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Peter Cerruti
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309
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Peter Cerruti

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Risky Drinking Can Put a Chill on Your Summer Fun

July 3, 2013 11:52 pm

Summer is a wonderful time for outdoor activities with family and friends. For many people, a day at the beach, on the boat, or at a backyard barbecue will include drinking alcoholic beverages. But excessive drinking and summer activities don't mix. Drinking impairs both physical and mental abilities, and it also decreases inhibitions—which can lead to tragic consequences on the water, on the road, and in the great outdoors. In fact, research shows that half of all water recreation deaths of teens and adults involve the use of alcohol.

Swimmers can get in over their heads.
Alcohol impairs judgment and increases risk-taking, a dangerous combination for swimmers. Even experienced swimmers may venture out farther than they should and not be able to make it back to shore, or they may not notice how chilled they're getting and develop hypothermia. Surfers could become over-confident and try to ride a wave beyond their abilities. Even around a pool, too much alcohol can have deadly consequences. Inebriated divers may collide with the diving board, or dive where the water is too shallow.

Boaters can lose their bearings.
According to research funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol may be involved in 60 percent of boating fatalities, including falling overboard. And a boat operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.1 percent is 16 times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than an operator with zero BAC. According to the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, alcohol can impair a boater's judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time. It can also increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion. And if problems arise, intoxicated boaters are ill equipped to find solutions. For passengers, intoxication can lead to slips on deck, falls overboard, or accidents at the dock.

Drivers can go off course.
The summer holidays are some of the most dangerous times of the year to be on the road. When on vacation, drivers may be traveling an unfamiliar route or hauling a boat or camper, with the distraction of pets and children in the car. Adding alcohol to the mix puts the lives of the driver and everyone in the car, as well as other people on the road, at risk.

Stay hydrated and stay healthy.
Whether you're on the road or in the great outdoors, heat plus alcohol can equal trouble. Hot summer days cause fluid loss through perspiration, while alcohol causes fluid loss through increased urination. Together, they can quickly lead to dehydration or heat stroke.
But this doesn't have to happen. At parties, make at least every other drink a nonalcoholic one. If you're the host, be sure to provide plenty of cold, refreshing nonalcoholic drinks to keep your guests well hydrated. If you know you'll be driving, stay away from alcohol. And remember, there's no shame in taking a cab or sleeping on a friend's couch if you feel at all unsure if you should be driving.

Summer will end, but consequences can endure.
You can have fun in the sun and still be safe. Avoiding beverages that cause mental and physical impairment while piloting a boat, driving a car, exploring the wilderness, and swimming or surfing is a good place to start. Be smart this summer—think before you drink, and make sure that you and your loved ones will be around to enjoy many summers to come.

Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Help More than 2. 3 Million Homeowners Keep their Homes

July 3, 2013 11:52 pm

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac completed more than 130,000 foreclosure prevention actions during the first quarter of 2013, bringing the total foreclosure prevention actions to nearly 2.8 million since the start of conservatorship in 2008. These actions have helped more than 2.3 million borrowers stay in their homes, including nearly 1.4 million who received permanent loan modifications. The results are detailed in the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s first quarter 2013 Foreclosure Prevention Report, also known as the Federal Property Manager’s Report.

The quarterly report has information on state delinquencies and an updated, interactive Borrower Assistance Map for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages, with information on delinquencies, foreclosure prevention activities and Real Estate Owned (REO) properties.

Also noted in the report:

-Serious delinquency rates dropped from 3.3 to 3.0 percent at the end of the quarter.

- The number of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers who are more than 60 days delinquent declined 11 percent in the first quarter to the lowest level since the first quarter of 2009.

- Half of troubled borrowers who received permanent loan modifications in the first quarter had their monthly payments reduced by more than 30 percent.

- More than one-third of loan modifications completed in the first quarter included principal forbearance.

- Over 30,000 short sales and deeds-in-lieu were completed in the first quarter, bringing the total to more than 476,000 since the start of conservatorship.

- Third-party sales and foreclosure sales continued a downward trend in the first quarter while foreclosure starts increased.

- A new streamlined modification initiative, announced during the first quarter, will take effect on July 1. Although numbers are not available yet, the program is expected to help eligible homeowners who have missed at least three monthly payments modify their mortgage by eliminating administrative barriers associated with document collection and evaluation.

Source: FHFA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Choose a Plastic Surgeon

July 3, 2013 11:52 pm

One of the most important things you should do when choosing a plastic surgeon is do your research. There are different reasons why one chooses to have plastic surgery. One reason could be to improve your health; another reason could be to improve your self-esteem. Whatever your reason may be to have plastic surgery, it is not a decision to be taken lightly. In choosing a plastic surgeon to perform very risky operations, one should be educated in the background of the chosen physician.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking the right questions will guarantee you the best treatment, and therefore the best outcome. The first question to ask is: "Are you board certified, and with which board?"

You want to make sure that your surgeon is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Once you find out the proper qualifications for your chosen surgeon, use personal references through friends and family. This will give you another great insight into the plastic surgeon's reputation throughout his or her community.

Also ask what happens in case of an emergency. Your plastic surgeon should always have a backup plan in case an emergency arises. A board certified plastic surgeon will tell his or her patients about the risks and complications that may occur during surgery. They will make you aware of what happens when they occur. Your surgeon should have a good standing with the emergency hospital, or hospitals, that are nearest to the medical facility where the surgery is taking place. You can check the surgeon's credentials with the alternative hospital or hospitals. It is also important to make sure that the medical facility where the surgeon operates is accredited.

Lastly, view before and after pictures of patients that were operated on by the chosen surgeon. Every doctor should be proud of his or her work. Plastic surgeons want to prove to you that they are the best. They want to prove that you are the most important person to them, from the moment you meet with them for a consultation, until you leave their office at your six week check-up.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


American Dermatologists Reveal Top 10 Sunscreen Brands

July 3, 2013 11:52 pm

Coolibar, a sun protective clothing manufacturer, conducted a survey to reveal the top 10 dermatologist recommended sunscreen brands. The survey was conducted at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) from March 1-5, 2013 in Miami Beach, Fla. Neutrogena and Aveeno top the list as perennial favorites followed by La Roche-Posay, Elta and Vanicream in the top five.

A record number of 1,572 dermatologists weighed in on the most reliable sunscreens recommended to patients as part of their sun safety education.

A mix of mass-market sunscreens combined with specialty brands are listed in order of the frequency with which they are recommended to patients:

1. Neutrogena
2. Aveeno
3. La Roche-Posay
4. Elta
5. Vanicream
6. Coppertone
7. Blue Lizard
8. Eucerin
9. Solbar
10. Fallene

Source: Coolibar

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Easy Home Improvements to Benefit Indoor Air Quality

July 3, 2013 11:52 pm

(Family Features) Runny nose, itchy eyes and headache. These are just a few ailments suffered by homeowners with poor indoor air quality, potentially as a result of smoke, odors, dust or other contaminants. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, people spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors, where air quality can be two to five times more polluted than the air outside.

While asthma and allergy sufferers, children and the elderly are particularly sensitive to indoor air quality, everyone is impacted by it. Fortunately, a few simple and affordable home improvements can go a long way to benefit your home’s air.

Skip synthetic fragrances

Despite their fresh scents, air fresheners and laundry products can emit dozens of chemicals. For truly fresh air, look for fragrance-free or natural products and skip aerosol sprays. Keep rooms ventilated by opening windows and add a fern or aloe vera plant to help purify your air.

Use paint that reduces some indoor odors and pollutants
Using the right paint can reduce common indoor odors like those from cooking and smoke. Promote better indoor air quality by reducing some indoor air pollutants from potential sources like insulation, carpet, cabinets and fabrics.

Clean up dust-grabbing décor
Household dust can trap chemicals and allergens. Some objects are prone to dust, such as rugs, upholstered furniture and infrequently moved accessories. Opt for easy-to-clean or washable items to avoid dust getting trapped in your space.

Dehumidify moist spaces
Moisture can attract dust mites, mildew and mold, so keep your rooms at a safe 30 to 50 percent humidity level. An inexpensive indoor humidity monitor will check your home’s levels, and a basic dehumidifier can solve many moisture challenges.

Clean floors regularly
Use a vacuum cleaner that is equipped with a HEPA filter (a high-quality, dense type of filter) and rotating brushes to remove dust and dirt from floors, and vacuum weekly, especially in high-traffic areas. A good vacuum will not blow dust or dirt out in the exhaust. Twice a month, use a microfiber mop on hard floors, skipping any chemical cleaning solutions in favor of warm water or a natural product.

Source: Sherwin-Williams

Published with permission from RISMedia.


How to Keep Your Backyard Pool Safe

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

As temperatures rise this summer, a day at the pool becomes one of the top things to do. However, more than 237,500 swimming-related and 25,522 diving injuries were treated in 2012 in emergency rooms, doctors' offices and clinics, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) offer the following safety tips to avoid swimming and diving injuries:

Diving tips:

  • Don't ever dive into shallow water. Before diving, inspect the depth of the water to make sure it is deep enough for diving.  If diving from a high point, make sure the bottom of the body of water is double the distance from which you're diving.  For example, if you plan to dive from eight feet above the water, make sure the bottom of the body of water, or any rocks, boulders or other impediments are at least 16 feet under water. 
  • Never dive into above-ground pools
  • Only one person at a time should stand on a diving board.  Dive only off the end of the board and do not run on the board.  Do not try to dive far out or bounce more than once.  Swim away from the board immediately afterward to make room for the next diver.

Swimming tips:

  • Do not swim alone or allow others to swim alone. 
  • Make sure children are supervised at all times. Backyard pools should have a 5-foot minimum high fence that completely surrounds it.  
  • Don't attempt to swim if tired, cold or overheated. 
  • An inexperienced swimmer should wear a life jacket in the water. 
  • Carefully monitor weather conditions before and while swimming.  Avoid being in the water during storms, fog or high winds. 
  • Develop a plan for reaching medical personnel who can treat swimming-related injuries.  Anyone watching swimmers near the water should learn CPR and be able to rescue them. 
  • Never swim or dive under the influence.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Published with permission from RISMedia.


American Households Driving Economic Growth

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

Buoyed by rising home prices, American households will drive U.S. economic growth forward according to a report released recently by TD Economics, an affiliate of TD Bank.

"The outlook for the economy is characterized by the increasing resiliency and confidence of the private sector up against ongoing fiscal restraint," says TD Chief Economist Craig Alexander.

"In the first quarter, the headwind on the economy was tax hikes. In the second and third quarters, it will be spending cuts from sequestration. As these drags lift, a sturdier foundation for economic growth will be revealed."

TD Economics forecasts the economy will grow 1.9% in 2013. Economic activity should accelerate thereafter, with 2014 chalking up growth of 2.8%.

American households gaining confidence despite fiscal drag

The resiliency of the American consumer was on full display in the first quarter of this year. Despite a hefty increase in taxes that cut nearly 4 percentage points from income growth, consumer spending rose by an impressive 3.4 percent.

"The strength in consumer spending is evidence that the negative impact of deleveraging is waning and improved balance sheets are providing an offset to fiscal drag," says Alexander.

Fiscal cutbacks will continue over the next several quarters. Automatic spending cuts went into effect in March and will lead to the furlough (unpaid days off) of millions of federal employees over the next several months. This is likely to weigh on economic growth. However, the underlying recovery in the private sector will continue.

Housing rebound continuing but lots of room to grow

The improvement in household net worth has much to do with the turnaround in the housing market. Home prices have turned positive across the vast majority of the country.

"The housing market has done much of the hard work of clearing the overhang of unsold homes. It is now beginning to pay off in terms of rebounding prices," notes Alexander.

In many parts of the country, the challenge now facing the housing market is too little supply. "The next phase of the recovery will be a stronger rebound in construction," says Alexander.

Housing starts are still well below the level required to keep pace with household growth and depreciation. From their current pace of just under a million units, housing starts are likely to rise to 1.3 million units by the end of next year. The rebounding housing market will go a long way to supporting economic growth and offsetting the drag from fiscal policy.

The Federal Reserve will begin to slow asset purchases later this year

With increased confidence in the pace of economic growth, attention in financial markets has turned to when the Federal Reserve will begin to slow their support for the recovery.

The Federal Reserve has committed to continue its asset purchase program until the outlook for the labor market has improved substantially. "This sets a pretty high bar. While we are getting closer, with the ongoing drag from fiscal policy, we're not quite there yet," notes Alexander.

"We anticipate that by September, the worst of sequestration will have passed and the Fed will have sufficient positive economic news to begin tapering their asset purchases, with the goal to end purchases outright in the first quarter of 2014."

TD Economics provides analysis of global economic performance and forecasting, and is an affiliate of TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank.

Source: TD Bank

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Get Your Home Ready for Outdoor Entertaining

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

(Family Features)--With the warm weather here, it's time to get your house and yard in shape for outdoor entertaining. Here are a few tips to quickly spruce up your home for your next gathering, so you can spend more time with family and friends, and less time worrying about the prep work and clean up.

Tidy Up the Yard
- The first thing guests will notice is the condition of your lawn, so make sure to give it a fresh mow the day before you're having guests over. Tidy up yard debris like extra sticks and mulch, and put away garden tools, lawn toys and garbage cans so they are out of view.

Add Fresh Flowers - Find annuals in your favorite party-theme colors and plant them in ceramic or terra cotta pots to brighten the space. Position potted plants as table centerpieces, near serving stations, and on the patio or deck for pops of color. Use your home as a way to express your personal style and get creative by coordinating flowers with your table linens and furniture upholstery.

Clean Up Your Sitting Area - From picnics and pool parties, to birthdays and cookouts, get your backyard ready for the season. It is a good idea to spruce up your deck at least once a year to remove any weathering and stains that may have occurred, and wipe down lawn and patio furniture that was lying dormant during the winter. Tackle both with a product that is gentle on unfinished wood. Remember to rinse thoroughly any residual product.

De-grime the Grill - Grungy grills are never a welcome part of any backyard barbecue, especially if they were collecting dust and dirt all season. Wipe the grime and grease off the outside of the grill, and clean the interior racks, by scrubbing with a wire brush and a solution of three parts baking soda to one part warm water. Rinse thoroughly.

With the right tips and tricks you can easily prep your home for entertaining and offer your guests a comfortable and relaxed experience during all of summer's festivities.


Published with permission from RISMedia.


Summer Home Repair Safety Tips to Prevent Serious Hand and Finger Injuries

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

Hand and finger injuries are among the most common causes for emergency room visits, but taking time to prepare a safe work area, using proper tools and alerting someone nearby about your home repair project can reduce your risk for serious accidents this summer.

The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database reports that nearly 3.5 million people a year are seen in a U.S. emergency room for injury to an upper limb, which ranges from shoulder to fingers; of these, 45 percent occur at home and 23 percent involve deep cuts, called lacerations. Dr. Nebil Bill Aydin, a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon with the New York Group for Plastic Surgery and an attending surgeon at Westchester Medical Center, has operated on many home repair-related upper limb injuries, including the wrist laceration experienced by 55 year-old David Guiliano of Valhalla, NY, that nearly cost him his left hand.

Guiliano, a firefighter as well as a professional bricklayer, was renovating a friend's pool house and needed to demolish a brick seven feet up a wall. He stood on an overturned plastic bucket and held his heavy electric grinder tool in both hands high over his head. As he pushed grinder to brick, the blade tip caught and jerked, pushing him backward. As he fell, the grinder slipped from his grasp and the blade sliced his left wrist, cutting through tendons, nerves and arteries down to the bone.

Looking back, Guiliano recognizes that his many years as a bricklayer led to complacency about home repair work. "I didn't secure my balance, and I used a grinder with an exposed blade instead of a saw with a protective guard," he said. "I bypassed important precautions because of my experience, but I'd urge everyone to take time to prepare properly and put some simple safety measures in place for any task using tools."

Regardless of experience, following simple safety rules can help you avoid a serious injury:

• Think through the tools and materials you'll need in advance, and position them strategically in your work area before starting. If you realize in the middle of the project that you've forgotten a tool, carefully and fully disengage from your work to get it — do not lean over or reach up for it.

• Do not use a tool that lacks safety mechanisms or is inappropriate for a specific task. If you're unsure, check with an expert at the hardware store.

• Alert a family member or neighbor that you are undertaking a home repair project and ask if they'll come by to check up on you periodically.

• Keep a phone and first aid supplies nearby, in case. If you're not working at your own home, be sure you know the specific address so emergency dispatch can find you, and be aware of nearby major medical centers.

Source: New York Group for Plastic Surgery

Published with permission from RISMedia.


Foreign Home Buyers Continue to Identify U.S. as Profitable Investment

June 28, 2013 10:28 pm

International home sales in the U.S. declined in the past year, but are at their second highest level in recent years and are over six percent of total existing-home sales in value. According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2013 Profile of International Home Buying Activity, interest in U.S. properties continues to grow, signaling that America continues to be regarded by international buyers as a great place to own property.

The survey, which asked REALTORS® to report their international business activity within the U.S. for the 12 months ending March 2013, showed that total international sales were $68.2 billion, down approximately $14 billion from the previous year. The decline is attributed to a number of temporary factors, including economic slowdowns in a number of major foreign economies, tighter U.S. credit standards and unfavorable exchange rates. Of total international transactions, $34.8 billion (51 percent) were attributed to foreign buyers with permanent residences outside the U.S. and $33.4 billion (49 percent) were attributed to buyers who are recent immigrants or temporary visa holders residing for more than six months in the U.S.

“Foreign buyers are experiencing hurdles not only abroad, but also here in the U.S. when it comes to purchasing property,” said NAR President Gary Thomas. Difficult economic conditions, particularly in Europe, have impacted foreign buyers, but several factors in the U.S. have also affected their purchasing power here. Tight credit standards have made financing challenging for immigrants, and low housing inventories have made finding a house difficult. However, none of these factors appear to be permanent.”

Foreign buyers continue to have a substantial interest in U.S. properties. Over a five-year timeframe, more than 70 percent of REALTORS® reported a constant or increasing level in the number of international clients contacting them.

“REALTORS® provide international buyers with a significant advantage when purchasing property in the U.S. REALTORS® who have earned NAR’s Certified International Property Specialist designation have received specialized training and are well prepared to service the international market,” said Thomas.

Twenty-seven percent of REALTORS® reported having worked with international clients this year. The most important factors influencing international clients’ purchases reported by REALTORS ® were that the U.S. is viewed as a desirable location and that the real estate market is regarded as a profitable investment.

REALTORS ® reported purchases from 68 countries, but five have historically accounted for the bulk of purchases; Canada (23 percent), China (12 percent), Mexico (8 percent), India (5 percent) and the United Kingdom (5 percent). These five countries accounted for approximately 53 percent of transactions, with Canada and China the fastest growing sources over the years.

Canadian buyers were reported to purchase properties with a median price of $183,000, with the majority purchased in Florida, Arizona and California. Chinese buyers tended to purchase property in the upper price ranges with a median price of $425,000 and typically in California. Sixty-two percent of Mexican buyers purchased property in California and Texas, with a median price of $156,250.

International buyers tend to cluster in specific locations based on countries of origin, as well as several other factors. “Many factors influence foreign buyers’ decisions on where to purchase in the U.S., but the most important are proximity to home country, presence of relatives and friends, availability of job and education opportunities, and the climate,” said Thomas. “International buyers also differ on the type of desired property. Some are looking for trophy properties while others are interested in modest vacation homes.”

Source: NAR

Published with permission from RISMedia.