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Say goodbye to bed bugs with these easy pest control tips

Densely populated cities are facing an exponential increase in bed bug infestations as a result of blazing summer temperatures. The problem is compounded by social stigma which often results in a reluctance to seek professional advice on the eradication and prevention methods.

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Photo by Gaelle Marcel from Unsplash.com

Bed bugs are insects (ectoparasites) that feed on human blood. Even though they do not transmit diseases, just the thought of them makes one itchy. Their bites can result in a number of health impacts including skin rashes, psychological effects, allergic symptoms and can cause skin changes ranging from minor red patches to prominent blisters. They are usually picked up on planes, trains, hotels and spread into homes.

Densely populated cities are facing an exponential increase in bed bug infestations as a result of blazing summer temperatures. The problem is compounded by social stigma which often results in a reluctance to seek professional advice on the eradication and prevention methods. This is mainly because a significant proportion of the population have no physical reaction to bed bug bites and are seldom aware of an infestation. The problem is a global one and there is literally no country on the face of the planet that has not witnessed a bed bug problem.

Where do bed bugs originate?

Scientific research on fossilized bed bugs indicates that they have been around for thousands of years. It is believed that they originated in the Middle East, in caves that were used by both humans and bats. They are found all over the world, but perhaps surprisingly, the worst infestation problems tend to occur in developed countries where people use bed frames and soft beddings.

Between 1930 and 1980, bed bugs were almost eliminated because chemicals like DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) were used to tackle infestations. Since the banning of DDT, there has been a huge increase in infestations. Most bed bugs are now immune to conventional pesticide treatments. With increased levels of international travel, the spread of infestations is unquestionably on the rise.

What is the perfect condition for growth?

Bed bugs tend to feed on humans, dogs, cats and other pests using blood for growth and reproduction. These tiny and nocturnal critters rely on human blood for nourishment and usually hide in and around bed corners and cracks.

Bed bugs need to feed at least once before each molt (shedding of their outer exoskeleton), although they could feed as often as once a day. Under favorable conditions, adult bed bugs can live for about 2 to 4 months.

In order to properly treat bed bugs, a full site inspection by a licensed and insured pest control company is of utmost importance. Bed Bugs can live in headboards, floor cracks, crevices, electrical boxes and even sockets. They are so elusive and can adapt to their surroundings so well that we have now started to use canines to ‘sniff out’ the insects.

How to get rid of an existing bed bug infestation?

Step 1: Reposition and Protect Your Furniture
The first step is to move or displace all of your furniture or materials out of the affected area. However, because you do not know if these pieces of furniture also have bugs in them, make sure that you are careful about where you take them. If possible, bring them into the yard where the bed bugs would not be able to infest more rooms in your property.

Wrap a tape around the legs of your furniture about an inch from the ground. That way, any bed bugs that try to get up from the ground and into the furniture will get stuck and eventually die. Whether or not you find them on the tape, replace it every few days.

Step 2: Wash your bags, carpets and rugs
If you have any removable carpets, rugs and bags, go ahead and deal with those first, because if these can be lifted off the ground, it becomes easier to see and tackle the bugs.

If your bags and rugs are small and machine washable, the best thing to do is throw them in the washing machine. However, note that for the optimum results, dry these items on the highest setting because heat is among the best ways to kill bed bugs and their eggs.

Step 3: Steam Carpets, Curtains and Soft Furnishings
As earlier mentioned, bed bugs do not react well to high temperatures. You can either buy or rent a steamer that can achieve high temperatures of up to 118 degrees Celsius or more which be more than adequate to exterminate bed bugs.

Move your steamer inch by inch over the carpet while ensuring that you spend at least a few minutes steaming individual sections, as the steam will not kill bed bugs upon contact. For best results, regulate the steamer to its highest possible temperature while ensuring that your fabric will not be affected.

Step 4: Add Borax Powder or Diatomaceous Earth
After steaming your furniture and other materials, it is time to get scientific. Borax and diatomaceous earth are both products that can break down a bed bug’s exoskeleton leading to dehydration. Sprinkling one of these products on your carpeting can help kill off some more of those persistent critters.

When using either of these products, make sure that you read the instructions and the warning label. Both are irritants and should not come into contact with your skin, eyes or in your nose or mouth. Prior to application, ensure that pets and children are kept off the premise. Once the borax and diatomaceous earth is sprinkled on the surfaces, leave it for at least 3 to 4 hours.

Step 5: Vacuuming
Vacuum your soft furnishings thoroughly by going over carpets, beddings and mattresses multiple times. Use any hose attachments to vacuum the tight spots including the baseboards. Once you feel certain that you have gone over every inch of materials multiple times, it is now time to dispose of the vacuuming waste bag. Take the vacuum machine outside and remove it before placing it into a garbage bag. Finally, tie the garbage bag so that it is completely sealed, so as to prevent the escape of any bugs. All disposable materials used to remove bed bugs from your home must be taken out to a sealed trash dumpster.

How to prevent bed bug infestations?

It is not just the bites that make you feel uncomfortable if you have an infestation of bed bugs. The simple fact is that it can be very easy to wind up with bed bugs in your home or workplace without having an idea about it. It is very important to note that an Infestation does not reflect on your standards of cleanliness in any way.

At Home

• Wash and dry clothes at the highest possible temperatures.
• Eliminate clutter in your home or office to give bed bugs fewer places to hide.
• Avoid spreading bed bugs to your friends and family by not taking any clothes, suitcases or furniture to their homes.
• Tidy all areas of your bedroom, especially the floor around/underneath your bed and bed-side cabinets.
• Vacuuming can greatly reduce the size of the bed bug population, but only when they are clearly visible. It cannot guarantee total elimination. Empty and clean vacuum pumps to avoid transferring eggs to other rooms.
• Use Dubai Municipality approved products, to help eliminating some bed bugs – it is a good start but should not b be relied on to get rid of the problem completely. You need a licensed pest control Dubai based company to completely get rid of infestations.

When Travelling

• Check hotel bed linen and mattresses for live bed bugs, small dark bloodspots and a distinctive sweet and sickly smell.
• Avoid putting your suitcase on the bed.
• Hang clothes in a wardrobe rather than using drawers.
• Store suitcases in the garage between trips.

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Home Care

Things to know when shopping for a generator

Consumers want and need reliable power. When the electricity goes out, gen­erators keep your home or business humming with light and power.

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Increasingly, consumers are turning to generators for power in emergency situations, because the world is unpredictable. Year-round weather challenges are now the norm with snow, ice, wind, tornadoes, hurricanes and record-breaking rain and flooding occurring throughout the year and no longer just confined to a season.

“Consumers want and need reliable power. When the electricity goes out, gen­erators keep your home or business humming with light and power,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). 

Kiser added: “Today’s generators offer a variety of features, and there is a product for every need. While shopping for your generator, consider other equipment that could be useful in cleaning up after challenging weather such as a water pump, chain saw or pole pruner. And don’t forget outdoor-rated extension cords and fuel cans.”

Tips from OPEI for safe generator use:

  • Consider what you need. When purchasing a generator, determine how many kilowatts are needed for essential items (charging family cell phones, a refrigerator, etc.) during an emergency.
  • Research generators online before you buy. Talk with the staff at the store or ask questions online. Discuss safety features and ask about manufacturer fueling and care instructions. Generators offer a variety of features. Circuit-breaker-protected outlets will guard against generator overload. A larger fuel tank will provide extra running time. Integrated fuel gauges will help keep tabs on fuel levels and prevent power interruptions. Low tone mufflers make for quieter operation. Fold-down handles and wheels can make it easier to move your generator.
  • Keep an outdoor-rated extension cord on hand. Be sure it is long enough to place the generator a safe distance from your home, and is certified to carry the generator’s power load.
  • Identify where you will put the generator. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Never put a generator in your home, garage, porch or breezeway. Give portable generators plenty of room for ventilation. Determine now how you will secure the generator.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector. Add this safety device to your home and be sure to keep extra batteries on hand for it.
  • Keep generators dry. Before a storm hits, identify how to cover and vent the generator. Buy model-specific tents or generator covers online, at home centers or a hardware store.
  • Have the right fuel on hand before a storm hits. Use an appropriate container designed to hold fuel that seals well.
  • Store fuel in a safe place away from heat sources and out of the reach of children. Label the can with the date of purchase and the ethanol content. Check filled cans regularly and replenish them if needed. Remember fuel more than 30 days old should not be used in any outdoor power equipment and can phase separate.
  • Use the type of fuel recommended by the generator manufacturer. It is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10% ethanol in outdoor power equipment.

For safety information and to find out which manufacturers make various outdoor power equipment products, go to www.opei.org.

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Home Care

Infuse living spaces with color

Thoughtful use of color is among the most effective design tools for reveal-worthy style in your home.

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From experiences to surroundings, the past year has brought a renewed focus on feeding the soul. In an era of overstimulation and information overload, many are finding a new appreciation for living life minimally but with maximum experiences.

That mentality is increasingly evident in all aspects of life, especially with home design and decor. After all, spending more time at home means more time to discover what truly evokes happiness.

At the same time, as the focus on physical and mental wellness heightens, design experts see those trends reflected in a more considered approach to design inspired by color therapy, which makes it possible to create beautiful spaces filled with healing color.

With an expertly coordinated color palette, like the Color Collections from HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams, colors work in perfect harmony in any combination. Thoughtful use of color is among the most effective design tools for reveal-worthy style in your home.

Appliances
In the past, appliances were meant to blend into the decor to be less obvious, albeit essential, elements of a kitchen. A more contemporary approach: vibrant appliances that get noticed. You can find major appliances in a wide range of colors, but if you’re not sure about going that big and bold, many smaller countertop appliances, such as stand mixers and toasters, come in a range of colorful options, too.

Architecture
When contemplating where and how to apply color to a space, avoid boxing in your options. Think beyond traditional wall space when planning ways to change the color in a space; be thoughtful with color and highlight architectural details to elevate the interest and charm in your home. Take a 360-degree immersive color approach, painting the same shade from floor to ceiling and all around to create a mood-boosting lift to a room. 

To infuse more color and boldness into your space, consider a timeless and elegant shade of red, like HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams’ 2021 Color of the Year. This paint color, “Passionate,” is a deeply saturated hue that is daringly rich and invigorates the senses. This bold and empowering red is steeped in history, merging modern design with traditional charm.

Furniture
Whether you’re into project pieces you can transform into something new or simply shopping for furnishings that complement your space, be sure to consider how the furniture fits into the overall color scheme. Selecting furniture that fits with the design brings a more cohesive and stylized feel to the room. For example, a desk and bookshelves in pale natural hues can lend warmth to an office with walls painted a cool dynamic blue.

Cabinets
Painted cabinets are on-trend, and if you’re bored with basic whites and grays, you’re not alone. Designers are going bold in the kitchen and using cabinetry as a showpiece. These color palettes create inspiring spaces that invite you to get busy baking or simply pull up a chair and linger over a cup of coffee.

If you’re concerned about how to bring a color palette together, consider using a collection that has been intentionally curated to mix and match shades for a perfect look no matter which hues you choose. You can easily achieve a new look with an option like the Delightfully Daring Color Collection from HGTV Home by Sherwin-Williams. With earthy tones inspired by nature and a dose of vibrancy, the shades are simultaneously energizing and calming. The palette makes it easy to introduce statement colors in unexpected ways so you can feel confident in your selections.

Get inspired to bring healing design elements into your own home at hgtvhomebysherwinwilliams.com.

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Home Care

Spending time on household chores may improve brain health

Engaging in household chores may be beneficial for brain health in older adults. In a recent Baycrest study, older adults who spent more time on household chores showed greater brain size, which is a strong predictor of cognitive health.

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Photo by @deconovo from Unsplash.com

Engaging in household chores may be beneficial for brain health in older adults. In a recent Baycrest study, older adults who spent more time on household chores showed greater brain size, which is a strong predictor of cognitive health.

“Scientists already know that exercise has a positive impact on the brain, but our study is the first to show that the same may be true for household chores,” says Noah Koblinsky, lead author of the study, Exercise Physiologist and Project Coordinator at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute (RRI). “Understanding how different forms of physical activity contribute to brain health is crucial for developing strategies to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults.”

In this study, published in the journal BMC Geriatrics, the researchers looked at the links between household chores, brain volume and cognition in a group of 66 cognitively healthy older adults living in the community. The participants attended three assessment visits at Baycrest Hospital, including a health evaluation, structural brain imaging and cognitive assessment.

Participants were asked about the time they spent on household chores, such as tidying, dusting, meal preparation and clean up, shopping, heavy housework, yard work, home repairs and caregiving.

The researchers found that older adults who spent more time engaging in such activities had greater brain volume, regardless of how much exercise they did. This was observed in the hippocampus, which plays a major role in memory and learning, and the frontal lobe, which is involved in many aspects of cognition.

Although it is possible that individuals with larger brains are more likely to take up household chores, there could be several explanations for the brain benefits of household physical activity.

First, we know that heart health is closely tied to brain health. It could be that household chores have a similar effect on the heart and blood vessels as low-intensity aerobic exercise.

Second, the planning and organization involved in household chores may promote the formation of new neural connections over time, even as we age.

Third, it could be that the older adults who engaged in more household chores spent less time being sedentary, which has been shown to be associated with negative health outcomes, including poor brain health.

“Besides helping to guide physical activity recommendations for older adults, these findings may also motivate them to be more active, since household chores are a natural and often necessary aspect of many people’s daily lives, and therefore appear more attainable,” says Dr. Nicole Anderson, Senior Scientist at the RRI, Director of the Ben and Hilda Katz Interprofessional Research Program in Geriatric and Dementia Care, and senior author of this study.

This study was funded in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

As a next step, the researchers would like to assess household physical activity more objectively using wearable technology. With additional funding, they could also plan controlled trials with the aim of increasing individuals’ household activity and studying brain changes over time.

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