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Getting Your Family Prepared for Summer

Getting Your Family Prepared for Summer

 For many of us it’s warm weather season, and that means spending more time outside and soaking up lots of vitamin D. 

But don’t let the sunny days and warm nights fool you. Summer also holds significant weather hazards. Heat waves can be lengthy and deadly. And playing children are easily distracted by all the summer fun, pool parties, etc. so they won’t notice a bad sunburn until it’s too late. 

Here’s your list to ensure you’re ready for any summer eventuality:

  1. Sunglasses - These aren’t just for fashion, they help prevent cataracts. So make sure you invest in a good pair to protect those peepers from UV radiation. Look for ones that block 100% of both UVA and UVB rays.
  2. Sunscreen - After a hat and shirt, sunscreen is the next best thing you can use to protect your skin. A great review on sunscreens can be found at ewg.org/sunscreen. If you have a family member with sensitive skin buy a small bottle at first to test and avoid spending more than you need to find your sunscreen causes an itchy rash! 
  3. Hydrocortisone - Speaking of rashes, keep some hydrocortisone cream on hand. It’s great for relieving those bothersome summertime itches caused by heat rash, poison ivy, oak and sumac, bug bites, or bee stings. For a natural remedy, just brew a strong mug of chamomile tea, pour onto a washcloth and use as a compress. (It also makes a wonderful nightcap.) 
  4. Water - Drink enough water to prevent feeling thirsty. Once you start feeling thirsty, you've probably lost about 1% of your body water and are dehydrated. With a 2% water loss, you could experience serious fatigue and cardiovascular impairments. For kids and the elderly, deleterious effects can be severe – so drink up! 
  5. Aloe Vera Plants - Many of us can recall a parent snipping off the tip of an aloe leaf and squeezing it onto sunburned skin to cool it. They were right! Aloe vera helps heal minor wounds and has antibacterial properties as well as vitamins and minerals. These inexpensive green plants are widely available and can be grown just about anywhere. So there is no excuse to be without one!    
  6. Asthma/Allergy Meds - An abundance of summer pollen can trigger symptoms, especially in the summer heat. Make sure you have the right kind of medication with you at home, in your purse and/or vehicle. You can also monitor the amount of pollen in the air at pollen.com. Before heading out for a fun summer day, check out the EPA’s Air Quality Index. It can be found at airnow.gov.
  7. Cornstarch - It’s an inexpensive pantry basic useful for many warm weather problems. It’s great for soothing chafing from sweaty skin and can be mixed with water and made into a paste to relieve bug bites and rashes.
  8. Insect & Tick Repellent - Lyme disease affects thousands of people in the US every year. If you live in one of the higher-risk zones, keep an eye out for any sign of a tick bite. People are infected most often by nymphs (immature ticks) who, due to their small size (about the size of a poppy seed), escape detection and remain attached longer than adult ticks.  
  9. Plan – This is not an item you can keep in your bag, but do keep in mind that babies and toddlers, the elderly, pregnant women, as well as those with chronic health issues have a particularly hard time when the weather gets really hot!  If anyone in your family fits in one of these categories, have a plan for keeping them cool, especially if the power goes out and takes the central air with it! 

Hope you and your family stay safe this summer!

3 Ways to Extend the Paris Climate Accord in Your Home

3 Ways to Extend the Paris Climate Accord in Your Home

By now we’re all familiar with President Trump’s decision to leave the Paris Agreement. Several cities across the U.S., including New York, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and others have vowed to uphold the agreement regardless of the administration’s decision.

Whatever the outcome of the policy, the environment is all our responsibility to protect. We’ve compiled a brief list of things you can start doing today to improve your carbon footprint.

Have others? List them in the comment section below!

1. Go solar (duh). 

Ok, so we know we’re biased on this but hear us out. The price of solar has dropped 58% in the past 5 years making it much more accessible to the everyday consumer. Additionally, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) has provided industry stability and growth since its initial passage in 2006. In the last decade, solar has experienced a compound annual growth rate of more than 60%.

Private companies and emerging products are also helping to make solar more accessible (yes, like SolPad). Now Solar is not just limited to homeowners. Improved technology is making it so those in apartments, RVs, and even tiny homes can access solar power.

2. Smart Home Energy Management

You have your smart thermostat and bulbs and you’re familiar with the cosmetic features and having fun with the lights. It’s a good first step, but the real value comes from the energy savings as a total package. Savings compound when you integrate functions of your home’s smart technology together (h/t: Electronic House).

  • Smart Lights. If you want to start small, replace all of your bulbs with energy efficient LED light bulbs. Go a step further and get smart LED light bulbs – those that can be set on a timer or automatically shut off when you leave the room.
  • Smart Sensors. Motion sensors can be programed to adjust your thermostat based on movement in your home. You can also use ambient light sensors to open shades and humidity sensors to trigger your smart thermostat.
  • Power Outlets. Smart outlets, like SolContol, allow you to turn on or off any device you plug into, even it isn’t IoT or WiFi connected.
  • 3. Recycle Old Tech or Use it with New Tech
    Yes, of course, recycle your old devices. There are several helpful resources to help you find the right place to dispose of old electronics.

    But also consider using your old tech with your new tech. Here are a few ways to make use of those old smartphones or tables in your current smart home ecosystem (h/t Popular Mechanics):

      • Set up a dedicated smart home controller and download all the necessary apps to control your home from your old device
      • Use the old phone as a stationary security camera for your home. You’ll need an app like Manything or Alfred to access the feed anywhere
      • Apps like Kobo and Amazon make it easy to turn an old phone or tablet into an e-reader that can be kept at home

    5 Environmental Nonprofits Doing Awesome Work in June

    5 Environmental Nonprofits Doing Awesome Work in June

    There are many admirable nonprofits worthy of your donations, but these 5 well-established, environmentally-conscious organizations scored highly on Charity Navigator.

    1.  ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND

    The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is committed to using bipartisan environmentalism to provide solutions under the broad categories of Climate & Energy, Oceans, Ecosystems and Health. The EDF works with other organizations, businesses, government and communities to create incentives for positive environmental actions, help companies become better environmental stewards, influence policy and keep tabs on emerging issues.

     This Month: The EDF is hosting a fundraiser. Sponsors will match your gifts 2-for-1 until Friday, June 16th

    % of Expenses Spent on Programs: 79.1

    Charity Navigator Score: 94.81

    Follow EDF on Twitter 

    1.  THE NATURE CONSERVANCY

    The Nature Conservancy protects ecologically important land and waters around the world. They have more than one million members, work in all 50 states and more than 30 countries. They address threats to conservation involving climate change, fire, fresh water, forests, invasive species and marine ecosystems. They use a science-based approach and pursue non-confrontational pragmatic solutions to conservation challenges.  

    This Month:  They called attention to The United Nations Ocean Conference, taking place at United Nations’ headquarters on June 5-9. “This is the first conference, ever, of this kind on the ocean organized by the U.N. to discuss this, so that is a big milestone for the future,” said Marta Marrero, the director of ocean governance at the Nature Conservancy. “It is setting the scene for the next steps. Concretely, we have the ‘call to action.’ But, it is a good sign, and a good stepping stone.”  http://bit.ly/2rXgFJN

    % of Expenses Spent on Programs: 71.2

    Charity Navigator Score: 84.35

    Follow The Nature Conservancy on Twitter 

    1.  NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL

    The Natural Resources Defense council seeks to protect the basic elements that sustain life on earth namely – air, land and water – and to defend endangered natural places in ways that advance the long-term welfare of present and future generations. They work to foster the rights of people to have a voice in decisions that affect their environment.

    This Month:  The EPA, acting in response to a lawsuit by the NRDC, reinstated a rule that will protect the public from more than five tons of mercury discharges each year from dental offices across the nation.

    EPA is taking an important step towards safeguarding Americans from a dangerous neurotoxin.  The agency decided to reissue the rule, instead of defending in court the decision to withdraw it.  Protecting the public—and not responding to a lawsuit—should have been motivation enough for this sensible action.”  Margaret Hsieh, attorney on the Litigation team at NRDC http://on.nrdc.org/2rse4nJ 

    % of Expenses Spent on Programs: 83.6

    Charity Navigator Score:  96.35

    Follow NRDC on Twitter  

    1.  350.org

    350.org uses online campaigns, grassroots organizing and mass public actions to oppose new coal, oil and gas projects, take money out of the companies that are heating up the planet, and build 100% clean energy solutions that work for all. 350’s network extends to 188 countries. It’s a way to connect with other people in order to build a collective voice. Their focus includes protesting against new fossil fuel development and offshore drilling.

    This Month:  350.org has a few online petitions. One tells UNESCO to protect culture, not coal. You can sign the petition to “Protect our priceless cultural sites from coal and climate change. Issue a statement calling for a stop to all fossil fuel development that threatens World Heritage Sites, and demand[ing] governments comply with the Paris Agreement.http://bit.ly/2rdqb7Y

    There is also a petition to defend the Paris deal and climate action. It allows you to show "... support for the Paris Agreement and even stronger climate action by adding your name here. 194 other countries continue to support the Paris Deal, and many are doubling-down on their commitments. The agreement is the backbone of international climate action, and needs to be made much stronger, not weaker.https://350.org/paris/ 

    % of Expenses Spent on Programs:  86.4

    Charity Navigator Score:  93.91

    Follow 350 on Twitter 

    1. AMERICAN RIVERS

    American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers and the wildlife they support, and conserves clean water for people and nature, with an eye toward recreationists as well.

    This Month:  They are highlighting that June is National Rivers Month. Find out three reasons families need healthy rivers here http://bit.ly/2sppqO5

    % of expenses spent on programs:  74.6

    Charity Navigator Score:  85.72

    Follow American Rivers on Twitter

    As you can see, there are a lot of good works happening in June, now go support your favorite nonprofit!