The Dangers of Radon in the Home

Radon is an invisible, radioactive gas that has no odor or taste. The presence of radon occurs naturally in the earth. If radon enters your home, the consequences to your health and that of your family can be severe. In the U.S., radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. It is also believed that one in every 15 U.S. homes has dangerous levels of radon.

How Radon gets into Your Home

Radon comes from the earth’s soil. Accordingly, radon enters buildings through lower levels and subterranean structures. Here are the ways radon can enter your home:

  • Cracks or holes in the foundation, floors and walls
  • Construction joints
  • Openings near service pipes
  • The water supply

Detecting Radon

The Detection of radon is a very easy process. Radon test kits can be found at your local home improvement stores and are easy to perform. You can also contact your state radon office if you’d prefer that the test be conducted by a professional.

There are two types of test kits, short-term and long-term. A short-term test is conducted for 3 months or less. A long-term test can be performed for up to a year. The reason for the difference in test duration is the fact that radon levels have a tendency to fluctuate. A long-term test will give a more accurate idea of overall radon levels because it tests over a longer period of time. To be effective, both types of tests need to be positioned in the lowest level of the house.

When to Test for Radon

Here are certain events throughout the lifetime of your home that warrant a radon test:

  • The purchasing of a new house
  • Finishing the basement
  • Renovating your home
  • Selling your house

Beyond these occasions, it is also recommended that you test your home for radon every 1-2 years.

Any amount of radon in the home is unsafe. If radon is detected in your home, a radon remediation professional should be contacted. You can visit http://www.epa.gov/radon/whereyoulive.html to locate a qualified contractor in your area. You can also visit http://www.epa.gov/radon/radontest.html for assistance in finding a radon test kit.

Is there a local contractor you would recommend? Please share in the comments below.


6 Tips for Winterizing Your Car

However difficult it might be to believe, it’s already November! That means winter driving conditions will soon be upon us. If you haven’t done it already, there is still time to make sure your vehicle is well-equipped for whatever Mother Nature has in store for us this year. Winter driving can be challenging. Here are a few safety tips to help reduce some of that stress:

Check your battery. Before it gets too cold outside, consider having a mechanic inspect your battery to make sure it is strong enough for the winter. This is important because your car’s battery can be severely weakened by the cold. Aside from the battery itself, your mechanic should also check the charging system, cables, terminals, fluid and belts.

Keep your engine oiled up. As the seasons and temperatures change, the temperature inside your car’s engine also changes. Accordingly, your engine requires different types of oil to account for these changes. During the winter months, because of the cold temperatures, thinner oil is better for your engine. Consult your owner’s manual for exact details.

Watch that gas tank. Be sure to keep your gas levels above half a tank. This is important for two reasons. One reason is that it will prevent your fuel line from freezing. The other is that, in the event you find yourself stranded for an extended length of time, you will be able to keep yourself warm by running the engine.

Make sure your tires are ready to go. Getting your tires checked before the winter weather hits is very important. If you have seasonal tires on your car, they will have to be switched to the heavier winter tires. Naturally, the benefit of having all-season tires is that they will not need to be changed if they are in good condition.

Protect your windshield. Keeping your windshield clear for safe driving requires paying close attention to a few simple details. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition and work efficiently. Also, be sure not to neglect the wipers on the rear windshield. When it comes to windshield wiper fluid, choose one with an antifreeze solution.

Store an emergency kit in your car. Keeping basic safety supplies in the trunk of your car is sure to come in handy in case you find yourself stuck our stranded in the winter cold. Here are some valuable items to include in your car’s emergency kit:

  • Flashlight
  • Flares
  • Blanket
  • Boots
  • Radio

Although winter seems to be approaching faster than ever, don’t let it catch you off guard! By following these tips, you can prepare your car for safe driving all winter long.

Do you have additional tips for getting vehicles ready for the winter? Please share in the comments below!


Have a Safe Halloween

For kids, Halloween is a fun and thrilling holiday. The candy and costumes alone are enough to rank it among their favorite days of the year. Along with all the preparation that goes into picking the right costume and planning Halloween-inspired games, it is important to remember certain safety precautions to take to ensure this weekend goes off without a hitch. Here are some tips that will help make your Halloween a safe one.

Make sure costumes are safe for trick-or-treating. When choosing a Halloween costume for your child, it is important to consider certain safety aspects. If face paint is required, test it on the skin ahead of time to make sure it does not cause a reaction. If you choose to go with a mask, make sure it fits correctly. This will help with your child’s comfort as well as vision. Accessories such as wands, knives, swords and axes should be as soft, flexible and short as possible to avoid injury from tripping and poking. Once the perfect costume is picked, apply reflective tape to your child’s costume and candy bag to increase visibility.

Remember trick-or-treating safety. When trick-or-treating, your child should be accompanied by an adult. Always use flashlights or glow sticks when trekking from house to house. Kids are generally very excited on Halloween and may not always be aware of their surroundings. Accordingly, traffic safety rules should be followed.

Examine candy before eating. Before your kids dig in to all that delicious Halloween candy, examine everything in their bags to make sure nothing has been tampered with. Choking hazards or opened treats should be discarded. Anything received while trick-or-treating that is obviously homemade should also be thrown away.

Prepare for trick-or-treaters. If you are expecting trick-or-treaters at your home this Saturday night, ensure the walk up to your door is clear of leaves or anything that could cause someone to trip. This week, check all outside lights to make sure they are in working order. Jack-o’-lanterns and Halloween luminaries that contain candles should always be monitored and kept away from foot traffic and flammable materials.

Halloween offers plenty of fun for the entire family to enjoy. Have an entertaining and safe Halloween!
If you have more Halloween safety tips, please share!


Fall and Winter Skin Health

This time of year can be rough on your skin. Apart from dryness and irritation, the cold and dry air takes its toll by dulling your skin and causing you to look older. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prevent uncomfortable and unsightly dry skin. If dry skin is a recurring problem for you during the fall and winter months, follow these steps to relieve and comfort.

Monitor the thermostat and use a humidifier. When the cold weather really starts to kick in, it can be tempting to combat the cold by raising the temperature inside your home and at work. However, increasing the heat makes the air dry. This resulting dryness will also dry out your skin. Instead of turning the heat up too high, try keeping it at a comfortable temperature without causing the air to get too dry. If the dryness still proves to be too much, using a humidifier is a good way to put some needed moisture back into the air.

Modify your winter bathing and skin care habits. Even though they can be relaxing and soothing, taking long hot baths and showers when it’s cold outside actually dries your skin out. This is because the heat deprives your skin of necessary moisture and oils. Taking warm, short baths (no longer than 15 minutes) is much less damaging. Also, if you exfoliate on a regular basis, consider cutting down to no more than once a week to reduce skin irritation.

Wear soft fabrics. Warm clothes sure do come in handy when the temperatures start to plummet. Unfortunately, some of the warmest fabrics are irritating to the skin. When wearing such materials as wool and polyester, be sure to wear softer fabrics like cotton against your skin to avoid unnecessary irritation.

Maintain a skin-friendly diet. Another way to help your skin look and feel its best this fall and winter is to feed it. Squash, pumpkin, cranberries and blueberries are some of the best foods for your skin because they are high in antioxidants.

Treat your hands with care. To keep your hands from getting too dry, be sure to moisturize and use mild soap. Also, if you use hand sanitizer throughout your workday, try to use a moisturizer-containing sanitizer. This will help to reduce dryness caused by alcohol in the sanitizer.

Enjoy a safe and healthy fall and winter with less discomfort from dry skin brought on by cold weather. If your dry skin gets particularly extreme, don’t hesitate to consult a dermatologist. Do you have other cold weather skin care tips that have worked well for you? Please share!

27 Mar 2008, Garnerville, New York, USA --- Assorted Junk Food --- Image by ?Envision/Corbis

Malnutrition: America’s Hidden Hunger

When we think of hunger, images of starving, emaciated children come to mind. Although famine is much of a thing of the past, hunger is still a very real issue for many children in the United States, and one aspect of hunger is particularly dangerous: malnutrition.

85% of Americans aren’t getting their daily dose of vitamins and minerals, and it’s costing not just those individuals, but society as a whole. As rates of obesity and heart disease continue to climb and hospitals continue to spend more and more time treating preventable diseases, we need to take a serious look at our diets to ensure that we are getting everything we need.

Malnutrition occurs when there is a micronutrient deficiency in our diet (not enough vitamins and minerals are being consumed). Thankfully, malnutrition is relatively easy to diagnose, and here are some of the primary symptoms caused by malnutrition:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Weight Loss.
  • Long-term malnutrition can cause physical and mental disability. It weakens your immune system and increases the risk of developing disease.

The issue is particularly dire for newborns and babies as they are growing quickly and are undergoing furious development in their cognitive, physical and motor skills. A malnutrition deficiency at this stage is particularly dangerous since there is no catching back up and fixing the issue later in life. Delays in development (mental and physical) will stay with them for life.

Treatment is straightforward: ensure you are getting your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. To supplement your diet, take a multivitamin and give your children one as well (they will probably prefer the gummy version!). Eat more fruits and vegetables and try to stay away from foods containing empty calories such as alcohol and junk food.

The key to eating healthy is to maintain a balanced diet that encompasses the four major food groups. These four groups are fruits, vegetables, grains and protein foods. The grains that you want most in your diet are whole grains. This is because whole grains provide you with iron and B vitamins. Sources of whole grains include brown rice, whole-grain cereals, whole-wheat bread and oatmeal. Foods that are high in protein include poultry, eggs, seafood, meat and nuts.

Malnutrition is an easily preventable problem that is affecting millions of Americans and people around the world. By supplementing our diet and ensuring that our meals are well balanced, we give our children the best opportunity to develop into happy and healthy people like their parents.

As always, consult your doctor before making significant changes to your diet.

With the holiday season quickly approaching, it is important not to stray too far from a balanced diet. Do you have healthy takes on some of your favorite holiday fare? Please share in the comments below!


Fall Fun in Denver

Fall in the Denver area can be a magical time for the entire family. From a health perspective, it is always a good idea to get outside, breathe in the fresh air and have fun! From pumpkin farms to corn mazes and haunted houses, there is an abundance of opportunities to get some exercise and make lasting memories for years to come. Below is a list of some of our favorite places for children and adults to enjoy this fall.

Pumpkin farms. Picking pumpkins is all about family fun. Enjoy enormous amounts of fun picking out those perfect pumpkins for this year’s Jack O’ Lanterns!

  • Flat Acres Farm is located at 11321 Dransfeldt Road in Parker and is open through Halloween. Don’t miss the hayrides and petting zoo!
  • Anderson Farms is located at 6728 County Road in Erie and is open through the first of November. Enjoy a rich family atmosphere with plenty for the kids to do.

Corn mazes. Get lost in nonstop fun at these area corn mazes!

  • Corn Maze at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the 1st of November. Aside from corn mazes of different shapes and sizes, you can also enjoy pony rides, hayrides and giant pillow jumping!
  • Haunted Field of Screams, located at 10270 Riverdale Road, is open every Thurs-Sat from now until the end of October. Get ready for hair-raising thrills as you test your nerves by exploring the Haunted Field of Screams, Dead Man’s Night Maze or Zombie Paintball Massacre. For added chills, you can experience all three!

Haunted houses. Prepare to be thrilled and terrified at these heart-stopping destinations!

  • The 13th Floor Haunted House is located at 4120 Brighton Blvd. and is open until November 14th. Visit the 13th Floor Haunted House and discover the eerie truth behind the legend of the 13th floor!
  • The Asylum is open until November 1st at 6100 E. 39th and features three terrifying attractions. This year’s attractions are Primitive Fear: Patient Alpha, Post Mortem: The Escape and The Abandoned.

Other Halloween-themed attractions around town. Here are some less scary events that may be more suitable for younger children.

  • The Trick or Treat Train, at the Colorado Railroad Museum, is open from 10am to 4pm on Halloween. Take this historic locomotive ride while trick-or-treating through family-friendly Railroad Halloween Town!
  • Boo at the Zoo is located at the Denver Zoo and is open from 9am-5pm on Oct. 24, 25, 31 and Nov. 1. Boo at the Zoo features trick-or-treating, animal exhibitions and entertainment the whole family will enjoy!

Do you have any favorite fall attractions to add to this list? Please share in the comments below!


Tips for Battling the Cold and Flu Season

Fall is here! That means cold and flu season is not far behind. Here are some simple precautions you and your family can take to help ward off illness this fall and winter.

Remember to get a flu shot. One significant means of protection from the flu is to be vaccinated on a yearly basis. A flu shot is recommended for anyone over the age of six months. High-risk individuals are especially urged to get a flu shot. Those who are considered to have a higher risk of contracting the flu and developing flu-related complications are young children, pregnant women, individuals with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or people 65 years and older. Although children younger than six months are also at high-risk, they are too young to receive the vaccine.

Wash your hands. One of the easiest ways to stay healthy is to develop a habit of regularly washing your hands. Scrubbing hard with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds works wonders towards getting rid of cold and flu germs. If soap and water are out of reach, alcohol-based hand sanitizer will also do the trick.

Sanitize your surroundings. Sanitizing objects that are in constant use is also a healthy habit to get into. Items that are handled everyday by multiple people should be regularly cleaned. These include phones, keyboards, the keys on fax machines and copiers, light switches, chair armrests, microwaves and doorknobs.

Cover your nose and mouth. Covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing is an excellent way to prevent the spreading of germs to others. Also, avoid touching your face. Touching the eyes, nose and mouth is often a means by which germs are spread.

Get plenty of sleep and exercise. Staying well rested helps to keep your immune system strong and healthy. Another way to boost your immune system is by exercising regularly.

Maintain a healthy diet. Eating healthy food is another valuable tool to keep your immune system going strong. Fruits and vegetables are always a great choice! In particular, be sure to choose foods that are high in protein. Like sleep and exercise, protein is very good for your immune system. Some protein-rich foods are fish, eggs and yogurt.

If you have any more tips for avoiding illness this cold and flu season, feel free to share in the comments below.


Stay Fit This Fall

The arrival of fall doesn’t mean you have to give up exercising and do away with all the progress you made over the summer. Outdoor exercise in the fall can be even more enjoyable than in the summer months. Here are some tips to help you enjoy a safe and productive fall season of fitness.

Focus on safety. In the fall, the sun rises later and sets earlier. These shorter days make exercising outside a little trickier in terms of safety. If you find that your regular workout time has suddenly left you in the dark, be sure to wear reflective clothing so passing vehicles can see you. If you are running or walking, bring a flashlight or wear a headlamp. When riding a bike, consider outfitting it with reflectors, a headlight and a taillight. Also, pick a route you are familiar with.

Dress accordingly. One benefit of working out in the fall is the absence of the grueling summer heat. However, the change in weather does warrant more preparation for your outdoor workouts. Remember to wear layers of clothing that protect you from the wind and the cold.

Remember to enjoy the scenery. While working hard to achieve your fitness goals this fall, don’t forget to take in the extraordinary beauty around you. After all, the colorful foliage of autumn is a short-lived delight! You might even consider varying your usual routine to explore nearby parks or mountain trails where the changes in leaves are more prevalent. Other characteristically fall activities like apple picking, pumpkin picking, visiting a haunted corn maze and raking leaves are also fun alternatives.

Continue to drink plenty of water. Even though the heat of summer has given way to the cooler temperatures of fall, staying hydrated is just as important. Remember that hydration helps your body recover from your workouts. Although you may not feel as thirsty in the cooler weather, your body still needs those fluids.

Explore new activities. Autumn is a season of change, perhaps it’s time to bring on some change of your own. This fall might be the perfect occasion to give a brand new activity a try. Depending on your interests, you might consider tap dancing, spinning, fencing, boxing or yoga.

As the summer sun fades, safely discover all the exciting and new opportunities that the fall has to offer! As always, make sure to talk with your doctor before you begin any intense physical regime. Do you have any fall fitness tips? Please share below!

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The Importance of Getting a Good Night’s Rest

The amount and quality of sleep that we get on a regular basis might be more important than you realize. Getting plenty of sleep can strengthen your memory and help you maintain a healthy weight. Higher chances for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and heart attacks may all be a result of a lack of quality sleep. If you commonly have problems with getting a full night’s sleep, consider these tips to help improve your slumber.

Give yourself a sleep schedule. Going to sleep and waking up at the same times on a daily basis works wonders towards improving your sleep. To give yourself a better chance of maintaining the schedule, be sure to continue it on your days off from work. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule will help to keep you mentally and physically invigorated during your day. To this end, try to minimize napping during the day. Lengthy daytime naps can make it harder to get to sleep at night. If napping is a must, be sure to keep them no longer than 30 minutes in the middle of the afternoon.

Watch what you eat and drink at night. Try not to eat dinner too close to your bedtime. Rich and fatty foods cause the stomach to work harder to digest. Also, acidic foods can cause annoying heartburn. If you tend to get hungry later in the evening, consider a light snack such as a banana or a small bowl of cereal. To avoid unwanted bathroom interruptions, stay away from liquids as bedtime draws near. Cutting down on caffeine and smoking throughout the day can also improve your sleep. Because caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, they can make it difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep.

Develop a bedtime routine. Take some time every night to help your body wind down for the night. Depending on what you prefer, you could take a warm bath, listen to relaxing music or read a book. Whatever you choose, this routine should occur at the same time, and consist of the same activities, every night. Remember that comfort is key. Try to stay away from stimulating activities that are known to hinder sleep such as watching TV or using electronic devices.

Get regular exercise. Incorporating some physical activity into your day will also contribute to a more satisfying night’s sleep. In fact, even exercising for 20-30 minutes a day can help you fall asleep quicker and deeper.

Minimize stress. Often times, the inability to get to sleep and stay asleep occurs when our brains just refuse to stop. If your daytime hours are filled with stress and you have a lot on your mind, there are some simple steps you can take that might be helpful. If you feel that your life is too cluttered, attempt to reorganize and reset your priorities. If you have a lot on your plate, perhaps delegating some tasks can help. When possible, set some time aside during your day to take a break and release some of that stress.

The average adult needs 7-8 hours of sleep. School-aged children and teenagers need around 10 hours of sleep. If you have persistent difficulty sleeping, contact your physician. Do you have tips that have helped you get a better night’s sleep? Please share in the comments below!

Fruits and veggies

Eat Your Greens: September Is Fruits And Vegetables Month

For the majority of Americans, we don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. Fruits & Veggies More Matters is an organization dedicated to educating families about the benefits of eating more vegetables and fruits in their diet. They recommend that at least half of your plate at every meal consist of fruits and vegetables, yet many of us neglect the most important aspect of our diet. September is Fruit and Veggies Month; here are our top reasons to eat more fruits and vegetables:

  • Lower in calories. A plate of fruits and vegetables has drastically fewer calories than the equivalent of another type of food (like meat, grains, and fats). Not only will this help you feel fuller faster, you will be eating a nutrient rich food that will keep you up and moving around.
  • Nutritional value. Speaking of nutrients, fruits and vegetables have a ton of vitamins and minerals that you can’t get from other foods. Ensuring that you are getting your daily dose of vitamins and minerals is key to keeping you and your growing family, healthy well into the future.
  • Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, which keeps your digestive system happy. Fiber is vital in our diet, eating more fruits and veggies will ensure everything is running in perfect order.
  • Reduce risk of disease. Eating a healthy balance of fruits and vegetables in your diet will ensure that your body is healthier overall. Though it’s not a replacement when it comes to going to the doctor for your annual check ups or more serious illnesses, people who eat higher amounts of fruits and vegetables report lower rates of heart disease, seasonal illnesses, and many types of cancer than those not eating enough. Fruits and veggies keep your body strong.
  • They are delicious. Fresh fruits and veggies are yummy, especially when they are fresh. Take your family to a local farmer’s market to get some of the freshest most delicious samples. Or try growing some vegetables in your garden at home. Not only is this a great educational tool for your children but also it will ensure that you have quick and easy access to delicious, healthy and fresh food right at home.

From a young age we are taught that eating our fruits and veggies will make sure that we grow up big and strong. Yet for whatever reason, the majority of Americans fails to meet the necessary requirements for a healthy diet. By introducing more fruits and veggies into our diet we will ensure a happier and healthier life for our family. What are your favorite fruits and veggies? Let us know below!