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    • Winter Allergies Aggravating Your Asthma? It May Be Your Indoor Air

      11 December 2019

      As the weather cools down and folks tend to head indoors for the winter, allergy sufferers might not find the respite they’re expecting. One reason, according to Dr. John McKeon, chief executive officer of Allergy Standards Ltd., is poor indoor air quality, which can be two to five times worse than outdoor air.

      To keep winter allergies at bay, Dr. McKeon says it’s important to take steps to improve one’s indoor air quality, and various filters can be an excellent way to improve air quality, indoors and on the go.

      There are a range of different types of filtration systems — so which one is best for you? 

      Electrostatic filters use an electric charge to stick the particles to metal plates. As the particles are drawn into the filter, they are given a charge, which makes them stick to a positively charged metal plate that you clean regularly.

      Activated carbon filters are used to remove odors and volatile organic compounds from the air, but do not have any specific particle removal efficacy.

      Media-based filters are basically a solid material with holes that allow air to pass through, but will prevent certain sizes of particles passing through. Media-based filters are used in vacuum cleaners, air cleaners, HVAC systems etc. - and Dr. McKeon says the type of material that is used in these filters will affect its price and performance.

      Here's a breakdown:
      - Fiberglass is one of the most affordable types of media-based filter and is disposable. These types of filters mainly protect the air cleaning device from large particulates, however, rather than filtering out contaminants.

      - Pleated filters are generally made from cotton or polyester — a higher number of pleats will result in a greater surface area and greater filtering performance.

      - Washable filters can save money, but it takes time to wash the filter and ensure it is completely dry prior to use. Replacing a filter while damp may lead to mold and bacterial growth

      - HEPA filters are most appropriate for people with allergies as they have the capability to remove small particles with high efficiency. HEPA filters can remove in excess of 99.97 percent of particles.

      Dr. McKeon says no matter which filter you choose, maintenance of indoor air quality is essential for a healthy home.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Let Trends Guide Your 2020 Travel

      11 December 2019

      (Family Features)--While there's plenty to be said for taking the proverbial road less traveled, fellow tourists can provide a wealth of knowledge to help shape a vacation filled with lifelong memories. 

      Whether you expect your travel plans for 2020 to take you near or far, having a pulse on how and where others enjoy spending their travel time may help narrow down your options. Start planning your next getaway armed with the findings of a trend report compiled by vacation rental app and website Vrbo, especially when it comes to selecting a destination and your accommodations.

      Unique Accommodations. Traditional vacation home favorites like beach houses, cabins and condos still reign supreme, but adventurous American travelers are staying in some unusual options. In fact, 71 percent of millennial travelers said they would consider staying at a non-traditional vacation rental. 

      In addition to barns, castles and treehouses, properties on wheels and properties that float join the ranks of unusual accommodations travelers are booking. Travel demand for houseboats, yachts, RVs and travel trailers is up 30 percent year-over-year.

      Surf's Up. Portugal's reputation for affordability, primo surfing and sunshine-filled climate make the country a desirable place to explore. That may explain why seaside locales in Portugal took three of the top five spots on the list of hottest international beach destinations for American travelers. Chania, Greece, took the top spot, followed by three Portuguese destinations: Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto and Lisbon. Catania, Italy, rounded out the top five.

      For those seeking to stay stateside, four of Vrbo's top five United States destinations this year are beaches, including: Gulf Shores, Ala.; Miramar and Rosemary Beach, Fla.; Panama City Beach, Fla.; and Maui, Hawaii. 

      Same-City Stays
      Rental demand data in Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta and a number of other urban destinations showed the single largest traveler origin market for each city was that same city. 

      "'Cele-cations,' when people seek accommodations to host and spend time with groups of family and friends for milestone events like weddings, birthdays and anniversaries, may be fueling the trend of people booking vacation homes in the same cities where they live," says Melanie Fish, Vrbo travel expert.

      Also high on the trend list: short-stay, drivable destinations located within 300 miles of home.
      Up-and-Coming Destinations

      Their names may not be familiar to the masses, but each of the top emerging domestic vacation destinations shares one thing in common: outdoor appeal. Places that appeal to families and other groups of travelers looking to explore the great outdoors are seeing a major surge over the past three years. 

      If an outdoor getaway is your ideal trip, consider destinations like Terlingua, Texas, located just a short distance from Big Bend National Park; Bella Vista, Ark., situated in the Ozarks near majestic lakes; Westport, Wash., surrounded by a bay to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west; Cherry Log, Ga., which sits in the heart of Chattahoochee National Forest; and Edisto Island, S.C., a charming beachside retreat one hour from Charleston. 

      "This is the third year in a row travelers' desire to be outdoors has filled the up-and-coming destinations list," Fish says. "Clearly, people want the comforts of a home away from home while soaking in scenery."

      Source: Vrbo

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How-To Protect Your Pipes This Winter

      11 December 2019

      During the winter, many homeowners are vigilant in keeping their driveways clear of snow and their front steps free from ice, but how much time do you spend thinking about your pipes?

      "Frozen pipe issues are more than just a minor hassle," says Max Rose, owner of Four Seasons Plumbing. "Damage caused by frozen pipes bursting can cost thousands of dollars in repairs, property damage and loss. Fortunately, most homeowners can avoid untimely expenses like this by being proactive instead of waiting on freezing lows to arrive."

      Rose and the Four Seasons team list the following tips to prevent freezing pipes:

      Survey the home's exterior – Small air leaks near pipes can cause them to freeze very quickly. Use caulk or insulation to seal any troublesome cracks.

      Monitor indoor air temperatures – It's a great money-saving practice to lower the thermostat at night or during absences, but temperatures should never be set below 65 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing.

      Pack-up outdoor hoses – Stow away outdoor hoses in the winter months and make sure the indoor valve is completely shut off. Make sure hose bibs are completely drained before covering.

      Let faucets drip – On nights where a below freezing temperature drop is in the forecast, be sure to let faucets drip with warm water. Even a trickle of water helps prevent pipes from freezing.

      Open cabinets – Cabinet doors can prevent warm air from getting to pipes under kitchen and bathroom sinks. It's an important practice to leave them cracked so that the heat can circulate around the pipes.           

      "Cold weather is troublesome enough on its own, and more so around the holidays," Rose says. "If you do happen to fall victim to a frozen pipe disaster, turn off the water at the main as soon as possible, then call a professional right away."

      Source: http://callfourseasons.com 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Are You Properly Preventing Fire Risk at Home?

      10 December 2019

      The cold winter months are the perfect time to cozy up in front of a fire, or stoke up the home heat. However, nearly 900 people die in home fires each year during the winter season, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, and 30 percent of all home fires and nearly four-in-ten home fire deaths take place from December through February. 

      So to prevent tragedy and enhance everyone's safety through the holidays and into the New Year, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) has reached out with numerous safety tips to prevent household fires and accidents caused by improper cooking and heating practices.  

      Heating Safety

      - Have your heating system inspected annually by a qualified professional.

      - Keep space heaters out of high-traffic and exit areas, and at least three feet from anything that can burn.

      - Do not leave a space heater running unattended. Turn off and unplug when you leave the room or go to sleep.

      - Never plug a space heater into an extension cord.

      - Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on top of furniture.

      - Never leave an open flame, including the fireplace, unattended.

      - Have a qualified professional install heating equipment according to the local codes and manufacturer’s instructions.

      Cooking Safety

      - Stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling, or broiling.

      - Keep children at least three feet away from cooking appliances.

      - Wear short or close-fitting sleeves.

      - Make sure your stovetop and oven are clean and free of grease and dust.

      - Keep the cooking area clear of combustibles, such as towels, napkins, and potholders.

      - To protect from spills and burns, use the back burners and turn the pot handles in.

      - Locate all appliances away from the sink.

      - Plug countertop appliances into ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected outlets.

      - Unplug the toaster and other countertop appliances when not in use.

      - Keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces.

      - Turn off all appliances when cooking is completed.

      - It’s easy to forget about something that’s cooking, especially when you’re entertaining guests.

      Finally, on average, 260 home fires in the U.S. start with Christmas trees each year. So if you put up a real tree, make sure you water it daily — a dried-up pine tree is nothing but kindling. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Make Time for Better Health on Busy Days

      10 December 2019

      (Family Features)--Fitting in time to exercise and eat sensible meals can be impractical, if not impossible, when the demands of daily life get in the way. If busy days limit your ability to live as healthy of a lifestyle as you desire, take charge by squeezing in fitness and smart snacking when and where you can.

      Sneak in some exercise. Even on days you can't make it to the gym, you can find ways to get your body moving. Forego the closest parking spaces and get in a little cardio with a walk into the office or while running errands. Skip the elevator and use the stairs. Swap out your traditional desk chair for a standing desk or a balance ball that lets you get in a little core exercise. Make a point to write down your fitness resolutions and stick to them.  

      Choose smart snacks on the go. There are plenty of snack foods available that prove you don't have to choose between great taste and great for you - even when a busy schedule threatens to get in the way. 

      Drink more water. Staying hydrated is essential for good health, and since you can carry water with you nearly any place you go, it takes virtually no extra time at all. Proper hydration helps keep skin supple and your body systems functioning properly. Water also helps you feel full; in fact, people often mistake the body's natural craving for more water as hunger. Keep a bottle of water at your desk and refill it often. If you have trouble guzzling at least 64 ounces a day, set reminders on your phone or computer to keep you on track.

      Make meal prepping more fun. If planning an entire week of meals seems like a chore, make it more entertaining by sharing the duty with a friend or incorporating the whole family. Having meals and snacks ready to go for the week ahead makes it less tempting to grab quicker, less healthy options when a busy day sneaks up on you.

      Carve out mental health time. It may seem counterintuitive but forcing yourself to grab a few minutes of downtime can actually make you more productive. Turn off or mute your devices and take a break. You might use the time to collect your scattered thoughts into an efficient to-do list or simply meditate to give your brain a break before you head to bed so you can wake up refreshed for another day.

      Source: Stryve

      Published with permission from RISMedia.