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Home Inspections in Oakland County MI & Surrounding areas

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December Newsletter 2017

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and well wishes to everyone this December. 

It’s a beautiful time of year not just because of the decorations but because of the good cheer, visiting with friends and relatives, and thoughtfulness for each other. In this month’s newsletter we cover reminders for holiday fire safety. Last month we covered info about your smoke alarms but this month we want to remind you of all the ways to prevent a fire in the first place! We included a few last minute DIY holiday decorating tips (these would make a fun project for the family, too!). And for your health there’s some information about dust and dust mites you’ll want to know! Have a safe and joyous holiday season! All the best from Ron and Sterling Home Services, LLC!






Your Christmas Fire Prevention Guide!

  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant." Although this label does not mean the tree won't catch fire, it does indicate the tree will resist burning and should extinguish quickly. 
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and do not break when bent between your fingers. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles. 
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces and radiators. Because heated rooms dry live trees out rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory, which indicates conformance with safety standards. Use only lights that have fused plugs. 
  • Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections, and throw out damaged sets. Always replace burned-out bulbs promptly with the same wattage bulbs. 
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord. Make sure the extension cord is rated for the intended use. 
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted. 
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • Stay away from power or feeder lines leading from utility poles into older homes. 
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, house walls, or other firm supports to protect the lights from wind damage. Use only insulated staples to hold strings in place, not nails or tacks. Or, run strings of lights through hooks (available at hardware stores). 
  • Turn off all holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire. 
  • Use caution when removing outdoor holiday lights. Never pull or tug on lights - they could unravel and inadvertently wrap around power lines. 
  • Outdoor electric lights and decorations should be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Portable outdoor GFCIs can be purchased where electrical supplies are sold. GFCIs can be installed permanently to household circuits by a qualified electrician.
  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals. Leaded materials are hazardous if ingested by children. 
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down. 
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces, and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them. 
  • Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass "angel hair." 
  • Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.
  • Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

Household Dust and Dust Mites

The house dust mite is very small (.25 to .3 mm), has a translucent body and is barely visible to the naked eye. Dust mites have 8 legs, males live about 15 days while females live up to 70 days and lay up to 100 eggs. In its life the dust mite will produce approximately 2,000 fecal particles and 2,000+ partially digested enzyme-covered dust particles. 
Dust mites can, and do, cause a lot of allergy problems. The dust mites themselves are not the problem, it is the allergens that they excrete (those nasty fecal particles and partially digested enzyme-covered dust particles) that can cause asthma, stuffy nose and/or itchy eyes, depending on your sensitivity. In fact, dust mites are one of the most common triggers of asthma. Dust mites love warm humid conditions but they survive in all climates.  The Michigan winters can help to keep the population down, but even with the numbers down, having the windows closed all winter long increases our exposure to dust and dust mites and that can cause allergic reactions.
There are many things you can do to reduce your exposure to dust mites. 
  • Never, never treat dust mites with insecticide. Using toxic insecticides inside the home is dangerous and will cause or worsen respiratory problems.
  • Lower indoor humidity
  • Keep pets and their dander out of bedrooms and if possible keep pets out of any rooms with carpeting and upholstered furniture
  • Add room air purifiers to bedrooms
  • Frequently replace filters in your air conditioning and heating systems
  • Put bedding in the dryer at high heat (221 degrees F) for at least 10 minutes to kill mites
  • Cover bedding with washable, allergen-proof covers
  • Shampoo rugs and fabric covered furniture
  • Eucalyptus oil from an aerosol can helps to break down dust mite feces
  • Replace carpeting with wood or tile flooring when you decide to renovate or redecorate
There is so much more to this topic that can help keep your home and your family inside it, healthy and safe. But for starters, keep the harmful chemicals to a minimum, use safe handling precautions and take steps to keep the dust down.  Stay healthy this winter!
MYTH: Feather pillows should be avoided because mites thrive in them. False! A 1996 study showed that a polyester fiber pillow contained 8X more dust mite "dust" than a feather pillow.


Last Minute DIY Christmas Decorating
Christmas is only a few short days away! If you're feeling a surge of Christmas cheer but sick of spending money check out these ideas from the Huffingtonpost.com for using everyday household items as Christmas decor. 
  • Hang mismatched ornaments and garland from your chandelier
  • Fill large glass vases or jars with salt or faux snow and add ornaments and Christmassy items
  • Use a serving tray as a Christmas center piece, fill it with greenery, ornaments, and Christmas trinkets
  • Wrap your front door with wrapping paper
  • Wrap your front door with a ribbon and bow, make it look like a giant present
  • Make a message garland by stringing hand made letter pennants on ribbon or string
  • DIY holiday vases from upcycled wine bottles - give them a fresh coat of paint and fill with interesting foliage

Weird Christmas Facts

  • 3000 tons of aluminum foil are used to wrap turkeys every year
  • Christmas shoppers are elbowed at least three times while shopping
  • On average an American family will send out 28 Christmas cards and receive 28 Christmas cards
  • Spoiled leftover account for nearly 400,000 cases of post Christmas illnesses
  • In 2005 Forbes named Santa Claus (Age 1,651) the richest man in the world with a net worth of "infinity"
  • Xmas doesn't remove Christ from Christmas - in 1100 Christianity was spelled Xianity and X became a symbolic syllable for Christ
  • Jingle Bells was written for Thanksgiving, not Christmas
  • One of the first commercially available artificial Christmas Trees was made from toilet brushes
  • Christmas wasn't an official American holiday until 1870


Have a very Merry Christmas!

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