A wood-burning fireplace can add warmth and charm to your home. However, if certain precautions aren’t taken, these devices pose a serious hazard. To ensure your home and family members remain safe, here are five practices you should adopt.
1. Use the right wood
Wood smoke contains a number of pollutants. To minimize emissions, opt for hardwood like elm, maple, and oak, and avoid softwood such as spruce and fir. Additionally, make sure the logs are clean and dry.
2. Install quality alarms
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are essential. Purchase quality devices from a recognized brand, test them regularly, and always have extra batteries on hand.
3. Keep an extinguisher nearby
A single misdirected spark or fallen ember can lead to a devastating fire. Make sure you always have easy access to a fire extinguisher and that you know how to use it.
4. Store ashes safely
Keep your fireplace clean by putting hot ashes in a sealed metal container outdoors and away from buildings and flammable materials. Wait a few days before transferring the ashes to the garbage.
5. Clean the chimney
Get a professional to clean and inspect your chimney every year. This will ensure proper ventilation and reduce the risk of chimney fires.
If you carefully follow these tips, you and your family will be able to safely enjoy the benefits of having a wood-burning fireplace in your home.
How to choose greener toys
Do you worry about your environmental impact when buying gifts for your children? Fortunately, finding eco-friendly toys is easier than you think. In fact, green toys contain fewer harmful materials and can raise awareness in your children of the importance of caring for the environment. Here are some tips to help you select “greener” toys.
Choose natural or renewable materials
Buy toys made of untreated and unvarnished raw wood or painted with natural substances. On top of being full of character, these toys are durable and can be handed down to future generations.
Natural rubber is excellent for soft toys, whereas their plastic counterparts often get their softness from the addition of harmful substances. It also makes sense to look for natural and organic fabrics and materials, such as cotton, hemp, and linen.
Go for reclaimed materials
Look for eco-conscious brands and logos specifying that the materials used in the manufacturing process come from reclamation. Buying guides specializing in environmentally-friendly products can help you find the most conscientious brands.
Avoid plastics and perfumes
As much as possible, limit the number of plastic toys your child is exposed to. This precaution is crucial for children under three who tend to put things in their mouths. Some plastics, such as PVC, are particularly problematic. Scented toys are also not advisable.
Don’t hesitate to ask the merchant or manufacturer for more information about a toy that interests you.
4 good reasons to install a natural pool
Natural pools are gaining in popularity. Here are four good reasons to install one on your property.
1. Environmentally friendly
Natural pools don’t contain harsh chemicals and often feature beneficial aquatic plants like water lilies, pond sedges, and perennial grasses. This attracts more flora and fauna, like birds, butterflies, and small marine creatures.
2. Low maintenance
The aquatic plants in natural pools help clean, oxygenate and regenerate the water naturally. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about keeping up with intense maintenance. Only the central swimming area requires a filter and skimmer.
The cost of designing and building a natural pool is equivalent to that of an in-ground concrete pool. However, natural pools are much cheaper to use and maintain than traditional pools.
4. Easy to care for
Natural pools don’t require much effort. Simply clear away fallen leaves and debris, prune the aquatic plants in the fall and add phosphorite or bacteria to prevent algae. Moreover, you must empty the filtration pipes before the first snowfall so that they won’t crack. That’s it!
Consult a professional landscaper if you want to create a beautiful natural pool in your backyard.
What to bring for a day of cycling
There’s more to a successful bike ride than just your bike. Here’s a checklist of essentials to ensure you’re prepared for any eventuality.
• Clothing. Choose light and bright clothing appropriate for riding, like bike shorts that protect your thighs and prevent chafing. Stay away from loose-fitting clothing that can get caught in the bike chain. Don’t wear cotton socks, as they retain moisture, or footwear like beach sandals that don’t provide adequate support. Also, be ready for any weather by bringing a windbreaker or raincoat.
• Water and food. Make sure you have enough water for the duration of your ride. Additionally, pack nutritious snacks like energy bars, crackers, cheese, and fresh or dried fruit, which keep well in different temperatures.
• Repair tools. Pack a few hex keys, a small wrench, a puncture repair kit, and a spare inner tube to ensure you don’t get stranded on the side of the road.
• First aid. It’s a good idea to carry a few first-aid items like adhesive bandages, gauze, disinfectant pads, latex gloves, and round-tipped scissors to treat minor injuries.
• Protection. Always wear a helmet and frequently apply sunblock. Moreover, the right pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from the bright sun, wind, dust, and insects.
Have a great ride!
6 advantages of camping
Are you still deciding on accommodations for your summer vacation or weekend getaway? Here are six good reasons to choose camping.
1. It’s affordable. Camping is generally less expensive than other summer accommodations like cabins.
2. You can tailor your vacation to your preferences and comfort level. There are camping accommodations for everyone, from tents and motorhomes to yurts and treehouses. What’s more, it’s easy to find pet-friendly facilities.
3. You and your family can meet new people. Moreover, campgrounds are ideal for group vacations, so your friends can easily join in on the fun.
4. Campgrounds offer a variety of facilities like tennis courts, swimming pools, and game rooms. Some facilities organize thematic evenings and friendly tournaments to keep you entertained. There’s also typically a playground for children.
5. You and your family can improve your cooperation and communication skills because camping requires you to be organized and adaptable.
6. Spending time in nature is a great way to relax and recharge your batteries. You can also enjoy picnics, barbecues, campfires, and evenings under the stars. Depending on your location, you can take advantage of hiking trails and water sports.
Lastly, camping is an excellent last-minute getaway because you can often pick up a site without a reservation.
The joys of cycling
Cycling is an affordable activity that’s good for your health, gentle on your joints, and above all, a lot of fun. What’s more, this eco-friendly activity is suitable for people of all ages. Here are three good reasons to get on your bike and ride.
1. Recharge your batteries
Cycling is one of the best ways to get fresh air and make the most of a sunny day. You can burn calories and fill up on vitamin D, all while having fun. Studies show that the psychological benefits of exercise increase tenfold when done outdoors, thanks to the calming effects of nature. Cycling gives you joy in the moment, plus a lasting feeling of well-being.
2. Enjoy the sights
Riding your bike through the forest, in the mountains, along the water, or over rolling hills allows you to admire enchanting landscapes that you wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to see. You may also get to rediscover familiar places from a new perspective and find your own little corner of paradise. Don’t forget your camera.
3. Visit new places
Cycling is a great way to explore a new city or region at your own pace. You can spend quality time with family or friends, explore new places and make lasting memories. You can also take your bike on a wine or historical buildings tour or ride to the ocean to watch whales. Just make sure you’re prepared for windy or rainy weather.
Are you itching to take a ride?
Good to know
You can use adventurecycling.org to find unique cycling routes across the United States. The route maps also identify bicycle-friendly inns, campgrounds, shops, and essential services along the way so that you can travel with confidence.
A guide to choosing the right paint finish
Do you want to repaint one or more rooms in your home? When choosing paint, the finish is just as important as the color. Here are some things to consider when choosing a matte, satin, velvet or semi-gloss finish.
What are paint finishes?
The term finish indicates how the paint will look on the painted surface and how much light it’ll reflect. Finish designations like velvet, platinum, satin, and pearl vary from one paint manufacturer to another. It’s therefore essential to ask about the sheen of the product before making your choice.
Here are the most suitable finishes for the different rooms and surfaces in your home:
• Ceilings. Matte finish is most suitable for ceilings. If applied evenly, it can hide imperfections.
• Living room and bedrooms. Consider matte and satin finishes for consistent and elegant results. Keep in mind that matte finishes aren’t as easy to clean. For easy cleaning, pearl and semi-gloss finishes are more suitable options.
• Bathrooms and kitchens. Shiny and glossy finishes are best for high-maintenance rooms that require moisture resistance. For areas that need occasional polishing, choose a semi-gloss finish.
• Woodwork. Velvet, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss finishes are suitable for woodwork and moldings. The same goes for doors. However, it’s best to choose a finish that’s easy to clean.
Visit a paint retailer in your area to stock up for your next project.