Jeff Shauger, Associate Broker, ABR, CDPE, CRS, ePRO, GRI , SRES, SRS
 
Jeff Shauger, Associate Broker, ABR, CDPE, CRS, ePRO, GRI , SRES, SRS

Jeff's Blog

Stay Safe in and After the Summer Sun

September 27, 2012 3:46 am

Each year more and more of us choose to holiday abroad, with cheap flights and the lure of guaranteed sun, sand and sea forming an irresistible combination. But with increased exposure to the blue skies and sunshine of exotic destinations comes an increased risk of harmful UV and sun damage.

After a surge of health campaigns in recent years, we're thankfully becoming more aware than ever of the real and serious risks of sun damage. But as well as the obvious - and major - concerns including skin cancer, there are many other common conditions, which can have devastating effects on the skin. Over exposure to harmful ultra violet light can also cause conditions including Lentigines, commonly known as sun spots; Seborrheic Keratosis, a benign wart-like growth which appears on the face and chest; and Actinic Keratosis, a precancerous growth which can appear in the form of dry skin lesions or patches on the skin.

Naturally, the longer and more frequently skin is exposed to harmful UV rays, the higher the chances are of sustaining long term skin damage, but it's never too late to start looking after skin and protecting it from further damage.

While it's impossible to avoid the sun completely - and some exposure can boost vital Vitamin D levels - leading skin experts recommend covering up as much as possible in the sun. This doesn't mean dressing head to toe, but applying sun screen whenever skin is exposed to the sun, and choosing the appropriate SPF factor to ensure complete protection; at present the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises people to use a minimum SPF of 15 - although leading medics are calling for this to be increased.

After spending time in the sun, at any time of year, it's also vital to ensure skin is thoroughly rehydrated. Indeed, on a day-to-day basis, the hands and face are exposed any time you're outside (don't be fooled into thinking cloudy skies mean you're protected) so using a nourishing face and hand cream will keep your skin hydrated.

Source: The Body Shop

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Survey Reveals Professions That Need Coffee the Most

September 27, 2012 3:46 am

National Coffee Day is Saturday, September 29, and according to a new survey commissioned by Dunkin' Donuts and CareerBuilder®, food preparation and service workers are the professions that need coffee the most, followed by scientists and sales representatives. The survey results also show that coffee plays a major role in helping professionals perk up at work, as 43 percent of those who drink coffee claim they are less productive without a cup of Joe.

The survey was conducted from August 13 to September 6, 2012 and included more than 4,100 workers nationwide. According to the results, the professions with the highest proportions of workers stating they are less productive without coffee vary widely. Those who need coffee to get through the workday the most are:

1) Food Preparation/Service Workers
2) Scientists
3) Sales Representatives
4) Marketing/Public Relations Professionals
5) Nurses (Nurse, Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant)
6) Editors/Writers/Media Workers
7) Business Executives
8) Teachers/Instructors (K-12)
9) Engineering Technicians/Support
10) IT Managers/Network Administrators

The survey also shows other ways that coffee fits into people's "daily grind" in the workplace. For example:

-Let's drink two: Sixty-three percent (63%) of workers who drink coffee actually drink two cups or more each workday. Twenty-eight percent (28%) drink three cups or more.

-Coffee helps younger workers stay productive: The majority of younger workers need coffee for energy and motivation, as 62 percent of workers aged 18 to 24 say they are less productive without coffee, with 58 percent of workers aged 25 to 34 making the same claim.

-Workers in the Northeast are cup champions: Fifty-five percent (55%) of workers claim to drink at least one cup of coffee each workday. Geographically, 64 percent of workers in the Northeast drink at least one cup per day, compared to the South at 54 percent and the Midwest and West at 51 percent.

-Higher productivity boost for women: Overall, 43 percent of workers who drink coffee claim they are less productive without their cup of Joe. Forty-seven percent (47%) of female workers claim they are less productive without coffee, compared to 40 percent of male workers.

Source: Dunkin' Donuts, CareerBuilder®

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Special Handling Advice for Ready-to-Eat Refrigerated Foods

September 26, 2012 3:44 am

Listeria has been in the news recently. This foodborne bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures, and it causes listeriosis, an illness that can take a few days or even weeks to appear and may include fever, chills, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea or upset stomach. Listeriosis can be particularly harmful to at-risk groups. These groups include pregnant women and their unborn babies, newborns, older adults, and other people with weakened immune systems, such as individuals with HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease, and transplant patients. These people are not only more likely to contract listeriosis, but are also more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalization, or even die.

How to Prevent Listeriosis
-The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommend that consumers follow these three easy steps to help prevent listeriosis:

-Use an appliance thermometer and keep the refrigerator at 40°F (4°C) or below because Listeria will multiply faster at refrigerator temperatures above 40°F.

-Use ready-to-eat, refrigerated foods as soon as possible. The longer these foods are stored in the refrigerator, the more time Listeria has to multiply, which means larger amounts of bacteria in the foods.
Clean the refrigerator regularly. Listeria can spread from one food to another through spills in the refrigerator – so keeping the refrigerator clean is very important.

If you are a person at increased risk of listeriosis, follow these guidelines:

-Don't eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, or fermented or dry sausages unless they are heated to 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.

-Avoid getting fluid from hot dog and lunch meat packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats.

-Do not eat refrigerated pate or meat spreads from a deli or meat counter or from the refrigerated section of a store. If the label says a food does not need refrigeration, like canned or shelf-stable pate and meat spreads, it is safe to eat. Refrigerate after opening.

-Do not drink unpasteurized milk.

-Do not eat soft cheese such as feta, queso blanco, queso fresco, brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or panela unless it is labeled "MADE WITH PASTEURIZED MILK."

-Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it's in a cooked dish, such as a casserole, or it is a canned or shelf-stable product.

-Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, and mackerel. These fish are typically found in the refrigerator section or sold at seafood and deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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Know the Dos and Don'ts for Fall Clean-up

September 26, 2012 3:44 am

Home chores never seem to get erased from the to-do-list and with several holidays around the corner this fall, many of those tasks move even higher on that list. As part of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' (AAOS) Prevent Injuries America! campaign, orthopaedic surgeons would rather prevent than treat fall clean-up injuries.

Knowing how to properly use and set up equipment can significantly reduce the possibility of injuries, that is why it is essential to follow all instructions and warnings that come along with equipment to avoid injuries at all costs. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in 2011, approximately 523,000 people were injured from ladders and more than 35,500 treated for rake-related injuries.

Heed the following safety tips to help reduce injury when using some of these tools this fall:

-Service equipment. Have equipment such as leaf blowers serviced before using for the first time this season.
-Use a comfortable rake. Select a rake that is suitable for your height and strength. Wear leather gloves or use a rake with padded handles to prevent blisters.
-Inspect the ladder. Check the ladder for any loose screws, hinges or rungs and clean off any mud or liquids that might have accumulated on the ladder.
-Properly set-up the ladder. Every ladder should be placed on a firm, level surface. Never place a ladder on ground that is uneven and watch for soft, muddy spots. The same is true for uneven flooring. -Remember to always engage the ladder locks or braces before climbing. If working outside, make sure the ladder – when extended – will not hit electrical wires, tree limbs or any other obstructions.
-Remember the one-to-four rule: the bottom of the ladder should be one foot away from the wall for every four feet that the ladder rises. For example, if the ladder touches the wall 16 feet above the ground, the base of the ladder should be four feet from the wall. If you are going to climb onto a roof, the ladder should extend at least three feet higher than the rooftop. And, the upper and lower sections of an extension ladder should overlap to provide stability.
-Avoid using ladders in adverse weather conditions. It's unsafe to use ladders outside if there is rain, wind, snow, ice or some other factor that can increase the risk of falling.
-Select the right ladder for the job. If you're washing windows inside the home, choose a step stool or utility ladder, which are often used when working at low or medium heights. Extension ladders are ideal for use outdoors to reach high places, like when cleaning the gutters on the rooftop. The weight the ladder is supporting also should never exceed its maximum load capacity.
-Move materials with caution when on the ladder. While cleaning the garage or closet, be careful when pushing or pulling items from shelves. It is easy to be thrown off-balance and fall.
-Always position the ladder closer to the work. Over-reaching or leaning too far to one side can make you lose your balance and fall. Your bellybutton should not go beyond the sides of the ladder!
-Wear proper footwear. Make sure your shoelaces are tied and the soles of your shoes are free of any debris or greasy, oily or wet substances. Do not wear leather-soled shoes, as they are slippery. Pant legs shouldn't be too wide or too long.
-Be careful when climbing; get help if you need it. Be safe and ask someone to hold the ladder while you climb. Stay in the center of the ladder as you ascend, and always hold the side rails with both hands. -Also, make sure that only one person climbs the ladder at a time.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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Parents Saying No to Drugs...in Children's Lunchboxes

September 26, 2012 3:44 am

A new school lunch survey shows that the vast majority of kids are brown bagging it; and while deli meat is beating out the venerable PB&J, parents are concerned about how it is made, including the use of antibiotics and hormones in animals raised for food.

The "What's In Your Kid's Lunch" survey shows that 69 percent of U.S. parents report packing lunches for their kids, with nearly a third of parents packing a lunch every day. Of those lunch-packing parents, the top item included in lunches (reported by 80 percent) was a sandwich or wrap. Of the parents who turn to sandwiches for their children's noon meal, sliced deli meats beat out jelly, peanut butter and cheese as fillings.

Of those parents who pack lunches for their kids, 94 percent agree that deli sandwiches are quick and easy to prepare, and 81 percent said they really want to know what's in those deli meat products and how they are made. And with 79 percent of lunch-packing parents saying it's important that the deli meats they buy are made from animals not treated with antibiotics and hormones, another 82 percent said it was unfair and misleading that meat companies can label products as natural even when antibiotics are used.

Parents know they don't want antibiotics in their kids' deli sandwiches, but many times they don't know they are getting them. Parents are encouraged to visit http://www.applegate.com/community/posts/how-to-pack-a-super-bug-free-lunch-box to learn more about the "What's In Your Kid's Lunch" survey and get advice on packing a drug-free lunch.

More Survey Findings
-71 percent of lunch-packing parents say that they and their kids get bored quickly with lunch options (not surprising with an average of 180 school days in the U.S.)
-89 percent said it was important to have all food groups represented in a child's lunch
-75 percent admitted worry about how much of the lunch they pack for their children actually gets eaten

Source: Applegate

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Potential Safety Concerns with Home Canning

September 25, 2012 3:44 am

With the renewed popularity of seasonal, local eating and the desire to prepare healthy foods at home, many homeowners are looking to home canning (usually with glass jars) to preserve food for later use. If, however, home canned foods are not properly prepared, they can cause serious illness such as botulism.

If you are home canning your own foods (such as jams, pickles, soups, sauces and seafood), the following steps will help to reduce the risk of contamination or growth from Clostridium botulinum:

-Clean and sanitize your hands, all work surfaces, utensils and equipment, and keep them clean during all stages of the canning process.

-Use a pressure canner when canning low acid foods. A pressure canner is a large pressure vessel optimized for canning and is not the same as a pressure cooker. Strictly follow the manufacturer's instructions for canning foods considered to be low-acid, such as seafood, meats, vegetables and sauces. These low-acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner to destroy any Clostridium botulinum spores that might be present.

-High-acid foods such as fruit, pickles, sauerkraut, jams, jellies, marmalades and fruit butters will not support the growth of Clostridium botulinum and can be safely processed in a boiling water canner.
Tomatoes are a borderline high-acid food and require an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, to be added for safer canning.

-Attempting to can foods in their fresh state without added liquid is not safe. Ensure that the food being canned is topped up sufficiently, in its can or jar, with suitable liquid, such as syrup, sauce, brine or acidifying agent.

-When following currently tested recipes, do not substitute ingredients, change amounts or the jar size that is in the recipe, because this can cause the recommended temperature, time or pressure needed during pressure canning or boiling water canning to change. This can lead to bacteria remaining in the food. Always follow the recommended recipes and processes along with the recommended temperature, time and pressure.

-Each jar lid should be firmly sealed and concave (curved slightly inwards). Nothing should have leaked from the jar, no unnatural odors should be detected, and no liquid should spurt out when the jar is opened.

-Label your home-canned food, including the date it was canned. For best quality, use within one year from the date they were made.

-Be sure to store your home-canned food in a cool, dry place. Once the container has been opened, refrigerate leftovers immediately.

-If you are buying or are gifting home canned products, ask about their preparation to help you to determine whether the proper safety steps were followed.

Always remember: never eat canned foods if you suspect the item has been tampered with, if the closure/seal has been broken, or if the container is swollen or leaking. When in doubt, throw it out!

Botulism is a serious illness that can result from eating improperly prepared canned or bottled foods. Botulism is caused by a bacterium, called Clostridium botulinum, that naturally produces toxins as part of its normal life cycle. The toxin that causes botulism is colorless, odorless, tasteless and invisible to the naked eye and is not necessarily destroyed by cooking. Preventing the toxin from forming is therefore essential.

It is important to understand the principles behind home canning so that food is produced safely at home. If necessary, consider taking short courses on food canning that are often available locally in your area.

Source: Health Canada

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Avoiding Non-caloric Beverages Can Help Avoid Weight Gain in Teens

September 25, 2012 3:44 am

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that adolescents who eliminated sugar-sweetened beverages for one year gained less weight than those who didn't, shedding light on an effective intervention to help combat adolescent obesity.

This is one of the first high-quality randomized control trials to examine the link between the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and their direct impact on weight and body mass index (BMI), as well as how a teen's home environment impacts sugar-sweetened beverage consumption in general.

Adolescents who received deliveries of non-caloric beverages for one year gained an average of four fewer pounds than their peers who continued to drink sugar-sweetened beverages. Within the two-year study, the one-year intervention also included motivational calls with parents, check-in visits with participants and written intervention messages to stop drinking sugar-sweetened beverages.

The 224 study participants were overweight or obese 9th or 10th graders who regularly drank sugary beverages. The study intervention was designed to reduce consumption of these beverages. Researchers used a novel method of intervention: delivering non-caloric beverages to participants' homes for participants and their families.

During the year-long intervention, the experimental group of adolescents—who virtually eliminated consumption of sugary beverages—gained four fewer pounds and had essentially no BMI increase compared to the control group, which continued to drink sugar-sweetened beverages regularly (although at reduced levels possibly due to local public health efforts). In addition, Hispanic adolescents showed the greatest benefit—gaining 14 fewer pounds than the control group. No other single food product has been shown to change body weight by this amount over a year simply through its reduction.

This study underscores the need for healthy choices to be more easily available to adolescents, as well as the need for more research into effective interventions among minority populations with particularly high obesity rates.

Source: childrenshospital.org

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Lattes: A Nutritious and Delicious Breakfast Complement

September 25, 2012 3:44 am

There's good news for the millions of Americans who start each day with a cup of coffee. Making a latte at home for breakfast is not only a delicious start to the day, but it can provide much-needed nutrients including calcium, Vitamin D and potassium that most Americans are lacking. Your morning latte delivers a full serving of milk's nine essential nutrients, including eight grams of high quality protein – even more than an egg.

Breakfast with milk, whether in a latte, your cereal or straight from a glass, can help you feel satisfied, focused and energized, so you can make the most of your day. At a time when specialty coffeehouse prices can be high, being your own barista at home could also help save you money. For only a quarter a serving, coffee's latte counterpart, milk, adds nutrients without breaking the bank.

Whatever your personal latte order, the National Milk Mustache "got milk?"® Campaign has at-home recipes for easy ways to make your morning latte the way you like it. Whether it's a simple two parts milk, one part espresso drink or a triple shot with extra foam, caramel drizzle and cinnamon, being your own barista is as easy as:

-Espress-o Yourself: Thinking about getting an espresso machine? Great! If not, no problem... just brew your coffee beans stronger than usual.
-Get Frothy with It: Milk frothers are a great gift. But you can also heat the milk on the stove or in the microwave, then whisk for extra foam.
-Have Fun with Flavor: Check your spice cabinet to add great flavors like cinnamon or nutmeg. You can also buy your favorite syrups for a coffee shop-worthy flavor boost.

Source: Facebook.com/MilkMustache

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Light up the Landscape - How to Make the Most of Outdoor Lighting

September 24, 2012 3:42 am

Outdoor lighting is one sure way to make your home more secure. Done right, it adds a welcome air of warmth and glamour that can enhance any home.

Illuminating walkways, steps and entryways gives the property a lived-in look even when you are away—and provides a measure of safety for you and your family when you arrive home after dark. Wall lanterns and fixtures are readily available in a variety of styles and materials. A walk through your local home store will give you lots of ideas—and here are some tips to keep in mind as you plan:

-For security and safety, light up driveways, walkways, stairs and grounds with post lanterns, tier lights and floodlights.
-Enhance the ambiance by using low-voltage landscape lighting to light up trees, shrubs and flowerbeds. Low voltage lighting uses only 12 volts of electricity and is very safe to install.
-Floodlighting is a versatile way to illuminate wide areas, such as garden ponds, ivied walls or gazebos.
-Use path lighting to increase safety by lighting up areas where people walk, drive or climb steps.
-Use up-lighting techniques to add visual interest to trees, statues and fountains.
-Use sufficient wall lighting to add visibility around the swimming pool or walkway areas.
-Unique landscape features such as sculptures and shaped shrubbery can be highlighted using spotlights. A sequence of spotlights creates an interesting mosaic of colors and textures.
-For maximum safety, lights and cables should be installed at least five feet from the edge of a swimming pool.
-Light fixtures should not be covered by foliage, tree branches or bushes. To ensure maximum light output, check the areas around all fixtures several times a year and prune surrounding foliage as necessary.

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How to Sleep to Improve Alignment and Help Alleviate Back Pain

September 24, 2012 3:42 am

If you're waking up with back pain, it may be due to the way you're sleeping rather than a medical ailment. That's according to renowned balance expert Jean Couch, founder of the Palo Alto-based Balance Center.

"Misaligned bones create chronic tension," Couch explains. "We can alleviate tension and pain by sitting, standing, bending and sleeping differently. Practicing proper alignment in bed takes stress off the joints and allows the muscles to relax for a more restful sleep."

Here are a few tips on how to achieve optimal spine alignment during sleep:

-Sleep in an elongated position, not in a ball. This lengthens the spine and increases moisture and nutrition to spinal discs. People often curl up because of back pain. An elongated alignment promotes a healthy back.
-When sleeping on your side, place the upper arm on hip or side. If the arm drops forward, consider putting a pillow under the armpit. This widens the shoulder girdle and aligns the entire shoulder area.
-Position your pillow properly. If lying on your side, your pillow should be positioned as high as your shoulder is wide. If the pillow is too low, your head will drop down and your neck will kink; if too high, it will push the head up. Either situation is hard on the neck and spine.
-Make sure your pillows can be shaped to provide the right support. Down pillows can also help, as they can take shape depending on comfort needs at any given moment.
-Back sleepers should create a wedge shape with their pillow, with more height and dimension toward the top of the head. This forces the chin down and lengthens the neck, decreasing snoring and possibly helping with sleep apnea. The wedge shape also helps to relax the lower back.

Source: McRoskey Mattress Company

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