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Spring and summer storms, hot summer days, and strong winds can cause stress on your home and there are some steps you should take before winter to protect you and your family and your property before the winter blast hits. A little bit of maintenance now can save you anxious times dealing with water leaks, nonworking furnaces and frozen pipes.  Here are some of my recommendations for the winterization of your home.


  1. Disconnect all the hoses from the water spigots on the home. Most spigots today are frost proof and allow the water to drain out of the line as it penetrates the wall. If the hose is connected however it cannot drain out and the cold will cause the water in the pipe to freeze. You will not notice this until the spring thaw and the broken pipe will leak and you will have a messy, expensive repair.


  1. Replace all your smoke alarm batteries. Although all modern building codes call for hardwired smoke detectors they have a battery backup. They always wait until 2 in the morning to start beeping and you will spend the next hour trying to figure out which one it is.
  2. Change your furnace and humidifier filters. During those cold winter nights you want your heat working as efficiently as possible and without the proper humidification and can cause difficulties sleeping and possible nose bleeds from the dry air.
  3. Take a walk around your home and check your caulking around windows and doors and all wall penetrations. A little water can get behind your building envelope and when it freezes cause expansion to the gap. This will allow more water, bugs and rodents in your home.
  4. Little critters like raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks and mice would love to move in for the cold winter months. Make sure you have not developed any openings for them to sneak in. A family of raccoons living in your attic can cause a lot of damage.

The most destructive cause of damage to your home is water. A few minutes of preventive maintenance with minimal cost can save you hours of anxiety and thousands of dollars.


Have a wonderful peaceful winter. Talk to you next month with some holiday precautions.



Mold Exposure and Symptoms

What are molds?

Molds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. No one knows how many species of fungi exist but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three hundred thousand or more. Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores. Mold spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as dry conditions, that do not support normal mold growth.

What are some of the common indoor molds?
  • Cladosporium
  • Penicillium
  • Alternaria
  • Aspergillus
Mold Exposure and Symptoms

Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may have more severe reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of molds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around moldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Some people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs.

In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor mold exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children. In 2009, the World Health Organization issued additional guidance, the WHO Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality: Dampness and Mould.  Other recent studies have suggested a potential link of early mold exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies, but more research is needed in this regard.


Are You Ready in an Emergency?

A disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need to be ready in an emergency.

Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them.

You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days.

Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.

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