Time for Spring

Time for Spring

On February 2nd Punxsutawney Phil stated we can expect an early Spring this year.  This means it is the perfect time to get your home and garden ready for sunny days and warmer temps.  We’ve all heard the term “spring cleaning,” and this month’s blog is going to give you a few tips on what you can do to make your home look and feel summer-ready.  

In the Fall Maintenance blog, we shared some ideas on how to get your home winter ready.  Many of those same tasks should be done in the Spring as well.

1.  Clean the gutters

Make sure they don’t have holes and all the downspouts are still attached and taking water away from the house.  Clogged gutters can also cause mosquito infestations, mold and mildew from decomposed leaves and other problems.  Cleaning the gutters is an easy job that you could tackle yourself. 

2. Get your air conditioner system ready

Change or wash your filters (which should be done monthly).  Clean the coils and wash the condenser outside.  Trim away any bushes away from the unit and make sure the drainage line isn’t clogged.  The last thing you want is for your A/C unit to quit working on the hottest day of the year.  Many HVAC service companies offer plans allowing them to come out and perform maintenance on your system periodically to help keep it running for a long time.

3. Power wash driveways and walkways

This is a chore that you can easily do yourself.  You can rent a power washer at your local home improvement store and even borrow from a friend if you don’t have one.  Power washing your home helps wash away discoloration and mold and mildew.  Be careful before washing your wood deck as the force can strip away wood fibers.

4. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

You should change the batteries in your smoke and carbon detectors at least twice a year (changing them when the time changes makes it easy to remember to do) and you should run a test monthly to make sure everything is running properly.  This is not something you want to take for granted.  

5.  Fertilize your lawn 

Investing in a push fertilizer spreader and some fertilizer will allow you to quickly and efficiently fertilize your lawn.  This will help keep weeds and crab grass from ruining your green lawn during the summer.

6.  Plant flowers for summer blooms

Planting seeds and bulbs in the spring will ensure bright beautiful blooms in the summer.  Check out this website for tips when and what to plant in North Texas.

https://www.jclandscapingllc.com/gardening/best-flowers-to-plant-in-north-texas/

7.  Declutter

Spring is the perfect time to declutter and organize your home.  Go through your closet and donate clothes and accessories that you have not worn in at least 6 months (or a year for seasonal).  Take the time to organize by color to ease the stress of getting ready in the morning.  Tackle that junk drawer(s) once and for all, and clean out your purse.  

8. Deep clean and freshen 

Your comforter and mattress pads need to be cleaned 2-3 times a year.  While everything is washing, take the time to give your mattress a little TLC too by vacuuming the crevices with your vacuum attachment, spot clean any spots with some vinegar and baking soda and spray down with Lysol®.  Curtains also need to be freshened up a couple of times a year.  Always check the labels before putting anything in the washer machine.  

These few chores will help make your home feel fresher and ready to enjoy during the lazy days of summer.  For more ideas on spring cleaning your home, check out these websites:

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/cleaning/g3345/spring-cleaning-tips/

https://www.housebeautiful.com/lifestyle/cleaning-tips/g601/spring-cleaning-tips/

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Fall Maintenance

Fall Maintenance

The signs of autumn are quickly approaching. School is back in session, the days are getting shorter, and the temperature is beginning to cool down. This is the time of year to begin getting your home ready for cold wintery weather. Here are some things that you can do yourself to winterize your home.

1. Clean out the gutters – Once the leaves have fallen is the perfect time to clean out your gutters. If the gutters are clogged with leaves and debris, water has no place to drain and can back up into your roof causing leaks. Ask for assistance if you are uncomfortable on a ladder or contact a local company to clean them for you.

2. Winterize your landscaping – Before the ground begins freezing or the temperatures dip into the 30’s, make sure to blow out your sprinklers and turn them off. Blowing out the sprinklers will remove any left over water in the pipes that can burst during a hard freeze. The same goes for hoses and exterior faucets. Wrap up your hoses and store them away and cover your faucets to keep them from freezing up. This time of year is also a good time to feed your lawn. There are many choices of feed and seed at your local home improvement store. Feeding your lawn in the fall will help make your lawn grow lush and green in the spring.

3. Walk around your home for damage – Take a long look at the exterior of your home and assess any damage to siding, railings, roof, windows, etc. Damage to the structure can cause leaks or wildlife to take up residence in your walls or attic. Fill in small holes and use heavy duty hardware cloth to block larger gaps.

4. Add weather stripping to windows and doors – Weather stripping will seal gaps keeping cold air out and will save energy keeping your home warmer and your energy bill lower.

5. Schedule a chimney cleaning and heating system maintenance – Making sure your chimney and furnace or boiler are cleaned, maintained and in working order before you need to turn on the heat is an important safety measure. And be sure to add a chimney cap if you don’t already have one — it will stop critters from crawling down your chimney!

6. Spring is not the only time for a good deep cleaning – Autumn is the perfect time to clean bigger appliances like the dryer vent, refrigerator and vacuum the coils, oven, and degrease the stove and hood. Staying indoors more will give you more time to scrub tile grout, wipe down smaller appliances, wipe down baseboards, and give light fixtures a good cleaning as well.

Taking the time to care for your home will allow you to rest easy knowing that your home and yard are ready for winter.

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Summer Safety

Summer Safety

Summer is quickly approaching which means more time in the sun with family and friends. Spending time outdoors is great for your health. The sun allows you to build up your Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), the fresh air helps relieve stress, and who doesn’t look better with a bit of a tan?

Too much a good thing can be hazardous. It’s important to keep in mind some simple summer precautions that will ensure a happy and healthy season.

Tip #1: Make sure to wear sunscreen.

Spray-ons are great for kids and teens compared to lotion/oily sunscreens. Always check the SPF (sun protection factor) when choosing sunscreen. According to the American Dermatology Association, always choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with UVA/UVB protection, SPF of 30 or higher, and water resistant. They also recommend re-applying every 2 hours when outdoors, seek shade whenever your shadow is shorter than you are, wear lightweight clothing, hats, and sunglasses.

Tip #2: Protect yourself from bugs.

Everyone hates mosquito bites and it doesn’t help that mosquitoes can carry diseases such as Lyme and Zika. To protect yourself and your loved ones from getting eaten up this summer, be sure to wear bug repellent that contains DEET. Other tips include staying away from standing water, avoid being outside at dusk/dawn, and wear light colored clothing (bright and floral patterns attract wasps and bees) that covers arms and legs.

Tip #3: Practice proper water safety.

According to the USA Swimming Foundation, at least 148 children under the age of 15 drowned between Memorial Day and Labor Day in 2018. 163 children under 15 drowned in swimming pools or spas. Texas tied (with Florida) having the most number of drownings in pools or spas last year – 21. A few things to remember when spending time around water:

1. NEVER leave a child unattended near or in the water

2. Teach children to swim and learn to swim yourself if you don’t know how

3. Do not drink alcohol before or while using water crafts or swimming

4. Know CPR for children and adults. You never know when you may be able to save a life.

Tip #4: Avoid a heat-related illness.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying indoors in air-conditioning and limit outdoor exposure during very hot days. If you find yourself getting overheated, the CDC offers these steps to help cool you down.

1. Drink more liquid (non-alcoholic) than you think you need.

2. Wear loose, lightweight clothing and a hat

3. Replace salt from sweating by drinking fruit juice or sports drinks

4. Avoid spending time outdoors during the hottest part of the day, 11am – 3pm

5. Wear sunscreen; sunburn affects the body’s ability to cool itself

6. Pace yourself when you run or otherwise exert your body.

If you feel you may be getting overheated or think someone else is, call 911 immediately, and try to move indoors where it is cooler. Cool wet towels placed around the neck will help allow the body to begin cooling down, but always listen to the 911 operator on what to do while waiting for paramedics. Heatstroke can be fatal if not addressed right away.

Summer is a great time of year to enjoy longer days spent outside surrounded by nature and those you enjoy most. Please take the necessary precautions to ensure that this year will be the best one yet.

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Winter Hazards and How to Avoid Them

Winter Hazards and How to Avoid Them

Winter is one of the most beautiful and dangerous times of the year.  Frigid temperatures, snow and ice, and sickness are just a few of the hazards that come with cooler weather.  Listed below are a few tips for keeping you safe and healthy during this time of year.

According to Safe Winter Roads, approximately 116,000 Americans were injured and 1,300 were killed on icy snowy roads every winter. OSHA has some tips to keep you and family safer on the winter roads:

Brakes:  Brakes should provide even and balanced braking. Also check that brake fluid is at the proper level.

Cooling System:  Ensure a proper mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water in the cooling system at the proper level.

Electrical System:  Check the ignition system and make sure that the battery is fully charged and that the connections are clean. Check that the alternator belt is in good condition with proper tension.

Engine:  Inspect all engine systems.

Exhaust System:  Check exhaust for leaks and that all clamps and hangers are snug.

Tires:  Check for proper tread depth and no signs of damage or uneven wear.  Check for proper tire inflation.

Oil:  Check that oil is at proper level.

Visibility Systems:  Inspect all exterior lights, defrosters (windshield and rear window), and wipers. Install winter windshield wipers.

It is also very important to keep an emergency kit in your call that includes:  

  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Emergency flares
  • Blankets
  • Bag of sand or cat litter
  • Windshield ice scraper
  • Water/snacks

During this festive time of year, millions of people are putting up twinkling lights inside and outside of their home.  Before you string up the merriment, make sure to inspect all extension cords, lights, and electric decorations for any damage.  Always check the UL rating to make sure that the lights you are putting up are appropriate for indoor or indoor/outdoor use. If you are unsure, there will be a green UL hologram for indoor and a red UL hologram for indoor/outdoor.  Never ever place indoor lights or decorations outdoors because it puts you at risk for electric shock or fire.

Staying healthy during the winter season can be tricky.  Even though we all know what we need to do to keep from getting sick, it always bears repeating.  

  • Wear your coat, scarf, hat, and gloves.  Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures can force your body temperature to drop too low known as hypothermia.  Hypothermia is a medical condition that requires immediate treatment for a full recovery. If left unchecked, it can kill you.
  • Wash your hands.  Wash your hands before you eat, keep your fingers out of your eyes and nose.  Wash your hands after you sneeze or cough.
  • Get plenty of sleep.  Lack of sleep can affect your immune system.  Studies have shown that those who do not get quality sleep or enough sleep are more susceptible to catching viruses such as the common cold.  Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover.
  • Fruits are not just for the summer!  Vitamin C is a key vitamin to help you stay healthy or heal quickly if you do become sick.  Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are packed full of vitamin C. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can be challenging this time of year, but your immune system will thank you for it.

I know that this area of Texas does not deal with snow very often, but when it does happen these tips will help keep you in good shape. Clearing Snow from your roof or your sidewalk can be hazardous.  Shoveling snow sends over 11,000 people to the hospital each year. While most of the patients are not hurt by the act of shoveling itself, many of them are victims of heart attacks from the strenuous, sudden exercise.  Make sure you stretch before you start shoveling and take frequent breaks. Keep your hands at least a foot apart on the shovel handle and try to push the snow (like a snow plow) whenever possible to minimize strain. If you know you have health issues, it may be best to find someone else to shovel for you.  In the Dallas/Ft. Worth area we do get the occasional ice storm.  The best advice is to stay home if at all possible during these times.  If you must get out, make sure to take it slow and leave plenty of room between the you and the vehicle ahead of you.  

These are just a few items to help keep you safe and healthy during the colder months.  What other tricks do you use during this time of year? I would love to hear in the comments below.

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Happy Holidays!