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Top Tips to Winter-Proof Your Home

by Alexandra Zega

RISMEDIA - As winter sets in, there's nothing better than hibernating on the sofa with a good book or classic film. But having this spoiled by a home emergency can add a real chill to your winter warmth, especially if it's preventable.

We're all familiar with the issues winter forces upon us: the boiler breaking, pipes bursting or a break-in, which can make the harsh effects of winter far more severe.

Planning ahead now can help protect you against these potential problems. Here are some simple tips from John Lewis Insurance to prevent home emergencies from happening. Many of them are relatively quick and easy to do.

Quick fixes:
* Change the battery in your smoke detector or install them if you don't have any - it's a simple task that can save your life. And make sure you test them regularly.

* Inspect your roof for missing or cracked tiles. If repairs are needed, get them done as soon as you can.

* Vacuum the coils on the back of the fridge. This will help your fridge work more efficiently and will help you save money on your power bills.

* Turn your mattress regularly. We all spend more time in bed over winter - turning your mattress regularly will extend its life and ensure a more comfortable night's sleep.

* Get your boiler serviced. If you haven't had your boiler serviced this year, now is the ideal time to ensure it's in good working order.

More time needed:
* Oil your power tools and if you have a gas-powered lawn mower, drain the gas from it. They will survive the winter better and be in top shape for spring.

* Check all taps for leaks and locate the main pipe to the water mains. Pipes can burst if they freeze so if you leave home for more than a few days, ideally you should turn off the water and drain the pipes.

* Bleed your radiators by opening the valve until water appears - they will work more efficiently.

* The cold doesn't deter burglars so be sure to inspect your locks and any burglar alarms - and consider using lighting timers for that lived in appearance.

Worth the effort:
* It may take a day or two to sort out but cleaning your gutters properly will guarantee they won't get blocked or overflow.

* Trimming back trees is always recommended in the autumn.

* Clean out the garage before anything is stored that can get spoiled by the cold.

Finally, preparing an emergency kit is a great way to make those small and big emergencies as easy to handle as possible. This is what you should have at hand's reach:

* A small tool bag containing a torch, a roll of insulation tape, spare fuses, spare batteries and a screwdriver

* A radiator key

* A fire extinguisher if you have one, checked or recently replaced

* Important telephone numbers like the police, a trusted plumber, electrician, etc.

Best Fast Food Post-Workout Snacks Under 200 Calories

by Alexandra Zega

© Reader's Digest Magazine

Some protein bars can be more like candy bars, providing sugar and fillers rather than actual healthy nutrition. While a fast food restaurant may not be the best choice for a quick bite after your workout, these options are good. They provide protein, carbohydrates and, most of all, satisfaction for fewer calories than a Snickers bar.

Best in-hand option
No time to use utensils? A Starbucks latte gives you a dose of protein and carbohydrates to refuel.

Skim Latte (Grande)
130 calories
19 grams carbohydrates
13 grams of protein

Best breakfast option
If you work out in the morning, this wrap will get much-needed protein to your muscles.

Dunkin' Donuts
Egg White and Cheese Wake-Up Wrap
150 calories
13 grams carbohydrates
8 grams protein

Best open until 2 a.m. option
For the night owl, Taco Bell has a Fresco menu that offers a few low-cal options that pack a good amount of protein.

Taco Bell
Fresco Crunchy Taco
150 calories
13 carbohydrates
7 grams of protein

Best drive-thru hand held
Wipe the sweat from your brow and cool off with this chocolate boost of protein and moderate amount of carbs. Men's Health swears by the muscle building power of chocolate milk.

Burger King
1% Chocolate Low-Fat Milk
190 calories
31 grams carbohydrates
9 grams protein

Best high protein option
Even though this isn't under 200 calories it's very close. And it has a commendable amount of protein and slow-acting good carbs in the form of beans.

Small Chili
220 calories
22 grams carbohydrates
18 grams of protein
Best filling sandwich option for early risers
This sandwich will keep you filled up through to lunch. You can even add some veggie toppings for some more vitamins.

Black Forest Ham, Egg and Cheese English Muffin
180 calories
18 grams of carbohydrates
15 grams of protein

Best sides as a snack option, plus a high-protein treat
These side dishes are perfect post-workout snacks, combining good carbs and an excellent amount of protein with low-calories.

Red Beans With Sausage and Rice
160 calories
26 grams of carbohydrates
24 grams of protein

Macaroni and cheese
180 Calories
20 grams carbohydrates
6 grams protein

2 grilled chicken drumsticks
160 calories
0 carbohydrates
20 grams of protein

Best protein splurge option
Remember your childhood with these crispy little bites. While this a higher fat option, this little treat has a good amount of protein for satiety.

4 piece Chicken McNuggets
190 calories
11 grams carbohydrates
10 grams protein

Best sweet treat option
For when you need a sweet fix. Plus, who doesn't get great joy out of eating one of these!

Low-Fat Vanilla Flying Saucer
190 calories
35 grams of carbohydrates
4 grams of protein


Preparing Your Home for the Cooler Months

by Alexandra Zega

This year has certainly flown by, and now, with the fall in full swing, it’s a great time to start prepping your home before winter strikes. From water leaks to the chimney, it’s better to be ready for the cold season…before it hits.

Here, State Farm offers up some fall maintenance tips for your home:

Check all window and door locks for proper operation
* Windows that can be opened by breaking the glass and unlocking them, are less effective deterrents to criminals. Check with the hardware store for window lock alternatives.
* All exterior doors should have deadbolt locks.

Make sure there are working nightlights at the top and bottom of all stairs
Other safety ideas for stairs:
* Tile and painted wood or concrete stairs can be slippery when wet or when a person's shoes are wet. Resurface the treads with slip-resistant strips near the stair nosing.
* All stairs of at least three risers should have a handrail.
* Do not store items on the stairs.

Have a heating professional check your heating system every year
Woodburning stove connector pipes and chimneys should be inspected by a certified chimney sweep at least annually.

Replace your furnace filter
Furnace filters need to be replaced frequently to allow your heating and cooling systems to operate properly.

Run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel tank is empty
By doing this, you are removing flammable liquid storage from your garage. At the same time, make sure you aren't storing dirty, oily rags in a pile. They can ignite spontaneously.

Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the flues and check your fireplace damper
Soot and creosote, which build up inside the chimney, can ignite when a fire is lit in the fireplace.

Remove bird nests from chimney flues and outdoor electrical fixtures
Bird nests on top of light fixtures are a fire hazard. Bird nests in chimney flues can prevent a proper venting of combustion gases and can catch fire from sparks. You should exercise great caution when working on your roof or consider hiring a qualified professional to take care of any work that needs to be done.

Make sure the caulking around doors and windows is adequate to reduce heat/cooling loss
Check glazing for loose or missing putty or glazing compound. This will also help reduce water damage to the windows and door frames.

Make sure that the caulking around your bathroom fixtures is adequate to prevent water from seeping into the sub-flooring

Check for cracked or missing caulk around the base of your toilet, bath tub, and bathroom cabinets. Properly sealing gaps between your bathroom fixtures and flooring material can prevent damage.

(c) RISMEDIA, Stephanie Andre

Displaying blog entries 1-3 of 3

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