parts,
such as exhaust clamps, license plates,
and interior trim panels, can create rattles and cause parts to get damaged or
fall off. What’s more, rattling sounds
can be a noisy nuisance for drivers
and passengers alike. Permatex
Threadlockers can be used to keep the
nuts and bolts from coming loose and
save parts replacement costs. They also
have a threadlocker for plastic fasteners, which vehicle manufacturers have
grown to rely on more and more.
• Wash your car. A newly washed car
not only looks good, but it’s often much
safer as well. Take your car to a car wash
a few days before the trip and have the
vehicle thoroughly cleaned. A thorough
cleaning will remove dirt and grime from
the vehicle’s undercarriage, not to mention unsightly bird droppings and water
spots or salt stains leftover from winter.
• Fix foggy headlight lenses. Many
spring and summer road trippers travel
at night so their days can be spent soaking up some sun at the beach or lake.
Before heading off for parts unknown,
motorists should inspect their headlight
Motorists should perform routine maintenance before beginning a spring or summer road
trip, such as fixing windshield
nicks (l.) and restoring cloudy
headlight lenses.
lenses to reduce risk of accident. If the
lenses are yellowed and foggy, that’s
likely because salt, ozone and road
debris has dulled them to a point where
vision can be impaired, placing drivers
and their passengers at risk. But foggy
lenses don’t mandate an expensive
headlight replacement. In fact, The
Permatex Lens Renew Kit makes it
easy to clean up and polish dull headlight lenses and restore them to like
new condition, improving your car’s
lighting and driver visibility.
• Check the battery. Over time, battery terminals and cables will start to
corrode. Such corrosion will eventually
eat away at the battery’s parts, creating a
bad connection that sooner or later will
require the battery be replaced. Check
the battery before your trip and remember to clean the battery periodically as
part of routine vehicle maintenance.
• Address windshield nicks and
bullseyes. Nicks and chips in the
windshields are a common problem
regardless of the season. But such
damage is most prevalent in the winter because of the extra debris that’s
on the road. These nicks and cracks
need to get fixed as soon as possible
to prevent them from spreading and
resulting in the need for a windshield replacement. Oftentimes,
motorists can address nicks and
bullseyes in their own driveways in
a matter of minutes. For example,
the Permatex Bullseye Windshield
Repair kit is tailor made for do-ityourselfers, requiring no heating or
mixing while ensuring each repair is
virtually undetectable.
More information on easy repairs
that you can do yourself can be found
at www.permatex.com.
Higher safety ratings for compact cars
Increased demand for small, safe and
affordable vehicles has driven manufacturers to develop compact cars that
are safer than in years passed.
Smaller cars getting safer
Data from the 2012 Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety top safety
picks show that mini and small cars are
increasingly showing up on the list for
high crash ratings in terms of frontaloffset crash, side-impact test that mimics a collision with an SUV or pickup,
a rollover roof-strength test and a rearimpact evaluation test. The testing
measures vehicles on a rating from
good to poor. Top picks on the list
earned “good” in all categories.
Because manufacturers realize that
people are largely gravitating toward
smaller cars for their lower price tags
and fuel efficiency, they are putting the
effort into designs that boost safety.
Larger cars still win on safety.
Although much has been done to
improve small cars’ safety, the fact
remains that they often can’t compete
head to head with a large car. A car’s
weight and resistance to roll over are
key factors in the safety of a vehicle.
Small cars do not roll over often, but
they do have a less substantial curb
weight. Therefore, physics will prevail.
If a small car comes in contact with a
large one, chances are the smaller car
will be subjected to more damage.
IIHS findings on average say that the
type of car with the least amount of driver deaths per million registered passenger vehicles is a very large car. The
next safest car is a midsize SUV. Small
cars come in with a high number of
deaths. Small pickup trucks have the
highest rate of fatalities thanks to their
high propensity for rollover.
Despite higher test crash ratings,
smaller cars cannot compete with
larger cars receiving similar ratings.
However, they can still offer ade-
Giving a car as a gift
or charitable donation
Despite what the holiday commercials will have you believe, very few
people can afford to wrap up a car with
a big bow, park it in the driveway and
wait for the surprised recipient to “ooh
and ahh” over the gift. While this type
of auto gifting is rare, people do give
cars on a regular basis. Usually it is an
older car that they are donating or giving to a friend or family member.
There are certain things you need to
know when giving a car away. These
things include potential tax-related
issues and the proper way to go about
signing over the car to another person,
which could vary depending on where
you live. A trip to the motor vehicle
department could shed some light on
where you need to begin. The first step
often begins with a bill of sale.
A bill of sale is usually required for
any transfer of your car that is not to a
direct family member. In this instance,
a hand-written “sales” note may be
adequate. In other cases a more formal
bill of sale is generally needed, which
will also require some other things:
• A recent appraisal of the vehicle to
determine its value.
• The original title of the car.
• The price you would be asking for
the car that is being waived.
• An indication of the mileage.
• Any other requirements as spelled
out by motor vehicles where you
The same process applies for donating a car to a charity, and a copy of the
bill of sale can be used to deduct the
gift properly when it comes time to file
your taxes.
When filling out the bill of sale,
expressly indicate that the car is
granted as a gift. Keep in mind that the
car “buyer,” the person to whom you
are donating the vehicle, also may still
have to pay sales tax on the car. The
sales tax varies by state or province, or
the DMV may exclude the tax or
charge a straight tax based on the Kelly
Blue Book value of the car.
While a bill of sale is usually required,
it’s also likely that, when donating a car
to charity, you need to sign the back of
the title and give that title to a representative of the charity. Again, this is something that is best verified by the DMV to
ensure you are doing it correctly.
Though not a donation or gift,
assuming the payments on another person’s car also comes with some guidelines. Assuming payments often occurs
because the existing owner can no
longer afford the vehicle payments or
are looking for a new car and simply
want to help out another person in the
process. There are situations where
people take over the payments of a car
from another, assuming the lease or
loan. While not a gift in the traditional
sense, it is a way to help a person out
who may not be able to afford a new
car in another manner.
Before beginning, the person who
will be assuming the payments will
need to contact the financing company
to find out if they will agree to this scenario. A down payment may be necessary. A credit check and verification of
a credit score is usually on the list of
things that will be verified. As with a
regular loan, the financing company
may require an approval period, which
could take some time. If the recipient is
approved, the existing owner will have
to sign paperwork that transfers the car
lien into the recipient’s name.
Giving the gift of a car to another
person or as a charitable donation
requires navigating the proper channels of paperwork and procedure. The
best resource is to speak to someone
who works at the Department of
Motor Vehicles directly to guide you
through the process.
Tips for motorcycle beginners
The Toyota Scion xB is one of the top safety picks for in small cars.
quate safety for good drivers. For
those in the market for a new vehicle.
Here the IIHS top picks for 2012 in a
variety of categories.
Fiat 500
Ford Fiesta
Honda Fit
Toyota Yaris hatchback 4-door
Small cars
Chevrolet Cruze
Chevrolet Sonic
Chevrolet Volt
Ford Focus 4-door
Honda Civic 4-door
Honda CR-Z
Honda Insight
Hyundai Elantra
Kia Forte sedan
Kia Soul
Lexus CT 200h
Mazda 3
Mini Cooper Countryman
Mitsubishi Lancer
Nissan Cube
Nissan Juke
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Nissan Leaf
Scion tC
Scion xB
Scion xD
Subaru Impreza
Toyota Corolla
Toyota Prius
Volkswagen Golf 4-door
Volkswagen GTI 4-door
Midsize cars
Audi A3
Buick Verano
Chevrolet Malibu
Chrysler 200 4-door
Dodge Avenger
Ford Fusion
Honda Accord 4-door
Hyundai Sonata
Kia Optima
Subaru Legacy
Subaru Outback
Toyota Camry
Toyota Prius v
Volkswagen Jetta sedan
Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen
Volkswagen Passat
Volvo C30
Men and women who ride motorcycles often insist there’s nothing quite
like riding. Riding a motorcycle not
only can be exhilarating and provide a
feeling unlike any other, but it also
requires patience and discipline for
beginners and veteran riders alike.
Riding a motorcycle carries a certain
stigma of being dangerous, but that’s
only the case for inattentive riders who
forget their responsibilities while on
the road. The following are some tips
that beginners can put to use when hitting the open road.
• Gear up and stay geared up.
Beginners often don’t have a problem
gearing up, as many are understandably
nervous and therefore less likely to
leave necessary equipment in the
garage. Always wear a helmet, motorcycle jacket, riding gloves, riding boots
and motorcycle pants when riding.
Many riders fall into the trap of wearing less gear once they become more
acclimated to their bike. But gear
should be worn whether you have been
riding for 50 days or 50 years.
• Prepare, prepare, prepare.
There’s no such thing as too much
preparation when riding a motorcycle.
Motorcycle training guides are valuable tools of information for beginners.
These instructional videos or reading
materials provide insight into all
aspects of riding a motorcycle, and no
beginner should get on a motorcycle
without first watching or reading a
motorcycle training guide.
• Practice away from other
motorists. Don’t start riding on a freeway until you have grown accustomed
to riding the bike at slow practice
speeds you’ve honed away from other
motorists. Empty parking lots make
ideal training grounds. Once you feel
comfortable in the parking lot, gradually move to roads without heavy traffic, such as residential neighborhoods.
Once you’re truly comfortable on the
bike, then you can hit the highway.
• Go to class. A motorcycle safety
course might be a requirement in some
areas but not required in others.
Regardless of whether or not it’s
required, take the class anyway. Such
classes might cost a few hundred dollars, but their value far exceeds that
cost. A safety course prepares riders for
anything they might encounter on the
road. Just be sure to enroll in a class
that teaches accident evasion.
• Get the right size. Some riders
envision themselves at the helm of a
big hog, while others see themselves
tooling down the highway on an ultralight bike. But don’t go to extremes in
either direction, at least not with your
first motorcycle. A heavy bike might be
more stable, but it’s also harder to control. A lighter bike might feel easier to
control, but it’s best to wait until you
have had a year or two of experience
before buying bikes often referred to as
“crotch rockets,” which are sporty and
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Dogs and diabetes
How to recognize if your dog has diabetes
Exotic pets are often not a safe choice for the average pet owner.
Exotic animals don’t make great pets
Many people have a fascination
with owning a wild, dangerous, exotic
pet. Maybe it’s bragging rights among
friends, or simply having something
that few other people have. Too often
injuries or fatalities occur at the paws
of an exotic animal, and in many
countries, including the United States
and Canada, it is illegal to own exotic
animals as pets outside of a wildlife
facility or without special licensing.
Despite their popularity, the following pets can also be dangerous.
Outlawed exotic pets don’t always
have big claws and fangs. Turtles, for
example, are banned as pets because of
their propensity to carry salmonella bacteria. Since 1975, the FDA has placed on
a ban on the sales of turtles at a size of 4
inches or smaller. Prior to the ban,
researchers linked an estimated 250,000
cases of salmonellosis in children and
infants to pet turtles. That’s because the
small turtles are irresistible to children,
and the smaller the size the higher
propensity the child may try to put the
turtle in his mouth. Salmonella can also
be contracted when handling a turtle and
then putting fingers in the mouth.
Big Cats
Despite being well trained and experienced in tiger handling, illusionist
Roy Horn of the long-running partnership Seigfreid and Roy was mauled by
one of his show tigers in 2003. Big cats
can be very dangerous to people,
thanks in large part to their unpredictability. Also, the sheer size of a big
cat can cause injuries to a person even
if the cat is simply playing.
The size of a big cat also makes it a
challenge to find a cage or enclosure to
house the animal. In addition, feeding
the animal is no small task, as larger
cats need substantial amounts of food to
remain healthy and strong.
Cats routinely engage in territory marking with urine and engage in combative
behavior to defend their space. They produce a lot of waste that will also need to
be cleaned. Pet tigers have been involved
in several fatalities and maulings throughout the United States and Canada in recent
Constrictors and venomous snakes
are generally outlawed due to the
propensity for injury or death.
Constrictors, as their name suggests, are
equipped to constrict, or squeeze their
prey to death through suffocation.
Anacondas and boa constrictors can
reach 13 feet or more in length and sev-
eral inches around in body width. At this
size, they can easily subdue a pet, child
or even an adult caught by surprise. In
the summer of 2009, a 9-foot albino
python owned by a Florida man got out
of his cage and strangled his girlfriend’s
2-year-old daughter to death.
Venomous snakes have powerful
venom that can cause anything from neurological problems to paralysis and
extreme pain to death. These snakes are
formidable foes in their natural environments, and with the high chance of biting
an owner, they are not safe to have as pets.
Too often snakes that become
unmanageable are simply let out into
the wild where they can become neighborhood menaces.
Monkeys and chimps
With a close resemblance to humans,
and the frequency with which chimps are
used in movies or trained for shows, people think that these animals are safe to own.
In reality, chimpanzees can engage
in pack hunting behavior. They have
been known to be very aggressive,
feeding on other monkey species and
even turning cannibalistic to earn a
higher social standing.
Monkeys have large fangs and have
been known to attack people and
humans. Some species also throw feces
and spray urine, something many people would not look for in a pet.
In 2010, Charla Nash from
Connecticut was mauled by a 200pound chimpanzee. Nash lost much of
her face and her two hands in the
attack. She no longer has eyes because
they were removed due to infection.
Crocodiles and alligators start out as
small, almost cute hatchlings, which are
attractive to pet owners. But these animals grow very quickly in a short period
of time. They can reach several feet in
length and hundreds of pounds.
These animals have very powerful
jaws capable of doing quite an amount
of damage. It is not beyond reason for a
croc or gator to drag a person into the
water, where survival is difficult. They
participate in a “death roll,” where they
spin like a top in the water, ripping and
tearing flesh apart from prey.
Despite their size, these reptiles can
charge rather quickly on land. In water
they ambush hunters and can quickly
surprise an animal or person.
Exotic animals might seem like a
potentially interesting pet but the safety
risk associated with these animals is
simply too great to welcome such pets
into a home.
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The family pet is typically a beloved and cherished member of the family, one whom no one wants to see succumb to
sickness or illness. But just like their human counterparts,
pets can get sick, and it might surprise some pet owners to
learn their pets aren’t immune to diseases most commonly
associated with human beings.
One such disease is diabetes, which is a common disease in dogs regardless of breed. Just like with human
beings, diabetes in dogs does not discriminate. However,
females with the disease outnumber males by three to one,
and Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Miniature
Schnauzers, Keeshonden and Poodles have the highest
incidence of diabetes.
When a dog gets diabetes, it’s because of inadequate
insulin production by the islet cells in the pancreas. For some
dogs, this inadequate insulin production is due to a genetic
predisposition. Insulin is essential for dogs, as it allows glucose to pass into the cells, which metabolize the glucose for
energy. When a dog is insulin deficient, it will develop high
blood sugar, known as hyperglycemia, as well as a high urine
sugar, a condition also known as glycosuria. When glucose
is present in its urine, a dog will urinate more frequently,
which sets off a chain reaction that includes dehydration and
an urge to consume large amounts of water.
In addition to those symptoms, some additional signs a
dog might have diabetes include:
• Weight loss
• Increased appetite
• Recurrent infections
• Intolerance of exercise
While any of the aforementioned symptoms can be indicative of diabetes, their presence does not necessarily mean a
dog is diabetic. For example, a dog that cannot hold its urine
might be suffering from a bladder or kidney infection instead
of diabetes. When a dog is exhibiting issues with regards to
urination, the best thing an owner can do is consult a veterinarian immediately.
If diabetes is not diagnosed early on, then a dog might
Even man’s best friend is not immune from diabetes.
exhibit different symptoms once the disease has begun to
advance. Cataracts, for instance, are common in diabetic dogs,
so if a veterinarian determines a dog has cataracts, then he or
she might want to test a dog for diabetes if no such test has been
conducted already. Symptoms of advanced diabetes include:
• Lethargy
• Loss of appetite
• Vomiting
• Dehydration
• Weakness
• Coma
If left untreated, diabetes in dogs can be devastating to the
animal. Diabetes affects all organs, and dogs who aren’t
receiving treatment for diabetes are more susceptible to
infections and are likely to develop neurological problems as
well. Enlarged livers are also common in dogs who have diabetes but aren’t receiving treatment.
More information about canine diabetes is available at
Is a pet right for your home?
Nearly half of all households in the United States and
Canada have a pet. Sometimes a pet can be just what a family needs, but other times families soon discover their households simply don’t make an ideal place for a pet.
Pets end up in shelters for a number of reasons — most
through no fault of their own. Moving is the primary reason
family pets are relinquished, according to the National
Council on Pet Population Study and Policy. Other top reasons include the cost of pets, animals given as gifts, lack of
time to care for the animal, or an animal that grew larger than
expected. One way to avoid this scenario is to accurately
assess if a pet is right for the home.
Prospective pet owners who carefully analyze the pros and
cons of pet ownership are more likely to keep their pet for the
long haul. Certain animals require more care than others, and
knowing about this can prevent the heartache of having to give
away a pet. Here are some questions to ask yourself.
• What type of pet am I considering? A horse has different needs than a hamster. Learning about what each pet
requires can narrow down the choices. For example, if you
live in an apartment, horse ownership may be out of the
question, unless you can afford to rent a stall at a nearby stable. If a landlord does not allow a dog, but accepts a cat, that
further eliminates your options. Also, think about if you want
a pet that will be affectionate or one that will just be fun to
watch and low-maintenance.
• Why do I want a pet? Some people get pets for misguided reasons, such as it’s the thing all their friends are
doing or it’s trendy. Others get pets to replace a pet lost to illness or simply because they desire companionship. Make
sure the reasons you are getting a pet are the right ones and
you are more likely to have positive outcomes. Otherwise
you could be setting yourself up for a poor situation.
• Do I understand the responsibility associated with pet
ownership? Getting a pet is not like getting another piece or
furniture or the latest gaming system. This will be a new
member of the family that will impact all the other members
living in the house. They need to be involved in the decision.
Depending on the pet, there will need to be daily care, such
as providing food, changing litter boxes, taking the pet for
walks, and providing affection. If you have a busy schedule
that keeps you away from home for much of the day, a
higher-maintenance pet, like a dog, may not be the best idea.
It won’t be fair to the animal or yourself. Perhaps a bird or
small companion animal would be better.
• Am I financially capable of having a pet? Just like
having a child or another dependant, pets cost money. If you
are currently facing a money crunch, it’s probably best to put
off getting a pet. Expenses include food, veterinarian visits,
gear, cages, and grooming.
• What is home life like? If your home is especially boisterous or on the small size, this should eliminate certain pets
from the discussion. Many animals are skittish around crowds
and may scatter and hide. They may also act out and bite or
scratch if they feel overwhelmed by a lot of people. As for the
space in the home, is it enough to fit a pet comfortably?
• Do you prefer a young animal or one older? Many
people flock to puppies and kittens or young rabbits. While
there are advantages to raising a young animal, an older
pet has advantages as well. These include an animal that
may have had prior training and housebreaking. Also, their
personalities are developed and you’ll know the adult size
of the animal. Older animals are likely past the mischief
stage and may be less likely to chew furniture or cause
damage around the house.
Taking care of a pet is not a decision to make lightly.
Asking important questions will enable you to make informed
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Finding a reliable pet sitter
You’ve booked your next vacation or
trip to visit family living far away, and
have made all of the arrangements necessary. Except for who will watch your pet.
Millions of people across North
America are pet owners. Although
hotels and restaurants are increasingly amenable to pets, a good number of people prefer the convenience
of leaving their pet home. Pets also
seem to thrive in their familiar home
environments. Keeping a pet home
will require the services of a pet sitter to care for the animal.
At one time pet owners had limited
options when it came time to arrange
care for their animals while they
were away. The choices were
between asking a friend or family
member to take on the task or dropping the pet off at a nearby kennel.
Today, however, trained professionals are available to watch your pets,
some of whom will even come
directly to the house. Hiring a pet sitter is nothing to take lightly, as it
requires finding reputable sitters who
are thoroughly vetted.
When the time comes to hire a pet
sitter, you want to ensure the person is
trained and professional. After all, this
person will be coming into your home
and caring for your pet. Develop a
series of questions you want
answered, including a list of references, proof of bonding and insurance
coverage, and fees. You also want to
ensure that the pet and the sitter will
get along together.
If you don’t know where to begin the
search, you can hire a National
Association of Professional Pet Sitters
pet sitter. These individuals have been
trained in various pet sitting scenarios
and should prove more than capable.
Once you choose a sitter, there are
ways to make the experience easier for
all involved.
• Make a list of the things your pet
enjoys and does not enjoy.
• List any food allergies or problems
with the animal.
• Provide recent veterinarian check-up
information and a basic health history.
• Communicate your needs and wants
about the animal.
• Establish rules for the home. Set up
the home for the arrival of the sitter,
including leaving out any necessary
supplies for the pet.
• Clean up the house to prevent any
hazards to the pet, including unplugging
wires from outlets, and closing doors to
rooms that are off-limits.
• Leave a radio on to simulate comforting noises in the house and keep the
pet calm.
• Be sure the garbage is empty so that
curious pets don’t get inside and eat
something they shouldn’t.
The most important thing is the connection you have with the pet sitter and
how well you both communicate about
the needs of the animal. If you feel
comfortable with the person, this
improves the chances of a positive pet
sitting experience.
Common hamster illnesses
Many children cannot resist the cute, furry faces of hamsters, and these lovable rodents are often the first pet a child
is allowed to have. However, in some pet stores, hamsters are
raised in close proximity with others and, if not properly
cared for, can be susceptible to illness. It’s only after the pet
is brought home that symptoms may appear.
Responsible pet owners must be aware of any behavioral
changes a hamster exhibits, as such changes might be indicative of illness. This can be challenging, as hamsters are largely
nocturnal and only awaken after children go to bed at night.
Hamsters are susceptible to colds. A swollen nose and
fluffed fur around the nose from wiping nasal discharge on
bedding are some symptoms of a cold. The hamster may also
be constipated or suffer from diarrhea.
Just like cats and dogs, hamsters also may host fleas and
lice, which they often catch from other pets in the house. You
may have to look carefully to determine if the hamster has
these pests.
One of the biggest concerns of hamster owners is a condition called wet tail. Potentially fatal, wet tail is a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes extreme diarrhea. Stress
is a big contributor to the onset of wet tail, which is why it is
common among young hamsters getting acclimated to their
new homes. Changes in diet, habitat and unsanitary living
conditions also contribute to wet tail. Wet tail is best handled
by a veterinarian who can offer medical advice for the best
treatment possible.
Not all diarrhea is indicative of wet tail. A diet heavy in
fruits and vegetables those foods might cause diarrhea. If the
diarrhea disappears when these foods are removed from the
hamster’s diet, wet tail is likely not the culprit.
To those who have never crated or
even owned a dog, the idea of crate
training often comes off as cruel and
unusual punishment. In reality, many
dogs have a natural need for a denlike enclosure, and a crate satisfies
that need, improving the animal’s
life as a result.
Crate training can also help dog
owners housebreak a puppy. Dogs are
reluctant to soil their sleeping places,
so it can be easier to housebreak a pet
that is crated than one that isn’t. In
addition, crating prevents destructive
behavior and helps owners rest easy
when they leave the home, knowing
that their pet is safe in its crate and not
likely to be exposed to harmful items
around the house, be it household
cleaning products or electrical wires.
While the benefits of crating are
numerous for owner and dog alike, that
doesn’t mean the process will be easy.
In fact, many dog owners struggle to
get their best friends acclimated to their
crates. When starting a dog’s crate
training, owners should consider the
following tips.
• Crate the dog from the get-go. The
earlier crate training begins, the more
successful it is likely to be. Dogs who are
crate trained when young often see their
crates as a respite or a place to relax and
hangout throughout the rest of their lives.
So the earlier owners get started the
more likely pets are to enjoy their crates.
• Never use the crate as punishment. A dog will likely never grow
accustomed to or comfortable with its
crate if the crate is used as a punishment for bad behavior. Owners are not
buying the crate to act as a jail cell, but
rather a comfortable and safe place for
dogs to spend time during the day or
sleep in at night. Using a crate as punishment, even if it’s only done once,
could make it impossible for owners to
ever acclimate their pets to a crate.
• Make the crate a place the dog
will want to be. A crate doesn’t have to
include just a bed and some bowls. A
crate can be furnished with some of the
dog’s favorite toys and treats so the
crate is a place the dog loves. When
placing such items, place on the opposite side of the door opening. Because
dogs will spend most of their time in
the crate when their owners are away,
it’s best to only place larger toys that
cannot be swallowed to prevent choking and illness. Inspect the crate daily
to ensure no items have been chipped
or broken and become choking hazards
as a result.
• Don’t isolate the crate. A crate
should not be isolated from everyone in
the home. When home, move the crate
so the dog and crate are near you. If
watching television in the living room,
carry the crate into the room with you.
This makes the crate more attractive
and won’t instill feelings of isolation in
the dog when it’s in the crate. In addition, the dog won’t associate the crate
with feelings of isolation when you’re
not home. At night, place the crate near
your bed to further ensure the dog does
not feel isolated when in its crate.
• Don’t place the dog in the crate
unless absolutely necessary. A dog
should want to enter the crate. Owners
who push or pull their dogs into the
crate may find their dog will always be
reluctant to enter the crate. If bed time
arrives and the dog is genuinely reluctant to enter the crate, then owners
might want to gently place the dog
inside the crate. In such instances,
make sure the crate is close to your own
bed so the dog does not mistake being
placed in the crate as punishment.
When crate training a dog, owners
can easily grow frustrated. However,
the more a dog associates the crate with
positivity, the easier the process
How to litter box train your bunny
Rabbits can make wonderful pets. If you want a pet but
cats and dogs aren’t for you, a rabbit can fill the void.
Although rabbits may need less interaction than a dog, they
still require a lot of responsibility and commitment. The task
of caring for a rabbit is made easier by training your rabbit to
use a litter box.
Many people have pet rabbits, and after a little training,
these animals can roam the house just like other pets.
Contrary to popular belief, rabbits aren’t dirty. In fact, this
reputation often stems from inattentiveness and lack of
cleaning on the part of the pet parent. In reality, rabbits are
“prey” animals who will instinctively keep a clean home to
prevent the build up of odor that would reveal the location of
their dens to potential predators.
Rabbits can be raised as social animals that like to interact
with human handlers. Whether a rabbit is sociable is not
breed-specific. This is largely dependent on the care and handling from the owner. Raised from a kit, rabbits can be
accustomed to handling any human interaction and be very
companionable pets. What deters many people from rabbits
is unfamiliarity with one as a pet and the prospect of many
droppings being left around the house.
Unlike other mammals, rabbits and other lagomorphs produce two types of droppings. Fecal pellets are the commonly
found ones that are round and dry. These can be seen in piles
and can number in the dozens. Rabbits will also produce
cecotropes, which are formed in a region of the rabbit’s
digestive tract. These cecotropes contain important nutrients
and healthy bacteria and fungi, which are essential to the
health of a rabbit. Rabbits will eat the cecotropes as they exit
the body. Fecal pellets are not usually eaten and are the droppings that will need to be contained.
It has been said that rabbits can often be litter box trained
and seldom have accidents outside of the box. Rabbits prefer
one or two places to put their waste. To start the process you
will need patience.
• Buy a litter box that the rabbit can easily access. Standard
cat litter boxes often work well.
• Confine the rabbit to one room and place the litter box in
the cage with the rabbit.
• Observe where the rabbit likes to relieve itself. If it’s in
the litter box, this is a great first step. If not, simply move the
litter box where the rabbit is doing its business.
• Once successful, give the rabbit a little bit of freedom at
Tips to make crate training
your puppy easier
a time. Try letting the rabbit out of the cage in the confined
room with the litter box nearby.
• Gradually give the rabbit more freedom, luring it to the
box with treats and praise. Make sure the pet is aware of the
litter box’s location.
• If the bunny continually makes mistakes, it could be a
signal that the rabbit would like the litter box moved to a different spot closer to where the accidents are occurring.
• It may take locating a few boxes around a large space
before a rabbit grows acclimated to using the litter box. Then
you can gradually reduce the number of boxes.
Rabbits can take time to catch on to litter box training, and
even when you’re fairly certain the training is complete, you
may still find a few pellets left near the box.
Some people overlook rabbits as pets because of fear of
the unknown and the idea of droppings all over the home.
However, rabbits can make affectionate and agreeable pets
for families that have the time to devote to training.
Rabbits can be trained to use a litter box, making it
easier to care for this cuddly pet.
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Pets can coexist peacefully
Despite cartoon caricatures of dogs
preying on unsuspecting cats, and cats
hunting down birds and small rodents,
these stereotypical adversaries can, and
often do, live quite peacefully together.
Many different types of animals can
live together in one household, but it is
up to the pet owner to ensure each animal gets his or her share of attention
and proper care.
In 2009, a shelter dog
named Lily made headlines in Iowa when
she accepted a litter
of orphaned kittens
and began nursing
them and mothering them as if
they were her
pups. There have
been tales of a
baby horse raised
by a goat, and
even a leopard caring for a baby
baboon after having
fed on the baboon’s
mother. Although few
might advocate welcoming a
baboon and a leopard into a family
residence, this tale does illustrate
that the misconception of survival of
the fittest, or animosity among
species, may be somewhat
With this in mind, individuals who
are worried about commingling pets in
the house may not need to fret so much.
This is especially true if they pay attention to some pointers about making the
household peaceful for all.
• The unifying force in peaceful
coexistence is the establishment of
boundaries among animals. In the wild,
certain species accept a dominant or
submissive place within the social
order. In the household, things may get
out of hand if two animals are trying to
exert their dominance over territory. It
is important to establish yourself as the
pack alpha or leader. If pets view you
as the one in charge, they may be less
likely to fight for position with another
pet. Establish your dominance early on
and reinforce it from time to
• Although all animals
have the potential to be
territorial, males, particularly
intact, are more
likely to exhibit
territorial aggression. Therefore,
for the health and
safety of your
pets, consider neutering. You may
also want to consider females of the
breed, particularly
because females tend to
be less territorial than males.
• Ensure each animal has his or
her own sleeping and living areas so that
they will feel safe.
• Always supervise animals that
are commingling. Even if they are
getting along at one point, they may
not always be so friendly.
• Wash your hands in between handling
one pet or another. Sometimes the scent of
another animal can trigger aggression.
• Keep your pets in separate rooms
when you are out of the house, unless
they have a proven track record of
behaving among one another.
Remember the adage ... “While the cat’s
away, the mice will play.”
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Top-rated vacuums to clean up pet hair
To ensure the health of aquarium fish, it is vital to prevent overgrowth
of algae in the fish tank.
Controlling aquarium algae
Budding aquarium enthusiasts crop
up every day. They’re anxious to head
to the pet store and pick out a tank,
accessories and the fish they hope will
thrive in a new environment.
While it’s important to know which
fish can cohabitate and the proper pH
and temperature to keep the tank, one
important lesson all people who have
an aquarium should know is how to
keep algae in check.
Algae is a naturally occurring plant
life that creates a green film on the
inside of tank walls and on plants and
decorations inside the aquarium. Just
like any other plant, algae requires a
few things to thrive, including light,
water and food.
Although a certain amount of algae
in the water can be a beneficial food
source for some species of fish, an
overabundance can be unsightly and
take over the aquarium.
There are a few reasons why algae
can grow unchecked.
• Algae needs light to survive.
Leaving a fluorescent aquarium light on
too long or placing the tank in the path of
direct sunlight can cause algae to bloom.
• Introducing new live plants to a
tank, which already may have algae
spores hitching a ride on them, can
introduce more algae to the tank.
• Overfeeding fish can provide extra
food sources for algae, as can failing to
frequently clean the filter.
• Water with a high level of nutrients
will provide a lot of food for algae.
Understanding why algae forms will
help you control it effectively. To start,
get in the habit of cleaning the tank frequently. Once a week may be acceptable, depending on size. Scrape the
walls of the aquarium down and
remove the artificial plants and other
accessories and routinely wash in clean
water. Change the filter cartridge when
it has become overly soiled.
Perform water changes. Change 10
to 15 percent of the water in the
aquarium every week, which will
remove toxins and algae spores.
When you change the water, use a
suction tube to “vacuum” out debris
lodged in the gravel.
Limiting the food sources for algae
can also keep it in check. Feed a scant
amount of food to fish, only enough
that they can eat in 5 minutes or so. If
there is extra food floating around,
remove it. The food contains phosphates and other nutrients that can be a
delicious meal for algae. Keeping live
plants in the tank is another way to
limit nutrients. Live plants will use
many of the nutrients that algae thrive
on. Having less present means less
algae and healthy aquarium plants.
Routinely test the levels in the water
and know what the proper levels
should be. In addition, know what
your water levels are right out of the
tap. Test for phosphates and nitrates.
Use phosphate removers or another
water source, if necessary.
Make sure to include algae-eating
fish in the aquarium. Those like the
Plecostomus (Pleco) will scour the tank
for algae.
Position the tank out of direct sunlight, which will just fuel algae growth.
Also, go sparingly on the use of an
aquarium light in the tank.
Algae often grow in warm temperatures, as is common with tropical
aquariums. Keep the temperature of
the water at the minimum level
allowed for the breed of fish, and be
sure the tank is not by a radiator or
additional heat source.
Keeping aquarium fish can be an
enjoyable hobby and a nice focal point
for a room. To ensure the health of the
tank, be sure to manage the amount of
algae in the aquarium.
Bathing cats the right way
One of the main reasons people are
drawn to cats as pets is the feline’s selfsufficiency. In many respects, cats can
take care of themselves and be very
content with minimal pampering from
their owners.
Many cats do not require bathing
as a dog would. They are very capable of grooming themselves and
keeping clean. In the rare instance a
cat gets very dirty or gets a substance stuck in its fur that it cannot
remove, then the cat might need a
Few have escaped the dramatic stories of attempting to bathe a cat, where
the cat usually escapes, not before
scratching or biting the person trying to
do the bathing of the animal. Many cats
are skittish around water, or anything
like a bath is foreign to them.
But there are ways to minimize the
stress of bathing a cat — both to the
animal and the person doing the
bathing. Here are a few pointers.
• Brush the cat’s fur before bathing
to remove any tangles or matting.
• Place something that the cat can
grip with its claws into the bottom of
the bath or sink. An old piece of window screen or something similar could
provide traction.
• Fill the sink or tub up with warm
water before handling the cat to minimize skittishness.
• Place cotton in the cat’s ears to prevent bath water from entering.
• Slowly lower the cat into the water
and watch for his or her response.
Soothing words and some petting could
calm nerves.
• Wash the cat with a gentle shampoo
designed for cats, starting at the neck
and working backward. Thoroughly
rinse all of the shampoo, otherwise it
can cause skin irritation.
• Use a towel to pat the cat dry.
Avoid vigorous rubbing or new matting
may occur.
• Place the cat in a warm room until
he or she is dry. Keep the cat away
from other pet cats until the bathed cat
is calm and once again ready for social
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People regularly welcome pets into their homes. While
they may love the affection and companionship the animal
provides, they may not enjoy the fur and dander left behind
inside the house.
Around 65 percent of American households have one or more
pets, according to the American Pet Product Association. while
Statistics Canada notes that around half of all Canadian households have a pet. New generations of pet owners are willing and
able to pay top dollar for premium services and products. They
may be more interested in a vacuum that is designed for pet fur
than previous generations.
It can take no time at all for fur to accumulate on a rug or
upholstered furniture. The nature of pet fur allows it to get
stuck in the fibers and it is not easily removed, and it can be
time-consuming to use sticky rollers to clean up pet hair.
Some pet owners actually have resorted to running a wire
slicker brush or shedding blade over rugs and furniture to
collect the hair. Many find that pet fur is more easily cleaned
with a vacuum designed specifically for that purpose or one
that boasts strong suction power.
Several vacuums get high ratings for their ability to clean up
pet fur and smaller debris easily and efficiently. For those in the
market for a new vacuum, consider these brands and models.
• Dyson Animal, various models: Dyson claims to be an
innovator in vacuum design, with cyclonic power that
ensures the vacuum will not lose suction. Based on the popularity of their regular upright vacuums, Dyson created a line
of vacuums specifically designed for pet hair. Most generate
the strongest suction at the turbine head and feature a brush
bar for capturing and sucking up fur and dander. The one
downside to these products is the price tag. Dyson vacuums
are on the high end of the cost spectrum at around $500.
• Hoover Platinum Collection Bagged and Bagless: Hoover
didn’t specifically set out for this to be a pet fur vacuum, but
through personal use, many people found it to be one of the
more effective vacuums at collecting pet hair. Ranging
between $200 and $300, these vacuums are moderately priced.
• Eureka Boss Smart Vac: This vacuum was designed
with strong bristling action and powerful suction that will go
Your precious pooch may be leaving unsightly fur
behind on your carpet.
a long way toward trapping pet fur. It is also lightweight and
easily maneuvered. At around $200, it is also among the
more affordable options.
• Miele Bolero Upright Vacuum Cleaner: This product
features an Active HEPA filter and spring-loaded, selfsealing dust bags that are ideal for those hoping to keep
dust and dander out of the air. Air passes through a
multi-layered HyClean™ bag and a secondary electrostatic filter. This is the most expensive vacuum on the
list, at around $800.
• Hoover Tempo Widepath: At around $80, this is one of
the least expensive vacuums, and also very lightweight. A
powerful, 12 amp motor provides ample suction and doesn’t
leave anything behind. The smaller profile makes the vacuum easy to maneuver under and around furniture.
Removing pet hair can be easier when you invest in a powerful suction vacuum. Comparison shop retailers to find the
best deals on these highly rated vacuums.
Did you know?
In North America, horses are largely companion animals and diligent workers. But thanks to a quietly lifted ban on
funding horse meat inspections, horse meat could now be more readily available for consumption. In November
2011, U.S. Congress lifted the ban, which was initiated in 2006, in a spending bill President Barack Obama signed
into law to keep the government afloat until mid-December. Although there currently are no horse slaughter operations in the United States (the last one closed in 2007), the lifted ban makes it possible for start-up operations to
begin, albeit amidst protests from animal activists. In a statement, the USDA said that if a slaughterhouse were to
open, the agency would conduct inspections to make sure federal laws were being followed.
How to reduce bird cage messes
Birds are a popular pet among individuals who want a
low-maintenance, self-sustainable pet. A pet bird can add
ambiance to a home with its chirping and whistling.
After their initial purchase price, birds are relatively inexpensive pets, with a monthly feeding cost of less than $5 in
many cases. Birds are less susceptible to parasites than other
animals, and they require much less personal space than a
dog. Birds also live long depending on the species. Large
macaws can live up to 70 years.
But as soothing as a bird’s sounds can be and easy as such
birds might be on the pocketbook, few people enjoy the
cleanup required when a bird makes a mess in its cage. Birds
tend to make a significant mess around their cages. But this factor needn’t detract from the joy and companionship of having
a bird. Understand that many species of birds play a role of distributing seeds in their native habitats. That means that they are
prone to dispersing seeds through uneaten food supplies and
droppings. While you cannot change natural habit, you can
employ a few strategies for minimizing bird messes.
• Purchase a cage with ample room. Give your bird
ample space to flutter around or hop from perch to perch.
This may encourage him from sticking to the perimeter of a
small cage, which could mean more errant spilled seeds or
feather debris. A comfortable bird is less likely to suffer
from stress and additional feather loss. Some people prefer
creating a multi-room bird “apartment” for their birds. This
is essentially one large and one smaller cage that the pet can
travel between, providing a change in environment.
• Look for a cage with traps for messes. Some cages
have metal skirts around the base and extend out to catch
debris that escapes the bars of the cage. It’s also possible
to retrofit your birdcage with a few supplies from the hardware store. Clear plastic can be purchased and cut to size
to cover the sides of the cage. Attach with a stainless steel
S-hook or other hardware that will be nontoxic to the bird.
These barriers will prevent a lot of mess but also allow
plenty of visibility.
• Line the bottom of the cage. From newspapers to sandpaper-type liners, there are many materials to line the bottom
of the cage. Stack several on top of one another, so you need
only slip out the top sheet and eliminate a good portion of the
mess. You also may want to consider a flexible, thin, plastic
cutting board to put in the bottom. This liner can be rinsed
off and even run through the dishwasher for sterilization.
• Protect the floor. Some of the debris will still
escape the cage regardless of an owner’s preventive
measures. Place a piece of vinyl carpet runner under the
cage and include extra material around the perimeter.
This way you can simply pick up the mat and clean off
or sweep off the mess. They also can be hosed off outside and allowed to dry.
• Invest in a carpet sweeper. A nonmotorized carpet
sweeper can pick up any seed hulls and feathers that are on
the carpet. The noise won’t frighten the bird into making an
even bigger mess.
• Stock up on extra food and water dishes. This way
you can simply take out the soiled dishes and replace
with fresh food and water, so you can wash the dirty
ones on your own time. The same concept can be applied
to wooden perches, which may take a while to dry after
washing. Rotate toys and wash them frequently, ensuring they’re sanitary and that the bird will not get bored
with the same items.
• Look for a contained feeder. Buy a clear, acrylic box
feeder that keeps hulls contained, eliminating seed scatter so you have less wasted seed and less mess to cleanup.
De-hulled varieties of seed are also available.
Birds can make wonderful companion animals, especially when pet owners take the extra steps to minimize
messes in and around the bird cage.
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Benefits to pet adoption
Finding a dog-friendly play space
By: Jeanette Smerina
More than 11 years ago — ready to become a pet parent
— I stepped into the local animal shelter and perused the
cages to find a new companion animal. The shelter was filled
to capacity, mostly with pit bulls and other large, abandoned
dogs. In one cage I saw a mound of mismatched fur and realized I had found “the one.”
It was difficult to describe the dog’s appearance. He
looked like a cross between an Ewok and Gizmo the gremlin. He was around 3 months old and had been found wandering the streets alone. His cage was marked “terrier mix,”
so there was no way to fully know the breed or how large the
puppy would get.
Despite the way he started his early life, the dog wagged
his tail and was very affectionate to me. I decided to take the
plunge and adopt him. Eleven years later, my dog Happy is
still a part of my family. I can say I’ve never met a more laidback, well-behaved and relatively trouble-free dog — and
that comes with a history of many pet dogs growing up and
my father even having owned a pet shop at one point. If I
ever choose to welcome another dog into my home, I’m certain I’d go the adoption route.
Pets in shelters
According to the ASPCA, many of the shelters operating nationwide are independent organizations, and there
is no reliable means of tabulating just how many dogs
enter their shelters every year. It is estimated that anywhere between 5 to 7 million companion animals enter a
shelter every year. Approximately 3 to 4 million are euthanized, and only 15 to 20 percent are returned to their
owners due to microchip or tag identification. The
National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy
says most of the pets are destroyed simply because there
is no one available to adopt them.
There are a number of reasons that dogs end up in shelters. Many times, a family moves and may not be allowed
to have pets in their next residence. Sometimes older people can no longer take care of a dog, especially if they’re
moving into a nursing home. Some individuals simply
misjudge the size or the responsibilities of having a dog
and surrender the animal.
Dog adoption
Despite the vast numbers of available pets in shelters,
there are many people who continue to think a better dog is
one that comes from a pet store or private breeder, especially
if a pure breed is desired. Keep in mind that 25 percent of
dogs who enter local shelters are purebred, according to the
NCPPSP. There are actually many benefits to choosing the
adoption route.
• Save a life. There may be no better incentive to adoption than knowing you are saving the life of a dog that
would probably be on its way to being destroyed. You are
also saving the life of another animal that can then fit into
the shelter and get a chance for a forever home. Even pets
that are in no-kill shelters may not have the quality of life
that they deserve. Often they are kept in cages, and some
actually develop personality ticks due to the lack of exercise and confinement.
• Save money. Purchasing a pet can cost a substantial
amount of money. Depending on the breed, some dogs
can cost hundreds of dollars, or even thousands of dollars for designer breeds. When adopting a pet, fees help
Adopting a pet can be both beneficial to the animal
and to the family.
shelters mitigate the cost of feeding, housing and providing healthcare for shelter animals. Your adoption fee,
in part, helps all of the animals in the shelter.
Furthermore, the shelter often vaccinates and neuters the
animals prior to adoption, helping to save you the cost of
these procedures.
• Get a healthy dog. Some dogs at shelters do have special care requirements, but the majority of them are
healthy pets. The shelter will have a veterinarian examine
and treat the dogs, helping to ensure you start out your
life together on a healthy note. This is not always the case
with dogs purchased from a breeder. Some pet stores get
their dogs from high-turnout puppy mill breeders, where
overbreeding may result in genetic problems with puppies
or illness from overcrowding.
• Get a dog that’s already trained. Shelters house
animals of all age groups; therefore, if a housetrained pet
is desired, or one that has learned some commands, you
may be in luck. Older dogs may not need the same
amount of preliminary training that can make puppies
frustrating. Older dogs may have outgrown boisterous
behaviors, making them ideal for quiet households.
• Get a pet that is already socialized. Having spent some
time in a shelter interacting with other animals and people
may offer a measure of socialization to the pets. It may be
easier to acclimate the dog to a new environment. He or she
also may be very grateful for having been adopted and be
especially devoted.
There are many advantages to adopting a pet from an animal shelter. To find area shelters, look in the classified section of your local newspaper. National Web sites, such as
PetFinder.org, can also help men and women narrow down
the list of available pets.
Technology might help keep tabs on your dog
Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics, “Baby
we were born to run,” may be just as
applicable to dogs as it is to people.
Some dogs simply are born to run and
have a tendency of getting off the leash,
escaping a fenced-in yard, and eventually getting lost.
There are a number of reasons why
dogs may run, including boredom,
reproductive drive, predatory drive,
and even rewards like discarded food in
a neighbor’s trash can.
For dogs that are prone to running
away, the results can be getting hit by
a car, ending up in a shelter or being
taken in by a neighbor or someone
else. You may never be reunited with
the dog.
Many people use tattooing or an
imbedded microchip to track down
errant pets, but there also may be
another option.
Dog and cat owners are increasingly
turning to GPS technology to help
locate their pets should they become
lost. The dog wears a special collar
with a homing device that feeds information to the pet owner’s computer,
smart phone or another device. The
location of the animal can be shown on
a map, and the device even provides
directions, if necessary. Then the person can keep track of the animal’s
whereabouts. The devices also may be
able to send alerts should the pet go
outside of the target zone established.
While these devices can help locate a
dog or cat that’s on the go, there are
ways to help reduce the risk for roaming in the first place.
• Neuter your pet to reduce his
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propensity for roaming to find a new
mate. Neutering dogs also helps reduce
the pet population at kennels.
• Have a sturdy fence to contain the
dog. Dog runs and chains are not as
• Provide stimulation for the dog so
that he or she will not be tempted to
roam out of boredom.
When people welcome a dog into the
home they try their best to offer proper
care to the new pet. Food, companionship and veterinary visits are important
components of dog care, but exercise
must also be a priority. Finding a dogfriendly park or safe area for pets to
play is essential to ensuring your fourlegged friend is as happy as possible.
Dogs, particularly young dogs, need
exercise to ward off any potential bad
behavior. Dogs that have not had a
chance to run or play and get their
energy out may engage in destructive
behavior, such as digging holes in your
prized garden, chewing at the arms of
the sofa, or barking and whining.
The amount of exercise a dog needs
depends on breed and age. Some sporting breeds that are used to being on the
move all the time may need more than a
guard dog who has grown acclimated to
less time on the go. Puppies will generally need more exercise than geriatric
dogs. In general, most dogs need 30 to
60 minutes of exercise per day, so that
5-minute jaunt around the block isn’t
adequate. Therefore you have to plan for
exercise another way, like taking a dog
to the park or another place for socialization and exercise.
Some of the best exercise a dog can
get is to run around freely in an open
space. Add in the opportunity to frolic
with other dogs and you can have a day
made in doggy heaven. The trouble is,
not all places allow pets, and if they do,
they usually have leash laws. You’ll
have to find out which, if any, parks in
the area allow off-leash fun for your pet.
For people with access to the Internet,
finding a dog park or play space could be
a few clicks away. Web sites like
www.dogpark.com, www.doggoes.com
and www.dogfriendly.com enable you to
search your specific area to find locations that allow dog fun in the U.S. and
Canada. Also, word-of-mouth tips from
neighbors and friends can yield options
on the best places to take dogs for exercise and play off-leash.
Another option is to investigate offseason beaches. The open space by the
shoreline is a prime place to let dogs run.
While dogs may not be allowed on the
beach during peak beach season, once
the season ends the restrictions may lift.
Check with the parks authority or
another official before bringing a dog on
the beach. You don’t want to risk a fine.
Busy, working pet parents are
increasingly turning to doggy daycare
options for their pets. These facilities
enable you to drop off your pet for the
day where they can exercise and socialize inside of a contained indoor or outdoor space. These facilities may have
strict requirements for dogs, including
proof of updated vaccination records
before a dog is allowed inside. They
also aren’t free. But with different activities and courses, plus the opportunity
to play with other dogs, many people
rave about doggy daycares.
If you cannot find an off-leash place
near your home, think about other ways
to exercise your pet. Take him or her
along when you bike ride or go for a run.
Hiking trails can provide a variety of
sights and varied terrain that can stimulate a dog in many ways. Some dogs are
water-lovers and will enjoy a day splashing around in the pool, lake or stream.
Tossing a ball around the backyard is
another way to exercise your pet.
Keep in mind some guidelines when
exercising a dog.
• Don’t go out in extremely hot or cold
weather or you risk injury or illness.
• Good exercise will use both mental
and physical capabilities.
• Having a smaller dog does not necessarily mean the dog needs less time to
exercise. Many toy breeds risk obesity
because of lack of exercise in the home.
• A tired dog is often a well behaved
• If a dog is not prone to good behavior around other dogs, it’s best to avoid
these social situations. Otherwise you can
end up in a fight with another dog owner.
• Some dogs excel at agility training, which also can be a good form of
Don’t underestimate a dog’s need for
exercise. Finding a safe place for your
pet to run free is an essential component
of good health.
Get the facts about FIV
Cats are delicate animals that
make great pets. Individuals who
choose to open their hearts to feline
companions should know many
things about how a cat operates. In
addition, cat owners should know
about potential diseases that can
affect cats, including feline immunodeficiency virus. or FIV.
FIV is commonly referred to as
feline AIDS because it is a condition
very similar to the disease that
afflicts humans. Essentially, FIV is a
widespread viral infection that preys
on the immune system of cats. It is
caused by the same type of
Lentiviruses that trigger AIDS in
FIV devastates a cat’s immune system, making the animal unable to
combat other common diseases and
infections. It is often these secondary
diseases that prove fatal. According to
the Cornell Feline Health Center,
approximately 1 to 3 percent of
healthy cats are infected with FIV in
the United States. The virus is passed
most often through bite wounds and
scratches. Therefore, outdoor cats
have a greater risk of infection than
indoor ones.
Stages of Infection
FIV has a few different stages it
goes through before the cat may
become visibly ill.
1. After the virus enters the bloodstream, it can cause infections, fever
and swollen lymph nodes
2. Stage 2 is generally the dormant
stage, and many cats appear as if
they’re completely healthy. This stage
can last for months or years.
3. The final stage is the “terminal”
stage. The cat may suffer from diseases that are often chronic and turn
out to be fatal in on e y ear.
Complications may include anemia,
infections of the gums and mouth,
cancer and skin disorders. The cat
may also suffer neurological problems that cause seizures, problems
maintaining balance and dementia, as
well as behavioral changes like inappropriate elimination.
There is no cure for FIV, so the
best way to keep a cat healthy is to
prevent initial infection. It is important to keep the cat inside with other
FIV-negative cats. Before introducing a new cat to the household, it
should receive a diagnostic test.
Kittens can contract FIV from an
infected mother through birthing or
from drinking its mother’s milk. So
kittens should not be exempt from
FIV testing.
Vets will conduct an initial test to see
if there are any positive FIV antibodies.
False positives are common, so the vet
may conduct a separate test later on to
try to confirm the results.
There are some medications that can
help treat the secondary illnesses that
result from FIV. As the cat’s immune
system deteriorates, more aggressive
treatment may be needed. Vets often
engage in a long-term management
plan for dealing with FIV.
To learn more about FIV, consult
with your veterinarian.
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Corned beef and cabbage a
staple of Saint Patrick’s Day
Soup makes the perfect meal on a cold day
Few foods provide instant relief from the great outdoors
like soup. The effect a hot bowl of soup can have on an icy
day include instant warmth and a fully stomach. Two benefits that help provide energy for a person.
Those who need some culinary assistance to brave the
winter weather should consider the following recipe for
“Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup” from The Culinary
Institute of America’s “Book of Soups” (LebharFriedman Books).
Chicken Broth
Makes about 2 quarts
Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup
Makes 8 servings
tablespoons unsalted butter
celery stalk, coarsely chopped (about 1⁄2 cup)
onion, coarsely chopped (about 11⁄4 cups)
garlic clove, minced (about 1⁄2 teaspoon)
leek, white and light green parts, coarsely chopped
(about 3⁄4 cup)
sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1⁄3-inch thick
(about 3 cups)
quart chicken broth (see box)
tablespoons creamy peanut butter
cinnamon stick
cups heavy cream, divided
tablespoons molasses
Salt, to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
cup peanuts
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Melt the butter in a soup pot
over medium heat. Add the celery, onion, garlic, and leek.
Stir to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are
softened, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add the sweet potatoes, broth, peanut butter, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are
fully tender, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, spread the peanuts in a single layer in a pie pan.
Toast the peanuts in the oven until light brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
Shake the pan occasionally and watch carefully (nuts can burn
quickly). Let the peanuts cool, chop coarsely and set aside.
Remove the cinnamon stick and discard. Puree the soup
and strain it. Return the soup to the soup pot and place over
low heat. Add 1⁄2 cup of the cream. Season with salt. Keep
warm, but do not boil.
Combine the remaining cream with the molasses, nutmeg
and a pinch of salt. Whip until stiff peaks form.
pounds stewing hen or chicken parts or meaty
bones, such as backs and necks
quarts cold water
large onion, diced (about 11⁄4 cups)
carrot, diced (about 1⁄3 cup)
celery stalk, diced (about 1⁄2 cup)
to 6 whole black peppercorns
to 4 parsley stems
bay leaf
sprig fresh thyme
teaspoons salt, or to taste
Place the chicken and water in a large pot (the water
should cover the chicken by at least 2 inches; add more
if necessary). Bring the water slowly to a boil over
medium heat.
As the water comes to a boil, skim any foam that
rises to the surface. Adjust the heat once a boil is
reached so that a slow, lazy simmer is established.
Cover partially, and simmer 2 hours, skimming as
often as necessary.
Add the remaining ingredients. Continue to simmer,
skimming the surface as necessary, until the broth is fully
flavored, about 1 hour.
If using hen or chicken parts, remove them and cool
slightly. Dice or shred the meat, and reserve to garnish the
broth or save for another use. Discard the skin and bones.
Strain the broth through a fine sieve or cheeseclothlined colander into a large metal container. Discard the
If you are using the broth right away, skim off any fat
on the surface. If you are not using the broth right away,
cool it quickly by transferring it to a metal container (if
it’s not in one already) and placing the container in a sink
filled with ice-cold water. Stir the broth as it cools, and
then transfer it to storage containers. Store in the refrigerator, up to 5 days, or in the freezer, up to 3 months. Label
and date the containers clearly before putting them into
the freezer.
Serve the soup in heated bowls, garnished with the
whipped cream and chopped nuts.
Adding a tasty twist to traditional long-grain rice
Enjoy experimenting with different cuisines at the dinner
table? This recipe for “Chicken and Vegetable Clay Pot
Rice” from Andrea Nguyen’s “Into the Vietnamese Kitchen”
(Ten Speed Press) allows home chefs to bring a taste of
Vietnam into their homes.
Chicken and Vegetable Clay Pot Rice
Serves 3 or 4
teaspoon salt
teaspoon white pepper
teaspoon sugar
teaspoons light (regular) soy sauce
tablespoons oyster sauce
pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1⁄2inch cubes
tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
small yellow onion, finely chopped
cup chopped celery (pea-sized pieces)
cup chopped carrot (pea-sized pieces)
to 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted,
trimmed and chopped into pea-sized pieces
cup frozen peas, preferably petite peas, thawed
cups long-grain rice
cups chicken stock
1. In a bowl, stir together the salt, white pepper, sugar, soy
sauce, and oyster sauce. Add the chicken and use chopsticks
to mix well. Set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over
medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 1 minute, or
until fragrant. Add the celery, carrot and mushrooms and
continue to sauté for about 3 minutes, or until half cooked.
Add the chicken and sauté gently for 3 to 4 minutes, or until
the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the heat, stir in
the peas and set the pan aside.
3. Rinse the rice and let it drain for 10 minutes in a sieve
positioned over a bowl. Meanwhile, bring the stock to a near
simmer in a small saucepan and then cover to keep it hot.
4. In a heavy-bottomed 5-quart Dutch oven or similar pot,
heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat.
Firmly shake the sieve, holding the rice to expel any water,
and then add the rice to the pot. Stir constantly with a large
spoon for about 3 minutes, or until the grains are opaque and
feel light. Add the stock and expect dramatic boiling.
Immediately give the rice and stock a big stir, then lower the
heat to medium so the contents simmer and cover the pot.
Put your ear by the pot and you will hear gentle bubbling.
5. During the next 5 minutes, encourage the grains to
absorb the stock and
cook evenly. To do
this, periodically
remove the lid, give
the rice a big, quick
stir, and then replace
the lid. Stir the rice 3
times, usually about
30 seconds after the
steam plumes begin
shooting from under
the lid. The rice will
first swim in stock
and then progressively become less
easy to move. Small craters will form on the surface, too.
When you stir the third time, the rice should stick a bit to the
pan and most of the stock will have been absorbed.
6. Uncover and add the vegetables and chicken and any juices
from the skillet, distributing them evenly over the rice. Replace
the lid and continue cooking for 10 minutes longer. Uncover
and stir the contents, scraping the bottom to combine all the
ingredients. Replace the lid, remove from the heat and let the
rice sit for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
7. Fluff the rice with chopsticks or a fork and then spoon
it into 1 or 2 serving bowls or platters. If a little crust has
formed on the bottom of the pot, scoop it out and serve the
shards separately for anyone who enjoys the crisp, nutty
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Saint Patrick’s Day is rife with tradition. Community parades, Irish music
and, of course, a few adult beverages
are just a few of those traditions, each
of which helps make Saint Patrick’s
Day a beloved holiday for men, women
and children regardless of their heritage
or religion.
Another Saint Patrick’s Day tradition is cooking and enjoying Irish cuisine, including Corned Beef and
Cabbage. For those entertaining a few
friends this Patty’s Day, consider the
following recipe for “Corned Beef and
Cabbage in Guinness” courtesy of
Corned Beef and Cabbage
in Guinness
Serves 8-10
pounds flat cut corned beef
12-ounce bottle Guinness
draught (do not use Guinness
stout as it will turn bitter)
medium yellow onion, peeled
and cut into wedges
garlic cloves, minced
bay leaf
teaspoon ground cinnamon
to 1⁄4 quarter teaspoon ground
cloves (to taste)
teaspoon ground allspice
teaspoon ground black pepper
head cabbage, cut into wedges,
rinsed and drained
medium white potatoes, peeled
and quartered
to 2 pounds carrots, peeled
and cut into 3-inch pieces
1. Rinse corned beef under cold
water and pat dry.
2. In a Dutch oven, or other large pot
with cover, brown corned beef well on
all sides over high heat.
3. Pour Guinness over the meat and
add enough water to just cover the
4. Add the onion, garlic, bay leaf,
cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and pepper
to the pot.
5. Bring pot to a boil and skim off
any foam.
6. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover
pot and simmer for 3 hours.
7. Add carrots, then potatoes and
then the cabbage wedges to the pot.
8. Cover pot, and continue cooking
until meat and vegetables are tender
(about 20 to 30 minutes).
9. Remove meat and vegetables to
warm serving platter/dishes, leaving
the cooking liquid/sauce in the pot.
10. Over high heat, bring the cooking liquid to a boil, and cook until the
amount of liquid is reduced by half
(about 10 minutes).
11. Slice the corned beef; serve with
the vegetables and the sauce on the
Note: Corned beef should always be
sliced across the grain.
It’s always the right time for pizza
Few people have yet to fall in love
with pizza. For those who want to try
their hand at this beloved dish, consider
the following recipe for “Italian
Sausage, Potato and Ricotta DoubleCrust Sfincuine” from Maxine Clark’s
“Pizza, Calzone & Focaccia” (Ryland,
Peters & Small).
Italian Sausage, Potato and
Ricotta Double-Crust Sfincuine
Makes 1-double crust pizza
recipe Sicilian pizza dough
(see below)
tablespoons extra virgin olive
oil, plus extra to glaze
ounces potatoes, peeled and
finely diced
onions, finely chopped
teaspoon dried oregano
ounces fresh Italian sausage,
teaspoon fennel seeds
tablespoons chopped fresh sage
ounces ricotta
Sea salt and freshly ground
black pepper
rim around the edge. Dot with the
sausage and cheese. Season. Brush the
edge with water and lay the remaining
circle on top. Pinch and roll the edges to
seal. Brush with a little olive oil. Make 2
slashes in the center of the pie, then slide
onto the rimless baking sheet.
Working quickly, open the oven
door and slide pizza and paper onto the
hot baking stone or baking sheet. If you
are brave, try to shoot the pizza into the
oven so that it leaves the paper behind
— this takes practice!
Bake for 10 minutes, then carefully
slide out the baking parchment. Bake the
pizza for a further 25 to 30 minutes, or
until the crust is puffed up and golden.
Remove from the oven and brush with a
little olive oil. Let stand for 5 minutes
before serving. Eat hot, warm or cold.
Sicilian Pizza Dough
Makes 2 thin-crust pizzas
Place a testo, baking stone or a large,
heavy baking sheet on the lower rack of
the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 F for
at least 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a skillet and add the
potatoes and onions. Cook for 5 to 10
minutes until the onion starts to color
and the potato is soft. Stir in the
oregano. Season, then transfer to a
bowl to cool. Fry the sausage briefly in
the same skillet, breaking it up with the
back of a fork. Add the fennel seeds
and sage and fry for a couple of minutes — but not too long or the meat will
toughen. Season well, then let cool.
Uncover the dough, knock out the air
and divide into two. Roll each piece into
a thin, 12-inch circle directly onto baking
parchment. Spread the potato and onion
mixture onto one circle, leaving a 1⁄2-inch
cake compressed yeast
Pinch of sugar
cup hand-hot water
cups fine Semolina flour
teaspoon fine sea salt
tablespoon olive oil
tablespoon freshly squeezed
lemon juice
In a medium bowl, cream the compressed yeast with the sugar and beat in
the hand-hot water. Leave for 10 minutes until frothy.
Sift the flour and salt into a large
bowl and make a well in the center.
Pour in the yeast mixture, olive oil and
lemon juice. Mix until the dough comes
together. Add more water if necessary
— the dough should be very soft.
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