Archive for June, 2008

The Great American Backyard Campout

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Thursday, June 28th marks the date of the fourth annual Great American Backyard Campout, an event created by the National Wildlife Federation to help encourage people to explore the outdoors, starting with their backyard.

If you’ve never tried camping before, then this is the perfect time to give it a try. You don’t even have to leave the confines of your own yard. Heck, even if you don’t have a tent, you could borrow one from a friend or just head outside and truly sleep under the stars. After all, if things go south and it starts raining, then you can head inside.

This can be a great way to get your kids outside of the house and away from their computers and video games.

If you’d like to join in the fun, you can simply pitch a tent out in the backyard or if you’d like to be more official, you can viit the NWF’s official website and join the over 22,000 people who’ve already registered to camp out in the backyard on June 28th. Their site also has has a whole bunch of activities, camping tips, recipes, games, songs, and more.

Partners: Residential Fencing Los Angeles.

Poison Ivy – Identification, Prevention, Remedies, And Treatment

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

I remember I was on a camping trip a couple years ago, and me and a couple friends just couldn’t resist seeing if we could climb up the side of a rather steep hill… in the dark.

Safety be damned, we were gonna give it a try. Besides, we knew the river below would kind sorta break our fall if we fell.

After a series of broken vines and the ground below us giving way, two of us did manage to make it to the top of this hill. And what was our reward for such a feat… a nice case of poison ivy.

Since it was dark out we had no idea what the heck we were climbing through.

And I have to say the rest of the trip from that point on was less than great.

So I thought today I’d spend a little time talking about poison ivy prevention, and what to do if you are unfortunate enough to get it.


The easiest way to prevent poison ivy is to know what the heck it looks like.

Here’s a pic:

poison ivy

It’s a woody shrub or vine and it commonly grows on roadsides, and along trails. An expert from Skilled Fencing warns that it can also be found climbing walls,fences or trees. High security fences for home are a staple of any important building or premises. These fences act as barriers that restrict access to areas that house objects of high importance and high value. Having one of these protective barriers installed is a good idea for any property owner wishing to safeguard his or her investment. In many cases, high security fencing limits the visibility of the area it encloses from individuals outside looking in. However, some are actually able to provide nearly unobstructed views of the outside to individuals within the confines of the barrier. In addition to restricting vision, these fences are usually designed in a way that makes scaling them close to impossible. The links in the surface are welded so close together than individuals cannot fits their hands or feet in the free spaces, preventing the ability to climb. Here you can read more about las vegas fence installation services. Individuals who do find a way to the top are often foiled by fence toppers such as barbed wire or wires carrying electrical current. Some fencing options actually allow the entire barrier to be wired with electrical current, which sends jolts of electricity through individuals who touch it. Not only are wood fences a visually attractive addition to your home, they also provide the family with privacy and help to keep children and pets safe. Restoring the beauty and durability of your wood fence is a fairly simple process. Applying a quality stain will ensure your fence is able to withstand the damaging effects of sun, rain and snow. Most fences are made of pine, fir, cedar, spruce, or redwood. Prior to staining, it is important that the fence be clean, dry, and free of dirt and mildew. In addition, make sure to replace any broken boards and pound in or replace loose nails and other faulty hardware. You will want to cover hardware such as gate handles with tape and cover any concrete, plants, grass, and other areas with plastic to avoid getting stain on them. Get A Brush Fence in Melbourne and prepare your fence by cleaning it with a wood cleaning product. The cleaning product can be sprayed on using a common garden hand pump sprayer. Apply it directly in an up and down motion, with the grain of the wood, beginning from the top down. This is a perfect job for the fall, as summer heat may make the cleaning solution evaporate too quickly. Rinse with a power washer at a low psi or use a brush and garden hose to rinse. Again, use an up and down motion, following the direction of the boards. Applying a brightener brings out the original wood beauty and removes unsightly tannin staining and rust stains from corroded fasteners. Apply brightener in a similar fashion as the cleaner and rinse. Brightener may not be required, but for redwoods and some cedars, it will really make the natural colors come out. Of course, if your fence is brand new there is no need to use a cleaning or brightening product. Simply make sure the surface is free of dirt and dust by rinsing it with a garden hose. Allow the wood to dry before applying a finish. Finally, finish your wood with a product that both stains and seals the wood. A quality finish will protect the wood from the sun and water, and will contain a fungicide. You can spray, roll or brush the finish on. Using a combination of these tools, such as a roller and a brush, will help you reach cracks and crevices a roller alone may not cover. Apply enough stain to saturate the wood; most fences will need a gallon for every 100 to 200 square feet of wood surface. After about 15-30 minutes, look for shiny areas indicating over application, and brush out any excess product on the fence.

To regulate who goes in or out of the premises, property owners have the option to install state of the art gates that restrict access to individuals without proper credentials. Usually, individuals will have to use keycards or remote controls to enter premises guarded with these gates.

The poison ivy plant is easy to confuse with other plants, so here are it’s defining characteristics:

• Three divided leaves
• White berries on stem
• Leaves alternate on stem
• Center Leaflet on a longer stalk

Getting Poison Ivy

If you want to get poison ivy, it’s not hard at all. Just go touch the plant or touch something or someone else who’s been playing in it. It can even stay on clothes for a while so if you do get poison ivy, make sure you quarantine the clothes you were wearing so you don’t spread it to someone else or give yourself even more.

Bonus: Would you like a one way trip to the emergency room. That’s easy. Just rub a little sap in a scratch or wound and you’ll have yourself a one way ticket in no time.


Just like some people are immune to mosquito bites, there are a few rare folks that are actually immune to poison ivy. Growing up I had a friend who was, and as I’ve already mentioned, I am not. I was jealous. So if you’re with someone and only one of you develops a rash even after being exposed to the same plant, it doesn’t rule out poison ivy since the other person may have an immunity to the nasty stuff (lucky duck).

Once You’ve Been Exposed

If you’ve been exposed to poison ivy, you can minimize the effects and sometimes even get rid of it before the rash starts, but that means you have to know you’ve touched the stuff so being able to identify it is important.

One thing you don’t want to do is take a shower or put any hot water on it. Hot water helps open up your pores and lets the oil from the plant into your body – that’s bad – we’re trying to avoid that. And showering is also bad so don’t do that as it can actually spread it all over your body.

You can either rinse the exposed areas with a lot of cold water or you can use alcohol to try to remove the poison ivy oil, but after about a half our or so, you’re too late, and you’re just gonna have to live with it.

Once the itching starts

If it’s a serious case, go to a doctor. However, most of the time it’s not life threatening, just incredibly annoying. Here’s a couple things you can try to help make the itching subside. If you have access to hot showers go take a shower in the hottest water you can stand for as long as you can stand it. It’ll help the itching go away for about 8 hours.

If you or anyone has spray deodorant containing aluminum (nearly all do), then spray that on the affected areas.

And if you know your weeds well, you can mash up some jewelweed and apply it to the rash. Here’s what it looks like:


What you’ll endure

The symptoms vary in severity depending on exposure. Sometimes it’s quite severe, but most of the time you’re just going to end up with a very itchy rash that will last from a week to three weeks.

And if you do get it, here are a couple products you can use to help your poison ivy go away faster (trust me, they’re so worth it):


I’d actually recommend keeping one of these products in with your camping supplies just in case. It’ll make sure your camping trip isn’t ruined if you do manage to get a case of poison ivy.

Midwest Flooding Means More Mosquitoes and West Nile Virus

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

When you think about all the damage that flooding has caused, we tend to think about the damage to property and loss of homes.

However, an often overlooked side effect of flooding tends to be diseases.

And in this case one that we’re going to have to worry about all summer long is a likely record number of West Nile Virus cases this year. All the flooding has caused there to be a lot of standing water throughout the middle of the country, and that means prime breeding ground for mosquitoes. That also meant that the need to scour for the best mosquito spray containing deet was exigent.

And while most of the time we live in climate controlled enviroments like office buildings and air conditioned homes, when we’re out camping, we’re a lot more vulnerable to everything that nature has to throw at us, including mosquitoes and West Nile Virus.

And if you’re thinking that West Nile Virus is no big deal, then you may want to think again. While it starts out with flu like symptoms, it can ruin your entire summer. People have reported being in bed for weeks because they’re too weak to get out of bed (kind of sounds like mono to me). And some have said it’s taken them three months before they get their strength back.

I don’t know about you, but to me that really doesn’t sound like much fun.

And just not going camping seems like a ridiculous solution (you can get it anywhere, not just out in the woods) as well.

So here are some ways to minimize your risk of getting bit by mosquitoes:

    1. Wear long sleeves if weather permits or if you’re going to be deep in heavily wooded and brush filled areas for extended periods of time. This is something I learned when I was younger and my parents would drag me out of bed at 5:30 AM to help them pick rasberries in the woods. It’s great for preventing your arms from getting scraped up and is good at keeping the mosquitoes away.

      Wear Mosquito Repellent. If you’re not a fan of the chemical stuff with DEET in it, then you can make your own using the recipe I gave you last week.

      Lastly, don’t be afraid to surround your campsite with citronella candles (watch our video about keeping mosquitoes away) so that you can it around a campfire telling stories and roasting marshmallows without fear of getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, and more importantly minimizing your risk of getting West Nile Virus.