Business Digest - June, 2009

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Back Yard Safety Tips   Firing Up the Grill   Internet Tidbit   Get Your Car In Shape For Summer

Summer Safety

Every year, the end of school means fun in the sun for children, but it can also bring its share of hidden hazards. To be sure that your child stays safe this summer, don't forget these simple reminders.

  • 1.  Children should never be left unattended near water. A small child can drown in even an inch or two of water.

  • 2.  Your child should always wear a helmet when biking, riding a scooter, rollerblading, or skateboarding. Teach your child the basic rules of the road and caution him or her to always be aware of traffic on roads and in parking lots.

  • 3.  Excess sun exposure is always a concern in the summer months. Use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher every time your child goes outdoors. Limit time in the sun during the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

  • 4.  Remind your child of playground safety. Children should not climb on the outside of play equipment and should never walk in front of or behind moving swings.

  • 5.  When grilling, be aware of people around you. Curious children especially need to be supervised and taught not to run or play around a barbeque grill. They should never touch a grill. Have water available when grilling in case of accidental fire.

With a little common sense and some simple precautions, you and your family can make this a safe and fun summer.

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Firing Up the Grill

Backyard barbecuing is a familiar American tradition. But before you fire up the grill, you will need a full tank of propane. If you purchased your propane tank more than two years ago, you may find that you have a hard time filling it in most states. New regulations state that propane tanks unequipped with overfill-protection devices (OPDs) cannot be filled by anyone. OPDs are placed on propane tanks to ensure that the tank is not filled to more than 80 percent capacity. The use of this safety device is designed to prevent accidents relating to overfilling a tank.

There are between 40 and 55 million 20-pound propane grill tanks in the United States, so chances are you might have an unequipped tank. In most cases, consumers can tell if a propane tank has an OPD valve by looking at the handle. If the handle is round or star-shaped, your cylinder may be outdated. Cylinders equipped with OPD have a triangular handle. You also will see the letters "OPD" on the valve handle.

What do you do if your tank is unequipped with the new valve? Most propane dealerships will outfit your tank with the valve for around $25. You may also consider purchasing a new tank. In both of these cases, you will still need to pay the cost of filling your tank.

If you are looking for an even simpler solution, you can use a propane cylinder exchange service, such as Blue Rhino or Amerigas. Often located outside of home improvement centers, grocery stores, or convenience stores, these kiosks allow you to bring in your old tank for a new, filled cylinder. All of the tanks available through these services offer the new up-to-date valves. Generally the cost for these tanks is around $20.

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Backyard Safety Tips

The sounds of summer always include children playing outdoors. To ensure that your children will be safe as they enjoy their summer vacation, use this checklist to inspect your backyard swing set and play equipment.

  • Are the bolts tight? Be sure to tighten all bolts before your children use the equipment.

  • Do the ends of the bolts have safety caps on them? Children can be seriously injured from a puncture by an uncapped bolt. Most hardware stores sell replacements caps.

  • Are handrails rusted or loose? Tighten all handrails and ensure that there are no loose or sharp edges. Any other metal parts should be checked for rust and rough spots. They should be filed down and recoated before children use the equipment.

  • Are there any rough spots on the wood? Most manufacturers recommend that the wood on wooden play sets be stained every year to extend the life of the unit and to prevent splinters from forming.

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Internet Tidbit

If you have a greedy or a needy wish, the website may be the place for you. On this site, you can submit a desire, big or small, that is then voted on by the community of website users. Every week, one wish in each category is fulfilled from a communal pot. You may have a real need like medication or some snow boots for your child, or you may just want something nice to indulge yourself for a change. You can express your heart's desire at this website. Each month, $100 goes to the top-rated "needy" wish and $100 goes to the top-rated "greedy" wish. If those wishes do not need the full $100 to be granted, the excess funds are awarded to runners-up. They also have a community forum designed to allow the community to comment on wishes and to offer support to those in need.

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Get Your Car in Shape for Summer

As the weather gets warmer, there are some steps you can take to protect your car and keep it running its best. Take time to give your vehicle a summertime checkup before things really heat up!

  • A poorly tuned engine can increase fuel consumption by up to 50 percent. With gas prices rising, you can save more than a few bucks by giving your car a full tune-up, including an oil and oil filter change. You will also save on engine wear and tear.

  • Check your tire pressure. Be sure to wait until your tires have cooled down (at least three hours or after it has been driven less than 1.5 miles). If you test your tires when they are warm, you will get a false reading. Fill your tires to the recommended pressure. Underinflated tires wear faster, waste fuel, and are unsafe. Having just one tire underinflated by eight pounds per square inch can reduce the life of that tire by over 6,000 miles and increase fuel consumption by five percent.

  • Give your air conditioner a check up. Check for leaks and other needed repairs. Remember that using an air conditioner in stop-and-go traffic can increase fuel consumption by as much as 20 percent.

  • Don't top off your fuel tank when filling up, especially during the summer months. Fuel naturally expands as it heats, causing excess fuel to spill out. Save money and protect the environment by only filling your tank until the pump handle stops automatically.

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