Safety First: How to Prevent Home Accidents This Holiday Season


Source: ~ Author: JOHN FEDRO

In the past, whenever I have made mistakes — and boy, have
there been plenty of mistakes — I always learn a lesson and feel silly for making the mistake. Some of these mistakes have cost me wasted time, wasted money, loss of a potential investment home, and even losing a very good friend by mixing business and friendship. All this I can learn and bounce back from. What I cannot live with is if my actions caused anyone else to suffer or be hurt due to my negligence.

This holiday season, remember the advice below as we cover some very important home tragedy prevention tips.

Important Tips to Prevent Home Tragedy This Holiday Season

Fire Prevention

The deaths from fires and burns are the 3rd leading cause of home death injuries in the United States. Every 169 minutes, someone dies in a fire in the United States. Of these deaths, about 85% happen at home. Most fire victims do not die from direct burns, but from inhaling and choking on smoke and/or toxic gase

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid smoking at home. Smoking is the leading cause of fire related deaths. Never smoke in bed while drowsy or while under the influence of medication or alcohol. Avoid lighting candles while sleeping.
  • Practice safe cooking because cooking is the primary cause of residential fires.
  • Change your smoke alarm battery annually and test monthly. Be sure that you have smoke alarms on every floor of your home, including your basement. They should be located outside of bedrooms.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher at home and learn how to use it.
  • Teach your children never to play with matches or lighters, and store these items away from young children.

Poison Prevention

Each year, more than 60,000 children visit emergency rooms due to medication poisoning. Common poisonings include medications, personal care products, and cleaning products.

When it comes to poison safety, remember to:

  • Use medications and vitamins with safety caps and listen for them to “click” to make sure the cap is locked.
  • Store medicines and vitamins out of the reach of young children. They should not be able to climb to reach your medication storage area.
  • Keep the number to poison control in your cell phone and next to home phones: 800-222-1222
  • Turn on the lights when you take medications to be sure you know what you are taking.
  • Dispose of expired or unused medications if you don’t need them anymore.
  • Always keep household chemicals in their original containers. Never use food containers to store chemical products.
  • Store food and chemicals in separate areas.
  • Have your furnace inspected before every heating season.
  • Never use your oven to heat your home.

Slip and Fall Prevention

Young children and older adults are prone to injury and death from slips and falls. In addition, each week a child dies from a televisions tipping over, and over the past 10 years, a child on average has visited the emergency room every 45 minutes due to a television tipping over.

To prevent injury, follow these tips:

  • Remove clutter from stairs and walkways; toys, clothing, shoes, and other items are tripping hazards and should be put away properly.
  • Clean up spills immediately to avoid slipping on wet surfaces.
  • Check walkways and stairs for damaged steps.
  • Install hardware-mounted safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs if you have a baby or toddler in the home.
  • Ensure that your television sets are stable. Flat screen televisions should be mounted on a wall, while large CRT television sets should be placed on a low, stable piece of furniture and secured to a wall if possible.
  • Remove loose carpets or floorboards to avoid trips.
  • Never use screens to keep children from falling out of windows.

Burn and Cut Prevention

To prevent burns and cuts at home:

  • Avoid holding children while cooking on the stove. Place them in a high chair nearby instead.
  • Enforce a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet around the stove unless children are actively helping you cook.
  • Teach children safe cooking procedures when they are old enough.
  • Adjust your water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent accidental scalding.
  • Do not leave hair curlers or curling irons unattended.

Choking, Suffocation, and Strangulation Prevention

Choking is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death in children under the age of one. Hazards can include food or household items, including balloons, coins, and lights.

In order to avoid tragedy, remember the following:

  • Adult supervision is the most effective way to avoid choking, strangulation, and/or suffocation.
  • Cut food into bite sized pieces and encourage children to sit still while eating.
  • Do not allow children to eat while walking, playing, or riding in a car.
  • Encourage older adults to chew foods slowly and avoid laughing, talking, or drinking too much alcohol while eating.
  • Consider installing cordless window coverings.
  • Practice Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) safety. This includes laying your baby on his or her back and avoiding soft bedding such as stuffed animals, blankets, and bumpers.
  • Follow age recommendations when buying toys, and check toys for loose or broken parts.

Electrical Safety

In the United States, an estimated annual average of 47,000 home structure fires per year involve electrical failure or malfunction. These fires are dangerous and cause 455 deaths, 1,500 injuries, and $1.5 billion in property damage. Often, these fires are preventable with proper home maintenance and inspections of electrical systems.

You can help prevent electrical accidents by keeping the following in mind:

  • Have your electrical system inspected every 10 years or less if your home displays warning signs such as power outages, dim or flickering lights, sparks, buzzes, or odors.
  • Check for frayed wires. Repair or replace damaged wires on electrical devices.
  • Major electrical appliances should be grounded.
  • Consider adding electrical outlets instead of relying on extension cords. Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis anyway.
  • Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in your kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, basement, and in outdoor areas.
  • Avoid overloading your electrical system. Avoid plugging more than one high-watt appliance into a single outlet.
  • Watch appliances for warning signs including overheating, unusual smells, shorts, and sparks.

The above list of precautions are only a few of the safety concerns to consider implementing in your personal home and investment properties. While we cannot control what our tenants or buyers do, or how they treat our homes, we can decide to only sell to low-risk residents who are safety conscious and follow basic instructions.

It may be prudent to print out a “safety list” of your own safety procedures checklists and provide this to every tenant upon moving in to your properties. However, be the best example you can by implementing these improvements at home first.

Stay safe this holiday season and if you are in the market to buy (or sell) a home in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Realtors will do their best to make sure that both Buyers and Sellers are protected during the transaction.

Rustic Thanksgiving Decorations


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Give your Thanksgiving table a timeless, rustic update with our 13 ideas featuring soft, neutral colors, natural materials and seasonal accents.

Not a fan of orange and brown? No worries; your table’s color palette doesn’t have to be restricted to traditional fall colors. Instead try softer, cooler hues like the whites, pale greens and grays found on heirloom-variety pumpkins.

For a simple focal point, skip the flowers and instead stack pumpkins in varying shades and graduated sizes to create a rustic topiary. Remove the stems from all but the top pumpkin to create a stable base.

Use fresh greenery, like waxy magnolia leaves or feathery evergreen boughs, to add texture and color around the base of the centerpiece. Tuck collected pinecones and nuts into the arrangement to celebrate nature’s bounty.

Layering plates in different finishes, colors or textures is an easy trick for setting an elegant table. Start with a charger, followed by a dinner plate, topped by a folded cloth napkin and small bread or dessert plate.

It can be expensive (and time-consuming) to decorate for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas within the span of just three months. So opt for decor that can easily transition from one holiday to the next. Buy heirloom pumpkins for Halloween and store them in a cool place until they can be reused for Thanksgiving. Pinecones and magnolia leaves that were used to decorate your Thanksgiving table can be fashioned into a Christmas wreath after the big feast.

Some varieties of squash are beautiful and a perfect fit for a rustic fall table setting. Stroll the grocery store’s produce aisle or your local farmers’ market for inspiration. Artichoke, cabbage, pears and pomegranates are other great options for decorating a rustic fall table.

When setting your Thanksgiving table, don’t forget to add fall touches to the other main elements in your dining room. A few organic additions to the chandelier, buffet, hutch or cupboard will pull the seasonal look together.

Beautiful turkey feathers from a local farm are nestled among fresh magnolia branches to decorate the chandelier as a subtle yet elegant nod to the feast’s main course.

Placemats aren’t necessary when using this runner custom-made by weaving together upholstery webbing. Long and narrow runners can get lost under a centerpiece, but this square version really stands out.

For a chic-meets-easy place card, top mini white pumpkins with tags that read, “merci” or “thank you” in French as a subtle reminder of what the day is all about. Tags like these are easy to craft yourself or purchase on handmade marketplace websites.

A white tablecloth is a classic backdrop to the organic centerpiece and rough texture of the woven runner. Other options: Try layering fine linen over humble burlap or crisp cotton against nubby wool.

It’s not easy to find pumpkins that are the exact same size and shape, so it’s okay for the centerpiece to be a bit off-balance. Imperfections lend a casual feel to a table that might feel overly formal or stuffy for guests.

It’s not easy to find pumpkins that are the exact same size and shape, so it’s okay for the centerpiece to be a bit off-balance. Imperfections lend a casual feel to a table that might feel overly formal or stuffy for guests.


How to Save on Your Heating Bill

Source: ~ Author: Amanda Thomas

How to Save on Your Heating Bill

Image Courtesy of Home Depot

I love my husband, but there are some times I love him more than others. Over the past (almost) decade of being together, I have fallen in love with his passion for energy efficiency. See, Mr. Domestic CEO was a mechanical engineer. For 10 years, he designed heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems, so he knows a thing or two about how to use the least amount of energy possible in a building.

I admit, his tips and explanations used to go right over my head. Honestly, I didn’t really care about saving money on my energy bills because I was living in small apartments and already had low electric bills. When we moved into our 3 bedroom, two-story house, though, things changed. I started talking with friends who had similar homes, only to find out that they were paying two to three times the amount we were for our heating bills. Why? Because we put into place a few small changes around our house that save us big, year after year.

In today’s episode, I’m going to give you the tips that Mr. Domestic CEO told me, although I’ll spare you the “Put on more clothes” tip. If you are looking for ways to save on your heating bills this winter, then these three tips are for you.

Tip #1: Think Small

The first thing people tend to do when they want to heat their space is turn up the furnace. The problem with this is the furnace likely heats your whole home, and why would you want to heat rooms that you aren’t using? If you aren’t in the space, but you’re heating it, that’s wasted energy. Instead of rushing over to your thermostat to crank up the heat, consider using something smaller than a giant oil burner.

In our home, unless we have company over, or are using multiple rooms at the same time, we keep the furnace turned down, and use space heaters in the rooms where we spend most of our time. If I am working in my home office, I turn the heat up on my feet. After all, I’m probably going to be there for a while, so there’s no use heating my living room, kitchen, dining room, or bedroom just to keep myself warm while I’m working on the computer. Just make sure to turn the heater off when you leave the room, and follow all the safety precautions. Space heaters can cause a fire hazard, but if you use them correctly, they are perfectly safe.

The “think small” principle applies to sleeping, too. When we go to bed, we are likely going to be there for at least 7 hours, so why would we want to heat the office, kitchen, and living room during that time? Instead, we have a heated mattress pad that we turn on about 20 minutes before going to bed. Not only do we get to save electricity by having our bed heated instead of the entire room around us, we also never have to get into a bed with freezing cold sheets.

Tip #2: Maximize the Air

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “What about when you wake up?” Few things are worse than waking up on a dark, winter morning, and having to get out of a toasty bed into a freezing cold room. How do we make the morning bearable? Simple: programmable thermostats! Our heat automatically turns down at night when we are sleeping in our heated bed, then it kicks back on about an hour before we get up so that we don’t freeze our tootsies off when we get out of bed. We also have the heat set to turn down during the day when we are out of the house. After all, it seems silly to heat the house if no one is home, right? A programmable thermostat can be purchased at any home improvement store, or online. They are fairly inexpensive, and you can make your money back in a month or two if you set it to only heat your home when you are there.

Another tip that can help you maximize the air in the room is a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans can be put on the Reverse setting. Instead of pushing air straight down, it pulls the cool air up, which pushes the warm air back down to where you are. And the higher the ceiling, the bigger the difference this can make. If you really want to know why that is, we should probably call Everyday Einstein to see if he can help explain.

Tip #3: Seal the House

When it comes to those cool breezes you feel around your home in the winter, both Mr. Domestic CEO and Everyday Einstein would be disappointed in me if I didn’t stress that this is from the heat escaping, not the cold air coming in. So, your goal in sealing your home is to do everything you can to keep the hot air inside your home.

Every window or door of your home that isn’t properly sealed is an opportunity for heat to escape. Keep the heat in your home by making sure to seal up all the openings you can. If you can see light around your door in the middle of the day, you have gaps where heat can escape. Self-adhesive weather stripping can be purchased at home improvement stores and applied to door frames to seal those gaps.

If it feels like there is a breeze coming under your doors, door sweeps can be installed at the bottom of the door to keep heat in. If your windows are where you feel a breeze, window insulation film is your solution. It’s like a shrink wrap for your windows. If you want a more expensive, but more fashionable, option, updating your window treatments to cellular shades or heavy drapery will keep the heat from going out the windows, too.

Now that you have a few tips to get you started, it’s time to make preparations for the weather months. With the weather changing fast, the sooner you can make these small adjustments, the sooner you can start saving money on your heating bill.

If you are in the market to buy (or sell) a home in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Realtors will do their best to make sure that both Buyers and Sellers are protected during the transaction.

Is your home ready to keep you warm this winter?


Source: ~ By Michael Franco

The crisp snap of autumn weather is a reminder that even colder days lie ahead. Get ready for them by performing a few simple chores now that will keep you toasty all winter long.

Install weatherstripping

Weatherstripping can save you up to 20 percent on heating bills — especially if you have drafty windows or doors. Plus, it’s quick and easy, and doesn’t cost a lot of money. Place weatherstripping along doorjambs and in the gaps between windows and sashes to keep chilly breezes out and heat in.

Fix drafty doors

If your doors need extra draft protection, add a door sweep along the bottom. These flexible rubber strips seal the gap at the bottom of the door to keep howling winds at bay. If cold air is still getting in, buy or DIY a door snake — a tube of fabric filled with sand, rice, or other material — to lay on the floor and plug the gap.

Add insulation

The attic and basement are two spots where you can lose a lot of heat. By insulating your basement ceiling and attic floor, you can prevent warm air from escaping the house. Also check around the exterior of your house for cracked foundation, gaps or cable holes, and seal them or fill them with spray foam insulation.

Check your furnace

Like any piece of machinery, your furnace works better if it’s properly maintained. Some utility companies offer a free annual checkup for your furnace, but if yours doesn’t, it may be worth paying a technician to ensure that your furnace is in top condition. But you can also improve your furnace’s performance with simple maintenance that you can do yourself, like replacing filters and cleaning registers.

Swap your thermostat

Standard thermostats can lead to wasted energy. If you opt for a smart thermostat like the Nest, you could cut down on your energy use — and your utility bills. Among other features, these smart thermostats can sense when you’re away and automatically adjust the temperature to save you money.

Seal ducts

If you have forced-air heat, leaks in your ducts could be costing you hundreds of dollars. Seal them with specially designed metal tape and keep your ducts — and your wallet — more secure.

Embrace fabrics

While a cool tile floor might feel nice underfoot in summer, it’s not so appealing when it’s sub-zero outside. Cover your floors in throw rugs and runners for the winter months. You can also hang heavy insulating drapes in front of your windows to keep warm air in and the cold out where it belongs.

If you are in the market to buy (or sell) a home in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Realtors will do their best to make sure that both Buyers and Sellers are protected during the transaction.

Drop $1.2M on a Super Haunted, Frightfully Florid Victorian

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Source: ~ Spencer Peterson ~ 511 E Walworth Ave Zillow

Have a nomination for a jaw-dropping listing that would make a mighty fine House of the Day? Get thee to the tipline and send us your suggestions. We’d love to see what you’ve got.

Location: Delavan, Wisconsin
Price: $1,200,000
The Skinny: In popular lore, Victorian mansions are not only haunted by restless spirits, but by long-decease decorating trends still lingering within. TheAllyn Mansion of Delavan, Wisconsin confirms both stereotypes. Zillow reportsclaims of a haunting there, but doesn’t say whether we’re dealing with a vengeful wraith, or merely the still-polite spirit of some well-coifed dandy. What can be confirmed is potentially just as frightening, depending on your taste: a surfeit of interior floridity that’s as overwhelming as the exterior is winsome and the painted ceilings are beautiful, fresh from an “award winning restoration.” Built in 1885 by a wealthy farming family, the Allyn Mansion has since survived a tenure as a nursing home, a stint as a furniture store, and most recently, a spell as a B&B. The current price is $1.2M, down quite a bit from 2008’s ask of $1.85M, and up from February’s price of $950K.

If you are in the market to buy (or sell) a home in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Realtors will do their best to make sure that both Buyers and Sellers are protected during the transaction.

Getting Your Home Ready for Trick-or-Treaters


Courtesy of

Source: ~ By Bob Vila

At summer’s end, once school is back in session, many of us start looking forward to Halloween. It’s a holiday adults can enjoy as much as kids. But, homeowners do have one serious obligation on this fun night: If you expect trick-or-treaters, you must make sure the path to your door is a safe one.

Take no trips

Inevitably, some giddy ghosts and ghouls will race excitedly to your door. Be prepared. In the full light of day, inspect your lawn, driveway and front path for trip hazards like exposed tree roots, cracks in concrete or missing pavers. Make repairs where possible or, at the very least, cut off access to unsafe areas. Meanwhile, if you’ve decorated the front yard with decorations like light-up pumpkins and animated figures, relocate the electrical cords so they’re not in anyone’s way.

Light the way

Make sure the path to your house is bright enough for trick-or-treaters to approach safely. You don’t need to install a full suite of year-round landscape lighting simply to accommodate visitors on Halloween night. There are plenty of temporary and affordable options for illumination, from glow sticks to tea lights. And though it may seem more in keeping with the mood of this spooky night to switch off your porch light, it’s much safer — not to mention more inviting — to keep it on.

Resist flammable decor

Whether vandals or accidents are to blame, there are many more fires on Halloween than a typical October night, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Holiday decorations are often quite flammable, involving materials such as paper, hay and dried cornstalks. If you can’t resist adorning your home and yard with such potentially dangerous items, then be sure to keep them away from candles and other heat sources. If jack-o’-lanterns or luminaries figure into your celebrations, illuminate them using LED tea lights, not open flames.

Curb your dog

Chances are yours is a friendly dog. But if some Halloween costumes are so convincing as to be frightening to small children, those same getups could be equally disturbing to your pooch — particularly on such a high-energy night. It’s good sense to contain your dog in an indoor space that’s both comfortable and secure.

A festive parade of goblins and ghouls, princesses and superheroes will soon be marching to your house. Do your part by clearing the path and lighting the way. Be safe out there, and have a Happy Halloween!

If you are in the market to buy (or sell) a home in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Realtors will do their best to make sure that both Buyers and Sellers are protected during the transaction.

Mortgage rates fall below 4%

mortgage rate chart 10-14

Source: ~

There’s a silver lining for home buyers in the clouds hanging over the stock market.

Interest rates on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.97% this week, according to Freddie Mac. That’s down from 4.12% last week and the lowest level since June 20, 2013.

The drop in mortgage rates comes as investors have flocked to the safety of U.S. Treasury bonds. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note has tumbled as low as 1.86% this week.

Mortgage rates usually move lock step with the yield on the 10-year note.

Investors have rushed to bonds because they have been spooked by a combination of economic weakness in Europe, concerns about Ebola and geopolitical turmoil around the world.

“Rates are at their lowest levels since June 2013 amidst continued investor skepticism regarding the precarious economic situation in Europe,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie Mac.

Mortgage rates have gone lower despite expectations that they would start rising as the Federal Reserve starts pulling back its economic stimulus.

The Fed has cut back its program of buying bonds and mortgage-backed securities, which everyone expected would put upward pressure on interest rates.

The latest international turmoil and the stock market rout has instead pushed rates the other way.

If you are in the market to buy (or sell) a home in  Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Realtors will do their best to make sure that both Buyers and Sellers are protected during the transaction.