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Gifts for Avid Hunters, Anglers and Outdoorsmen

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services’ 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation unveiled that more than 90 million United States residents aged 16 or older participated in some sort of wildlife-related activity that year — the most recent year on record. Wildlife recreationists spend nearly $150 billion per year on their activities.

With this in mind, those who have hunters, anglers or outdoorsmen on their holiday shopping lists may find that gifts facilitating these specific pursuits can be the ideal fit this holiday season. Rather than scouring the mall for hours, a visit to the nearest sports outfitter can yield a bevy of appropriate gift ideas.

For some inspiration, consider these gifts for the outdoor enthusiast.

• Binoculars:

Scoping out territory and looking for game is often part of the hunt. A set of durable new binoculars can give hunters an edge.

• Heated shoe insoles:

Hunting and fishing often require long wait periods — sometimes in chilly weather. Heated shoe insoles and hand warmers can keep outdoorsmen warm.

• GPS/digital watch:

Although many smartphones tell time and offer GPS services, lightweight watches may be more convenient than phones. For example, the Garmin Fenex Watch is waterproof and offers such functions as GPS, an altimeter, barometer and a digital compass.

• All-season tent:

Camping out is not just a summer activity. A tent that is rated to withstand various temperatures and conditions can be an asset.

• Waders:

Anglers sometimes need to get up close and personal with their prey. A sturdy pair of breathable waders is ideal for those who venture out of the boat or off of the coast.

• Wool socks:

They may be a basic item, but hikers, hunters and other sports people can’t stock up enough on warm, sweat-wicking wool socks that will keep their feet comfortable and dry on all excursions.

• Folding knife:

Knives are ideal for cutting fishing line, twigs for a campfire and much more. A sturdy, quality knife that fits easily in a pocket or backpack is a must-have for hunters, campers and anglers.

• Water-resistant pouch:

A day on the boat or near the water requires gear that can get wet without soiling items stored inside. Choose a pouch that can fit a camera, keys, phone, and other necessities.

• Climbing stand:

Hunters frequently spend time up in the trees to get a better view of oncoming game. Stationary tree stands may remain for the season, but lightweight offerings fold and can be transported from area to area.

Safety Renovations for Seniors’ Homes

Feeling safe and secure at home is a priority for any homeowner. But safety is of particular concern for aging men and women who are at greater risk of being involved in accidents at home than younger men and women. Harvard Health Publishing says that accidents at home are among the leading causes of injury and death in the United States. The chances for fatalities increases as one ages, and by age 75 and older, men and women are almost four times as likely to die in a home accident as people a decade younger.

As people age, their balance, eyesight and general physical abilities can begin to diminish. Furthermore, a fall or incident that may only bruise a younger individual can cause more serious breaks or damage for seniors, resulting in potentially lengthy recovery times. The Home Care Assistance organization says that one million elderly people are admitted to the emergency room for injuries every year. People concerned about the safety of their homes or the homes of their aging loved ones can retrofit such properties to make them safer.

Falls

According to The Senior Social Club, which offers care and community services to seniors, falls are the most common accidents affecting seniors. One out of every three seniors aged 65 and older falls at least once a year. In addition to working with doctors to improve mobility and modify medications that may cause unsteadiness, changes around the home can help. Grab bars placed in bathrooms and high-traffic areas can help seniors get stay more stable when changing from sitting to standing positions. Potential tripping hazards should be assessed. Area rugs without nonskid backings, clutter on floors, extension cords that extend into walking areas, and uneven flooring pose tripping hazards. Anti-slip coatings can be added to floors to reduce the risk of tripping. Poorly lit staircases and entryways also can contribute to falls. Consider the installation of motion-activated lighting so that dim areas can be automatically brightened when necessary. A nightlight or LED lights placed near molding can help guide seniors to the bathroom during midnight visits.

Physical Limitations

Arthritis can impede seniors’ ability to turn on and off appliances, water faucets or handle certain kitchen tools. Kitchen and bathroom modifications can include the installation of ergonomic and user-friendly handles and spigots. Task lighting can make it easier to prepare meals, and appliances that automatically turn off after a certain period of time can be a safety feature for forgetful individuals. Reorganize kitchen cabinets to make commonly used items as accessible as possible.

Smart Homes

Friends or family members can have greater control over seniors’ homes by installing smart home systems. This way they can remotely adjust thermostats, control lights, view cameras, engage locks or alarm systems, and much more without having to be at the home. This can seniors allow seniors to maintain their independence while offering peace of mind to their loved ones.

Certain home modifications can reduce seniors’ injury risk.

Make It a Green Winter With These Energy-Saving Tips

Conserving energy is a great way to protect the planet and save money. While energy bills might be highest in summer thanks to air conditioning units, certain factors around a house can make winter more wasteful and costly than it needs to be.

Energy bills are influenced by a variety of factors, including geography and how energy-efficient a home is. For example, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average monthly utility bill in Connecticut in 2015 was $153.13, while New Mexico residents paid slightly more than half that amount ($79.23) on average. Homeowners cannot control winter weather, which can greatly affect how much energy homeowners consume between December and March.

However, there are other ways for homeowners to curtail their energy consumption and save money throughout winter.

Address any leaks or drafts

Drafty windows and doorways can make the air inside homes feel warmer in the summer and colder in the winter. As autumn weather grows colder, homeowners can perform simple inspections around windows and doorways to determine if they have any leaks. On a cold and/or windy day, place a hand near all windows and doors to feel if there are any leaks. Use caulk or another type of sealant to address leaks so you can keep cold air out and set your thermostat to a reasonable, eco-friendly temperature.

Inspect air vents, faucets and plumbing fixtures

Air vents, faucets and plumbing fixtures attached to exterior walls should be inspected for leaks. Such inspections might need to be conducted from outside the home, which can make it more difficult to detect if cold air is entering the home. Look for gaps in the insulation around these areas, filling in those gaps as necessary.

Inspect heating systems at the start of each new season

According to EnergyStar.gov, heating systems account for 29 percent of the average homeowner’s energy expenditures. Inspect your heating or HVAC system before the start of winter, making sure all gas or oil connections are operating properly. EnergyStar.gov notes that dirty burners and cracked heat exchangers can cause heating units to operate less efficiently and may even pose a safety risk. Inspect the air filter of the heating system at least once per month, as filters can quickly become dirty during a heavy-use season like winter. Dirty filters cause the system to work harder to keep a home warm, unnecessarily wasting energy as a result.

Install a Wi-fi enabled programmable thermostat

Some programmable thermostats can be very difficult to use effectively, making it far too difficult if not impossible for homeowners to set their thermostats for various temperatures in a single day. Wi-fi enabled programmable thermostats that allow homeowners to control their heating and cooling systems via their smartphones can be more user-friendly than many other programmable thermostats, ensuring homeowners are saving money and not wasting energy heating empty homes.

Winter utility bills can be costly, but homeowners can reduce their cold weather energy consumption in various ways without sacrificing comfort.

How to Talk to Kids About Halloween Safety

Come Halloween, youngsters’ attentions are understandably focused on costumes and candy. Their parents, however, are likely more concerned with their kids’ safety. Trick-or-treating kids might not pay much mind to safety. As a result, it can be hard for parents to get kids to grasp the importance of being safe on Halloween. The following strategies might make that task easier.

• Discuss costumes well in advance of Halloween. Many kids are so enthusiastic about Halloween that they know which costumes they hope to wear long before October 31. Parents can discuss potential costumes well in advance of Halloween before kids even know what they want to wear. Doing so gives parents a chance to encourage kids to choose bright costumes that will make them more visible to drivers on Halloween night. Waiting to discuss costumes increases the likelihood that kids will already have an outfit in mind, making it harder for parents to convince them to choose something safe.

• Explain that some tailoring might be necessary to make gathering all that candy a lot easier. Superman doesn’t trip on his cape in the movies, and youngsters dressed up as the Man of Steel shouldn’t trip on their capes, either. When kids pick costumes, explain to them that you might need to do some tailoring before they go trick-or-treating. Explain to kids that costumes should be trip-proof so they can seamlessly go from house to house in search of their favorite goodies.

• Create a bag or bucket design day. Depending on what kids will use to carry the candy they accumulate this Halloween, parents can plan a bag or bucket design day a few days in advance. Kids will enjoy this chance to get in the Halloween spirit, and parents can encourage youngsters to decorate their bags and buckets with reflective tape that will make them more visible to drivers.

• Talk up trick-or-treating with friends. As Halloween approaches, parents can discuss how much fun kids will have going door-to-door with many of their friends. This is a good way to ensure kids trick-or-treat in large groups, making them more visible to drivers. In addition, kids trick-or-treating in large groups might be too busy joking with their friends to notice when one or two parents tag along as chaperones. Parents can discuss Halloween safety with their children in ways that make it fun to be safe while trick-or-treating.

Preparing for Large-Scale Emergencies

It is impossible to predict what the future will bring, but a growing number of people are focused on safeguarding their futures by preparing for catastrophic emergencies. Perhaps in reaction to terror-related attacks across the globe, the rise in devastating storms, and domestic and international social unrest, survivalism has gained a foothold in many households.

Survivalism is a movement of individuals or groups who are actively readying themselves for self-reliance in the event of an emergency that may stifle social or political order — or bring about other negative factors. Members of this movement have been called survivalists or “preppers.” The American Preppers Network defines a prepper as a person who takes personal responsibility for an impending disaster or emergency, typically by stockpiling food, water and other supplies. Although the extent to which preppers prepare for the possibilities of survival during difficult times varies from mild to the extreme, for many it has become a part of their daily lives. There are countless reasons why people prep. These may include having resources should a grocery store or another retailer run out of supplies if a disaster occurs. Individuals need only take a look at the recent hurricanes that took place, in Houston, Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico to see how quickly food, water and other resources can be diminished. Prepping enables individuals to ride out such storms in the event that disaster aid or other assistance does not arrive fast enough.

Preppers practice certain strategies for dealing with pandemic illnesses, weather emergencies such as earthquakes or hurricanes, or nefarious undertakings, such as attacks by hackers on power grids or communications networks. Various groups and resources list their top picks for supplies to stockpile. The following are guidelines culled from The Prepper Journal, Happy Preppers and The Survivalist Blog.

• Water filtration devices, including portable filters, bleach or purification tabs, keep water safe to drink. Be sure to have 5-gallon water jugs to store the water and transport it.

• Rice, beans, honey, canned vegetables, canned fruits, and canned meats have long shelf lives. Retailers offer prepared, freeze-dried foods that can be a good form of sustenance.

• Lighters and fire starters are handy. Should a power outage occur, an old-fashioned fire may be the best way to stay warm. Keeping seasoned wood and tinder also is helpful.

• Medications, such as fever reducers, antihistamines and more, can be lifesavers. A fully stocked first-aid kit also is essential.

• Flashlights and extra batteries provide illumination in the event of a long-term power outage.

These are just a few of the many items people can keep on hand to be prepared for any number of emergency situations.

7 Uses For Fallen Leaves

By the time autumn hits full swing, many trees will have shed their leaves for the season, and the last vestiges of red, yellow and orange magic will have faded to brown. Raking, blowing and collecting leaves becomes the primary chores of lawn and yard maintenance, and presents most homeowners with large piles of gathered leaves to tend to. It is impossible to count just how many leaves fall to the ground each year, or just how many pounds of leaves get collected curbside, but the numbers are substantial. Cleaning up leaves is considerable work, but not all of those leaves need to be carted away. In fact, there are several different uses of leaves that can be beneficial.

1. Spread leaves as a protective mulch to cover tender perennials or root crops/bulbs in the ground. The leaves will form a natural insulating cover that keeps the soil and the plants within a bit warmer over winter.

2. Create a pile of leaves that will break down and form a crumbly, compost-like material called leaf mold. Even though leaf mold may sound like a blight, it’s actually a good amendment to garden soil, improving its structure and ability to hold water. Leaf mold also attracts beneficial organisms that are vital in healthy soil.

3. Brown leaves can be added to green materials in compost piles to improve the health of the compost being formed. According to the healthy living resource Care2, the ideal ratio is 75 percent brown to 25 percent green materials in compost. Turn compost piles regularly to aerate them.

4. Store dried, mulched leaves in a dry spot so they can be used in the spring as a weed barrier for spring plantings. They will keep weeds at bay and help retain soil moisture to ensure small sprouts have the resources to grow.

5. Use shredded leaves as a lawn supplement. Pass a lawn mower over leaves left on the lawn to break them down into pieces too small to rake. This will help keep the lawn healthy throughout the winter without blocking out needed sunlight.

6. Bag dried leaves and pack them tightly together in cold areas of the home, such as basements or garages. They can act as added insulation. Bags of leaves also can be placed around planting containers to protect them from frost.

7. Gather a few of the best-looking leaves and preserve them. Use an iron on a low setting and press leaves between two pieces of waxed paper until the waxed paper seals together. Or use clear contact paper to achieve the same effect. Fallen leaves can be used in many different ways throughout the year.

Home Improvement Projects for Your Fall To-Do List

Homeowners know that maintaining a home can be a year-round job. No home is immune to wear and tear, and homeowners who want to protect their real estate investments should try to stay two steps ahead to ensure their homes do not succumb to the elements or become outdated and unappealing to prospective buyers.

Fall has become a season that’s synonymous with home improvement, but homeowners need not wait until the leaves begin changing colors to start planning their next projects. The following are a few items homeowners can add to their fall home improvement to-do lists.

Roof inspection

Less precipitation tends to fall during the warmer months than during the late fall and winter. As a result, homeowners may not be aware of leaky roofs until autumn has come and gone. But waiting until winter to inspect the roof can prove disastrous, as weather conditions will not be conducive to inspection and increased precipitation may result in potentially costly damage.

Leaky roofs can be easily identified by looking for water stains on interior ceilings. Once you see a stain, you can climb onto the roof to identify the location of the leak and fix it before winter rains and snowfall turn the problem into something much larger. Inspect your ceilings for signs of leaking after a strong rainfall, and then address any leaks immediately.

Gutter cleaning

While some homeowners prefer to delay their gutter cleaning projects until late fall, those whose homes are surrounded by trees may need to schedule two such projects. Gutters clogged with leaves and other debris can cause serious roof damage, and that damage can extend all the way inside a home.

In addition, clogged gutters make great nesting areas for insects or critters. Always stand on a ladder when cleaning gutters, wearing gloves to remove items by hand and dropping leaves and debris into a trash can below. Standing on the roof and leaning over gutters greatly increases your risk of injury. If the gutters are clear when you first examine them in early fall, you can wait until later in the season to give them a complete and thorough cleaning. Once you have finished clearing the gutters, you can use a hose to run water through them and the downspouts to confirm everything is functioning properly.

Window and doorway inspection

Before temperatures start dropping once again, homeowners will want to inspect their windows and doorways for leaks. Over time, cracks can develop around windows and doorways, and while such cracks are rarely noticeable when the weather outside is warm, they can be quite obvious and very costly if they remain unsealed come the start of winter. Cold air can enter a home through cracks around windows and doorways, and many homeowners who don’t suspect leaks may respond by turning up the thermostats in their homes. That can prove quite expensive over a full winter. Choose a windy autumn day to place a hand by windows and external doorways in your home to see if you can feel drafts.

If you can, seal these cracks as soon as possible. Patio cleanup Patios are popular hangouts during spring and summer, and that can result in a lot of wear and tear. Once you store patio furniture for the winter, inspect your entire patio to determine if it needs any refurbishing. While certain patio projects may be best left for spring, you can still clean any stained areas around the grill and look for cracks in the sidewalk that need to be addressed.

Preparing for fall home improvement projects ahead of time can help homeowners complete projects in a timely manner and ensures they won’t be forced to brave the winter elements when refurbishing their homes.

Fall Lawn Care Tips

Spring and summer may be the seasons most often associated with landscaping and lawn care, but tending to lawns and gardens is a year-round job.

If lawn and garden responsibilities dip considerably in winter, then fall is the last significant chance before the new year that homeowners will have to address the landscaping around their homes. Fall lawn care differs from spring and summer lawn care, even if the warm temperatures of summer linger into autumn.

Homeowners who want their lawns to thrive year-round can take advantage of the welcoming weather of fall to address any existing or potential issues.

Keep mowing

BUT adjust how you mow. It’s important that homeowners continue to mow their lawns so long as grass is growing. But as fall transitions into winter, lower the blades so the grass is cut shorter while remaining mindful that no blade of grass should ever be trimmed by more than one-third. Lowering the blades will allow more sunlight to reach the grass in the months ahead.

Remove leaves as they fall

Much like apple-picking and foliage, raking leaves is synonymous with fall. Some homeowners may wait to pick up a rake until all of the trees on their properties are bare.

However, allowing fallen leaves to sit on the ground for extended periods of time can have an adverse effect on grass. Leaves left to sit on the lawn may ultimately suffocate the grass by forming an impenetrable wall that deprives the lawn of sunlight and oxygen.

The result is dead grass and possibly even fungal disease. Leaves may not need to be raked every day, but homeowners should periodically rake and remove leaves from their grass, even if there are plenty left to fall still hanging on the trees.

Repair bald spots

Summer exacts a toll on lawns in various ways, and even homeowners with green thumbs may end up with a lawn filled with bald spots come September. Autumn is a great time to repair these bald spots. Lawn repair mixes like Scotts® PatchMaster contain mulch, seed and fertilizer to repair bald spots, which can begin to recover in as little as seven days.

Before applying such products, remove dead grass and loosen the top few inches of soil. Follow any additional manufacturer instructions as well.

Aerate the turf

Aerating reduces soil compacting, facilitating the delivery of fertilizer and water to a lawn’s roots. While many homeowners, and particularly those who take pride in tending to their own lawns, can successfully aerate their own turf, it’s best to first have soil tested so you know which amendments to add after the ground has been aerated. Gardening centers and home improvement stores sell soil testing kits that measure the pH of soil, but homeowners who want to test for nutrients or heavy metals in their soil may need to send their samples to a lab for further testing.

Fall lawn care provides a great reason to spend some time in the yard before the arrival of winter.

5 Ways to Make Homes Safer

Injuries that occur around the home contribute to millions of medical visits and tens of thousands of fatalities each year. Falls account for the largest percentage of home accidents, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that around 30,000 fall-related fatalities occur each year in the United States.

Many home accidents are entirely preventable when proper caution is exercised. As homeowners prepare for home-improvement projects, improving safety inside and outside the home should be a priority.

1. Improve lighting

One of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of falls is to improve lighting around the home. The National Institutes of Health state that adequate lighting is important at entrances to the home, stairways, hallways, and other frequently traversed areas. Make sure lighting fixtures are using the highest wattage light bulb allowed. Artificial lighting sources become even more vital in fall and autumn, when natural light is less abundant in a home. In addition, install lighting outdoors by the front door, over the garage and where garbage pails are stored to facilitate safe passage.

2. Eliminate slick surfaces

Improving traction around the house also can minimize falls. Throw rugs and runners can be made more secure with nonslip rubber backings. Bath rugs can reduce slipping on wet surfaces in the bathroom. Also, nonslip mats can be used inside of showers and bathtubs.

Use shoe trays to reduce puddling from melting snow or rain runoff in entryways. Mop up spills quickly, and consider the use of matte- or textured-finished flooring to improve stability underfoot. Promptly remove snow and ice from driveways and walkways. For those who live in cold climates, heated concrete can help melt precipitation before it accumulates.

3. Make needed repairs

Repair loose floorboards and pull carpet taut if it has started to stretch out. Address cracks outdoors and ensure that patio stones, bricks and pavers are secure and level to reduce tripping hazards. Fix areas of the landscape where water may pool and freeze, creating potential hazards.

4. Declutter all spaces

Remove unnecessary items and furniture from rooms to free up more space to get around. Be sure there are no obstructions in walkways, entryways and near doors. Keep staircases clear at all times. 5. Invest in assistive devices Handrails, grab bars, nonslip stair treads, and many other devices can make homes safer for people of all ages and abilities. Outfit cabinets and closets with organizers that put frequently used items within easy reach. A sturdy step stool can reduce the risk of injury while reaching for items stored on high shelves.

Taking measures to reduce the risk of falling around the home is a worthwhile home improvement project.

Revive Summer-Ravaged Skin, Hair and Feet

Summer is typically full of fun, vacations and relaxation, but while the sun and surf may be refreshing for the mind, sometimes the body pays a price for all of those days spent soaking up some rays. But summer can be harsh on skin, feet, hair, and more. As the warm days wind down, practice some post-summer beauty tips to revive your skin, hair and feet.

Hair

Weeks spent diving through the waves or plunging into a backyard pool is excellent exercise and a great way to cool off on hot days. However, saltwater and chemical-laden pool water can turn tresses into a mess. One pitfall that plagues people who swim regularly is a green tinge that appears in the hair, which is most noticeable on people who have blond hair. Some people blame the chlorine in the water for the green tint, but the real culprit is copper, a common element found in commercial algicides.

The solution is to find a shampoo that chelates the metal. Speak with a salon professional or a supplier of salon products to find the right shampoo for you. It’s sometimes possible to prevent future green highlights by sealing the hair cuticle with a conditioner before swimming, and then thoroughly rinsing hair after exiting the pool.

Swimmer’s hair is another summertime phenomenon. Constant exposure to water and sunlight can leave the hair’s cuticles exposed and susceptible to damage. Leave-in conditioners may help counteract some of that damage. If that doesn’t work, speak to a stylist about what can be done to get hair looking healthy once again. He or she may suggest a fresh cut, new hair color and deep-conditioning treatments.

Skin

Many people now know of the damage ultraviolet rays can do to unprotected skin. In spite of that widely held knowledge, skin cancer remains the most common form of cancer in the United States, where the Skin Cancer Foundation says more than 3.5 million skin cancers are detected annually. The best protection against skin cancer and skin damage from the sun is to use sunscreen and remain in the shade as much as possible. However, sometimes sunburns and blotchy suntans prevail.

Moisturize the skin with a penetrating product as a first recovery step. Aloe is an item found in many healing skin balms and lotions.

Although it can be tempting to tear off portions of peeling, sunburned skin, the peeling is actually a natural part of the healing process and should not be disturbed. The dead skin acts as a protective layer while fragile, tender new skin grows underneath. Use a mild soap and lukewarm water when showering. Moisturizer can keep the damaged skin moist and make peeling less noticeable. Some have found that spraying the skin with a solution made of vinegar and water can reduce the itching associated with peeling skin.

If any part of the skin does not heal or looks strange, visit a dermatologist.

Feet

Walking barefoot or in flip flops or sandals is common during summer. But flimsy sandals offer little protection against the sun as well as any dangers on the ground. Once summer is over, many people find their feet have paid the price, with calluses, blisters and dried-out skin.

Find a spa or nail salon that provides paraffin wax treatments. These treatments use warm, oil-based wax to provide pain relief and skin-softening benefits. The heat in the wax increases circulation and relieves pain and stiffness. Paraffin works by increasing blood supply to the skin while also opening pores and trapping moisture from underlying layers of skin.

Pedicure treatments also can provide some relief for your feet. Soaking and massaging the feet and addressing any calluses can help feet recover. Think about also applying a deep moisturizer to the feet and then covering them with cotton socks, which can be left on while you sleep, and you may discover the following morning that you have woken up with softer, smoother soles.

Summer is a fun time of year, but one that takes its toll on the human body.

A few simple tips can recharge the body and have a person looking refreshed and revitalized.