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.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How to Use Mosquito Repelling Candles Outdoors or Indoors

Question about using Geraniol bucket candles mosquito repelling candles.

Q: "What is the best way to use mosquito repeller candles?" Thanks. Mac

Answer: We recommend that you light geraniol candles at least 30 minutes to an hour prior to your outdoor gathering. Space the candles about 8 feet apart around the perimeter of the area where you plan to entertain. Make sure the Geraniol pillar candles or bucket candle is on a flat, heat resistant surface where it is unlikely to be knocked over. For the best protection, we recommend that you place mosquito traps down wind from your party and keep them running continuously during the mosquito/biting insect season. The best unit is the all propane mosquito trap since you can place it anywhere you choose without an electrical outlet nearby.

Take care when using any burning candle to make sure that it’s on a flat, heat-resistant surface to prevent the candle from tipping over or spilling wax, and never leaving a burning candle unattended.

Among the pleasant smelling geraniol options are:
  • Geraniol wristbands that use geraniol imbedded in plastic bracelets you can loop around wrist, ankle or bell or place out of reach of a baby on a stroller
  • Geraniol bucket candles. Each weighs just over a pound, is in a silver colored and burns for about 50 hours.
  • Geraniol pillar candles. Each 3 inch by 3 inch pillar candle weighs about 11 ounces and burns for about 36 hours.
Thank you for your question. Enjoy your parties.
Sincerely, Barbara

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Protecting Berry Bushes from Hungry Birds and Rabbits

Question about protecting blueberry bushes from birds.

Q: "How do I keep birds from eating my blueberries? This is the second year for the bushes which are covered with green berries. Would a Bird-X bird repeller do the job? I don't want to deal with bird netting if I don't have to."Thanks. Jack

Answer: Your best choice is not the bird repeller unless you install multiple units of the smaller units, the Bird-X Peller 1 and the Bird-X Peller 2. Each unit has only one speaker. You would have to have at least two units or install the Super Bird-X Peller with four speakers. These are noisy, you would have to have AC power and your neighbors might be unhappy.

I recommend that you either drape the plants with standard 3/4 inch mesh bird netting or build what is called a walk-in blueberry cage. Essentially that is a frame over which you drape the netting. That way you can secure the bird net so birds cannot get underneath. After harvest, which usually takes a few weeks per variety, you can remove the netting. The netting should last for years since it is UV treated.

Remember that rabbits and other rodents enjoy the young branches of blueberry plants. To keep them out in the wintertime, surround the bushes with tall chicken wire fencing

Blueberry bushes require little care, if you are in the right climate zones, keep the soil acidic and provide enough water. In 1964, I gave my dad a half dozen small bushes. Four of them survive to this day in western Pennsylvania and continue to produce huge numbers of berries 45 years later. Each spring the bushes are covered with bird netting that is anchored along the edges with bricks. Rarely a bird will get underneath and need to be rescued.

Thanks for your question. Enjoy those pies!
Sincerely, Barbara

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Attract Bluebirds for Natural Insect Control and Beauty

Question about the bluebird houses and how to attract bluebirds to my yard.

Q: "My family enjoys bird watching in our backyard. How do we attract bluebirds? We know they are beautiful to watch and we understand they eat a lot of insects, too." thanks. Dave

Answer: Attract and keep bluebirds in your backyard by providing them with houses in which to nest and the foods they love to eat. Bluebirds love insects, especially larva.

Some suggested boxes:
Some suggested bluebird feeders:
  • Song Essentials Bluebird Feeder. Bluebirds soon learn to reach inside this feeder for the meal worms & treats you provide. Designed for easy three step training. 1) Leave the lid open, held by the cable and remove one plexiglas side. 2) Insert plexiglass side. 3) Close the lid so only bluebirds can use the feeder.
  • Protected Bluebird Jail FeederThis feeder is made to discourage larger birds from feasting on meal worms and blue bird food.
Suggested food:
Thank you for your question. Enjoy your bird-watching.
Sincerely, Barbara

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

50 UPF Sunday Afternoons Hats Mean No Sunscreen Drips Into Eyes

Question about effectiveness and comfort of SundayAfternoons Hats versus using sunscreen on your face.

Q: "I am a native Floridian and have paid my dues over the past 10 years as I have skin cancer after skin cancer removed from those many years outside in the sun. Now I never go outdoors unprotected: I apply heavy duty sunscreen after every morning shower. If I perspire a lot, the sunscreen drips into my eyes which is uncomfortable at best. Do you have personal experience with the Sunday Afternoons hats? How effective are they at keeping my face, ears and neck safe from the sun? Would I still need sunscreen on my face?" Thanks. Gail

Answer: Yes I do have personal experience with the Sunday Afternoons hats and had one skin cancer removed from my forehead two years ago. (Who wore sunscreen in the 40's, 50's and 60's?) After day one in Hawaii in October 2008, I concluded I would wear my Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat (bought in Palm Desert, CA in 2003 at the encouragement of a friend) and not wear sunscreen. (I had a miserable day one due to the sunscreen dripping into my eyes and ended up dumping bottled water on my face to try to wash them out on three occasions.)

I was surprised that I didn't even need my sunglasses most of the day as the darker underside of the hat plus the large brim shaded my eyes . Indeed, these hats are light weight and give 360 degree solar cover from both UVA and UVB rays. In fact the hats were awarded an unprecedented 13 point utility patent fro sun protection. Except for the mesh ventilation inserts, the hats are rated at 50 UPF which is the highest rating given for clothing for ultraviolet protection against solar rays.

The unisex adventure hat and the Sunday Afternoon sports hats are our more popular sellers.

The adventure hat has these features:
# Rear sizing tape for custom fit.
# Hook and loop closure raises veil off neck
# Moisture wicking sweatband
# Down sloped 4 inch brim is flexible and shades entire face.
# Chin strap with cord lock
# 7.5 inch veil for neck and ears.
# Foam core brim floats.
# Dark underside of hat for eye comfort.

The unisex sports hat is similar. Other styles are available and all come in a variety of colors.

Thanks for your question. Stay safe in the sun!
Sincerely, Barbara.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Attracting Toads to a Toad House for Natural Garden Insect Control

Question about how to use toad houses or toad abodes to attract toads to a garden.

Q: "I am interested in maintaining an organic garden. I understand that toads are one way to keep the insect population controlled. What products do you suggest to attract them?

Answer: Each toad can eat about 10,000 insects in one summer. For "green" gardening, place one or more toad houses in areas of your garden that get lots of water. That keeps the soil cool: toads look for a break from the summer heat and sun! Keep a small dish of water near your Solar Toad Abode, Solar Toadstool Abode or Ceramic Toad House. That daily soak keeps permeable toad skin moist.

If you have hostas, remember that toads eat slugs, too.

Use no pesticides or chemical fertilizers in your garden as they are toxic to toads.

Toad Specific Hints:
  1. Toads can poison. Keep dogs away from toads and do not handle a toad if you have cuts in your skin. Domestic dogs can die within 15 minutes of eating a toad. Toads are a common cause of poisoning in dogs. The toad can poison cats, too but this is not very common. Toads exude a milky white toxin from poison glands behind their eyes. They squeeze this poison onto the surface of their skin when they are under threat. Toads do not spit or squirt the poison as commonly believed, and they don’t bite. Dogs and cats are poisoned when they mouth the toad or sometimes when the toad’s poison gets into their eyes. The toad’s poison is also dangerous to humans and deaths have occurred. Some adults have even been affected when they absorbed the poison through cuts in their skin after handling a toad.
  2. Let a young toad find your toad house: adults have already chosen a home so don't try to relocate them
  3. Lure toads in spring and early summer. Bring the toad house inside in late fall and winter.
Thanks for your question. Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

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, July 5, 2007

Molechaser Stakes

Q: "Now in my 3rd summer of using a molechaser stake in my garden. I have been very pleased with the results although now it seems the gophers may be getting used to it and no longer are repelled. I am thinking of buying a second unit. Do you have other suggestions?" Ken

Answer: Multiple units are always good. You may want to get the Supersonic Molechaser to add to the Vibrasonic molechaser as it makes a noise rather than vibrating. It also helps to move the stakes around a bit. Hope this helps.

Comment from Customer: "Thank you for your quick and helpful reply. Based upon the information you sent, I have ordered a "supersonic" from your company. Thanks again, Ken."

Comment from Barbara: We sell several mole chaser products. These are also helpful in getting rid of gophers and voles. Gophers are more difficult to chase away as, once established, they have an elaborate network of tunnels under the ground while moles stay near the top where they can eat grubs.

Some suggestions to get rid of moles:

  • Install molechaser stakes. Multiple units work best especially if your soil is mostly clay and rocks or mostly sand. Sound is contained in a smaller area and more intense in heavy soild and is dispersed farther and is less intense in sandy ones. We sell green PVC plastic ones, vibrasonic molechasers, solar mole chaser stakes and supersonic molechasers.
  • Spray grass with Scoot Mole.
  • Use grub control granules in mid summer.
  • July 17, 2009 Note: MoleScram is a granular products we've sold now for almost 2 years. The advantages are that the product can be spread with a lawn fertilizer spreader, a much faster application than with Scoot Mole liquid which requires walking with the sprayer turned on and dragging perhaps hundreds of feet of hose behind you plus you treat one half of your yard on Day 1 and half on Day 2. Water in well or apply before a storm. You'll move the moles back out of your yard!
Good luck with your gardens and grass.

Sincerely, Barbara

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