With Halloween just around the corner, visiting the pumpkin patch at your nearest u-pick farm may be in order. You can take a hayride, wander through a corn maze, eat your fill of apple cider donuts and, most importantly, choose the perfect pumpkin. Here’s how to find it.
• Look at the color. Find one that’s a deep and even orange tone, with no yellow or green patches.
• Knock on it. Pumpkins should sound hollow when tapped.
• Check the stem. It shouldn’t be soft or feel loose in any way.
• Inspect it. The bottom should be flat enough to provide a stable base, and the entire pumpkin should be firm.
If you’re planning to carve or paint your pumpkin, make sure the one you choose has a pleasing shape with no strange bumps or spots. If they’re available, consider coming home with a blue, white or green pumpkin instead of an orange one. They’re just as tasty and make a striking fall display.
Use every part of your pumpkin
You might already know you can roast and then eat the seeds of your pumpkin and use the sweet flesh in all sorts of recipes, but did you know that you can eat the skin too?
Make pumpkin skin chips by peeling long strips of skin with a potato peeler, seasoning with salt, pepper and olive oil, and baking in the oven at 350 °F for 25 minutes or until crispy. They make a great topping for soup and are delicious on their own as a snack.
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.
6 fire safety tips for homeowners living near wooded areas
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.
How to find a vet for your exotic pet
It’s easy to find a vet for a cat or dog, but what if you have another type of pet entirely? Animals like reptiles, fish, birds, ferrets and rodents need a vet with special training to give them the medical attention they need.
The best way to find a reliable veterinarian for your exotic pet is by word of mouth. Talk to others with the same type of animal as you or seek the advice of breeders and rescue organizations. You can also search online.
When you find a practice or clinic that seems promising, ask for a tour of the facility. It should be clean and modern, and the animals should look comfortable.
If your dog or cat’s veterinarian tells you they’re comfortable taking care of your exotic pet, ask how many exotics they currently provide care for. A vet who sees a single parrot once a month, for example, will not be as knowledgeable about birds as one who sees multiple avian patients a week.
Don’t wait until there’s an emergency to find a veterinarian for your exotic pet. If your companion gets sick or injured, knowing where to turn can make all the difference.
What to do if there’s a fire in your kitchen
More house fires start in the kitchen than in any other room. Of these, most are caused by grease. Here’s what to do if a fire breaks out while you’re cooking.
If the fire is contained and it isn’t spreading quickly, you can extinguish it. The first step is to eliminate the heat source. If it’s possible to do so without injuring yourself, turn off the oven or stove.
Next, you need to deprive the fire of oxygen. In the case of an oven fire, leave the door closed and wait for the fire to extinguish itself. If it’s in a pan, smother it with a lid or baking sheet. To do this safely, hold the cover in front of you like a shield and cover the pot from front to back. Don’t throw the lid on the fire, as you risk spreading the flames around.
If you don’t have a cover, baking soda can be used to smother the flames. However, you’ll likely need more than the small box you keep in your fridge. You can also use a fire extinguisher, as long as it’s rated B, which designates that it’s safe to use on grease fires. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire.
If the fire is burning too hotly to be smothered or it begins to spread fast, evacuate the house and call the fire department immediately.
Be a fire prevention hero: plan your escape route
October 6 to 12 is Fire Prevention Week. This year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has chosen the theme: Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape! This campaign is designed to educate people about the small but important steps they can take to stay safe in the event of a fire.
Ensure smoke alarms work
The first step in escaping a fire is being alerted to it. There should be smoke alarms on each level of your house and one in each bedroom. Test your alarms monthly to make sure they work.
Make an evacuation plan
If a building is burning, you may only have two minutes to evacuate the premises once the fire alarm sounds. Planning your escape route and practicing it with everyone who lives in your home could save lives. Here’s how to create an evacuation plan with your family.
• Draw the layout of your home and identify two ways out of each room.
• Ensure that evacuation routes remain clear at all times and that all family members can access them.
• Pick two meeting places: one just outside your home and another that’s further afoot but still in the vicinity. This is where your family will gather in case of a fire.
• Make sure everyone knows how to call 911 or emergency services from a cellphone or a neighbor’s phone.
Having an evacuation plan can mean the difference between life and death. This year, be a fire prevention hero and work with your family to create a fire safety plan. For more information about fire safety and Fire Prevention Week, visit fpw.org.