Preparing your family for emergencies

Family |

Making a Family Emergency Plan

2 minute read

Though we don’t like to think about it, disaster can strike without a moment’s notice. And the best way to keep your family safe is to be prepared. A Family Emergency Plan is a great tool to ensure your family is on the same page and remains safe and calm in the face of an emergency.

What to Include in a Family Emergency Plan

Safety Zones

This begins with a knowledge and understanding of the types of disasters that can affect your area.

  • Evacuation Route: As a family, go through each room in your house and determine the quickest and safest way to escape that room in the case of an emergency.
  • Shelter Plan – Pick a few spots to cover different situations.

i. One inside your home (in case of earthquake or tornado)
ii. One outside your home (in case of fire)
iii. One location out of town (in case of severe weather or evacuation)

Communication Plan

This should include how each member of your family will receive local emergency alerts (TV, text, radio, etc.) and a means of keeping in contact with one another.

Be sure to have a list of emergency numbers posted in your home and/or saved in your cell phones for easy access.

  • Numbers for each family member (work, school, childcare)
  • Police Station/Fire Department/Hospital
  • Poison Control
  • Out-of-town emergency contact to reach and check in with during a disaster situation

Disaster Supply Kit

A kit is a convenient way to have everything you need in one place in case of evacuation or emergency. This kit should include basic necessities to help your family survive on your own for at least 72 hours and should also include important documents that you would need to take with you.

The Department of Homeland Security gives instructions on how to build a kit that is customizable for your family.

  • Review your kit once a year to replace expired or broken items
  • Tailor your kit to your family’s specific needs (pets, seniors, infants)

Once you have your Family Emergency Plan in place, make sure you write it down in detail and practice, practice, practice. Twice per year is a great goal to set to ensure that everyone stays on the same page and feels prepared for any emergency.

Sources:

https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan

https://www.militaryonesource.mil/family-relationships/family-life/preparing-your-family-for-emergencies/creating-a-family-emergency-plan

https://www.grangeinsurance.com/tips/7-tips-for-creating-a-home-emergency-plan

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Why whole home air systems are a great investment

Healthy Clean Air |

Why Whole-Home Air Systems Are A Great Investment

2 minute read

Your home is a big investment. Whether you plan to live there for five years or you’ve found your lifelong dwelling, you want your home to be the best it can be.

You’ve heard about the value of a kitchen remodel or finishing up the master bathroom. Now it’s time to consider something that can have a big impact on the health and longevity of your home.

Healthy Home = Healthy You

The air inside our homes can be filled with dust mites, pollen, dander, mold, and smoke. These microscopic pollutants contaminate the air we’re breathing.

A clean and well-ventilated home helps to keep those contaminants under control, but nothing maximizes breathability and comfort like a whole-home filtration system.

Here are the top three reasons a whole-home air system is a worthwhile investment that you’ll see the benefits from for years to come.

1. Healthier Air

The main benefit of installing an air purifier is healthier air for you and your family to breathe every single day. An air purifier has germicidal capabilities that allow it to reduce germs and filter out bacteria and viruses, meaning it can lower the risk of respiratory disease, heart problems, and certain types of cancer that have all been linked to air quality.

An air purifier removes up to 99% of toxins in the air. Its ability to remove allergens and contaminants from the air helps eliminate allergy symptoms like congestion, eye irritation, sore throats, and coughing, as well as ease asthma and COPD symptoms, which are worsened by polluted air.

2. Odor Elimination

An added bonus to installing a whole-home air purification system is that it allows your HVAC to remove unpleasant odors from your home related to:

  • Mildew
  • Pets
  • Refrigerators
  • Cooking
  • Bathrooms
  • Smoking

The odors don’t even have time to accumulate because the system is constantly cleaning the air. You’ll notice fresher air, without the need for using potentially costly and harmful spray fresheners or burning candles and incense.

3. Prolonged HVAC System Lifespan

It’s pretty simple. A clean HVAC system will last longer and work more efficiently than one that’s constantly filtering contaminants. Typically this would require regular maintenance and the ability to stay ahead of any potential issues.

However, the installation of an air purification system traps contaminants that would otherwise settle in the HVAC’s filters. You won’t have to replace those as often, and you can wait longer between cleaning the air ducts.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4587002/

https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/air-cleaners-and-air-filters-home

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180925110030.htm

Let’s Clear the Air
Clean air is Healthy Air, pure and simple.

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Wildfire and smoke home clean-up.

Environment | Healthy Home |

Wildfire Smoke Health Effects

< 1 minute read

Year after year, more and more people are displaced from their homes due to wildfires scorching natural landscapes.

And the threat doesn’t end when the fire is put out.

  • Natural ventilation: Through open windows and doors
  • Mechanical ventilation: Through systems with fresh air intake ,like bathroom or kitchen fans, heating, or ventilation and air conditioning systems
  • Infiltration: Through small openings, cracks or joints, and around doors

Exposure to ash and other residue from the fire can cause irritation to your eyes, nose, or skin and result in coughing or other health issues.

Protective Measures for Wildfire Smoke Clean-Up:

  • Children, older adults, and people with heart or lung disease should NOT participate in cleanup.
  • Avoid any skin contact with ash by wearing gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes, socks, and goggles.
  • Protect your lungs from breathing in ash by wearing an N95 respirator.
  • Use and clean doormats regularly to avoid tracking ash into indoor spaces that are still clean and remove shoes before returning indoors.
  • Avoid dry sweeping because it kicks up too many ash particles.
  • Mist hard surfaces, both indoor and outdoor, to keep the dust down.
  • Choose a HEPA-type vacuum as opposed to a standard household vacuum that will just blow the ash around.
  • Ensure your drinking water is safe by checking with your provider.
  • Any fruits or vegetables that are home-grown need to be washed thoroughly if they are from trees or gardens where ash fell.
  •  Wash your hands well before eating anything at the affected site.
  • Dispose of ash in your regular trash bin, containing it in plastic bags or other containers to prevent it from being stirred up again.
  • Contact your local authorities if you suspect any hazardous waste is present.

Raise a Happy, Healthy Home
Breathe easy with the blueprints to a Healthy Home.

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Home checklist for a family summer trip.

Healthy Home |

Ready for Travel: The Home Checklist for Your Family’s Summer Trip

2 minute read

Whether you’ve had your big family trip planned for months, or the high 90s temperatures and paralyzing humidity call for a weekend cool-down getaway, check off some boxes before you leave town for your fun summer trip.

Need some ideas for that fun summer retreat? These global destinations stay refreshingly cool during the summer months of July, August, and September – compared to most places in the northern hemisphere, anyway.

Cool Global Cities for a Fun Summer

1. Seattle, Washington
2. San Diego, California
3. Yellowstone National Park
4. Denver, Colorado
5. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
6. Coastal Maine
7. Alaska
8. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
9. Nova Scotia, Canada
10. Mexico City, Mexico
11. Reykjavik, Iceland
12. Buenos Aires, Argentina
13. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
14. Belfast, Ireland
15. Isle of Skye, Scotland
16. Queenstown, New Zealand
17. Melbourne, Australia
18. Cape Town, South Africa

Once you’ve planned your summer getaway, make sure you’re able to fully enjoy it by taking the necessary steps to prepare your home for your time away.

Checklist for a Fun Summer Trip

Inside

  • Notify your credit card company that you’ll be leaving town so your cards don’t get flagged for fraudulent purchases
  • Notify your home security company, if you have one
  • Leave a few lamps on if you’re going on a short trip. Invest in automatic timers for a longer vacation to create the illusion that your house is occupied
  • Let at least one neighbor know your plans and leave emergency contact information with them. This same neighbor can also assist in watering plants and caring for pets that will be left behind
  • Ensure you have a working smoke detector on every floor
  • Dispose of any food in your fridge or pantry that will go bad before you get back, and take out all the garbage to avoid a smelly return
  • Unplug small appliances and electronic devices
  • Set your water heater to “vacation” mode
  • Depending on the length of your trip, you can either shut off your water completely or at least turn off the valves to the dishwasher, washing machine, and the sinks
  • Adjust your thermostat so your air conditioner doesn’t waste energy while you’re away. Setting it to 85 degrees in the summer will allow for a safe environment for plants, animals, and electronics

Outside

  •  Take a walk around the exterior of your house to check for any damage that would need attention: loose fence post, broken roof shingles, etc.
  • Park your cars inside the garage and ask a neighbor to park in your driveway every couple days to make it look like someone is home
  • Hold your newspaper and mail if you don’t have someone that can pick it up for you
  • Install a motion-activated sensor on an outdoor floodlight
  • Make arrangements for your lawn to be mowed
  • Secure any outdoor patio furniture, grills, or pool supplies in case of inclement weather

Sources:

https://magazine.trivago.com/escape-the-summer-heat-at-these-chilly-us-destinations/

https://www.budgettravel.com/slideshow/coolest-summer-getaways_40041

https://www.travelpulse.com/gallery/destinations/beat-the-summer-heat-in-these-20-cool-destinations.html?image=21

https://www.nationwide.com/preparing-your-home-for-vacation.jsp

https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/preparing-your-home-for-worry-free-vacation/

https://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating/clean-and-organize/13-steps-to-prep-your-home-for-vacation

Raise a Happy, Healthy Home
Breathe easy with the blueprints to a Healthy Home.

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U. S. states that are the most humid.

Healthy Humidity |

Which States Have the Highest Relative Humidity?

2 minute read

You’re in the hot seat: Which state has the highest Relative Humidity levels in the summer?

The answer: Alaska

You might be surprised to see that our most northern state tops this list, but there’s a reason that Alaska has the highest Relative Humidity (RH).

Alaska has an average RH of 77%. The next highest state, Florida, comes in around 74% average RH. While Florida is hot and balmy in the summer, Alaska is much more mild and comes out on top because of its low temperatures.

Because RH is a measure of the amount of water vapor in the air relative to how much the air can hold, it can be much higher in colder areas despite there being much less actual moisture in the air. This is because cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air.

While this is somewhat of a trick question, it goes to show the limitations of Relative Humidity. It isn’t always a good indicator of how much actual moisture is in the air, or how muggy it will feel outside.

Top 10 states for Relative Humidity:

1. Alaska
2. Florida
3. Louisiana
4. Mississippi
5. Hawaii
6. Iowa
7. Michigan
8. Indiana
9. Vermont
10. Maine

Is your state on the list?

While you can’t change the heaviness of the air outside, you do have control over the air inside your home. Here’ what a dehumidifier can do for your home, especially in the hot, humid summer:

Improve Health

Dehumidifiers allow you to breathe easier and feel comfortable in your home by reducing irritation to your skin and respiratory system. They make your home less hospitable to allergens like dust mites, mold, and mildew by reducing humidity levels. It can also reduce toxin levels, like formaldehyde, which can be released in hot and humid air.

Prevent Damage

Mold can grow in excessive humidity and attract pests like termites. A dehumidifier can help prevent decay and corrosion caused by those pests. They also reduce the amount of mold on furniture, clothing, and other linens.

Save Money

Dry air feels cooler, meaning you won’t have to use your air conditioner as often or at quite as low a temperature. Because it also allows your air conditioner to run more efficiently, a dehumidifier can lower energy costs and prolong the life of your A/C unit by taking on the task of removing moisture from the air.

Healthy Humidity Plays a Key Role in Wellness
Breathe Healthy Air no matter when or where.

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Healthy Home |

Professionals Needed: Here Are The Home Projects You Should Never DIY

2 minute read

So you bought your first house and can’t wait to rip up that crummy carpet. Go for it! But if you hit dirt, you might need to call in backup. As more millennials take the plunge into home ownership, it’s becoming more and more common to see DIY projects big and small. Things like carpet removal are doable. But no matter how many tips and tricks you’ve picked up from HGTV, Pinterest, or YouTube, there are some projects that simply aren’t worth the money, time, or risk to do yourself.

Setting Limits on DIY Home Projects

Skill Level for DIY Home Projects:

For some people, DIY is a way of life. For the rest of us, we need to be honest about our skills and level of experience. Sometimes a “simple” job can actually be a lot more complex than it appears. Hire a professional for these projects before you try it yourself and make a mistake that costs way more to fix.

  • Paving your driveway
  • Custom kitchen and bathroom jobs – backsplashes, flooring, countertops
  • Pest removal
  • Window Installation

Time Commitment for DIY Home Projects:

Some home improvement jobs can take weeks to complete when you try to do them yourself. For big projects, hiring a professional will mean a quicker and more efficient job done well so you can get back to enjoying your home without interruptions.

  • Large landscaping projects
  • Flooring
  • Demolition

Permission for DIY Home Projects:

Some home improvement projects require permits due to building codes. Save yourself the headache, and possible code violation, by hiring a professional who’s familiar with the process when it comes to these types of jobs.

  • Additions and remodels
  • Deck or patio addition
  • Major electrical/plumbing work
  • Pool installation and repairs

Safety Risk for DIY Home Projects:

If there’s any question of your ability to do something without injury or structural damage to your home, it’s most definitely a job for a professional.

  • Mold, asbestos, lead removal
  • Tree removal
  • Roof and foundation repairs
  • HVAC system installation and repair

When you’ve decided you need a pro, try to keep the process simple to save you time and headaches. Start by reaching out to a few trusted contractors in your area to get estimates on the work, (recommendations from friends are a great place to start) and then consider price and professionalism before making your decision.

When it comes to HVAC work, we make it easy to find a pro. Along with plumbing and electrical work, HVAC is an area where it’s crucial to get the job done right the first time.

Sources:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/millennials-take-on-diy-projects-with-more-confidence-and-budgeting-discipline-than-previous-generations-300813538.html

https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/10-home-projects-you-should-always-hire-a-pro-for/

https://www.ahs.com/home-matters/quick-tips/8-household-projects-to-leave-to-professionals/

https://www.rd.com/home/improvement/diy-home-improvement-projects/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/projects-you-should-not-diy_n_3923456

https://www.hallerent.com/blog/when-to-call-professional-for-home-improvement-repairs/

Raise a Happy, Healthy Home
Breathe easy with the blueprints to a Healthy Home.

Learn More

Family |

Summer Crafts and Activities for Kids

3 minute read

School’s out! Learning and homework have officially become the last things on kids’ minds. That’s alright for a few weeks of summer, but it’s important to have a plan in place to prevent academic backsliding. We have a number of summer crafts and activities to keep your student engaged!

As a parent, we know it can be a challenge to strike a balance between fun and learning. To help you out, we’ve assembled some brain stimulating ideas that are enjoyable and affordable so your kids can enjoy their time off of school while staying mentally sharp at the same time.

Listed below are summer crafts and activities for different age groups to help keep both your younger and older kiddos from that dreaded summer brain drain.

Toddlers and Preschoolers

Young children still need a lot of routine and structure in their days regardless of the season.

  • Hands-on fun encourages exploration and builds fine motor skills, plus young kids love to get messy!
  • Reading is a must. 2 -4 year-olds can read the same book every day without getting sick of it, but try to aim for at least one new read a week to keep their minds going. This doesn’t mean a brand new book, maybe just one they haven’t reached for in a while, or a trip to the library for story hour.
  • Baking is another great activity that doubles as a snack. A well-fed toddler, is a happy toddler.

School-Aged Children

Kids’ imaginations are going crazy at this young and exciting age. It’s a great opportunity to dive deeper into their interests and expand their knowledge and understanding.

  • When it comes to summer reading for these kids, it’s a good idea to make frequent library trips to let them find books that they are interested in reading. It could also be fun to help them write their own book for the summer.
  • Take a theme and roll with it.
    • If your child has a passion for oceans, for example, make that the focal point of their learning opportunities with books about oceans, ocean-themed movie nights, ocean crafts, a trip to the aquarium, ocean-inspired snacks, etc. You get the idea, and your child will be over the moon that you’re investing time and energy into something they love.
  • It’s also a great age to think about signing them up for summer camp. Camp allows kids to branch out a little in a safe environment and learn new skills and make new friends. There is a camp for any interest and comfort level, from day camps to over-nighters, from sports camp to music camp.

Teenagers

If the idea of reining in a teenager for the summer scares you, you’re not alone. Thankfully there are pioneers out there that have survived a summer with teens and are willing to share their wisdom.

  • An “I’m bored jar” can be a lifesaver. Take some cues from this Ultimate List for ideas to include so they never have an excuse to complain. It’s also good to remind them that being bored is ok and their personalities and creativity can be developed through boredom.
  • For older teens, a summer job can provide them with the opportunity to learn a new skill, meet new people, and earn some money for their summer plans with friends. There are so many positions available for teens to take advantage of:
    • Camp Counselor/Lifeguard
    • Plant/Pet Sitter
    • Nanny/Housekeeper
    • Tutor
    • Little League Coach
  • For fun with the family, you can entice them with movie/game nights or let them plan the menu and help prepare at least one meal a week. It’s something that can end up being fun without feeling like you’re desperately trying to make them have fun with you. After all, freedom at this age is something they cherish.

Sources:
https://www.adventhealth.com/blog/how-keep-kids-brains-stimulated-over-summer

https://www.coloradoparent.com/keeping-your-child-stimulated-all-summer-long/

https://www.raisesmartkid.com/all-ages/1-articles/3-kids-summer-activities-to-make-them-smart

https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0612/10-great-summer-jobs-for-teens.aspx