Wildfire Dangers: What You Can Do To Reduce The Risk

With temperatures on the rise once more, one thing becomes abundantly clear to those living in (dry, wooded, open-ridge gusty wind areas) fire-prone areas, especially in California and the other Western States —> Wildfire season isn’t limited to just summer and fall any more.  We’ve all seen in the news (even more-so over the last several years) the damage and devastation caused by wildfires – many caused by lightning strikes – but even more caused by human carelessness – including but not limited to campfires, fireworks, automotive, lawnmowers, dry timber and brush around homes and wooden structures, improper storage of flammable  substances, etc. Homeowners need to be ever vigilant and need to take simple steps to protect their homes and neighborhoods against wildfires.

Basic Steps YOU Can Take AHEAD of Time

  • Check the area around your home for any fire hazards. Place woodpiles and propane tanks at least 30 feet away from the home. Cover chimneys or stovepipe outlets with a non-flammable screen of 1/2 inch or smaller mesh.
  • Clear the space around your home. Clear brush areas from 100 to 200 feet (500 feet on sheer slopes is recommended as flames will shoot up faster). This can reduce the risk of fire by 50 percent. It will also provide room for firefighters to battle the blaze. Also be sure to remove dead leaves and brush from around your home and on the roof and gutters on a regular basis.
  • Landscape the area around your home with fire-resistant plants. For example, ice plants or citrus trees withstand high temperatures and do not support open flames when ignited. Consult a nursery or your local fire department about all types of fire-retardant plans. Also place native shrubs and trees at least 10 feet apart, and prune branches on trees taller than 18 feet within six feet of the ground.
  • Use non-combustible building materials. A non-combustible or fire-resistant shingle roof can prevent against flaming wood shingles or other debris carried by the wind. Also seal the eaves under your roof to prevent flying embers from lodging on your home. Decking should be concrete, tile or protected with fire-resistant coating. Install fire-resistant shutters or shades instead of drapes that can easily catch on fire.
  • Have an adequate water supply handy for fire fighting. You can do a number of things such as installing a water tank and water pump, buying a pool pump or storing extra trash cans filled with water. You may also consider buying a fire hose as regular garden hoses may not be enough to battle high blazes or able to withstand extreme temperatures.
  • Make sure there are accessible roads to your home. Your driveway should be at least 15 feet wide and have enough turnaround space for emergency vehicles.

Steps You Can Take To Be Fire Safe At Home

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Steps You Can Take To Be Fire Safe At Home

Your first as well as most effective defense against wildfire is to create a fire safe landscape of at least 30-to-100 feet perimeter around your home. You can do this by removing flammable vegetation, spacing trees and shrubs at least 10 feet apart, clearing away dead leaves on your roof, as well as your rain gutters, and dry brush around your home.

In addition to creating a defensible space, you may want to consider the plants and trees in your garden as a type of fire defense. Junipers and eucalyptus trees, commonly used around homes, are extremely flammable. On the other hand, rose geraniums, ice plants and white rockrose withstood high temperatures for prolonged periods without igniting.

Check with your fire department or local nursery to determine which fire-resistive plants are adapted to the climate in your area. In general, fire-resistive plants grow close to the ground, have a low sap or resin content, grow without accumulating dead branches, needles or leaves and are easily maintained and pruned.

Steps You Can Take To Be Fire Safe

If a fire does threaten your home, the first few minutes are the most critical for saving it. The following steps give firefighters a better chance of finding and protecting your home.

  • Ensure that street signs and home address are clearly visible.
  • Be sure that the road access can accommodate large emergency vehicles. All roads should have turnaround areas large enough for fire equipment.
  • If you have a swimming pool, be prepared to use it as a fire-fighting tool by purchasing and learning how to use a pool pump.

Your roof is the most vulnerable part of your house because it can easily catch fire from the wind-blown sparks of a wildfire. Build or re-roof with fire resistive or noncombustible materials. Your local fire department can provide specific roofing guidelines in your area.

In addition to ensuring that the outside of your home is fire safe, it’s important to take steps inside as well. More than 50 percent of fatal residential fires occur at night when people are sleeping. Smoke detectors have saved many lives, and could save yours. Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and position them on the ceiling just outside each bedroom.

Plan Ahead

Also, plan and practice an escape route with all family members. Fire can spread very rapidly. Even with an early warning from smoke detectors, escaping a fire can be difficult. The following steps can help you plan your escape:

  • Draw a floor plan of your home and mark all possible escape routes.
  • Prepare a list of valuables to take with you in an emergency.
  • Remind everyone to close doors behind them as they evacuate the house to slow down the spread of fire, smoke and heat.
  • Decide on an outside meeting place to gather your family together and to make sure everyone is out and accounted for.
  • Conduct regular home fire drills. You may be blinded or hampered by smoke, so try practicing your escape plan with your eyes closed.

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Be on the lookout for anything that could start a fire.

Watch out for:

  • Matches and lighters
  • Old and worn-out electrical cords
  • Too many cords in a wall socket
  • Candles burning in an empty room
  • Clothes and blankets near space heaters and on hot lamps

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Here are additional posts from this site regarding FIRE SAFETY:

Fire Safety At Home – Reminder Chart

Wildfire Dangers: What You Can Do To Reduce The Risk

15 Driving Tips For Better Fuel Economy

fuel-wallet-gaugeFor many drivers, changing your driving habits, or improving upon your driving habits, can actually improve your fuel economy up to 30% right away (depending on how you drive). The following tips on driving more efficiently and maintaining your car will help you improve the fuel economy of your car or truck. The more you can do, the more you will save. See how many of these you already do and possibly improve upon the ones you don’t.

15 Driving Tips For Better Fuel Economy

  • Use cruise control to maintain a steady speed on the open highway.
  • Know the correct starting procedure for your particular make, model and year of car. Don’t race a cold engine to warm it up.
  • Avoid extended idling to warm up the engine. Start driving right after the engine is started and warmed up, but avoid rapid acceleration.
  • Maintain steady speeds for the best fuel economy. A car uses extra fuel when it accelerates. “As a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas.”
  • Minimize the need to brake by anticipating traffic conditions. Be alert for merging traffic, slow-downs and red lights.
  • Travel at moderate speeds on the open road. Higher speeds require more gasoline use to overcome air resistance.
  • Use the air conditioner only when needed. Air conditioning dramatically reduces fuel economy.
  • Spark plugs should be in good condition. Spark plugs in lesser condition can reduce gas mileage up to 12%
  • Check the air filter twice a year. A dirty air filter increases fuel consumption and can cause poor performance. A dirty air filter can reduce can reduce gas mileage up to 20%.
  • Inflate tires according to the recommendation in the owner’s manual. Under-inflated tires are a safety hazard and can cut fuel economy by as much as 2 percent per pound of pressure below the recommended level.
  • Use the right octane level for your vehicle – Using premium gasoline in an engine designed to run on regular doesn’t improve performance. Even some vehicles that call for higher octane fuels can run on regular unleaded, though with some loss of performance may occur. (Check your owner’s manual to be sure)
  • Be sure your gas cap is snug or tight. “Improperly seated gas caps allow 147 million gallons of fuel to vaporize every year in the U.S.”
  • Lighten up your load – Carry only the bare necessities. Don’t haul things around in your trunk that you don’t need. “For every extra 250 pounds your engine hauls, the car loses about one mile per gallon in fuel economy.” This will vary with the size of your vehicle (car, truck, van, suv, etc)
  • Reduce drag – About half of your vehicle’s energy is expended overcoming air resistance. (The other half is expended in acceleration.) Reduce your car’s workload — remove anything that might cause drag (such as luggage racks, bike racks, ski racks, etc)
  • Take care of car-care “incidentals” that can affect fuel use. For example, a defective radiator thermostat can waste gas by extending the engine’s warm-up time or decreasing the engine’s operating temperature. A stuck brake caliper can create drag, which also wastes fuel.

And Last … But not least … Drive less!

Walk – Ride your bike – Take public transit – Carpool – Combine errands – It’s may be obvious, but is  easy to forget … the less you drive, the less you’ll spend on gas.

Do what works best for you!

13 Tips For Saving Money On Groceries At The Supermarket

shopping-listA shopping list is almost a must … and a very useful ‘tool’ to remind yourself what you do as well as don’t need to purchase. However most experts on being frugal, emphasize shopping with a list because it prevents impulse purchases. Impulse purchases wreck havoc on grocery budgets.

More than half of all grocery purchases are unplanned!

No wonder creating and sticking to a pre-made list can bring grocery costs down.

But that’s not the only way to save money at the supermarket. Below you will find several tips for saving money on your next grocery bill. Some of these may be obvious ….. others not as much. All of them can help you save at the supermarket. See how many of these you can benefit from:

#1 – Make a list — and stick to it –

This is the cardinal rule of shopping. The list represents your grocery needs: the staples you’re out of, and the food you need for upcoming meals. When you stray from the list, you’re buying on impulse, and that’s how shopping trips get out of control. Sure, a magazine only costs $5, but if you spend an extra $5 every time you make a trip to the supermarket, you waste a lot of money.

#2 – Compare unit pricing –

The biggest package isn’t always the most cost-effective. Stores know that consumers want to buy in bulk, and so they mix it up. Sometimes the bulk item is cheaper, sometimes it’s more expensive. The only way you can be sure is to take a calculator. Almost all larger grocery stores and supermarkets post unit prices on the shelf tag for most items, which makes comparisons easy when you know what to look for.

#3 – Think twice before getting a basket or cart –

Carts slow you down and make you buy more. Studies have shown the longer you stay in a store, the more you buy. If you’re dashing into the supermarket to pick up milk and bread, don’t impulsively pick up a basket. Baskets induce people to buy more. If you’re limited to what you can carry, you’re more likely to avoid impulse purchases. Only use a basket (or shopping cart) if it’s absolutely necessary.

#4 – Don’t examine things you don’t need –

The more you interact with something, the more likely you are to buy it. Virtually all unplanned purchase come as a result of the shopper seeing, touching, smelling, or tasting something that promises pleasure or fulfillment. Do you know why grocery stores place those displays in the aisles? To intentionally block traffic. They want to force you to stop, if only for a moment. It only takes a few seconds of idly staring at the Chips Ahoy! to convince you to buy them. Stay focused.

#5 – Live on the edge –

Health-conscious shoppers know that the perimeter of the store is where the good stuff is. Stores typically place the healthier, less-processed items on their perimeters, such as baked goods, dairy products, fresh meats, fruits and vegetables. All of these are generally placed along the outside edge of the supermarket, while the processed stuff can be found up and down the aisles. Shopping the edges isn’t just healthier — it’s cheaper too!

#6 – Discard brand loyalties –

Be willing to experiment. You may have a favorite brand of diced tomatoes, for example, but does it really matter? Go with what’s on sale for the lowest unit price. You may find you like the less expensive product just as well. If you try a cheaper brand and are disappointed, it’s okay to return to your regular brand.

#7 – Choose generic –generic-brands

Better yet, try the store brand. Generic and “house-brand” products are generally cheaper than their name-brand equivalents (unless on sale) and are usually of similar quality. The only difference is marketing and fancy packaging. So, if it costs less and tastes the same… should it really matter?… I mean, after all, you’re not eating the packaging. ?

#8 – Use coupons wisely –

Coupons really CAN save you money. But you need to use them wisely. Clip coupons for ONLY the things you need — staple foods and ingredients — not for processed junk food. Learn to use special coupons. Occasionally, local stores will mail out savings coupons like “$10 off a $50 purchase coupon” or “Spend $20 on any grocery items and get ‘x’ items at no or minimum cost”. If you know it’s coming on a regular basis, you can plan your major shopping trips around it.

Saving Money At The Checkout Stand: Are You Coupon Savvy?

#9 – Make one big trip instead of several smaller ones –

Each visit to the grocery store is another potential opportunity to spend needlessly or excessively. By reducing the frequency of your trips, you’re not only avoiding temptation, but you’re also saving money all the way around (meaning your time and fuel costs).bulk-bins

#10 – Buy from the bulk bins –

Some stores offer bulk bins filled with baking ingredients, cereal, spices, nuts, seeds, etc. When you buy in bulk, you get just the amount you want or need, AND you pay less… Much less.

#11 – Always check your receipt! –

Make sure your prices are scanned correctly. Make sure your coupons are scanned correctly. Sale items, especially, have a tendency to be in the computer wrong, and yet few people ever challenge the price at the register. After all… It’s YOUR money. It’s your responsibility as well as your right to have your order rung up WITH sale and coupon items discounted correctly – Ask for it!

#12 – Shop alone! –

Research finds that people tend to buy more when shopping in groups rather than when shopping alone. Men, more so than women, are easily suggestible to the entreaties of children as well as eye-catching displays. Try to shop by yourself if at all possible.

#13 – Shop on a full stomach –

Studies show that folks who shop when they’re hungry tend to buy more food. Thirsty people will stock up on more drinks. This is certainly true for me: If I go to the store for milk on a Sunday morning without eating breakfast, I’m likely to come home with donuts and orange juice and Lucky Charms, too.

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Any of these tips can help a savvy shopper save money at the grocery store or supermarket. And a combination of many of the above (if strictly followed without deviation) may actually slash your grocery budget significantly.

Give it a try and see what works for you.

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Here’s another recent post link from this blog about coupons

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    20 Things A Burglar Won’t Tell You

    burglary_in_progress

    Have you considered spending your hard-earned money on a home securityburglar-cartoon system?

    Well, taking a look inside of a burglar’s mind just might help you make that decision. Consider the following musings of actual, experienced burglars and it just might help persuade your final thought process……….

    Learn how to better protect yourself and your family with these insider secrets.

    #1) –  Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

    #2) – Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.

    #3) – Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste … and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.

    #4) – Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.

    #5) – If it snows while you’re out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.

    #6) – If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don’t let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it’s set. That makes it too easy.

    #7) – A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom—and your jewelry. It’s not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.

    #8) – I always knock first. If you answer, I’ll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters. (Don’t take me up on it.)

    #9) – Do you really think I won’t look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

    #10) – You’re right….. I won’t have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables….. But if it’s not bolted down, I’ll take it with me.

    #11) – It’s raining, you’re fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door – understandable – But understand this….. I don’t take a day off because of bad weather.

    #12) – A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you’re reluctant to leave your TV on while you’re out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television.

    #13) – Sometimes, I carry a clipboard….. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.

    #14) – The two things I hate most….. loud dogs and nosy neighbors.

    #15) – I’ll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he’ll stop what he’s doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn’t hear it again, he’ll just go back to what he was doing….. It’s human nature.

    #16) – I’m not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?

    #17) – I love looking in your windows. I’m looking for signs that you’re home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I’d like. I’ll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets.

    #18) – Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It’s easier than you think to look up your address.

    #19) – To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it’s an invitation.

    #20) – If you don’t answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in.

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    Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina, Oregon, California, and Kentucky; security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs crimedoctor.com; and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars On The Job

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