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Here’s a great, independent resource filled with reviews and info about Laminate Flooring.

If you’ve every thought about laminate flooring, you can find information about the tools you need, how to hire a contractor, and how to maintain it.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 154 user reviews.

If you’re like us, you tend to forget to regularly water your lawn, until you wake up one day to find it’s turned brown in July!

The answer, of course, is an automatic lawn sprinkler system.

Here’s a site that features an incredible bonanza of information and tutorials about how to install automatic irrigation systems.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 272 user reviews.

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Recently, we linked to a discussion of dangers for children in the home. This time, we’d like to present some ways of making your home safer.

1. Cribs – make sure to buy a new model when your child is born. If you’re using a crib from a previous child – call the manufacturer to make sure it hasn’t been recalled or had any problems. Buy a new firm mattress for each child and follow The American Academy of Pediatrics standards.

2. Window Cords – I made sure not to have window treatments with cords since they’re a strangulation hazard. If you already have cords on your windows, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you, “Tie cords high and out of reach. Do not knot cords together.”

3. Bathroom – I put an eye and hook lock on the outside of the bathroom door so my kids couldn’t go in without me knowing about it.

  • Never leave your child unattended in the bath tub.
  • Hot water – you can have a plumber set your hot water so that it doesn’t get hotter than 120°F (as recommended by the AAP).
  • Chemicals – keep all household chemicals on a high shelf out of reach of children. We keep all of our cleaning supplies on the top shelf of the hallway closet. I put an eye and hook lock high up on the outside of the hallway closet with the chemicals so the kids couldn’t get into it. If your child does eat something that could be poisonous, call the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.
  • An Eye and Hook Lock

    An Eye and Hook Lock

  • Medicines – keep all medicines high and out of reach of children. I keep medicines that aren’t used often in the hallway closet, locked with an eye and hook lock high up.

4. Kitchens – I put a gate to the kitchen so that my children couldn’t go in, without me letting them.

  • Stoves – If you’re buying a new stove, try to purchase one with controls at the back so little kids can’t reach them. If the controls are in the front you can remove the handles when you’re not cooking.
  • Highchairs – Get a highchair with a large base that won’t tip over easily. Also, buckle your child into the highchair and keep the tray on so they can’t get out without your knowledge.
  • Knives – Store them in a high place, out of reach of children.
Keep Knives Out of Reach of Children

Keep Knives Out of Reach of Children

5. Keep plastic bags locked in the hallway closet or somewhere high up where your child can’t get to them.

6. Have working smoke detectors on every floor including the basement, furnace room and especially the sleeping areas. Check the batteries every year.

7. Baby gates – don’t put gates at the top of stairs. We put ours at the bottom of the stairs so our children couldn’t go upstairs without our knowing about it. Lock the doors to dangerous areas like garages and basements. Basically, we established a very safe area for our children to play in during the day on the first floor (especially when they were under 3 years old).

8. Put window guards on windows above the first floor. Be careful about young children climbing furniture and chairs. Anchor heavy furniture into the wall. We anchored our dressers and large bookcases (small kids can try to climb up opened dresser drawers and the shelves of bookcases).

A Dresser Anchored To The Wall

A Dresser Anchored To The Wall

9. Electrical Outlets – cover all electrical outlets in your house. Install GFCI outlets in the bathroom, kitchen and outdoors (anywhere near water and within 6 feet of a sink).

Cover Your Outlets

Cover Your Outlets

10. Choking Hazards – be especially careful about small objects like deflated balloons, raw carrots, popcorn, grapes, peanuts and small toys. Always cut your small child’s food into little pieces.

11. If you have a swimming pool, install a fence that separates the house from the pool. Fence the pool in on all four sides. The AAP says that “Most children drown because they fall into a pool that is not fenced off from the house.”

Lastly, here’s one more message from the AAP:

Remember Car Safety!

Car crashes are still a great danger to your child’s life and health. Most injuries and deaths caused by car crashes can be prevented by the use of car safety seats EVERY TIME your child is in the car. An infant must always ride in a rear-facing car safety seat in the back seat until he or she is at least 1 year of age and at least 20 pounds. A rear-facing car safety seat should NEVER be placed in front of a passenger air bag. Your child, besides being much safer in a car safety seat, will behave better so you can pay attention to your driving. The safest place for all infants and children to ride is in the back seat.

AAP – Family Health Topics

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 168 user reviews.

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Homes should be a place of refuge – the one area where we feel completely safe.  But there are hidden dangers everywhere, particularly for little ones.

Watch out for mattresses in cribs that are too soft – they could cause suffocation in infants.  Be careful with loose window cords and uncovered electrical outlets.  And there are many other potential hazards.  If you have kids, be sure to read this summary of dangers to young children in our homes.

Update: 8/10/08
This post inspired us to write a full fledged guide to keeping your home safe for kids. Check it out!

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 166 user reviews.

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In my last post I pointed to a great collection of reviews that focused on energy efficent washing machines.  One of the problems with going that route is that such machines can be hard to maintain.

Here’s an excellent discussion of the issues surrounding the cleaning and mainentence of highly efficient laundry machines.  It focuses on problems like buildup of mold and bad odors.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 205 user reviews.

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Here’s an excellent overview of many of the various laundry machines currently on the market.

I like this artile because it gives prominent attention to the energy efficency of the models.

You can even live green while washing your clothes!

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 153 user reviews.

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We’ve been having a mysterious problem where our upstairs bathroom suddenly fills with a half inch of water.  For a while, it was happening every few weeks.

We usually only notice because  we spot it leaking through the floor down the wall to the bathroom underneath it, downstairs.  As you can imagine, we don’t enjoy the clean up job!

After multiple consultations with plumbers, handymen and roofers, we’re stumped!  It doesn’t seem to be related to a leaky faucet or toilet, there’s no problem with the grouting, the roof seems to be fine.  We’re really baffled!  We’ve just about concluded that a poltergeist much be to blame!

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Meanwhile, here’s a useful list of steps to take while checking for bathroom leaks.  (Unfortunately, nothing on the list helped us!)

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 217 user reviews.

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Recently, we talked about the Pros and Cons of Cork Floors.

I just came across a fantastic discussion of the topic, Popping the cork – Getting to Know Cork Flooring, with an emphasis on the environmental benifits of going that route.

Check it out and be sure to read the interesting comments.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 261 user reviews.

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Here’s an interesting discussion featuring five lowcost things you can do to make your home more green.

Some of these suggestions, like don’t set your thermostat too high, are pretty basic.  Still, it never hurts to be reminded!

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 206 user reviews.

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If you’ve ever considered installing a cork floor, here’s a guide to the pluses and minuses.

There’s an interesting discussion in the comment thread as well.

I personally strongly considered getting a cork floor in my kitchen when I was renovating.  The reason was that I have a bad neck and wanted a floor that would be forgiving on my back.  In the end I decided against cork flooring because my family is too rough.  My husband is not dainty in the least bit and neither is my teenage son.  They’re both big guys.  Plus I have a seven year old daughter.  I think they would have torn up the floor within a year by moving the chairs back and forth at mealtime.

My friend’s retired mother has a cork floor in her kitchen and she loves it.  (She also has a bad back.)  In that case I can see a cork floor working well – with a retired couple or an unmarried person who’s not planning on having kids in the near future.

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 291 user reviews.

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