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National Fire Prevention Month

by Tucker Robbins

It’s the time of year to check not only your battery-operated smoke alarm, but anything you have in your home that could start a fire if not properly used and maintained.  This is also the time to talk with your family about your emergency plan in case of a fire.  These tips will get you started: 

 

  • - Every kitchen should have an easily-accessed fire extinguisher.  If you don’t have one, purchase one, and if your old one hasn’t been serviced recently, call an official inspector to make sure yours is in good working order. 

  • - Smoke alarms are a must!  Older smoke detectors can be sensitive and go off while someone is cooking, and we inadvertently disconnect the battery to stop that, and forget to reconnect them.  - More recently-produced types have a sensitivity button that can reduce that problem for a set period of time and return to normal after the time is up. 

  • - Homes with more than one story should have an escape ladder close to an easily-accessed window on the upper floor.  Safewise.com has a list of their best-rated ladders, and offers tips for choosing the right ladder for your home. 

  • - Don’t overload electrical outlets, and use extension cords only on a temporary basis.  If you need more outlets, call an electrician to install them.  The cost of this greatly outweighs the cost of a fire. 

  • - A visit from an electrician is also warranted if you have outlets that spark when you use them, lights that flicker, or a circuit breaker that trips regularly. 

  • - Clean your dryer’s lint screen after each load, and keep the vent and back of the dryer clean from lint build-up. 

  • - Have chimneys and furnaces checked out before you use them to make sure they’re clean and in good working order.  If you use a wood fireplace, make sure the screen protector has no holes, and use only a flame-retardant rug in front of the hearth. 

  • - While cooking, don’t leave the kitchen, and even though your children may like to help, have their station set up far from any hot items. Keep towels and paper products away from anything hot, and don’t leave cooking oil unattended. 

  • - Although it isn’t very common, lightning can cause a house fire.  Lightning rods may seem like an outdated tool, but they are not only helpful for redirecting lightning and prohibiting a fire, they can save your electronics from lightning damage.  Lovetoknow.com describes several different types of home lightning protection styles, and how they all work. 

 

Most importantly, you need a family fire plan, and everyone should be familiar with this plan.  For tips and a guideline to setting up your own fire escape plan, consult this page from the National Fire Protection Association, where you can find free printable tools to make your planning process go smoothly.  No amount of time taken to put a plan into place and practice is too much when it comes to protecting your home and family from a fire.
 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

Photo credit: servproclifton.com

Carve, Drill or Sculpt a Pumpkin!

by Tucker Robbins

Gone are the days of using Mom’s best kitchen knife to carve a simple jack o’ lantern with triangle-shaped eyes and a toothy grin.  Pumpkin carving is an art for many, but even those who aren’t so talented in that department can create original and fun lanterns to light our front steps for Halloween! 
 

  • - Cleaning out the pumpkin is messy, and best done on a paper-covered table or done outside.  Once the inside is clean of seeds and pulp, use a spray bleach cleaner such as Clorox Clean Up to spray the inside of the pumpkin to help stop it from molding quickly. 

  • - Pumpkin carving kits can be bought for just a few dollars, and they usually contain a utility saw, hand “drill,” and scraper.  Some kits offer templates to choose from. 

  • - The amount of free printable templates are almost overwhelming, and you’ll probably end up with more than one jack o’ lantern if you go through this list of available templates from The Spruce Crafts! 

  • - Find a template that compliments your skills, or find an easy one that children can help with, and print.  Tape it to your cleaned-out pumpkin, and use a pointy object to trace around the line drawing, poking through the paper and into the pumpkin. Cut the pattern using a small saw, and spray the newly cut areas with the bleach cleaner, and your piece of art should last for several days! 

  • - Metal cookie cutters can also be used for a different look for your pumpkins:  using a mallet, gently tap the cookie cutter through the carved pumpkin shell.  Go around the pumpkin using this method, or place the cutter in random places for a less-structured look. 

  • - A power drill can make creating a pumpkin lantern a breeze!  Use different bit sizes to make your pumpkin sparkle, like these from onelittleproject.com. 

  • - For the more advanced pumpkin artist, grab a linoleum cutter at your local home center, and follow these directions from FromChinaVillage.com for a different approach to “carving.” 

  • - Battery-operated tea lights are perfect for lighting your jack o’ lantern, and last for several hours, as well as being safer than a traditional candle.  Once you purchase an inexpensive pack, replace the batteries when the old ones die, as the LED bulbs inside last much longer than any wax tealight candle. 

  • - For more festive and different approaches to decorating your porch with other members of the squash and vegetable family, check out these ideas from The Garden Glove. 

 

Keep the pumpkin-carving safe:  supervise younger children, and even help them when they want to use tools to cut the pumpkin’s new face.  Most children love cleaning out the “guts” of the pumpkin, so have them pick out some seeds for cleaning and roasting later for a healthy treat.  Most of all, have fun, and make memories!

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins

Photo credit: thesprucecrafts.com 

Getting Ready for Houseguest Season

by Tucker Robbins

It may be just the beginning of Autumn, but many are already thinking ahead to the holidays and having guests over.  If it’s been a while since you’ve been in the guest room except to create a pile of things that should be stored somewhere else, it’s time to get in there and make it ready for anyone who may be coming to visit.  
 

The Guest Room 

  • - Tackle the cleaning of the guest room first.  Anything that you’ve stashed on the bed, closet or dresser that should be stored elsewhere, get that done.  Use under-bed storage containers to get some things out of the way, or store on the closet shelf. 

  • -Go through the closet and remove things that haven’t been worn in a year or more and donate those.  Guests will appreciate some empty hangers in the closet to keep their clothes from staying folded in a suitcase. 

  • - On the same token, open the top two dresser drawers, and purge anything inside that isn’t being used, and empty at least one drawer.  Use a sachet of cedar chips for a nice fresh-smelling place for your guests to keep their belongings. 

  • - Clean the room as if you were Spring-cleaning:  wash all the bedding, vacuum the whole room, including under the bed, and dust all wood surfaces well.   

  • - Have extra pillows and blanket on the bed, especially if the room is on the cooler side of the house.  Once you have the big things done, getting the room ready just before they arrive will go more quickly. 

 

No Guest Room? 

  • - If you don’t have the extra bedroom, consider investing in a futon, sofa bed or even a twin chairbed for your living area.  Even a good quality air mattress can be made into a comfortable overnight sleeping spot, and can be put wherever you want, and is easier to use for some privacy for your guests. 

  • - Your couch is a bit “lumpy,” or you simply want to make it comfier in case of needing it for extra beds, and a feather bed is perfect for this.  Featherbeds are easily stored, and will certainly offer some comfort when placed on top of the sofa cushions. 

  • - You will need a small table or other flat surface for guests to keep their luggage--anything that will make them feel like they have space of their own.   

  • - If your guest space will be in a living area, give them a feeling of privacy with a screen to block off the sleeping area.  Deciding to use a screen can give you an excuse to make one, and apartmenttherapy.com has a great tutorial for a screen made from hollow-core doors. 

 

Extras 

  • - Start stocking up now on trial- and travel-size toiletries, and purchase a couple of new towels to keep tucked away for guests. 

  • - Make sure the lighting in the bedroom is good, and all the lightbulbs are working. 

  • - Have a new house key made and hang it on a special keyring and use solely for guests. 

 

Getting the big things done now won’t have you scrambling during the busy holiday season to get ready for any overnight visits.  Most of the time, the whole point of having friends and family spend a few days in your home is to enjoy them!  Preparing now will mean less stress and plenty of enjoyment later!

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: hofmeisterrealty.com

Finding and Fixing Possible Dangers at Home

by Tucker Robbins

Your home should be your haven.  Sometimes, though, things can happen, and it may not be quite as safe as you’d like.  Let’s look at some possible dangers in your home and find out how to fix them. 

 

  • - Unfortunately, fire is a very real danger.  Every day things like burning candles, cooking, and using appliances can cause fires.  One of the main appliances that starts fires is the dryer.  Keep your lint screen collector clean, even washing it in warm water and mild detergent every month, and use a lint collecting brush to clean down into the lint trap vent.  Once a year, unplug the dryer, remove the back and carefully vacuum any lint that has settled in the back around the motor and wiring. Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are imperative to have. 

  • - Check and maintain areas of your home that are possible fall risks.  Make certain handrails are secure, steps are free of debris, and that brick or concrete steps aren’t crumbling, and wooden steps are sturdy and free of rot.  Secure area rugs with non-skid tape and keep bathroom floors dry by using easily washed bath mats outside the tub when bathing. 

  • - Older homes can have lead paint under layers of newer paint.  If you plan on removing paint from woodwork, and your home was built before 1978, purchase a lead-testing kit at your local home center or hardware store. In the case of a positive test, find a specialist that will remove the lead paint safely.  Find more information at epa.gov/lead or call 800-424-LEAD. 

  • - Speaking of older homes, have an inspector look at the plumbing for lead or polybutylene (PB) pipes.  Lead is obviously not safe to use for drinking water, and polybutylene pipes can rupture. 

  • - While not all molds are extremely dangerous, many people suffer from allergies to molds.  Most feared is black mold, though there are different types of black mold.  As soon as you see mold anywhere, clean it up using non-ammonia cleaner and water, or bleach on hard surfaces like your bathroom.  If the mold continues to grow, it would be best to call a pro who can look for the cause and make repairs. 

  • - Asbestos is only a dangerous substance if it’s disturbed.  If you notice deterioration in an area that you know is made of asbestos, or you’re getting ready to remodel, seek a local professional that can safely remove the offending material. 

 

This isn’t a financial subject, but it’s best to have an emergency savings for things like this that can come up, and you won’t have to worry so much about paying for the repairs when it comes to that.  Correcting problems as soon as you find them is best for you and your family’s health and well-being.  Home safe home is a home sweet home.

 

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

 

Photo credit: mentalfloss.com

Neighborly Advice in New Castle County DE

by Tucker Robbins

In days gone by, when someone moved into the neighborhood, casseroles, cookies, local information and cookout invites were offered by residents up and down the street.  With so many differences in today’s society, some people never even see their neighbors, let alone know their names.  Even if we don’t have “good” neighbors, let’s see how we can be one: 

 

Generally Speaking 

  • - First and foremost, keep your lawn and home maintained.  Don’t spend your first Saturday morning in the neighborhood mowing grass or hammering away at a project at dawn, but keeping your yard neat and your home looking good will let the other residents know you care about your home and community. 

  • - Noise plays a factor, especially if homes in the neighborhood are close together.  Keep music, children and animals quiet after 10 PM, and if you’re having a backyard gathering, take it inside if guests are still with you late into the evening. 

  • - Pets are a part of our families, but not everyone loves your frisky pup like you do. Keep dogs and cats off your neighbors’ property, and install fencing in the backyard if it’s not already there.  Clean up after your pet on walks. 

  • - Find out when trash pick-up is and take your cans to the curb on time.  No one wants to see (or smell!) overflowing cans or bags of garbage piled along the curbside.
     

Getting to Know You 

  • - Once you’ve gotten partially settled, if you see someone outside, introduce yourself.  Even if the neighbor doesn’t seem to want to be best friends, you can at least share what you do for a living, your name and phone number, so they’ll know your general schedule and how to get in touch with you if necessary. 

  • - Weather permitting, host a front porch gathering, and invite your neighborhood.  Offer light refreshments for the meet-and-greet, and have it in the afternoon before dinner time so no one feels pressured to stay.   

  • - Create a social media neighborhood group or join an existing one.  It’s a good way to see what’s going on, as well as getting to know those who don’t live in your immediate vicinity.   

  • - Communication is key when it comes to your neighborhood.  Let your closest neighbors know when you’ll be away, having a tree removed, planning on new construction, when you’re having a party, (invite them, whether they show up or not!), garage sale, or any other activity that can affect them and their surroundings. 

 

When you’re on a friendly basis with everyone on your street, it sure makes living there a lot easier.  Keep in mind the golden rule to treat others the way you’d like to be treated, and others will see that you’re respectful and friendly.  You’ll be helping not only keeping your community a great place to live, but living peacefully amongst your neighbors.

Courtesy of New Castle County DE Realtors Tucker Robbins and Carol Arnott Robbins.   

Photo credit: cbjenihomes.com

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Photo of Tucker Robbins Real Estate
Tucker Robbins
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
3838 Kennett Pike
Wilmington DE 19807
(302) 777-7744 (direct)