Each month, we publish a series of articles of interest to homeowners -- money-saving tips, household safety checklists, home improvement advice, real estate insider secrets, etc. Whether you currently are in the market for a new home, or not, we hope that this information is of value to you. Please feel free to pass these articles on to your family and friends.

FEATURE REPORT
Is Your Home Healthy and Safe For Children?

Each year more children die from preventable injuries than from all childhood diseases combined. Taking preventive measures to protect your children against unintentional injuries at home is essential. With foresight and action, you can help prevent burns, cuts, falls, poisonings, drowning, choking, and other serious injuries. Use these checklists to ensure that your home is healthy and safe for the children living in it.



Also This Month...
13 Extra Costs to be Aware of Before Buying a Home

Whether you're looking to buy your first home, or trading up to a larger one, there are many costs - on top of the purchase price - that you must figure into your calculation of affordability. These extra fees, such as taxes and other additional costs, could surprise you with an unwanted financial nightmare on closing day if you're not informed and prepared. Some of these costs are one-time fixed payments, while others represent an ongoing monthly or yearly commitment.

Summer Health Dangers

When the temperature soars and humidity rises, it's time to take precautions to avoid health consequences such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke and overexposure to the sun. With heat exhaustion and stroke, the most susceptible are seniors, children, and people with chronic illnesses. However, everyone is at risk.

  
Is Your Home Healthy and Safe For Children?

Taking preventive measures to protect your children against unintentional injuries at home is essential. Each year more children die from preventable injuries than from all childhood diseases combined. With foresight and action, you can help prevent burns, cuts, falls, poisonings, drowning, choking, and other serious injuries.

Use these four checklists to ensure that your home is healthy and safe for the children living in it:

In the home, food safety concerns revolve around three main functions: food storage, food handling, and cooking. To see how well you're doing in each, take this quiz, and then read on to learn how you can make the meals and snacks from your kitchen the safest possible.

In the Bedroom

  • Install smoke alarms outside bedrooms and on every level of the home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month and change batteries at least once a year.
  • Practice fire escape routes and identify an outside meeting place.
  • Place a baby to sleep on his or her back in a crib with no pillows or soft bedding underneath.
  • Use a crib that meets national safety standards and has a snug-fitting mattress.
  • Never use an electric blanket in the bed or crib of a small child or infant.
  • Keep small toys, balloons, and small balls away from young children.
  • Check age labels for appropriate toys. Make sure toy storage chests have safety lid supports.
  • To prevent strangulation, use safety tassels for mini blinds and avoid strings on children's toys and pacifiers.
  • Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms outside bedrooms to prevent CO poisoning.

In the Bedroom

  • To prevent poisonings, lock away all medicines and vitamins, even those with child-resistant packaging.
  • Have syrup of ipecac on hand, but use only at the recommendation of a poison control center or physician.
  • Never leave a young child alone in the bathroom, especially in a bath.
  • Before bathing a child, always test bath water with your wrist or elbow to make sure it's not too hot.
  • To prevent scalds, set the water heater thermostat to 120º F and install anti-scald devices.
  • Make sure bathtubs and showers have non-slip surfaces and grab bars.
  • Keep electrical appliances, like hair dryers and curling irons, out of the reach of children and away from water.

In the Kitchen

  • Keep knives, plastic bags, lighters, and matches locked away from children.
  • Avoid fires and burns by never leaving cooking food unattended, turning pot handles to the back of the stove, and keeping hot liquids and foods away from the edges of tables and counters.
  • Make sure you and your children know the STOP, DROP, and ROLL procedure in case their clothes catch on fire.
  • Keep appliance cords unplugged and tied up. Replace any frayed cords and wires.
  • Securely strap young children in high chairs, swings, and other juvenile products.
  • Do not give young children hard, round foods that can get stuck in their throats — like hard candies, nuts, grapes, popcorn, carrots, and raisins.
  • Avoid scald burns by keeping children away from the hot water taps on drinking water coolers.

In the Kitchen

  • To prevent asthma attacks, eliminate sources of mold, dust, and insects, such as cockroaches. If you have a pet, keep it and its bedding clean and keep the pet off the furniture.
  • If you must smoke, avoid smoking in the house, and especially around children.
  • Make sure furnaces, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, space heaters, and gas appliances are vented properly and inspected annually.
  • Use safety gates to block stairways (and other danger areas), safety plugs to cover electrical outlets, and safety latches for drawers and cabinets.
  • Keep children — and the furniture they can climb on — away from windows.
  • Install window guards (on windows that are not fire emergency exits).
  • To prevent falls, keep hallways and stairways well-lit and use non-slip backing for area rugs.
  • Keep cleaning solutions, pesticides, and other potentially dangerous substances in their original, labelled containers, and out of the reach of children.
  • If you have guns or rifles in your home, store the firearms and ammunition in separate containers and lock them out of the reach of children. Learn First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
  • Keep an updated list of emergency telephone numbers, including your local poison control center, physician and hospital emergency room, next to every phone in your home.
  • Make sure your family knows what to do during a natural disaster. In an earthquake, drop to the floor and get under something sturdy for cover; during a tornado, take shelter in a basement or an interior room without windows; and during a hurricane stay away from windows. Have handy supplies of food, flashlights, and water.
  


13 Extra Costs to be Aware of Before Buying a Home
"The last thing you need are unbudgeted financial obligations cropping up hours before you take possession of your new home."

Whether you're looking to buy your first home, or trading up to a larger one, there are many costs - on top of the purchase price - that you must figure into your calculation of affordability. These extra fees, such as taxes and other additional costs, could surprise you with an unwanted financial nightmare on closing day if you're not informed and prepared.

Some of these costs are one-time fixed payments, while others represent an ongoing monthly or yearly commitment. Not all of these costs will apply in every situation, however it's better to know about them ahead of time so you can budget properly.

Remember, buying a home is a major milestone. Whether it's your first, second or tenth home, there are many important details to address, during the process. The last thing you need are unbudgeted financial obligations cropping up hours before you take possession of your new home.

Read through the following checklist to make sure you're budgeting properly for your next move.


1. Appraisal Fee

Your lending institution may request an appraisal of the property which would be your responsibility to pay for. Appraisals can vary in price from approximately $175 -$ 300.


2. Property Taxes

Depending on your down payment, your lending institution may decide to include your property taxes in your monthly mortgage payments. If your property taxes are not added to your monthly payments, your lending institution may require annual proof that your taxes have been paid.


3. Survey Fee

When the home you purchase is a resale (vs. a new home), your lending institution may ask for an updated property survey. The cost for this survey can vary between $700- $1,000.


4. Property Insurance

Home insurance covers the replacement value of your home (structure and contents). Your lending institution will request proof that you are insured as it protects their investment on the loan.


5. Service Charges

Any new utility that services your hook up, such as telephone or cable, may require an installation fee.


6. Legal Fees

Even the simplest of home purchases should have a lawyer involved to review all paperwork. Shop around, as rates vary greatly depending on the complexity of the issues and the experience of the lawyer.


7. Mortgage Loan Insurance Fee

Depending upon the equity in your home, some mortgages require mortgage loan insurance. This type of insurance will cost you between 0.5% -3.5% of the total amount of the mortgage. Usually payments are made monthly in addition to your mortgage and tax payment.


8. Mortgage Brokers Fee

A mortgage broker is entitled to charge you a fee in order to source a lender and organize the financing. However, it pays to shop around because many mortgage brokers will provide their services free to you by having the lending institution absorb the cost.


9. Moving Costs

The cost for a professional mover can cost you in the range of:


$50-$100/hour for a van and 3 movers, and

10-20% higher during peak demand seasons.


10. Maintenance Fees

Condos charge monthly fees for common area maintenance such as grounds keeping and carpet cleaning in hallways. Costs will vary depending on the building.


11. Water Quality and Quantity Certification

If the home you purchased is serviced by a well, you should consider having your water checked by your local experts. Depending upon where you live, determines whether or not a fee is charged, to certify the quantity and quality of the water.


12. Local Improvements

If the town you live in has made local improvements (such as the addition of sewers or sidewalks), this could impact a property’s taxes by thousands of dollars.


13. Land Transfer Tax

This tax is applied whenever property changes hands and the amount that is applied can vary.



  
Summer Health Dangers

When the temperature soars and humidity rises, it's time to take precautions to avoid health consequences such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke and overexposure to the sun. With heat exhaustion and stroke, the most susceptible are seniors, children, and people with chronic illnesses. However, everyone is at risk. The early symptoms of heat exhaustion can sneak up on us. Some people feel a bit light headed and weak and might have a touch of nausea. The serious problems develop when symptoms are ignored and additional fluids are not taken right away. The primary cause of heat exhaustion is dehydration and a loss of electrolytes such as sodium. Generally, try to stay well hydrated and take in extra salt (for those of you who can use salt). Drink even though you don't feel like it - you can't count on your thirst mechanism to prompt you. Here are the major symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and some safety tips to help you cope with health emergencies during the dog days of summer.


Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Body temperature usually normal or only slightly elevated.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Fatigue, weakness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea, sometimes vomiting.
  • Weak and rapid pulse.
  • Sweating.
  • Cool, clammy, pale skin.

NOTE: Symptoms take time to develop - sometimes several hours after dehydration occurs.

Treatments for heat exhaustion:

  • Get out of the sun and into a cool place.
  • Drink more fluids (electrolyte sports drinks may help), but don't drink too fast or you could become nauseous.
  • Eat salty snacks.
  • Rest.
  • Loosen clothing.
  • Be aware that heat stroke can come after heat exhaustion, but it can also develop quickly and independently if one's core body temperature rises too high.

    Symptoms of heat stroke include:

    • Very high body temperature (103 degrees or higher).
    • Hot, dry, red skin.
    • No sweating.
    • Disorientation, hallucinations, delirium.
    • Rapid breathing and fast pulse, then slow breathing and weak pulse.
    • Convulsions.
    • Loss of consciousness.

    NOTE: Symptoms can come on quickly. Heat stroke can occur within 10 - 15 minutes of the first symptoms. If treatment is not given immediately, permanent damage can occur to internal organs.

    HEAT STROKE IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. CALL 9-1-1 OR TRANSPORT VICTIM TO A HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY.

    Immediate care for a heat stroke victim includes:

    • Move person to cool place indoors or in the shade outdoors.
    • Lower body temperature as soon as possible.
    • Remove clothing and wrap person in a wet sheet, or wet their cotton clothing.
    • Fan person with electric fan or manually (do not place wet items too close to electric fan).
    • Place ice packs or cold compresses on the neck, under armpits, and in the groin area.
    • If child is unconscious, carefully place them in cool water up to their neck.
    • If child is conscious, try to get them to drink cool water, slowly.
    • Person may not be able to drink if delirious (do not force them).
      
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