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5 tips to feel better immediately during spring allergy season

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(BPT) – From flowers poking through the ground to ditching heavy winter parkas, it’s easy to look forward to spring. Unless, of course, you have allergies. Then, the path to warmer weather and additional daylight could be marked with watery eyes, sneezing and a runny nose. Makes it hard to be excited, right?

It doesn’t have to.

While spring carries its own concerns for allergy sufferers everywhere, there is relief. Now is the perfect time to set plans in place to help ease your allergy symptoms before they begin.

“People think they’re doing everything they can to battle spring allergies,” says allergist Bradley Chipps, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “But many still find themselves under siege from pollen and other allergens that appear once the weather starts to warm up. What they don’t realize is that by following a few simple rules they can make life a lot more pleasant, and their allergies more bearable.”

As you start your spring allergy planning, keep these five tips from ACAAI in mind. Use them and your spring will be filled with flowers and breezes, not coughing and sneezes.

1. It may not only be allergies. In some cases the symptoms you are experiencing may not be caused by allergies alone but by another complication such as asthma. Research shows two-thirds of people with asthma also suffer from allergies, making symptoms worse during the spring season. If your symptoms include a persistent cough or feeling winded quickly, asthma could be the cause of your trouble. If this sounds familiar, consult your allergist. Your allergist can help identify the source of your asthma and help treat your allergies to manage your symptoms.

2. Take a deep dive for spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is a must for many people, but if you suffer from allergies, it’s even more important. Clearing dust and cobwebs can ease your sneezing, but for better results, roll up your sleeves and give your home a deep scrub. A thorough cleaning can eliminate allergens such as dust mites and mold, and clear the air.

3. Start your relief early on. Don’t wait for your eyes to begin watering before taking your allergy medicine. Start your medications at least two weeks before the season begins, and they will already be in your system when you really need it.

4. Clean your air effectively. When looking for support to clean the air in your home, don’t choose an ionic air filter. These filters require more airflow to operate properly than most homes are able to provide. Instead choose a HEPA room air cleaner rated with a Clean Air Delivery Rate. If you have central air, change your filters every three months and use filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12 to keep your air as clean as possible.

5. Resist the urge to breathe in fresh air. After months cooped up indoors, you want a fresh breeze, but before you open your windows, beware. Opening windows allows pollen and other debris into your home where they can settle in your carpet or upholstery. As hard as it can be, you’re better off keeping your windows closed during peak allergy season. Use your air conditioning to regulate your home’s temperature instead.

For people with allergies, spring’s annual arrival feels like a mixed blessing. By using the tips above, you can ensure that you have everything you need to make spring great. And you’ll do so with less of the coughing and sneezing that can go with it.

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Plan your next vacation like a pro

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(Family Features) If the chance to unplug, recharge and just get away is calling your name, it’s a sign that it’s time to plan a vacation. Whether you envision a trip around town or across the country, getting organized and doing a little prep work can help you make the most of the experience.

A destination like California offers cities big and small with an assortment of activities, theme parks, shopping districts, beaches, restaurants and more to be explored. Start planning your next getaway with these travel tips from the experts at Visit California:

Plan Ahead
Last-minute trips can get you deals, but you might also be limited by what you’re able to see and do. Ticketed attractions that sell out quickly may be off the table, and the most desirable hotels can fill well ahead of time, too. Planning ahead often allows you to map out the most successful adventure.

Set a Budget
Be sure to consider transportation, accommodations, meals and admission to various attractions. Consider which aspects of a vacation are most important to you and budget more money to those areas, like a five-star meal, ocean view room or priority pass to a favorite park.

Take Advantage of Visitor’s Guides
Using tools such as visitor’s guides can help you make the most of your trip, from identifying must-see attractions to finding the best places to eat and sleep. Many guides are available to download for free online so you can immediately start exploring. For example, the “2024 California Visitor’s Guide: The Best of California” is a testament to the Golden State’s playful spirit, featuring “58 Reasons Why California is the Ultimate Playground,” and is filled with travel tips from passionate locals, like cover star Zoey Deschanel, including:

  • “8 New Trails to Explore,” showcasing freshly constructed paths in California’s parks
  • “Sustainable Sips,” a guide to some of California’s eco-friendly wineries
  • “Plan-Ahead Travel Guide,” where readers can learn how to score a spot at the state’s most coveted attractions
  • “6 Fabulous Film Locations,” a jet-setting guide from movie scout Lori Balton
  • “California Shopping: A to Z Guide,” a comprehensive guide to shopping throughout the Golden State

“From surfing dogs and summer skiing to cosplay conventions and a world-renowned culinary scene, California’s options for play abound, accommodating every type of traveler,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “That playful spirit is ingrained in every aspect of what makes our state so special and this year’s guide will help readers discover how they can experience it firsthand.”

Pack Appropriately
Staying comfortable throughout your journey ensures you can focus on the experiences. Be sure you’re familiar with the climate, including the forecast during the time you’ll be visiting. While summer days can be quite warm, evenings on the coast often warrant a light jacket. Also be sure you’re prepared for the activities you’ve planned, such as adequate footwear for hiking, long pants for horseback riding and sunscreen for time outdoors.

Create an Itinerary
Even if you prefer a more spontaneous getaway, having at least a loose idea of how you’d like to spend your time traveling can help you be more efficient and avoid wasting time. Think about the things you want to accomplish and fit them together so you can avoid awkward gaps or unnecessary travel and ensure you get to pack in as many experiences as you’d like.

Start planning your next trip by visiting VisitCalifornia.com/travel-guides to order a guide and find additional tips and helpful tools.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock (women hiking)


SOURCE:
Visit California

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6 tips to prepare your home for winter weather

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(Family Features) Winter weather, while often beautiful, can prove challenging for homeowners. Snow and ice accumulation can cause damage or disruption to many components of homes and properties, including heating systems and appliances, communication and access to and from property.

Utilizing a reliable, efficient and affordable energy source like propane can help power critical systems – home heating, cooktops, ovens, fireplaces, boilers and water heaters. Because propane is stored on-site, it’s resilient enough to withstand some of the dangers of winter weather, such as power outages that interrupt access to the electric grid. Available in a variety of capacities to fit the needs of any size home, propane-powered generators can provide supplemental power in as little as 10 seconds after an electrical grid failure, ensuring vital systems like home heating, cooking and smoke and fire detection systems are not interrupted when you need them the most.

Consider these tips from the experts at the Propane Education & Research Council to help prepare your family and home for winter weather and find more resources at Propane.com.

Get to Know Your Propane System

If you’re unfamiliar with your propane system, take a few minutes to review it. Identify core components, including the tank, regulators, meter, piping and supply valves, as well as any appliance vents. Locate the main gas supply valve in case you need to turn off the propane in the event of an emergency. Call a propane professional to inspect the system before restoring it.

Ensure an Adequate Supply of Propane

Establish a regular delivery schedule with your propane provider – particularly during the winter months – or call to schedule a delivery when the tank gauge reads 30% to give your provider enough time to make a delivery and ensure you have an adequate supply in your tank.

Mark Your Tank

Especially if your home’s propane tank is buried, be sure to mark its location with a brightly colored stake or flag taller than the maximum anticipated snow depth. This will help propane suppliers easily locate your tank, ensuring they can refill it during scheduled appointments.

Ready Your Furnace

If it’s time to upgrade your home’s climate control system, it’s a smart idea to do your homework and explore all options. Consider propane-powered furnaces, which last 50% longer than electric heat pumps for a lower lifetime investment. Propane furnaces also provide warmer air than other heat sources (115-125 F), are less impacted by outdoor temperatures and produce 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than electric furnaces and 12% less than fuel oil furnaces.

Take Advantage of Your Fireplace

The warm glow of a fire isn’t only comforting; it can be a practical and effective way to increase the heat inside your home. Not only do propane fireplaces offer 5-6 times the heating capacity of electric fireplaces, they’re also more energy efficient, environmentally friendly, convenient to use and easier to install than woodburning models. They also emit less soot and other emissions.

Install Gas and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Installing UL-listed propane gas detectors and carbon monoxide detectors can provide you and your family with additional peace of mind. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location and maintenance.
SOURCE:
Propane Education & Research Council

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Efficient ways to warm your home

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(Family Features) Creating reliable and efficient heat for your home during the winter months may be easier than you think. Using propane appliances like furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and kitchen appliances alongside other energy sources, like electricity, can help reduce the strain on the electrical grid.

With the capability to power all major systems in a home, propane offers homeowners an affordable, comfortable, reliable and efficient energy source. It’s a clean, low-carbon option that is made in the United States and available right now.

Consider these energy-efficient, propane-powered appliances and their benefits compared to other energy sources, according to the experts at the Propane Education & Research Council.

Furnaces
Not only are propane-powered furnaces more efficient than other energy sources, but they can also provide a lot of comfort. They heat air to 115-125 F, making the indoor air feel consistently warmer than other options. Heat from air source heat pumps often supply temperatures lower than 100 F and are more affected by outdoor temperatures.

A propane-powered furnace has a 50% longer lifespan than an electric heat pump, reducing its overall lifetime costs to a homeowner. Energy Star-qualified propane furnaces can save up to $75 in energy costs each year and are 15% more efficient than standard propane models. In addition, propane-powered residential furnaces emit up to 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than electric furnaces and 12% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fuel oil furnaces.

Fireplaces
A propane-powered fireplace is a great source for secondary heat and can be used in all climates. They provide 5-6 times the heating capacity of an electric fireplace and emit less soot and other air-polluting emissions than wood-burning fireplaces.

In fact, some parts of the U.S. have banned wood-burning fireplaces due to their negative effects on the environment. What’s more, traditional wood fireplaces are about 15% efficient as secondary sources of heat while high-efficiency propane fireplaces are up to 90% efficient.

Boilers
Many homeowners appreciate the versatility of propane boilers, which offer high-level performance and space savings while also providing heat, hot water and even snow melt capabilities. This versatility also extends to the type of heating delivery system propane boilers serve, including hydronic baseboard systems, in-floor hydronic systems or even forced-air systems, in which hot water from the boiler (instead of a furnace) acts as the heat source.

Propane boilers have an expected lifespan of up to 30 years, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, but many boilers can last longer if serviced and maintained properly. Thus, the initial investment can provide long-term value beyond other heating alternatives. High-efficiency propane boilers also result in significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions compared with those fueled by heating oil.

Learn more about how you can rely on propane to heat your home at Propane.com/ForMyHome.


SOURCE:
Propane Education & Research Council

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