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17 Mar 2018 at 10:48am
(BPT) - There are many reasons that termites have gained the nickname "silent destroyers." Five billion reasons, in fact.
Termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage in the U.S. each year. If left unchecked, they can silently chew through the structural stability of a home, eating away at wood, flooring and even wallpaper. To make matters worse, the damage they leave behind is not typically covered by most homeowners' insurance policies.
How to spot termites
Spring is prime time for termite populations as they emerge in search of new structures to invade. Termite explorers, referred to as swarmers, will look for hospitable homes, and are particularly attracted to structures that may have sustained damage from severe winter weather or have dead or decaying wood on the property. Once these swarmers have determined a home to be a good fit, it's likely that they will settle in and begin a new colony, growing into a full-blown termite infestation over time.
Termite or flying ant?
Many people will see termite swarmers in homes during the spring and mistake them for flying ants; this can end up being a costly mistake. Winged termites have a straight waist, straight antennae and their wings are equal in size. Flying ants, on the other hand, have waists that are pinched in the middle, bent antennae and two sets of wings, with the top set being larger than the lower. Termites are also most likely to swarm in the spring, while flying ants may swarm at various times of the year.
It is not always possible for an untrained eye to spot evidence of termites, but homeowners should keep a look-out for a few key signs that can help them identify a termite infestation.
Other signs of infestation
Mud tubes - Subterranean termites, the most destructive termite species, build mud tubes to provide moisture while they travel between their colony and food source. Mud tubes are most often found near the home's foundation.
Wood damage - Termites tend to eat wood from the inside out, so wood that sounds hollow when tapped often signifies a termite infestation. Homeowners should also look for blistering pieces of wood.
Frass - Drywood termites produce wood-colored droppings as they eat through infested wood. If a homeowner finds a small pile of what looks like pellets inside or outside the home, it could be a sign of a drywood termite infestation.
It's a good rule of thumb to have your home inspected for termites once every two to three years, and every year if you live in the south or in warmer climates. If termites are suspected, a pest control professional will be needed to eliminate the problem.
Top 10 termite prevention tips
The good news is that there are plenty of ways homeowners can help protect against termites, while in turn, protecting their greatest investment - their home. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) offers this termite advice:
* Eliminate or reduce moisture in and around the home, which termites need in order to thrive.
* Repair leaking faucets, water pipes and exterior AC units.
* Repair fascia, soffits and rotted roof shingles.
* Replace weather stripping and loose mortar around basement foundation and windows.
* Divert water away from the house through properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks.
* Routinely inspect the foundation of a home for signs of mud tubes (used by termites to reach a food source), and wood that sounds hollow when tapped.
* Monitor all exterior areas of wood, including windows, doorframes and skirting boards for any noticeable changes. Remove dead trees and replace rotting wood.
* Maintain an 18-inch gap between soil or mulch and any wood portions of your home.
* Consider scheduling a professional inspection annually. Wood-boring insect damage is not covered by homeowners' insurance policies.
* Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house.
Termites cannot be controlled with do-it-yourself measures. If you suspect a termite infestation, contact a licensed pest control professional immediately to determine the extent of the problem and receive a recommendation of an appropriate course of treatment. To find a local, qualified pest professional, visit PestWorld.org.
15 Mar 2018 at 5:31pm
(BPT) - Most of us who are aging hope to live comfortably and self-sufficiently at home well into our golden years. And, of course, we wish the same for our parents.
The good news is advancements in healthcare and other technology are increasingly allowing aging Americans to live longer at home. The bad news is many are unable to continue to do so once they take a serious fall at home, injuring their hips, heads or other body parts. That's an all-too-common problem: One in four Americans age 65 and older fall each year, and falling once doubles their chances of falling again, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Falls also are the number one cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults.
"We treat many older patients who lived happily and productively at home until they tripped and broke a hip," notes orthopaedic trauma surgeon and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) spokesperson Lisa Cannada, MD. "A broken hip or other fall-related injuries make it difficult for people to live at home again without assistance of some kind and loss of independence. With a little foresight and planning, many of these injuries could be prevented."
Several steps can be taken to prevent debilitating falls from ever taking place. Consider how the following tips may help you or your loved ones hold on to the comforts of home for a longer period of time:
* Recognize your risk. A number of health issues can make you or your parents more prone to falling, ranging from arthritis to neurological conditions to vision or hearing loss. Various medications, the use of alcohol or simple dehydration may also affect your ability to safely navigate your surroundings. But the more you're aware of such possible hindrances, the more you can plan for them.
* Optimize your health. Take responsibility for staying as healthy and fit as possible by remaining active, drinking enough water, limiting alcohol, avoiding smoking and eating a healthy diet with plenty of calcium and vitamin D. Annual physicals, eye exams and bone density tests are recommended. Make exercise a priority, and choose something that you enjoy to maintain your bone health and coordination.
* Fall-proof your home. Walk through your home and that of your parents to identify and fix possible hindrances such as slippery surfaces, inadequate lighting, cluttered pathways, unsecured rugs, electric cords, loose flooring, etc. Consider installing grab bars in the shower, securing loose rugs with slip-resistant backings and installing bright motion-detector lights. You also might move clothes, kitchenware and other everyday gear within easier reach. The AAOS and Orthopaedic Trauma Association offer additional tips in this Falls Awareness and Prevention Guide.
* Wear the right shoes. Limit footwear to well-fitting, low-heeled shoes or slippers with rubber or other non-skid soles. Also watch for untied shoelaces.
* Maintain an action plan. If you live alone, have someone check on you daily. If you do fall, you may avoid further injury by using your arms to protect your head instead of trying to break your fall. If possible, fall on your side or buttocks and roll slightly. If you can't get up after bracing yourself on a wall or furniture, call a friend, relative or 911 for help. Finally, consider wearing a medical alert device 24-7; you never know where and when you'll need emergency help, and your cell phone may not always be available.
Many aging Americans are able to enjoy long, productive lives in their own homes instead of turning to other accommodations. Increase your chances of making that happen for you and your parents by taking steps to plan for and avoid an injury-producing fall. Find more tips at orthoinfo.org/falls.