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Improve Your Home's Air Quality

by Safe Home Team 12. August 2009 08:37

The world is full of toxins and smog. When you’re home, you want to make sure that you and your family are breathing the cleanest air possible. We have a few suggestions to make sure that your home has the purest air possible.

Purchase a Purifier

If you want to be sure that the air you breathe inside your home is at its cleanest, install an air purifier, such as the Airpura V600. It will reduce allergens in your home, get rid of any funky odors, and significantly reduce outgassing.

If you have small children or elderly people living in your home, consider placing a few purifiers around your home. The Surround Air N-Lite is a great example of one that small and relatively noiseless. It will pick up any added allergens, odors, or formaldehyde still floating around your rooms.

Replace Filters Often

Replace the filters in your air purifiers and furnace at least once a month. Not only will it guarantee better air quality and relieve allergy symptoms, it will reduce the energy output created by your home each month. Plus, it reduces the risk of fire, as particles collected in these filters are extremely flammable. If your unit allows, purchase HEPA filters to greatly reduce the allergens in your home.

Grow House Plants

Perhaps one of the best things you can do for your home is to fill it with plants. Not only do plants make a room more inviting, they act as nature’s air filter. Plants require carbon dioxide, which is what we breathe out, in order to complete photosynthesis. Essentially, they breathe in what we expire. Plus, once a plant has processed the carbon dioxide, it “breathes out” pure oxygen. This leaves your house full of clean and pure air that is healthy for the whole family.

Tags:

General | Home and Garden | Home Health | Indoor

Radon FAQs

by Safe Home Team 12. August 2009 07:52

 

What is Radon?

Radon is a colorless, chemically unreactive, radioactive gas that comes from the break down of uranium. It is a single molecule, which allows it to penetrate solids easier than multiple-molecule gases such as air (O2). It is also the heaviest gas on Earth, nine times heavier than air.

Where does it come from?

Typically radon comes from ingenious rock and soil, but is sometimes found in well water. When found in the home or workplace, it comes from the soil, building materials, or groundwater. It is not geographically specific, and is found at high levels in all 50 states. Buildings are the perfect breeding ground for high radon levels, as the difference in pressure between inside a building and its foundation acts as a vacuum, sucking radon directing into the air we breathe.

How does it hurt?

While Radon is can be harmful if ingested, it is through inhalation that it proves to be deadly. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and poses a bigger health risk to Americans than even drunk driving. Children are particularly susceptible to the effects of radon. They have higher respiratory and cellular division rates due to their size and the fact that they are growing.

How is radon detected?

Radon is colorless, odorless, and does not show any symptoms until it crops up in respiratory illnesses like lung cancer. Therefore, the only way to detect radon is with an alarm system, such as this one by Safety Siren. Most buildings have a certain amount of radon in the air, but once it reaches the point of danger, at 4pCi/l, the Safety Siren will emit an audible sound to warn you of increased risk.

How do I get rid of radon?

Unfortunately there is not a lot an individual family can do to reduce radon. You will need to hire a contractor that specializes in radon reduction techniques. If you have questions about your contractor, check with your local radon office to make sure he or she meets their requirements.

Tags:

Home Health | Indoor | Safety Resources

Ten Things You Need for a More Eco-Friendly Home

by Safe Home Team 19. June 2009 10:16

Today we are lucky to live in a world with amazing technologies, easy transportation, and megastores full of consumer products. However, this is also taking a toll on Mother Earth. Being a conscientious consumer will improve your carbon footprint, and probably even save you cash in the long run. Here is a list of our top ten things to make your home safer, greener, and more economical.

1. Energy Consumption Monitor

According to Google, knowing how much energy you use can save you 5%-15% on your monthly energy bill, and those households that reduce their electricity use by 10% in a year has the same carbon emission reduction value of a whole consumer car. Well, keeping yourself aware of your consumption rates is actually quite easy and cost-effective. Your average energy consumption monitor, such as the Kill A Watt Electrical Usage Power Meter, can retail between $30-$50, and accurately measure consumption within 0.02%. Place them in each room, and you’ll be able to monitor which appliance is your biggest energy sucker. Replacing an electricity-guzzling fridge with a newer, more efficient model could knock that 10% right off this year’s bill!

2. Surge Protectors

Surge protectors are invaluable in keeping your electronics safe from device-frying electrical surges. However, they are also handy in cutting down on energy consumption in your home. You see, anything that you have plugged in throughout the house is essentially “on” even when it is “off.” There is a phenomenon known as “phantom energy” at play. “Phantom energy” is the electricity that continues to be consumed by appliances when they are not in use, and it accounts for around 5% of a home’s energy consumption. However, running around unplugging everything is time consuming! Instead, plugging appliances into surge protectors is a great alternative. Simply clicking the “on” and “off” cuts down significantly on phantom energy use.

3. Dehumidifier

In the months of hot, sticky weather, it’s easy to crank up your air conditioning, which leads to tremendous energy output and high electric bills. However, a large part of the discomfort comes from increased humidity during the summer. Counteract this problem with some well-placed dehumidifiers. The Eva-Dry Petite Dehumidifier works wonders in medium sized rooms and barely takes up a corner. Combine this with an overhead or standing fan to significantly cut back on your AC reliance.

 

4. Tap Lights

Do you ever get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, fumbling from room to room flipping on lights and squinting against the glare? Guess what, there is a better alternative. They are called tap lights – small lights that plug into wall outlets to illuminate your path. A superior option is the Lentek LED Motion Sensor Lights. Movement in the room triggers the light so it isn’t on all the time. Plus, it uses energy (and retina!) friendly LED bulbs for greater energy efficiency. The Lentek light also works great as a closet or garage light.

 

 

5. Water Purifiers

Bottled water is the single largest growth area in the beverage industry (MSNBC), and it’s showing up in our landfills. Less than 15% of plastic water bottles make it into recycling, which means there are millions of pounds of plastic waste just sitting in the landfills. However, there has been no tangible proof that drinking bottled water is healthier than tap water. In fact, most bottled water is tap water, and the industry is doing us far more harm than good. Do your part to cut out this unnecessary waste by drinking purified tap water out of reusable bottles. You can be sure that you aren’t ingesting anything you shouldn’t by using a water filter. One of the handiest is this Sports Bottle with a water filter. It holds 22 oz. of water, and comes with a replaceable filter. You can stay hydrated all day without harming the earth.

6. Air Purifier

Oxygen is our life source, so we want to make sure that the air we breathe is clean. However, pollutants are unavoidable these days. Improve your home’s air quality by investing in some air purifiers. You can find them in all shapes and sizes, from the Air-in-Lite Air Purifier for just $69.00, to the most state-of-the-art, like the Airpura Microorganism Air Purifier. Also, keeping houseplants is a great natural air purifier, as plants “exhale” pure oxygen.

7. Natural Soaps

One of the least talked-about environmental issues is the use of petroleum products in soap, which is hazardous to both you and Mother Earth. Many mainstream soaps and cleaners are made with petroleum distillates, something the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommends only be handled while wearing rubber gloves. Meaning, we are often using chemicals that the EPA considers volatile to clean our bodies. Plus, it is another way that we are tapping into our already dwindling supply of petroleum. Instead, use a vegetable based soap, such as Kirk’s Natural Soaps. Kirk’s makes both liquid and bar soaps, so there is something for every shower style.

8. Non-Toxic Cleaners

Even harsher than your body soaps are your household cleaners. Most cleaners are made with volatile bleaches and ammonia that can be harmful to inhale or ingest, especially by small children who may put their mouths on surfaces with cleaner residue. Replacing harsh commercial cleaners with safe, non-toxic cleaners will significantly improve the air quality of your home. Bona Kemi makes a series of hardwood floor cleaners that work wonders on any hard surface, including glass. Plus, they are free of toxic chemicals and are completely neutral. They also make refills for their spray bottles, which helps cut down on packaging waste.

 

9. Reusable Cleaning Rags

About seven trees are cut down per person per year, and up to one of those trees can be accounted for by the use of virgin fiber paper towels (meaning those not made form recycled materials). This quantity can be greatly reduced by using washable rags in place of paper towels for cleaning and wiping up spills. Old t-shirts or cloth diapers work fine, but you can also find inexpensive microfiber rags designed specifically for house cleaning. StarFiber makes cloths that are highly absorbent and have a scrubber side. Also, look into dust mops with reusable instead of disposable mop heads, such as the Bona Kemi Floor Mop. Not only will you significantly reduce waste, but it will also lighten the load on your pocketbook, as you won’t always be buying paper towels and dusters. Perhaps you will be inspired to use some of that savings to plant new trees to offset your contribution to deforestation even further!

10. Clothes Line/Drying Rack

One of the biggest energy gobblers in your home is the dryer. Whether run by electricity or gas, it is unnecessarily using up fossil fuels. So, when you can, line dry! It leaves your clothes smelling fresh, and you don’t have to worry about shrinking duds. Those that live in an apartment or a climate that is cold several months out of the year can always purchase an indoor drying rack, such as the Hamilton Beach 8 Garment Drying Station, which comes with an attached fan that uses less energy than a single light bulb.

Tags:

General | Green Cleaning Products | Home Health | How To Guide

Ten Things to Prepare Your Home for Anything!

by Safe Home Team 5. June 2009 08:59

Home safety emergency preparedness means being ready if a disaster should hit (even when that disaster is a surprise visit from the in-laws), and you want to be ready for anything. Here is our list of the top ten items that will prepare your home for anything.

1. Radon and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Radon and other possible gas leaks can cause neurological damage, lung cancer, and even death. Make sure you home’s air quality is safe by installing radon and carbon monoxide detectors around the house. The Safety Siren Pro 3 Electronic Radon Gas Detector is not a single-use remedy, but is capable of both short-term radon levels and long-term level averages. If you notice a strange smell coming from a specific spot, try the Hand-Held Portable Gas Leak Detector. It can be directed at the spot in question for quick detection. It’s an affordable way to ease your mind when you wonder whether or not to call the gas company.

2. First Aid Kit

Always have a well-stocked first aid kit available to grab at a moment’s notice. This is the easiest, cheapest, and best way to be prepared in the case of a medical emergency. When it is in kit form, it can be easily transported on picnics and during travel. An example of a well-stocked kit is the 25-person First Aid Kit, and there are larger kits for greater needs. You never know when you, or a houseguest, could end up with minor scrapes or bumps.

3. Emergency Survival Kit

If all of this seems a bit overwhelming, a great place to start is by purchasing an emergency survival kit, such as this one by Survivor Industries. It has everything you need to survive until rescue comes, including a survival guide full of information on how to get through any emergency situation. Plus, it comes in one easy carrying case for simple storage.

4. Fire Ladders

Fires are the most common home disaster. If you have a multi-story home or live in an apartment or condo, it is a good idea to purchase fire ladders for upstairs sections of the home. The folks at ResQ Ladder have a complete line of products that will get you out the window and safely to the ground from any second- to sixth-story window. Plus, they come with their own case to make for easy storage.

5. Smoke Hoods

Most house fire related deaths are due to smoke inhalation. Give yourself some breathing room to get out by placing smoke hoods under everyone’s beds. Safe Escape Fire and Smoke Hood makes some highly effective, easily storable hoods. Clear heads must prevail in a fire emergency, and these hoods provide 60 minutes of clean air to breathe. The advantages of having them available are priceless, and can be bought one-at-a-time, or in a case of two or six hoods. You should have enough for your family, plus some extra for houseguests.

6. Weather Radio

In the event of a natural disaster or power outage, you may lose power but still need weather updates. Keep a weather radio on hand, such as the Oregon Scientific WR602 Emergency Alert Radio. It will keep you aware of emergency weather and evacuations in your area. Plus, it’s portable, so you can take it with you when you’re hiking, camping, or canoeing.

7. Back-up Lighting

During stormy times, power outages can be a real hindrance, especially at night. You should have an array of flashlights and extra batteries on hand. Even better than the regular halogen flashlights are lamps with an LED light, such as the Viatek Dynamo Hybrid Mini-Lanterns. The batteries last longer than on halogen bulbs, and it comes with a hand crank to charge the internal battery.

8. Clean Water

Safe water in an emergency can be a literal life saver. The recent national disasters have made us all a little more aware of the need for water. You can always keep pure water packets or handheld filter pumps on hand. Another great option is the AquaPod Kit Emergency Water Storage. Holding 65 gallons when completely full, the AquaPod allows you store enough clean water for the whole family while you wait for rescue.

9. Food Rations

In emergencies such as natural disasters, you never know how long you will be in one place until rescue. Therefore, it is always good to have a ration of nonperishable food items that are canned or freeze dried. They will keep longer and provide the proper nutrients while you’re stranded. You can also purchase food rations made just for emergencies, such as these by Mainstay. They are energy bars packed with the nutrients necessary to get through the day.

10. Grab Bars for the Commode

You never know who is going to come visit, so you should be prepared for any houseguest. It’s a good idea to place grab bars in at least one bathroom in your home, especially the one used most by guests. Whether you host elderly parents or grandparents or even someone with a broken leg, your bathroom is accessible for all of your guests.

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Emergency Preparedness | General | Home Health | How To Guide

Ten Items to Help With Your Elder Home Care

by Safe Home Team 1. June 2009 13:27

When you’re caring for an again parent or spouse, you have many different things to worry about.  Medications are distributed at different times, you are concerned with their mobility, and, most of all, you want your family member to feel comfortable in his or her home. We have compiled a list of ten things that will help keep your home care organized, simple, and safe for everyone.

Safety

 

1. Anti-Slip Aides

When mobility is an issue, it makes a fall all the more dangerous. The first thing to do is to take care of slipping hazards. Remove loose area rugs or put anti-slip pads under them.  Also, treat bathtubs and hard surface floors with an anti-slip solution such as Grip-On. Once treated, the floor looks and feels perfectly normal, just safer! However, the best thing you can do is to add grab bars by toilets and in the shower. It will help to keep your elderly resident safe and independently mobile.

2. First Aid Kit

Nurse and Elderly WomanEven with proper prevention tactics, falls, scrapes, and burns can occur to anyone in the house. Make sure your first aid kit is always properly stocked with bandages, gauze pads, medical tape, antiseptic, splints, tourniquets, pain killers, heat packs and cold packs. With an elderly patient in the house, you may want to add an Abduction Pillow. If they suffer a fall, it will be particularly important to make sure that they don’t move. The Abduction Pillow will help prevent further injury.

3. Patient Alarm

When caring for someone at home, it is impossible to be with them every second. However, in the event of an emergency, every second still counts. It is wise to have a patient alarm available. You can get them in a pull cord design, where the cord is clipped to the patient’s clothing, and if the cord is pulled it sounds the alarm. If you are caring for someone who is not mobile or suffers from dementia, you may want to get a pad alarm, which you can place on a chair or bed. If a person stands up or falls, then the alarm will sound.

Health

 

4. Blood Pressure Monitor

When caring for the elderly, closely monitoring their health is very important. A particularly important investment is in a blood pressure monitor. Rising or falling blood pressure can be an early symptom of a variety of problems, so checking it regularly will stay on top of changes in the body. There are plenty of great at-home blood pressure monitors, such as the Life Source Digital Blood Pressure Monitor, which takes accurate, easy-to-read measurements, and stores up to 7 of your last readings so you can track progress.

5. Pill Organizer

Most elder care patients have several different medications that need to be taken at specific times. Keeping track of it can be difficult. Purchasing an organizer can save a huge headache, as dosages can be allotted in advance. A particularly handy pill organizer is one that comes with an alarm, such as the MedReady Basic Alarm Pill Dispenser. It comes with 28 compartments. It is programmable to dispense the dosage only when it is time to take the medication, and is locked so other dosages are accessible. This can be helpful in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients who may take medications when they shouldn’t.

6. Pill Crusher

Pills can be difficult, if not impossible, to swallow for some elderly patients. It is definitely worth investing in a good pill crusher. If he or she takes multiple medications, thoroughly clean the crusher between uses as some medications react poorly together. To be extra safe, buy a few different pill crushers. A great one for multiple-pill takers is the Metal Pill Crusher. It is simple to use, even for arthritic hands, and you can crush the medication into disposable cups to prevent mixing medications.

Comfort

 

7. Wedge Cushion for Seats

One of the most important parts of being home-cared is being comfortable. However, reduced mobility can make this difficult. Whether due to surgeries, or simply due to age, getting up and down from a seated position can be difficult.  The quickest way to fix that issue is with some wedge cushions.  The added firmness helps alleviate back pain, and the wedge design makes it easier to get up and down. Many come with the coccyx wedge cut out to really take the strain off your tailbone.  The Memory Foam Coccyx Wedge Cushion is a great example, and even comes with a handy carrying strap for easy transport.

8. Wheelchair Covers

Most wheelchairs are designed for function, not softness, and the hard seat of the chair can exhaust already tired backs and behinds. Fortunately, there are many wheelchair covers designed to help alleviate the pressure. Lambswool wheelchair covers are durable, soft, and absorb perspiration. Plus, lambswool acts as a natural disinfectant, so it won’t build bacteria between washings. For extra comfort, add some lambswool armrest covers.

9. Mattress Pads

If you are caring for someone who is primarily bed-ridden, purchasing a mattress pad is essential. Egg crate mattress pads are particularly effective in relieving and preventing sores acquired from long hours in bed. It also provides added firmness and softness for sore joints and muscles. For those with incontinence, you may want to pair it with a Protect-a-Bed Waterproof Allergy Mattress Cover.  It’s made with 100% cotton and protects the mattress against bacteria and dust mites. It’s lightweight and fast drying, as opposed to the rubber mattress pads.

10. Hearing Amplifiers

As people age, they lose the ability to hear at certain decibels, which can be frustrating, especially on the phone. There are hearing amplifying phones you can buy such as the Hearing Easy Amplified Phone or the Clear Sounds Expandable Handset, which will improve voice quality for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. For those that could use an overall hearing boost look into the SuperEar Powerful Ear Amplifier, which has a directional microphone to let the user aim at the sound he or she wants louder.

Tags:

General | Home Health | How To Guide | Indoor

Top-Ten Items For a Safe Summer!

by Safe Home Team 28. May 2009 08:55

The warmer months mean backyard barbeques, outdoor fun, and long days to spend in the sun. It’s wonderful to get swept up in relaxation and recreation, but you also still need to be mindful of the little dangers and discomforts that the new season brings. In this article, we will give you the Top-Ten items you need to make your home safe, simple, and comfortable all summer!

Backyard Health

 

1. Pest Repellents

Spending time in your backyard is one of the real joys of summertime, especially if you’ve put long hours into a beautiful garden. However, those hours can turn into delicious meals for the neighborhood wildlife, such as moles, deer, and rabbits. Make sure not to let that time go to waste by putting repellents around.  Be careful in your purchasing, as many repellents can be harmful to the land you’ve cultivated. Try a sonic mole chaser such as the Super Sonic Mole Chaser, which is made from aluminum and runs on D cell batteries, or the Sol Mate Mole and Gopher Chaser, a solar powered repellent that stores energy up to five days.  If you still prefer the granules, go with something environmentally safe, such as the Mole Scram, Deer Scram, or Rabbit Scram Granular Repellents. They made with Castor Oil, Citronella Oil, Garlic Oil, and Peanut Hulls to keep the pests out while not affecting the health of the earth.

2. Rain Gauges

Rain Gauge An important part of having a great backyard garden is making sure your plants get the right amount of water. Too little, and all your hard work will by dry and shriveled. Too much, and you have nothing but pools of sad mud. Get a rain gauge to monitor the amount of water your garden receives from Mother Earth. You can get decorative gauges for your garden or more high tech gauges for indoors. The Honeywell Wireless Rain Gauge is one of the coolest on the market. It give you a seven-day read out, so even if you’ve been out of town – or just forgot to pay attention – then you can see exactly how much rain your plants got throughout the week. Plus, it has a handy indoor temperature read out.

3. Safe, Effective Mosquito Traps

Once you have a safe, beautiful garden, you want to be able to enjoy it. But when you’re getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects, it’s difficult to relax! There are plenty of bug spraysand topical solutions out there that go directly on your skin, but for a backyard garden you may want to consider purchasing a mosquito trap. There are a lot of propane traps on the market, but perhaps one of the most effective, and environmentally safe, ways to keep mosquitoes away is with the Electric Mosquito Trap Champion by Kooltron Half Acre. There is less harmful energy output than its gas-powered counterparts, while still being incredibly effective and easy to clean. It’s also completely quiet – no humming or zapping. Just make sure you get your trap going early. They are designed to attract females to keep the insects from multiplying.

4. Mosquito Bite Soother

You may have your Kooltron Mosquito Trap in your backyard garden, but that won’t help if you leave the sanctity of your own property. Mosquito bites are preventable, but unfortunately they still occur. Make sure to have itch soother around the house at all times to take care of those hot spots. One of our favorites is the Itch Smoother Mosquito Bite Remedy. It uses localized heat to zap irritated areas. It is more effective than the average topical antihistamine, and it doesn’t leave pink blotches all over your skin!



Home Health

 

5. Fruit Fly Traps

Keeping your food safe is vital to your home’s health. If you have fresh fruits and vegetables around – and I hope you do! – fruit flies and other small insects will treat them as their own.  Setting fruit fly and moth pantry traps around is the easiest way to get rid of them. One of our favorites is the Contech Fruit Fly Trap. It is non-toxic and 100% pesticide free, which is a good thing to have for something you’re putting near your food. Remember, even if you get rid of all the bugs in your kitchen, you still want to thoroughly wash produce before eating it, especially if it is commercially grown. You never know what kind of chemicals or viruses are left over from previous handlers.

6. Bug Vacuum

Rain GaugeYour kitchen and pantry aren’t the only places insects lurk. Check all your nooks, crannies, corners, and drapes for hidden homes and clusters of larvae. Get rid of them, or the problem will never be fixed! While you can use sprays to kill bugs if you desire, we prefer chemical-free alternatives. Check out the Lentek Bug Vacuum. It’s a rechargeable vacuum built specifically for taking care of the bugs in your home. Also, the Lentek Electronic Racket Zapper is your flyswatter 2.0. It has a charged racket head that kills insects on contact. No more Karate Kid precision needed to swat those flying insects!

7. Dehumidifier

Another way to keep bugs and bacteria out of your home during the summer is by controlling the level of humidity in your home. When moisture in the air builds up, mold and mildew thrives on it. Installing dehumidifiers around your house will help to decrease this harmful build up. The best part? You can cut down on the energy output by your air conditioning with strategically placed dehumidifiers. This means less waste and less money spent. These days, there isn’t enough of either around. They come in all sizes, so for smaller rooms dry the Eva-Dry Mini-Dehumidifier.

8. Mold Alert System

Rain Gauge So how do you know if your home is too humid? Well, most molds and bacteria prosper at relative humidity levels of 65% and over. Consider placing mold alert systems in areas of concern, such as kitchens, pantries, and basements. The Mold Alert Digital Thermo-Hygrometer is as high tech as its name. It monitors room temperature, relative humidity, and dew point. Once the relative humidity exceeds 65%, an alert sounds to let you know it’s time to crank up your dehumidifier.



9. Houseplant Moisture Meters

The change in season can also make it difficult to keep track of how much water your houseplants need. How do you strike a balance? Grab yourself a water meter to prevent over watering. A favorite is the Dr. Frog Electronic Plant Moisture Meter. Not only is it adorable, but also it lets you know when your plants need watering. So even the plants you always forget about in the guest room won’t be neglected.

10. Smoke, Radon, and CO2 Alarms

smoke alarmNo matter the season, it is important to have working smoke, radon, and carbon monoxide alarms in your home.  Most people with any sense have working smoke alarms in their homes. However, radon adn carbon monoxide are silent hazards, particularly in older homes. Many older homes have gas dryers with a three inch exhaust, instead of the now-mandatory four-inch ones. This may contribute to a lethal dose of carbon monoxide in the home, particularly for small children or elderly adults. Install alarms, such as the CoStar 9 Volt Carbon Monoxide Alarm on each floor of your home.

 

Tags:

Home and Garden | Home Health | How To Guide | Indoor | Outdoor