Stranded on the Road

Few people like driving through a snow storm, and most heed warnings to stay off the roads when a storm is bearing down. But even the best-prepared and expert drivers can get stuck. If it happens to you, here are some important reminders:

Be prepared. While the best first step is prevention, some storms come on quickly. If you do get stranded, keeping a few essentials in your car can help keep you comfortable while you wait. Some useful items to keep on hand include an ice scraper and brush, drinking water, blankets, and high-energy, nonperishable food.

Stay inside. If possible, pull off the highway and turn your hazard lights on or tie something bright to your car’s antenna to signal that you need help. Then wait inside your car until help arrives to avoid exposure to frostbite and hypothermia.

Call 911. If you have a charged phone and reception, call for help and describe your location as best you can.

Clear the tailpipe. Make sure there’s no snow covering your tailpipe in order to prevent carbon monoxide buildup inside the car. Check the tailpipe periodically to ensure that fresh snow isn’t blocking it, always watching for oncoming traffic before exiting your vehicle.

Keep moving. Staying active inside your car will help you keep warm. Clap your hands and tap your toes to keep your circulation moving and prevent frostbite.

Drink up. Dehydration can make you more susceptible to the effects of cold. If there’s no drinking water inside your car, melt some snow inside a bag or other makeshift cup to stay hydrated.

Rev your engine. Provided you have enough gas in your tank, run the engine for about 10 minutes every hour to keep the car warm. Turn on interior lights when your engine is on so you can be seen inside your car.

Don’t overexert yourself. Cold weather puts your heart under added stress. If you’re not used to exercise, shoveling snow or pushing a car could put you at risk of a heart attack.

8 Ways To Improve Indoor Air

Air pollution isn’t limited to the outdoors. Moisture, odors, gases, dust and a host of other irritants can affect air quality indoors, too. Try these tactics to help freshen your home’s air so you and your family can breathe easy.

  1. Open windows.  Most heating and cooling systems recirculate inside air. When weather permits, give your system a break and let fresh air in. Open windows and place fans strategically to help direct fresh air through.
  2. Use exhaust fans.  Turn on the kitchen fan to vent cooking pollutants, and the bathroom fan to curb mold-promoting wetness and cleaning-product fumes. Leave it running for about 45 minutes.
  3. Do doormats.  They help prevent dirt and other outdoor pollutants from making it inside. Get two natural-fiber mats, one for inside and the other for outside your main entrance. Keep a shoe-free home, too.
  4. Test for mold & radon.  The naturally occurring gas is colorless and odorless. It’s also the second-leading cause of lung cancer, after smoking. DIY test kits, available online and at your local home improvement store, are inexpensive and easy to use. Mold can linger in a home without you even knowing it.  Having your home professionally tested could indicate whether or not you may have a mold problem.
  5. Don’t mask odors.  Scented candles and sprays can irritate lungs, too. Find the source of the smell, get rid of it, then ventilate well until it’s gone.
  6. Use a dehumidifier.  Stay under 50 percent humidity to keep mold growth at bay. Clean your dehumidifier regularly, too, so it doesn’t switch from humidity-reducing friend to mold-harboring foe.
  7. Vacuum regularly.  You’ll reduce the amount dust and other pollutants released when you walk around. Invest in a quality vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, especially good at trapping even tiny bits of dust and dirt.
  8. Take it outside.  Painting, sanding, gluing — anything that generates particles, gases or other pollutants. If outside isn’t an option, open a nearby window and add a fan blowing air out. Clean up after your project quickly and well.

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Allergen Glossary

Allergen – A substance that induces a specific immunological response that may lead to allergic disease.

Allergist – A physician specializing in treating allergies.

Allergy – Symptoms induced by exposure to an allergen to which previous sensitization has occurred.

Antibody – An antibody is a protein (also called an immunoglobulin) that is manufactured by lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) to neutralize an antigen or foreign protein. Bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms commonly contain many antigens, as do pollens, dust mites, molds, foods, and other substances.

Asthma – A respiratory disease, often caused by exposure to allergens, marked by wheezing, chest tightness, and sometimes coughing.

Cockroach – Any of various oval, flat-bodied insects common as household pests. The two most common indoor species of cockroach in North America are the German cockroach (Blatella germanica) and the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana).

Dander – The tiny particles of skin and dried sweat and saliva that are shed by animals such as cats and dogs. These are a major cause of allergies.

Dust mites – Tiny creatures related to spiders and ticks. They are found in house dust. House dust mites, due to their very small size, are not visible to the eye, and live for approximately 3 to 4 months. The two most commonly occurring dust mites are the American house dust mite, (Dermatophagoides farinae) and the European house dust mite, (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus).

ELISA – ELISA is the abbreviation for “Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay” which is a highly sensitive technique for detecting and measuring antigens (allergens) in a solution. The solution is run over a surface to which immobilized antibodies specific to the antigen being measured have been attached. If the antigen is present, it will bind to the antibody layer, and then its presence is verified and visualized with an application of antibodies that have been tagged in some way.

Mold – Any of various fungi that produce visible growth on organic material.

Moldy – Covered with or containing mold.

Protein – Any of a group of complex organic compounds that are composed of amino acids.

Rhinitis – Rhinitis is an inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the nose, often due to an allergy to pollen, dust or other airborne substances. Seasonal allergic rhinitis also is known as “hay fever,” a disorder that causes sneezing, itching, a runny nose and nasal congestion.

Sensitization – Become responsive to external conditions or stimulation. In the case of allergens, sensitization involves the production of specific antibodies.

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Multiple Sclerosis Month

Multiple sclerosis and the MS movement – everyone engaged in addressing the challenges of MS today while moving toward long-term solutions for tomorrow – become better known each year. But more must be done. Together we are stronger when it comes to increasing awareness and support to create a world free of MS.

You can help ensure that more people understand what life with MS can be like, and engage more people to do something about it. When we connect with one another, we become stronger than MS — we make breakthroughs that we could not do alone.

What is a breakthrough? It’s being able button your shirt in the morning. It’s walking to the supermarket, and all the way back home. It’s getting back up on that bike, that surfboard, that horse. It’s having the first dance at your daughter’s wedding. Feeling strong enough to fall in love. Continuing that job you were made for.

Please share your breakthrough stories on any social media with the hashtag #WeareStrongerthanMS. During MS Awareness Week and throughout the year, we’ll bring your post together with those shared by others across the nation, at wearestrongerthanMS.org, where all can find solutions, strength and inspiration through collective experiences.

World MS Day unites individuals and organizations from around the world to raise awareness and move us closer to a world free of MS. The theme for 2017 is ‘Life with MS.’ In 2009, the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) and its members initiated the first World MS Day. Together we have reached hundreds of thousands of people around the world, with a campaign focusing on a different theme each year.

MSIF provides a toolkit of free resources to help everyone to take part in World MS Day. Anyone can use these tools, or make their own, to create positive change in the lives of more than 2.3 million people around the world.

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Food Safety After an Outage

The wind is howling. The rain is coming down in sheets. The power goes out for a few hours. And, then everything’s fine — except, maybe, all that food in your fridge and freezer.

The question is: Should you eat it or toss it? The answer: It depends – on a lot of factors, actually. To help you determine the best course of action, here are some insights and guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While the Power’s Out

Don’t open your refrigerator or freezer, if possible. Keeping the doors closed helps keep the cold in, potentially preserving your food for longer. How long? Typically food is safe for up to four hours in an unopened refrigerator and 48 hours in a full, unopened freezer (less if the freezer isn’t full). You can add block or dry ice to either if you think the power might be out for an extended period.

Once the Power Returns

When the lights blink back on, don’t just assume everything is OK. A few checks are in order first, especially if the power has been out for more than four hours. What’s not in order? Taste testing. You should never taste food to determine if it’s safe. Instead, follow these tips.

  • Meat, poultry and seafood: Discard raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish or seafood that may have been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more. Same goes for thawing meat or poultry, along with tuna, shrimp, chicken or egg salad.
  • Dairy: Toss milk, cream, sour cream, yogurt and soy milk that may have been above 40 degrees for two hours or more. Butter and margarine are likely safe to keep.
  • Cheese: Discard soft cheeses, such as bleu, Brie, cottage and others, if they may have been above 40 degrees for two hours or more. Hard cheeses and processed cheeses should be safe.
  • Sauces and condiments: Mayonnaise, tartar sauce and horseradish should go in the trash if they may have been above 50 degrees for more than eight hours. Toss creamy dressings such as ranch, but vinegar-based dressings may be safe to keep. Items such as peanut butter, jelly, relish, ketchup, barbecue sauce and pickles are typically safe.
  • Frozen food: Evaluate frozen (or now partially frozen) items individually. If the food still contains ice crystals, or is has stayed at or below 40 degrees, it should be safe to refreeze.

Prepare for the Next Outage

Not knowing whether or not your food is safe to eat is frustrating, to say the least. These tips will help to further unravel the mystery.

  • Keep appliance thermometers in your refrigerator or freezer. These will help take the guesswork out of determining whether your food has been holding at a safe temperature.
  • Keep a food thermometer handy, too. This will allow you to check individual items.
  • Consider using coolers and ice packs. If the power is out for more than four hours, having these handy can help you protect expensive items, such as meats.
  • Have a supply of nonperishable food that doesn’t require refrigeration. And, don’t forget the can opener. Remember, even nonperishable food won’t last forever, so use it or replace it periodically.
  • Store food where flood water is unlikely to reach it. Never eat food that may have come into contact with flood water, unless it is in a completely waterproof container. Even sealed cardboard juice and milk cartons should be discarded.
  • Discard all food that has been near a fire in your home. It can be damaged by the heat, fumes or chemicals used to fight the fire, even if it appears to be OK.

Throwing out food is frustrating, too, so check your homeowners policy. Many provide coverage for food spoilage in such situations. However, because your deductible might be higher than the value of your food, a claim often doesn’t make sense unless you have other damage to your home. Power outages and other emergencies are already stressful enough. Don’t compound that stress by eating food that could make you sick. If there’s any doubt, just go ahead and throw it out.

Biowashing.com

Biggest Mistakes When Heating Homes

With winter here to stay for the next few months, and thermostats are working overtime. That means high heating costs for a lot of us, but there are ways to make sure those bills stay as low as possible this winter. Here are six mistakes homeowners commonly make when heating their homes, and how you can avoid these pitfalls in the coming months.

1. Turning Up a Thermostat Too High To Heat a Cold House Quickly

When coming home to a cold house, it might be tempting to turn the heater up into the 80s to try to heat it faster. But thermostats don’t work like an accelerator on a car, as the Telegraph reports, and turning the heat up to blistering levels won’t warm your home faster. So just be patient and it will save you money.

2. Turning the Thermostat Way Down at Night

It’s best to avoid extremes with your thermostat. If you let the temperature in your house fall dramatically overnight, it’s going to require a lot of work from your heating system to warm the home in the morning. That could really cost you when the heating bill arrives.

3. Overworking a Thermostat That Has Its Limits

If you want the house to be 70 degrees and your thermostat is only reaching 66 degrees, turning the thermostat up to 74 degrees in an attempt to make up the difference could be a huge mistake. The furnace could be forced to work beyond its capability. Instead, find out what’s causing the problem and fix it. Heat could be escaping somewhere in your home, or you may need to replace a faulty furnace.

4. Heating an Empty House

In this day and age of controlling everything from a phone app, one of the easiest ways to save money is to install a system that can be adjusted remotely. Heating an empty home is one of the easiest ways to waste money, so a programmable thermostat can save hundreds of dollars every year. Giving your thermostat a break every day – but don’t overdo it; see No. 2 – can also be beneficial to a longer life for your heating system.

5. Leaving Curtains Closed on Sunny Days

While your home is vacant, open the curtains to allow as much heating sunlight into your dwelling as possible. It’s most important that all south-facing windows are left uncovered. Solar warmth can go a long way not only in heating a house, but also in helping to give the furnace a break during the warmest hours of the day.

6. Not Locking Your Windows

In the summer, it’s common for homeowners to have a constant tango between opening the windows and keeping them closed to let the air conditioner do the hard work of keeping a home cool. It’s understandable if you forgot to lock those windows up before the cold weather arrives, but take the time now to ensure all windows are locked and sealed to keep warm air from escaping.

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Cleaning With Lemons

Soap scum on your shower door can easily ruin the relaxation of any morning shower. And while there are a number of good cleaners on the market for tackling this nuisance, sometimes it’s nice to switch it up with an all-natural solution that can leave your bathroom smelling lemony-fresh.

Step 1: Cut a lemon in half.

Step 2: Rub it all over the scummy door. Be sure to use the fruit side of the lemon, not the peel!

Step 3: Rinse.  Rinse the door using warm water. You may want to also use a squeegee. According to Better Homes and Gardens, it can help prevent hard-water buildup. Repeat with the other half of the lemon if necessary.

You can also try this quick fix on your shower tiles.

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