RE/MAX 440
Tim Lugara

Tim Lugara
423 North Main Street  Doylestown  PA 18901
Phone:  215-348-7100 1632
Office:  215-348-7100
Toll Free:  800-360-7100
Cell:  215-917-8673
Fax:  267-354-6961

Tim's Blog

CPSC Urges Consumers to Replace Batteries in Smoke and CO Alarms

November 4, 2013 3:39 am

There is no doubt that smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms can save lives. But to do their job of alerting consumers to fire or CO, alarms need fresh batteries. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that consumers put new batteries in their alarms to prepare and protect families throughout the upcoming winter.

Home fires take a heavy toll in lost lives, lasting injuries and property damage. CPSC estimates an average of 362,300 unintentional residential fires attended by the fire service, resulting in 2,260 deaths, 12,820 injuries and nearly $7 billion in property damage each year between 2009 and 2011.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), three out of five fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Working smoke alarms with fresh batteries can make a real difference in lives saved and injuries prevented. However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Housing Survey for 2011, only three out of four homes reported they changed the batteries in their smoke alarms in the last six months. Batteries should be replaced in alarms every year. In addition, CPSC recommends that consumers test their alarms every month to make sure that the alarms are working. Smoke alarms should be placed on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside sleeping areas.

CO alarms are just as important as smoke alarms. If you do not have CO alarms, get them. Each year from 2007 to 2009, there were nearly 170 carbon monoxide deaths involving consumer products under CPSC's jurisdiction, including portable generators and home heating systems.

Carbon monoxide is called the invisible killer, because you cannot see or smell it. This poisonous gas can come from a variety of sources and quickly incapacitate and kill its victims.

CO alarms should be installed on every level of the home and outside sleeping areas. Like smoke alarms, CO alarms need fresh batteries every year. They should be tested once a month to make sure they are working.

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

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Fixed Mortgage Rates Decline for Second Consecutive Week

November 4, 2013 3:39 am

Freddie Mac released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing average fixed mortgage rates declining for the second consecutive week amid recent data showing softening in the housing market. Fixed mortgage rates are at their lowest levels since June.

Findings

30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.10 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending October 31, 2013, down from last week when it averaged 4.13 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.39 percent.

15-year FRM this week averaged 3.20 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.24 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.70 percent.

5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.96 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.00 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.74 percent.

1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.64 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.60 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.58 percent.

"Fixed mortgage rates eased further leading up to the Federal Reserve's (Fed) October 30th monetary policy announcement. The Fed saw improvement in economic activity and labor market conditions since it began its asset purchase program, but noted the recovery in the housing market slowed somewhat in recent months and unemployment remains elevated,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac.

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Health Risks of Noise Pollution

November 1, 2013 3:33 am

Noise pollution is a significant cause of sleep deprivation, stress, hypertension, and heart risk. The problem is, it invades our work places and homes constantly.

Recent studies published in “Environmental Health Perspectives” indicate that noise levels at night may also increase the risk of heart attack by chronically elevating stress-related hormone levels. It's clear that noise adversely reduces people's health and quality of life.

Environmental noise is one of the major causes of disturbed sleep. Uninterrupted sleep is critical for proper physical and mental functioning in healthy individuals.

Apart from various effects on sleep itself, noise during sleep causes increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, narrowing of the blood vessels, changes in respiration, cardiac arrhythmias, and increased body movement.

Secondary effects measured the following day include fatigue, depressed mood and well-being, and decreased performance. People who sleep in a noisy environment have a shallower and less restful depth of sleep. This creates more health stresses on the body.

Most homes are built to protect against heat and cold. Often, they are not effective in blocking out noise. Studies of hundreds of offices and homes show that the most significant amount of noise comes through windows, not walls. While many people spend thousands of dollars on "sound proofing" the walls of their buildings, laboratory studies show that more than 90 percent of all the exterior noise comes in through doors and windows. Walls are almost never the problem.

Dual pane windows have been shown to be ineffective at handling noise issues. They are designed to handle heat and cold. The engineering needed for sound is quite different than for handling temperature. That's why people looking for noise relief who simply replace their dual pane windows are often disappointed.

A solution that has shown to reduce noise levels by 75-95 percent is adding soundproof windows. These are add-on windows which install quickly on the interior of a room. They blend with the window frame and dramatically reduce the level of outside noise that comes into the room. The technology behind these specifically engineered windows is grounded in engineering sound-eliminating window systems for recording studios.

Independent laboratory tests confirm noise reductions of 92-99 percent, as verified by audio instrumentation. While the human ear cannot detect that level of precision, the difference in noise levels in a room is significant.

If you live in a major city or on an otherwise noisy block, soundproofing your windows may just be the solution you need for uninterrupted sleep.

Source: Soundproof Windows, Inc.

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10 Foods to Stock Up On to Reduce Impact of Cold and Flu Season

November 1, 2013 3:33 am

Flu season has significant costs for everyone. According to a National Business Group on Health report, the flu indirectly costs employers about $76.7 million a year in employee absenteeism and other indirect costs. A typical employee has flu symptoms for five to six days and misses between a half day and five days of work.

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicting flu activity to increase in the coming weeks and months, now is the time for employers to prepare. One important way is help employees boost their immune systems, the front-line for flu protection.

Get ready for the flu season by stocking the right foods in your kitchen. The 10 great immunity-boosting foods are:

-Oranges
-Veggie slices (peppers, carrots, celery, any)
-Whole grain fortified cereals
-Nuts (walnuts, almonds, peanuts, any)
-Hardboiled eggs
-Hummus
-Yogurt (Greek or low fat)
-Bean salad
-Green tea
-String cheese

Building one's immunity system with vitamin C, zinc, protein, and antioxidants before cold and flu season helps lessen its impact. Studies show that consuming these nutrients after getting sick does not shorten the duration or stop the virus.

In addition to eating the 10 immunity-boosting foods, here are some other ways you can to boost their immune system:

-Eat yogurt or other sources of probiotics to support the gastrointestinal tract, the second line of defense for the immune system
-Eat a well-balanced diet
-Reduce stress levels
-Keep skin healthy - dry cracked skin can provide an entrance for the flu virus
-Laugh – laughter has been shown to improve immune function by lowering stress
-Consider getting the seasonal flu shot and the pneumonia vaccine (to determine your suitability for these vaccines.

Source: Geneia

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Mold and Windows: What Homeowners Need to Know

November 1, 2013 3:33 am

“As long as it has an organic food source such as wood, cardboard or paper, mold can grow in any location," says John Stark, marketing manager for Simonton Windows. "The key is the organic food source. When products in the home, such as wood window frames or wood window sills, come in contact with moisture for an extended period of time, then mold can grow."

According to The Mold Services Group, a division of GHH Engineering, Inc., vinyl is not an organic food source, so mold cannot grow on vinyl window frames.

However, if even tiny particles of organic debris are found on or around the surfaces of a vinyl window in a moisture-rich area, homeowners can potentially find mold growth. What makes up this debris? It can be anything from microscopic fragments of pollen to animal dander to insect pieces to normal household dust.

"Routinely cleaning vinyl window sills and surfaces helps eliminate the remote possibility of mold growing on vinyl windows," says Stark. "By removing organic debris, such as dust and dirt, you will help keep your vinyl windows free of mold spores."

Sweaty Windows
Stark reports that, in order to keep areas around windows moisture-free to prevent potential mold growth, homeowners should watch for - and take steps to minimize - condensation.

"People sometimes see their windows 'sweat' during the winter or summer months because of varying humidity levels in the home," says Stark. "Without proper ventilation, moisture can accumulate on windows and walls from daily household activities such as hot showers, boiling water and opening dishwashers after a cleaning cycle."

This minor accumulation of moisture or steam generally isn't a cause for concern, and using ventilation fans and dehumidifiers can help reduce humidity in the home.

"Windows are a major component in a home that impact other things around them," says Stark. "They eventually need to be replaced. If windows have major air leaks, don't close properly, or are failing to act as a solid barrier to the environment, then it's time to consider replacing them with new energy-efficient vinyl windows."

Reducing the Chance of Mold
The Florida Solar Energy Center reports that moisture levels in the home are one of the easiest elements to alter so that mold will not grow in a house. Since people prefer humidity levels that are generally below the critical relative humidity for mold growth to occur, the simple acts of using ceiling fans, reducing the number of house plants in a home and leaving interior room (and closet) doors open can all help reduce moisture levels throughout the home.

Stark advises that homeowners with plantation style blinds or heavy window coverings that are closed all the time should change their habits. Condensation can get "trapped" in between the window treatments and the windows creating a damp environment that may encourage mold growth.

"By routinely opening window coverings to increase ventilation near windows homeowners will help reduce both condensation and potential mold growth," says Stark. "Another smart tip is to make sure that air vent deflectors are placed on floor vents to reroute air into the room rather than straight up against a window.

"Vinyl windows are a smart, durable choice for the home. However homeowners have to do their part too. Keeping the home well ventilated and clean during all seasons of the year makes it easy for vinyl windows to remain the most effortless and reliable windows imaginable in the home."

Source: Simonton Windows

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Don't Compound the Hazard When Hiring an Asbestos Contractor

October 31, 2013 3:30 am

The discovery of hazardous material like asbestos lurking in one's home is disturbing enough. Homeowners in this situation can get it resolved without compounding the problem by hiring an improper or unscrupulous contractor to do the work.

The Alvarado Group of Madison, WI recently posted some good advice from Gary Mason, a Wisconsin Registered Home Inspector. Mason says if you think asbestos may be in your home, don’t panic, usually asbestos material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers.
There is no danger unless the asbestos is disturbed, fibers are released and then inhaled. Mason also offers these tips for homeowners considering a corrective-action contractor:

-Before work begins, get a written contract specifying the work plan, cleanup, and the applicable federal, state and local regulations which the contractor must follow (such as notification requirements and asbestos disposal procedures).

-Assure that the contractor avoids spreading or tracking asbestos dust into other areas of your home by sealing off the work area using plastic sheeting and duct tape - also turn off the heating and air conditioning system.

-Insist that the contractor apply a wetting agent to the asbestos material with a hand sprayer - wet fibers do not float in the air as easily as dry fibers and will be easier to clean up.

-Make sure the contractor does not break removed material into smaller pieces. This could release asbestos fibers into the air.
At the end of the job, get written assurance from the contractor that all procedures have been followed.

-Upon completion, assure that the contractor cleans the area well with wet mops, wet rags, sponges and/or HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) vacuum cleaners. A regular vacuum cleaner must never be used.

-Air monitoring to make sure there is no increase of asbestos fibers in the air, and to assure that the contractor’s job is done properly. This should be done by someone not connected with the contractor.

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Survey Sheds Light on Americans' Recycling Expectations

October 31, 2013 3:30 am

There is an increasing need for the public and private sectors to collaborate to find and implement recycling solutions in communities across the country. A survey conducted by Research Data + Insights on behalf of the Carton Council of North America (CCNA) offers new findings that reveal that consumers overwhelmingly believe product companies and their brands play a crucial role in recycling. In the survey, which included 1,000 adults from across the U.S., 86 percent responded that they expect food and beverage brands to actively help increase the recycling of their packages.

U.S. consumers also indicated they look to the actual products they purchase for environmental information, even before turning to other resources. The vast majority (76 percent) reported they would look at the product's packaging to learn if a package is recyclable. The second most popular place to determine recyclability was the product's company website (33 percent), followed by the consumer's city website at 26 percent.

"First and foremost, this survey reiterates the importance of including a recycling message on product packaging," said Jason Pelz, vice president, environment, Tetra Pak North America, and vice president of recycling projects for the Carton Council of North America. "In an increasingly competitive and green-minded climate, consumers are revealing they expect food and beverage brands to actively help increase the recycling of their packages."

Pelz continues, "The Carton Council currently encourages food and beverage packaging brands to use the recycling logo that was developed for cartons. This logo reminds consumers that cartons are recyclable and provides the RecycleCartons.com website where consumers can learn if cartons are currently accepted in their community's recycling program. We're working hard to spread carton recycling access to every community around the country, and we need to do all we can to educate consumers about placing cartons in the recycling bin in communities that accept cartons in their recycling program. But we can't do it alone and would like brands to help us spread the word, on packages, on their websites, via social media vehicles and beyond."

The Carton Council is leading a national effort to increase access to carton recycling in the U.S. In 2009, 21 million U.S. households had access to carton recycling in 26 states. Now, 52.5 million households in 45 states can recycle cartons, a 150 percent increase that includes 64 of the nation's top 100 cities. Food and beverage brands that use cartons for their products are encouraged to join this effort, especially in helping promote carton recycling to their customers. CCNA can provide companies with tools to inform their customers, from step one which is adding the recycling logo to packages and recycling information on their websites, to an extensive list of possibilities beyond that. Those interested can connect with the Carton Council through CartonOpportunities.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Top Kids' Toys for the 2013 Holidays

October 31, 2013 3:30 am

It’s a scary thought for some, but the holidays are right around the corner! Wondering what the hottest toys for kids will be this year? Here’s a sneak peak at what’s likely to shine this season.

0-2 Years:
Alex Jr. Busy Bead Maze Race Around ($69.95)
Get ready for a day at the races! Little ones move chunky bead pieces shaped like a car, plane, bus and trucks around the colorful maze. It’s a great early learning toy for developing visual stimulation, hand eye coordination and cause and effect. For ages ten months and up.

Sesame Street Big Hugs Elmo ($69.95)
There are so many ways to play with Sesame Street Big Hugs Elmo with 50+ animated sounds and phrases! When preschoolers give Elmo a great big hug, he'll hug back, say fun phrases or sing a sweet song about hugs! Press Elmo's left foot and he will invite little ones to join in on one of four imagination activities. For ages 18 months and up.

3-4 Years:
LeapPad2™ Monsters University Bundle ($139.95)
Get into the Disney/Pixar Monsters University spirit with this monsterized LeapPad2, $20 Digital Download Card, two Sticker Sheets, seven Wacky Wallpapers, Eye-mazing Gel Skin and Cleaning Cloth. The award-winning LeapPad2™ inspires kids to create, learn, and explore with front and back cameras and video recorders, 4GB of memory, motion sensor, and a library of 800+ games, eBooks, videos, music and more.
For ages three years and up.

Mini Kick Scooter Green/Red ($99.95)
The mini kickboard is the quality scooter for young children. Its unique 'lean-and-steer' design allows children to direct the scooter by using their body weight to curve from side to side. The mini kickboard makes scooting fun for young children and helps them to develop their balance, coordination and motor skills. For ages three and up.

4-8 Years:
Classic Pac-Man Connect and Play ($29.95)
Bandai's Pac-Man Connect and Play brings back your favorite classic video games right to your television. The battery-operated old school joystick connects to your TV. The unique Pac-Man shaped controller is designed like the original game controllers. For ages four years and up.

Color Your Own Igloo ($24.95)
No snow on the ground? No problem! This single-piece cardboard igloo comes ready to play in and easily folds for quick put-away. The white walls inside and out are ready for your kids to color, paint or glue decorations on.

8-10 Years:

Adventure Time Monopoly ($39.95)
Join best buds and top notch adventurers Finn and Jake on a journey to claim the Land of Ooo and beyond with the Adventure Time Collector's Edition of Monopoly. Includes six custom tokens: Ice King's Crown, Princess Bubblegum, Jake, Finn, Lumpy Space Princess, Tree Trunks. For ages eight years and up.

Fashion Angels Design Super Set ($24.95)
Create a clothing collection of runway-worthy pieces and learn about garment construction with the Fashion Angels Tapeffiti™ Fashion Design Set. Choose one of the 15 clothing patterns and use Tapeffiti decorative tapes to cover them any way you like. Cut out the pattern and match the numbered dots to construct your garment around the mannequin or dress forms. For ages eight years and up.

10+ Years:

LEGO Minecraft ($44.95)
Build a mini model of the game that's sweeping the Internet with a LEGO® microbuild version of Minecraft! This build features a cool design with lots of 1x1 LEGO tiles and two buildable Micromob characters: Steve and Creeper. For ages ten years and up.

Source: Indigo Books & Music Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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7 Simple Tips for Choosing Kid Tech Tools

October 30, 2013 3:27 am

Computers, video games, mobile phones, and tablets are ubiquitous in our lives and the lives of our kids. Parents want to embrace technology to facilitate their children's learning. But with so much technology available, how are parents supposed to know which tools and activities will actually help build skills?

"Every day new resources appear in our Apps stores and we're bombarded with all the 'Best of' and 'Top 10' lists. Parents should look for reviews and endorsements by reliable sources, including educational organizations, before giving their children access to any new tech resource," says Julia Fitzgerald, Sylvan Learning's Chief Marketing Officer.

To help parents make good choices with digital media, Sylvan Learning is offering seven simple guidelines for selecting new tech tools and apps:

Does it focus on active learning? Choose educational tools and activities that are interactive, rather than passive, like TV and DVDs.

What skills does it reinforce? Look for skills like eye-hand coordination, memorization, computation, dexterity, critical thinking and creativity.

Does it allow your child to practice the skill? When a program or activity says it teaches a skill, then it should provide practice with that skill and explain how the skill building is accomplished.

Does it provide feedback? Effective technology provides feedback on performance to help your child build their skills and confidence.

Is it age appropriate? Check the age and skill level to make sure they are a good match for your child's current developmental level.

Is it user-friendly? Your child should be able to understand and navigate the technology, so that it fosters engagement and enjoyment.

Does it include ads? Some free or "lite" versions of apps or programs include ads. Before your child uses the program, you can review the content first and vet the ads. You can also opt to forgo Apps that include ads.

"When used effectively, technology helps enable and empower our children's educational lives," says Fitzgerald. "The key lies in monitoring kids' electronic use. There's no substitute for parental involvement when it comes to encouraging our children to learn. Playing educational games with our kids is a great way to encourage their academic progress. Also, as parents we need to remember to model good behavior and limit our own screen time."

Source: www.sylvanlearning.com

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'Fall Back' To Sleep

October 30, 2013 3:27 am

When the clocks change on Sunday most of North America may want to cling to that extra hour of sleep. But the reality is that this time shift from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time may actually compromise sleep rhythms, according to researchers. With nearly one-third of Americans suffering from sleep disturbances and sales of over-the-counter sleep aids on the rise, Dr. Carol Ash, Director of Sleep Medicine for Meridian Health in New Jersey, believes the Fall time change is a wake-up call for America to rethink sleep and consider more natural ways to get a good night's rest.

"Getting proper sleep has never been more important. Inadequate sleep is considered a risk factor for obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases," said Ash. "Instead of shopping for solutions in the pharmaceutical aisle, consider switching up what you eat and drink."

Research has shown that tart cherry juice may help improve the quality and duration of sleep, reduce the severity of insomnia and increase overall sleep efficiency. In one study, adults who drank two daily glasses of tart cherry juice slept about 40 minutes longer on average and had up to six percent increase in sleep efficiency. Researchers also found that drinking tart cherry juice daily helped reduce the severity of insomnia and time spent awake after going to sleep.

Researchers attribute the sleep benefits to the melatonin and phytonutrient content of tart cherries, which are especially abundant in anthocyanins. Each serving of tart cherry juice concentrate used in the studies is estimated to contain the equivalent of 90 – 100 tart cherries.

Natural Ways To A Good Night's Sleep
Dr. Ash recommends making sleep a priority by creating a routine with these simple changes:

Go Red Before Bed: Change your bedtime ritual by adding tart cherries to your routine. Get started by drinking a glass of tart cherry juice in the evening before you go to bed for seven consecutive days.

Be Anti-Social: The screens from gadgets can emit blue light that suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin causing alertness, so forget about social media before bed. Keep the room quiet, dark, and cool, creating a calm sanctuary.

Hit the Gym: Decompress from stress with exercise. The National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America Poll 2013 found that exercise anytime is good for improving sleep patterns.

Set Your Internal Alarm: The timing of sleep is critical for a good night sleep and keeping the same wake-up time everyday helps to set your biological clock that controls rhythms for wake and sleep. When you must make a shift due to a schedule change or Daylight Saving Time, start early. If you plan ahead and adjust your time to bed and wake up time by 15 minutes a night, the transition will be much easier.

Source: The Cherry Marketing Institute

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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