June Is PTSD Awareness Month

PTSD is a disorder that develops in some people who have seen or lived through a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a healthy reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.

How To Help

Knowing how to best demonstrate your love and support for someone with PTSD isn’t always easy. You can’t force your loved one to get better, but you can play a major role in the healing process by simply spending time together.

  • Don’t pressure your loved one into talking. It can be very difficult for people with PTSD to talk about their traumatic experiences. For some, it can even make things worse. Instead, let them know you’re willing to listen when they want to talk, or just hang out when they don’t. Comfort for someone with PTSD comes from feeling engaged and accepted by you, not necessarily from talking.
  • Do “normal” things with your loved one, things that have nothing to do with PTSD or the traumatic experience. Encourage your loved one to participate in rhythmic exercise that engages both arms and legs, seek out friends, and pursue hobbies that bring pleasure. Take a fitness class together, go dancing, or set a regular lunch date with friends and family.
  • Let your loved one take the lead, rather than telling him or her what to do. Everyone with PTSD is different but most people instinctively know what makes them feel calm and safe. Take cues from your loved one as to how you can best provide support and companionship.
  • Manage your own stress. The more calm, relaxed, and focused you are, the better you’ll be able to help a loved one with PTSD.
  • Be patient. Recovery is a process that takes time and often involves setbacks. The important thing is to stay positive and maintain support for your loved one.
  • Educate yourself about PTSD. The more you know about the symptoms, effects, and treatment options, the better equipped you’ll be to help your loved one, understand what he or she is going through, and keep things in perspective.
  • Accept (and expect) mixed feelings. As you go through the emotional wringer, be prepared for a complicated mix of feelings—some of which you’ll never want to admit. Just remember, having negative feelings toward your family member doesn’t mean you don’t love them.
  • Be a Good Listener.
  • Rebuild Trust by letting them know you’re here for the long haul so he or she feels loved and supported.

Get Help

During difficult times, it is important to have people in your life who you can depend on. These people are your support network. They can help you with everyday jobs, like taking a child to school, or by giving you love and understanding.

You may get support from:

  • Family members
  • Friends, coworkers, and neighbors
  • Members of your religious or spiritual group
  • Support groups
  • Doctors and other health professionals

Memorial Day Travel Tips

Are you one of the millions of people who will hit the road over the long Memorial Day weekend?  With more people on the roads, it’s important to drive safely. Be well rested and alert, use your seat belts, observe speed limits and follow the rules of the road. If you plan on drinking alcohol, designate a driver who won’t drink.

Other tips for a safe trip include:

1. Give your full attention to the road. Avoid distractions such as cell phones.

2. Use caution in work zones. There are lots of construction projects underway on the highways.

3. Don’t follow other vehicles too closely.

4. Make frequent stops.

5. Clean your vehicle’s lights and windows to help you see, especially at night.

6. Turn your headlights on as dusk approaches, or during inclement weather.

7. Don’t overdrive your headlights.

8. Don’t let your vehicle’s gas tank get too low. If you have car trouble, pull as far as possible off the highway.

9. Carry a Disaster Supplies Kit in your trunk.

10. Let someone know where you are going, your route and when you expect to get there. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.

Having a fun weekend starts with having a safe one. There will be a lot of drivers carelessly making bad decisions all in an attempt to get to their destination quicker, but arriving safely only means arriving a couple of minutes later.

Summer Maintenance Tips

Summer brings sunshine, green leaves, and trips to the beach. But the warm, dry season also offers the perfect chance to get some work done around the house. With just a few weekends’ worth of work, these tips can help get your home in tip-top shape and ready for the rest of the year. When it gets warm, it’s tempting to ditch any housework for the beach or the golf course. Hard as it may be, consider suppressing that urge for a few weekends, because some fairly easy work can improve the state of your home, give it an appearance makeover, and even save you some money.

Keep Your Cool With a Fan

There’s an easy trick to keeping cooler and saving money, and it’s as close as your ceiling fan. Switch the ceiling fan’s blades so the leading edge is higher as the fan turns, so you can feel the breeze from the fan as it rotates. This simple action will push cool air down, enabling you to set the air-conditioning lower and save money on energy.

Clean Your Dryer Vent

Without some maintenance, your dryer could cause a house fire. The U.S. Fire Administration reports nearly 16,000 dryer fires occur annually, which happen largely because dryers’ vents get clogged with lint and dust. Thankfully, you can avoid any unnecessary dryer-caused danger with a few simple steps. First, you’ll need a vent-cleaning brush kit, which can clean your dryer vent tubing more thoroughly than a vacuum cleaner can. Begin by cleaning the dryer’s lint trap housing with a smaller brush to remove as much lint and dust as possible. Then disconnect the dryer duct from the dryer and the wall for a thorough cleaning. Also use a brush to clean the vent on the outside of the house to keep both ends clean and free of lint.

Clean Your Gutters

Water and debris can accumulate in your gutters over the fall and winter, which can lead to water damage in your house. And you don’t want that. So get a ladder that can reach your gutters, but be sure not to overextend yourself. If the gutter is too high, you might want to call in an expert to do the job. If you’re doing the work yourself, don’t lean the ladder against the gutter or near electrical wires. Scoop out the gutter’s wet leaves and debris, and wet down caked-on dirt so you can scoop out the mud with a trowel. Also, use a garden hose to flush the gutters after you’ve cleaned them. This will get the gutters clean, and it will also let you know if you have leaks. Then use the hose to wash out your downspouts to make sure they’re not clogged. But be gentle—downspouts aren’t meant to withstand the same water pressure as a house drain.

Some experts recommend covering your gutters with a wire mesh guard to keep debris out. And remember: Never hang onto a gutter for support. It’s built to hold water and some leaves, not your weight.

Keep Your Deck Healthy

Your deck provides a great place to hang out in the summer, but it needs a little TLC to stay in good shape. Visually inspect the boards to look for curling, cracked, or rotting wood. If you see a board that’s damaged, remove it and replace it with a board that you’ve cut to fit the same space. Go underneath your deck to make sure the support structure is in good shape, and keep an eye out for cracked boards and missing screws or nails. If you see signs of insects or unwanted animals, such as spider webs or chewed boards, call a pest-control expert to take care of the problem.

Lastly, if your deck is sealed or stained, some experts say you should refinish it annually. Start by power washing the deck, then letting it thoroughly dry. Remove the finish or seal with a remover/stripper, and let it dry again. With a sander and medium-grit sandpaper, lightly sand the deck, then remove all of the dust before continuing. Before you apply your finish, do a small test area to make sure you’ve got the right color. If you do, apply the finish with the wood’s grain and don’t stop in the middle—that can cause uneven coloring and streaks.

Two things to remember: make sure you’re wearing a mask to prevent inhaling dust and fumes, and don’t do any of this work if it’s going to rain.


Proper Mold Inspections

Recently I was called by a new home owner who saw mold in his basement.  He had just moved in three weeks previous and was planning to use a room in the basement for his tools when he discovered the mold both on the walls and under the steps.  I had asked him did he get the home inspected prior to his purchase and he said yes, and also stated that the home inspector did an air test as well.  Therein lies the problem.  There’s two lessons that can be taken from this situation so you don’t make the same mistake.

  1. Not all mold in airborne and an air sample will only pick up spores to which are in the air.  Some molds on surfaces will not be collected into air samples.
  2. Mold Tests should be done by only Mold Inspectors.  Home Inspectors use mold tests as another way to make money, but aren’t properly trained and usually are certified through one day online courses.

A mold inspection is not just setting up your testing equipment and then that’s it.  A proper mold inspection should have samples taken, but also a thorough visual inspection with moisture mapping.  In this situation, with visible mold in two locations, a proper mold inspection would have been able to pick this up visually or through surface sampling.  Unfortunately for this customer, it now becomes an out of pocket cost because the inspector missed it and it can become very difficult to prove when the growth began.


5 Risks Using Public Pools – Part 1

Before you go for a swim at the public pool, you may want to think twice about what you’re plunging into. The Centers for Control and Disease’s (CDC) jaw-dropping discovery of high levels of fecal matter in indoor and outdoor pools has caused an alert for stronger reinforcement of public health and safety regulations. With 309,000 public swimming pools in the United States, approximately 300 million Americans over the age of six visit these pools every year, reports the United States Census Bureau. Frequent pool visits can result in long-term chronic illnesses due to continuous exposure to disinfectants. Although the utilization of disinfectants is used to promote healthy swimming, the chemical agents can react with organic and inorganic material in the water to form disinfectant byproducts (DBPs).

If you and four other people are going swimming, chances are one of you will pee in the pool, says a survey conducted by the Water Quality and Health Council. The unhealthy behavior of pool goers has put swimmers at risk with a whopping 200 percent increase in risk from 2004 to 2008 of developing recreational water illnesses. Poor practice of pool compliances, such as the lack of maintaining appropriate disinfectant and pH levels, will make swimmers and, especially kids, sick. A CDC report confirms that one in eight pools were shut down two years ago due to negligence of public health and safety regulations, with fecal matter being a common factor in the 120,000 swimming facilities inspected.


Chlorine has been shown to increase the risk of developing asthma. The chlorine scent in pools causes lung irritation in swimmers because of the presence of chloramine byproducts. Chlorine produces nitrogen trichloride (a byproduct of chemical reactions between ammonia and chlorine), which is the cause of occupational asthma for indoor pool workers. Chances are if you work as a lifeguard, you are at higher risk of developing asthma. In a study published in the European Respiratory Journal (ERJ), workers who suffered from asthma or asthma symptoms at an indoor swimming pool were observed by Dr. K. Thickett, a physician in the occupational lung diseases unit at the Birmingham Heartlands Hospital. The participants in study changed their jobs or were told to stay away from the swimming pool to determine if limited exposure to swimming facilities affected their asthma. Results showed that the participants either had lessened asthma symptoms or no longer had a dependency on inhalers. “…the chemical reaction that takes place when chlorine mixes with sweat, urine, skin, and hair” is what contributes to asthma, according to Thickett.

Respiratory ailments apply to not only swimming pool employees but also children who swim in these pools. In a Belgian study, researchers found that kids who frequently swam had proteins that were linked to a high risk of asthma just like smokers. If the pool has an overwhelmingly strong chlorine smell, it most likely contains higher levels of the toxic chemicals that form DBPs.

Check for Part 2