7 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Cold Weather

As cold weather approaches, there are several things you can do around the house to make sure you and your family stay warm and safe all winter. These seven steps can ensure your house will be in top shape for whatever winter brings.

  1. Protect Your Pipes: We all know water expands as it freezes. If water inside your pipes freezes, it will expand, too, which can cause your pipes to crack and burst. Pipes also can burst when pressure builds up behind a chunk of ice, which is why it’s a good idea to leave faucets dripping in very cold weather. Take a few steps to winterize your pipes and avoid a potentially catastrophic claim.
    • Drain water from outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems to keep those pipes from freezing.
    • Disconnect and store outdoor hoses; cover outdoor faucets with foam insulators.
    • Protect water pipes that run through unheated areas of your home with insulation.
  2. Check the Heat: The time to be sure you’re going to stay warm all winter is before the weather gets too cold. Check your furnace by turning on the heat and the blower to be sure they’re operating as they should.
    • Change your furnace filter at the start of the season and then every two to four months.
    • Consider installing a programmable thermostat if you don’t have one.
  3. Prevent Ice Dams: Ice dams form when heat escapes through the roof and melts snow that’s settled there. That snowmelt flows to your roof’s edge and refreezes, usually at the eaves. Those pretty icicles can signal an ugly ice dam underneath. The problem with an ice dam is that snow that later melts can’t properly drain, so it has to go somewhere… and that might be through a leak in your roof, causing water damage in your home.
    • Clogged gutters and downspouts are the No. 1 cause of ice dams. Clean them out to keep water flowing during the winter.
    • Seal places that may allow warm air to leak from your home to your attic.
    • Be sure soffit vents, which are along the eaves of the house and allow air to flow into the attic, are clear.
    • If you’ve had problems with ice dams before or have reason to suspect you might this year, you can take these additional steps:
      • Install snow and ice slides to prevent ice and snow from “bonding” to your roof.
      • Install a rubberized ice and water shield beneath the roof shingles, going 3 to 6 feet back from the eaves.
      • Hire a roofer to install heat cable along the eaves to melt ice.
      • Add additional insulation to your attic floor.
  4. Clean and Store Lawn Equipment: After a summer of yard work, gas-powered equipment such as mowers, trimmers, tillers, and chippers can all benefit from service before being stored for the winter.
    • Empty all of the fuel. Gas can degrade all the time, and the ethanol in E10 gas can damage fuel lines and other components while sitting unused.
    • Clean the machine of oil and yard debris, and sharpen the blades.
    • Store them for winter in a basement, garage, or covered storage shed where they’re safe from the weather.
  5. Inspect the Fireplace and Chimney: There’s nothing like the glow of a fire to warm up a winter evening. But before you light up that first log, make sure your fireplace and chimney are clean and critter-free.
  6. Seal Windows and Doors: Gaps around windows and doors can make it tough to keep your house warm in winter. Caulk around windows and install weather stripping around doors as needed. This minor and inexpensive task can help you save on heating costs. Another option is to add storm windows and doors. Remove, wash and store screens for the spring before you have them installed.
  7. Stock Up on Cold-weather Essentials: When winter storms hit, they often come with power outages. To ensure you and your family are prepared for anything Mother Nature throws at you this winter, you will want to have an emergency kit ready. Consider having these cold-weather specific items on hand:
    • A working, fully charged fire extinguisher.
    • An alternative heat source such as a generator, wood-burning stove, or fireplace.
    • Sand, ice melt, and a shovel if where you live is prone to ice and snow (avoid using kitty litter, as it doesn’t provide good traction and can make a mess).
    • You should also develop a plan for communicating or meeting up with family in case you aren’t together when a winter storm hits.

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from articles posted by Liberty Mutual.

New Testing Instrument Can Diagnose Concussions

Researchers have developed a blood test that can detect mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI), commonly called concussions, on the spot and within minutes and requiring only a single drop of blood….

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier this year, the new device, named TBIcheck, is portable and doesn’t require a doctor to use.


Every year, approximately 2.8 million people are diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries in the U.S., which can vary from mild to severe.

Repetitive brain trauma can lead to the development of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease in which a protein called Tau spreads throughout the brain, killing brain cells and affecting mood and behavior.

CTE is notably common in athletes, who are regularly subject to head collisions. Over 300,000 children, age 19 or younger, are hospitalized annually due to head injuries sustained while playing sports.

In these cases, early, accurate and on-the-spot concussion diagnosis is particularly important. It is easy to imagine this instrument being put to use on the sidelines of professional and peewee games alike, ensuring that athletes who have sustained brain injuries don’t return to the game.
People with suspected head trauma can be tested for mild traumatic brain injury without having to go through a CT scan, which are not only untimely and expensive but expose the brain to potentially harmful radiation.

Approximately 90 percent of people who go to emergency rooms with suspected brain trauma return negative CT scans.

There are more school-aged kids participating in sports these days. Twenty years ago, head injuries weren’t being reported as frequently, but because they are now aware of it, head injuries are being diagnosed more often.”

Worries about the care that adults are receiving after a head trauma, like in a car accident are also a concern. Many adult patients who suffer a traumatic brain injury rarely receive follow-up care after being discharged from a hospital emergency room. A lot of people who go into hospitals after an car accident return three months, six months, 12 months later struggling to function. The non-sport concussion diagnoses are often neglected.

Brain injuries and concussions can alter mood, balance and affect cognitive abilities. Sometimes symptoms can last for years or become permanent.

There is still some confusion of what to do. Some common myths about the diagnosis and treatment of concussions are the following:

Myth 1: Recovery requires a lot of time in a dark room.
For years, patients were told to avoid bright lights and screens as their head recovered from an injury. This is no longer recommended and can work against recovery. Now doctors try to get patients back into a normal routine sooner rather than later. Start slowly and work up to the regular hours routine. However, cell phone usage should be limited because looking at the screen too much is not good. Parents should still be aware of screen time with phones and computers. The eye movement is what makes symptoms worse.

Myth 2: Repeated hits to the head don’t have long-term impacts on the brain.
Researchers say it’s unclear how or when concussions can lead to long-term or permanent brain damage.

Myth 3: There’s no need for a brain checkup until you injure your head.
Physicians suggest that athletes come in for testing before the season starts. This way, doctors have information they can use from when a patient is healthy and performing normally to guide them during treatment in the case of a concussion.

Testing is always suggested and never wait to do so!

 

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from articles posted by the FDA on 2/18/18 and The University Network in August of 2018.

Online Voter Registration (OVR)

 

Governor Tom Wolf marked the third anniversary of the inauguration of on line voter registration (OVR) in the commonwealth. The reform has made it easier and more convenient for Pennsylvanians to register to vote.

Since Aug. 27, 2015, 1,092,407 Pennsylvanians have taken advantage of online voter registration to file new voter registrations and 426,489 to make changes to their existing registrations at register.votesPA.com

Pennsylvania’s OVR system, available in English and Spanish. It is more secure because electronic applications go directly to the county voter registration office. Paper applications go through several hands before reaching the correct destination. The OVR system contains the latest in security and is constantly monitored and updated.
In addition, state and county election officials have found that electronic voter registration applications have improved accuracy, reduced time-consuming data entry and provided cost savings to the state.

October 1, 2018 was #NationalVoterRegistrationDay. Register to vote at: register.votesPA.com

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from PA Govenor News, posted on August 27th, 2018.

Resurface PA Initiative 2018

PennDOT has made great progress with its goals to repave work on interstates and attack potholes across Pennsylvania. PennDOT has increased the speed of it work to reach to roads and highways throughout the state that we would not have been able to reach in a regular maintenance year.”
Under the Resurface PA initiative, PennDOT will work across the state’s 40,000 miles of PennDOT-maintained roads, the nation’s fifth largest system. Altogether there are 17 interstate paving and preservation projects covering 255 miles happen at least two years sooner than scheduled, with projects beginning this year and next year. These projects, which will preserve the pavement surfaces for at least five to six years, build on the 85 interstate projects covering more than 775 miles that are underway or expected to begin or finish this year.

Motorists can report potholes and other highway-maintenance concerns on state routes at www.customercare.penndot.gov or by calling PennDOT’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-FIX-ROAD (1-800-349-7623). Be as specific as possible when providing locations of maintenance concerns. Report the county, municipality, street name, and state route number, which can be found on small black and white signs posted along state highways. In addition, a description of any familiar landmarks would be helpful for PennDOT to locate the problem area.

Maintenance concerns will be corrected as soon as possible. Emergency road repairs, such as road wash-outs, are handled on a top-priority basis.

The 1-800-FIX-ROAD number should not be used to report traffic accidents, disabled vehicles or other emergencies. Motorists should continue to call 911 to report these types of emergencies.

 

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from PA Govenor News, posted on September 17th, 2018.

The Opioid Epidemic

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Governor Tom Wolf announced that Pennsylvania will receive a $55.9 million State Opioid Response (SOR) grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Wolf administration was highly motivated to acquire and once awarded the grant was directed to the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) to administer the grant.
“I’m incredibly proud of the work Pennsylvania is doing to battle the heroin and opioid epidemic and this grant will help significantly as we continue that fight, allowing us to increase the types of initiatives we implement and expanding our reach for prevention, treatment, and recovery,” Gov. Wolf said.

Pennsylvania’s focus is attacking the epidemic of opioid use disorder, knowing that it needs to remove the stigma of the disease of addiction and increase the programs and build new ones to provide more treatment, more access to community supports, and more success stories to ultimately win this battle.

 

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from PA Govenor News, posted on September 20th, 2018.

Hurricane Florence’s Impact in Pennsylvania

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The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency supplemented staffing in the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center to monitor conditions as remnants of Hurricane Florence moved through the state and were ready to respond to resource requests from impacted counties.

We have had a historically wet year, with much of the rain coming in the last few weeks,” said Governor Wolf. “Some parts of the state were under a flash flood watch, ……….” According to the National Weather Service, periods of heavy rain could have roadway or flash flooding.
Motorists were advised to use www.511PA.com and clicking “Incidents.” 511PA, which is free and available 24 hours a day, provides traffic delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speed information, and access to more than 860 traffic cameras.

Pennsylvanians are also encouraged to follow ReadyPA on Twitter @ReadyPA and Facebook for the latest on the weather and how to prepare. PennDOT cautions motorists to never drive through flooded roadways, as it takes just two feet of fast-moving water to float a car. Anyone who drives around barriers intended to close a road can face increased penalties if emergency responders are called to rescue motorists who disregard traffic control signs.
With the consistent rain in PA, please use the information provided to make sure your future travels are risk free.

 

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from PA Govenor News, posted on September 17th, 2018.

Opportunities for People Using SNAP at Farmers Markets

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“A person’s diet plays a critical role in a person’s development and long-term health outcomes. Nutritious, healthy foods are less expensive than medicine, but can be as effective for preventing or managing some health conditions,” says Department of Human Services, Secretary Teresa Miller. Additionally, “Farmers markets make fresh, nutritious, locally sourced food more accessible in all communities, including traditionally under-served areas.”

SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program, helping more than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians purchase food from their local grocery stores and farmers markets. Farmers markets give SNAP recipients the power to purchase nutritious, locally sourced food with their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Access cards, and some farmers markets across the state are able to accept SNAP benefits at up to double their normal value through Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grants from the United States Department of Agriculture.
In turn, SNAP has a positive impact on state and local economies by supporting grocers and local farmers markets. Across Pennsylvania, more than 10,000 authorized retailers participate in SNAP. SNAP benefits are 100 percent federally funded.

 

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from The PA Department of Human Services, an article posted on August 26, 2018.

Medical Assistance Benefits for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD)

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For people with disabilities, finding a job or returning to work can be a challenge. For a long time one of the biggest obstacles to working was health care coverage. Earning too much money meant risking losing health care benefits. However, there is an option: Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD).

MAWD lets Pennsylvanians with disabilities take a fulfilling job, earn more money and still keep their full medical coverage. With MAWD you can keep Medical Assistance while you work, even if your earnings increase above the limits. You do not have to choose between a job and your health.
How to apply? You can apply for benefits online in a quick, easy and secure way using COMPASS. Contact your local county assistance office (CAO) or caseworker to apply, or to find out more about how MAWD can help.

Call the Department of Human Services HelpLine at (800) 692-7462 for more information. TTY/TTD users can call (800) 451-5886.

Eligibility To be eligible for MAWD, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years of age but less than 65
  • Be employed and receiving compensation
  • Have a disability that meets the Social Security Administration’s standards*
  • Have countable income below 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines**
  • Have $10,000 or less in countable resources (resident property and one automobile are not countable assets)

* Disabilities may include physical or developmental disabilities, mental health or intellectual disabilities.
** Contact your caseworker or local county assistance office(CAO) for more information. You can apply for benefits online in a quick, easy and secure way using COMPASS.

What’s the cost?

You pay a monthly premium for coverage under MAWD, since it functions like health insurance coverage for someone working. But the premium is affordable – just 5% of your countable monthly income. That is a reasonable cost for the coverage you need to keep working.

Benefits may include:

  • Doctor visits
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Prescription drugs
  • Emergency care
  • Mental health services
  • Dental services
  • Drug and alcohol treatment
  • Hospital stays
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Hospice services
  • Medical transportation services

For a copy of the brochure: http://www.dhs.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/c_255794.pdf

 

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted from The PA Department of Human Services.

A Victory for People with Disabilities and Seniors

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Governor Tom Wolf said Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court Decision to allow his 2015 homecare executive order to proceed is a victory for seniors and people with disabilities in Pennsylvania. The decision is a victory for seniors, people with disabilities, and homecare workers. It provides choices for seniors, improves home and community-based care and attracts more qualified homecare attendants.

With Pennsylvania’s older population growing, by 2030, one in four people in the state will be age 65 and older, and half of those will need some form of daily care. To meet this need, Governor Wolf signed an executive order in January 2015 as a first step. Since the order was signed, the departments of Aging and Human Services have been successfully implementing programs to expand services for older Pennsylvanians, reduce long-term care costs and ensure seniors have choices about where to age, as well as launching an online homecare directory.

Part of this plan was the launching of Community HealthChoices (CHC) in the southwest region in January 2018. Many of you know about and are part of CHC in that region. CHC will eventually impact the lives of 420,000 Pennsylvanians, 94 percent of whom are dual eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. CHC program will be rolled out in SE Pennsylvania in 2019 and the remainder of the state in 2020.

The state’s online homecare directory, PA Link to Community Care, features service and support categories, including Advocacy, Behavioral Health, Employment, Finance, Health Care, Housing, In-Home Services, Legal, Meals, Protection from Abuse, Support Groups, and Transportation.

 

*AUCP does not own the rights to this document. Adapted a Press Release, published on August 21, 2018.