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Surviving winter

January 14, 2014 - Barb Barrett
With the erratic weather patterns, many events have been postponed or cancelled which keeps us indoors a lot. Now is a good time to focus on winter safety and indoor health. January is National Radon Action Month and the EPA is encouraging homeowners to do radon testing. Radon is odorless, invisible and according to a recent study at Harvard, radon ranks as America's number one in-home hazard, causing more fatalities than carbon monoxide, fires and handguns combined! For more information or to order a test kit, visit

Another consideration this month in your home is protecting your water pipes. Make sure your homeowners insurance will adequately cover any unfortunate pipe freezes. Also be sure to check all hoses and disconnect outside spigots. We learned this the hard way two winters ago, when I forgot about the hose in the back of our house.

Another hazard, I find challenging, is driving on wintry roads. This week PennDot has announced this as Winter Driving Awareness Week. That means I have to schedule my car inspection that is due this month, replace windshield wipers, rotate tires and check air pressure, be sure the cooling system is functioning well, check the battery, drive belts and hoses. An emergency vehicle kit is not a bad idea either. I always carry battery cables, a flashlight (which I should check to see if it still works), blankets, water, and a first aid kit. I think I need to add a small snow shovel and perhaps some kitty litter. I got stuck in some ice trying to turn around last month in Picture Rocks on Rt. 464 after I missed my turn. Fortunately, someone stopped and helped push me out, and it was at night too! It made me realize how easily we can get stranded on the road under these unstable winter conditions. We are so lucky our townships plow the roads and we are not suffering from power outages like some of the states in the midwest. Although, that too is always in the back of my mind, and I recommend that every household keep a spare gas heater just in case loss of heat occurs from having no power.

The library seems to be a good escape. I read 3 books last week on my i-pad that I got help with downloading from the staff at the library. What a selection to choose from and easy to read too, with the Overdrive application. The staff is very helpful with all of the e-readers and mobile devices. But I do know that you have to keep your account active, or it will expire after a certain time period. I also learned that too the hard way. Stay safe, stay warm, and happy reading!


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