How to Prepare Your House for Extreme Cold Weather

hvac-fb-shutterstock_160580267The time to prepare your home for extreme cold weather is before it arrives. Inadequate insulation and air leaks can cause cold drafts and increase your heating costs significantly. A few inexpensive DIY fixes around doors and windows will save money and heating fuel. And if a severe winter storm should precede extreme cold, your home if not your whole communities can be without power and communication services, sometimes for days at a time. In such cases, keeping the cold out and staying warm becomes a matter of survival, making your time and money spent preparing well worth it.

Wrap It Up

  • Make sure your outer walls and attic have proper insulation. Loose fill or batt insulation is usually used in attics. Loose fill insulation provides better coverage and is typically less expensive. In exterior walls, blown-in insulation installed with the dense pack technique provides significant air sealing and can be installed in an existing home without a lot of disruption to finished areas. Batt or blanket insulation is a less expensive option you can install yourself, but it won’t provide the air seal of dense-pack blown-in insulation.

Check for Leaks

  • Gaps around doors and windows can be a major source of heat loss during winter, accounting for up to one-third of your total heating cost. Check for leaks to identify problem areas. On a windy day, turn off all air conditioning or heating and close all windows and doors. Turn on bath fans and stove vents and light an incense stick. Pass the stick along the edges of doors and windows. Notice where the smoke is either sucked toward or blown away from the door or window. This indicates an air leak.

Fill in Gaps

  • Load a tube of caulk into a caulk gun and, holding the gun at a 45 degree angle, fill in gaps around doors and windows. Weatherstripping also helps stop air leaks and comes in a variety of forms, such as foam tape, V-strips, felt, tubular rubber and door sweeps — plastic or metal pieces fitted with strips of nylon, vinyl or sponge brush that fill the gap between the floor and the bottom of the door. The type you should use will depend on the window or door type you are treating. Weatherstripping can be self-adhesive or installed with nails or screws.

Additional Cold Barriers

  • Storm windows provide an additional barrier against cold drafts. If storm windows are cost-prohibitive, you can staple heavy plastic around the outside of the window frame, although this will likely limit your view out the window. Remove exterior garden hoses and install faucet covers on outside faucets. Wrap exposed water pipes and those in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or heating tape. During extreme cold weather, allow faucets to drip lukewarm water to avoid pipe freeze.

Other Areas

  • Use weather stripping around the cover of fold-down attic stairs to prevent cold drafts from entering through an unfinished attic. A fireplace surround with glass doors can reduce heat loss by as much as 90 percent. Caulk around pipe holes leading in and out of walls, and use foam insulation kits on electrical outlets and light switch plates to reduce drafts from entering living areas. Cover the screens on screened-in porches with heavy plastic. Clean gutters around roof lines to avoid moisture buildup on roofs. Trim any nearby branches that could snap under the weight of snow and ice or high winds and fall on your home.
The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “How to Prepare My House for Extreme Cold Weather.” For more information please visit www.ehow.com.

Tips for Winterizing Your Vehicle

winterize-vehicle-fb-shutterstock_18969127Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:

  • Antifreeze levels – ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
  • Battery and ignition system – should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
  • Brakes – check for wear and fluid levels.
  • Exhaust system – check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
  • Fuel and air filters – replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Heater and defroster – ensure they work properly.
  • Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for serviceability.
  • Oil – check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
  • Thermostat – ensure it works properly.
  • Windshield wiper equipment – repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
  • Install good winter tires – Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

Update the emergency kits in your vehicles with:

  • a shovel
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  • windshield scraper and small broom
  • flashlight
  • battery powered radio
  • extra batteries
  • water
  • snack food
  • matches
  • extra hats, socks and mittens
  • first aid kit with pocket knife
  • necessary medications
  • blanket(s)
  • tow chain or rope
  • road salt and sand
  • booster cables
  • emergency flares
  • fluorescent distress flag
The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “Winter Storms & Extreme Cold.” For more information please visit www.ready.gov.

6 Good Reasons to Start Your Holiday Marketing Plan Now

The holidays creep up on us fast, and it seems like each year the big retailers start their holiday sales sooner and sooner. Last year, for example, retail giants Walmart and Target both began their holiday deals well before Thanksgiving, with campaign planning no doubt starting several months prior.

Should your small business be doing the same and can you really benefit from jumping on the holiday marketing bandwagon sooner rather than later? Of course you can! Here’s why – and how:

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There’s a lot of ground to cover

According to a 2013 report by Accenture, 23 percent of shoppers start shopping in the early fall, and nearly three quarters will be finished by the end of November! That’s a lot of ground to cover. Start late and you’ll miss the boat. Start sooner and you’ll have a rolling strategy to stay top of mind as key holiday milestones come and go.

The early bird gets repeat customers

According to a 2013 survey by Constant Contact, participating in holiday season marketing is a rewarding venture for small businesses, with 52 percent of respondents reporting that new customers attained during the holidays become repeat, loyal customers.

Poor planning = poor performance

Constant Contact also reports that only 31 percent of small businesses surveyed start planning for the holidays between two and three months in advance. Now this doesn’t mean that these businesses won’t be ready, but it’s more than likely that the campaigns and events that they run will be pretty generic. Without planning, these campaigns won’t take into account what’s worked well in the past (and I don’t mean gut feelings, but real, hard metrics). They also won’t allow much time for originality, no matter how creative you think you are.

These campaigns will probably work to drum up some business, but will they be wildly successful? Will they make your business stand out so much that new customers become loyal customers, even when the holiday décor is taken down?

Last-minute budgeting isn’t easy

Reactive marketing can quickly erode your marketing budget – cutting back money allocated to other areas and, at worst, eating directly into your bottom line. If you start planning your holiday marketing ahead of time, you can spread the costs over several months so that cash flow isn’t impeded and you are ready to roll come the holiday season.

Get better pricing

Starting early may also pay off in terms of securing a better deal on design and printing costs as well as other vendor incentives to help keep your campaign costs lower. Coming off the long slow summer, these companies will be eager to entice companies to start spending sooner rather than later.

Take a weight off your shoulders

Planning now can make an already stressful time easier to manage knowing that your campaign is up and running and delivering you a health return on investment.

The above is an excerpt taken from the article, “6 Good Reasons to Start your Holiday Marketing Plan Now” For more information please visit www.sba.gov.

Driving Tips for Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers

electrician-handyman-dudes-with-van-fb-

Driving too fast for conditions is defined as traveling at a speed that is greater than a reasonable standard for safe driving. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 23 percent of large-truck crashes occurred when Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers were traveling too fast for conditions.

Adjust your speed to safely match weather conditions, road conditions, visibility, and traffic. Excessive driving speed is a major cause of fatal crashes,  and higher speeds may cause more severe crashes. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) recently reported that 25 percent of speeding-related large-truck fatalities occurred during adverse weather conditions.

Did You Know? You should reduce your speed by 1/3 on wet roads and by 1/2 or more on snow packed roads (i.e., if you would normally be traveling at a speed of 60 mph on dry pavement, then on a wet road you should reduce your speed to 40 mph, and on a snow-packed road you should reduce your speed to 30 mph). When you come upon slick, icy roads you should drive slowly and cautiously and pull off the road if you can no longer safely control the vehicle.

Did You Know? When it first starts to rain, water mixes with oil on the road making it particularly slippery.

Did You Know? Manufacturers generally advise drivers not to use a retarder [also called a “Jake” brake] on wet or slippery roadway conditions. In fact, a Safety Board Investigation of a motor coach crash that occurred in Canon City, Colorado, in December 1999, revealed that an enabled retarder most likely triggered the loss of control and eventual crash of the motor coach on a snow-covered and mountainous roadway.

An example of a driver traveling too fast for conditions is shown in the video clip below. Training exercise questions follow the video clip. 

VIDEO DESCRIPTION: The CMV driver is traveling on a multi-lane highway on wet pavement at night. Traffic is heavy and moving slowly. The driver is inattentive and traveling too fast for conditions. Traffic slows as the driver passes an emergency vehicle on the side of the road and the driver has to brake quickly to avoid hitting the lead vehicle.

TRAINING EXERCISE: After viewing the video, try to answer the following questions:

    • Did the driver adjust his vehicle’s speed considering the traffic, road, and weather conditions?
    • What caused the driver to brake excessively?
    • What could the driver have done differently?
The above is an excerpt from the article, “Too Fast for Conditions.” For more information, please visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov.

Workers’ Safety is Your Business: No Texting While Driving

distracted-driver-fb-shutterstock_152527637Workers’ Safety is Your Business

Texting while driving puts millions of Americans who drive on the job at risk every day.  That risk continues to grow as texting becomes more widespread.  As a business owner or manager, it’s your legal responsibility under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to safeguard drivers at work.

This holds true whether they drive full-time or only occasionally to carry out their work, and whether they drive a company vehicle or their own.  When your workers are behind the wheel doing your company’s work, their safety is your business.  That’s why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which enforces worker safety laws, has joined with the Transportation Department, other Labor Department agencies and key associations and organizations to enlist the help and cooperation of businesses – large and small – in a nationwide outreach, education, and enforcement effort to stop the dangerous practice of texting while driving.  OSHA is prepared to act quickly.  When OSHA receives a credible complaint that an employer requires texting while driving or organizes work so that texting is a practical necessity, we will investigate and will issue citations and penalties where necessary to end this practice.


The above is an excerpt from the article “Distracted Driving: No Texting”. For more information, please visit http://www.osha.gov/Publications/3416distracted-driving-flyer.pdf.

What Should You Do If You Have Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

 carbon-monoxide-fb-shutterstock_201765719 What can you do if you suspect someone has been poisoned?

automech_breakshutterstock_2518413When you suspect CO poisoning, promptly taking the following actions can save lives:

  • Move the victim immediately to fresh air in an open area.
  • Call 911 or another local emergency number for medical attention or assistance.
  • Administer 100-percent oxygen using a tight-fitting mask if the victim is breathing.
  • Administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation if the victim has stopped breathing.

Warning: You may be exposed to  fatal levels of CO poisoning in a rescue attempt. Rescuers should be skilled at performing recovery operations and using recovery equipment. Employers should make sure that rescuers are not exposed to dangerous CO levels when performing rescue operations.

Who is at risk?

coYou may be exposed to harmful levels of CO in boiler rooms, breweries, warehouses, petroleum refineries, pulp and paper production, and steel production; around docks, blast furnaces, or coke ovens; or in one of the following occupations:

Welder Diesel engine operator
Garage mechanic Forklift operator
Firefighter Marine terminal worker
Carbon-black maker Toll booth or tunnel attendant
Organic chemical synthesizer Customs inspector
Metal oxide reducer Police officer
Longshore worker Taxi driver.

The above is an excerpt from the article “Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.” For more info, please visit www.osha.gov.