Holiday Time Wisdom…Keeping your family Safe

christmas-treeHoliday Lighting
  • Use caution with holiday decorations and, whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.
  • Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings, and replace damaged items before plugging lights in.  Do not overload extension cords.
  • Don’t mount lights in any way that can damage the cord’s wire insulation.  To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples–don’t use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground-fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
 Decorations
  • Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel and artificial icicles of plastic and non-leaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.
  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child to put them in his mouth.
Holiday Entertaining
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S.  When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
  • Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
  • Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.
 Trees
  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “fire-resistant.”
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
  • Make sure the base is steady so the tree won’t tip over easily.
  Fireplaces
  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
  • Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
  Toys and Ornaments
  • Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children.
  • Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
  • Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, and parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
  • Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint out of the reach of small children and pets.
Children and Pets
  • Poinsettias are known to be poisonous to humans and animals, so keep them well out of reach, or avoid having them.
  • Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.
  • Avoid using tinsel. It can fall on the floor and a curious child or pet may eat it. This can cause anything from mild distress to death.
  • Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke.
  • Avoid mittens with strings for children. The string can get tangled around the child’s neck and cause them to choke. It is easier to replace a mitten than a child.
  • Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
  • Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.
  • Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.
 Security
  • Use your home burglar alarm system.
  • If you plan to travel for the holidays, don’t discuss your plans with strangers.
  • Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home.
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Thanksgiving….and Help for Charity Giving!

Check-A-Charity

scamalertCharities depend on the generosity of donors to support them for various causes and purposes. Many charitable organizations use your donations wisely; however, some may misrepresent their fundraising intentions or solicit for phony causes. Keep these tips in mind before making a donation:

Watch out for Scams

Scammers take advantage of people by pretending to be a real charity in order to commit fraud. Frequently, bogus charities will exploit a recent natural disaster or tragedy, promising to use the donations to aid victims. It is important not to judge a charity solely on its name. Many organizations may use names similar to well-known charities and organizations.

Check out a Charity Before Donating

Ask the charity or organization why it is asking for donations and what purpose will be served. Florida law gives the prospective donor the right to request and receive a copy of a charity’s financial report before donating. You can also use our Check-A-Charity tool at FreshFromFlorida.com to view a charity’s financial information and current registration status, or call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352). Be aware that many telephone appeals for funds are made by paid solicitors, not volunteers. Telemarketing is expensive and may entail substantial fundraising costs. Ask the solicitor what portion of your donation will be retained by the charity.

Avoid High Pressure Tactics

Some solicitors use high-pressure tactics and may even offer to send a “runner” to pick up your money immediately. Don’t feel forced to make a quick decision without getting all the information you need to make an informed decision. Reputable charities and organizations are just as happy to receive your donation tomorrow as today. If you decide to make a donation; never send cash. Typically, it is best to pay by check, made payable to the charity itself, not to the solicitor. If you decide to make a donation online, look for indicators that the site is secure, such as a URL that begins with “https:” (the “s” stands for “secure”).

Keep Good Records

Always obtain and save a printed copy of your donation or a receipt showing the amount of the contribution. Not all organizations soliciting in the name of benevolence are true charities eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. If this is important to you, ask about the organization’s federal and state eligibility for receiving tax deductible donations. Typically, such donations fall under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).

All charities soliciting within Florida (excluding religious, educational, political and governmental agencies) are required to register and file financial information with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. If a professional solicitor is requesting a donation on behalf of a charity, the solicitor also must be registered with the department and should be able to provide you with their registration number. Visit Check-A-Charity online at FreshFromFlorida.com to view a charity’s financial information and current registration status, or call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352).

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection and information. Consumers who believe fraud has taken place can contact the department’s consumer assistance center at 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352), 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832) en Español or visit FreshFromFlorida.com.

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Hurricane Matthew – THINK AHEAD

Hurricane preparedness: This list is from the State of Florida. Do what you can now.

It is important to create a kit of supplies that you could take with you if you are forced to evacuate. This kit will also be useful if you are able to stay in your home, but are still affected by the storm, such as through the loss of power. One common trend seen when hurricanes are approaching is a wide-spread panic. When this happens, people rush in large numbers to get all the supplies they think they need. However, if you prepare your kit ahead of time, you can alleviate a lot of the potential stress of a very chaotic situation. You should create your kit in a bag that you can easily take with you. Some recommended items to include are:

  • Non-perishable food (enough to last at least 3 days)
  • Water (enough to last at least 3 days)
  • First-aid kit (include any prescription medication you may need)
  • Personal hygiene items and sanitation items
  • Flashlights (have extra batteries on hand)
  • Battery operated radio (again, have extra batteries)
  • Waterproof container with cash and important documents
  • Manual can opener
  • Lighter or matches
  • Books, magazines, games for recreation
  • Special needs items: pet supplies and baby supplies if applicable
  • Cooler and ice packs
  • A plan for evacuation and for if family members are separated

Securing Your Home

Know how to secure your home in the event of damaging winds, storm surge and flooding.

  • Cover all of your windows, either with hurricane shutters or wood.
  • Although tape can prevent glass from shattering everywhere, be warned that tape does not prevent the window from breaking.
  • If possible, secure straps or clips to securely fasten your roof to the structure of your home.
  • Make sure all trees and shrubs are trimmed and clear rain gutters.
  • Reinforce your garage doors.
  • Bring in all outdoor furniture, garbage cans, decorations, and anything else that is not tied down.
  • If winds become strong, stay away from windows and doors and close, secure and brace internal doors.

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Congrats to Creative Floors for participating in a Military Home Makeover

13709882_10206953941951883_3182608948319751377_nCreative Floors partnered with Armstrong to participate in the Military Home Makeover! We are installing Vivero vinyl plank! I to ace laminate and vinyl installers were being filmed installing the floor. This flooring was selected because we had to find something we could install over ceramic tile, something that would install relatively quickly and people could walk on it right away. There are so many crews working in the house simultaneously and only three days to do the complete makeover, this floor made the perfect choice!

13709868_10206953941831880_5791092021805640984_n13718619_10206953942191889_3020474432091907517_n13709784_10206953942071886_1381683338162082114_n

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Home Improvement Referral Services may ruin more than your day

bewareCharlie DePari, the host of WFLA’s Home Improvement Show is always cautioning home owners to do their homework and to make sure you hire a licensed contractor that is properly insured with employees that are FULLY background checked. It is also why ASK THE SEAL is an important part of WFLA’s Home Improvement Show. Ask The Seal is FREE to homeowners and they go above and beyond to only work with pros that meet their high standards.

WFTV recently did an investigative report that called out Home Advisers and Thumbtack who claim to vet the contractors they list, but it appears to be just marketing talk and no real vetting is going on. They seem to be just collecting fees from any so-called-contractor willing to pay for home improvement leads.

Click here to see WFTV’s video report here.

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Hurricane Season, be prepared

State of Florida Guide June 4, 2016

The Essential Guide to Hurricane Preparedness

hurricanereadyThe Hurricane Season began June 1st. Knowing the essentials of how to prepare could truly be a life saver.

Hurricane Knowledge

First, know your hurricane facts and understand common terms used during hurricane forecasts. Storm conditions can vary on the intensity, size and even the angle which the tropical cyclone approaches your area, so it is vital you understand what the forecasters and news reporters are telling you.

Tropical Depressions are cyclones with winds of 38 mph. Tropical Storms vary in wind speeds from 39-73 mph while Hurricanes have winds 74 mph and greater. Typically the upper right quadrant of the storm (the center wrapping around the eye) is the most intense portion of the storm. The greatest threats are damaging winds, storm surge and flooding. This is in part why Hurricane Katrina was so catastrophic when bringing up to 28 foot storm surges onto the Louisiana and Mississippi coastlines.

Here are some important terms you may hear:

  • Tropical Storm Watch: Tropical storm conditions are possible in the area.
  • Hurricane Watch: Hurricane conditions are possible in the area.
    Watches are issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds.
  • Tropical Storm Warning: Tropical storm conditions are expected in the area.
  • Hurricane Warning: Hurricane conditions are expected in the area.
    Warnings are issued 36 hours in advance of tropical storm force winds.
  • Eye: Clear, sometimes well-defined center of the storm with calmer conditions.
  • Eye Wall: Surrounding the eye, contains some of the most severe weather of the storm with the highest wind speed and largest precipitation.
  • Rain Bands: Bands coming off the cyclone that produce severe weather conditions such as heavy rain, wind and tornadoes.
  • Storm Surge: An often underestimated and deadly result of ocean water swelling as a result of a landfalling storm, and quickly flooding coastal and sometimes areas further inland.

During a watch, prepare your home and evacuation plan in case a warning is issued. During a warning, carefully follow the directions of officials, and immediately leave the area if they advise it. In the event of an Extreme Wind Warning/Advisory, which means that extreme sustained winds of 115 mph or greater are expected to begin within an hour, immediately take shelter in the interior portion of a well-built structure.

Hurricane Forecasts

Predicting a tropical cyclone’s path can be challenging; there are many global and local factors that come into play. The storm’s size and path can directly influence what sort of wind patterns guide, enhance or hinder its growth, and vice versa! Forecasters have computers that take huge amounts of data and try to predict where the storm will go and usually can calculate 2-3 days out fairly accurately. This is where you hear the terms computer models and spaghetti models being used. Generally the forecast track or path is given with the average consensus of these models. The National Hurricane Center has the most up-to-date information on tropical cyclone developments, forecasts and weather alerts, discussions analyzing the data and more. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

Hurricane Names

Hurricane names are picked randomly, then rotated and recycled every 6 years. If a hurricane was catastrophic or severely deadly and costly (i.e. Charlie, Katrina, Irene) it is officially retired since use is not appropriate and can be confusing when naming current storms. To view the current list of tropical cyclone names click here: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml

Hurricane Kits

It is important to create a kit of supplies that you could take with you if you are forced to evacuate. This kit will also be useful if you are able to stay in your home, but are still affected by the storm, such as through the loss of power. One common trend seen when hurricanes are approaching is a wide-spread panic. When this happens, people rush in large numbers to get all the supplies they think they need. However, if you prepare your kit ahead of time, you can alleviate a lot of the potential stress of a very chaotic situation. You should create your kit in a bag that you can easily take with you. Some recommended items to include are:

  • Non-perishable food (enough to last at least 3 days)
  • Water (enough to last at least 3 days)
  • First-aid kit (include any prescription medication you may need)
  • Personal hygiene items and sanitation items
  • Flashlights (have extra batteries on hand)
  • Battery operated radio (again, have extra batteries)
  • Waterproof container with cash and important documents
  • Manual can opener
  • Lighter or matches
  • Books, magazines, games for recreation
  • Special needs items: pet supplies and baby supplies if applicable
  • Cooler and ice packs
  • A plan for evacuation and for if family members are separated

Securing Your Home

Know how to secure your home in the event of damaging winds, storm surge and flooding.

  • Cover all of your windows, either with hurricane shutters or wood.
  • Although tape can prevent glass from shattering everywhere, be warned that tape does not prevent the window from breaking.
  • If possible, secure straps or clips to securely fasten your roof to the structure of your home.
  • Make sure all trees and shrubs are trimmed and clear rain gutters.
  • Reinforce your garage doors.
  • Bring in all outdoor furniture, garbage cans, decorations, and anything else that is not tied down.
  • If winds become strong, stay away from windows and doors and close, secure and brace internal doors.

Power Outages

In the event a storm should leave you without power, there are a few things to consider and help you be ready and stay safe outside of your normal hurricane preparedness.

  • Gas: Make sure your tank is full far in advance of an approaching storm. Most people wait until the last minute, rush to get extra gas for cars and generators, and subsequently gas stations can run out early.
  • ATMS: Have extra cash on hand in the event no ATMS in your area are accessible or working.
  • Cell Phones: Charge your cell phone and limit use after power is out.
  • A/C: This can be the most uncomfortable side effect of losing power during a storm. Try to prevent as much light from entering and warming the house by covering up your windows on the inside. If you have back-up or battery operated fans, don’t run them unless you are in the room. Fans create a difference in perceived temperature but do not cool the room; instead they create a cooling effect by dispersing the heat off your skin. It is said they can actually add heat to a room just by running.
  • Water: Fill bathtub and large containers with water for washing and flushing only.
  • Food: Turn your fridge temperature down and/or freeze any food or drinking water that can be frozen if you expect a power outage. Here is a guide on freezing food: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/FactSheets/Focus_On_Freezing/index.asp. Have a cooler with ice packs prepared to cool your drinks and snacks after power has been out for more than 4 hours. And importantly, check out this food safety guide for when to discard your perishable food: http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/refridg_food.html
  • Health/Safety: The CDC has a great guide on how to stay safe in the event of a power outage: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/poweroutage/

Remember, any severe storm can be deadly and destructive. If you’ve survived a landfilling cyclone, you know the inconvenience and distress it can cause. One of the best tips to be prepared is knowing the cycle of a cyclone – Approach, Arrival & Aftermath. Prepare ahead of time and listen to the directions of officials for the approach. Secure your home, or find a safe shelter for its arrival, and know how to proceed safely during the aftermath.

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Welcome our new sponsor – Baxter Windows and Doors

WFLA’s Home Improvement Show welcomes our new door and window experts

logo_baxter-windows-hi-res.png-e1379881025962

407-930-1599

Showroom open Monday – Friday: 9:00am – 5:00pm – Call Ahead to Schedule a Visit

102 Drennen Road Suite B11 & B12, Orlando, FL

Visit Baxter Windows online. Click here.

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