Healthier Living | Child Safety | Eco Friendly Tips

Barbara Staib, President of Safe Home Products, is an expert on child safety, emergency preparedness, pet training and even pest control. She has personally helped thousands of customers since SHP started in 1999. Here you can find Q&A with Barbara to foster safer, healthier and simpler living.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Which Deer Repellent Products Work the Best in Winter and Summer?

Question about the Deergard, Deer Scram, Scoot Deer, Deer Chaser, ShakeAway Deer and Deer Fortess.

Q: "I have a deer problem and wonder which product or products will be most effective to discourage deer from my yard. Thanks."

Answer: Using several products typically works the best. My suggestions are to use at minimum the Deergard and Deer Scram if it is a winter problem. For warmer weather, the Water Scarecrow is quite effective. The Deergard also keeps out most wandering animals depending upon the height at which it is mounted. Hungry deer will ignore most repellent products especially once patterns of travel are set. And often even if not hungry, they will attempt their old trails even if there is now a 6 ft chain link fence in the way. (I had 500 feet replaced three years after it was installed as the deer butted huge dents in it the first two years.)

In the spring, you'll find the Deer Fortress repellent which is hung on plants, works quite well. Deer Fortress combines a proven deer deterrent (blood) in a weather resistant package. Highly effective, blood based deer repellants are not 100% effective. Best results are seen when Deer Fortress is installed at planting, before existing plants start growing and before deer are accustomed to feeding in that area. If food is limited or a favorite food is readily available, deer have been know to ignore many types of repellents. As with humans, predicting deer behavior is not a guarantee.

Deer Scram, a granular product spread on the ground, is guaranteed to work in winter, too. "Deer Scram works effectively in winter to get rid of deer. No mixing is required: easily sprinkle the granular formula in any conditions. Apply as directed above in late November or before first heavy snow. Works well under up to 18 inches of fresh snow. Can be applied on top of existing snow cover. Re-apply after 100 days. Note: If snow becomes crusted or iced over an application of Deer Scram, break up the crust and re-apply in the loose snow."

Scoot® Deer is a liquid with microencapsulated particles. This new formula is active for up to 30 days and is water resistant. One treatment has full strength effects that last up to15 days and as much as 50% protection for a full month. It appears better to be used on grass and plants and also works for rabbits.

The Deergard has a built-in infrared motion sensor that activates when pests move into the repellent's coverage zone. Use it with the continuous or motion-sensor operation settings and adjust the frequency to keep out other pests like raccoons, dogs, etc. On the deer setting, it is silent. Mounts anywhere with keyhole slot. The Deer Chaser uses an infrared sensor that activates a light and/or a radio (choose your favorite station or your least favorite) to scare off deer.

Do remember that batteries can freeze. So using a unit with an AC adapter means you'll get sounds even in the most bitter cold.

Thanks again for your questions. We stock these products on site 365 days per year except for Deer Fortress which is a growing season product.
Sincerely, Barbara

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Attracting Bats to Backyard Bat Houses for Insect Control

Question about using bat houses to attract bats to backyards to control insects.

Q: "I am looking for a "green solution" for insect control around my home. We have a wooded lot. How do I attract bats to my yard? Are bats dangerous? Are some bat houses better than others?"Thanks. Lloyd.

Answer: Bats are greatly misunderstood: research shows that one bat can consume more than 600 mosquitoes per hour. Bats eat other flying species of insects such as corn borers and cutworm moths. So, yes, this is a cost-effective organic pest control method you should pursue. You can make your own bat house if you'd like. Buying a kit or pre-constructed kit may be cost effective when you consider the tools, time, etc.

How to Attract Bats:
  • Install bat houses.
  • Have water nearby: a lake, a pond, a bird bath, etc. where insects gather. (How about a backyard koi pond with solar water pump?)
  • Plant night-blooming flowers.
Bat House Instructions:
  • Most bat houses are made by a rough, nontoxic wood (such as plywood or cedar): a rough surface makes it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house.
  • Size of the house: at least 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide, and 3 inches deep.
  • Mount your bat house is in the fall or winter. This lets the wood of the house to age and odors dissipate.
  • Install facing south, preferably where sunlight reaches the house most of the day.
  • Mount on a pole, tree or under the eaves of a house, garage or barn about 12 to 15 feet above the ground.
  • Be patient: it may take up to a year to attract a colony.
Like any mammal, bats can catch rabies: the risks are low and you are unlikely to handle a bat.

Some suggested bat houses:
  • Heath Bat House BAT-1ADimensions: 11.5 inches by 12.8 inches by 2.5 inches deep. Meets guidelines from Bat Conservation International.
  • Schrodt - Colony Bat House:A triple chambered nursery capable of accomodating dozens of mature bats and their offspring. Etched brass moon and branded bat design. 17 inches tall.
  • Songbird Cedar Large Bat Chalethis large bat house has grooves on the inside front and back so bats can "hang out" in comfort. The Songbird Cedar Bat Chalet has two compartments, room for a colony of bats. Mount 15-20 feet high on pole, structure or tree. Install now for next summer. Dimensions: 18 inches by 4 inches by 13 inches.
There are many other options. Remember that bats do not chase away birds nor do they suck the blood of humans!

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Reduce Head Injuries: Pad Exposed Basement Beams and Low Stairway Ceilings

Question about what products can keep heads from getting banged on low ceiling beams.

Q: "My unfinished basement ceilings are low, only about 6.5 to 7 feet. We have exposed floor joists or 'ceiling beams.' I am 6 ft. 4 inches tall. What suggestions do you have to keep me from banging my head if I forget to duck? I've gotten quite a few 'goose eggs'!" Thanks. Dick

Answer: What I recommend for exposed joists, as well as at the bottom of stairs with lower ceilings are strips of the Cardinal Gates' hearth guard. These strips come in black , brown, gray , taupe and ivory colors. These sticks are 54 inches long. You can also purchase padding by the foot.

At the top of our office stairs, there is a low ceiling edge that we padded with the taupe colored padding strip. It has saved many heads from bumps and bruises.

Safety Padding Features:
  • Lab tested fire resistant pad.
  • Pads will smolder, not burn.
  • Non-toxic.
  • For home, work or industrial setting.
  • Adheres directly to hearth, wall edge, etc. with provided double sided adhesive.
  • Dense, impact absorbent.
  • Durable and easy to clean.
  • Pad Size: 2 3/8" x 2 3/8" Lip.
  • Includes 54 inch pad plus tape.
We also have pole padding if you have exposed support beams and edge cushioning and edge corners in many colors. Keep your children and yourself safe!

Thanks for your question. Contact us by email or phone if you need quantity quotations.
Sincerely, Barbara

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Go Power RV Solar Kits: Do I Need a Digital Regulator?

Questions about RV solar panels by Go Power.

Q: "I see that you sell the Go Power brand solar panel kits for RV's. What is the advantage of a digital regulator on a solar panel kit? I own an RV, want to go to areas without electricity and am not sure which one to purchase. Also what is the difference, besides cost, between the 50 watt, 80 watt and 110 watt kits?" Thanks. Joe

Answer: We recommend the solar panel kits with the digital regulators unless you plan to monitor the battery or power pack very closely. A digital regulator keeps track of the battery charge and stops power to the battery once it is fully charged. Overcharging batteries can result in explosions or damage to the battery.

The higher the wattage, the faster the battery or powerpack will recharge. The other factor is, of course, the amount and intensity of sunlight that hits the solar panel. For example, a 1500 watt powerpack like the Xantrex XPower 1500 unit, would require about 72 hours of direct sunlight to recharge fully with the 110 watt solar kit, 144 hours with the 50 watt solar kit and about 108 hours with the 80 watt solar kit. Most portable powerpacks like the Xantrex 600HD are no more than 600 watts so figure about half that time for a complete recharge.

Before you make your choice, I recommend that you consider how many appliances you plan to use each day, what the watts are used per appliance and how long each day you plan to operate them. Also how many days do you plan to be off the electric grid? If your preference is a more primitive campground, the larger units are a better choice if you need to run blowers on furnaces, etc.

Thanks for your interesting question. Sincerely, Barbara

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Solar Panel Charging a Xantrex XPower Powerpack 1500 Watt Inverter

Question about using a solar panel to recharge a Xantrex XPower Powerpack 802-1500.

Q: "I would like to purchase a Xantrex 802-1500, but can I charge it with a solar panel and would a 40 watt panel do the trick? Do you sell solar panels or would you know which one I would need. Thank you, John D."

Answer: A solar panel can be used to recharge this large capacity, cart mounting 1500 watt power inverter with built-in battery pack. According to the product manual, a 12-volt solar panel rated to produce a maximum of 12 amps can be used to charge XPower 1500 via the DC Power Socket. Once the solar panel’s DC plug is inserted into the DC Power Socket and the solar panel is placed in the sun, XPower 1500 will charge automatically just as with the AC Charger. With direct sunlight, a typical 3 Amp solar panel will charge XPower 1500 in about 24 hours. If the solar panel does not have a regulated output, disconnect it immediately after XPower 1500 is charged.

Remember that a solar panel large enough and with enough power to recharge the unit is quite expensive. For example, we sell the Go Power 110 Watt Solar Kit with Digital Regulator . This would take about 72 hours of direct sunlight to fully recharge the unit AFTER the initial charge. The specs are :Output Power: 110 W. Rated Current: 6.7 A. Rated Voltage 16.5 V. GPR-25 digital regulator Dimensions of panel 62.4 x 26 x 1.5.

There is risk of battery pack damage if you use a solar panel: 1. with an unregulated output 2. with one that exceeds 15 volts DC. 3. with a generator output not intended for battery charging. 4. if you leave a solar panel with an unregulated output connected after charging is complete.

Initial charge is about 36 hours. The 120VAC option is more certain if you don't have lots of sun. Using a 12V DC outlet takes 24 hours to recharge. Using 120VAC takes 6 to 8 hours' time to recharge a 100% discharged battery. Recharging time is based on using the supplied 5 amp charger, or charging from a vehicle lighter socket.

I recommend that you stay in an RV park periodically where you can recharge using AC unless you opt for a very expensive solar panel module. Thanks for your very interesting question. Sincerely, Barbara









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