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Bed Bugs….

August 1, 2010

By Lorraine Cyr

Bed bugs are a growing problem in the United States.  College dorms, apartments and even single family homes are now a breeding ground for this very hard to get rid of pest.  Here are some common facts to help you know if you have bed bugs.  Once you know you have them you should consult with a professional company to help eliminate the problem before it spreads.

Bug bites are frustrating and irritating and can be harmful.  Learning to identify the type of bug bite or sting so you can determine how to treat the bite and get rid of the problem is the first step.

Bed bugs are small, oval, non-flying insects that belong to the insect family Cimicidae, which includes three species that bite people. Adult bed bugs reach 5-7 mm in length, while nymphs (juveniles) are as small as 1.5 mm. Bed bugs have flat bodies and may sometimes be mistaken for ticks or small cockroaches. Bed bugs feed by sucking blood from humans or animals. Adult bed bugs are reddish brown in color, appearing more reddish after feeding on a blood meal. Nymphs are clear in color and appear bright red after feeding. The wings of bed bugs are vestigial, so they cannot fly.

Bed bugs live in any articles of furniture, clothing, or bedding, so they or their eggs may be present in used furniture or clothing. They spread by crawling and may contaminate multiple rooms in a home or even multiple dwellings in apartment buildings. They may also be present in boxes, suitcases, or other goods that are moved from residence to residence or from a hotel to home. Bed bugs can live on clothing from infested homes and may be spread by a person unknowingly wearing infested clothing into your home.  In apartment buildings they will travel from unit to unit by crawling along electrical wires, floors or from person to person.

Getting rid of bed bugs is not an easy process, and most cases of bed bug infestation will require treatment by a pest-control expert. A variety of low-odor sprays, dusts, and aerosol insecticides can be used to eradicate bed bugs. These must be applied to all areas where the bugs are observed as well as spaces where they may crawl or hide. The pest-control company can help you determine if the mattress can be disinfected or must be discarded. Since beds cannot readily be treated with insecticides, it’s often necessary to discard infested mattresses and beds.

The pest-control expert may recommend certain forms of deep-cleaning such as scrubbing infested surfaces with a stiff brush to remove eggs, dismantling bed frames and furniture, filling cracks in floors, walls, and moldings, encasing mattresses within special bags, or using a powerful vacuum on cracks and crevices.  Treatment usually takes 3 visits with lots of cleaning.  Sometimes even replacement of infected furniture.  Please call your management company if you think you may have a problem.

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Keeping cool without air conditioning

June 29, 2010

By Lorraine Cyr

Keeping cool when temperatures reach record highs isn’t just about comfort. Dangerously high temperatures can result in heat-related illnesses ranging from heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The following tips can help you keep cool all summer long.

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing, preferably of a light color.
  • Cotton clothing will keep you cooler than many synthetics.
  • Fill a spray bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator for a quick refreshing spray to your face after being outdoors.
  • Fans can help circulate air and make you feel cooler even in an air-conditioned house.
  • Try storing lotions or cosmetic toners in the refrigerator to use on hot, overtired feet.
  • Keep plastic bottles of water in the freezer; grab one when you’re ready to go outside. As the ice melts, you’ll have a supply of cold water with you.
  • Take frequent baths or showers with cool or tepid water.
  • Combat dehydration by drinking plenty of water along with sports drinks or other sources of electrolytes.
  • Some people swear by small, portable, battery-powered fans. At an outdoor event I even saw a version that attaches to a water bottle that sprays a cooling mist.
  • If you’re wearing a cap or hat, remove it and pour a bit of ice cold water into the hat, then quickly invert it and place on your head.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these will promote dehydration.

Please remember to check on elderly or sick neighbors this heat is hardest on them.

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Lawn care and your pets

June 26, 2010

By Lorraine Cyr

One of our home owners asked us how to keep her neighbors dogs from using her lawn as a toilet and we found some very helpful tips at:

http://www.bladeslawncare.com/preventdogsurinatingongrass.html  Here is what they said:

Our four-legged canine friends may be awfully cute, but the damage that can come from dogs urinating on your grass is definitely NOT cute. Because of the high concentration of nitrogen in dog urine, it can leave unsightly brown “dog spots” on your lawn. The urine is quickly absorbed into the ground and soil, which will ultimately damage the roots of your grass, causing the brown spots. This is a frustrating problem for many homeowners, but fortunately, there are some preventative measures that you can take to keep the dogs, and their spots, out of your yard.

If the canine culprit is your own pet, there are food additives that claim to neutralize the acid in your dog’s urine to help prevent brown spots from occurring. However, because the nitrogen in the urine is the main factor behind brown spots, not the acid, most of these additives won’t work. Additionally, many veterinarians warn against altering your dog’s diet for the purpose of changing the acid content in the urine, as this can cause problems for your dog. Better alternatives for preventing the dog spots are to plant urine-resistant grasses, such as fescue and perennial ryegrass. These grasses don’t suffer in the way that others, like Kentucky Bluegrass, do as a result of dog urine. You can also avoid using lawn fertilizers that contain nitrogen. With these fertilizers, your lawn will be getting a double dose of nitrogen, leading to brown spots where your dog makes his or her own little nitrogen deposit. Finally, you can follow your dog around with a garden hose or watering can, and once your pooch does its business, water the area immediately. This will dilute the nitrogen and spread it more evenly over your yard so it’s not all concentrated in one spot. Oftentimes, this will prevent the brown spot from ever occurring.

Brown spots on the yard can be more annoying, however, when you don’t even own a dog. If a neighborhood dog has chosen to make your lawn its personal toilet, there are some things you can do to help the pooch rethink its decision. One of the more popular solutions to prevent wandering pups from coming to your yard is to invest in a motion-activated sprinkler. These sprinklers will deliver a high pressure burst of water whenever Rover decides to pop a squat on your lawn. If you’re expecting company though, you’ll want to switch it off unless you plan on greeting your guests with towels and a blow-dryer. You could also try home-made remedies to keep the dogs off your grass. Sprinkling a mixture of cayenne pepper and black pepper or spraying vinegar around the perimeter of your yard may help prevent the dogs from coming your way, and many people have turned to this method. Your neighbors may think it a little odd to see you carting your spice rack around the yard, sprinkling a little of this and that, but who cares? As a final option, you might consider installing a fence if you don’t already have one. Closing off your yard with a fence is the one sure way to keep the dogs from coming in.

With these preventative measures in mind, you shouldn’t have to worry about dog spots any longer. You’ll be happy, your grass will be happy, and the dog..well, it’ll just have to adjust.

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DOES YOUR TRASH COMPANY REALLY DO RECYCLING?

June 15, 2010

By Lorraine Cyr

Although 32% of municipal waste is reported to be recycled, there are two problems with this picture. One is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated in 1988 that municipal waste was only 2% of all waste generated, and secondly, the total amount of waste generated, recycled, or disposed is not truly known because the EPA has not collected or confirmed that data. Failure to so is in violation of federal requirements but the EPA does not issue fines.

What does DC do with our recycled waste?  In this article published by the City Paper in November 2009 http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/38060/how-private-contractors-in-dc-are-sending-your-recycling-to  The reporter found that most private hauling companies mix your recycled goods with the regular trash. Local environmentalists say there is plenty of blame to go around for Washington’s recycling record, which is among the worst in the country. The companies paid to haul the recycling from office and retail buildings and most condo and apartment complexes have few incentives to do the right thing. For starters, the market for recyclables has tanked.

And it appears that fear of consequences doesn’t figure into the haulers’ behavior. The city’s recycling enforcement efforts focus on making sure offices and retailers are putting their newspapers and plastic water bottles in the appropriate bins, not on making sure that those newspapers and water bottles actually get recycled.

What can you do?  Check up on your waste removal company!  Get up early trash pickup day and see if your company picks up recycled trash separately or not. If you find that they are mixing the trash report it to your Management Company.  There are some companies who do recycle and it is worth the effort to find them.  Your Association pays extra for recycling so don’t let them mix it with regular trash!

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NO ACTION IS WORSE THAN WRONG ACTION

May 28, 2010

By Lorraine Cyr

No action is worse than wrong action!

As I sat and watched President Obama talk about the oil spill, I kept thinking that he is so wrong in his decisions about this oil spill.  All of his “experts” thinking and thinking with no actions being taken.  If as he said this was his number one priority since day one then why did it take 5 plus weeks for them to try this Top Kill method?  Why is the Army, Navy and everyone else not down in the gulf coast building sand barriers to keep the oil out of the Marsh lands? Why are there no more ships in the Ocean skimming the oil up? 

No action is worse than wrong action!

As the President pointed out we have never had a spill this deep in the Ocean before.  No one knows what will or will not work.

The experts said that it would take too long to build a sand barrier to protect the Marsh lands well the spill is now going on 6 weeks and it will take years to remove the oil damage from the Marshlands.  If the State were allowed to build the barrier and it did not work then they would be able to say “It did not work, but we tried” right now they are saying “It would have worked, but we were not ALLOWED to try” which is causing so many bad feelings.  A sand barrier might have kept the oil and chemicals out of the wet lands, would act as a filter to keep the chemicals out and yes that is a lot of coast but I for one would rather spend American dollars here than in Iraq! 

No action is worse than wrong action!

I have not seen one picture of a navy ship working on oil clean up in the Ocean.  WHY? We know that the chemicals used to disperse the oil are bad for you.  The President asked BP to stop using them.  WHY are they still being used?  What harm will this cause us 5 years from now? 10 years from now?  Will it be like the PCB that polluted our rivers and now there are warnings “DO NOT EAT THE FISH”? What harm will all this cause to the fish and other wild life?

At this point we all know that there are more WHY questions than answers. So it seems to me that when an entire State asks for one small barrier reef to be built the answer should have been “LETS DO IT!” instead of  “NO, that will take too long” “we don’t think it will work” or any of the other excuses that were given. Just the act of letting all the locals band together to build the sand barrier would go a long way in helping the families of the affected area feel less helpless and that they had some control. And who knows MAYBE IT WOULD HAVE WORKED!

I would rather be saying: “it did not work let try something else” rather than “I wish we had”

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WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT PROPER DISPOSAL OF MY REFRIGERATOR?

May 15, 2010

By Lorraine Cyr

Refrigerant: Household refrigerators and freezers manufactured before 1995 typically contain chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerant. Most window air-conditioning units and dehumidifiers contain hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerant. CFCs and HCFCs are ozone-depleting substances (ODS) that, if released to the environment, destroy the protective ozone layer above the earth. Moreover, CFC and HCFC refrigerants are also potent greenhouse gases, meaning that their release contributes to global climate change. Refrigerators and freezers manufactured since 1995 contain ozone-friendly hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants; however, these refrigerants still need to be carefully handled since they are greenhouse gases.

Foam: Refrigerators and freezers manufactured before 2005 are insulated with foam that contains ODS—either CFCs or HCFCs. If emitted, CFCs and HCFCs contribute to both ozone depletion and climate change. Only units manufactured since 2005 contain foam blowing agents that are ozone and climate friendly. Air-conditioners and dehumidifiers do not contain foam.

What are the Dangers of Used Oil, Mercury, and PCBs?

If improperly disposed, used oil from refrigerated appliances can result in the release of dissolved ODS refrigerant and groundwater contamination. In addition, short-term exposure to used oil can cause skin, eye, and respiratory irritation; in the long-term, it can cause cancer and damage to the liver, brain, immune system, and reproductive system.

When released to the environment, mercury accumulates in the tissues of plants and animals and, when consumed by humans, impairs neurological development and causes other problems associated with the nervous system.

PCBs are toxic substances with carcinogenic and non-cancerous effects on humans, including effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system, and endocrine system.

Hazardous Components: Household appliances may also contain hazardous components, including used oil, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and mercury. For example, the cooling circuit contains oil that can be contaminated with ODS refrigerant. Some refrigerators and chest freezers manufactured prior to 2000 have mercury-containing components (i.e., switches and relays). Appliances manufactured prior to 1979 may contain PCB capacitors. For this reason, appliances should be recycled by facilities that safely remove these components prior to shredding and recycling. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) has more information on mercury and PCBs contained in home appliances.

The diagram below provides approximate quantities and locations of substances contained in refrigerators manufactured prior to 1995.

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Radiant heating systems

April 27, 2010

 By Lorraine Cyr

This is a very old idea that is becoming popular again.  A long time ago the Greeks and Romans heated the floors of the baths with wood fires.  This made perfect sense heat rises.  Today we use several different methods to run heat through our floors.  In some areas of our country solar heat is not enough to heat a home in the winter but it can reduce your energy consumption from 10% to 90%.

There are two common types of heating systems.  Solar radiant air and solar hydronic floors both use the sun to heat the fluid (air or liquid) in the collectors and then feeds it through the flooring system.  In the air systems the solar collectors heat the air and then send it through air passages which are set in the concrete floor.  This type of system can be added to over the top of your current floor with just a few minor adjustments.  With the hydronic (water) system the solar collector heats the water which is sent to a storage tank and then it is pumped through the pipes in the floor.  The storage tank system provides easier control over floor temperatures and can be supplemented with a back up heating source such as on demand water heater, heat pumps or even a wood stove when solar energy is not enough.   

When choosing to use solar energy systems the initial cost is always higher.  In this case a radiant heating system for an average home will cost about $15,000 and a non-solar heating system is $4,000 to $7,000.  Many families ask why spend the extra money?  But now there are lots of rebates that make the cost less than a non-solar system. The Federal government is offering a 30% rebate, most States are offering a 5% and the utility companies are offering 15% on solar systems.  Families can now install a new solar system for less cost than a non-solar system.  Solar energy also reduces our dependence on foreign oil, reduces our carbon foot print and is good for our planet.  Radiant heat does not blow dust, pollen or other allergy causing bacteria around your house which a good health reason to make the change.  A solar heating system will last 2 to 3 times as long as a non-solar system.  In some cases with the proper maintenance the solar panel has lasted 50 years and the pump 25 years.  With this in mind even without the benefits of rebates solar is a good investment.

Why are you waiting???  NOW is the time to make the change.