Monthly Archives: December 2014

  • Safety & Sanitation: Tailgating Tips

    Tailgates typically occur in the parking lots at stadiums and arenas before sporting events.  The first important tailgating safety tip is to assign a designated driver to get everyone back home after the event. While these gatherings are usually festive, there are things that can go wrong, from grill fires to freezing weather conditions. Below are five safety tips to keep in mind when attending or hosting your next tailgate party: Tailgating

    • Use the gas grill properly. Loose gas hoses and incorrect lighting can cause problems that put you and neighboring tailgaters in danger. To avoid an explosion, don’t light a gas grill with the top closed.
    • Have a fire extinguisher and first aid kit in your vehicle. High winds, a hot grill, and flying items can lead to sudden fires or accidents. Check the date of expiration on the fire extinguisher before leaving home and keep the extinguisher nearby while grilling. If there are children or pets at the tailgate, keep them away from the grill at all times.
    • Stay warm. Football teams play in freezing temperatures, but that doesn’t mean tailgaters have to experience the same discomfort. If the forecast shows extreme weather conditions during tailgate hours, purchase the easy-to-carry Big Buddy Propane Heater that can heat up to 400 square feet. Available at, the heater connects directly to two 1-pound disposable cylinders or a sturdy 20-pound cylinder. This indoor/outdoor heater will keep everyone comfortable and cheerful.
    • Familiarize yourself with proper food temperatures and keep items appropriately warm or cold. For example, steak, potato salad, and chicken wings are all standard tailgate foods but they each require different food temperatures. To prevent bacteria from growing, store cold foods in a cooler with plenty of ice and keep hot foods insulated.
    • Monitor the coals. Often times, grillers assume that allowing coals to cool down naturally with the air and wind is best, but doing so can lead to fires. Try to grill early on and completely put out the embers. Look for specially designated bins in the parking lot to dispose of hot coals.
  • Handyman Help: Prepare your Deck for Winter

    Preparing your deck for winter is important, to preserve the quality of the space. Investing a small amount of time before the weather worsens can make a big difference in the look of the deck come next spring. Snowy Deck

    First, sweep away leaves, debris, and dirt from the surface. Doing so will increase airflow between the boards and reduce the likelihood of mold, mildew, or fungus forming. If you notice mildew while sweeping, use a commercial mildew remover to get rid of the grime. Mildew left untreated during winter can cause additional damage in the future.

    Remove pots and planters from the deck, even if they are just decorative. The moisture collected underneath pots and planters can leave stains on the deck. If you do not have a place indoors to store the plants, raise them off the deck to help prevent staining. When it comes to deck furniture, store items indoors until they need to be used for an outdoor event. This rule also goes for items such as the gunmetal ember patio heater, which can radiate heat over a wide 15’ area. If you entertain often on the deck during winter, you may opt to use a weather resistant cover to protect a gunmetal ember patio heater from rain and snow.

    Once the deck has been swept and cleared, wash it with mild soap and water. If dirt remains, consider getting it pressure washed, to remove the smallest particles.

    When it comes to shoveling snow off the deck, run the shovel lengthwise across the boards to minimize scratches and cuts on the wood or tiles. You can also opt for a plastic shovel, but avoid using salt and other ice-melting substances on the deck, as those substances can damage or discolor the finish.

    An alternative option to shoveling snow is to put a cover on the deck to protect it from rain and other debris. This may be a bit risky however because if the sealing of the covering allows for condensation or water infiltration, the deck will be exposed to sitting water for a long period of time.

  • Safety and Sanitation: How to Prepare your Restaurant for Winter

    Restaurant owners face many challenges during the winter. Depending on region, sales can slow down to just a fraction of summer and fall business. Cold weather typically brings higher energy costs, power outages, and less accessibility for customers. If your city gets plenty of snow, you may have to put salting and shoveling before pursuing marketing initiatives. Preparing for a bad winter in advance may allow you to avoid some serious hassles if a big storm hits: Restaurant

    • Check your insurance policy to see what is covered in the event of a major winter storm. If there are important items that are not covered, speak to your insurance about options that may be available.
    • Determine who is responsible for keeping your heating equipment in proper working order. Is it you or your landlord? If it is you, put a plan in place by purchasing mobile heaters such as this 3.3 kW DeWALT electric heater. Have a unit or two of this heater ready to go in the kitchen, as well as in the dining room, to comfort the customers.
    • Have a plan in place so that a furnace or boiler malfunction does not completely shut down your business. One 1.65 kW DeWALT electric heater should do the job, though you may want to have an additional heater on hand as backup.
    • Keep important emergency contact information accessible in the restaurant and off-site, so you can easily get in touch with whomever you might need. Such information can include the name and numbers of your heating contractor, plumber, fire department, insurance agent, landlord, and building owner. If you are not at the restaurant, make sure a manager or staff member has access to the information.
    • Create an employee communication plan to alert staff about closures and re-openings. This can be as simple as a group text message.
    • Keep efficient snow removal equipment (shovels, snow blowers, salt, sand) onsite or set up an agreement with a local snow removal company to keep your property free from snow and ice.
    • If you would like to keep outdoor seating during the winter season, invest in a bronze ember patio heater that can operate up to 12 hours on a 20-pound propane tank. The patio heater can heat a 15’ area and keep guests comfortable on those mild winter days.
    • Seal your restaurant with caulking and install weather-strip doors to avoid drafts.
  • Weekend Warrior: Prepare the Garage for Winter

    The garage doesn’t receive much appreciation, but it takes care of many needs. The garage stores cars, tools, gardening items, and outdoor supplies. During the winter, individuals can also move outdoor toys and furniture into the space. Winter supplies, such as shovels, salt, and snow blowers, can be moved into the garage as well. Prepping the garage for winter is important. You want things to be in tip-top shape all winter long. Garage

    First, take the time necessary to clean out the garage. Pack away summer tools and bring winter items forward. You want appropriate tools to be handy at a moment’s notice. Get rid of anything that is broken or no longer needed such as duplicate tools, old car parts, and rusty cans of paint. Find storage for whatever is left over, either by adding shelves to the space, or purchasing storage containers. Keep items off the floor and out of the way as much as possible.

    Drain out the oil and gasoline on all summer equipment, especially the lawnmower. Get the snow blower in proper working order. When temperatures dip below the freezing mark, use a Mr. Heater Buddy Heater to keep you warm while organizing the garage. Heating up to 200 square feet, the heater does not require electricity. With this heater, you can always be comfortable. You might consider purchasing one or two Mr. Heater Buddy heaters from for use in the house, in case power outages occur during the winter.

    Next, put some effort into protecting the garage floor. Driving through snow and slush, your vehicle will likely deposit sand and salt chemicals on the floor. These substances can crack the concrete or lead to pockmarks. Make sure to apply a protective coating to the floor.

    Replace batteries in garage door openers and examine the garage door to make sure it is operating properly. Use weather stripping and caulk to swap out old and worn stripping. Seal around the door and any windows with caulking, to prevent cold air from getting into the garage space.

    Finally, it is important to upkeep maintenance throughout the winter. Invest a few hours every month to put items back in place.

  • Arts & Crafts: DIY Winter Crafts for Entertaining

    Hosting a party or event on your property during the winter can be a great time. Snowflakes, sparkle decorations, and bold red items are all iconic of the winter season. Depending on the type of party you are hosting, crafts can range from simple to extremely elegant. A boisterous outdoor winter wedding can call for a flurry of colors and decorations, while minimal colors and crafts may be more suitable for an upscale dinner party. Below are three craft ideas to consider for your next winter function. Feel free and get the kids involved with some of these decorations: Winter Crafts

    Crystal branches (or plants) can serve as outdoor wedding centerpieces or even line the aisle leading to the altar. Use potted plants or branches that are free of leaves, and trim them down for a neat look. You’ll need adhesive that will dry clearly – Mod Podge is a good option. Apply the adhesive everywhere you want your crystal or “ice” to stick. Next, pour a large handful of Epsom salt over the glued areas. Allow the adhesive to dry completely. If you have opted for loose branches instead of a potted plant, put the crystal branches in a tall vase, to act as a centerpiece. If you plan to serve dinner on outdoor tables, you may also want to use a copper ember patio heater from to keep the backyard space warm for all guests, while maintaining classy décor.

    Cinnamon candles can give your event a sweet smell and a seasonal look. You’ll need several candles (a variety of shapes and sizes is okay), cinnamon sticks, twine, and rubber bands. First, place the rubber band around the candle. Insert cinnamon sticks around the candle, and secure them under the band. After going around the entire candle, use the twine as a decorative and rustic touch. Wrap several layers of the twine around the candle, hiding the rubber band in the process. Finally, finish the craft by wrapping a red bow around the twine, or inserting a small Christmas berry branch inside the twine.

    Illuminated Christmas boxes can light up the front of your home as a festive welcome, or make your backyard glow. You will need wood for the frame, outdoor lights, mesh ribbon, regular ribbon, and some other tools including a miter saw, nail gun, hammer, nails, and a stapler. Make the frames of your boxes with the wood pieces according to the sizes you think are best for your space. Once a box frame is made, start stapling the lights around the frame. Next, cover the box with your fabric, stapling as you go along. Tie the ribbons around the exterior, like a real present. Set the boxes outside, plug them in, and enjoy the lights.

  • Handyman Help: Tips for Hanging Holiday Lights Safely

    Decorating the interior and exterior of a home with lights adds to the festive and cheerful mood of the holiday season. Many individuals go all out to create a home that lights up the block. Unfortunately, according to the National Fire Protection Association, decorative lights start about 170 home structure fires each year, causing an average of seven deaths. Christmas trees also start an average of 250 home structure fires yearly, resulting in about 14 deaths. Holiday Lights

    Safety awareness and proper decorating practices are important to prevent such accidents from happening in your home. Verify the rating of holiday lights before decorating your house. Do not purchase or hang lights that have not been tested and rated by Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) or Intertek (ETL Semko). The safety rating is clearly marked on the packaging and on the label attached to the electrical cord. Once you have checked out the safety rating, use the lights as directed. For example, do not use indoor lights outdoors and vice versa. Put the lights to use in the proper environment for which they were intended.

    Check the lights for fraying once you have taken them out of storage. If you notice any other damage, discard the string of lights, to reduce the risk of an electrical short. Hanging damaged or frayed strands of lights can damage your other lights and decorations. Avoid handling holiday lights near anything that may cause a fire hazard such as candles, space heaters, fireplaces, etc. Keep bulbs away from loose paper and other flammable materials. When hanging the lights, use insulated holders instead of tacks, staples, or nails.

    Once the lights are ready to go up, choose the right extension cords from a retailer such as Do not overload extension cords with more wattage than they are designed to handle. Place the cords out of the way, so that they don’t pose a tripping hazard. Do not keep cords taut, as doing so will increase the risk of the cords pulling over a tree or another decorations in their way.

    Turn the holiday lights off when you are not home and when everyone is asleep. Leaving the lights on when the house is unattended reduces the possibility of a fire emergency. This is especially important in homes with pets as they may step on a switch, chew through cords, or pull on wires.

    When you notice that a bulb has burnt out, replace it right away. Leaving empty sockets on a light string that is turned ON is dangerous. If a home has young children or pets, it’s wise to place lights out of reach.

    Following these precautions will keep you, your family, and your house safe this holiday season.

  • Arts and Crafts: DIY Mirrors for Home Decor

    There are many advantages to hanging mirrors throughout a space. First and foremost, you can create the illusion of a bigger space. A strategically placed mirror reflects the rest of the room, making the room appear larger than it really is. Placing mirrors on the wall increases the lighting within a room, giving the room a more grand and airy feel. Even if the room is already large and well lit, mirrors have the ability to hide imperfections on the wall in an artistic way. Lastly, mirrors have a great practical use, allowing you to check your appearance before leaving the house! Mirror

    These benefits are further enhanced in homes where a mirror acts as a statement piece. Using a mirror to brighten a room and create a nice focal point is possible for DIY aficionados who want to put a personal stamp on their décor. DIY mirror projects range from basic to advanced.

    Nautical Rope Mirrors can be made easily with the following materials: a large circular mirror charger, sturdy foam board, rope, hot glue, and dock cleats. Using the foam board, cut a large circle around the mirror. Glue the mirror to the center of the circle, making sure that there is extra foam board all around. Cut a slit at the top of the outer foam piece to use later in the project. Wrap the rope around the circular outer edge of the mirror, and cut the end off, once it has made the full circle. Do two or three more circles around each additional rope layer, until the foam board is no longer visible. Use hot glue to make sure the rope is secured. Slide another piece of rope through the slit mentioned above and wrap it around the top about three times to hide the frayed ends of the rope. Attach rope to the back of the mirror, to hang on the dock cleats. Your new mirror is now complete!

    Circular Rustic Mirrors add a rustic charm to any home. Though this project requires a little more skill and materials, the final result will impress your guests. Materials include a circular mirror that is about 22” round, 3/8” plywood, a measuring tape, jigsaw, wood slices from fallen branches, a saw, primer and paint, wood glue, liquid nails, and a caulking gun. Items can be purchased from Place the mirror on the plywood and trace around the edge. Factor in an additional 3 ½” around the perimeter of the entire circle. Cut out the larger circle with the jigsaw. Attach a cleat to a piece of plywood scrap and then attach the piece to the larger circle. Prime and paint the outer 3 ½” perimeter border the same color as the wall on which you intend to hang the mirror. Adhere the wood slices to the painted portion of the plywood, filling in the space with various sizes. Once the wood pieces are glued on, apply liquid nails for the mirror with a caulking gun all around the middle section. Stay 2” away from the edge. Set the mirror in place and position some heavy objects on top to set it into place securely. When it’s time to hang the mirror, secure the other cleat half to the wall and gently place the mirror cleat into the wall cleat.

    A DIY mirror is also a great gift for a birthday, wedding, or anniversary.

  • Handyman Help: How to Replace a Faucet

    Replacing an old or leaky faucet isn’t as challenging as it sounds. Armed with supplies from such as a basin wrench, adjustable wrenches, a putty knife and a bucket, the task can be done within an hour. When purchasing a faucet, be sure that it can fit your sink. Your sink can have one, two, or three holes for the faucet and can either be centerset or widespread. Have this information on hand before making your purchase. Faucet

    Remove the old faucet by first turning off the water supply. Valves are typically under the sink, but if the valve is not, just turn off the main valve. Next, turn on the faucet to relieve any water pressure left in the lines. Using a basin wrench (or your hands if you can reach), disconnect the supply lines from the faucet. Additionally, disconnect the lift rod and remove the nuts from under the faucet.

    The next step is to remove the drain. Start by unscrewing the slip nut on the P-trap. Place a bucket below the pipe to catch water in the trap. Unscrew the drain flange from the tailpiece to disconnect. Clean around the old drain and the faucet holes.

    When installing the new faucet, follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions. Generally, you should begin with installing the gasket on the bottom of the faucet. Some may require sealant or plumber’s putty. Next, place the faucet through the mounting holes in the sink and tighten the mounting nuts

    Not all faucets come preassembled. If required, make sure to attach the handles. Slip the guide ring onto the bottom of the handle, position the ring on the faucet base, and secure the ring with the setscrew. Next, screw the nut all the way down on the drain body and push the gasket over the top. Some gaskets are threaded and simply screw into place. Apply a little silicone under the flange, position the drain body on the bottom of the sink (making sure the pivot hole is facing the back), and screw the flange on from the top.

    Below the sink, tighten the nut and gasket. Then install the drain rod. Unscrew the pivot nut on the drain body, insert the horizontal rod through the hole in the stopper, and replace the nut. Push the rod down and secure the lift rod to the strap with the screw. Test the lift rod.

    Reconnect the supply lines to the faucet and flush the faucet by removing the aerator. Turn on the hot and cold water for about one minute each. Double-check all the connections for leaks and tighten as necessary. Screw the aerator back on. The job is complete!

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