(NewsUSA) - You know you're supposed to do it twice a year. But what homeowner relishes the thought of climbing a ladder to check the health of his roof -- as key to a home's energy efficiency as that roof might be -- when the weather is turning sharply colder outside?
Well, as it turns out, while even a quick, eyeball roof-check is recommended this time of year, there's a fallback option.
You could just check your attic instead.
"Roofs actually create an insulated barrier that helps trap heat inside, and most attic spaces are located right below them," explains Jason Joplin, program manager of the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence. "That makes them perfect for spotting potential problem areas and damage without worrying about falling."
Here's some tips on what to look for:
* Water leaks. As sure as cable companies will do anything to avoid a la carte pricing, it will soon storm. And when it does, shine a flashlight up in the attic in search of not just dripping water and condensation, but also water stains on the ceiling, walls and floor. All are signs that H2O is finding its way under your roof's shingles or behind its flashings.
* Animal damage. You don't want to know the havoc refuge-seeking birds, bats, squirrels and raccoons can cause. So anything suspicious -- nests, droppings and gnawed wood, wires or insulation -- merits an immediate call to a pest professional.
* Ventilation. "Think of the attic as the lungs of the house," says Joplin. "It has to be able to breathe in order to function properly." Meaning, if your vents are stuffed with debris, they need to be cleared.
* Structure. Any hint of a sagging roof -- look up for this one -- could signal potential structural weakness requiring professional repair.
But wait. You say you love the cold as much as you do the spring (the recommended time for a second annual roof check-up)? If so, you can still inspect for structural deformities without risking your neck on a treacherous ladder by using binoculars to zoom in on everything from loose shingles to broken gutters.
And if prolonging your roof's life is truly your goal, experts say it pays to consult a professional roofing contractor who's insured and uses quality materials like Timberline American Harvest shingles from GAF, North America's largest roofing manufacturer. A free service that makes it easy to find a factory-certified contractor in your area can be found at www.gaf.com.
(NewsUSA) - It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Maybe you were in an auto accident, and for whatever reason -- taxes spring to mind -- you agreed to forgo a large, lump-sum payout from the other driver's insurance company in favor of small periodic payments. Or maybe your child was born with a birth defect that Big Pharma was held legally liable for, and all you could think about was making sure the money to care for him would be flowing in for decades.
Whatever the case, you've decided that "structured settlement," as it's called, no longer works for you.
"Sometimes cashing in is the only option," says Bankrate.com. "That $500 monthly payment from an accident in 2002 may have helped with the medical bills early on, but if the beneficiary has now lost his job and is on the verge of losing a home, a lump-sum payout of $50,000 may seem quite enticing."
In fact, an estimated $6 billion in structured settlements are bought or sold in any given year. Not all players are alike, though, so you'll want to be sure you don't just automatically call the 1-800 number you saw in some come-on TV ad.
One new web-based entry in the field, SellMyAnnuity.net, stands out for the care it takes to make the process utterly transparent for potential sellers. It's not just that it provides hundreds of examples of past sales -- including six-figure ones -- to give you an idea of what to expect before requesting to be contacted by an agent. No, it actually features PDFs of signed court documents.
Did you get that? PDFs. Of. Signed. Court. Documents.
"We're committed to providing more information about structured settlement annuity sales than any other company in the industry," says Todd Albert, SellMyAnnuity's chief technology officer. "And we'll help people determine whether they should sell, how many payments they want to sell, and of course make sure they get as much money as possible as fast as possible."
The website also explains how various federal and state laws exist to protect you from doing anything foolish. Chief among them: Even after you've accepted an offer, a court judge who's heard your reasons for trading future payments for an immediate lump sum must confirm the sale is in your "best interest."
"You can't turn a structured settlement into cash just because you'd like a new car," says Albert. "But things like buying or repairing a home, starting a business, funding a college education and paying off debt can be acceptable."
(NewsUSA) - As the cold winter months quickly approach, people won't be the only ones huddling inside for warmth. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) encourages homeowners to take steps to prevent pests like cockroaches, rodents and nuisance wildlife from making your home their winter getaway.
Winter invaders such as cockroaches, mice and rats present considerable health threats to family members. Cockroaches carry bacteria and other kinds of human pathogens, contaminating food surfaces and potentially triggering asthma attacks in children, and with 24 percent of homeowners reporting mice infestations specifically in the winter, they are among the top pest issues of the season. Most rodents only need a space the size of a quarter to enter a home, and once inside, they can cause considerable damage and pose serious health risks to people and structural damage to homes, as they are known for chewing through electrical wires and wallboard.
Nuisance wildlife such as raccoons and squirrels can also be an issue in the colder months and may present a unique set of dangers due to their size and aggressive nature if they are frightened or feel threatened when trapped in an unfamiliar environment. Lastly, homeowners should check wood piles for ants and spiders that can often be hiding within.
Prevention is the best way to avoid an infestation during the winter months. NPMA offers these 10 important measures for homeowners as the temperatures begin to drop:
* Seal cracks and holes, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home.
* Screen vents and openings to chimneys.
* Keep attics, basements and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
* Replace loose mortar and weather-stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
* Keep tree branches, shrubbery and ground covering well trimmed and away from the house.
* Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and five inches off the ground.
* Store boxes off of the floor to prevent rodents from residing in undisturbed areas.
* Repair fascia, soffits and rotted roof shingles, as some insects are drawn to deteriorating wood.
* Store garbage in containers with lids.
To find a pest professional or learn more about how to protect your family from the diseases and dangers of pests, visit www.pestworld.org.
(NewsUSA) - Al celebrar el Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana, temas inspiradores tales como el liderazgo, el empoderamiento y el sentido comunitario tomarán un lugar central.
Durante las próximas semanas, los casi 54 millones de estadounidenses y latinoamericanos hispanos que viven actualmente en los EE.UU. celebrarán su patrimonio cultural con amigos, familiares y sus comunidades. Lo que experimentarán es una sensación general de orgullo como ninguna otra.
Desde el 15 de septiembre hasta el 15 de octubre, los EE.UU. rendirán homenaje a las contribuciones, historias y tradiciones de estadounidenses cuyos ancestros vinieron de México, España y países de habla hispana en el Caribe, América Central y América del Sur.
Las fechas son importantes porque representan la independencia de cinco países latinoamericanos: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua y Costa Rica. Además, México también declaró su independencia el 16 de septiembre y Chile el 18 de septiembre.
En reconocimiento de este mes histórico, JCPenney se asociará con Gonzo Soccer y su fundadora, Mónica González. González, ex jugadora profesional de fútbol y ahora analista de fútbol y locutora de ESPN, creó Gonzo Soccer una academia de liderazgo que ofrece a niñas entre los 8 a 16 años de sectores más vulnerables, entrenamiento de fútbol y valiosas habilidades de liderazgo y preparación para la vida con el fin de fomentar su crecimiento y darles la posibilidad de desarrollar todo su potencial como atletas y estudiantes.
Con esta asociación, JCPenney cree que puede honrar no sólo lo que estas niñas pueden lograr en el campo de futbol, sino también su compromiso para tener éxito como mujeres, atletas, y como miembros orgullosos de la vibrante comunidad hispana. Para empezar, JCPenney ofrecerá una clínica de fútbol gratuita en Houston el 30 de septiembre donde González enseñará ejercicios, trucos y consejos de fútbol para jóvenes de la zona. JCPenney equipará a las niñas con su línea de ropa deportiva Xersion y les ofrecerá las últimas tendencias en peinados deportivos por estilistas del salón JCP. Los amigos y familiares están invitados a asistir y animar a las jóvenes mientras disfrutan de la música, la comida y la diversión.
"Mónica y sus chicas demuestran fuerza, poder y perseverancia a través de su dedicación al deporte y queremos celebrarlo con ellas mientras aceptamos su herencia hispana", dice Lyris Leos, director de marketing multicultural de JCPenney.
Para más información, visite www.facebook.com/JCPenneyLatino.
(NewsUSA) - The effective use of the VehSmart GPS device likely saved a trio of fishermen from Ecuador after their boat was attacked by robbers. The fishermen were sailing their small boat, Luis Miguel, southwest of the Santa Elena peninsula, when they were overtaken by robbers who stole their personal belongings and the boat's motor before locking them in a storage compartment, according to the Ecuadorean Navy (DIRNEA).
The fishermen were able to break out of the compartment and deploy the "panic button" on the VehSmart GPS device installed on the boat. This feature links directly to Ecuador's National Emergency Response System, and a Coast Guard team was able to locate and rescue the fishermen within three hours.
The VehSmart system is built around a small, portable device that, among other features, pinpoints the user's location and allows anyone on the vessel to activate a distress call in case of emergency. The Luis Miguel was equipped with the GPS locator technology as part of a pilot program to install GPS systems in 4,000 small artisanal fishing vessels.
The program is sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries (MAGAP) of Ecuador and is designed to provide fishermen with greater security and peace of mind against threats of piracy and the often dangerous marine environment. In addition, the VehSmart technology allows authorities to monitor the fleet's movements to help prevent overfishing in certain areas and to protect zones that are off-limits for fishing.
The GPS technology used in the Ecuadorean fishing fleet combines VehSmart's telematics and the SmartOne satellite transmitter from Globalstar, Inc.
"The installation only requires less than 15 minutes, which is a small investment to ensure someone's safety," said Brad Merritt, president of VehSmart.
"Only vessels registered under the program receive this protection, and MAGAP is encouraging the artisanal fishing community to take the time to have the units installed as quickly as possible," according to a statement from VehSmart. Without the GPS technology, the fishermen could have drifted for days or been lost at sea.
Visit www.vehsmart.com for more information about the range of GPS products and services available from VehSmart.
(NewsUSA) - Attitudes and opinions can vary greatly when it comes to public breastfeeding. Yet, when it comes to the opinion that matters most -- the mother's -- a recent survey suggests that "breast is best."
Highlighting breastfeeding attitudes and behaviors of moms and expecting moms around the U.S., the 2014 Lansinoh Global Breastfeeding Survey found that more than half of women surveyed say that breastfeeding in public is perfectly natural (57 percent).
Other key findings included:
* Ninety-three percent of moms believe that "breast is best" when it comes to feeding babies. That number increases to 98 percent for moms who are pregnant with their first baby.
* "Mommy Guilt" is real. In fact, 64 percent of moms say they would feel guilty if they did not breastfeed.
* The majority of moms (86 percent) who choose to breastfeed do so because of the health benefits for baby. Forming a close bond with baby (5 percent) and to save money by not buying formula (5 percent) were distant second-place reasons.
"These data show that moms today have the best interest of their baby's health in mind when forming their breastfeeding goals and opinions," said Gina Cicatelli Ciagne, CLC and Vice President of Healthcare & Media Relations, Lansinoh Laboratories. "Yet, ultimately, there are many other factors moms navigate when making their decision."
One such factor is whether to use breast pumps. According to the survey, more than three-fourths of moms have used -- or plan to use -- breast pumps. That number is highest with expecting moms, with 82 percent saying they plan to use pumps, and the remaining 18 percent unsure whether they will or not.
It's important to note that the survey was very careful in choosing its participants.
"We wanted to talk to moms who are currently breastfeeding, as well as those who recently stopped, because understanding how they feel is the best way to support today's breastfeeding moms, whether it's through new breastfeeding products or with workplace policies and government support," said Ciagne.
To read the full survey, visit www.lansinoh.com/globalsurvey.
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(NewsUSA) - Is the holistic approach the way to go when it comes to your own and your children's health?
That's certainly the advice of a variety of experts who say that a more big-picture view of "fit living" -- meaning, beyond the usual warnings to, say, exercise more -- can actually help improve your overall quality of life.
Among the latest to weigh in: WebMD and Sanford Health, which recently unveiled their "Raising Fit Kids" informational guide that's replete with ideas on how "families can work together" to make positive behavioral changes in all aspects of their lives. "Being fit is about being healthy," says Dr. Chris Tiongson, a pediatrician with Sanford Health whose focus is childhood obesity. "It's a balance between mind, body and spirit, and having everything be in sync."
That same "balance," in fact, has long been advocated by doctors of chiropractic -- the nation's third largest primary health care profession -- who, along with providing non-invasive relief from things like back and neck pain, are trained in a wide range of conservative treatment and preventive services centered around lifestyle and nutrition.
"A holistic approach to fit living presents a great opportunity to improve overall health and well-being for a lifetime," says Gerard Clum, DC, of the not-for-profit Foundation for Chiropractic Progress.
High on every chiropractor's tip list:
* Take steps to manage stress.
* Make time for daily physical activity.
* Emphasize whole grains, fruits and vegetables in your diet.
* Maintain a healthy weight.
Need more convincing? Adopting a holistic strategy that includes chiropractic care, says Dr. Clum, "can help to successfully address consequential conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, which are commonly associated with obesity and poor health."
To locate a doctor of chiropractic, visit www.F4CP.org/findadoctor.
(NewsUSA) - A growing list of leading wineries, including St. Francis, Bogle and Fetzer, are speaking up about the benefits of using natural cork. They recognize that not only does natural cork allow wines to age perfectly, but using natural cork also provides a potential competitive advantage when it comes to marketing their wine brands.
According to Wines & Spirits "25th Annual Survey of Top 50 Restaurant Wine Brands," wines finished primarily with cork accounted for 90 percent of the brands selected in these top restaurants. This represents a 21 percent increase from a decade ago, compared to a 39 percent decline in wines with screw caps and a 70 percent drop for those with synthetic closures.
"These survey figures are consistent with the Aug. 16, 2014, Nielsen scan of the Top 100 Premium Brands, which showed that since the start of 2010, there has been a steady increase in cork's market share -- with a 30 percent positive slope for cork-finished wines compared to a 9 percent slope for wines with alternative closures," commented Peter Weber, Executive Director of the Cork Quality Council (CQC).
Christopher Silva, President and CEO of St. Francis, said, "We believe that natural cork is an integral part of the romance of the wine experience. There is nothing that can duplicate the iconic 'pop' when a cork is pulled from the bottle."
Silva said that his winery discontinued using cork two decades ago, due to inconsistent cork quality. But he and his team kept testing corks on a few cases of wine each year in the hope of returning to cork. They saw a steady improvement, and by 2012 they were convinced it was time to return to cork.
He added that using natural cork is consistent with St. Francis' commitment to sustainability. "We are a certified sustainable Sonoma County business that is powered by solar energy, uses eco-friendly packaging, and is active in water conservation and recycling."
Weber continued, "In addition to cork's robust sustainability credentials, wineries are also benefitting from the hundreds of million dollars that Portuguese cork manufacturers have invested in new technologies and improved quality-control measures."
In 2013, the CQC members conducted over 30,000 analyses. Their combined screening records show a steady reduction in measurable 2,4,6-Trichloroanisle (TCA) levels that are now 95 percent lower than the results seen when records were first tabulated in 2001.
"Using natural cork is an integral part of our message, heritage and culture," Silva added.
(NewsUSA) - Have you ever wondered how all of those colorful auto dealership promotion pamphlets arrive in the mail at the exact moment you are contemplating a new car purchase? Oddly enough, they are perfectly timed to coincide with your vehicle-buying needs -- and there's a reason behind it.
Consider this: In 2012, studies showed that more than 90 percent of consumers began their car search online. This insight, according to Ken Schwartz, founder of InMarketSolution (IMS), a Chicago-based marketing company geared specifically to the auto industry and its potential buyers, provides dealerships with a treasure trove of demographic information.
"Consumer data is abundant and valuable, yet many dealers fail to fully exploit its potential," says Schwartz. "In this way, we use best-of-breed data to identify consumers currently in the market to buy a car."
The way it works is that IMS uses proprietary data from its InMarket Buyers List to identify when a consumer is in the market to buy or lease a car. IMS then compares that list to the Dealer Database Management System, removing all matches to ensure the IMS driven sales are new customers. Using multiple technologies, IMS tracks and interacts with the InMarket Buyers multiple times by using a combination of highly targeted direct mail and digital advertising that will potentially drive exclusive leads to a targeted dealership.
The difference between IMS and other direct-mail marketing companies is its business model. In a nutshell, if a dealership doesn't get new customers through IMS's efforts, the dealership doesn't pay a dime.
"I am so confident that our program works, that I am willing to put my money where my mouth is," says Schwartz. "Simply put, if a dealership doesn't sell cars to new customers, we don't get paid."
Schwartz's confidence comes from his past experience working with big data. Before founding IMS, Schwartz was the CEO of CityTwist, an email advertising company focused specifically on automotive marketing. During his tenure there, CityTwist became an Inc. 500/5000 fastest growing company in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. In addition, the company has been recognized as a fastest-growing company in South Florida by the South Florida Business Journal for the last two years.
For more information, visit www.inmarketsolution.com.
(NewsUSA) - Grandparents love spending time with their grandchildren. Grandbabies bring so much joy. However, it's not unusual for the curious, tiny fingers of youngsters to end up in places they shouldn't. Putting precious or breakable objects out of reach is important, and so is keeping medicines and vitamins up and away and out of sight of young children.
More than 70,000 children end up in emergency departments each year after getting their hands on medicines left within reach. That's 165 kids -- or roughly four busloads of kids -- per day. Far too often, that medicine belonged to a grandparent.
Where are young children getting their hands on medicines? From countertops and bedside tables, purses and pockets, and loose pills on tables or floors. Weekly pill minders can help you keep track of multiple medications, but they rarely have child-resistant features so a curious child can't get into the colorful medicines stored inside.
"Grandparents and parents may not be aware of the danger posed by leaving medications where young children can reach or see them," says Dr. Dan Budnitz, director of the Medication Safety Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "A few simple steps -- followed every time -- can protect our children."
So, grandparents, enjoy your precious time with your young grandchildren. But whether hosting them in your house or visiting at theirs, remember to store your medicines in a place they cannot access. Here are some tips from CDC's "Up and Away and Out of Sight" initiative:
* Keep all medicines and vitamins up and away and out of sight in a high cabinet or other place inaccessible to your grandchildren. If you think you may forget to take your medicines if they are not in sight, leave yourself a reminder on the refrigerator or somewhere you check daily.
* Never leave medicine or vitamins out on a counter or bedside table, even if you have to take the medicine again in a few hours.
* Always relock the safety cap on a medicine bottle. If it has a locking cap that turns, twist it until you hear the click.
* Never tell children medicine is candy so they'll take it, even if your grandchild does not like to take his or her medicine.
* Keep purses, bags or coats that have medicines or vitamins in them out of reach and sight of young children.
* Program the Poison Help number (1-800-222-1222) into your phone so you have it in case of emergency.
Visit UpandAway.org for more tips on safe medicine storage.