Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. Whatever you’re doing, whatever you’re working on it’s going to make your house safe, comfortable and around for a lot of years to come. Call us because that’s what we’re going to talk about this month because it is Home Safety Month.
LESLIE: Yay! Happy Home Safety Month?
TOM: Thanks. Did you get me a card?
LESLIE: Uh, you know, I didn’t really realize (Tom chuckles) that it was a Hallmark holiday. I’m sorry.
TOM: I’m sure they have a card for Home Safety Month, Leslie. (laughing)
LESLIE: (laughing) If not I can make you one. (laughing)
TOM: Well, we are broadcasting a very special edition of The Money Pit today. We’re on the floor of the National Hardware Show celebrating Home Safety Month. Because there’s a lot of innovative, safe products, trends and information that comes out of this program.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. And we’re going to take a look at a program to help you find a contractor that is specially certified to make your home safe and comfortable.
TOM: And this hour, we’re going to have tips on how to make your house safe and comfortable and also take a look at a program to help you find a contractor that’s certified for that.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s a really great program. We’ve got lots of interesting things going on. We even have a lot of wonderful guests lined up from our friends at the AARP, here to tell us all about making your home safe.
TOM: Correct. Often it’s a major life event that triggers a home remodel or renovation. Maybe you’re having your first child and need some more room. Or perhaps you’re taking in a parent or older relative. Or maybe you’re recovering from an injury or an illness and can’t get around the way you once did.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. Eleanor Ginzler is an expert on just that. She’s the director of Livable Communities for the AARP and she joins us now to tell us how to make changes to our home to be safer and more comfortable.
ELEANOR: Thank you very much. Glad to be here.
LESLIE: Well, we’re so glad to have you. First, define for us and our listeners livable communities. How do you really classify that?
ELEANOR: Absolutely great question. You know, I think if we asked a lot of people they might answer differently. For AARP, livable communities primarily looks at the issue of housing and the issue of transportation all under the guise of are our communities designed in such a way – both through their transportation systems and through their houses as well as the services in their communities – so people can age in their community successfully.
TOM: Eleanor, isn’t it the common belief that people want to sort of move south and move out of their present communities when they retire? But your research is showing something quite different than that?
ELEANOR: Yeah, I think we may have busted one of those myths that out there. (Tom and Leslie laugh) Lot of people might think that you get to be a certain age, you sell your house, you move south. In fact, while there are people who do that, the vast majority of people first tell us that they want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. Every time we ask this question we get the same answer. The last time we asked, about a year ago, 86 percent of people said they wanted to stay in their homes. These were people who were 50 years of age or older. Wanted to stay in the house they were in for as long as they can. And in fact, when you look at the census data, very few people really move. Less than 10 percent of the 60-plus population moves in any five-year period. When you look over the last two rounds of census, that’s going back over 20 years.
LESLIE: Well, I mean I imagine you’ve stayed your whole life in one area. It’s your neighborhood. You’ve got friends. You’ve got family. Why do you want to uproot everything for the sake of the weather?
ELEANOR: You hit the nail on the head. In fact, when we’ve asked people what is it that makes you want to stay there it is. It’s because it’s the place they’ve put energy into. It’s the place where their friends and their family are. They absolutely feel connected to the community around them, the people in that community, organizations that they’re affiliated with. And it’s where they want to stay.
TOM: Eleanor, let’s say you do want to stay in your present home. What are some of the most common challenges and solutions that people are facing when they get, say, perhaps a bit physically restricted in what they used to be able to do?
ELEANOR: Yeah, I think the whole point for AARP is that we want those homes that people want to stay in to be the safest and most comfortable for them as they’re getting older. And you may be getting older. Your body may be changing. Is your house changing to meet your needs as well? So you want to look at some things which are very easy to do that are going to be helpful, actually, all the way across that lifespan; not just for people as they get older but for all people. Things like look at the doors in your house and see do you have round doorknobs or do you have lever door handles. That kind of a fairly inexpensive fix can be helpful for people who may be having some issues around arthritis. Also, really good for people – little people with small hands that might not be able to grasp that doorknob. And actually, real good for mostly women who are doing all that laundry and carrying those piles of clothes throughout (inaudible).
LESLIE: With all the multitasking that we do, Eleanor, it’s always nice to be able to just wander up to a door and sort of just lean on it with your elbow.
ELEANOR: You’ve got it. Exactly.
LESLIE: This whole idea of livable communities, is it something that would be a specialized community that I would move into in my neighborhood or, really, can I just think about my home, my neighborhood from a different standpoint and even universal design? You know, we’re very comfortable with the term ‘universal design’ but maybe a lot of our listeners aren’t. How would you classify that as well?
ELEANOR: Absolutely. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. For some people, they want a special, intentional community. But the vast majority, we are talking about turning those neighborhoods that you’re living in, making sure that those neighborhoods are absolutely the best possible environments for people. That does mean looking at universal design features; a phrase that, unfortunately, so many people still don’t recognize or understand but is exactly what AARP wants people to embrace throughout the lifespan so that these – this way of designing, whether it’s your house or the things you use in your house or the environment outside of that house, it is easy to use; it is safe to use; it helps you no matter what your age, no matter what your ability.
TOM: And can also be well designed. I think that there’s a misunderstanding out there that when you talk about universal design you think of something in very, say, a hospital-like setting.
LESLIE: Yeah, sterile.
ELEANOR: Yeah, actually that’s another really important point. I think too many people, if they think they understand it, they think that means institutionalizing their home. And oh my gosh, that is not at all it. I’ve had the opportunity to see some homes that were designed with universal design features and they are absolutely as beautiful as any home can be. If you – if you want your house to be a place of beauty it can be a place of beauty with universal design features.
TOM: Yeah, as long as you think about it upfront or you make those changes as you move along.
Eleanor, regarding livable communities, are livable communities only age restricted communities or can a livable community be good for people of any age?
ELEANOR: Yeah, actually a livable community is a community that helps people of all ages. If we look at making, for example, those changes to a house that will help people stay safe and comfortable, that house is going to be a better house for all people of all ages. This is actually the most cross-generational issue that AARP has been looking at lately.
LESLIE: Well, especially because – I mean even in my family alone we’re seeing the return of multigenerational families. It used to be very much isolated; mom, dad and kids. Now grandparents are moving back in, grandchildren. Homes are getting more full with people who require different things. So it’s really important to address this.
Now, if my home, say, isn’t up to standards universally design-wise, what can I do? Is it a major renovation that I need to undertake or can I add little things here and there to make it work?
ELEANOR: You know, I think that the good news here for people is that there are lots of different things they can do depending upon their pocketbook and their house. And it absolutely can start with some very inexpensive but very helpful things. Something as easy as walking around your house and looking to see what wattage light bulbs you’re putting in your light fixtures. The lighter it is the safer it’s going to be, the less shadows are going to be cast and the less likelihood for an injury as a result of poor lighting.
LESLIE: Well, it’s really important to specialize task lighting because hobbies become so important as people age and becoming more active. So if you can specialize task lighting it’s safer for everyone.
ELEANOR: Absolutely. And can be – therefore, give you more enjoyment as you’re doing the things you like to do and like to spend time on.
TOM: We’re talking to Eleanor Ginzler. She’s the Director of Livable Communities for the AARP.
Eleanor, you guys have done a really good job on your website at AARP.org/HomeDesign. You have a page there; it’s called Rate Your Home. And I think all the tools that our listeners will need to do this sort of self assessment are there. You have a bathroom check list. You have a kitchen checklist. You have a checklist for special needs. All right there. Easily accessible. You can go to their website and print out these checklists and then do your own safety assessment. And you’ll be very surprised, I think. Many people will be very surprised with how many easy improvements can be done to make the house safer and more comfortable.
ELEANOR: Thank you. Yeah, I hope people do go to our website and check it out. And as an opportunity to then check out their home. And then if we could have a second to talk about what I think you’re going to cover later in the show, for folks who don’t want to do that project themselves, the idea of hiring a home contractor is so important. And I know you’re going to be able to spend some time talking about some good tips about that and that is very important for AARP as well.
TOM: Yeah, absolutely.
LESLIE: Yeah, especially because this generation seems to get scammed the most when it comes to this type of contractor issue. So what you all are doing at AARP with your CAPS program – and we will get into it later this hour – is very important, Eleanor.
ELEANOR: Yeah, we want people to be able to make these changes and wanted them to be able to make them in a way that’s going to produce a quality job. So it could be a small job that you do yourself or it could be something you want to hire somebody to do. And you absolutely want to be able to rely on somebody who’s gotten the training that they need. And you want to be that empowered consumer when you’re contracting with them.
TOM: And AARP is going to help us get that job done.
Eleanor Ginzler, Director of Livable Communities, thanks for being a part of our Home Safety Month broadcast.
ELEANOR: Thank you so much.
LESLIE: Alright, Eleanor. Thanks so much.
Hey, Money Pit listeners. If you need some help making your home work for you we can help you do just that. You can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, low-cost and no-cost changes you can make today to help make things easier around the house for plenty of tomorrows. Plus, your calls to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
ANNOUNCER: AARP is proud to sponsor The Money Pit. Visit www.AARP.org/HomeDesign to learn more about making your home more functional and comfortable for years to come.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: We are broadcasting a very special edition of the program today in celebration of Home Safety Month. The entire month of June is devoted to the topic of home safety. We want to think about ways to be comfortable and to be safe in your home for many years to come.
LESLIE: That’s right. In fact, the AARP has some research which is showing that most of you want to stay right where you are; not pick up and move to a warmer climate like the retirement of your parents or maybe even your grandparents’ generations. So you really all want to think about how your home measures up. Do you have a bedroom and a full bath on the ground floor? Is there a step-free entrance to your home? All these things make it safer.
TOM: You know, making some of those changes might be long range but there are some changes you can make today with that little – that add little or no cost. For example, you can replace traditional light switches with large rocker switches. You can install easy-to-grasp C or D-shaped handles for cabinet doors and drawers. You can install a handheld, adjustable showerhead; easy home improvement project. How about lever door handles on the doors? Increase the wattage of light bulbs to the maximum allowed. Or simply put a bench or a chair outside the front door so you can drop the packages.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Which is so helpful when you’re coming in.
TOM: Absolutely. So these are easy, inexpensive, simple things that can make your house comfortable and safer.
If you have a question about a home improvement project, perhaps one that could make you more comfortable and more safe, call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Alright, we have a call from Sharon who listens in on WABC from Matawan, New Jersey. Sharon, welcome to The Money Pit.
SHARON: Hi, guys. I love your show.
LESLIE: Thanks, Sharon.
TOM: Oh, thanks.
SHARON: I have a question about fire safety, I guess. I have two young kids; two and four. They each have their own bedrooms on the second floor.
SHARON: And I was thinking about putting in some sort of escape plan; like ladders that they could get out of the windows. How – I mean, can a two and four-year-old really use something like that?
TOM: No. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) And in fact, a 22-year-old can’t use something like that. I did a story once for MSNBC on fire safety where I was actually trained at a fire safety academy in New Jersey.
TOM: And the instructors did a very interesting experiment with me. They showed me what happens when you get in a room that fills with smoke. And it is amazing how easy it is to become disoriented. Yeah. And …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Disoriented. That’s why they want you to get down because the smoke, of course, rises. I think what’s so important, Sharon, is that you really need to make sure that you go over an escape route – a plan of attack – in the event of an emergency in your home and practice if often.
TOM: And a meeting place, too. But with respect to the ladders, the point was shown to me that even if you have a ladder, typically they’re held in a closet or something like that. You’re never going to be able to find it – you know, unpack it, so to speak …
TOM: … set it up and get out; especially when you can’t see and you can’t breathe. And the experiments that we did, we could breathe OK but they used – the used like a glycol-based smoke to kind of fake what it was like to not see.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. So you weren’t even in the real conditions.
TOM: It’s unbelievable how disoriented you get and how quickly you get disoriented. The only way I think an escape ladder would work well is if you permanently mounted it, say, in a box under the window so all you had to do is literally flip open a top and throw it out the window. But to have to take it out of a box and assemble it, it just isn’t going to happen.
LESLIE: Yeah, and what if you can’t get to the child’s room for some reason, God forbid …
LESLIE: … and then all of a sudden your two-year-old’s just left to their own in the room. You really have to make sure that you’ve got a plan of attack, safety measures, know where to meet and practice it so that in the event that this does happen no one gets nervous. And also, there’s been huge advancements in fire alarms; especially with kids having a hard time hearing that sort of tone.
TOM: And the interconnected fire alarms, too …
TOM: … where if one goes off they all go off. So those are the sorts of things that you should be thinking about now, Sharon, OK?
SHARON: OK, thank you.
TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Next up we’ve got Jim in Toledo, Ohio. Jim, welcome to The Money Pit? What can we do for you?
JIM: Hi, great show, guys.
LESLIE: Thanks, Jim.
JIM: What’s the best kind of residential toilet to put in for somebody who’s going to be using it – a wheelchair person; part time use, not full time?
TOM: Well, there’s a couple of things. Not only do you need a toilet that’s appropriately sized but you’re also going to need grab bars to help that person be able to lift off the wheelchair. The good news is that both of those products are available, they’re attractive today, they don’t look like they belong in a hospital bedroom.
TOM: You know?
LESLIE: And there’s even an interesting new toilet that the folks at the ADA – which is the American Disabilities Act – are recommending. And it’s the Titan Triangle toilet, which sort of goes into a corner to allow more accessibility for someone who might be in a wheelchair or with a walker to maneuver safely around a bath.
JIM: OK, installation’s like a traditional toilet, though?
TOM: Yeah, installs like a traditional toilet. Most common mistake when it comes to installing toilets is over-tightening them.
TOM: Because they are made of ceramic. And so, if you take one turn too many, you think it’s going to be secure.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh gosh, you can crack that … (chuckling)
TOM: Oh, it’s bad news. It gets ugly quick. Yeah, you kind of ruin the whole thing.
JIM: Got you.
TOM: So when you put it in – when you take the old one out, as long as you’re not changing the floor height by like adding a different floor material like putting another layer of tile, you should be able to go right back on the existing one that you were there – that was there before without any problem.
JIM: Got you. I’ll learn. Last time I forgot to turn the water off first. (Leslie laughs)
TOM: Yeah, that’s always a good place to start.
JIM: Thanks, guys.
TOM: Jim, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show’s special Home Safety Month broadcast.
LESLIE: Alright. Next we’re going to Colorado Springs with Charles. Charles, what can we do for you today at The Money Pit?
CHARLES: Oh, hello there. Yeah, I’ve got a question regarding my mom’s safety. My mom, she’s getting up there in age right now and she insists on living at home alone. And you know, as she gets older, I’m really concerned about her safety being alone. Is there something I can do to make her home a lot safer for her?
TOM: Well you know, the AARP has a good checklist on their website at AARP.org/HomeDesign where they’ll walk you through an assessment of every room of the house so that you can make sure you cover all of the basics. You know, there are little changes that you can make that will make the house more accessible and easier for her to use. And I think it’s also important to set up a communication system.
LESLIE: Yeah, absolutely. And Charles, you really want to think about making it convenient for her as well. Try to put a bathroom and a bedroom on the first floor even if it’s turning a room that’s a guest room or the living room into something that’s more useful for her. Maybe move the laundry up to a higher floor like the first floor; somewhere she’s using a lot so she’s not going up and down the stairs. Think about adding more lighting. There’s really a lot of things that you can do to put your mind at ease and make life easy for her.
CHARLES: I feel a lot better already.
TOM: (chuckling) Alright, Charles. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got Lisa from Ocean, New Jersey. Lisa, welcome to The Money Pit? What can we do for you?
LISA: Hi, guys. My husband and I are looking to buy a second home that we’re eventually going to retire in. So we’re thinking about the layout and the style that we should be looking for so that we can gracefully age into this home. Do you have any tips for us?
LESLIE: Oh, gosh. Absolutely.
TOM: (chuckling) Where do you start?
LESLIE: You know, there’s so much you can do. I think most importantly, think about if not every bath at least one bath being no threshold so that in the event you’re in a wheelchair or it becomes difficult to take larger steps it’s easy to use. Try to put as much as you can on the first floor to keep it useful. Think about what you and your husband like to do hobby wise and create dedicated areas so that you can use them and enjoy them.
TOM: And also, Lisa, look at the AARP Livable Communities program because they thought of all those things for you. And if you find a house that’s in one of these livable communities it’s all going to be done. You know, the communication’s going to be there; the access is going to be there; and they’re going to look great, too.
Lisa, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
Well, safety in the home is definitely something you have to think about all the time. But for those times when safety isn’t top of mind, it also helps to have a home that has safety built into it. While some home safety projects are easy, others require the skills of a pro to get the job done.
LESLIE: That’s right. But how do you find a contractor that’s trained and knowledgeable about home modifications for safety? Well, there’s a cool certification program from the folks at AARP and we’ll learn more about that next.
TOM: Don’t look now but your home improvement projects just got easier and safer because this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show coming to you from the floor of the National Hardware Show in Orlando, Florida where we are taking this opportunity to celebrate National Home Safety Month and educate you about ways that you can live safely and more comfortably in your home.
LESLIE: That’s right. And now it’s time to talk about safe home design. You know, sometimes, making your home safe and comfortable requires making some home improvements. And our next guest is an expert in doing just that. His name is Vince Butler and he’s with Butler Brothers Construction and he holds a very special designation called CAPS, which stands for Certified Aging in Place Specialist.
Vince, welcome. First, you know, tell us about this CAPS program. What does it mean?
VINCE: Sure, Leslie, thanks for having me. The CAPS designation is a professional training series that was developed by the National Association of Home Builders. And it focuses on aging in place, which is a term that some people, you know, may find new to their lexicon. But it really covers more than just accessibility. It looks at the full needs that someone may have as they age in their home; everything from, you know, acute situations like an injury or an illness right on through, you know, older parents that may be living with them or children with a disability; pretty much everything. Trying to make the home as livable as possible for all their needs; both those, you know, today as well as things that may occur in the future.
TOM: Vince, talk to us about the actual certification process. What do you guys have to go through to become trained and capable in these areas?
VINCE: Sure. It’s a three-day intensive series. We find most times now – and I teach many of the classes myself as well – folks will take all three days kind of in a row. The first day deals with working with older adults and with folks with disabilities; understanding some of the natural processes of aging and some of the chronic conditions and manifestations of those.
LESLIE: So you know what to anticipate need wise.
VINCE: Yes, looking at all those things and trying to understand, you know – although you may not have that condition at this current time, you know, what might occur and then what might be the manifestations of that. The second day we deal with the actual home modifications …
VINCE: … and, you know, look through – kind of work through a sample house. We identify all these various challenges and barriers that might exist and unsafe conditions and look at many, many possible solutions for those. And then the third day, which is kind of an interesting day, is actually one on business management principles. And that’s in there so that we’re sure that the folks that go through the CAPS program understand how to run their business properly and understand the importance of good contracting techniques and good business management techniques.
TOM: Well, I think those are also good communication skills and I think that’s where problems sometimes develop with contractors is that they’re not communicating completely …
TOM: … with the owner. And in this particular case, communication is really, really critical because these are really important home modifications that need to be done.
LESLIE: Well, yeah. And sometimes you’re dealing with a homeowner who might be reluctant to make these changes or reluctant to accept their new situation or a future situation, if you will.
TOM: Yeah, Vince, is part of your job as a CAP specialist really educating the homeowner about what can and cannot be done to make the house safe and comfortable?
VINCE: It’s probably the most important thing we do because people do come to it with some preconceived ideas. They think it’s going to make their house, you know, less salable or even detract from the value of the home. And they’re often, you know, very, very surprised to see how these features – again, kind of stressing that it’s not making it necessarily accessible. In some cases we do that. But it’s about aging in place. And that actually – most of the features that we do make a house more attractive to any potential buyer or anyone living in it; things like wider doorways and wider hallways and better lighting and easier-to-operate, you know, door handles and safer showers. All that sort of stuff ends up making a house actually live a lot better for everybody.
LESLIE: So it’s not even major remodels. It’s the small stuff. So that’s excellent that you really go through there and walk the homeowner through all of these processes. Do you then put together sort of a scope of specifications and hand that over to the homeowner to say like, ‘This is what we can and cannot accomplish?’ And maybe even in a situation do you recommend perhaps that things just can’t be done to that house?
VINCE: Absolutely. I mean we go in and really try to get them focused on letting us do a complete assessment. And by doing that, you know, they may be focused right now just on an acute need; perhaps, you know, accessibility from the front door …
TOM: Right. Mm-hmm.
VINCE: … or maybe they want to remodel their bathroom. But what we try to do is a full assessment of the house and then prioritize those things; looking at issues like light safety, prevention of falls and then the convenience issues. And some of these things are things the homeowner can do and other things that, you know, we could give them different solutions, you know …
TOM: I think it’s good that the CAPS folks are also going to come up with sort of a long term plan. So like you say, these are things that don’t have to be done immediately but by having the assessment done, you’ll really be able to plan for them, to budget for them and get them done on your own time schedule.
VINCE: Exactly. And we want to get them focused on, really, the light safety and the prevention of falls issues. You know, they may be thinking about convenience or something real – you know, real attractive like doing a new kitchen. But if there’s a hazard in the house we want to address that first because, you know, keeping somebody in their home as long as possible is really the first goal.
LESLIE: Have you found that you’re getting a lot of work with the CAPS program through the CAPS program? And are you working on any projects now?
VINCE: Oh, absolutely. In fact, it’s – and I hold several designations through the Home Builders Association and I have to say I tell my students in these classes that this is the one designation I really do get business from. I mean there’s a lot of interest in it. And the other thing is it’s one that I bring to every job whether I get a call specifically for this or not. We’ve certainly listened to and addressed the current issues that our clients have but we always introduce these other concepts. And I’ve found 100 percent acceptance on the part of my client.
TOM: It’s a great program. It’s called CAPS – Certified Aging in Place Specialist. It’s a joint program put together by the National Association of Home Builders and AARP. If you want more information, can you go to the AARP website, Vince?
VINCE: Yes, you absolutely can; AARP’s website or the NAHB website. Both have links to the CAPS – about the CAPS designation …
VINCE: … as well as a full database of all the CAP-certified contractors around the country.
TOM: Great. Vince Butler, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
LESLIE: Alright. You are listening to The Money Pit’s very special Home Safety Month broadcast being broadcast from the floor of the 2007 National Hardware Show in Orlando.
TOM: Up next, we’ve rounded up some of the best safety and universal design products we found here at the hardware show. We’re going to tell you about them including a fire extinguisher – it’s small as a can; a self-winding hose reel; and a collapsible cart that’ll help you haul your stuff around. All that coming up from the 2007 National Hardware Show’s celebration of home safety. This is The Money Pit.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Choose the brand more building professionals prefer. And add up to $24,000 to the perceived value of your home. For more information, visit ThermaTru.com.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit’s special Home Safety Month broadcast being brought to you by the AARP right from the floor of the 2007 National Hardware Show. And we have searched the almost million square feet of floor to find some of the coolest products that can help make your home safer and more comfortable. And we’re going to highlight a few of those right now.
LESLIE: That’s right. First we’re going to welcome a guy whose business is safety. He’s Tom Russo, President and CEO of First Alert.
And Tom, we understand that you guys have pretty much reinvented the fire extinguisher. Tell us about it.
TOM RUSSO: Yes, absolutely. You know, fire extinguishers can be bulky, very hard to use, heavy.
TOM: Very heavy, yeah, mm-hmm.
TOM RUSSO: Exactly. And First Alert has developed a product – fire extinguisher in an aerosol can. So it looks like a traditional paint can or can of hair spray. But it’s very effective. It has four times more fire-fighting power than a traditional fire extinguisher.
TOM RUSSO: It is an easy cleanup. So instead of having the powder spray all over the room …
TOM RUSSO: … that comes from a traditional fire extinguisher, this is biodegradable and cleans up with soap and water. And obviously very easy to use; just like pressing the button on a can of hair spray.
LESLIE: So if you’ve got limited hand movement – and sometimes those fire extinguishers, you know, you almost are apprehensive to use because there are pulls and pins and cranks and squeezing.
TOM RUSSO: Right. And you and have to hold the can in one and the hose, possibly, and it’s very unwieldy.
TOM: They’re also somewhat complicated to understand what fire extinguisher that you need to use. As we know, the fire extinguishers have classification ratings based on the type of fire: A – wood, paper; B is electrical; and C is grease.
TOM: Have I got that right?
TOM RUSSO: Yes. And …
TOM: And does this one handle everything?
TOM RUSSO: All fires. Yes.
TOM: OK, great.
TOM RUSSO: Everything that you would find in the home.
LESLIE: And because it’s so much smaller I imagine you can keep them more effectively in places around the home that you traditionally wouldn’t be able to keep a bigger fire extinguisher.
TOM RUSSO: Yes, we recommend having one at least on every level of the room.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I always keep one by my fireplace.
TOM RUSSO: That’s a good idea.
TOM: Mm-hmm. And by – and if you’ve ever seen my kitchen, my cooking, by my kitchen, too. (chuckling)
TOM RUSSO: It’s very important to have one in the kitchen.
LESLIE: Can they be recharged or once it’s used, done?
TOM RUSSO: No, these are one-time use. They have a shelf life of at least three years.
TOM RUSSO: And we do recommend once you use it to get another one.
LESLIE: OK. Do you recommend sometimes keeping more than one in certain locations? I mean how large of a fire are we talking about handling?
TOM RUSSO: Well, they will handle the size fire that the large extinguishers can handle; the same. But I would have – it’s always recommended to have at least two in the house whether they’re in the same location, but to have at least two in the house.
LESLIE: Alright, great.
TOM: We’re talking to Tom Russo. He’s the president of First Alert.
Tom, before we let you go I wanted to ask you also, you guys have a new smoke detector that actually talks and tells you where the fire is. Talk to me about that.
TOM RUSSO: Yeah, absolutely. It’s an exclusive to First Alert and it’s voice with location. So the voice will tell you not only whether there’s smoke or carbon monoxide …
TOM RUSSO: … and distinguish the two …
LESLIE: Oh, in one. That’s great.
TOM RUSSO: In one. And it will tell you where that is. What’s important about that is you may want to go directly to where the problem is.
TOM: Well, it’s the first question. If the smoke detector goes off where’s the fire.
TOM RUSSO: Yes, is it in the kitchen, is it the basement, family room?
TOM: (overlapping voices) Where’s the problem. Right. Yeah.
TOM RUSSO: And do I need to go fight it or should I leave?
TOM: Get out.
TOM RUSSO: Grab the kids and get out?
TOM: Right. Yep.
TOM RUSSO: So what’s my path of egress?
TOM RUSSO: Should I run to the living room, to the back door? And this will tell you exactly what to do.
LESLIE: Is it hard wired or just mounted to the ceiling?
TOM RUSSO: These are available in both hard wired and wireless interconnect features.
TOM: Tom Russo from First Alert. Thanks for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM RUSSO: Thank you.
TOM: Next, let’s talk about gardening. It’s something that millions of us enjoy. And the curse is we also strain our backs by doing a lot of gardening projects. (Leslie chuckles) But there’s a new product out there that can make it a bit easier on your back.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. It’s called the NO-CRANK hose reel and it’s an automated hose reel. And here to tell us about it is Cindy Gan (sp).
LESLIE: I’m very familiar, but tell our listeners about it.
CINDY: OK. Well, thank you for having me.
Our hose reel rewinds automatically using water pressure.
LESLIE: So no plugs, no gas, nothing?
CINDY: That’s right. There’s no electricity, no springs. It’s just the water pressure from your house. We have a patented system – Hydro-Pro system – that has a three-piston engine and it uses the water pressure as power. So it rewinds the hose automatically.
CINDY: There’s no more cranking your hose or leaving it on the ground.
LESLIE: Or getting completely filthy as you start winding it up.
CINDY: Right, right.
LESLIE: And then it all gets winded up to one side. I love it because as it winds itself it sort of just moves across the container and uniformly places it.
CINDY: That’s right. We have an auto sort (ph) guide that makes sure that it rewinds perfectly on the hose.
TOM: Now Cindy, as a manufacturer in this category, are you seeing the demand for products that are easier on the body, such as NO-CRANK? Is that what you guys are sort of following?
CINDY: (overlapping voices) Absolutely, absolutely. Our sales are growing 70 percent this year …
CINDY: … because we’re new to the category and consumers hate winding up their hose. (Leslie chuckling) It’s true. Nothing worse than that. The back strain. So, people are hearing about the NO-CRANK hose reel and going out and buying it.
LESLIE: Well, and as the boomers are becoming this aging generation, it’s interesting because as folks are aging they love gardening; they love outdoor work and it sort of becomes this primary hobby and chore around the house that they adore. So to make it easier and safer …
CINDY: This takes the stress out. Yeah. We take the stress out of gardening.
Cindy, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
CINDY: Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. This very special edition of The Money Pit is being broadcast from the floor of the 2007 National Hardware Show and we are here to celebrate Home Safety Month.
LESLIE: That’s right. And when we come back after the break we’re going to have another guest, Jack Clark, who’s president of EZ Does It Cart. It’s a great carting project to work around the yard with.
TOM: Easy way to sort of move your stuff around.
LESLIE: For everything.
TOM: Move your kids around.
LESLIE: (chuckling) Yeah. For you.
TOM: Move your family around. Move your tools around the house. (chuckling)
LESLIE: I’m sure we could give it a ton of uses.
TOM: (overlapping voices) We want to take your calls as well so call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Back with more, after this.
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TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: This very special edition of The Money Pit is being brought to you from the floor of the 2007 National Hardware Show, courtesy of the AARP where we are celebrating Home Safety Month. Did you get me a card?
LESLIE: No, but I’ll make you one as soon as I get back. I promise. Yeah.
TOM: Alright, you do that.
Well, there’s an old saying that there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. But our next guest did just that.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. Jack’s invention is the EZ Does It Cart and it’s become one of the hottest selling carts to make it easier and safer to haul just about anything anywhere.
JACK: Thank you.
LESLIE: Tell us about your wonderful invention and really describe it for our listeners.
JACK: Well, we started off just making a cart for soccer moms and dads to go out and make it easy to put your ice chest and your soccer balls and your lawn equipment all on one little cart that’s collapsible. You can take it out of your car, put everything on there and just roll it out to your soccer game. And it just evolved into this cart that instead of people having to go out and buy a wheelbarrow or a flatbed cart or a – all these – or a hand truck – they’re very cumbersome to use …
JACK: … my cart will replace eight different carts in one. And it’s just involved into this product where all of a sudden we’re getting all these calls from the elderly people and from – ladies call us up saying, ‘Hey, we love this cart. It’s so lightweight.’ It weights 10 pounds but it carries over 300 pounds. (Leslie chuckles)
JACK: And they can use it for all these different things and all of a sudden we said – we realized that, ‘My goodness, this thing’s really growing into something we didn’t even plan for.’
TOM: (inaudible) just about handle my family’s baseball gear.
JACK: Yeah, that’s right. (chuckling) So we discovered that the elderly really love it …
JACK: … and especially if you have – if you’re arthritic or whatever, you can easily pick it up; you can carry it upstairs. They have no problem using it for all their gardening. It converts to four different garden carts. It also converts to a caddy or dolly. You can sit on it using your garden. It’s really a wonderful cart. And we …
LESLIE: Now, how is it that it’s so lightweight yet so durable?
TOM: What’s it made out of?
JACK: We designed this out of a polycarbonate ABS plastic. It’s very strong. It has tremendous tensile strength and hot and cold temperatures so you can haul logs with it in the snow or you can take it on the beach. It’s all plastic. It won’t rust.
TOM: And how do we learn more information?
JACK: Go to EZDoesItAll.com or go to EZDoesItCart.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks, Jack Clark.
TOM: Jack Clark, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
JACK: Thanks for having me.
TOM: Now it’s time to reach into the e-mail bag and answer a question about how to change some of the electrical elements in your house.
LESLIE: That’s right. We’ve got one from Zach in Wichita, Kansas who writes: ‘I’m having an electrician install a ceiling fan. As long as I’m having him come out, what else can I have him do that’s going to help me add value and convenience for the long term?’
TOM: Ah, number one thing: GFCI outlets.
TOM: Ground fault …
LESLIE: A lot of people don’t understand ground fault circuit interrupters.
TOM: Ground fault circuit interrupters. Now, for your basic electrical outlet, it detects the amount …
LESLIE: It’s the test reset’s in the middle, folks. (ph)
TOM: Right. It’s the one with the test reset. Now, the basic electrical outlet is hooked up to a circuit breaker. It’s designed to stop the wire from overheating.
TOM: The ground fault circuit interrupter senses a slight diversion of current to a ground source, which is what happens when you’re getting a shock.
TOM: It instantly turns it off …
LESLIE: Cuts off power to that outlet immediately.
TOM: … keeping you safe. Right. Now, newer houses that are built today have them in but all the older houses – say, those that are maybe just 10 or 15 years old – don’t have them. So what you want to do …
LESLIE: And it’s important to put them in where? Bathrooms? Kitchens?
TOM: Yes, bathrooms, kitchens, basements, outside; any place that there’s a water source you want to have a ground fault outlet.
LESLIE: And you know what else, Zach? You might want to think about, when you’re adding those extra outlets, put them up a little bit higher off the floor. This way it’s more convenient if you’re bending down a lot or if you have an older relative with you or even as you age in the home. It’s just more convenient. And put them where you use them. And why not even think about extra lighting under cabinets, in closets. Just make things easy for you.
Zach, hope that helps you out.
If you’d like to shoot us an e-mail you can do that at MoneyPit.com. Go there today. And check out our project finder while you’re there. You can identify lots of useful tips for the projects around your house.
Hey, we want to thank our friends at AARP for making this show possible. To listen or read the transcripts from the show you can visit MoneyPit.com/Listen. And to learn more about universal design go to AARP’s website at AARP.com/HomeDesign.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
END HOUR 1 TEXT
(Copyright 2007 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)