Boomer Obesity, Western Diet, Long Term Health

Baby Boomer Obesity: Western Diet, Long Term Health
Back to Fruits and Veggies

Boomer Obesity: Bad Habits and Bad Food

Go ahead. Pedal your butt off on a stationary bike. Or, walk quickly on a treadmill for an hour. Then tell me how many calories were burned up in that hour. Surprised? You’ll be fortunate if you burned off one of those Mocha-Locha-Choco-Lacha Double half-cups of HalfCaff Caffe Lattes -to which you have grown so fond.

A recent study has the Baby Boomer generation’s incidence of obesity at 36%.  The two generations directly before and after them are at about 25%.  it is also evident that a significant percentage of Baby Boomers who are not obese are overweight.

Really?  How did that happen? Where’s it all going?  Will I be able to work in my garden?  Will I need a caregiver?  Any chance of maintaining my independence?  How long will I be able to stay on my feet?

The best exercise, it is said, to engage in for weight loss is pushing yourself away from the table. Which I believe was more true about 30 years ago than it is now. These days, one must consider abstaining from the myriad of available snacks between meals. It seems no one can go two hours at work without grazing on something.  (Mostly true in an office environment).

And, therein lies part of the problem. Many work places have kitchen areas for that purpose with refrigerators, toaster ovens, microwaves, coffee stations and snack items bought in bulk as part of the ‘coffee club.’ All this fosters habitual and continual eating.  The kitchenettes ought to have a warning sign – CAUTION: Boomer Obesity Zone.

Another big problem is the so-called “Western Diet.” The ‘BIG FOOD’ industry with the proliferation of highly processed soy and corn based ‘food-like substances’ is poisoning us. That is an established fact. It is also a generally accepted fact among nutritionists, nutritional scientists and their ilk. For the past thirty years or more, America has been marketed a low-fat diet and the result is a society more obese than it was thirty years ago.  

During that time the nutritionism wizards have been busy trying to isolate the components in real food (aka fruits & vegetables) in order to include them in new forms of highly processed food-like substances -each trumpeting its purported health benefits on brightly colored packaging and being the beneficiary of multi-million dollar marketing campaigns.

 No matter that the wizards can artificially produce beta-carotene in the laboratory. It has not the same benefits attached to it as eating a carrot.  Carrots (and any other fruit or veggie you can name) contain hundreds (if not more) substances beside beta-carotene.  Most of them haven’t even been isolated or named yet.  Hence, it is unknown just what substances are the most beneficial and in what combinations or proportions.  To state that Beta-Carotene is the one is just plain Bad Science.  Some Nutritionism Wizards have quietly admitted that.

But it is too late.  Their employers -the BIG FOOD Industry, have billions of dollars at stake and they’re not giving up so easily.  Witness the push-back to advocates of healthier foods in schools.  And the push-back to banning soda pop (Coke, Pepsi and the like) in schools.  There is a lot of money behind the High Fructose Corn Syrup Lobby.

What is known about traditional diets is that societies that have not strayed from a traditional diet (one that evolved through the ages, i.e. the French, the Italians, etc.) suffer significantly lower incidence of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure -all of which have been labelled “Western Diseases.”

It is ironic, I think, that the corner convenience store (the Seven Elevens and similar) are primarily purveyors of corn and soy products. Outside you can pump your fuel blended with ethanol (corn based). Inside you can find a variety of highly processed corn and soy based food-like substances -none of which has much in the way of nutritional value but does well to contribute to our epidemic of Western Diseases.  Or, should I say pandemic?

The end effect of these bad habits and unhealthy eating is a drain on the healthcare industry.  It’s a problem that has been viewed as ‘Too big to fix.” Baby Boomers make up about 20% of the population.  Obese Medicare beneficiaries are estimated to cost 34% more than their non-obese/overweight peers. According to a recent survey, approximately 77 million US baby boomers may be eligible for Medicare coverage.  

How then to best preserve your independent lifestyle?  That is the key question on my mind.  How do we maintain our homes -or, even keep our homes clean, if we are confined to wheel chairs?  The odds of being able to ‘stay on your feet’ are stacked against you if you are grossly overweight.  If you’re not getting around -it’ll be tough to perform any of those pesky house repairs that will be awaiting your attention.

Do you have any thoughts on this or experience with it? If so, why not share them by commenting below.  Sharing is caring.  We hope you do both.  Use the Facebook icon or another social media button at the top or bottom of the page.  We do appreciate it and, as always, thanks for stopping by.

Further Reading:

Obesity Is Baby Boomers’ Main Health Problem

Obesity Information

Backyard Chickens

There is a trend in some cities of some residents seeking relief from old ordinances and chicken laws disallowing city livestock, specifically chickens, ducks, goats and the like. Typically, the ordinances ban outright certain livestock. Others may specify a certain size lot which precludes most city residents.

Backyard Chickens: Ideas, City, Livestock

Backyard Chickens

The proponents suggest there are many good points to consider when contemplating whether to allow backyard chickens.  Some say it is a good educational tool for children to learn the ins and outs of keeping chickens.  There are responsibilities to be learned in caring for chickens.  Children benefit from seeing where some of their food comes from. And, having city chickens is considered a sustainable and renewable food source.

Others suggest it brings the community together, as it might give people something common to talk about with each other. Then there is the idea that community-sharing programs might work in order to include residents in apartments or other places that would not allow animals. Details could be worked out to take care of animals kept in a shared space.

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Some of the detractors of backyard chickens feel as soon as their neighbor begins to build a chicken coop in the backyard , there will be noise problems. That argument is countered by those who have little tolerance for barking dogs -which there is no shortage of.  One concern that seems to hold water is the considerable likelihood of neglect and abandonment after the novelty of filling the egg basket wears off.   After you build a chicken coop and populate it, there is much work to be done in caring for chickens.   Straw or some other medium like mulch is added to the hen house. It needs to be replaced at regular intervals as the chicken poop accumulates.

So then, what to do with that stuff?  Chicken manure, as a Backyard Idea, is a good fertilizer but must be composted before it can be used, If used straight it’ll burn and kill the garden. Where the pile will be and who will take care of all the chicken compost is a big question.

The chicken poop must be removed and disposed of. The mulch that it’s mixed with makes a good chicken compost for the garden but must be the poop must be composted before use as a fertilizer – or removed.  Also, there are maintenance issues, costs and issues of city livestock code compliance.

The strongest argument against urban livestock, albeit not the most rational, perhaps, envisions the neighborhood Homes and Gardens being overrun with chickens and huge piles of chicken manure, smart chicken coop designs in various states of disrepair, and a disgustingly dense foggy pall hanging over the neighborhood on windless hazy, hot humid days.  The chicken smell, the chicken noise , and the rooster noise seem to be the most common objections.  And, this -once a laying hen stops laying, who’s going to bring the cute little bugger to the butcher block?

Learn more about the discussion going on in Redmond, Washington about Backyard Chickens.

Greatest Fears are Realized for proponents of  Urban Fowl as City Chickens Sicken Kids in Several States.

Do you have any thoughts on this or experience with it (good, bad, or funny)? If so, why not share them by commenting below. 

Also, sharing is caring.  We hope you do both.  Use the Facebook icon or another social media button at the top or bottom of the page.  We do appreciate it and, as always, thanks for stopping by.

What are Double Pane Windows?

When we moved into our present house, we wondered what improvements might be needed to make the building more energy efficient.  We live in east/central New York State and holding the heat in is a hot topic. if you will excuse the pun.  Paying for expensive heating fuel without controlling heat loss is tantamount to heating the outdoors -and is painful.

What are Double Pane Windows
How to Tell if You have Double Glazing Windows


The attic insulation is accesible and we could see it is sufficient. The walls are only four inches thick -typical for a 40 year old house.  The standard then was to use 3-1/2 inches of fiberglass insulation, which is only barely adequate by today’s standard of six inch thick walls.

We were in the beginning stages of compiling a list of property improvements that we thought we would need to prioritize.  One question that I couldn’t be sure of was how good the windows were.  Were they energy efficient dual pane windows or only single pane?  We wondered if we’d need to think about replacing the windows eventually if they proved to be only single pane glass.  We hoped we wouldn’t have to rip into an old home renovation too soon.

What we do have is the aluminum framed ‘triple-track’ storm windows and screens.  They provided a measure of energy efficiency to the windows.  They are especially good when used in conjunction with dual pane windows. 

What are Double Pane Windows? Why Do I Need Them?

A single pane offers no insulating properties at all.  Double or, dual pane -or, double glazing windows have the ability to slow temperature transfer between the panes using a gap between the two sheets of glass.  The gap is pumped free of air, which contains moisture and would fog up the window. 

The space is filled with an inert, or noble gas, which is odorless and colorless.  Depending upon the quality of the window unit, the gas used might be nitrogen, argon or krypton.  Argon is considerably more heavy than nitrogen or dry air and krypton is much heavier than argon.  It is the density of the heavy gas that slows the thermal conductivity from the innermost pane of glass to the outermost, or vice versa.

There is a lesser concentration of krypton than argon or nitrogen in the atmosphere and that fact contributes to the higher cost of the high R-value krypton filled panes.

How do you determine if you’re looking at dual pane or single pane windows?

I was shown how to tell if a window is a double glazing unit or just a single pane unit -or, for that matter, if it is a triple pane unit.  Watch the accompanying video for a simple demonstration of how that is determined.

Check back often for other how-to tips around the Home and Garden.  Leave us a comment or question if there is anything you have a question about or any experience to share.  If we here at Home and Garden 911 have any in-house experience or perspective on the topic, we’d be happy to pass it along.  Be sure and use the ‘Like’ button, if you think this was useful -or, share this by using the share buttons.  We do appreciate you stopping by.  Thank you.

Additional resources:

What are Double-pane Windows?

Insulated Glazing

ENERGY STAR qualified windows

Boomers and Health Decline


Among healthy snack ideas, I think the best one is to quit snacking. 

Boomers and Health Decline: Cancer, Heart Disease, Snacking
Marlene snacks all the time.

Thirty years ago, we seldom snacked between meals.  I don’t think that we’ll die of starvation if we don’t continually stuff food in our mouths.

It has become a national pastime.  The root cause probably has something to do with the food science wizards and the ‘Big Industrial Food Complex’ constantly marketing a vast array of (seemingly irresistible) food-like substances.  Look around at your overweight friends.  Odds are they didn’t get that way by eating fresh fruits and vegetables from their organic garden.


Baby Boomers and Health Decline

A recent report states that Baby Boomers count among their biggest worries the prospect of contracting some form of cancer.  Many observers, including the boomer who is writing this, wonder why they’re not worried about heart disease and diabetes.

The Baby Boomer Generation is the heaviest and unhealthiest in history.  Surveys have shown that, as a group, most boomers do not get enough exercise, generally, to ward of heart disease.  Some educated people on the topic will tell you that exercise alone, as important as it is, is not the cure for our overweight and obese brethren.

The nation is (or should be) bracing itself for an onslaught of Medicare costs as the aging Boomer Generation begins its decline.  The oldest among them is 65 years old this year.  Over 10,000 turn 65 every day and will continue to do so for another 18 years.  Obesity — with its related heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis — will cause those costs to skyrocket.

Another cause concern voiced by Boomers is loss of memory or Alzheimer’s.  Some recommend crossword puzzles and the like to keep the brain active.  Fish oil pills are said to improve brain function.  More aptly, they counteract the ravaging affects of Omega 6 oils that we all get far too much of as part of our ‘Western Diet.’

Another way of keeping the mind sharp is the challenge of taking on something we know little about, such as a Home Improvement Project, for those not initiated.  Or, developing a website, as yours truly is attempting, with little prior knowledge.  The benefits of keeping one’s mind engaged and challenged is pretty well documented as a defense against the Boomers’ Health Decline -which some might characterize as a pandemic waiting to happen.

Do you have any thoughts on this or experience (good, bad, or funny)? If so, why not share your experiences by commenting below.  If you like this, please share it on Facebook or another social media -buttons are at top and bottom of page. We do appreciate it. As always, thanks for ambling by.

For a more comprehensive accounting on the topic, visit this Fox News article:

Cancer and Memory Loss Top Boomers Health Concerns


And, these Blogs:

Obesity Hits More Baby Boomers

Whats Going On -Obesity Hits More BabyBoomers

Wheelchair Ramps

Wheelchair Ramps

A wheelchair ramp is an inclined plane that can be used instead of stairs by wheel chair users as well as people pushing strollers or carts, or by people using walkers.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires that a commercial or public building or structure be accessible to wheelchair users, therefore requiring a ramp.  Handicap Ramps are often needed at home, as well, in order for disabled wheelchair users and the (not-so-spry- anymore) elderly and Boomers to maintain independent living -and able to enjoy their own Home and Gardens.

The oldest Baby Boomer is turned sixty five this year Wheelchair Ramps-and more than 10,000 are turning sixty five every day.   A portion of this population isn’t in optimum health and requires -or, could benefit from an access ramp at their home in order to extend the duration they will be physically able to maintain the aforementioned independent lifestyle.

All in all, the addition of some form of handicap or access ramp is a Home Improvement that many of us will be tackling at some point in time.There are many designs, some portable, some fixed, some permanent, some removable.  It has been acknowledged that no single ramp design meets all the needs of the users.

State and/or local authorities may have specifications available for design considerations of a wheelchair (assisted or unassisted) or handicap ramps for Baby Boomer and elderly people with walkers (or without), as does the ADA. The specifications for the proper construction of the wheelchair ramps are necessary to ensure the finished product is useful.  Often, well meaning volunteers construct ramps with too much slope or landing areas that are too small to allow wheelchair maneuverability in and out of the door.

The specs will provide in detail exactly how the frame should be built in order to be bolted together (modular) and thus removable and of adequate strength.  Some of the design considerations are cross braces (diagonal sway braces) for the higher elevations (above 2 feet, roughly) of the ramp, two by six inch beams, joists, joist hangers, and 12×12″ plywood bearing plates.  These are all part of the design for a “demountable” bolted ramp system.

On the lower elevations the sway braces are not required in favor of plywood gussets.  The decking is installed so the joints are perpendicular to the path of travel.  The spacing between the boards allows for good drainage and ridges to provide better traction.  A guardrail is installed at a medium height and a normal handrail is also installed.  Intermediate posts may also be required.

Do you have any thoughts on this or experience (good, bad, or funny)? If so, why not share your experiences by commenting below.  If you like this, please share it on Facebook or another social media -buttons are at top and bottom of page.  We do appreciate it.  As always, thanks for coming by.

Additional resources:

Wheelchair Ramps Plans Designs and Information


Portable Wheelchair Ramps

Building a Home Ramp

This is Carpentry – Ramps for the handicapped

Red Raspberry

Red Raspberry

We’ve lived here 8 years.  The house was vacant for about three years prior to that.  So, for at least that long, the raspberry bushes were allowed to grow wild and become infiltrated with tall weeds.

This year the raspberries came up on my list of things to do.  In the past I just didn’t take the time to raise the drooping raspberry canes and just mowed over them.  Red Raspberry: Growing Raspberries, Plants, Bushes, CanesSo, that was the first thing to attend to -I nailed together some two by fours into a cross configuration and erected them at each end of the rows of  raspberry bushes.  I strung out some twine between the posts in order to support the overhanging canes.  This was enough to keep them off the ground.  The added benefit was ease of harvesting the raspberries.  In other years it was difficult to find them all and more difficult to reach them through the tangled mess.  It resembled the briar patch that Br’er Rabbit so desperately wanted Br’er Fox to throw him into when he was stuck to the Tar Baby.*

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Growing raspberries couldn’t be easier, really.  They spread through their own root system so, there is a good supply of up-and-coming canes.  It’s good to keep the older canes pruned back sometimes and to thin out the dead canes in the spring.  I haven’t been able to weed them out but, I do pull the taller weeds, as they interfere with the raspberry plants.  I have to pull all the grass and other weeds once and for all, and mulch the entire area.  It’s part of our Home Garden master plan.

Picking raspberries is not difficult but it is a challenge not to damage the berries, as they are delicate.  I find it’s easier with two hands, collecting a few and dropping them gently into a container.

Our red raspberry plants are certainly organic.  We do not fertilize them.  They grow like weeds all on their own.  We do not use any insecticides on them, although we do notice the presence of Japanese Beetles, but not many.  They are seen munching on the berries.  And, you can see where they’ve been chewing, as they ruin the berry.  My attitude is that there are plenty for them and us.  Of course, the Japanese Beetle population is cyclical, like everything else.  When we get to the point where they are present in greater numbers, I’ll have to set out some organic beetle traps to collect them.  One of the ‘organic’ beetle control measures firmly in place are a couple of bats that like to display their aerobatic maneuvers in the evening.  Bat conservation organizations are encouraging people to plant moth-attracting plants to help support the bats, as in the northeast U.S., the hibernating bat populations are perishing from White Nose Syndrome.  As raspberries attract Japanese Beetles, the bats should benefit from them, as well.

Eating our raspberries is like eating candy.  They are ever-so sweet.  Because they don’t maintain their quality in the refrigerator for very long, freezing raspberries is a good idea.  Use a flat pan and spread them out in a single layer on the pan.  After they are frozen they can be placed in a small baggie or a storage container and returned to the freezer.  Frozen raspberries are good in ice cream, on your breakfast cereal or in any number of other dishes.  Try using them instead of ice cubes in your ice tea or lemonade.

Raspberry nutrition is well documented.  High in Vitamin C, Manganese and Magnesium.   High in antioxidants and fiber.

*from the Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris.

Sharing is caring.  We hope you do both.  Use the Facebook icon or another social media button at the top or bottom of the page.  We do appreciate it and, as always, thanks for stopping by.  Do you have any thoughts on this or experience with it? If so, why not share them by commenting below.

Check this newsy article: Sweet and tart raspberries are packed with anti-oxidants

And, this excellent blog post:  Raspberries – Full of Summer Goodness

And, this: Keeping Up With the Raspberry Plant in Your Garden

The ‘Saw Stop’ Saw

Table saw injuries cause more than 40,000 emergency room visits and 4,000 amputations each year in the U.S according to one source.  Shop Safety, and, not surprisingly, table-saw safety has come to the attention of consumer advocates.  Some believe a mandate for safety saw brake technology is long overdue.  According to a National Consumers League spokesperson, “There is a pattern of injury, there is a technology that can address the injury and it can address the injury for a reasonable cost.  The vast majority of table-saw manufacturers haven’t changed their technology in 50 years … this is a major public health and safety issue that cries out for a public policy response.”

For the do-it-yourself crowd, it is something that is (or, should be) looming in the forefront of your consciousness every time you use a table saw on one of your home improvement or woodworking projects.


The ‘Saw Stop’ Saw Braking System

Steve Gass is the inventor of Saw Stop, a mechanical safety braking system technology for table saws that seems to reduce virtually all the injuries associated with table saws.  The gadget electronically detects human flesh when it comes into contact with the saw blade.  To demonstrate, Gass pushes a hot dog into the spinning saw and it brakes so fast it only slightly nicks the hot dog.  If it was your finger -you might require a band-aid.  Probably not.  The spinning blade brakes to a complete stop within about 5 milli-seconds (5-thousandths of a second).  The sudden stop wreaks havoc with the ‘Saw Stop’ Saw Brake and blade -but, your finger is intact.  The junk mechanism is replaceable for about $60.

While Gass and his like-minded supporters are of the opinion that power toolmakers have an ethical obligation to add the safety gadget to their saws to prevent injury, there are those who are loath to see one person’s invention mandated to be used across a wide industry.  Not surprisingly, the power tool industry is of the opinion  there are major problems with an imposed design requirement that mandates the use of technology patented by one company.

The cost to manufacturers for retooling and royalties would be a widespread, but a less individually devastating harm, while the injuries caused by table saws represent a more limited harm, but one that is more severe for the individuals who experience it.  Saw Stop Saw: Table saw injuryBoth sides present a compelling case, and the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is in the process of sorting all that out to (hopefully) make a fair decision that protects consumers without hampering the industry.  The CPSC believes this could be decided in the next few months, saying, “Our job is that this table saw safety does not go on the back burner the way it has been for the last 10 years.”

Meanwhile, there are some progressive saw safety manufacturers who have voluntarily adapted the SawStop system in their products.  M&M Tool and Machinery is one of them.  Work Safety at Home has taken a big leap forward with this technology.  For all the people who safely use table saws, still, a lot of us know someone who lost a finger (or, worse) using a table saw in an unsafe manner.

Do you have any thoughts on this or experience (good, bad, or funny)? If so, why not share your experiences by commenting below.  If you like this, please share it on Facebook or another social media -buttons are at top and bottom of page.  We do appreciate it.  As always, thanks for coming by. 

More information about the issues:

Power Saw Manufacturer’s Perspective

M&M Tool and Machinery Saw Stop Line-Up

Related NPR Article about Table Saw Regs

*Photo of Woodworker Brent by ‘Old Sarge’ – Doug Geisler

About Asbestos

Beautiful Libby, Montana is known as the most deadly Superfund Cleanup site in the country.  The town is the site of the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine that once employed 200 town people  The mine was allowed to contaminate the entire town with airborne asbestos particulate -called Tremolite Asbestos.  The EPA has been cleaning up the mess for about 11 years now.  After a long trial, the officers of W.R. Grace Co. narrowly averted conviction on criminal charges leveled at them for the widespread incidence of Mesothelioma in Libby, not only among the employees of the mining operation, but the town’s people, as well.  It was not uncommon to see clouds of asbestos contaminated dust blowing around town that emanated from the mine.   Even the kids at the Little League field were affected.

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Fear and Loathing in Libby

About Asbestos: Awareness, in Homes, Safety
Asbestos Sided Shed

Lately, Libby is in the news again.  Apparently, two huge piles of wood chips on the edge of town were up for grabs and used as a garden mulch all over town.  It has been reported it was even packaged and sold commercially in a wide area.  It has recently become known that the wood chips are contaminated with asbestos.

The giant piles of wood chips came from a lumber mill that took thousands of trees from a forest contaminated with asbestos from the nearby mine.  Studies by the EPA and university researchers have found the forests around Libby are tainted with asbestos at least eight miles from the mine. The barbed asbestos fibers lodge themselves in cracks and crevices in the bark until they are released when disturbed or burned.

The potential for more contamination has frayed nerves in Libby (Pop. 3,000) and further eroded confidence in the government to clean up the mess that, to date, has killed an estimated 400 people of Mesothelioma and related Lung Cancer and sickened 1,750.


Ok.  I can empathize with the unfortunate circumstances in Libby.  So, then how much exposure is there where I live?

Good question.  Building materials containing asbestos were used in home and building construction for decades.  Much of it is still in place.  Learn to recognize asbestos building materials in your home (if any). They are especially dangerous and pose the highest risk during home renovation activities.

The stakes are high.  Asbestos exposure can result in lung cancer and mesothelioma after a long gestation period.  Don’t risk your lungs by being complacent about asbestos remediation.  Get the facts.

 About Asbestos: Just what is it, anyway?

Asbestos is a natural fibrous silicate mineral for its heat-resistant properties.  Once ingested, usually by inhaling, the asbestos fibers become lodged in the lining of the lung where they remain, often resulting in the diseases mentioned in relation to the fine folks in Libby.

Numerous materials containing asbestos were in widespread use in industrial, commercial, institutional building construction, building maintenance, home building and home improvement applications.

Common uses: 

  • FLOOR TILES (vinyl asbestos, asphalt, and rubber), the backing on VINYL SHEET FLOORING, and ADHESIVES
  • CEMENT SHEET, MILLBOARD, and PAPER used as insulation around furnaces

There are other examples, as well.  The general consensus of opinion regarding the topic is: THE BEST THING TO DO WITH ASBESTOS MATERIAL IN GOOD CONDITION IS TO LEAVE IT ALONE!  For conditions less than good, as an alternative to removal, encapsulation is sometimes a viable option.

Additional information:

  • Learn about the possible hazards of Asbestos in the home and how to recognize it by accessing the following article: July is Asbestos Safety Month
  •  Asbestos remains on the list, without a single one of its forms escaping scrutiny.  

Read more: All forms of asbestos are still considered ‘known carcinogens’

The main point to walk away with about asbestos is, as a homeowner, it is prudent to be aware of asbestos and to be able to recognize it.  If you know where to look for it -or, know what to suspect, samples can be taken and tested, confirming or disproving its presence.  A remediation plan can be worked out, if required.  As mentioned above, sometimes the best course of action is to encapsulate it, which isn’t difficult and might not be a big financial concern.  Some people take the Ostrich’s “head in the sand” approach and ignore it. To do so is to risk the health of the whole family.

One other consideration is the one about trying to do it yourself.  Licensed remediation technicians are trained in methods that prevent the particulate from becoming airborne and escaping into the atmosphere.  Without the proper training, it is questionable whether you could complete the task without releasing airborne particulate into the atmosphere.  Said atmosphere might be the one your kids are using as an air supply.  If you insist on doing it yourself, seek the proper knowledge to reduce the risk of damaging your own health and the health of those around you.  And, one last thing.  Disposal of asbestos containing materials is regulated.  Because of that, there is probably some expense involved.  Do the rest of us a favor and don’t just chuck it on the side of a country road.

Do you have any thoughts on this or experience with asbestos ? If so, why not share them by commenting below.  Sharing is caring.  We hope you do both.  Use the Facebook icon or another social media button at the top or bottom of the page.  We do appreciate it and, as always, thanks for stopping by.

Fire Safety Risk

Fire Safety Risk: Residential Sprinklers, Fire Safety Systems

 Fire Safety Risk

If you are planning a home remodeling or renovation project, consider installing a residential fire sprinkler system.  There is no better time to do that, if you’ll be tearing the place up anyway.

Several reasons to consider the fire sprinkler system in your home:

1. The protection of life and property / greatly reduced fire safety risk.  (see statistics below).

2. Higher resale value

3. A reduction on your fire insurance premiums

Only 20 percent of reported fires occurred in one- and two-family homes, but these fires caused 70 percent (2,107) of all civilian fire deaths. Homes also account for the largest share of civilian fire injuries and related property damage.

Although smoke alarms can alert residents to a home fire, they cannot extinguish a fire.  Fire sprinkler systems can. To wit:

According to a National Institute of Standards and Technology study:

  • When fire sprinklers alone are installed, the chances of dying in a fire are reduced by 69 percent, when compared to a home without sprinklers.
  • When smoke alarms alone are installed, a reduction in the death rate of 63 percent can be expected, when compared to a home without smoke alarms.
  • When both smoke alarms and fire sprinklers are present, the risk of dying in a fire is reduced by 82 percent, when compared to a home without either.

If you want a fire sprinkler system in your home, you are likely to have to install it or contract it yourself, as the National Association of Home Builders has choked on new proposed Fire Safety Codes that would mandate sprinklers in homes.  Mandatory fire sprinklers could cost $7,000 to $15,000 per home and they feel  it’s difficult to justify in this market.  No doubt they are afraid it would cut into their own profits.  The cost of a fire system spread over the term of a 30 year mortgage is minimal.  And your homeowners insurance would be a lot cheaper.

Think of this: Are houses cheaper when a builder doesn’t provide a masonry chimney?  I don’t think so.  Meaning they don’t pass along the savings to the buyer.  The quality and substance of new homes has diminished over the years.  All the while the prices have increased at a rate outpacing inflation.

Almost three dozen states have rejected the idea of residential fire sprinklers and have enacted legislation or rules prohibiting mandatory installation.  (A classic example of the home builder’s lobbying dollar hard at work).  California and Maryland have adopted codes requiring installation of home sprinklers.  Apparently, the legislatures in those states are more highly evolved.

The International Code Council, an organization of building inspectors, fire officials and others who set building standards, recommended in 2009 that states and municipalities adopt codes requiring sprinkler systems in homes and townhouses less than three stories high. The regulations took effect Jan. 1, 2011.

Do you have any thoughts on this or experience with it? If so, why not share them by commenting below.  Sharing is caring.  We hope you do both.  Use the Facebook icon or another social media button at the top or bottom of the page.  We do appreciate it and, as always, thanks for stopping by.

Additional resources:

Debunking deadly myths: The truth about residential fire sprinklers

Home builders beating back fire sprinkler laws

Thermography and Electrical Wiring Problems

Be Proactive with Electrical Circuits instead of Reactive

The most common safety issue in an older house (one that is likely to have a panel with a lower ampacity) is circuit overloads.  We live in an age where there is much more demand for electricity than say, 40 years ago.  Simply put, there are more and more things in our homes that need to be ‘plugged in.’  A related problem is loose electrical connections which, if left unattended often become worse over time until intermittent power loss is experienced on one or more circuits.

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Be aware of Heat.  A build-up of heat is the red flag.

The tell tale ‘early warning’ for electrical wiring problems such as circuit overload or loose electrical connections is heat.  When the amount of current flow in a conductor  increases, the heat produced also increases. As the upper limit of its ability to conduct current is approached, the heat produced is significant. If you place the back of your fingers against a circuit breaker and it is cool or even slightly warm to touch, you can figure the breaker (and circuit) is within its design parameters.  However, if you find a breaker is very warm or hot -you have found something that warrants further scrutiny.

It could be the circuit breaker itself.  A circuit breaker is a mechanical device and subject to mechanical failure.  If an internal contact has degraded, it would begin to heat up, becoming worse (hotter) over time.  It could be an overloaded circuit.  As a breaker is subjected to a load that is at or near its design capacity (15 or 20 amps, for example) it will be warm to touch.  If operating properly, it will ‘trip’ (or, open) as the design capacity (current rating) is exceeded.  It is the (internal) build-up of heat that causes the breaker to open.

It could be a loose connection of the branch conductor at the circuit breaker.  A load on a bad connection will cause it to heat up -which will further exacerbate the problem.  The thermal cycling (heat up, cool down) will cause it to become even looser, creating even more heat.  If left unattended it will gradually become even looser until it is loose enough to arc (create sparks).  The arcing corrodes and degrades the copper or aluminum conductor -which creates even more heat.

As you can see, a loose electrical connection is lost in a downward spiral of doom if it goes undetected and unresolved.  This doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes time measured in years.

How to Detect Potential Electrical Wiring Problems

It’s a good preventive maintenance idea to check for heat build-up once in a while by placing the back of your fingers against extension cords, receptacles, meter enclosures, circuit breakers.   A build-up of heat in a circuit is not your friend.  If you find anything more than slightly warm, pay attention.  It is trying to tell you something.

IR (Infrared) Thermal Imaging (aka Thermography, Elecrical Infrared, Thermal Heat Imaging)

Thermography is a technology that enables detection of heat build-up in electrical connections, motors, and processes usually used in an industrial setting.  The same principals apply to residential settings, as well.  The accompanying video discusses the preventive maintenance aspect of thermography and the value of early detection.  Electrical Infrared is now an integral part of any facility manager’s preventative/predictive maintenance (P/PM) program.

Likely inspection points where you might expect to find heat build-up or ‘hot spots’ include conductors, electrical distribution panels, fuse boxes, switch gear, and connections.  Hot spots may indicate unbalanced or excessive loads or show loose connections.

Do you have any thoughts on this or experience with it (good, bad, or funny)? If so, why not share them by commenting below.  Also, if you like this, please share it on Facebook or another social media -buttons are at top and bottom of page.  We do appreciate it.  As always, thanks for coming by.

Additional resources:

What is Thermography?

Further insight into hot spots.

Loose or Corroded Electrical Connections.