Weather the Storm28 May 2020
(Family Features) Surging spring temperatures can bring volatility that translates into major weather events. The 2020 storm season could see above-average probability for major hurricanes hitting the United States coastline and the Caribbean, according to the annual Colorado State Tropical Meteorology Forecast.
As those in the paths of seasonal storms know, property damage and power outages come with the territory. Being prepared for weather disasters and power outages is critical to protecting property, productivity and well-being.
Assess external threats. Before storm season arrives, take inventory of potential problems outdoors that could be exacerbated by bad weather. For example, trees may need trimming if limbs threaten power lines, the house or other structures on your property. Also examine the house for necessary repairs, such as loose guttering, shutters or shingles that may need to be secured and torn screens, all of which can worsen in heavy weather and cause more damage.
Another consideration is items that could topple in heavy winds, such as barbecue grills or lawn furniture. When possible, look for ways to secure these items so they don’t take flight, aren’t destroyed or cause additional damage.
Assemble emergency resources. An overnight storm is no time to discover your flashlight batteries are dead or you don’t have the right size batteries to replace them. Making time to update your stash of storm supplies before weather hits can save some frustration and help ensure you’re prepared to safely wait out the storm.
In addition to replacing flashlight batteries and checking that they’re in good working order, if you don’t have a light source in every room it’s a good plan to place flashlights or lanterns in rooms where you may need to be able to see in an emergency. The idea is to give everyone in the family the ability to illuminate their path and move safely through the house no matter where they are when the lights go out.
Part of your preparation should also include restocking your first-aid kit. Some items in the kit, like ointments and medications, can expire so you’ll need to replenish anything you’ve used and double-check that the contents are still safe to use. If you don’t already have them, be sure to add a battery-operated radio and a portable power bank so you have access to news updates and can charge a low phone battery.
Take inventory of your non-perishable food items to ensure you have plenty of options on hand in the event power stays off through one or more meals. You may also want to stockpile some books and board games for convenient access to entertainment while your power is down.
Make power plans. Because power outages area near certainty during severe weather season, reliable electricity is a necessity for powering work, school and daily life. An appropriately sized standby generator can ensure your home power doesn’t miss a beat when faced with seasonal storms. Because standby generators are fueled by natural gas or liquid propane, the tank doesn’t require regular refueling with gasoline which means no last-minute trips to the gas station when your generator runs out of gas.
“Standby generators can power an entire home, and because they are wired to the home’s electrical system so there is minimal interruption,” said Brian Northway, Briggs & Stratton field service manager. “When a storm knocks out power, the generator automatically takes over to deliver power, allowing you to take care of family and accomplish what you need to rather than worry about the power outage.”
Generators with a smart power management system, such as the line of units offered by Briggs & Stratton, can help manage high-wattage appliance priority. These power management technologies allow a homeowner to prioritize the power they need during an outage at a lower upfront acquisition cost.
Learn more about standby power options at powernow.com.
How Big of a Generator Do You Need?
It can be easiest to determine which type of home standby generator system is right for your household by first thinking about what items your family needs to remain functioning normally during a power outage. The number of home appliances or electrical loads you want to power will determine the size and cost of the generator.
There are generally three different types of standby generators, which vary based on how much your home needs to power:
Select Circuit Home Generators: Power Essential Appliances
A select-circuit generator system is a cost-effective way to power your home’s basics to get you comfortably through a power outage. These units can power up to 10 electrical loads in your home, including the fridge, some lights, television and the microwave.
Managed Whole-House Power Generators: Smaller, More Power
A standby generator equipped with a smart power management solution gives your family the benefits of whole-house power with a smaller, more affordable generator system. These home generator systems can power all your electrical needs, including up to two air conditioners.
Whole-House Generators: Maximum Backup Power Needs
Whole-house standby generator options are typically used as backup power solutions for extra-large and luxury homes. They power an array of high-wattage appliances, from double ovens to hot tubs with commercial-grade performance.
Published with permission from RISMedia.
Preventing Mosquito and Tick Bites in Your Yard28 May 2020
It’s summer–the season to fire up the grill, fill up the cooler, and invite family and friends over for a picnic or other get-together in your home’s yard. To stay safe and keep the outside fun going, however, you’ll want to avoid inviting two potential visitors: mosquitoes and ticks.
Too many pesky insects can ruin a good time, and although most bug bites are annoying but harmless, some mosquitoes and ticks can spread dangerous diseases, such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Fortunately, you can take steps to help prevent mosquitoes and ticks from joining a yard party this summer, and to keep you and your family safer.
Make Your Yard Less Attractive
Mosquitoes lay eggs in or near standing water. To help eliminate mosquito breeding grounds, either empty and scrub, turn over, or cover outside items that hold water—including buckets, planters, birdbaths, flowerpots and trash containers—once a week. Also throw out things you don’t use that can collect water, such as tires or old toys. Add chemicals that kill mosquito eggs, called larvicides, to water that won’t be used for drinking and can’t be covered or dumped out, such as a pond or fountain.
Because many types of ticks live in areas with woods, bushes or high grass, it’s important to keep your home’s yard tidy. Clear bushes, tall grass and fallen leaves from around your home, and mow the lawn often. Also use wood chips or gravel to separate your patio or play equipment from wooded or brushy areas. For even more protection, consider applying tick control products to your yard. You can do this yourself or hire a pest control company.
Use Insect Repellent
Insect repellent makes it harder for mosquitoes and ticks to find you. Use a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered repellent with one of these ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. Always follow the product instructions, and don’t use repellent on babies under two months old; instead, cover their stroller or car seat with mosquito netting. If you have pets, talk with your veterinarian about the best way to protect them from ticks.
Cover Up Your Skin
To keep mosquitoes and ticks away from exposed skin, cover up as much as possible. When practical, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks. Wearing light-colored clothing will also allow you to see ticks more easily.
Check for Ticks
After spending time outside, check everybody in the family, including pets, for ticks. Search the entire body, especially under arms, in and around ears, behind knees, around the waist, and in and around hair. If you find a tick, remove it right away. Use tweezers—not your fingers or a hot match—to properly remove the entire insect. Talk to a doctor if you or a family member gets sick after a tick bite.
Published with permission from RISMedia.
The 4 Steps to Food Safety28 May 2020
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this country’s food supply is among the safest in the world. However, certain bacteria and pathogens can contaminate food and cause foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning.
Although most healthy people will quickly recover from a foodborne illness, some can develop chronic, severe or even life-threatening health problems. To keep your family safer from food poisoning, the FDA recommends following four simple steps: clean, separate, cook and chill.
Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets.
Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
Consider using paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, launder them often in the hot cycle.
Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, and scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush.
With canned goods, clean the lids before opening.
Separate raw meat, seafood and eggs from other foods in your shopping cart, grocery bags and refrigerator.
Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, seafood and eggs.
Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw items unless the plate has been washed in hot, soapy water.
Don’t reuse marinades used on raw foods unless you bring them to a boil first.
Color and texture are unreliable indicators of safety. Using a food thermometer is the only way to ensure the safety of meat, poultry, seafood and egg products for all cooking methods. These foods must be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria.
Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. Only use recipes in which eggs are cooked or heated thoroughly.
When cooking in a microwave, cover food, stir and rotate for even cooking. If there’s no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking. Allow standing time, which completes the cooking, before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.
Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating.
Use an appliance thermometer to ensure the refrigerator’s temperature is consistently 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and the freezer’s temperature is at least 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood and other perishables within two hours of cooking or purchasing. Refrigerate within one hour if it’s above 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside.
Never thaw food at room temperature, such as on the countertop. There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, cold water and the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or the microwave should be cooked immediately.
Always marinate food in the refrigerator.
According to the FDA, signs of foodborne illness include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache and body ache. If you think you or a family member has a foodborne illness, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Published with permission from RISMedia.
Pop-able Snack Hacks27 May 2020
(Family Features) If spending more time at home than usual has you reaching for snacks more often, keep some quick, flavorful options on-hand to help fuel you and your family throughout the day when hunger pangs strike.
One versatile pantry staple that can fit a variety of snack cravings: popcorn. With no artificial additives or preservatives, light and airy popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories, non-GMO and gluten free, making it a sensible option to enjoy one handful at a time or sprinkled with seasonings that satisfy your taste buds. A whole-grain food, popcorn has energy-producing carbohydrates and fiber, which can help keep you satisfied longer. Plus, it's simple enough to make that kids can help in the kitchen by popping it themselves or adding toppings.
Whether you're craving something sweet, salty, spicy – or nearly anything else – freshly popped popcorn can serve as the perfect base ingredient to simply mix in your favorite toppings or create more unique tastes by combining a variety of herbs and spices. For example, consider these hacks to add easy flavor:
Pop it on the stove. Stovetop popping allows you to choose your toppings. Cover the bottom of a pot with a thin layer of oil and popcorn kernels, shake to coat, cover with a lid then turn on the heat. Once popping has slowed to 2-second intervals, remove from heat and add toppings.
Add some sweetness. When you're in the mood for something sweet, add a dash of salt and a pinch of sugar (or more to meet your taste) to a bowl of popcorn. Or add sugar to the pan before it’s popped, like this recipe for Sugar Corn.
Melt some butter. For a classic taste treat, melt a little butter and pour over your bowl of popped corn.
Satisfy multiple cravings. Pop a large pot of popcorn and divide it in half; top one half with sweeter toppings like honey and the other with something savory, like nutritional yeast or dill. When hunger strikes, you're ready, regardless of the flavor craving.
Spice it up. Cayenne pepper and a blend of other spices can be sprinkled on popcorn to create a spicier snack like Cajun Corn.
Add mix-ins. Add dried fruits, nuts or candies to a bowl of popcorn to make your own trail mix.
Cheese, please. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese can make your snack a bit more substantial.
For more snack ideas that deliver on both flavor and nutrition, visit popcorn.org.
Yield: 8 cups
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, for popping
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 1 pinch white sugar, plus additional, to taste
Add popcorn to pan and sprinkle sugar over it. Add more sugar, if desired, to taste.
Cover and shake pan continuously until popcorn is popped.
Yield: 2 1/2 quarts
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn, warm
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
In bowl, pour butter over warm popcorn.
In separate bowl, combine paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and lemon pepper; sprinkle over popcorn. Toss to mix.
Bake 5-10 minutes for crispy popcorn.
Published with permission from RISMedia.
Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?27 May 2020
Smartphone addiction has become a problem for many Americans, both adults and children. With so much information available and so many ways to interact with others online, some people spend so much time on their phones that their real lives and relationships suffer as a result.
What Causes Smartphone Addiction?
Overreliance on a smartphone often starts out as a way of trying to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness or problems with real-world relationships. Using a smartphone releases dopamine in the brain, which can create a feeling similar to that caused by drugs or alcohol. Over time, a person can build up a tolerance and need more screen time to trigger the same positive feeling.
How Smartphone Addiction Can Affect Real Life
Trying to remedy emotional problems with a smartphone tends to make them worse. Spending hours a day looking at a screen keeps people from interacting with others face to face and forming meaningful connections in real life. People with smartphone addiction often find themselves feeling more stressed, anxious, and alone, but they continue to seek help from the devices that are contributing to the problem.
Excessive use of a smartphone can make it difficult to concentrate. The endless stream of texts, emails, and social media alerts, or the desire to constantly check to avoid missing out, can prevent people from focusing on work, school, their families and friends, and household tasks.
A smartphone in the bedroom can interfere with sleep. Many people check their phones when they have trouble falling asleep, but the blue light from a smartphone can make sleeping even harder.
Are You Addicted?
There is no specific amount of time per day spent using a smartphone that means someone is addicted. For many people, a smartphone is required for work and to keep in touch with family and friends. Using a phone becomes a problem when it interferes with real-world relationships and responsibilities.
If you think you may be addicted to your smartphone, recognizing the problem is the first step. It can help to keep track of how much time you spend using your phone, the time of day, and your emotional state when you reach for it to identify any triggers.
How to Deal with Smartphone Addiction
With our reliance on smartphones, addiction to the devices has become a serious problem. If your phone has started to interfere with your life, you can reduce your reliance on it and engage more with others in real life. If you aren’t sure if you have a problem, ask your family and friends for their impressions and insights.
If you’re using your phone too much, make an effort to put it down, schedule visits with family and friends, and find ways to meet new people. A therapist or support group can help you deal with underlying issues that led to your smartphone addiction and help you cope with withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, restlessness, and trouble sleeping and concentrating.
Published with permission from RISMedia.