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Guard Against Furniture Tip-Over

(NAPSI)-Here's a tip for parents: You can take steps to help protect your youngsters from the dangers of furniture falling on them.

The problem is more serious than many people realize. Thousands of children visit emergency rooms each year with injuries received from climbing on or pulling over furniture.

"Parents and caregivers need to be aware that these accidents tend to happen quickly--usually while a child is left briefly alone in a room," notes American Home Furnishings Alliance vice president Bill Perdue, who helped write the voluntary furniture tip-over safety standard for manufacturers.

The standard, issued by ASTM International, applies to dressers, chests, armoires or other clothing storage units taller than 30 inches--the pieces most often involved in accidents.

To meet the standard, pieces must not tip even when all drawers are open two-thirds of the way. They also must not tip when one drawer is open and a 50-pound weight is placed in the open drawer. The standard also requires manufacturers to include "tip restraints" with new furnishings.

"Tip restraints attach the piece of furniture to an interior wall, the wall framing or other support to help prevent the piece from tipping over," Perdue explains. Parents should closely follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing the tip restraints.

New furnishings that comply with the standard also carry a new warning label. Here's a look at three important "don'ts":

• Don't open more than one drawer at a time;

• Don't let children climb on drawers;

• Don't place televisions or other heavy objects on the top of products with drawers or shelves unless the piece is a media chest specifically designed to hold a TV.

Standards issued by ASTM are voluntary and not all furniture manufacturers choose to follow them.

For older furnishings that parents suspect may be prone to tip, AHFA recommends purchasing tip restraints, which are available in the safety section of hardware stores and baby specialty stores.

For a free sample furniture tip-over safety bracket, e-mail your request (with shipping address) to pbowling@ahfa.us.

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Budget-Savvy Home: Spruce Up On A Shoe String

(NAPSI)-Even a bare-bones decorating budget doesn't mean you can't give your home a fresh look.

"One of the easiest and least expensive ways to spruce up your home is to subtract what's in it," says Ginny Bean, publisher and founder of Ginny's catalog and Ginnys.com.

Here are a few of Bean's low-cost, high-impact tips for giving your home a lift:

Clear the clutter. Clear stacks of books and magazines on coffee tables and throws on couches. Put books on shelves and magazines in a rack or basket. Tuck the throws in the linen closet and pack away knickknacks for a few months.

Rearrange the furniture. Try floating furniture in the room rather than hugging the walls. It's a great trick for making the space feel different and less structured. Swap out an item in your living room for one in your bedroom, or slide something from the kitchen into the dining room.

Spring for some color. A few touches of bright, saturated color can refresh any room and distract the eye from items that might be a bit dated. There's no need to break the bank. Think about pillows and placemats to incorporate the colors you want.

Accessorize. You can change your towels, shower curtain and bath accessories for under $100. Candles are another way to create an inviting room environment. Seasonal scents such as lavender and lemon leaf add color, freshness and intoxicating fragrance.

Go sheer. Replace heavy draperies with bright, lightweight curtains or sheers.

Remake your bed. Put away that heavy comforter or quilt in favor of a lighter bedspread. Mix and match solid-colored fitted and top sheets with pillowcases in various patterns. Tuck the top sheet tightly all around and fold the edge at the head of the bed over your coverlet or blanket. Fold your bedspread down to rest across the foot of the bed. Add accent pillows to create an inviting, luxurious-looking bed.

Assess your artwork. Is your wall decor light and bright or warm and cozy? Go for light and bright wherever possible.

Plant an idea. Put at least one houseplant in every room. Fill a low planter or kitchen serving dish with potting soil and some grass seed. For more decorating ideas and products, visit Ginnys.com  or call (800) 487-9024 to request a catalog.

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What To Screen Out When Buying Screens

(NAPSI)-If your window and door screens have worn out, separated from the frame or torn, you may need to replace them.

Whether you install them yourself or choose a contractor to do the job, start the process by doing your homework. Learning more about screen quality can help you get the best deal.

Since all screens are not created equal, there are several factors to consider when selecting one:

• A better view. The latest screens are woven with smaller yarns, which can maximize the outward view.

For example, Phifer's BetterVueฎ screens have holes in between the yarns that are 30 percent smaller than those in the standard fiberglass insect screen, making them so sharp, you see the view, not the screen.

Not only do the smaller diameters enhance the view and allow more light in, they improve air-flow and increase protection against small insects.

• Fire safety. Check to see that the screen has been certified as flame retardant.

• Mildew and mold protection. Choose a line with antimicrobial protection that can work 24/7 for an added level of defense against stain- and odor-causing microbes, such as mold and mildew that can damage your screens. Screens such as those made by Phifer now have Microbanฎ protection built in.

• Greener screens. For example, BetterVueฎ Insect Screening is certified by the Greenguardฎ Environmental Institute (GEI) for superior indoor air-quality performance. All products certified by GEI must pass a series of rigorous emissions tests and undergo quarterly tests as well as annual recertification to ensure their low-emission status is maintained.

These are also important features to consider when enclosing your patio or porch. Choose screens that offer superior visibility, attractive neutral tones to coordinate with your home and extra protection against insects.

If you are in the market for new windows, be sure to consider the screening that will be installed in those windows. If they don't already have BetterVueฎ preinstalled, ask for it.

For more information, visit the site at www.phifer.com.

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Avoid Damage With Basement Waterproofing

(NAPSI)-A damp, leaky basement can be a homeowner's worst nightmare. Active water leaks and excessive moisture in basement or foundation walls can rob a home of extra storage or living space. And, if left unchecked, more serious problems can result, including costly structural damage and high humidity levels throughout the home. That's why it is important to take care of water problems before they start.

Fortunately, there are state-of-the-art technologies that make basement waterproofing easier than ever before--even for inexperienced do-it-yourselfers. New waterproofing paints are low odor and are easy to apply, eliminating the expense associated with hiring a contractor.

Getting started: Prepare the surface. Before you get started, make sure basement walls are thoroughly cleaned to get rid of dirt, grease and other contaminants. Kill any existing mold and mildew by washing with a solution of household bleach and water, consisting of no more than one cup of bleach in one gallon of water. Next, remove any efflorescence, a powdery white deposit found on many concrete surfaces, with a concrete etching solution to ensure the waterproofing paint sticks to the basement walls. Patch any holes and cracks--especially those that show signs of active water leaks or those around windows, doors and joints. Products like Zinsser Watertite Etch, Watertite Hydraulic Cement and Watertite Polyurethane Sealant are specifically formulated for basement waterproofing prep.

Apply two coats of waterproofing paint. Waterproofing paints such as Watertite Mold & Mildew-Proof Waterproofing Paint are guaranteed to stop water and offer a five-year mold- and mildew-proof paint film guarantee. Low odor and easy to use, Watertite is available in an oil-base formula, which is great for waterproofing wet walls, or a convenient latex formula for routine waterproofing.

To apply, use a thick synthetic brush or large nap roller to apply the first coat to a small section of the masonry. Use a brush to work the coating into the pores of the concrete to produce a continuous pinhole-free film. Apply the second coat with a brush or roller.

Enjoy your basement. Watertite can be tinted to a wide range of off-white, pastel and medium-tone colors to help you transform a damp, leaky basement into a beautiful living space. To learn more, visit www.zinsser.com.

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Fixing The Effects Of "Stormageddon"

(NAPSI)-In the wake of the devastating winter storms that rocked the mid-Atlantic and in preparation for spring showers, millions of homeowners must now determine how to repair their roofs and prevent costly future damage caused by heavy snow, pounding hail and wind-driven rain.

Each year, homeowners spend millions of dollars to repair extensive roof damage due to severe weather. For some, the damage extends beyond the roofing system, impacting the structural integrity of a home's walls and ceilings.

The good news for homeowners? Selecting the right underlayment to repair current roof damage can also prevent future damage. When choosing the roofing underlayment, consumers should keep a few important points in mind:

• Shingles are only designed to shed water, not repel it; once water penetrates shingles, leaks are inevitable. Only a watertight underlayment adhered under the shingles will ensure that water does not penetrate the roof.

• To achieve superior protection, the roofing underlayment must seal around roof covering fasteners (nails, etc.).

• Self-adhering underlayments are the best defense against leaks since they provide superior initial and long-term adhesion without using primer or nails.

Powerful Protection Against Perilous Weather

Grace Ice & Water Shieldฎ self-adhering roofing underlayment is your best insurance against ice-packed roofs and wind-driven rain. The product's aggressive rubberized asphalt formulation provides superior adhesion and seals around roofing fasteners to deliver premium leak protection. Grace Ice & Water Shield provides a level of waterproof protection that traditional felt underlayments can't match--it will keep your home dry even in the face of the worst "Stormageddon."

Learn More

For more information on Grace Ice & Water Shield and tips on how to protect your home from the elements, or to find a local contractor, visit www.graceathome.com.

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Rubber Mulch--Protecting Our Future

(NAPSI)-Each year, more than 200,000 children visit the emergency room due to an accident on the playground. Nearly 70 percent of these injuries are the result of a fall on the surface, which is typically covered with gravel, sand, wood or even asphalt. The spring and summer are meant for care--free playing and enjoying the great outdoors, not sitting at home with an arm in a sling or a cast on a leg. Studies show that many surfaces lack the necessary safety elements to adequately protect our little ones when they are at play. While there are many options one can choose to put beneath the swing set or jungle gym, simply put, the safest ground cover available is recycled rubber mulch.

Whether you are looking for rubber mulch that looks identical to wood mulch, such as Rubberific Mulch, or a loose-fill ground cover like NuPlay or NuScape, the results will be the same--you will have the safest playground on the block.

In tests conducted by The American Society for Testing and Materials, the governmental standard for performance, rubber mulch had a fall height rating that was double that of wood mulch and sand. In addition, rubber mulch will not compact, which greatly impacts the safety of a surface--if the surface will not cushion a fall, it could create an unnecessary injury.

"Since we started our company, we have confidently said that if you use rubber mulch under your backyard playground or at the neighborhood park, your children will be safer," says Cindy Miller, vice president of International Mulch Company.

In addition to the unparalleled safety of recycled rubber, it will not rot, fade, attract insects or wash away, even in the heaviest of showers. It requires little to no annual maintenance and is great for the environment. As a country, we produce 300 million scrap tires a year and, until recently, most simply went into our ever-growing landfills. By giving these treaded treasures a second life, not only are we lessening our future impact on the environment, we are keeping our future safe as our children play away their youthful days.

For more information, visit www.internationalmulch.com or call (866) 936-8524.

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Hit The Deck: Simple Tips To Spruce Up Your Outdoor Living Space

(NAPSI)-Today's savvy homeowners are extending their living space outdoors with decks and backyards that reflect their personal tastes and interests. To make the most of your outdoor living space, consider the following tips for transforming a blah backyard into an outdoor oasis:

• Make materials matter. If you want to spend more time enjoying--rather than maintaining--your deck, choose materials that need only a simple soap-and-water cleaning to keep a "like new" appearance for decades. Wood-alternative decking, such as Trexฎ Transcend™, resists fading, staining, scratching and mold growth--even after years of heavy foot traffic and exposure to the elements.

"For long-lasting beauty, choose high-performance wood-alternative decking that offers the natural look of wood while requiring minimal maintenance--so you never need to worry about sanding, staining or painting," says Adam Zambanini, director of marketing at Trex, the nation's largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking, railing and fencing products. "Also be sure to look for a product with superior wear-resistance and a 25-year warranty, which guarantees enduring good looks."

• Go green. If you purchase CFL lightbulbs and water-conserving showerheads, think about expanding your eco-consciousness to the great outdoors by choosing wood-alternative decking made from recycled materials. An average 500-square-foot deck of this type would contain approximately 140,000 recycled plastic bags that might otherwise end up in landfills. With growing consumer interest in environmentally friendly products, a "green" outdoor living space also can increase the resale value of a home.

• Design with distinction. Whether country cottage or mostly modern, select a style and color scheme for your deck that best complement your home's exterior and reflect the natural environment. For instance, Trex Transcend features rich saturated colors inspired by outdoor elements--such as deep-burnished bronze, earthy brown, pristine grey and spicy red.

In terms of shape, remember that decks no longer need to be simply square. Think "outside the box" and consider an outdoor living space that spans multiple levels or wraps around two or more sides of your home. Take time to examine product samples and seek out online tools--such as the Trex Color Visualizer and Deck Designer--which let you experiment with different products, finishes and layouts. Finally, consider using a hidden fastener system during installation. A smooth deck surface without visible nails or screws can be an attractive extension of your home's interior style and create a more comfortable environment for children and pets.

• Get on the rails. Railing can upgrade any deck from drab to fab--and it's often the one element that truly sets your outdoor living space apart from others in the neighborhood. While many homeowners decide to complement the color of their decks with contrasting railing, the most popular choice is to create a matching color scheme. Of course, trends and tastes may change, so consider a modular railing system that makes it possible to mix and match posts, caps and rails, as well as easily switch out the balusters if your style eventually evolves to be more colonial than contemporary.

• Don't forget finishing touches. Today's outdoor living spaces may be "decked out" with luxuries ranging from stainless steel appliances to flat-screen televisions to stone fire pits. However, if budget constraints don't allow such grand plans, try built-in flower boxes or benches and colorful lounge furniture. Finally, don't underestimate the impact of fencing to perfectly "frame" your outdoor living space. An ideal fence will add privacy and visual interest--not just define your property line. There are several wood-alternative fencing options that offer superior durability and aesthetics, while being easy to install and maintain.

For more information, visit www.trex.com.

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The Live-In Kitchen

(NAPSI)-If your family is like most, you spend about three to four hours in the kitchen every week. Increasingly, the room is being reinvented as a second, day-to-day living space-suitable for entertaining, working and spending some much-needed leisure time.

What's more, people are choosing to spend more time at home instead of dining out. It comes as no surprise then that a recent Nielsen survey discovered that one in every five households has a "budding gourmet chef."

This newfound culinary craze has also prompted more and more Americans to unearth the benefits of growing their own fruits and vegetables and buying locally from vendors at area farmers' markets.

How can you make your space work better for family and at- home dining? Here are some quick solutions:

• The kitchen is the heart of the home. Ensure there's suitable seating for family and guests to lounge comfortably by converting one end of the counter into a work or crafting area.

• Tuck baskets under the cabinets for an out-of-the-way place to store onions, potatoes or your reusable shopping bags.

• Artfully display those longtime-collected cookbooks and your favorite spices near your food preparation area for inspiration and easy access.

• In the pantry, organize flavorful ingredients for the chefs in your home by installing ClosetMaid'sฎ laminate shelving options, perfect for storing canned, boxed and dry goods.

• You can also use the company's affordable wire shelving to display decorative but seldom-used serving platters or to hang beloved teacups using S-shaped hooks.

For more organizational tips or to access the online Visual Storage Planner, visit www.closetmaid.com. For additional information, call (800) 874-0008.

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