Friday, December 19, 2014

10 Christmas Light Tips

10 Christmas Light Tips to Save Time, Money, and (Possibly) Your Life

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon     Published: December 9, 2011
Here’s how to light up your Christmas light display safely and economically.
Christmas lights can be modest displays to show good cheer, or million-bulb light-apaloozas that draw gawkers from near and far. Here are some tips on how to get the most from — and spend the least on — your holiday display.
1. Safety first. Emergency rooms are filled with home owners who lose fights with their holiday lights and fall off ladders or suffer electric shocks. To avoid the holiday black and blues, never hang lights solo; instead, work with a partner who holds the ladder. Also, avoid climbing on roofs after rain or snow.
2. Unpack carefully. Lights break and glass cuts. So unpack your lights gingerly, looking for and replacing broken bulbs along the way.
3. Extension cords are your friends. Splurge on heavy-duty extension cords that are UL-listed for outdoor use. To avoid overloading, only link five strings of lights together before plugging into an extension cord.
4. LEDs cost less to light. LED Christmas lights use roughly 70% to 90% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. You can safely connect many more LED light strings than incandescents. Downside: Some think they don’t burn as brightly as incandescent bulbs.
5. Solar lights cost nothing to run. Solar Christmas lights are roughly four times more expensive to buy than LEDs, but they cost zero to run. They’re a bright-burning, green alternative. Downside: If there’s no sun during the day, there’s no light at night. The jury’s also still out on how long they last; they’re too new on the market for results.
6. Dismantle lights sooner than later. Sun, wind, rain, and snow all take their toll on Christmas lights. To extend the life of lights, take them down immediately after the holidays. The longer you leave the up, the sooner you’ll have to replace them.
7. Plan next year’s display on Dec. 26. Shop the after-Christmas sales to get the best prices on lights and blowups that you can proudly display next year. Stock up on your favorite lights so you’ll have spares when you need them (and after they’re discontinued).
8. Permanent attachments save time. If you know you’ll always hang lights from eaves, install permanent light clips ($13 for 75 clips) that will save you hanging time each year. You’ll get a couple/three years out of the clips before sun eats the plastic.
9. Find those blueprints. Instead of guessing how many light strings you’ll need, or measuring with a tape, dig up your house blueprints or house location drawings (probably with your closing papers) and use those measurements as a guide.
10. Store them in a ball. It sounds counterintuitive, but the best way to store lights is to ball them up. Wrap five times in one direction, then turn the ball 90 degrees and repeat. Store your light balls in cardboard boxes, rather than in plastic bags: Cardboard absorbs residual moisture and extends the life of your lights.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tiny Homes ...

Posted: Updated: 

The tiny house trend is on the rise with more and more individuals, couples, and families choosing to trade in space for simplicity. And from college grads to retirees the appeal of a miniature home spans the ages. Shrinking square footage not only cuts down on chores -- it's a lifestyle change all about living with less and decreasing environmental impact over time.Less Is More:The Tiny House Movement

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fall (Home) Maintenance Checklist

Fall Maintenance Checklist
By: John Riha      Published: October 1, 2012
You’ll be ready for winter’s worst and head off expensive repairs when you complete this checklist of 10 essential fall maintenance tasks.
Fall checklist

1. Stow the mower.

If you’re not familiar with fuel stabilizer, you should be. If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading.
Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter. Run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor. Another lawn mower care method is to run your mower dry before stowing it.
1. When the mower is cool, remove the spark plug and pour a capful of engine oil into the spark plug hole.
2. Pull the starter cord a couple of times to distribute the oil, which keeps pistons lubricated and ensures an easy start come spring.
3. Turn the mower on its side and clean out accumulated grass and gunk from the mower deck.

2. Don’t be a drip.
Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage. Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.
While you’re at it, drain garden hoses and store them in a shed or garage.

3. Put your sprinkler system to sleep.
Time to drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads.
1. Turn off the water to the system at the main valve.
2. Shut off the automatic controller.
3. Open drain valves to remove water from the system.
4. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them, then replace.
If you don’t have drain valves, then hire an irrigation pro to blow out the systems pipes with compressed air. A pro is worth the $75 to $150 charge to make sure the job is done right, and to ensure you don’t have busted pipes and sprinkler head repairs to make in the spring.

4. Seal the deal.
Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around  your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive — and most important — of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy. Pick a nice day when temps are above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.

5. De-gunk your gutters.
Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts. If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Look closely for other signs of roof damage (#5, below); it may be time for a roofing replacement. Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.

6. Eyeball your roof.

If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground. Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately. Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50 to $100 eval. A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar -- called a boot -- that may crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.

7. Direct your drainage.
Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you’ll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks. Be sure soil doesn’t touch your siding.

8. Get your furnace in tune.
Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. You’ll pay $50 to $100 for a checkup. An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.
Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.

9. Prune plants.
Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees -- when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds. For advice on pruning specific plants in your region, check with your state extension service.

10. Give your fireplace a once-over.

To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney. Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.
You fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Winter (Prep) Lawn Care

Fall Lawn Care: 4 Ways to Say G’Night For The Winter

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon  Published: September 16, 2011
Labor Day through Halloween is your window for preparing lawns for a lush spring. Although spring lawn care gets all the attention, fall lawn care is the make-it or break-it season for grass. “I’m already thinking about next year,” says John Dillon, who takes care of New York City’s Central Park, which features 200 acres of lawn in the middle of Manhattan. “The grass I grow this fall is what will be there next spring.” Fall lawn care is no walk in the park. It’s hard work, and Dillon guides you through the four basic steps.
1. Aeration
Aeration gives your lawn a breather in autumn and provides room for new grass to spread without competition from spring weeds. Aeration tools pull up plugs of grass and soil, breaking up compacted turf. That allows water, oxygen, and nutrients to reach roots, and gives seeds room to sprout. If kids frequently play on your lawn, plan to aerate twice a year — fall and spring. If your lawn is just for show, then aerate once a year — and maybe even once every other year. A hand-aerating tool ($20), which looks like a pitchfork with hollow tines, is labor-intensive and meant for unplugging small sections of grass. Gas-powered aerating machines (rental, $20/hour) are about the size of a big lawn mower, and are good for working entire lawns. Bring some muscle when you pick up your rental: Aerating machines are heavy and can be hard to lift into your truck or SUV. Depending on the size of your property, professional aeration costs about $150.
2. Seeding
Fall, when the soil temperature is about 55 degrees, is the best time to seed your lawn because turf roots grow vigorously in fall and winter. If you want a lush lawn, don’t cheap out on the seed. Bags of inexpensive seed ($35 for 15 pounds) often contain hollow husks, weed seed, and annual rye grass seed, which grows until the first frost then drops dead. Splurge on the good stuff ($55 for 15 pounds of Kentucky Bluegrass seed), which resists drought, disease, and insects. Water your new seed every day for 10 to 20 days until it germinates.
3. Fertilizing
A late fall fertilization — before the first frost — helps your grass survive a harsh winter and encourages it to grow green and lush in spring. Make your last fertilization of the year count by choosing a product high (10% to 15%) in phosphorous, which is critical for root growth, Dillon says. Note: Some states are banning phosphorous-rich fertilizers, which are harmful to the watershed. In those places, look for nitrogen-rich fertilizers, which promote shoot and root growth. Check with your local extension service to see what regulations apply in your area.
4. Mulching
Instead of raking leaves, run over them a couple of times with your mower to grind them into mulch. The shredded leaves protect grass from winter wind and desiccation. An added bonus — shredded leaves decompose into yummy organic matter to feed grass roots. A mulching blade ($10) that attaches to your mower will grind the leaves even finer.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Time to VOTE and Set Those Clocks Back!

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4th is GENERAL ELECTION DAY! It's that time again ... time to vote and on SUNDAY, November 2nd (at 2 am) we set the clocks back to end daylight savings time! Voting is a right we should all take seriously. My theory is: if you don't vote, you can't complain ... so you know I always vote! I hope you are all registered and ready to vote, including (in some places) having an approved "picture" ID with you as it is literally too late to get it done now for this election but a perfect time to get it done so you are ready for the next one. I have included a link here for you to see all the Upcoming election dates and deadlines for your home state. Please use it to make your plan to get in and vote! (Please note: it varies from state to state and employer to employer who allows employees time off to vote, whether paid or pay is docked or if proof of voting is required: Check with your employer before voting day.) If you want to make a difference in how the government, city, state or country is run today and in the future, vote now and take somebody else with you to do the same. * A note to my military peeps: you guys and gals can vote absentee wherever you are, so do it! Roger that? And don't forget to set those clocks back on Sunday (or Saturday night before you go to bed). Happy returns!
Why do you vote? (Or not vote?)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Teal Pumpkin Project - Halloween with Food Allergies

The Teal Pumpkin Project

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Posted on: 
This Halloween, FARE is encouraging communities to start a new tradition that will help make this holiday season less scary for children with food allergies: the Teal Pumpkin Project. This campaign encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies by providing non-food treats for trick-or-treaters and painting a pumpkin teal - the color of food allergy awareness - to place in front of their house along with a free printable sign from FARE to indicate they have non-food treats available. 
The Teal Pumpkin Project is designed to promote safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies – and to keep Halloween a fun, positive experience for all.

Ideas for Non-food Treats  

Available at dollar stores, party supply stores, or online shops, these low-cost items can be purchased and handed out to all trick-or-treaters, or made available in a separate bowl from candy if you choose to hand out both options. Nearly all of these items can be found in a Halloween theme or festive colors.
  • Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
  • Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
  • Bubbles
  • Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
  • Mini Slinkies
  • Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
  • Bouncy balls
  • Finger puppets or novelty toys
  • Coins
  • Spider rings
  • Vampire fangs
  • Mini notepads
  • Playing cards
  • Bookmarks
  • Stickers
  • Stencils
    At my house, if they are brave enough to approach the face-less goblin in the dark corners of  my  foggy
garage, while witches cackle and werewolves howl in the background, I will have a stash of "play-doh" and glow sticks. I also have gold fish crackers for those tiny trick or treaters who are obviously not going to eat all that candy as they hardly even have teeth! If it's a cool night, there will be a cauldron of fire as well. What sorts of things will you be doing?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Insulating Garage Doors

How To Insulate A Garage Door

Published: December 3, 2012
Garage insulation cuts energy bills and street noise. Here’s how to insulate your garage door.
Garage door insulation can make your life warmer, cooler, and quieter. It lowers energy bills, acts as a barrier between you and street noise, and brightens an otherwise dreary space. Garage door insulation is an easy DIY project; it’ll cost you about $200 to insulate two 9-foot-wide doors.
Types of insulation
Any insulation type will increase the energy efficiency of your garage door. Here are the most popular types to apply to the back of garage doors:
  • Batt insulation. This flexible insulation, often found stuffed into exterior walls, is commonly made of fiberglass. It’s usually backed by paper or foil, which act as vapor and air barriers. Insulating values are R-3 to R-4 per inch of thickness. Cost is about 30 cents per sq. ft.
  • Foam board insulation. These rigid panels, typically made from polystyrene, provide a high insulating value for relatively little thickness. Panels most often range from ½ inch thick (R-3.3) to 1 inch (R-6.5). Foam board often is faced with aluminum or vinyl. ($20 for a 4-by-8-ft. sheet that’s 1 inch thick.)
  • Reflective insulation. Rigid boards and rolls of reflective insulation have highly reflective aluminum foil applied to one or both sides of insulation materials, such as cardboard and polyethylene bubbles. This type of insulation reflects radiant heat, making it a good insulation choice for garages that heat up in summer or hot climates. Its approximate R-value is 3.5 to 6, depending on the way you apply it. (A 4-by-25-foot roll is $42).
Matching insulation to your garage doorThe goal is to match your garage door to an insulation that’s easy to install and appropriate for your climate.
  • Steel garage doors. These doors can accommodate any type of insulation. Stuff the flexible insulation in the frames around the panels, with the fiberglass side touching the door. Or squeeze cut-to-fit foam board insulation into the frames.
Wood frame-and-panel doors. Cut and fit rigid insulation into the recesses between the door frames. For extra climate control, install two layers of foam board.
Flat garage doors. Foam board or reflective insulation is the best fit for garage doors without panels. Glue or tape the insulation to the garage door.
  • Insulation kits Even though buying and cutting insulation isn’t hard, garage door insulation kits make it even easier. They contain:Insulation — rolls or boards -- cut closer to the size of garage panels than if you bought these yourself, though you’ll still have to trim. Fasteners or tape to hold insulation in place.
  • Higher-end kits throw in gloves and/or a utility knife. Kits to insulate a 9-ft. wide door cost $50-$70. 
Heads up!
Adding insulation to a garage door adds weight. Extra weight isn’t usually a problem with 9-ft. wide doors, but can strain the opening mechanism of larger doors. Your garage door’s spring tension might have to be adjusted — a job best left to a garage door professional.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What You Should Know for the 2014-2015 Influenza Season

What You Should Know for the 2014-2015 Influenza Season


What sort of flu season is expected this year?

It’s not possible to predict what this flu season will be like. Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways. While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies from one year to another.

Will new flu viruses circulate this season?

Flu viruses are constantly changing so it's not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year. For more information about how flu viruses change, visit How the Flu Virus Can Change.

When will flu activity begin and when will it peak?

The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.

What should I do to prepare for this flu season?

CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the top three or four flu viruses that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, ideally by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins.
In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take everyday preventive steps like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.

What should I do to protect my loved ones from flu this season?

Encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated as soon as vaccine becomes available in their communities, preferably by October. Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for serious flu complications, and their close contacts.
Children between 6 months and 8 years of age may need two doses of flu vaccine to be fully protected from flu. Your child’s healthcare provider can tell you whether two doses are recommended for your child. Visit Children, the Flu, and the Flu Vaccine for more information.
Children younger than 6 months are at higher risk of serious flu complications, but are too young to get a flu vaccine. Because children younger than 6 months cannot get a vaccine, but are at high risk for serious flu-related complications, safeguarding them from flu is especially important. If you live with or care for an infant younger than 6 months of age, you should get a flu vaccine to help protect them from flu. See Advice for Caregivers of Children Younger than 2 Years Old for more information.
In addition to getting vaccinated, you and your loved ones can take everyday preventive steps like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading influenza to others.

When should I get vaccinated?

CDC recommends that people get vaccinated against flu soon after vaccine becomes available, preferably by October.
It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against the flu.
Doctors and nurses are encouraged to begin vaccinating their patients soon after vaccine becomes available, preferably by October so as not to miss out on opportunities to vaccinate. Those children aged 6 months through 8 years who need two doses of vaccine should receive the first dose as soon as possible to allow time to get the second dose before the start of flu season. The two doses should be given at least 4 weeks apart.

What kind of vaccines will be available in the United States for 2014-2015?

A number of different manufacturers produce trivalent (three component) influenza vaccines for the U.S. market, including intramuscular (IM), intradermal, and nasal spray vaccines. Some seasonal flu vaccines will be formulated to protect against four flu viruses (quadrivalent flu vaccines) and will be available as well according to manufacturers. SeeKey Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine and How Flu Vaccines Are Made for more information.

Are there new recommendations for the 2014-2015 influenza season?

Recommendations on the control and prevention of influenza are published annually, in late summer or early fall. Existing recommendations are available at Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Resources for Health Professionals. New recommendations for the 2014-2015 season are available on the CDC website.
Starting in 2014-2015, CDC recommends use of the nasal spray vaccine (LAIV) for healthy* children 2 through 8 years of age, when it is immediately available and if the child has no contraindications or precautions to that vaccine. Recent studies suggest that the nasal spray flu vaccine may work better than the flu shot in younger children. However, if the nasal spray vaccine is not immediately available and the flu shot is, children 2 years through 8 years old should get the flu shot. Don’t delay vaccination to find the nasal spray flu vaccine. For more information about the new CDC recommendation, see Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine in Children 2 through 8 Years Old or the 2014-2015 MMWR Influenza Vaccine Recommendations.
(*“Healthy” in this instance refers to children 2 years through 8 years old who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.)
Visit What’s New on this Site to sign up and receive updates from the CDC Influenza site.

How much flu vaccine will be available this season?

Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers. For this season, manufacturers have projected they will provide between 151-159 million doses of vaccine for the U.S. market.

How much of the flu vaccines for the United States during 2014-2015 will be quadrivalent?

Of the 151 million to 159 million doses of influenza vaccine projected to be available for the 2014-2015 season, manufacturers estimate that 78 million doses will be quadrivalent flu vaccines.

When will flu vaccine become available?

Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so the timing of vaccine availability depends on when production is completed. If everything goes as indicated by manufacturers, shipments may begin as early as July or August and continue throughout September and October until all of the vaccine is distributed.

Where can I get a flu vaccine?

Flu vaccines are offered by many doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers, and even by some schools.
Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get a flu vaccine somewhere else, like a health department, pharmacy, urgent care clinic, and often your school, college health center, or work.

What flu viruses does this season’s vaccine protect against?

Flu vaccines are designed to protect against flu viruses that experts predict will be the most common during the upcoming season. Three kinds of flu viruses commonly circulate among people today: Influenza A (H1N1) viruses, influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and influenza B viruses. Each year, one or two flu viruses of each kind are used to produce the seasonal influenza vaccine.
All of the 2014-2015 influenza vaccine is made to protect against the following three viruses:
  • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • an A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.
Some of the 2014-2015 flu vaccine also protects against an additional B virus (B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus).
Vaccines that give protection against three viruses are called trivalent vaccines. Vaccines that give protection against four viruses are called quadrivalent vaccines.

How effective is the flu vaccine?

Inactivated influenza vaccine effectiveness (VE) can vary from year to year and among different age and risk groups. 

How long does a flu vaccine protect me from getting the flu?

Multiple studies conducted over different seasons and across vaccine types and influenza virus subtypes have shown that the body’s immunity to influenza viruses (acquired either through natural infection or vaccination) declines over time. The decline in antibodies is influenced by several factors, including the antigen used in the vaccine, the age of the person being vaccinated, and the person's general health (for example, certain chronic health conditions may have an impact on immunity). When most healthy people with regular immune systems are vaccinated, their bodies produce antibodies and they are protected throughout the flu season, even as antibody levels decline over time. Older people and those with weakened immune systems may not generate the same amount of antibodies after vaccination; further, their antibody levels may drop more quickly when compared to healthy people.
For everyone, getting vaccinated each year provides the best protection against influenza throughout flu season. It’s important to get a flu vaccine every year, even if you got vaccinated the season before and the viruses in the vaccine have not changed for the current season.

Will this season's vaccine be a good match for circulating viruses?

It's not possible to predict with certainty if the vaccine will be a good match for circulating viruses. The vaccine is made to protect against the flu viruses that research indicates will likely be most common during the season. However, experts must pick which viruses to include in the vaccine many months in advance in order for vaccine to be produced and delivered on time. And flu viruses change constantly (called drift) – they can change from one season to the next or they can even change within the course of one flu season. Because of these factors, there is always the possibility of a less than optimal match between circulating viruses and the viruses in the vaccine.
Over the course of the flu season, CDC studies samples of circulating flu viruses to evaluate how close a match there is between viruses used to make the vaccine and circulating viruses.
One of the ways that helps CDC evaluate the match between vaccine viruses and circulating viruses is with a lab process called ‘antigenic characterization’. Results of antigenic characterization testing are published weekly in CDC’s FluView.
The match between the vaccine viruses and the circulating viruses is one factor that impacts how well the vaccine works.

Can the vaccine provide protection even if the vaccine is not a "good" match?

Yes, antibodies made in response to vaccination with one flu virus can sometimes provide protection against different but related viruses. A less than ideal match may result in reduced vaccine effectiveness against the virus that is different from what is in the vaccine, but it can still provide some protection against influenza illness.
In addition, it's important to remember that the flu vaccine contains three or four flu viruses (depending on the type of vaccine you receive) so that even when there is a less than ideal match or lower effectiveness against one virus, the vaccine may protect against the other viruses.
For these reasons, even during seasons when there is a less than ideal match, CDC continues to recommend flu vaccination for everyone six months and older. Vaccination is particularly important for people at high risk for serious flu complications, and their close contacts.

Can I get vaccinated and still get the flu?

Yes. It’s possible to get sick with the flu even if you have been vaccinated (although you won’t know for sure unless you get a flu test). This is possible for the following reasons:
  • You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. This exposure may result in you becoming ill with flu before the vaccine begins to protect you. (About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection develop in the body.)
  • You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different flu viruses that circulate every year. The flu vaccine is made to protect against the three or four flu viruses that research suggests will be most common.
  • Unfortunately, some people can become infected with a flu virus the flu vaccine is designed to protect against, despite getting vaccinated. Protection provided by flu vaccination can vary widely, based in part on health and age factors of the person getting vaccinated. In general, the flu vaccine works best among healthy younger adults and older children. Some older people and people with certain chronic illnesses may develop less immunity after vaccination. Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection.

What will CDC do to monitor vaccine effectiveness for the 2014-2015 season?

CDC collaborates with other partners each season to assess how well the seasonal vaccines are working. During the 2014-2015 season, CDC is planning multiple studies on the effectiveness of both the flu shot and the nasal-spray flu vaccine. These studies will measure vaccine effectiveness in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza among persons 6 months of age and older.

Where can I find information about vaccine supply?

Information about vaccine supply is available on Preventing Seasonal Flu with Vaccination.

Is there treatment for the flu?

Yes. If you get sick, there are drugs that can treat flu illness. They are called antiviral drugs and they can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They also can prevent serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia. For more information about antiviral drugs, visit Treatment (Antiviral Drugs).

What is antiviral resistance?

Antiviral resistance means that a flu virus has changed in such a way that antiviral drugs are less effective in treating or preventing illness caused by that flu virus. Samples of flu viruses collected from around the United States and worldwide are studied at CDC to determine if they are becoming resistant to any of the FDA-approved influenza antiviral drugs.

What will CDC do to monitor antiviral resistance in the United States during the 2014-2015 season?

CDC will continue collecting and monitoring flu viruses for changes through an established network of domestic and global surveillance systems. Additionally, CDC is working with the state public health departments and the World Health Organization to collect additional information on antiviral resistance in the United States and worldwide. The information collected will assist in making informed recommendations regarding use of antiviral drugs to treat influenza.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

3 Low Cost Tips to Fix Leaky Windows

Got Leaky Windows? 3 Low-Cost Tips to Fix Them

Published: May 2, 2011
I used to hang an extra woolly robe in my bathroom because my post-shower route took me past a window so drafty it made me wonder about the etymology of “window.” Turns out it comes from the Anglo-Saxon "vindr” and “auga,” which translates as “wind eye.” How appropriate.
If the “wind eye” focused on you last winter, but you’re not ready to invest in new windows, you can still cut your energy bills if you seal those air leaks—and if you do so now, you’ll prevent cool air from escaping your home this summer.

Here are three low-cost tips to help keep air leaks at bay:
#1: For most windows: Just fill the gaps.
Easier said than done if you’re dealing with old, flaky caulk, weather stripping, or adhesive that’s really tough to remove. But if you don’t clean it off well, your new caulk and stripping won’t adhere well and could peel away before you see any benefits.
However, a common household product, petroleum jelly, removes that adhesive goo quite well. Just rub the jelly over the sticky goo, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe away. Another swipe with rubbing alcohol will remove the greasy film left from the jelly. (This technique, by the way, also works for removing price labels.)
#2. For older windows with rattling panes: Make baffles.
Cut quarter-round pine strips to fit. Use finishing nails and wood glue to secure them just inside the framed glass. Once you’ve caulked and painted the strips to match, they will disappear into the framework and look like part of the original window. It worked wonderfully on my 1920-era casement windows.
#3. If you want window treatments, too: Install waffle shades.
Folding fabric shades that are made with cells that trap air have great insulating properties—so good that some of them qualify for federal energy rebates, which have been extended into 2011. They start at around $50—still less expensive than new windows—and you get a new look, too.

Leaky windows are a big deal, winter or summer. What ways have you found to fix your windy windows?