Consumer Real Estate News

    • Keep Pets Safe All Summer Long: 4 Tips to Overcome Warm Weather Hazards

      29 June 2022

      (Family Features) Summer means extra time outdoors. Sunny months provide a perfect opportunity for bonding with pets, but higher temperatures, seasonal plants and pests and additional travel can pose higher risks for complications.

      To help keep dogs, cats and other pets safe during summer adventures, consider these tips from the experts at VCA Animal Hospitals, which has more than 1,000 locations across North America that cared for more than 4.5 million pets last year. 

      Beat the Heat
      Dogs and cats cannot control their body temperature by sweating as humans do. They have a small number of sweat glands located in their footpads and primarily regulate their temperature by panting. Vigorous exercise, leaving a pet in a vehicle with poor ventilation – even if the windows are down – or being left outside without shade and water on hot days can lead to heatstroke, or hyperthermia.

      Increased humidity combined with warmer temperatures intensifies the risk of heat stroke, especially during the first few warm days as pets transition to outdoor activity. If your pet exhibits any symptoms of heatstroke – elevated breathing rates, dry or sticky gums, lethargy, disorientation, abnormal gum color, bruised gums or seizures – pour cool water over your pet’s head, stomach and feet or apply cool, wet cloths, ensure continuous airflow and see a veterinarian immediately.

      Keep Ticks at Bay
      As pets spend more time outdoors in the summer, they’re often exposed to pests like ticks. Ticks can transmit serious diseases to both dogs and cats. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, as many as 1 in 20 dogs tested positive for tick-borne diseases in 2021. Ticks climb onto pets from blades of grass or fall from overhanging trees and foliage. If a tick finds its way onto your pet, use tweezers or disposable gloves to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible then pull straight out with steady, even pressure until the tick releases.

      If you find a tick, carefully inspect all areas of skin, including behind the ears and between the toes, for additional ticks. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area with soap and water and wash your hands. Save the tick in a resealable plastic bag to show your veterinarian and take note of the time and place the bite occurred and any other details that may aid your veterinarian should an illness occur. Follow your veterinarian’s advice about tick preventative measures, and make sure the product is safe to be used for your pet’s size. Never use dog flea and tick products on cats.

      Travel Safely
      If you plan to travel with your pet, pack the necessities for your animal. Your pet’s luggage should include food, water bowls, treats, a leash and collar, toys, medications and printed copies of medical records, including vaccination history. Check with your veterinarian to determine if a health certificate is needed for travel. Also ensure your pet is comfortable with his or her crate or carrier before flying or embarking on a long road trip.

      Knowing where to take your pet in case of an emergency while away from home is also essential. Look up emergency veterinary clinics near your destination before departing or ask if your vet offers virtual care options. For example, through the myVCA app, you can access 24/7 live chat with licensed veterinary professionals.

      Manage Allergies
      Many of the same allergens that affect humans impact pets. Atopy, also known as inhalant allergy, is a common cause of skin problems in dogs and cats. Affected animals often have a history of chronic or recurrent itching and tend to have a history of repeated skin or ear infections. Itchy pets tend to scratch themselves, lick their feet and rub on furniture or carpet. Atopy can also cause cats to groom excessively and develop bald or crusty spots on their skin.
       
      Some allergies may also affect the respiratory or digestive systems or the eyes. If your pet is displaying signs of allergies, your veterinarian can recommend appropriate testing and treatment to reduce symptoms.

      Visit vcahospitals.com to find more ways to keep pets safe throughout the summer and book an appointment.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Signs That an Exterior Door Needs to Be Replaced

      29 June 2022

      Visitors notice the front door when they come to your house, but exterior doors are responsible for a lot more than just curb appeal. Your front and back doors should provide security, keep rain and drafts out, and limit the amount of noise from outside that enters your home. If an exterior door is failing in any of those regards, it’s time to replace it.

      The Door is Damaged or Doesn’t Fit the Frame Correctly
      Over time, an exterior door may become warped or cracked, paint may peel or the door may be damaged by insects. It may have one or more dents caused by objects banging against it as people entered or left. 

      An old door may be difficult to open and close, and may not fit well in the frame. That can be more than just a hassle. A door that’s damaged or that doesn’t close tightly can make your home vulnerable to air and water leaks, insects and burglars. If you can see light around the edges of a door when it’s shut, that means it isn’t fitting in the frame as it should.

      Your Utility Costs Keep Going Up
      Air leakage around an exterior door can lead to high energy bills in both the winter and summer. In the colder months, chilly air that gets in through cracks can make your furnace have to work harder than it should to keep the house warm. In the summer, cooled air can leak out through gaps while hot outdoor air gets inside. If your utility bills have been rising, a damaged door may be to blame. 

      You’ve Noticed Leaks or Water Damage
      Cracks in a door, damaged seals or gaps in the frame can allow water to get inside on a rainy day. That can cause damage to the door, the frame and the flooring inside. It can also contribute to mold, which can endanger your family’s health. 

      Noise is Getting on Your Nerves
      An exterior door should block out some of the noise coming from your neighbors and cars driving down the street. A door normally makes a sound when it closes, but it shouldn’t be so loud that you jump every time someone enters or leaves. If you have noticed the noise level increasing, it may be time to replace the door.

      Make a Wise Investment
      Installing a new exterior door may be expensive, but it will pay off in the long run. Replacing a damaged door can eliminate drafts, lower your utility bills, protect your home from water damage and mold, keep insects out, reduce the noise level and shield your family and belongings from intruders.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Start a Family Game Night Tradition

      29 June 2022

      Starting a weekly, biweekly or monthly tradition can prove to be an effective and incredibly fun way to slow down and focus on each other even when schedules get hectic. If you are ready to start a family game night for this reason, here are some tips to make it happen.

      Define Game
      Game night can mean different things to different family members, so be sure to define what your family would like to see in a game night. Will it be a rough-and-tumble night of sports or obstacle courses? Does your family enjoy the strategy involved with a long-lasting game of cards? Do you prefer quick board games? Or do you simply want to join the kids in a battle royale on their favorite video game console? Whatever you choose, be sure to set expectations for what the tradition will involve.

      Pick a Low Traffic Night
      The key to making the family game night a true tradition is simply ensuring that it continues even when life gets more chaotic. Pick a low-traffic night, especially if you plan to make your family game nights a weekly event. Choosing a Friday night may work for your family when your children are small, but it could pose a challenge to keep everyone interested as high school years and Friday night football games approach. Choose a night that won’t require family members to sacrifice events or extracurricular activities and you’ll be much more likely to keep up the tradition long-term.

      Ensure Variety
      Traditional family game nights often involve board games since they are an easy way to ensure a technology-free and family-focused evening. If you opt for board games during your game nights, don't forget to ensure variety. You can achieve this by creating a monthly game night with a form of games you don’t normally play (think video games or sports) or you can purchase or borrow new board games regularly. Check with your local library to see if they lend board games to members, or support a local game store and find an eclectic board game you wouldn’t come across otherwise. Either way, keeping game night fun and interesting means mixing it up, especially if one family member keeps winning every time you play Monopoly. 

      Bring Snacks
      Snacks and game nights go hand-in-hand, and everyone can get excited about a delectable treat. Keep it low-key by setting out your family’s favorite crunchy snacks and treats, or plan your game night around dinner and make it a fun build-your-own meal. Taco bars, chili bars or ice cream sundae bars can prove an excellent companion to game night fun. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Increase Your Home’s Value: 5 Practical Upgrades to Increase Style, Function

      28 June 2022

      (Family Features) Whether you’ve purchased a new house or are just looking to invest in what is likely your largest asset, home improvements can make your living space more comfortable, functional and stylish.

      Homebuyers are looking for practical home amenities that allow them to live, work and play – such as dedicated home offices, backyard retreats, home gyms and more – without having to worry about any potential future restrictions caused by the pandemic, according to a survey by Zolo of more than 3,300 new homeowners and potential first-time buyers in 2022.

      Consider these popular upgrade ideas to create a space built for your family’s needs that can also increase resale value down the line.

      Home Office
      At the height of the pandemic, many professionals found themselves working remotely – a trend that continued as restrictions were lifted. In fact, 46% of survey respondents listed a dedicated office space as a must-have when purchasing a new home. When creating this space, keep function and efficiency top of mind. Build your home office around a desk – either standing or traditional – then consider additions like an ergonomic chair and keyboard, soft light desk lamp, mood-boosting plants and a white board to stay organized. Don’t forget to add flairs of personality like artwork, knick-knacks or photos of loved ones to make it your own.

      Skylights
      By improving the overall look and functionality of dark spaces, such as home offices where natural light can improve creativity and productivity, an option like skylights can increase the value of a home, and 55% of new homebuyers rated skylights as desirable or essential, according to research from the National Association of Home Builders.  For rooms that need brightening, skylights can free up wall space for storage while adding abundant natural light and increasing ventilation. An option like Velux No Leak Solar-Powered Fresh Air Skylights help rid indoor air of bacteria, volatile organic compounds and carbon dioxide.

      Over the long-term, high-quality skylights can also help reduce carbon emissions and home energy consumption, saving money on household bills, according to Urban Grade. Remote-controlled models can be opened to bring fresh air inside, and with light-filtering or room-darkening shades homeowners have maximum control over the exact amount of light they want. Plus, solar-powered shades come in more than 75 colors and patterns, allowing homeowners nearly endless customization options. Learn more at whyskylights.com.

      Backyard Retreat
      Perfect for hosting friends, dining al fresco or simply relaxing with the backdrop of nature, 48% of survey respondents cited a backyard retreat as a must-have home amenity. Start with a deck or patio then customize your outdoor living space to meet your family’s wants and needs. Weather-proof furniture can add comfort while features like outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, fans and lighting can create a connection to your indoor areas that add both style and function.

      Walk-In Pantry
      If you want to add a pantry in your kitchen, you’re not alone. Walk-in pantries found their way onto 48% of respondents’ lists of must-haves. To get started, consider your storage needs to determine the amount of space you’ll require and remember to vary shelving heights to maximize space. Open shelving can also be combined with additional counter space, cabinets, pull-out organizers and other features to help match the design to the rest of your kitchen.

      Home Gym
      Another trend that rose in popularity amid the pandemic, home gyms can take on a variety of shapes and sizes, utilizing available space in the garage, basement, a spare bedroom or even the backyard. Providing more time to fit workouts into your schedule, home gyms can be customized with equipment most important for your lifestyle. From yoga mats, jump ropes and free weights to treadmills, ellipticals and benches and racks, your space, budget and goals can help in the creation or update of a dedicated, in-home workout space.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Teach Your Kids About Fire Safety

      28 June 2022

      Being in a building that is on fire can be a terrifying experience for anyone, but kids can feel even more overwhelmed if they don’t understand what’s happening or don’t know what to do. Here are some ways to discuss fire safety with your children.

      Talk About Fire Hazards and Keep Dangerous Objects Out of Reach
      Many fires start when children are playing with matches or lighters. Discussing the danger and telling your kids not to touch hazardous objects may not be enough. Store those items where your kids can’t get to them. Teach young children not to touch the stove. If necessary, use a gate to keep them out of the kitchen. 

      Make Sure Your Kids Know What to Do if a Fire Occurs
      Walk through your home, point out smoke detectors and explain that they make a sound if there is a fire. Let your kids hear the sound so they’ll recognize it if a smoke detector goes off. Check smoke alarms monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year.

      Explain that if there is a fire, everyone should get out of the house as quickly as possible. Point out ways to escape from every room in the house. Ideally, there should be two exits from each room. 

      Make sure that windows can be opened easily and that screens can be removed, even by a young child. Get escape ladders for rooms on the second floor and teach your kids how to use them.

      Teach your children how to stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch fire. Explain that running can give the fire oxygen and make things worse.

      Designate a meeting place where all family members should go after evacuating the house. Stress that once they get outside, they should not go back in the house for any reason—not to save a family member, pet or possession. If someone is trapped inside, they should tell a firefighter. 

      Make sure every child knows how to call 911. Tell them to call from a cell phone or from a neighbor’s home. Stress that they should always get out of the house first. 

      Have Fire Drills
      Talking about what to do in the event of a fire can be helpful, but practicing can make it sink in more. Have your children climb out of a window and crawl out of the house blindfolded, because in a real fire, smoke may make it difficult to see and breathe. 

      Have fire drills on a regular basis, preferably once a month and at different times of day, including in the middle of the night. Don’t tell your kids about fire drills ahead of time. You want them to learn to spring into action quickly so they will be prepared to do so if there is a real fire. 

      Hold a family meeting after each fire drill to discuss what went right and ways to improve. Address any problems or areas of confusion so you’ll be better prepared next time. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.