If you and your dog love to swim, beware of the deadly blue-green algae blooms that infect rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes throughout the United States during hot weather.
Blue-green algae or cyanobacteria often clump together to form ‘pond scum.’ It can turn the water green, but not always. The toxic algae itself may be any color, including red.
It thrives on hot days in warm water during calm weather, but even a flowing river can have the toxin.
Both people and animals are at risk.
Just one drink of infected water can kill a dog, sometimes within an hour, according to Pet Poison Helpline. One Twitter user said her dog died within 15 minutes of swimming in contaminated water.
In people, symptoms may arise within hours to a week after exposure.
Exposure to the skin can cause rashes and blistering.
Droplets from infected water inhaled during water sports, such as boating or skiing, can cause cold and asthma-like symptoms and chest pain, according to Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency.
By far the worst outcomes are from swallowing infected water, which can bloom in pools and even dog bowls.
Blue-green algae can carry many types of toxins. The worst damage is often caused by algae that release the toxin microcystin. This toxin is not always present in blue-green algae, but there is no way to tell if it is there just by looking. This toxin affects the liver.
Microcystin poisoning causes breathing problems, stomach and digestive pain, fever, and in cases where people swallow a large amount of water, liver damage.
Research has shown that while fish are infected, the danger of poisoning to humans is more limited because the toxin resides in the fish organs. However, fishing in algae blooming waters is not a good idea since droplets could be inhaled.
The Environmental Protection Agency is developing a cyanobacteria assessment app, called CyAN App, now available through Google Play to Android users. The free app offers an assessment of water quality throughout the U.S.
How to decorate the outside of your home for Christmas
If you want to decorate the outside of your home for the holiday season but aren’t sure where to begin, here are some ways to get started.
Decorate your trees
Whether you have lush evergreens or bare deciduous trees in your yard, you can dress them up for the Christmas season with ornaments or outdoor string lights.
Put up a Christmas wreath
Make a wreath or buy one from a local artisan. Hang it on your front door or lean it against a nearby wall to create a welcoming entranceway.
Embellish your stairway
If you have sufficient space, place one or more ornate flowerpots, lanterns, nutcrackers, or other decorative elements at the top or bottom of your stairway. Wrap your railing in a garland for a festive flair.
Fill vacant spaces
You can set up decorative structures if you have a large front yard. Inflatable figures and lighted characters will help bring holiday cheer to your home.
For more inspiration and to find great decorations, visit your local retailers.
How to care for bathroom plants
If your bathroom has a lot of natural light, giving it a touch of green with plants suited to a damp environment can be fun. Here are some tips to ensure they thrive.
Account for ventilation
Since bathrooms are humid, you need to consider air circulation as you decide on plant placement. If the room isn’t well-ventilated, some species may add to the humidity and cause mold and mildew to grow.
Opt for plants that dehumidify the air, such as ivy or orchids. Tillandsia is also a lovely choice. Commonly known as air plants, these beauties don’t require soil and can be displayed as a hanging arrangement or in a glass jar.
Evaluate your available space
If your bathroom is relatively large, you have a lot of freedom to choose your plants and can mix things up with a variety of species and sizes. If your space is limited, however, you should choose small plants that can be suspended or placed on a windowsill. Consider buying a spider plant, dwarf fig tree, or pothos.
The secret to keeping a plant healthy is to provide it with the correct doses of sunlight, water, and warmth. When you visit your local garden center, determine the needs of the species you like before bringing it home.
The fashion industry generates a significant amount of greenhouse gasses. For this reason, many businesses selling ready-to-wear clothes and accessories are actively seeking ways to reduce their environmental footprint. One way they’re doing this involves selling products made from vegan leather.
Items made of synthetic leather are often preferred by people who practice veganism, a lifestyle that eschews the use of animal products in all forms.
Not to be confused with vegetable-tanned leather, vegan leather can be made of grain, fruit, or vegetable waste. One of the most popular materials is pineapple leather, also known as Piñatex, which is made from the fibers found in pineapple leaves.
Alternatively, vegan leather can be made from eucalyptus trees, cacti, corn, mushrooms, and apple peels. Whether derived from sustainable crops or food waste, these versatile fabrics are increasingly used to create beautiful and supple handbags, belts, watchbands, clothes, and shoes.
Currently, vegan leathers occupy a marginal space in the market. However, they’re attracting more and more interest. Large brands anticipate a growing demand for these products by designers, retailers, and consumers around the globe.
Keep your dog active when cold weather hits
It’s dog ownership 101: A busy dog is a happy dog. But when cold temperatures and nasty weather set in, you might have to scuttle your normal walks and trips to the dog park. When that happens, try one of these indoor activities to keep your pet happy and nurture your shared bond.
* Mix a game of tug with a few simple commands. When your dog is riled up from the game, tell her to drop the tug toy and sit. When she obeys, praise her and then reward her with more tugging.
* Challenge your dog’s nose with a scent search. Tell him to sit and stay while you hide his favorite toy. Rub the toy on multiple surfaces to increase the challenge. When you return, release him to find it.
* Practice basic commands. Even well-trained dogs can usually benefit from — and enjoy — a little bit of review. Work on sit, stay, down, and leave it, with lots of positive reinforcement to keep your dog happy and engaged.
* Stuff a Kong toy with peanut butter or other treats and freeze it to keep your dog occupied for as long as an hour.
* Surprise your dog with new toys. When going outside isn’t an option, a new toy gives your dog something to explore and chew on. Keep a couple of toys tucked away, just in case.
* Try doggy daycare. Doggy daycare is a great way to socialize your dog and let them burn off all its pent-up energy. Don’t be surprised if your dog can’t stay awake for the entire ride back home.
Seven gifts for cycling buffs
Do you know someone who rides their bike every chance they get? Here are seven great gift ideas for cycling enthusiasts.
Cycling gloves protect hands from cold weather and provide excellent grip on handlebars. Look for a pair that’s insulated, waterproof, and windproof.
Consider a backpack designed for the type of cycling your loved one enjoys the most. For example, mountain biking bags have a reservoir that can replace bulky water bottles.
3. Rear pannier rack
This accessory is perfect for urban riding because it allows cyclists to carry items safely.
4. Frame bag
These small bags can hold snacks, a cell phone, and other personal items like keys. Most models can be detached easily when the cyclist needs to take a break.
5. Helmet light
A helmet light will illuminate the road ahead during dark evening outings and allow the cyclist to remain visible to other road users thanks to the included rear light.
Look for a pair of aerodynamic sunglasses that grip the ears and nose.
A thin, compact windbreaker can be packed into a small bag and is ideal for windy rides.
For more great ideas, check out your local bike store.
Five tips to ensure your reno will last
Do you plan to renovate your home? If so, here are a few tips to ensure your project stands the test of time.
1. Project yourself into the future
Don’t base your renovation decisions solely on your current wants and needs. If you anticipate expanding your family over the next few years, or if your children are getting ready to leave the nest, consider these eventualities.
2. Invest in quality products
When purchasing or replacing pricier items like your bathtub, stove, or sofa, it’s best to seek out brands with a reputation for reliability. Though they may cost more initially, you won’t have to replace them as quickly, and their longer lifespan will put money in your pocket.
3. Integrate trends economically
If you like to keep up with trends, do it with accessories like curtains, mirrors, and cushions. These items are easy to replace without breaking the bank when they wear out or look dated. You might also want to experiment with paint, which is a relatively affordable way to update a space.
4. Opt for neutral colors
Choose neutral colors for anything you intend to be permanent and for items that are more expensive or difficult to replace, such as a shower stall or ceramic floor. Consider white, beige, or gray, and opt for a design that’ll age well.
5. Consider functionality
Take some time to reflect on your options to ensure your choices are as practical as they are fashionable. Don’t leave things like lighting, storage, and clearance space to chance. These details can make the difference between a successful renovation and one you regret.
To ensure your renovations live up to your expectations, be sure to rely on the expertise of your local contractors, architects, and interior decorators.