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Weather Alert: review these storm preparedness tips

Precautions You Can Take Against Lighting As A Homeowner

Warm weather usually means fun in the Carolina sun, but summer heat also can bring severe weather. Threatening thunderstorms often loom large on summer afternoons, so it’s important to be prepared for downpours and accompanying lightning. Consider the following suggestions when planning both outdoor and indoor events this summer to reduce the risk of a lightning strike.

  • Watch the weather. Pay attention to your local weather forecast before participating in outdoor activities. If there’s a chance of thunderstorms, consider rescheduling or moving the event indoors. If that’s not possible, have an emergency plan in place in case a severe storm rolls in, and designate a sufficient nearby structure as an emergency shelter.
  • Stay inside. If severe thunderstorms are imminent, go indoors and wait until they pass. Safe, enclosed shelters include homes, schools, offices, shopping malls and vehicles with hard tops and closed windows. Open structures and spaces do not provide adequate protection.
  • Duck and crouch. If you’re caught outside during a severe storm, it’s important to crouch low on the ground, tuck your head and cover your ears to help protect yourself from harm. Do not lie down; lightning strikes can produce extremely strong electrical currents that run along the top of the ground, and laying horizontally increases electrocution risk.
  • Turn off faucets. During a thunderstorm, lightning can sometimes be conducted through the plumbing. Avoid any type of contact with running water, including bathing, showering and washing your hands, dishes or clothes.
  • Turn off electronics. All electrical appliances—televisions, computers, laptops, gaming systems, stoves and more—that are plugged into an electrical outlet could carry a current from a lightning strike. Surge protectors will reduce the risk of damaging electronics.

Stay away from windows. Not only is lightning a threat, but high winds and hail create flying debris that could be harmful during a thunderstorm. Close all windows and doors and stay as far away from them as possible.

Why Shop at the Farmers Market?

Some of our community associations are fortunate enough to have a local farmers market. If you’ve never stopped by before, consider the many advantages of purchasing goods from local merchants.

Farmers markets in the Southeast have gained popularity in the last few years as more and more consumers have come to enjoy the very fresh, locally grown produce, baked goods, eggs, dairy products, poultry and meats they offer. Farmers markets benefit shoppers and local economies as well as the environment. Locally grown produce requires less fossil fuel to transport, which reduces pollution and noise, and less packaging—which means less trash—than what is found in most supermarkets. More often than not, farmers markets offer organically grown or pesticide-free produce, which is better for the environment as well as better for consumers’ health.

Farmers markets also stimulate local economies, including our homeowners associations, by providing a secure place for small-scale local producers to sell their products, and a regular cash flow to local farmers. When local farmers and producers prosper, they are able to support other types of local businesses. Some retailers adjacent to farmers markets have seen an increase in their own sales by as much as 30 percent on market days.

Another advantage to having a farmers market in the community is the social interaction between urban and rural residents, as well as between neighbors. A source of “information and inspiration on how to prepare fresh ingredients,” farmers markets can help consumers better understand nutrition and the value of fresh food.

The number of farmers markets in the United States has grown to more than 6,000 and has increased by 16 percent since 2009, according the National Farmers Market Directory. More than 20,000 farmers participate in farmers markets throughout the country. Most U.S. farmers markets are located in California, New York, Illinois, Michigan and Iowa, but the numbers are on the rise in other states, such as Missouri, Minnesota, Idaho, Michigan and Indiana.





Protect Pets and Common Areas from Parasites

Dogs and cats can be great companions, but they also can carry fleas, ticks and parasites into your home and our community. Infestations can spread quickly through a community when flea-infested carpeting or pet bedding is disposed of improperly, when a flea-infested pet plays with your pet and when pet waste is left uncollected on common areas.

Help avoid harmful pests in your home and prevent them from spreading around our community association with the following tips. Also, be sure to follow up with your veterinarian to learn more about other ways to prevent and treat outbreaks.

  • Apply a topical flea and tick pesticide. Fleas lay 40 to 50 eggs a day. Unless a pesticide kills 95 percent of the fleas, you won’t eliminate the problem. To do this, you need to use the products sold by your veterinarian. Over-the-counter products just aren’t strong or effective enough. Monthly applications will help keep pets healthy even when they’re exposed to parasites—including mosquitos and mites.
  • Always leash your pet. Although you may trust your pets to obey commands, keeping them leashed lessens the likelihood they’ll be infected by other pets and wildlife.
  • Keep your pet clean. Even indoor pets should be inspected for ticks and flea “dirt,” which looks like pepper at the base of the coat on the skin. An occasional bath with flea shampoo is a good idea as well. Visit your local pet store or grooming facility or check online for information on bathing routines and options that are best for your pet.
  • Monitor your pet’s behavior. Scratching is your first indication that fleas have discovered your dog or cat. Apply a topical pesticide immediately. Fleas, ticks and mosquitos carry potentially life threatening pathogens, so pets can experience a wide range of symptoms if infected; be suspicious of changes in behavior and discuss them promptly with your veterinarian.
  • Keep the situation contained. Once you’ve treated your pet and your home (and possibly your yard or outdoor surroundings depending on how severe the infestation), keep the pet close to home until the problem is resolved. Wash bedding and toys that may harbor eggs or larvae in hot water. Infested bedding or carpeting should be tightly sealed in plastic bags before disposing to reduce risk of spreading to others.






Organic or Conventional? Smarter Shopping, Better Health

Until recently, organic produce was found mainly in home gardens, quaint farmers’ markets and specialty health food stores. The heightened eco-consciousness of the green movement over the past few years and health concerns about chemicals used in conventional farming have led to consumer demand for produce grown without synthetic pesticides, artificial fertilizers, irradiation or biotechnology. This has made organic the fastest growing sector in the food marketplace.

In addition, research is beginning to support the contention that chemicals used in conventional farming can have a negative impact on health. The 2008-2009 annual report from the President’s Cancer Panel, “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now,” published in April 2010, encourages consumers to consider buying organically grown food to help decrease their exposure to environmental toxins. The report stated in their recommendations to “give preference to food grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers and growth hormones.”

Despite being more readily available, the cost of organic produce can be as much as 40 percent higher than conventionally grown crops, which deters many consumers. The good news is that choosing organic foods to improve your health doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes an annual Shoppers Guide to Pesticides based on lab tests conducted by the USDA Pesticide Data Program. According to the EWG, you can lower your pesticide consumption by nearly 80 percent by avoiding the 12 most contaminated conventionally grown produce and instead eating the least contaminated produce. When you eat fresh produce from the “Clean 15” (the least contaminated fruits and vegetables), you’ll be exposed to fewer than 2 pesticides per day, compared to as many as 67 pesticides per serving found in the “Dirty Dozen.”


The Dirty Dozen (always buy organic)

Ÿ -Celery (most contaminated)

Ÿ -Peaches                     Ÿ-Strawberries  Ÿ       -Apples

Ÿ -Blueberries              Ÿ -Nectarines      Ÿ      -Bell peppers

Ÿ -Spinach                     -Kale                      Ÿ  -Cherries

Ÿ -Potatoes                    Ÿ-Grapes (imported)


The Clean 15

Ÿ -Onions (least contaminated)

Ÿ -Avocados                 -Sweet corn      Ÿ  -Honeydew melon

Ÿ -Pineapples               Ÿ-Mangos              Ÿ-Sweet peas

Ÿ -Asparagus                Ÿ-Kiwi                    -Eggplant

Ÿ -Cantaloupe              Ÿ-Watermelon  Ÿ    -Grapefruit

Ÿ -Cabbage              Ÿ    -Sweet potatoes

Heading Off Burnout

Burnout is more than just stress—it’s how your mind and your body tell you something needs to change. Do you find yourself withdrawing from work and caring less about results? Are you working harder, often mechanically or to the point of exhaustion? Just going through the motions?

Try a few tips for keeping burnout at bay.

 Exercise at least three times a week. Running, weight lifting, bike riding—anything that gets your heart and lungs working burns off stress. Exercise releases endorphins that boost your mood – and energy – and it releases built-up stress that otherwise leads to burnout.

Make time for a hobby. An art class, cooking, reading, sewing—anything that’s not part of the your regular routine and helps you relax will balance the things that wear you down.

Practice breathing exercises. “Just breathe!” Yes, it’s an old cliche, but there is a grain of truth behind every cliché. Deep breathing gives your body a boost of oxygen and it releases tension in your abdomen around your heart.

Get away. Take a walk at lunch and enjoy the wonderful weather the Southeast has to offer, and don’t take work home. Leave the office at the office. At home, find a time and place where you can relax and unwind. Even 15 minutes of relaxation can relieve stress.

Laugh. Sometimes it helps to look at a situation and just laugh. If that fails, read the jokes that your uncle’s cousin’s best friend is e-mailing you three times a week. Pick a comedy next time you go to the movies or surf channels.

Take up yoga or tai chi. These disciplines have a restorative effect and are sure burnout busters.

Burnout can creep up on you slowly. Watch for the warning signs and stay ahead of it. Your heart, family and employer will thank you.



Influenza Pandemic: A Matter of When—Not If

There is no current evidence that Americans are about to face an influenza pandemic. That’s the good news. The bad news however: Most experts say it’s not a matter of if, but when we will have to contend with an influenza pandemic. Next month, next year or even five years from now, it’s only just a matter of time.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1.8 million Americans could lose their lives during a category 5 (worst-case) influenza pandemic. That assumes only 30 percent of Americans contract the illness and within that 30 percent, 2 percent of them are fatalities. That worst-case scenario assumes that the most effective tool—a vaccine to fight that specific influenza strain—would be unavailable during at least the early stages of a pandemic.

According to a new CDC report, Americans will need to take a number of steps to help mitigate a serious pandemic:

  • Isolation and treatment of those with the influenza, either in homes or healthcare settings, depending on the severity of the illness and the capacity of the healthcare infrastructure.
  • Dismissal of students from public and private schools and universities, including cancellation of all school-based activities and childcare programs.
  • Voluntary home quarantine of those with confirmed or probable influenza. Use of social-distancing measures to reduce contact between adults, including cancellation of large public gatherings, increased telecommuting and modifications to workplace environments.

When this happens in your area, your homeowners association will try to follow the CDC recommendations as completely as possible, including postponing meetings and social events until the contagion has passed. Residents interested in developing a plan for their community association institute and provide support to quarantined members, augment home health care services, meet day care needs, and prepare their community for other pandemic-related needs should contact the HOA manager or a board member for information about forming a committee.

The CDC report can be accessed at


Lead Paint Warning

Since many homes in homeowners associations were built before 1978, there’s a good chance they could contain lead paint. Lead-based paint was common in homes before the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned it.

When disturbed, lead-based paint can cause significant health problems, especially in children.

Lead dust settles on floors and walls where it can get on children’s hands or toys and is ingested or inhaled. Initially, lead poisoning can be hard to detect and can later cause permanent brain damage and other ailments.

There’s no immediate risk unless the paint in your home is peeling or disturbed during renovations. If this happens, it is important to contact your HOA immediately so that it can be taken care of right away by professionals, in order to avoid spreading the dust. Resident’s safety is of the utmost importance.

The week of Oct. 19 is designated National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week by the U.S Centers for Disease Control.

For more information, SCS recommends residents to visit the following websites:

ŸThe Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning,
The National Center for Healthy Housing,
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
The U.S. Housing and Urban Development,

Protecting People with Dementia

The National Institute on Aging reports that as many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia among older people. In addition to memory loss, symptoms include sleeplessness, agitation, depression, anxiety, anger and wandering.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, six in 10 people with dementia are likely to wander. Because a person with Alzheimer’s may become confused and disoriented and may forget their personal identity, wandering is particularly dangerous.

To avoid panic and improve the chances of a safe return, it is important to have an emergency plan in place, just in case a person with dementia becomes lost. The National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association recommend that caregivers take the following precautions:

  • Make sure the person carries some form of identification or wears a medical bracelet indicating his or her illness along with their address.
  • Ask neighbors in your HOA community, friends and family to call if they see the person alone.
  • Because wandering usually follows the direction of the dominant hand, note whether the person is right- or left-handed.
  • Know your neighborhood. The Alzheimer’s Association reports that 94 percent of people who wander are found within 1.5 miles of where they disappeared, so be aware of dangerous areas near their home, such as bodies of water, open stairwells, dense foliage, tunnels, bus stops and roads with heavy traffic.
  • Make a list of people you know to call for help, and keep the list easily accessible.
  • Keep a recent close-up photo and updated medical information to give to police if the person becomes lost.
  • Let neighbors and local police know that the person tends to wander.
  • Keep a list of places where the person may wander, including past jobs, former homes, places of worship or favorite restaurants.
  • Consider having the person carry or wear an electronic tracking GPS device, such as Comfort Zone and Comfort Zone Check-In, which helps identify their location.
  • Consider enrolling the person in the MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return Program (visit or call (888) 572-8566 to find the program in your area).

When someone with dementia is missing:

  • Begin search-and-rescue efforts immediately.
  • Search the immediate area for no more than 15 minutes before calling for help.
  • Call 911 and report that a person with Alzheimer’s disease—a “vulnerable adult”—is missing.
  • Call (800) 625-3780 to file a report with MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return. First responders are trained to check with MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return when they locate a missing person with dementia. You do not need to be enrolled in MedicAlert + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return to file a missing person report.

Avoiding Bee Stings

For most people, a bee sting is an uncomfortable experience, but not a life-threatening event. For approximately 3 percent of adults and 0.5 percent of children, however, a sting by a bee, wasp, hornet or yellow jacket can result in a whole-body allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)—a true medical emergency.

The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid being stung. Generally, insects such as bees and wasps aren’t aggressive and only sting as a self-defense mechanism. If a few bees are flying around you, calmly and slowly walk away from the area—swatting at an insect may cause it to sting you. When a bee stings, it releases a chemical that attracts other bees, so if a bee or wasp stings you or if many insects start to fly around you, cover your mouth and nose and quickly leave the area. Try to get into a building or a closed vehicle.

The following are some additional tips so you can remain sting-free:

  • Use caution when working around bushes, shrubs, trees and trashcans.
  • Have hives and nests near your home removed by a professional.
  • Always wear shoes when walking outside, particularly on grass.
  • Wear pants, long-sleeved shirts, gloves, close-toed shoes and socks when working outdoors.
  • Avoid very loose-fitting clothing that can trap insects.
  • Avoid eating any type of sweet foods outside.
  • Don’t wear brightly colored clothing or flowery prints because it could attract insects. Avoid using perfumes or other scented products for this reason as well.
  • Cover food containers and trash cans tightly.
  • Always check food and drinks before consuming, especially open cans of soda or drinks with straws at pools and picnics.
  • Serve beverages in wide, open cups, since they easily allow you to see what’s inside.
  • Clear away garbage, fallen fruit and animal feces (flies can attract wasps).
  • Keep the windows rolled up when driving or riding in a car.
Bike And Scooter Safety Tips

Bike and Scooter Safety Tips

Your homeowners association wants your children to be safe while riding their bikes and scooters in the community, taking into consideration you can’t be there to watch them all the time. Here are four steps that could increase their safety when you’re not around.

  • Teach kids how to fall. Learning how to ride correctly is only part of what keeps children safe. Falls are inevitable, and teaching your children to fall correctly will prevent many serious injuries when the inevitable happens. Teach them to roll on impact, relax their body and try to land on their padded, fleshiest parts.
  • Inspect equipment. Check bikes and scooters for cracks or dents, sharp metal parts, jutting edges and slippery surfaces. Replace any defective equipment and consult a professional for repairs. Apply self-adhesive, non-slip material to slippery surfaces.
  • Make sure your kids know only one person is allowed to each piece of equipment at one time. They might be less likely to hop on a friend’s scooter if they know it’s unsafe and they’ll have to pay for replacing it if it breaks.
  • Require protective equipment. Scooters, roller blades, bikes and similar equipment cause thousands of injuries every year. Make sure your children are wearing helmets, knee pads and elbow pads, especially if they are still in the learning stages. Buy a helmet your kid thinks is cool and you know is safe—it’s worth the extra money to know your child will like to wear it.