Fall is officially here on Tuesday, September 22, 2020. Managing your property includes caring for the landscaping. Proactive measures this fall protect your plants and ensure vitality next spring. Implement several tips as you maintain attractive landscaping and improve the safety of your property.
Mow the Lawn
During the fall, grass will continue to grow so mow all season. During the final cutting, mow the grass as short as possible to prevent winter matting and promote lawn health all season.
Remove dead leaves, grass clippings and other debris from the lawn, flower beds and hardscape. This debris can encourage harmful disease to grow, block drainage systems and damage the environment. It’s also an eyesore.
Fertilize the Soil
Add nutrients to the soil for landscaping health. The ideal fall fertilizer is rich in phosphorus and potassium, two nutrients that stimulate grass root growth in the future.
Summer drought can affect plants long into the fall and winter. Water plants if necessary to combat water deficits.
Prune and Wrap Plants
Create a neat and tidy appearance, reduce storm damage risk and invest in healthy landscaping into the future when you prune shrubs and trees. Then wrap plants with burlap to protect them during the cold winter months.
Protective mulch prevents weeds from growing and insulates soil from water loss and cold weather damage. It’s also attractive, so spread a healthy layer of mulch around all your plants.
Insects, mites, voles, and other pests can wreak havoc on your landscaping in the fall and winter. Hire a professional exterminator to treat your property.
Plant Winter Greenery
A variety of flowers, shrubs and trees bloom during the winter and brighten your property. Consider planting greenery that adds texture, color and style to your property’s appearance.
Inspect your parking areas, sidewalks and other hardscape. Repair and seal the cracks and holes to prevent further damage, improve safety and protect your investment.
Drain the Sprinkler System
If you have a landscaping sprinkler system, drain it during the fall months. Remove the water to prevent frozen or burst pipes and expensive repairs.
Perform a Storm Damage Audit
Walk around your property and identify any areas that could be affected by storm damage. You may need to trim tree branches that hang over power lines, move dumpsters that interfere with snow removal or repair perimeter fencing. Remember to update your property insurance coverage, too, before winter storms strike.
Schedule Snow and Ice Removal
Plan for winter weather now. Schedule snow and ice removal to reduce slip, fall and accident risks.
When you take care of your property this fall, take proactive steps that enhance the landscaping. Keep it attractive and healthy all season.
With data breaches becoming a fairly regular thing, everyone needs to know that they can freeze their credit to prevent identity theft. With a significant data breach, hackers are able to access the names, birth dates, Social Security numbers and addresses of millions of consumers, which put their identity and credit at risk. A credit report freeze is one protective measure Equifax (and other agencies) recommended. Every consumer, including you, should understand this protective measure as you protect your data, identity and credit.
What is a Credit Report Freeze?
A credit report freeze allows you to restrict who can access your credit report. When a freeze is in place, only certain professional entities can see your information, and it’s less likely that an identity theft can access your data.
Ways a Credit Report Freeze Affects You
When you place a credit report freeze on your account, it affects you in several ways.
1. It prevents certain entities from accessing your credit report. This includes potential employers, mortgage companies and car dealers.
2. Existing creditors and any debt collection agencies they hire and government agencies responding to a court order or subpoena may continue to access your credit report.
3. You can continue to access your free annual credit report.
4. It does not affect your credit score.
5. You will continue to receive pre-screened credit offers for credit or insurance. Call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or go online to optoutprescreen.com if you wish to stop receiving these offers.
How to Place a Credit Report Freeze
Contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies to freeze your credit report.
To place a freeze, you must provide your name, birth date, Social Security number, address and other personal information. You will also have to pay a fee. It typically ranges from $5 to $10 but varies based on where you live.
How to Know if Your Credit Report Freeze is Successful
After placing a credit report freeze, you will receive a confirmation letter from the credit reporting company. It includes a unique password or PIN you will need if you ever choose to lift the freeze.
How to Lift a Credit Report Freeze
Your credit report freeze remains in place indefinitely. However, you may want to lift it so you can apply for a job or credit. To do that, simply contact the credit reporting company to request a lift. You will provide your password or PIN, pay a fee that varies by state and indicate if you want a temporary or permanent lift.
A credit report freeze can protect your personal data and identity. Consider monitoring your bank, insurance and credit card statements, though, too, and purchase cyber liability insurance as a further protective measure.
As the fires rage in Northern (and Southern) California, a topic like this is worth writing about. Earthquakes are always a threat, but floods, wildfires, hurricanes, and such are more apt to strike in the warmer summer months.
Please be safe and healthy.
There are three very important steps you can take to limit the effect natural disasters have on your life and property and expedite your recovery process.
1. Planning. There are some basics that any natural disaster plan should include:
- Always have several escape routes mapped out. Each family member should know where to meet, who to call for help, and where to call to signal their safety to other family members. Your family safety plan should be posted in a central location and the escape route and emergency contact numbers should be reviewed every six months.
- If possible, store irreplaceable items and documents like birth, marriage, death, and divorce certificates; passports; deeds; social security cards; expensive jewelry; and heirlooms in a safety deposit box during high-risk seasons if you live in an area frequently hit by natural disasters. You may also put video or photo documentation, a listing of serial numbers, appraisals, and receipts for these items in your safety deposit box.
- Scan your photos to your computer. You can store your photos with an online storage service or make a CD to place in your safety deposit box.
- You should have an emergency overnight bag ready to go for every person and pet in your family and always keep a credit card, emergency cash supply, and personal identification with you during high-risk seasons.
As far as disaster-specific planning goes, here are some key points:
Flood planning. Many people live in possible flood areas and don’t realize it. For example, those living in areas that recently had a wildfire and those living downstream from a dam could have problems with flash flooding. Those living in or near a construction area could find their risk of flooding increased due to changes in water flow patterns. You can assess your risk of flooding by contacting your local building authority and your insurance agent. Since basements aren’t usually covered by typical flood insurance policies, those with a basement need a plan on moving their valuables to upper-levels. Do make sure that you have an escape plan, as discussed above, in place for your family.
Hurricane planning. Most people in areas prone to hurricanes are already on high alert during hurricane season, but do keep in mind that hurricanes and the stormy remnants are often unpredictable. The flood planning from above is applicable to hurricane planning. Additionally, you’ll want to have a supply of nails and plywood ready to go so that you can board-up your home before evacuation. Remember, if your local authorities issue an evacuation, then you need to heed it.
Wildfire planning. Wildfires can begin unnoticed and spread rapidly with little forewarning. An effective evacuation plan is vital in many cases. If you do have forewarning, then stay tuned to the emergency broadcasts and follow the evacuation directions from local authorities. Remember to take your emergency evacuation bag with you.
If you’re under a warning, but haven’t been advised to evacuate yet, then you might have time to turn off your gas lines and propane tanks, soak your roof and shrubs with water, move flammable furniture to the center of rooms, and move large valuables to the safest location possible.
Tornado planning. Unlike many other disastrous events, leaving your home during a tornado warning is seldom a wise move. Everyone in your family should know where they should go during a tornado warning. While a basement is ideal, not everyone has one. You can use a central room; preferably one that doesn’t have windows or overhead objects. Be sure your emergency kit and phone numbers are in your designated room.
Earthquake planning. Follow the directions from tornado planning. You might also want to place an emergency kit in your vehicle and at your place of employment. Check to make sure your child’s school is also well-prepared.
Aside from living in an area not prone to natural disasters, there isn’t much you can do to avoid them. However, unlike most other natural disasters, wildfires can sometimes be prevented. You can personally prevent fires by being careful when using open flames, maintaining your chimney flue, and not throwing cigarettes outdoors. Of course, wildfires can happen regardless of your personal care with fire.
You can help to prevent flames from impacting your home by creating a defensible space. In fact, some insurers are now inspecting properties for defensible space before issuing or renewing policies. Your insurance agent, local agricultural organizations, and federal agencies like the American Red Cross and FEMA are valuable information sources on creating defensible spaces. The damage of flooding can also be limited by planning water diversions and landscaping as protective devices.
Last, but certainly not least, you should make sure your existing insurance is providing adequate protection. For example, your regular Homeowners policy most likely won’t provide coverage if a boulder falls or rolls into your home since such would be considered an earth movement and need to be covered by Earthquake insurance. Another example would be your regular Homeowners policy not covering damage from a water or sewage system outside your home breaking, or damages from a flash flood, as these would fall under Flood insurance. If you obtain Flood insurance, keep in mind that the coverage won’t become effective for 30 days and your basement usually still won’t be covered.
With COVID-19 forcing non-essential workers to work from home, home prices are seeing an upward trend. Recent builders reports are showing a fast upward trend in new construction.
Inventory is dipping, prices are going up and people are looking to upgrade to slightly bigger homes so that they can work from home comfortably.
Most have heard the wise adage about not judging a book by its cover. However, like it or not, first impressions are lasting. For example, a potential buyer pulls up to your home for sale. Their initial judgment is based on if they like what they see on the exterior, or curb appeal. Since most buyers won’t even get to the interior if they don’t like the exterior, first impressions are of the utmost importance concerning real estate.
Updating the exterior of your home is an excellent way to add curb appeal to older, drab, and outdated homes. This is true whether you’re building equity in your home over the long-term, planning to sell, or just looking for a DIY project. The cost, time, and labor associated with curb appeal projects vary greatly. That said, there are multiple weekend warrior projects that will give your home a simple facelift, but not break your back or wallet during the process, such as:
1. Front Door. Replacing a worn, outdated door can add instantaneous curb appeal with just a few hours of work. A decorative door with hand carved elements or glass work can add interest and help set your home apart. A cheaper option is to update your existing door with a bright, fresh, complementary paint color. In most cases, you shouldn’t be afraid of bolder colors that, again, can help set your home apart. You can always consult a color expert or decorator if you’re unsure about how a color will work.
2. Entry Way. Consider staining or painting your concrete walkway, porch, and/or steps at your home’s entry, but be sure that the paint/stain you select at the home improvement store is specifically for concrete. You can rent or buy a power washer to thoroughly clean stone and brick entry ways. You can use paving stones, stepping stones, or brick to make a quick, relatively inexpensive walkway if you don’t already have one.
3. Trim, Shutters, and Molding. Adding a fresh coat of paint to the trim that frames your windows can help give your home character, an eye-catching pop of color, and highlight the size and number of windows. Adding shutters or window boxes can give the home some dimension and depth from the street. You might also consider adding prefabricated molding. It comes in a variety of different styles and easily attaches to the front of the home.
4. Greenery. Adding some attractive greenery is a cheap, quick, and easy way to add curb appeal. It’s okay if you don’t have a green thumb. Plant nurseries carry a variety of low-maintenance, ready-to-plant or ready-to-hang plants that will require little of you. On the other hand, if your yard is looking more like a jungle than a yard, then it’s time to get the yard equipment out. Foliage can be an asset when it’s complimentary, but can easily become a negative when overgrown and obstructive.
5. Welcome Home. Add some welcome home accessories that match the style of your home, such as light fixtures, a porch swing or seating area, door knob, mailbox, and welcome mat.
Working in high temperatures, humidity, under direct sun, in high indoor radiant heat, or with limited air movement increases your risk for heat stroke and dehydration. You could then experience fatigue, confusion and difficulty concentrating, a dangerous combination.
Drink several glasses of water in the morning. Start your day hydrated.
2. Drink before you’re thirsty.
If you wait until you feel thirsty to take a drink, you’re already on your way to being dehydrated. Plan to drink one cup of water every 15 minutes so you can stay hydrated all day.
3. Carry extra water.
Pack an insulated water bottle on your tool belt or wear a hydration backpack. You’re more likely to drink enough water when it’s accessible.
4. Choose cool not ice water.
Ice water tastes refreshing, but it causes your stomach to constrict and reduces your fluid absorption rate. Drink cool rather than ice water to improve hydration.
5. Limit caffeine.
Caffeinated beverages like soda, coffee and energy drinks have a diuretic effect that contributes to dehydration. Choose decaffeinated beverages or water instead.
6. Avoid alcohol.
Alcohol acts as a diuretic, which can dehydrate you. Avoid drinking alcohol within 36 hours of your shift to also avoid dehydration.
7. Remember to eat.
Although food won’t replace water, certain foods do contain water. Eating also stimulates your thirst response and prompts you to drink more, so take meal and snack breaks during the day.
8. Drink electrolytes.
When you sweat, you lose beneficial electrolytes. Replenish your body with a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink.
9. Monitor your urine.
Your urine can indicate your hydration level. Aim for pale urine.
10. Work smarter.
Schedule physically demanding tasks for early morning or later in the day when the temperatures are cooler. You can also share duties or rotate demanding jobs with a co-worker, and take frequent breaks.
11. Dress appropriately.
The clothing you wear can help you stay cool and avoid heat stress. Choose lightweight cotton that promotes airflow and avoid synthetic materials that trap heat when possible. A sun hat can also protect you.
12. Get a physical.
Use your health insurance coverage to see your doctor before the summer heats up. Talk about your specific health, job and ways you can stay hydrated and healthy all summer.
On the construction site this summer, you can stay hydrated and avoid heat stress when you drink enough water. Use these tips to protect yourself as you work.
Whether you are outdoors — on the job or at play this summer — or working indoors in a hot environment, you need to know how to cope with hot and humid conditions that can pose serious dangers to yourhealth that the heat brings.
The human “cooling system” uses perspiration and blood vessels to regulate body temperature. However, when someone is working hard in the heat, especially when it’s also humid, this system can break down, raising the person’s temperature and heart rate. Although people who are past middle age or have health problems are especially vulnerable, the young and healthy can also suffer from heat-related conditions.
Overheating also affects the brain. A temperature hike as little as 2 degrees can impair mental functioning, which makes heat an underlying cause of job accidents, as diminished ability can lead workers to overlook hazards and make mistakes.
In order of seriousness, heat hazards — and their remedies — include:
- Heat rash — Can be irritating: Take a shower and use a little talcum powder.
- Heat stress — Symptoms include thirst, vision problems and/or feeling woozy or tired: Drink a cool, non-alcoholic beverage in a shady place.
- Heat cramp — Involves pain from twitching muscles caused by losing salt from perspiration: Get into the shade and take cool fluids.
- Heat exhaustion — Look for heavy perspiration, fatigue, queasy stomach, and chilly, clammy skin: Put the person in the shade, with their feet slightly elevated, provide a cooling beverage (unless the victim is nauseated), and be prepared to seek medical assistance.
- Heatstroke — Can be a fatal condition, characterized by a lack of sweating, a temperature elevated by up to five degrees, hot skin, mental confusion, and loss of coordination: Call paramedics immediately — and then get the victim to a shaded spot and keep him or her cooling down with cold water sponges or ice packs until help arrives.
To help keep your workers protected from the heat, we’d recommend that you advise them to: (1) Wear sunglasses for protection against exposure to UV rays; (2) Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more to minimize the risk of cancer or sunburn: (3) Keep hydrated with plenty of cool — not cold — water and beverages free of alcohol or caffeine; (4) Minimize exposure to the sun by going indoors or staying in the shade during the heat of the day; and (5) Eat light meals with small servings of fruits and vegetables (which are rich in fluids).
For valuable information on dealing with heat-related issues, check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) web page, Heat: A Major Killer.