Thursday, April 27, 2017

Playground Safety Tips

Warmer weather and longer days mean summer is right around the corner. As schools let out playgrounds become a great source of exercise, fun, and meet-ups with friends.  To really enjoy playgrounds keep these safety tips in mind.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 200,000 children ages 14 and under are treated in emergency rooms for playground related injuries. 20,000 of those are traumatic brain injuries.  The most common cause of injury is falling - about 80% of all injuries are related to falls from slides, swings, climbing walls or monkey bars.

Before taking your children to a playground look for the following safety features:

- The ground cover under playground equipment should be one of the following recommended materials: wood chips, mulch, sand, shredded tire, rubber mats or pea gravel.

- Look for potential tripping hazards such as tree roots or stumps.

- Inspect equipment for possible sharp objects such as bolts or hooks.

What can you do at the playground to make it a safe experience for your child?

- Dress your children appropriately - tennis shoes or closed toe shoes, no helmets, drawstrings or necklaces.

- Actively supervise your child and keep them in your line of sight.

- Look at the recommended age range of play equipment and keep younger children on age appropriate equipment.

- Keep children who are not swinging away from the swings to avoid getting hit.

- Apply sunscreen and keep fluids available.

Playgrounds are a great way to enjoy being outdoors - make sure they are done right so you and your family can have a wonderful and safe experience.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Research Before You Buy

Shopping for a new home is a big decision. It involves many different emotions and factors - where to buy, what to buy, how much to spend? Once you find the home you're looking for you don't want to have any regrets once the closing papers are signed. This blog can help you learn from some of the top home buyer regrets so you can avoid them and enjoy the home buying experience before and after you move in!

According to NerdWallet, who conducted a survey on home buyer regrets found that one of the main issues for home buyers is not doing enough research before the purchase. This includes researching the home, the builder and the financing process.

One of the main areas of stress and confusion was repeatedly the process of obtaining a mortgage. Buyers in the survey said the were unaware of all their options, unclear about the process and upset about hidden fees.  You can better prepare yourself by meeting with a finance specialist with a list of prepared questions.  Research loan options and use online calculators to determine your desired monthly payment and down payment.

In a similar study conducted by the real estate website Trulia, home buyers regretted not buying a larger home. The focus on getting the exact location sometimes outweighed other home options or even the ability to afford a larger home in a different neighborhood.  Looking at other locations can provide opportunities for more bedrooms and bathrooms.

Another popular regret was not putting enough money down for a down payment. While this may help you get into a home quicker it may result in larger monthly payments or even the need to pay mortgage insurance.  A larger down payment can help you feel financially secure later on as you're living in your home and paying the monthly costs.

Doing your research can help you avoid these common home buyer regrets and fully enjoy your new home!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

April is New Homes Month!

In the home building industry, April is New Homes month! It's a time to educate consumers on the benefits of owning a new home. So what are the benefits? Here's a quick breakdown of why buying NEW is best!

1. New homes are built to the latest standards in building codes which means newer homes are more energy efficient than older homes. Save on your monthly utilities!

2. New homes are built with today's buyer in mind - open floorplans, more outlets, phone charging stations and more!

3. New homes offer more safety features than older homes including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and low or no VOC paints.

4.  New homes require less maintenance than older homes and come with a home warranty for your peace of mind.

5.  New homes offer the opportunity to personalize your home before you move in. Give your new home a touch of your unique style and flair!

Why would you be interested in buying a new home?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Storm Season Preparedness

In light of the recent bouts of severe weather it is important to establish a plan of preparedness before inclement weather arrives.  Spring is a volatile season and can bring heavy rains, strong wind and occasionally the threat of tornadoes. Peak tornado season in the south is March through May.
Here are a few ways you and your family can prepare for dangerous weather conditions.

- Understand the terminology. A tornado watch means that conditions are such as a tornado could appear. A warning means that a tornado has been sighted either on the ground or by radar. With a tornado warning take shelter immediately.

- Develop a communications plan.  Talk with your family about what to do during severe weather before it happens. Decide where to go when tornadoes are threatening and where to find emergency supplies.

- Have an emergency kit. Create a kit with items such as flashlights, bottled water, a NOAA battery powered radio, flares and first aid items.

- Choose a safe space in your home.  The best place to be during a tornado is in an interior room on the first floor with no windows. This may be a half bathroom or closet.

- Be aware of your surroundings.  Monitor the weather and take the threat of severe weather seriously.  Understand school closing policies and have emergency contacts available to help if needed.

Being prepared is an important step in being safe. Do what you can to protect your family from inclement weather conditions.  For more information and ideas visit the following websites:

https://www.ready.gov/tornadoes

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/tornado

http://www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/safety.html

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Area Rug How-To's

One of the great things about buying a new home is making that space feel like you - your style and taste.  You can really put a stamp on your new home's decor with area rugs.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when shopping and placing area rugs in your new home.

1.  How to know the right size

Look at your room and the goal you have for the rug. Is it to be placed under a dining table? Is to bring together an open space or define a small space?  There are many resources available online that can provide visual ideas for rug sizes and how they make a room look and feel.  Measure your space and mark out where your rug would go using tape or a bed sheet.

2. Think about the shape

Typically, round rugs work with round dining tables and rectangular or square rugs work in living areas.  Runners are great for the foyer and can help bring together two living spaces.

3.  Choosing rug material

Wool rugs are the most traditional make of area rugs. Wool is soft, durable and holds up against stains.  It tends to be a little more expensive and can be subject to fading from the sun.

Cotton rugs are a good choice for casual spaces but may not wear as well over time.

Synthetic rugs are composed of man-made materials designed to mimic the look of wool rugs. They are a more affordable option though may not be as plush as their natural counterparts.

4.  Picking a color

Think about where your rug will be placed before choosing a color.  If you have small children or pets, white or very light color rugs may not be a good choice.  Dark colored rugs hide stains better and may be a good choice for a dining area. Light colors will make a small room feel bigger while rooms with lots of natural light can take cooler or darker color rugs.  Your rug does not have to be an exact match to your furniture. Think of a color scheme or family of colors that you want to use in your home and go from there.

What tips do you have for choosing the perfect area rug?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Simple and Fun Easter Treats!

This Easter, surprise your loved ones with cute and tasty treats - without spending hours in the kitchen!

Try some out with your family this holiday!



Spice up your sugar cookies with a little icing and sugar eyes.  Create delicious ducklings and bunnies!




Wrap up some goldfish with plastic and ribbon to create colorful carrots!



Dip Nutter Butter cookies in icing and decorate for adorable and crunchy chicks!



Top Reeses Pieces with icing and candy eggs. Top with gummy string to make a delicious Easter basket!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Keeping Your Home Safe While Away

It's spring break season and while you may have already created a packing list and found a sitter for the dog, you may not have thought about how you can keep your home safe while you're away.

There are a few simple things you can do to protect your home and belongings while out of town. Use our checklist below to help you stay on track.

1. Don't advertise your travel plans on social media.  You're excited about your trip but wait to share with the world until you get back. You never know who may see your post and it could be someone without the best intentions.

2.  Use your neighbor as a resource! Ask if they'll occasionally park in your driveway and if they'll move your trashcan away from the street after pick up.  It's good to have a trusted friend keep an eye on the house and let you know if anything seems amiss.

3.  Contact your local resources such as the post office to hold your mail and the police to do a vacation check while you're away.

4. If you have an alarm system alert the company that you'll be away for an extended period.  Don't leave any valuables out in plain sight and double check that all the doors are locked before leaving.

5.  Put a timer on your electronics to have your outside lights go on at night (without staying on all day).  Some can be controlled by your smartphone or your alarm company.

What tricks do you use to keep your home safe while you're away?