Category Archives: Home and Garden

Winter Storms Food Tips

Big winter snowstorms, like nor’easters and blizzards, bring on extreme cold, major snow accumulation, and other immobilizing conditions. Winter storm experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Red Cross offer advice on how to prepare and stay safe and healthy during blizzards and other winter storms.

In addition to dressing appropriately for the weather, experts recommend stocking up on disaster supplies: flashlights, batteries, candles, waterproof matches, a radio, a first-aid kit, sand or rock salt for icy walkways, a snow shovel, and extra blankets.

However, your most crucial disaster supplies will be your food, water, and any prescription medications you, your family, or your pets need. Even if your home doesn’t suffer any storm damage, you could have trouble getting to the supermarket, pharmacy, or doctor during extreme winter weather conditions.

Healthy Meal Plans in Extreme Winter Snowstorms

A bad snowstorm or blizzard doesn’t have to derail your regular healthy eating regimen. As soon as you hear a winter storm warning, start stocking up on emergency water and healthy, shelf-stable and frozen foods that your family will enjoy. Be sure to pay special attention to the diet-specific needs of family members with health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, celiac disease (gluten sensitivity), or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

It is essential for people with health conditions like these to pay attention to their diets during winter storms. People with diabetes must stay on a regular eating schedule to keep their blood sugar stable, and people with high blood pressure must remember to stick with low- or no-sodium canned goods and packaged foods — not the high-sodium prepared foods that are typically set aside for times when the electricity goes out.

Read the shopping lists and sample menus below to get more ideas about how you and your family can eat healthfully during a winter emergency.

Shopping Lists and Sample Menus by Condition and Special Food Plans

These healthy-eating plans help those with medical conditions, as well as people who choose a vegetarian diet, make it through in good health.

Healthy-Meals Kit for Blizzards and Winter Snowstorms

Part of your emergency plan to stay nourished and hydrated during severe winter storms should include creating a healthy-meals kit. Joy Bauer, a registered dietitian and nutrition expert for Everyday Health and NBC’s Today show, recommends preparing your healthy-meals kit at the start of winter, in anticipation of blizzards and snowstorms. “Doing it at the beginning of the season is especially important if you don’t regularly keep nonperishable foods on hand year-round,” says Bauer. Choose foods for the kit specific to your health conditions and make sure they remain properly sealed until you’re ready to use them. “At the end of winter, you can add whatever you didn’t use back into your main pantry,” suggests Bauer.

Home and Garden Tips For More Gorgeous

unduhan-51Keeping a garden cultivates more than just flowers — the activity of gardening is an excellent way to exercise, clear your mind, grow your own healthy foods, and transform your outdoor space into a more beautiful one. So slip on your gardening gloves, head outside, and start growing your own lush plants and vegetables.

Don’t know how to get started? First consider a few factors that go into the planning and design of a garden:

  • Your climate. Your climate determines the types of plants that will grow best in your garden and the steps needed to take care of them. Do some research or speak with a professional landscaper to find out what plants are native to your area and any others hardy enough to survive the winter. If your region of the country has distinctive seasonal changes, choose plants that will peak at various seasons, so that your garden will be attractive all year long. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Hardiness Zone Map can help you determine which plants are best suited for your climate.
  • Your taste. Not everyone’s idea of a dream garden is the same. Some people prefer flowering plants, while others get more satisfaction from a vegetable garden. Looking through gardening magazines or going on garden tours might help you define your vision.
  • Your property. The size and shape of your garden will depend on the space you have to work with. Consider various areas around your yard and how much sun and shade they get. You can plant a garden in a shady area, but you will be limited to shade-loving plants. If your outdoor space is small, a container garden should work well.

After you have assessed your gardening needs and desires, consult professionals at a local nursery who can help you finalize your plan, sell you the plants you need, and instruct you on planting them.

4 Garden-Maintenance Musts

You will need to regularly maintain your garden to help it grow. Basic garden maintenance involves:

  • Watering. Water is essential to the health of your garden. Find out the specific watering needs of your plants and establish a routine so that your garden will get the right amount.
  • Weeding. Weeds are not only unpleasant to look at, but they can also zap moisture and nutrients from your plants. To control weed growth, you need to regularly weed your garden, making sure to remove the entire weed, especially the roots.
  • Pruning and dead-heading. These steps involve removing dead branches and past-bloom flowers to encourage more blooms and keep your plants healthy for years to come. When you choose your plants, make sure you understand how to prune and dead-head them since improper maintenance can harm plants.
  • Fertilizing. Depending on the quality of the soil in your garden, you might need to apply fertilizers. Consider having your soil tested by a professional who can recommend the right fertilizers and pesticides for your plants.

How to Stay Healthy and Safe in the Garden

Gardening is an enjoyable way to exercise your body and clear your mind, but there are also some health and safety issues you should address for a safe home garden:

  • Tetanus booster shot. Check with your doctor to see if you need a tetanus booster shot. Tetanus is a risk if you cut or scratch yourself while working around soil.
  • Protective gear. When you are working in your garden, you will need to protect yourself from sharp-edged equipment, chemicals such as pesticides, sun exposure, and insects. You should have a pair of gardening gloves, sunglasses, a broad brimmed hat, protective shoes, and knee pads if you will be bending a lot. If you plan on doing heavy lifting, a back brace can help protect your back. Also wear DEET-containing insect repellant and a sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher to protect against mosquitoes, ticks, and the harmful rays of the sun.

Be smart and attention for food safety

images-52Do you tune into the news just to find out which food is the latest addition to the “don’t eat” list? Before you continue to shun peanut butter, tomatoes, spinach, peppers, and other foods that have been caused foodborne illness at some point over the last few years, find out what you can do to help improve food safety.

Food Safety: What Is There to Worry About?

The U.S. government, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), works to prevent and investigate cases of food contamination. The FDA, for example, has a Food Protection Plan focusing on preventing contaminated food from hitting U.S. supermarkets and quickly intervening if contaminated foods do make it to market.

Despite the regulations and controls, however, sometimes food can still come into contact with harmful germs, presenting a food safety issue. And if certain foods, such as raw chicken, aren’t handled in a safe manner, they can quickly contaminate other foods, like nearby fruits and vegetables on your kitchen counter, and lead to illness.

With the recent salmonella scares involving seemingly wholesome foods, what’s really safe to eat?

Salmonella and other food contamination scares shouldn’t make you afraid to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. You can’t spot contaminated food just by looking at it — unless it has obvious mold or rot, but you can be more careful about how you choose the foods that you buy, and how you store and prepare foods.

Be a Smart Food Shopper

Some foods are more likely than others to be contaminated with germs. Likely culprits include:

  • Eggs
  • Foods that contain raw eggs
  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and other seafood
  • Dairy products, including milk
  • Unpasteurized milk and juice
  • Vegetables and fruits

How to Clean Refrigerator

unduhan-50Having a healthy home means doing what you can to keep your family well and safe. One simple way to do that is to maintain and clean your refrigerator regularly — it will save energy and money and reduce your family’s risk of food-borne illness.

Smart fridge maintenance involves keeping the refrigerator temperature in the recommended range, properly organizing your fridge food, and cleaning it up. Here’s how to get started.

The Right Refrigerator Temperature

Monitoring and maintaining your refrigerator temperature is one of the best ways to prevent food-borne illness, since keeping foods properly chilled can help prevent or slow the growth of microorganisms, like Salmonella and E. coli, that cause these illnesses. You should keep your refrigerator at or below 40ºF and your freezer at or below 0ºF. Consult the appliance manual to find out how to make these adjustments.

Since your refrigerator’s efficiency can change over time, it is important to check your refrigerator temperature regularly. The best way to do this is to buy and use an appliance thermometer.

You can also help your refrigerator work at its best by positioning it in a relatively cool location, out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources, like the oven or a heat vent. This will help it run more efficiently, which can save energy and money.

Tips for Handling Fridge Food

Refrigerators allow us to keep fresh foods fresh longer, but just because a food is in the fridge doesn’t mean you can keep it indefinitely. Below are some tips for keeping your fridge food safe:

  • Avoid crowding. Allow enough space between items so that air can circulate and keep foods at the proper temperature.
  • Read labels. Follow the directions on food packaging and be sure to promptly refrigerate all foods that require it. Discard any food that may have been mistakenly left out of the fridge for too long.
  • Throw out tainted foods. If food has visible mold on it, a foul odor, or other signs of spoilage — or if you just suspect it might have gone bad — discard it right away.
  • Separate high-risk foods. Keep the foods that are most likely to contaminate other foods — raw meat, poultry, and fish — in plastic bags, bowls, or pans on the lowest shelf of your refrigerator, where drips will not contaminate produce or any other foods.
  • Eat fridge foods promptly. The longer foods are stored in your refrigerator, the more likely microorganisms will grow on them. So regularly go through the contents of your fridge and throw out any foods that are past their prime. Follow these use-by guidelines; for foods that can be frozen, freeze them as soon as you get them home if you’re not sure you will eat them within these time frames:
    • Uncooked ground meat: 1 to 2 days
    • Poultry, fish, or shellfish: 1 to 2 days
    • Uncooked steak, veal, lamb, or pork: 3 to 5 days
    • Meat-based leftovers: 3 to 4 days

Go straight to the heart

Heart attacks. Falling down a flight of dark stairs. Electrocution. Breathing equipment that failed when the power went out. An 8-year-old crushed by a tree as he went to check on the baby calves.

And, as expected, drowning, many in their basements or the houses they couldn’t or didn’t evacuate despite pleas from family and friends.

The fatalities of Hurricane Sandy have been reported copiously through the past week, but blogger and author Whitney Hess says she is the first to compile their stories in one place with snapshots. Fatalities come from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire and the Caribbean.

“As the death toll rises, the empathy wanes. It becomes harder to feel the weight of each individual. And it breaks my heart,” Hess writes on her blog. “My boyfriend reminded me of the Stalin quote: ‘One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.’ He’s right — the dead become numbers and their uniqueness is lost.”

“I found myself wondering what happened to everyone,” Hess says. “Not for the morbidity, but because I wanted to feel connected to those people, like the little boy who was crushed going to his calves. What happened to him? When did it happen? You don’t think of that happening in 2012.”

Hess says she noticed the number of victims who were caught at home in areas where evacuation had been ordered. Rather than judge harshly, she reminds readers about Hurricane Irene last year. Many residents lost money or suffered hardships when they evacuated before the storm fizzled. “People get tired of the sensationalism and the hyperbole the TV news uses. [Media] create a situation where people are unable to tell the difference between a serious threat and a media ploy.”

She compiled many of her stories from the local press, she says, who talked with friends and relatives about the personalities and stories behind the headlines.

Tips To Create A More Nourishing Environment

If home is where the heart is, where does the soul live? Xorin Balbes, author of SoulSpace: Transform Your Home, Transform Your Life — Creating a Home That Is Free of Clutter, Full of Beauty, and Inspired by You says, there are ways to make our homes more enriching environments for our inner selves.

The process can be an emotional one. We ascribe meaning to the objects we keep around, and letting go of certain memories can be painful. On the flip side, there are items we should surround ourselves with for inspiration. While material things don’t define who we are, they can, as Balbles put it, “support our spiritual evolution.”

“As the death toll rises, the empathy wanes. It becomes harder to feel the weight of each individual. And it breaks my heart,” Hess writes on her blog. “My boyfriend reminded me of the Stalin quote: ‘One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.’ He’s right — the dead become numbers and their uniqueness is lost.”

“I found myself wondering what happened to everyone,” Hess says. “Not for the morbidity, but because I wanted to feel connected to those people, like the little boy who was crushed going to his calves. What happened to him? When did it happen? You don’t think of that happening in 2012.”

Hess says she noticed the number of victims who were caught at home in areas where evacuation had been ordered. Rather than judge harshly, she reminds readers about Hurricane Irene last year. Many residents lost money or suffered hardships when they evacuated before the storm fizzled. “People get tired of the sensationalism and the hyperbole the TV news uses. [Media] create a situation where people are unable to tell the difference between a serious threat and a media ploy.”

Whe eating barbecue

Did you know that the type of grill you own impacts the way you should care for it?

  • Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area by declaring a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around the grill.
  • Put out several long-handled grilling tools to give the chef plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking food.
  • Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.
  • Use only outdoors! If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces, such as tents, barbecue grills pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to carbon monoxide.

Charcoal Grills

  • Purchase the proper starter fluid and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.

Propane Grills

  • Check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles.
  • If you determined your grill has a gas leak by smell or the soapy bubble test and there is no flame:
    • Turn off the propane tank and grill.
    • If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
    • If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
  • All propane cylinders manufactured after April 2002 must have overfill protection devices (OPD). OPDs shut off the flow of propane before capacity is reached, limiting the potential for release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up. OPDs are easily identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel.
  • Use only equipment bearing the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on how to set up the grill and maintain it.

Bathtubs Linked to Worker Deaths

A chemical used to strip bathtubs has been associated with more than a dozen deaths of people working as bathtub refinishers in the United States in the last 12 years, according to a new report.

Methylene chloride is used in industrial processes but is also available in over-the-counter paint- and finish-stripping products. It’s previously been identified as a potential cause of death among furniture strippers and factory workers, according to a news release from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2010, the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-funded Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program investigated the death of a bathtub refinisher in the state who used a methylene chloride-based paint-stripping product marketed for use in aircraft maintenance. Investigators also identified two earlier, similar deaths in Michigan.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration also identified 10 other deaths of bathtub refinishers who used methylene chloride stripping agents that had been investigated between 2000 and 2011 in nine states.

All of the deaths occurred in residential bathrooms with inadequate ventilation. The victims either did not use protective respiratory equipment or the equipment they used did not protect against methylene chloride vapor, according to the report in the Feb. 24 edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the CDC.

Victims ranged in age from 23 to 57 years, and 12 of the 13 were male, the authors of the report noted.

“To use products containing methylene chloride safely, work areas must be well-ventilated, and when levels of methylene chloride exceed recommended exposure limits, workers must use protective equipment,” study co-author Kenneth Rosenman, chief of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in the College of Human Medicine, at Michigan State University, said in a university news release. “In a small bathroom, it is unlikely these products can be used safely,” he added.

Ten different products were associated with the deaths, with six marketed for use in the aircraft industry and the others for use on wood, metal, glass and masonry. Bathtub refinishing was not mentioned on any of the product labels.

Methylene chloride concentration in the stripping products ranged from 60 percent to 100 percent.

“The extreme hazards of using products with this chemical in bathtub refinishing need to be clearly communicated to employers, workers and the general public,” Rosenman said. “Safer methods using alternative products should be recommended.”

Trappings Can Fan Fire Risk

The risk of burns increases over the holiday season because people are cooking more, putting up potentially flammable decorations and using fireplaces and candles.

“We see a significant increase in burn patients between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Your holiday, which should be full of joy and celebration, can quickly turn tragic,” Dr. Jeff Guy, director of Vanderbilt Regional Burn Center in Nashville, Tenn., said in a Vanderbilt University news release.

Many of these injuries are easily preventable if people are cautious and eliminate potential dangers that could lead to burns.

Guy outlined a number of ways to prevent burns and have a safe holiday season.

Staying in the kitchen and being attentive while cooking can prevent most cooking fires. Keep pot holders, wooden utensils, towels, food packaging and anything else that can catch fire away from the stovetop.

Use turkey fryers outdoors and keep them a safe distance from the building. Never overfill a fryer with oil and never leave it unattended.

When you buy an artificial Christmas tree, select one with a “fire resistant” label. When buying a real tree, check for freshness. It should be green, the needles should be hard to pull, the trunk should be sticky with resin and the tree shouldn’t lose many needles when it’s hit.

Keep fresh trees away from fireplaces and radiators and keep the tree stand filled with water. A well-watered tree is usually safe but it can take just a few seconds for a dry tree to be ablaze, Guy said.

Check new and old sets of Christmas lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires or loose connections, and discard damaged sets. Don’t overload extension cords and never use electric lights on a metallic tree.

Don’t burn wrapping paper in the fireplace, because it can ignite suddenly and burn intensely. Place candles away from trees and other decorations and in locations where they can’t be knocked over. Never leave candles unattended.

Eating Canned Soup

A new study says that regular consumption of canned soup may be associated with an increase in levels of bisphenol A (BPA), which has been associated with a number of harmful health effects.

The study authors added that the increase may be temporary and more research is needed.

BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical used in the lining of metal food and beverage cans, in polycarbonate bottles, and dentistry composites and sealants. It’s been linked with diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease in humans and has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals.

The Harvard School of Public Health study included 75 volunteers in two groups. One group ate a 12-ounce serving of vegetarian canned soup each day for five days and the other group ate the same amount of fresh vegetarian soup daily for five days. The groups then switched the type of soup they ate for another five days.

Urine samples showed that daily consumption of canned soup was associated with a more than 1,200 percent increase in BPA, compared to eating fresh soup.

The study appears online Nov. 22 and in the Nov. 23 print issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Previous studies have linked elevated BPA levels with adverse health effects. The next step was to figure out how people are getting exposed to BPA. We’ve known for a while that drinking beverages that have been stored in certain hard plastics can increase the amount of BPA in your body. This study suggests that canned foods may be an even greater concern, especially given their wide use,” lead author Jenny Carwile, a doctoral student in Harvard School of Public Health’s epidemiology department, said in a university news release.

She and her colleagues noted that the elevation in urinary BPA levels may be temporary and said further research is needed to determine how long it lasts.

“The magnitude of the rise in urinary BPA we observed after just one serving of soup was unexpected and may be of concern among individuals who regularly consume foods from cans or drink several canned beverages daily. It may be advisable for manufacturers to consider eliminating BPA from can linings,” senior author Karin Michels, an associate professor in the epidemiology department, said in the news release.