If you live near a forest or wooded area, you should take extra precautions to protect your home and family from fires. In addition to having functioning smoke detectors and an evacuation plan, here’s what you should do.
1. Always confirm whether there’s a fire ban in your region before lighting a bonfire.
2. Privilege fire-resistant construction materials such as metal, brick and stucco for building structures on your property.
3. Remove all flammable vegetation and materials (including firewood) that are within a 30-foot radius of your home. This will reduce the risk of a fire spreading from the forest to your home and vice versa. Additionally, fences and propane tanks should be kept away from the home and other buildings on the property.
4. As much as possible, privilege tree species that have a low degree of flammability such as birch, maple, poplar and aspen. Additionally, make sure their crowns don’t touch, as this will reduce the risk of flames jumping from one tree to the next.
5. Try to collect as much rainwater as possible. You can install collection drums under your gutters and add small bodies of water to your landscaping.
6. Keep tools that could help fight a fire on hand such as long water hoses. It’s also a good idea to have a ladder that’s long enough to access your roof.
If you follow these safety tips, you may be able to prevent a fire from striking. At the very least, you’ll be better prepared in case one does occur.
Tips for preventing electrical fires in your home
Electrical fires are all too common. Here are some tips to prevent this type of disaster from occurring in your home.
• Unplug heat-producing appliances. Toasters, blow dryers, irons, kettles and any other heat generating tools should be unplugged when not in use. If they malfunction or are accidentally turned on, they can over¬heat and catch fire.
• Only use extension cords temporarily. Nothing should be left plugged into an extension cord permanently. If necessary, have a professional electrician install more outlets in your home.
• Get your electrical system updated. Modern wiring reduces the possibility that an electrical fire will start. It may also save you money on your insurance policy.
• Check electrical cords before plugging them in. Cords that are frayed, cracked or loose aren’t safe. Get wires repaired before plugging them in.
• Don’t remove the third prong on a power cord. The third prong protects your home from electrical malfunctions. If your home only has two-prong outlets, call an electrician to get them updated.
Above all, be familiar with the signs of electrical problems. This includes burn marks or discolorations around sockets, switches or fixtures; appliances and cords that feel hot to the touch; and breakers that regularly trip.
Can your dog or cat eat a vegan diet?
The popularity of plant-based eating has left some pet owners wondering if they can feed their dog or cat a vegan diet. After all, humans can thrive on meat-free fare, so why not their animal companions? Here’s what you should know about feeding pets a vegetable-based diet.
Canines are classified as carnivores but are functionally omnivorous. This means they can get some of their nutrients from grains and vegetables. However, there are nutrients present in animal proteins that Fido needs to thrive. In fact, it’s almost impossible for dogs to get all the vitamins, amino acids and minerals they require from plants alone.
While canines can technically survive on a vegan diet, they’re heal¬thiest when fed meals that include meat.
Unlike dogs, cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they have specific nutrient requirements that can only be met by ingesting meat.
Plant proteins simply don’t supply the amino acids felines need, especially one called taurine. If your cat doesn’t get enough taurine, heart disease, vision problems and even death may result.
For their health and well-being, avoid feeding your dog or cat a vegan diet. To learn more about your pet’s nutritional requirements, talk to their veterinarian.
4 family activities to get you primed for Halloween
There’s no shortage of fun and spooky things to do with your kids in the weeks and days leading up to Halloween. Here are four fun activities the whole family will enjoy.
1. Decorate pumpkins. Carving jack-o’-lanterns is an annual tradition in many families. If your kids aren’t old enough to wield a knife, decorate your pumpkins with paint, stickers and other craft supplies you have on hand.
2. Host a Halloween party. Invite some friends to a haunted Halloween bash. You can bob for apples, play games and have a costume contest. Don’t forget to provide an assortment of spine-chilling snacks and drinks.
3. Have a movie marathon. Pop some corn and settle in for a fright night in front of the small screen. Choose kid-friendly Halloween movies for the younger ones and save the gory horror flicks for after the kids have gone to bed.
4. Bake spooky treats. Make some cookies or cupcakes and let your kids decorate them. Use orange and black icing to top the fresh goodies and incorporate assorted scary touches such as gummy worms and black licorice.
These fun family activities are the perfect way to build up to trick-or-treating on Halloween night.
Celebrate Oktoberfest in your own backyard
The first ever Oktoberfest was held in Munich in 1810 to celebrate the marriage of the crown prince of Bavaria. Since then, this annual German event has evolved into the best known folk festival, or volksfest, in the world. Every year, millions of tourists and locals alike convene to eat, drink and dance at Oktoberfest.
The festival, which takes place over two weeks every fall, is held in a meadow near Munich. It’s spawned similar celebrations all over the world, notably in Cincinnati, Ohio, which holds the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the United States.
But if you can’t make it to Cincinnati or Munich, many towns throw smaller celebrations to mark the occasion. Similarly, your local bar, microbrewery or restaurant may host Oktoberfest events.
If you prefer to stay home, consider hosting your own Oktoberfest party. It’s as easy as throwing some sausages on the grill and stocking up on beer. Go for German varieties if you want to create an authentic experience.
At Oktoberfest in Munich, beer is a big deal. Only those that meet strict criteria and are made by one of Munich’s top six breweries are allowed to be sold on site. Local pubs and festivals may not follow the same rules, however, and you definitely don’t have to at home. You can decide to only serve German beers or opt for local beers instead.
The perfect recipe for a great Oktoberfest is good food, beer and company. So how will you celebrate this year?
How retirees can make new friends
Has your social circle diminished over the years? If so, it can be difficult to make new friends as you get older. Here are some tips that might help.
1. Be proactive. Go out and meet people. Libraries, cafes and neighborhood gatherings are all ideal places to mingle. Alternatively, take a class that interests you, volunteer with a charity or join a club.
2. Seize opportunities. If someone invites you to an event or on an outing, accept! Don’t make excuses just because you’re nervous. If you meet someone you like, make plans to see them again soon.
3. Be interested. Listen to others and be interested in what they have to say. Smile, ask questions and don’t monopolize the conversation.
4. Keep in touch. Meeting new people isn’t the only way to enrich your social life. It can be just as rewarding, if not more so, to get in touch with old friends. You may be surprised at how easily you’re able to reconnect.
There’s no shortage of ways to meet new people. Search the internet to find local groups and clubs that interest you. Alternatively, take regular walks around your neighborhood. It’ll keep you in shape and you’ll get to know people in the area.
Preventing cyberbullying: how to keep kids safe online
Cyberbullying is a growing problem for today’s children and teenagers. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey found that 59 percent of American teenagers have been bullied or harassed online. As a parent, here’s what you can do to protect your kids from cyberbullying.
Talk to them
Ask them what they know about cyberbullying and whether they’ve witnessed or experienced it themselves. Many kids avoid talking about the issue with their parents for fear they won’t be allowed to use social media or their devices at all. Let them know that you won’t curtail their access to the internet.
Teach them online safety protocols
Kids should be taught how to use the internet safely. This includes:
• Not sharing personal information online, including their age and where they live
• Not opening suspicious links, emails and messages
• Adjusting online accounts to the strongest privacy settings available
• Using secure passwords and not sharing them with others
Monitor their activity
Limit their internet use to common areas of the house so you can keep an eye on what they’re doing. Insist they give you their passwords and let them know you’ll be monitoring their activity regularly.
If your child is being cyberbullied, work with them to decide on the best course of action. This should include saving copies of hostile messages and posts, blocking the bully and notifying the proper authorities if necessary.