Archive | February, 2012

Tips for Caring for Your Deck

27 Feb

Nature is a wonderful thing, and what better way to enjoy it than through outdoor living?  For some people, enjoying their early morning coffee on their patio or deck is the perfect way to start the day.  Others prefer to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family by having cookouts and outdoor gatherings. But, just like any other part of the house, our decks and patios can easily wear down if not properly maintained.

So, in order to maintain the functionality and beauty of your outdoor living space, here are a few tips to follow…

  • Check your deck for loose nails and warping boards that bounce whenever you step on them. Replace or tighten the screws as soon as possible to prevent the boards from moving in the future, and replace any boards that may be too damaged beyond repair.
  • Decks are prone to mildew and mold growth, so always allot time to clean them.  There are special deck cleaners that are designed to make the process easier and faster, and they can be found at any major home and garden store.  Deck cleaners can even enhance the tone of your wood, which is an added bonus if it has begun to weather and fade.
  • Wash your deck regularly with a pressure washer and let it dry overnight. Typically, it is recommended to wash the deck before and after any repair.
  • Check for any damage in your overall structure. If it appears that the damage has been done by an insect, immediately call pest control to have them exterminate the area. If there is damage that has been caused by animals, secure your deck with a fence or some other barrier to keep them away.
  • If you see rough spots or splinters in our deck, smooth them with sandpaper. If there is a large area that requires sanding and you use an electrical sander, be sure to wear protective goggles and a masks to avoid inhaling dust.
  • Replace old and worn wood in your deck.  Do a water test on new wood before installing it to ensure that the material can withstand moisture and rain. Drop some water onto the wood – if it beads up, the wood is good, but if the water is absorbed, you need to apply a treatment.
  • Always sweep your deck and keep it clean. An easy way to remember to do this is to take a few extra moments to sweep it while you’re cleaning the rest of the house.

Jennifer Fields
Oklahoma City & Edmond Real Estate Agent
405.330.0031

Ladder Safety Tips

23 Feb

Every year, people suffer from injuries incurred by falls. Sometimes the injuries are minor, but other times they are so severe that they become life-threatening, and in the worst cases, falling from a ladder, for example, can even lead to sudden death.

While working at home, it is always very important to take precautions to be sure you are protecting yourself properly, and this is especially true when it comes to climbing a ladder.   Whether you’re climbing a ladder to clean the gutters and upper windows of your house or to trim a large hedge, the risk of falling always exists, and the likelihood of injuries occurring increases further if you are also working with sharp tools.

So, here are a few safety measure to take the next time you use a ladder…

  • Read the instructions and warning labels that come with the ladder.  This will give you an idea of how to use the ladder effectively and avoid possible injuries.
  • Take note of the maximum load the ladder can support. Normally, a regular ladder can only withstand the weight of one person at one time.
  • Inspect the ladder before using it. Even if you’ve used the ladder recently, it is important to inspect it for signs of damage.  If you find anything abnormal, repair it immediately and use only use the ladder if it is in good condition.
  • Keep the ladder rungs and steps free from grease, wet paint, snow, oil, and any other material that can make them slippery.
  • Before climbing a ladder, make sure your shoes free of debris and anything else that may cause them to slide.
  • Choose the right kind of ladder for a specific task. Low and medium heights can easily be reached using utility ladders or step stools.  High places usually require extension ladders.  Never attempt to raise the height of your ladder using bricks or stones because that will pose a serious risk to the stability of the ladder and its ability to hold you.
  • Position your ladder on stable ground. Avoid placing it in mud or over unstable foundations, as the ladder will be more likely to move and cause you to fall.
  • Never climb up to the last two rungs of your ladder. This makes your ladder less stable and can cause it to break or fall over. Many ladders these days are built with an attached platform on the top rung for holding a can of paint, but do not mistake that area for a step.
  • Before using an extension ladder, make sure that the locks are securely in place.
  • Never position your ladder over a window or door. If a project requires you to do so, make sure that the openings are locked or guarded, so no one can open them while you are on the ladder and potential push you off.

Jennifer Fields
Oklahoma City & Edmond Real Estate Agent
405.330.0031

Frontier City Adds Water Attraction

21 Feb

Oklahoma’s only amusement park, Frontier City, has announced that it will be unveiling a huge new interactive water attraction this spring called the Wild West Water Works.  This attraction will open its doors in May, a month after the season opens, to offer waterworks fun and entertainment to park goers of all ages. It will be five stories tall and located to the south of the Wildcat roller coaster, where an employee parking lot used to reside. It will feature 198 ways to get wet plus eight colorful slides, a lounging deck, and a 1,000 gallon tipping bucket. Changing facilities and showers will also be available.

According to Stephen Ball, General Manager of Frontier City, the Wild West Water Works will become the biggest attraction at the park. The $1.3 million project is the first major addition to the park under the new management of Gary Story and Kieren Burke.  The park has not had a new attraction since July of 2008, when Oklahoma’s only suspended roller coaster, the Steel Lasso, was introduced during the park’s 50th anniversary.

With the addition of the new water attraction, Frontier City will soon become the best entertainment experience and value in Oklahoma.

Jennifer Fields
Oklahoma City & Edmond Real Estate Agent
405.330.0031

Earthquake Preparation Tips for You and Your Home

20 Feb

Natural disasters are an inevitable part of the world we live in and we are often no match for their powerful and destructive forces. Here in Oklahoma – as we are all too familiar after the events of 2011, we are a state that appears to no longer be immune to earthquakes.  Earthquakes and their after shocks put citizens in extreme danger, and it is, therefore, important for us to prepare ourselves and do what is within our power to minimize the damage they cause. Preparing your house to endure an earthquake is important not only to minimize structural damage to your property, but also to protect yourself against injuries and fatality.

Here are a few tips on ways you can make your house “earthquake ready”:

  • Always store heavy objects in lower areas to prevent them from falling on people during an earthquake.  Get into the habit of arranging objects according to their weight, with heavier items on bottom and lighter items on top.
  • Maintain an emergency kit at all times. Should a disaster strike, it is important to have key items together in one, easy to access location, and your emergency kit should include a first aid kit, water, food, tools, a flashlight, a change of clothing, and towels.
  • Secure your breakables with door latches and locks. Store glassware inside a cabinet with a door latch that can be locked, so in the event of an earthquake, the cabinet doors won’t easily fly open and send everything crashing to the ground.
  • Identify all exists and plan an exit strategy in advance.  Once a plan is created, make sure everyone in the household knows what it is and partner healthier, stronger family members with small children, seniors, and those who are disable, so that everyone will be capable of escaping in the event of a disaster.
  • Place your bed away from any windows to avoid injuries from shattering glass.
  • Check your water heater and other appliances regularly and be sure they are secure enough that they will not be damaged or interrupted during an earthquake.
  • Have your wall foundations and roof checked regularly.  Make sure that they are strong enough to hold up to the movement caused by an earthquake.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.  Earthquakes can sometimes break gas mains and ignite fires.  It is a good idea to have a fire extinguisher, so you are not helpless as you wait for fire fighters to arrive.
  • Place emergency outdoor clothing and shoes near your door so you are fully covered if you must rush outdoors. It is recommended to go outside during an earthquake, so you want to be sure you are dressed decently if you have to.
  • Install anti-skid pads on your appliances so they will not easily slip and slide during an earthquake.

Jennifer Fields
Oklahoma City & Edmond Real Estate Agent
405.330.0031

Tips for Effective Dusting

16 Feb

Removing dust from inside your house takes more than simply running a feather duster across your furniture and then sweeping it away.  That method often actually just moves the dust around, rather than gets rid of it.  With one wipe, you see a dust-free countertop, but a few minutes later, it’s back.

In order to dust effectively, you need to use additional, alternative means.  The next time you begin to dust your home, follow these tips…

  • Start at the top and work your way down.  If you dust the lower levels first, they will just become dusty again once you clean the upper levels and dust falls down.  Save yourself time and get results with just one round of cleaning.
  • Clean the blades of your fan.  Dust always settles on fan blades, especially during the winter months, when they may not be used as frequently.  If you do not dust the blades of your fan regularly, every time you turn on your fan, all of that dust will blow throughout the room.
  • Check a surface before you dust it.  If it’s dusty, clean it.  If not, leave it alone. Dusting a clean surface will actually make it dirtier because the duster you’re using will leave more dust behind that what was there before.
  • Shake your pillows, cushions and rugs outside and away from open doors and windows. This is especially important if it’s windy outside.
  • When choosing dusting equipment, select something like a wet cloth or vacuum that will actually remove the dirt versus simply move it around.
  • If you have pets inside your home, brush their fur regularly to avoid shedding. This will reduce the level of dust and collection of fur around your house.
  • Electronics are huge dust magnets, so dust them regularly.  Make sure to also dust the back of your appliances, so that the dirt doesn’t accumulate and/or spread to other parts of the house.
  • Dust more frequently, even if it’s just light dusting.  It is more effective to dust lightly everyday than to allow dirt to accumulate and be forced to do deep cleaning.
  • Remember to vacuum an area once you’ve finished dusting it, so you capture any remaining dust.

Jennifer Fields
Oklahoma City & Edmond Real Estate Agent
405.330.0031

University of Central Oklahoma Features Art Exhibit

14 Feb

If you love art, then you will surely love the new exhibit being sponsored by the University of Central Oklahoma Art Department, featuring works from students, as well as local and successful Oklahoma painters.

The art exhibit is entitled “Colors of Dreams” and will be on display at the Donna Nigh Gallery on the fourth floor of the UCO Nigh University Center. It will be open to the public free of charge until March 29 and most pieces will be for sale. Bob Palmer, Ph.D., Professor of Painting and Photographic Arts, is the gallery curator.

The “Colors of Dreams” art exhibit will feature masterpieces from UCO alumn, Shikoh Shiraiwa, a professional artist who has been showcased in many art exhibits throughout Oklahoma City and New York City. One of his paintings was recently displayed in the OU Medical Center for the annual Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition art show known as Momentum.

Other artists that will be featured include Darrol Reddick, a UCO alum, and Alexis Brittany Piper, a current UCO art student.

Jennifer Fields
Oklahoma City & Edmond Real Estate Agent
405.330.0031

Caring For Your Tree This Spring

13 Feb

Spring is around the corner and that means trees and shrubs will be blooming soon. Trees are some of nature’s most beautiful gifts, and it is important to give them the proper care to preserve their natural beauty and maintain a cleaner atmosphere.

If you would like for your trees to grow this spring season, it is important to understand how to best care for them.  Even the sturdiest trees of trees can experience premature death without the proper care, so here are a few tips for caring for your trees, prolonging their life, and preserving the beautiful ambiance around you.

  • Like any other plant, trees need space for their roots to fully receive and utilize water.  Remove any grass, weeds, or flowering shrubs around your tree that may be competing for the water it needs.
  • If you use salt to de-ice your sidewalks, be sure to keep it away from your trees and their root systems.  It can hinder the full absorption of water and nutrients they need.
  • Create natural compost for your trees. Trees need access to microorganisms that provide them with nutrients, and you can naturally create space for these microorganisms to reside by composting dry leaves.  Instead of sweeping leaves away and throwing them into the trash, leave them under your trees, where they can break down naturally and supplement them.
  • Mulch your trees. Mulching will enhance the oxygen levels and moisture availability to your trees. In addition, it can also improve the structure of your soil and is very aesthetically pleasing when landscaping.
  • Remember the fertilizer. Laying down fertilizer around your trees from time to time will help replenish the nutrients in the soil that they need to flourish.
  • Avoid bumping into your trees with the lawnmower. Once damage occurs, infection can easily creep into the inner parts of the trees, hampering their ability to grow.
  • Pruning your trees. Trimming excessive branches and removing dead limbs helps air circulate properly around your trees.  It also helps trees better utilize water because it isn’t being circulated to unnecessary parts of the trees that are not aiding in their growth.
  • Adjust your sprinkler system to accommodate the needs of your trees in addition to those of your lawn and flowers.  Just be careful to not overwater them and keep an eye out for water pooling.
  • Have your soil checked. Testing your soil for mineral composition will tell you whether or not your trees are receiving all of the nutrients they need.  It is usually best to hire a knowledgeable professional, who has the expertise to properly analyze the soil and offer suggestions on what you may need to do to add nutrients to it.

 

Jennifer Fields
Oklahoma City & Edmond Real Estate Agent
405.330.0031