June Croissette
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RE/MAX 440   June Croissette
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309  Quakertown, PA  18951
Office Phone: 215-538-4400    Phone: 215-538-4400 Ext. 1210  Fax: 267-354-6834  Cell: 215-872-4966
jcroissette@remax440.com

My Blog

Winterize Home Plumbing and Avoid Costly Problems

December 19, 2013 4:36 am

When the first big winter storm hits, many people focus on prepping the outside of the home — shoveling snow, spreading salt, putting the winter tires on the car. Now that the first snow has melted, it's the perfect time to take preventative steps indoors. Freezing temperatures that last for days at a time can cause a variety of plumbing problems. When pipes freeze, water in the pipes turns to ice and expands. The pressure causes cracks, whether the pipe is made of plastic, copper or steel. Even a tiny crack can unleash 250 gallons of water in a single day. Even in the south, where cold weather is a rarity, there are simple steps to take to prevent pipes from freezing and damaging structures when temperatures drop.

• Disconnect outside water hoses. If left connected during freezing temperatures, water in hoses will freeze and expand causing connecting faucets and pipes to freeze and break.
• Inspect outside faucets. If dripping or leaking, make the necessary repairs or call a plumber before a freeze.
• If your home is equipped with interior shut-off valves leading to outside faucets, close them and drain water from the pipes.
• Cover outside faucets using an inexpensive faucet insulation kit.
• Insulate pipes in unheated areas. Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around exposed pipes.
• If your washing machine is in your unheated garage, turn off water supply lines leading to the washer and disconnect the hoses if temperatures are expected to drop below freezing.
• Allow a trickle of hot and cold water to drip overnight in sinks and bathtubs with supply pipes that run along outside walls and leave sink cabinet doors open to allow warm air from the room to circulate around uninsulated pipes.
• Keep furnace set no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Source: Roto-Rooter

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Top Five Safety Gift Picks for 2013

December 19, 2013 4:36 am

As time runs out for buying this year's presents, remember a gift that could save a life is always in style. That is exactly what you can do by purchasing electrical safety devices. To help you in your last-minute shopping, Safe Electricity has picked their top five gift ideas to help keep your holiday season merry, bright, and safe!

"The holidays are a time to let people know how much you care about them," says Molly Hall, executive director of the Energy Education Council and its Safe Electricity program. "A practical gift that helps keep loved ones safe continues to say 'I care about you' long after the holidays."

Safe Electricity's top five safety gift picks for 2013 are:

• Appliance Timer with a Safety Turn-off: Is there someone on your list who is repeatedly forgetting to turn off a curling iron or other small appliance? An appliance timer with a safety turn-off can be found for around $8 and provides an added layer of protection when a small appliance, such as an iron or space heater, accidentally gets left on. It has an auto shut-off timer that helps protect homes from fire or burn hazards.

• Portable/Extension Cord GFCI: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) detect and prevent shocks. You may have noticed them in many bathrooms, kitchens, and other places where water and electricity may meet. They are the outlets with red and black buttons. If you know someone who works outside often, a portable GFCI is a perfect gift. A portable GFCI offers protection from shock regardless of the electronic or tool that's plugged into it, helping keep your loved ones safe wherever they work. A GFCI extension cord starts at around $25.

• Tamper Resistant Outlets or Outlet Plugs: Young children may put fingers or other small objects in outlets without understanding the dangers of electricity. It is up to you to understand the dangers of electricity and prevent accidents. Tamper Resistant Outlets (TROs) provide a permanent solution. TROs have shutters that stay closed unless a plug with two prongs is plugged in. If you do not have a thorough understanding of electricity, TROs should be installed by a professional. Another option is simple outlet plugs. A TRO costs less than $2. Packs of multiple outlet plugs start at around $3.

• Non-contact Voltage Tester: This gift is for the do-it-yourselfer. This is an inexpensive tool that detects the presence of voltage without touching a bare wire. The tester uses non-contact voltage detection technology to identify voltage in cables, cords, wires, circuit breakers, lighting fixtures, switches, and outlets. Prices start around $12.

• Power Strips and Smart Strips: Many people will get new electronics for the holidays. Help your friends power electronics safely with a new power strip. Choose a power strip that comes with a circuit breaker that will trip if the power strip becomes overloaded. Overloaded power strips are dangerous and can cause shocks and fires. Power strip prices start at around $7. Smart power strips are another option that add energy savings. Electronics that are turned off sometimes still draw power. So a control unit, such as a television or computer, is plugged into one outlet. The smart strip detects when the control unit is off and shuts off power to peripherals, like DVD players and printers. Smart strips can be found for as low as $22.

During the busy holidays Safe Electricity encourages you to take time to keep all of your celebrations safe. For more information, visit http://SafeElectricity.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Four Quick Steps to a Guest-Friendly Home

December 18, 2013 4:36 am

Having extra bodies in your home overnight can be stressful at any time, but house guests for the holidays – when you are already deep into shopping and preparing – can seem like more than you want to take on.

The home and style editors from Better Homes and Gardens offer four do-ahead suggestions that should help to make your guests feel welcomed and comfortable and calm your last-minute jitters about hosting:

Clear the clutter – Keep an eye out for any knick-knacks or furniture you can store in the garage or closet in order to provide extra space for your guests’ luggage and belongings.

Prep the sleeping space – Whether it is a guest bedroom or a pull-out sofa in the den, place a basket nearby with extra linens, a few magazines or books, and a small alarm clock. If your guests will be spending some time on their own, include a map and/or guidebook for the local area. Try to make sure there is adequate reading light, and – somewhere on a small table or dresser top, place a small plant or a vase of fresh flowers with a welcome note propped up against it.

Prep the bathroom – Clean the guest bathroom, or a shared one, thoroughly, and consider replacing a tired-looking shower curtain or towels. Find a spot for a basket containing spare towels and personal items, such as lotion, shampoo, and toothbrush, or other items that might have been forgotten. Plug in a nightlight to help light the way from the sleeping area.

Prep the kitchen – Before your guests arrive, ask them about any food or snack preferences or other items they would like to have on hand. On a tray near the coffeepot, or on a counter, place a selection of coffee, tea and cocoa along with sugar and creamer so your guests don’t need to rummage through the cupboards. You may want to include some cookies or fruit for impromptu snacking anytime the mood strikes.

 

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31 Percent of Holiday Shoppers Have Yet To Buy a Single Gift

December 18, 2013 4:36 am

Despite the shorter-than-usual holiday shopping season, 31 percent of Americans who plan on giving gifts haven't even started shopping as of early December, according to a new Consumer Reports poll. Of those who have started shopping, 49 percent were less than half way done.

The Consumer Reports poll also revealed that with regard to their holiday preparations, 64 percent of shoppers felt they have things under control and will be ready. However, 36 percent were feeling at least somewhat stressed – including 6 percent who were so overwhelmed that they're unsure if they'll be ready in time, and 3 percent who said they almost certainly won't be ready for the holidays.

"Even though this year there's less days on the calendar to get their holiday shopping done, there are still quite a bit of procrastinators out there," said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports senior editor and resident shopping expert. "The 11 percent who told us they've completely finished shopping already have certainly saved themselves the stress of frantically searching for last-minute gifts."

The Consumer Reports poll also revealed which methods of sending holiday greetings are least likely to be well-received. When asked to rate the tastefulness of various ways people may send holiday greetings, 67 percent of Americans said group text messages were in poor taste, 65 percent said the same about all-purpose greetings posted on social media or the like, while 57 percent said  group emails were in poor taste. 

When asked which holiday gift recipient is the hardest to shop for, 30 percent said it was their spouse/partner/significant other, one quarter cited a parent, while 12 percent said it was the kids.

As for whom Americans will be spending the most money on for holiday gifts, the Consumer Reports revealed the following top responses:

Children (39 percent)
Spouse/Partner/Significant Other (29 percent)
Parent (11 percent)
Sibling (5 percent)
Friend ( 3 percent)

Most shoppers seemed to be doing a good job of controlling their holiday gift spending, according to the Consumer Reports poll. But 36 percent indeed were concerned about overspending – including 6 percent who were very concerned.

Other holiday tidbits from the poll included:

-82 percent would rather receive practical gifts vs. luxury gifts (18 percent)
-60 percent would rather receive cash vs. gift cards (40 percent)
-56 percent would rather host out-of-town guests vs. being a guest at someone else's home (44 percent)
-56 percent would rather have a fake Christmas tree vs. a real one (44 percent)

Source: Consumer Reports

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How to Prepare Holiday Meals Safely

December 18, 2013 4:36 am

For many families, preparing a grand meal is a tradition they look forward to during the holidays, but it's no fun if someone gets food poisoning. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 48 million people in the United States get sick each year from eating contaminated foods.

You can avoid foodborne illness by following these tips:

1. When buying food:

-Choose fresh items and check the expiration date for everything you buy.
-Foods that need to be refrigerated, such as meat, eggs and milk, should be the last things you buy at the store.
-Place meats (chicken, fish, pork and beef) in a separate bag. The liquids that spill out of these items can contaminate fruits, vegetables and other food in the refrigerator.
-If you'll be driving for more than an hour after you go to the supermarket, take a cooler to store the items that need refrigeration.

2. When handling food:

-Wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling any food.
-Wash fruits and vegetables with a brush to remove any dirt or soil residue.
-Do not wash meats before cooking. This could cause bacteria to contaminate your sink and other kitchen surfaces.
-Defrost meats in the refrigerator or microwave. Defrosting them at room temperature can cause bacteria to multiply.
-Wash the knife and cutting board that were used to prepare meat before using them on other food items to avoid contamination.

3. When cooking food:

-Cook meats after defrosting them. Don't leave them out of the refrigerator for too long.
-Make sure the meats are cooked well inside and out. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.
-Don't put freshly cooked items next to raw foods.
-When cooking meat, do so all at once. Avoid partially cooking meat and refrigerating it with the intention of completing the cooking process later.

4. When storing food:

-Once you've cooked your food, make sure to store it promptly in the refrigerator.
-Remember to eat leftovers like meats, eggs and pastas within the expiration date, which can generally vary between one and five days.
-Check the food storage guide for extra precautions.

Get additional health tips and other relevant information at USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov.

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Consumers to Increase Their Holiday Shopping at Convenience Stores

December 13, 2013 4:27 am

Harried consumers seeking to complete their holiday shopping say that they will rely more on convenience stores this year for quick snacks, stocking stuffers, party items and cash from ATMs, according to a consumer survey released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

One in three consumers say that they plan to buy snacks and other food items from convenience stores more often (32 percent) and that they plan to buy coffee and other beverages from convenience stores more often (31 percent) while shopping this holiday season.

Younger consumers, those 18 to 34, are most likely to grab a quick snack or beverage at convenience stores, with a majority expecting to buy snacks (52 percent) or drinks (51 percent) more often at convenience stores while shopping this holiday season.

In addition to purchasing quick snacks and drinks as part of their holiday shopping excursions, consumers say that they will be increasingly using convenience stores to purchase holiday gifts or related items. More than one in five consumers say that when it comes to making purchases at convenience stores, they will be buying more gift cards more often (23 percent), small presents or stocking stuffers more often (21 percent), and more small items like tape and batteries more often (22 percent). Younger consumers are most likely to purchase these items at convenience stores: more than one in three of those 18 to 34 say that they will be buying gifts cards (38 percent), small presents (38 percent) and small items like tape and batteries (37 percent) at convenience stores more often this holiday season.

"Lottery tickets are always a popular stocking stuffer or office gift, and with the current Mega Millions jackpot now at $400 million we are definitely seeing an increase in sales for what could potentially be an amazing holiday gift," said Lenard.

Convenience stores also will be a popular destination for those planning holiday parties. One in five consumers (21 percent) say that they will be shopping more often at convenience stores to pick up items like wine, beer and snacks that they need for parties that they are attending or hosting. More than one in three consumers age 18 to 34 say that they will be buying more items from convenience stores for parties this holiday season, with 39 percent stocking up for parties that they are hosting and 37 percent buying items for parties that they are attending.

Source: National Association of Convenience Stores

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Hotel Amenities Travelers Can and Can't Do Without

December 13, 2013 4:27 am

TripAdvisor® has announced the results of the TripBarometer Truth in Travel Survey, which reveals the hotel amenities and services U.S. travelers find most and least important.

Free Wi-Fi, parking and breakfast are in high demand, but travelers are not as interested in the mini-bar or spa.

Most Important Hotel Amenities for U.S. Travelers
1. Free In-Room Wi-Fi (89 percent)
2. Free Parking (89 percent)
3. Free Breakfast (84 percent)
4. Free Personal Care Items (72 percent)
5. Free Lobby Wi-Fi (71 percent)

Least Important Hotel Amenities for U.S. Travelers
1. Mini Bar (21 percent)
2. Spa/Beauty Treatments (23 percent)
3. Business Center (34 percent)
4. Laundry Service (39 percent)
5. Free Pool-Side Wi-Fi (42 percent)

"Accept my credit cards" (59 percent) and "hire staff who speak my language" (34 percent) are the top things U.S. travelers wish their hotels would do, as compared to 12 percent who wish hotels would "include typical food from my country in the menu."

Meanwhile, there are some good signs hotels are answering the call. As a result of increasing numbers of guests from various destinations around the world, hoteliers have already put in place a number of measures to address the needs of international visitors. Fifty-two percent of global hotel respondents have made efforts to honor the credit cards that their guests prefer to use, as compared to 44 percent of U.S. hotels.

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Appliance Safety in the Home: How to Prevent Tip-overs

December 13, 2013 4:27 am

In light of recent tragedies nationwide involving tipped over appliances, The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently completed a review of various tip-over hazards that can occur in the home.

Families must be aware of leaving children unattended in the kitchen, even if the stove is turned off. Many accidents occur when children attempt to climb on top of a stove door causing the appliance to topple over. With senior citizens, the same can happen when they are leaning on it for support. If the stove is on at the time of the incident, the heat will only make injuries worse and risk of death greater.

The CPSC recommends the following to prevent related tragedies in the future:

-Manufacturers should create better stability in their designs. Models should be able to support 100 pounds on an open oven door. Although this may require some major redesigns, the added safety bonus will benefit everyone.
-Manufacturers should design door hinges that lock in the open position, should an oven start to tip forward.
-Install anti-tip devices that prevent an appliance from working unless they are properly installed.
-Appliances should be programmed to automatically shut off the heat should they begin to tip.

Consumers should be aware that these types of incidents can occur in their home. To prevent this from happening to you or your loved ones, be sure to secure your stove with tip restraints provided by your manufacturer. New appliances made after 1991 should have shipped with them included, but may or may not be pre-installed. The CPSC reports that it is not aware of a single injury or death cause by an appliance with tip restraints properly installed.

For more information, visit http://www.cpsc.gov.

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Three Questions to Ask Yourself before Adding a Pet to the Family

December 12, 2013 4:24 am

Whether it's a dog, cat, hamster, bird or other critter, a new pet is always an exciting addition, especially around the holidays when many families choose to bring a new pet into their home.

However, December is often a busy month when people do not have the time or energy to focus on a new pet. Before making this big decision, ask yourself some simple questions.

How much time each day can be committed to the pet? Work schedules, school schedules and other factors greatly affect how long people are home during the day. Some pets require more personal attention than others. For instance, larger, more energetic dog breeds, such as Boxers, will need to be walked at least two times a day.

For those who can't make that time commitment, small dogs or cats may require less exercise time, but still need quite a bit of one-on-one attention and toys to keep them mentally stimulated if the pet parent is gone during the day. Small animals like hamsters, guinea pigs and reptiles may be better suited for those who plan on being gone all day long.

Typically, these pets will be safe in their habitat during the day, provided the pet parent gives them all the requirements necessary to keep them happy and healthy. However, it is still important to nurture a connection with these pets, as many of them love to be held and handled. For those considering a puppy, it's important to consider the time commitment to properly potty train the dog.

What is affordable? Some pets cost more than others. In addition to upfront adoption fees, there are a number of factors that determine the cost of a pet. Large dogs will need more food, certain breeds require professional grooming services more often, young dogs and cats may require special training courses and reptiles can require specialized habitats and heat lamps.

Before deciding on a pet, be sure to research all costs associated with that pet, including costs that could come later in the animal’s life, rather than just immediately. For example, pet parents may not know that it is important to invest in their pet's oral health, which can help avoid costly dental surgeries down the line.

What does the family want to get out of the pet? Being a pet parent is a benefit to both the human and the animal and many pet parents say that their animal does more for them than they ever expected. It's important to ask what the family wants to get by adding a new pet to the family.

Perhaps it's having a cuddle buddy; maybe it's teaching kids responsibility, it could be the thought of having a pet help encourage someone to get physically fit, or perhaps it's having an independent animal who can cheer others up. Whatever it is, consider this feedback before getting a new pet. For those who decide a new puppy is best for their wants and needs, make sure the dog is well socialized before taking them out and about.

Sometimes waiting until after the holidays to add a new pet to the house may be the best option. Getting kids a habitat to unwrap during the celebrations and letting them choose their own pet after the holidays can turn one special day into two.

Source: http://www.petco.com

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7 Tips for Winter Storm Safety

December 12, 2013 4:24 am

As Old Man Winter approaches, millions across the nation are threatened with heavy snow, ice storms and power outages. To help homeowners prepare for the iciness ahead, Kohler Generators shares expert tips for storm safety.

1. Assemble a dedicated storm box or bucket. Having items on hand like batteries, candles, matches, flashlights, AM radio, water and even extra cash can be useful if your area loses power. If told by officials to evacuate your home, leave well in advance. Make plans for a safe route and destination where someone will be expecting you at a predetermined day and time.

2. Create a storm to-do list. This list reminds you of the important things you need to do before the storm hits. Things like getting prescription drugs, filling propane tanks, going to the bank and filling your car with gas can be essential.

3. Compile a list of important phone numbers. Essential phone numbers to have on hand can include: utility companies, insurance company, bank, doctors, radio stations and local police. Also, have at least one hard-wired landline phone in the house.

4. Protect your chilled and frozen food supply. Before the storm hits, pack your most commonly consumed items like milk, cold cuts and leftovers in a cooler with ice. Turn your refrigerator/freezer settings to the highest levels to chill remaining food as much as possible. Keep your refrigerator door taped closed to prevent unnecessary opening during a power outage.

5. Store water if you are on a well system. Store plenty of drinking water in clean containers. Also, store water in your bathtub so you can flush the toilet with a bucket of water when needed.

6. Inspect your basement sump pump system before the storm. During a major storm, heavy rains can flood your basement, so make sure your sump pump is plugged in and fully operational. Inspect the pump switch float ball on your sump pump to make sure it is operating smoothly. Also, make sure the drain line is not blocked and extends at least four feet away from your home's foundation. Finally, get a battery backup for your sump pump in case of power loss.

7. Look into an automatic standby generator system. A standby generator is permanently installed outside your home and hooks up to existing gas lines (propane or natural gas). If power is lost, a standby generator will automatically start up and restore power to your home. It can power lights, heating/cooling systems, refrigerators, sump pumps, home security systems, computers and more. With the addition of a standby generator, most issues you face during a storm can be eliminated.

Source: Kohler Generators

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