Each month, we publish a series of articles of interest to homeowners -- money-saving tips, household safety checklists, home improvement advice, real estate insider secrets, etc. Whether you currently are in the market for a new home, or not, we hope that this information is of value to you. Please feel free to pass these articles on to your family and friends.


ISSUE #1209
FEATURE REPORT

Is Your Home Healthy and Safe For Children?
Each year more children die from preventable injuries than from all childhood diseases combined.  Taking preventive measures to protect your children against unintentional injuries at home is essential.  With foresight and action, you can help prevent burns, cuts, falls, poisonings, drowning, choking, and other serious injuries.




Also This Month...
Ten Things You Need to Know Before You Hire an Agent
Picking an agent is one of those critical issues that can cost or save you thousands of dollars. There are very specific questions you should be asking to ensure that you get the best representation for your needs.


 
 

Summer Health Dangers
When the temperature soars and humidity rises, it's time to take precautions to avoid health consequences such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke and overexposure to the sun. With heat exhaustion and stroke, the most susceptible are seniors, children, and people with chronic illnesses. However, everyone is at risk.


Quick Links
Is Your Home Healthy and Safe For Children?
Ten Things You Need to Know Before You Hire an Agent
Summer Health Dangers
 

 

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Is Your Home Healthy and Safe For Children?

Taking preventive measures to protect your children against unintentional injuries at home is essential. Each year more children die from preventable injuries than from all childhood diseases combined. With foresight and action, you can help prevent burns, cuts, falls, poisonings, drowning, choking, and other serious injuries.

Use these four checklists to ensure that your home is healthy and safe for the children living in it:

In the Bedroom

  • Install smoke alarms outside bedrooms and on every level of the home.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month and change batteries at least once a year.
  • Practice fire escape routes and identify an outside meeting place.
  • Place a baby to sleep on his or her back in a crib with no pillows or soft bedding underneath.
  • Use a crib that meets national safety standards and has a snug-fitting mattress.
  • Never use an electric blanket in the bed or crib of a small child or infant.
  • Keep small toys, balloons, and small balls away from young children.
  • Check age labels for appropriate toys. Make sure toy storage chests have safety lid supports.
  • To prevent strangulation, use safety tassels for mini blinds and avoid strings on children's toys and pacifiers.
  • Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms outside bedrooms to prevent CO poisoning.

In the Bathroom

  • To prevent poisonings, lock away all medicines and vitamins, even those with child-resistant packaging.
  • Have syrup of ipecac on hand, but use only at the recommendation of a poison control center or physician.
  • Never leave a young child alone in the bathroom, especially in a bath.
  • Before bathing a child, always test bath water with your wrist or elbow to make sure it's not too hot.
  • To prevent scalds, set the water heater thermostat to 120° F and install anti-scald devices.
  • Make sure bathtubs and showers have non-slip surfaces and grab bars.
  • Keep electrical appliances, like hair dryers and curling irons, out of the reach of children and away from water.

In the Kitchen

  • Keep knives, plastic bags, lighters, and matches locked away from children.
  • Avoid fires and burns by never leaving cooking food unattended, turning pot handles to the back of the stove, and keeping hot liquids and foods away from the edges of tables and counters.
  • Make sure you and your children know the STOP, DROP, and ROLL procedure in case their clothes catch on fire.
  • Keep appliance cords unplugged and tied up. Replace any frayed cords and wires.
  • Securely strap young children in high chairs, swings, and other juvenile products.
  • Do not give young children hard, round foods that can get stuck in their throats ó like hard candies, nuts, grapes, popcorn, carrots, and raisins.
  • Avoid scald burns by keeping children away from the hot water taps on drinking water coolers.

In all Living Areas

  • To prevent asthma attacks, eliminate sources of mold, dust, and insects, such as cockroaches. If you have a pet, keep it and its bedding clean and keep the pet off the furniture.
  • If you must smoke, avoid smoking in the house, and especially around children.
  • Make sure furnaces, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, space heaters, and gas appliances are vented properly and inspected annually.
  • Use safety gates to block stairways (and other danger areas), safety plugs to cover electrical outlets, and safety latches for drawers and cabinets.
  • Keep children ó and the furniture they can climb on ó away from windows.
  • Install window guards (on windows that are not fire emergency exits).
  • To prevent falls, keep hallways and stairways well-lit and use non-slip backing for area rugs.
  • Keep cleaning solutions, pesticides, and other potentially dangerous substances in their original, labelled containers, and out of the reach of children.
  • If you have guns or rifles in your home, store the firearms and ammunition in separate containers and lock them out of the reach of children.
  • Learn First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
  • Keep an updated list of emergency telephone numbers, including your local poison control center, physician and hospital emergency room, next to every phone in your home.
  • Make sure your family knows what to do during a natural disaster. In an earthquake, drop to the floor and get under something sturdy for cover; during a tornado, take shelter in a basement or an interior room without windows; and during a hurricane stay away from windows. Have handy supplies of food, flashlights, and water.

 

 

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Ten Things You Need to Know Before You Hire an Agent


"It's critical that you make the right decision about who will handle what is probably the single largest financial investment you will ever make."

Not all real estate agents are the same. If you decide to seek the help of an agent when selling or buying your home, you need some good information before you make any moves.

An agent can cost or save you thousands of dollars

Picking an agent is one of those critical issues that can cost or save you thousands of dollars. There are very specific questions you should be asking to ensure that you get the best representation for your needs. Some agents may prefer that you donít ask these questions, because the knowledge youíll gain from their honest answers will give you a very good idea about what outcome you can expect from using this agent. And letís face it - in real estate, as in life - not all things are created equal.

Hiring a real estate agent is just like any hiring process - with you on the bossís side of the desk. Itís critical that you make the right decision about who will handle what is probably the single largest financial investment you will ever make.

1. What makes you different? Why should I list my home with you?

Itís a much tougher real estate market than it was a decade ago. What unique marketing plans and programs does this agent have in place to make sure that your home stands out favorably versus other competing homes? What things does this agent offer you that others donít to help you sell your home in the least amount of time with the least amount of hassle and for the most amount of money?

2. What is your company's track record and reputation in the market place?

It may seem like everywhere you look, real estate agents are boasting about being #1 for this or that, or quoting you the number of homes theyíve sold. If you're like many homeowners, you've probably become immune to much of this information. After all, you ask, "Why should I care about how many homes one agent sold over another. The only thing I care about is whether they can sell my home quickly for the most amount of money."

Well, because you want your home sold fast and for top dollar, you should be asking the agents you interview how many homes they have sold. I'm sure you will agree that success in real estate is selling homes. If one agent is selling a lot of homes where another is selling only a handful, ask yourself why this might be? What things are these two agents doing differently?

You may be surprised to know that many agents sell fewer than 10 homes a year. This volume makes it difficult for them to do full impact marketing on your home, because they can't raise the money it takes to afford the advertising and special programs to give your home a high profile. Also, at this low level, they probably can't afford to hire an assistant, which means that they're running around trying to do all the components of the job themselves, which means service may suffer.

3. What are your marketing plans for my home?

How much money does this agent spend in advertising the homes s/he lists versus the other agents you are interviewing? In what media (newspaper, magazine, TV etc.) does this agent advertise? What does s/he know about the effectiveness of one medium over the other?

4. What has your company sold in my area?

Agents should bring you a complete listing of both their own, and other comparable sales in your area.

5. Does your Broker control your advertising or do you?

If your agent is not in control of their own advertising, then your home will be competing for advertising space not only with this agent's other listings, but also with the listings of every other agent in the brokerage.

6. On average, when your listings sell, how close is the selling price to the asking price?

This information is available from the Real Estate Board. Is this agent's performance higher or lower than the board average? Their performance on this measurement will help you predict how high a price you will get for the sale of your home.

7. On average, how long does it take for your listings to sell?

This information is also available from the Real Estate Board. Does this agent tend to sell faster or slower than the board average? Their performance on this measurement will help you predict how long your home will be on the market before it sells.

8. How many Buyers are you currently working with?

Obviously, the more buyers your agent is working with, the better your chances are of selling your home quickly. It will also impact price because an agent with many buyers can set up an auction-like atmosphere where many buyers bid on your home at the same time. Ask them to describe the system they have for attracting buyers.

9. Do you have a reference list of clients I could contact?

Ask to see this list, and then proceed to spot check some of the names.

10. What happens if I'm not happy with the job you are doing to get my home sold?

Can I cancel my listing contract? Be wary of agents that lock you into a lengthy listing contract which they can get out of (by ceasing to effectively market your home) but you canít. There are usually penalties and broker protection periods which safeguard the agentís interests, but not yours. How confident is your agent in the service s/he will provide you? Will s/he allow you to cancel your contract without penalty if youíre not satisfied with the service provided?

Evaluate each agentís responses to these 10 questions carefully and objectively. Who will do the best job for you? These questions will help you decide.


 

 

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Summer Health Dangers

When the temperature soars and humidity rises, it's time to take precautions to avoid health consequences such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke and overexposure to the sun. With heat exhaustion and stroke, the most susceptible are seniors, children, and people with chronic illnesses. However, everyone is at risk. The early symptoms of heat exhaustion can sneak up on us. Some people feel a bit light headed and weak and might have a touch of nausea. The serious problems develop when symptoms are ignored and additional fluids are not taken right away. The primary cause of heat exhaustion is dehydration and a loss of electrolytes such as sodium. Generally, try to stay well hydrated and take in extra salt (for those of you who can use salt). Drink even though you don't feel like it - you can't count on your thirst mechanism to prompt you. Here are the major symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and some safety tips to help you cope with health emergencies during the dog days of summer.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Body temperature usually normal or only slightly elevated.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Fatigue, weakness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea, sometimes vomiting.
  • Weak and rapid pulse.
  • Sweating.
  • Cool, clammy, pale skin.

NOTE: Symptoms take time to develop - sometimes several hours after dehydration occurs.

Treatments for heat exhaustion:

  • Get out of the sun and into a cool place.
  • Drink more fluids (electrolyte sports drinks may help), but don't drink too fast or you could become nauseous.
  • Eat salty snacks.
  • Rest.
  • Loosen clothing.

Be aware that heat stroke can come after heat exhaustion, but it can also develop quickly and independently if one's core body temperature rises too high.

Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Very high body temperature (103 degrees or higher).
  • Hot, dry, red skin.
  • No sweating.
  • Disorientation, hallucinations, delirium.
  • Rapid breathing and fast pulse, then slow breathing and weak pulse.
  • Convulsions.
  • Loss of consciousness.

NOTE: Symptoms can come on quickly. Heat stroke can occur within 10 - 15 minutes of the first symptoms. If treatment is not given immediately, permanent damage can occur to internal organs.

HEAT STROKE IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. CALL 9-1-1 OR TRANSPORT VICTIM TO A HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY.

Immediate care for a heat stroke victim includes:

  • Move person to cool place indoors or in the shade outdoors.
  • Lower body temperature as soon as possible.
  • Remove clothing and wrap person in a wet sheet, or wet their cotton clothing.
  • Fan person with electric fan or manually (do not place wet items too close to electric fan).
  • Place ice packs or cold compresses on the neck, under armpits, and in the groin area.
  • If child is unconscious, carefully place them in cool water up to their neck.
  • If child is conscious, try to get them to drink cool water, slowly.
  • Person may not be able to drink if delirious (do not force them).

 

 

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