Though your riding mower should've been stored away for the winter long ago, it's always a good idea to think about whether or not your lawn equipment is truly protected during the winter and in times of non-use. Without proper storage, your valuable gear could acquire more wear and tear than necessary. With that in mind, here are just a few tips to keep in mind if you're planning ahead for next year's winter tractor and lawn equipment maintenance and storage.
Store Equipment Properly
First and foremost, it should come as no surprise that one of the best ways to ensure safe winter storage of lawn equipment is to read the owner's manual and follow the instructions carefully. They typically involve basic maintenance steps before storage like changing the oil and draining or topping off the gas. Many manufacturers recommend storing the equipment with a fresh tank of stabilized gas:
Add fuel stabilizer to an empty gas can. Then fill the gas can with fresh gas at the pump. That’ll thoroughly mix the stabilizer with the new fuel. Fill the mower tank with fresh gas and screw on the gas cap. Run the mower for 10 minutes to fill the carburetor bowl with stabilized gas. Top off the gas tank and store the mower," writes Elizabeth Flaherty on Family Handyman.
Again, it's always best to consult the manual to determine best storage practices for your particular model
Consider a Shipping Container Shed
Most shipping containers are eight feet wide, 9.5 feet tall, and either 20 or 40 feet long, making them the perfect receptacle to store all types of high-end lawn care equipment. Though you'll need to have enough yard space, shipping containers can be refurbished for countless uses, and they provide incredible protection from the elements. If a shipping container storage shed is out of your budget, make sure you store your mower and other lawn tools in a safe, dry place like a garage. Never leave them out exposed to the elements.
Consider Professional Dry Ice Blasting Services
Though used primarily for commercial uses, particularly in the manufacturing industry, dry ice blasting is incredibly useful for efficient cleaning. Dry ice blasting uses air compressed between 80 and 90 PSI to blast pellets of dry ice at a high velocity to clean a variety of surfaces. That being said, when performed properly and in a controlled environment, dry ice blasting can help to make your riding mower look and feel just like new. The tiny ice pellets are effective at penetrating the inner workings of the tractor, preventing you from having to take it apart and clean it manually. Of course, this isn't necessary for all mowers, and it should typically be performed by a professional. However, there are some cases where systems can be rented for personal use. If you're interested, check out some of the countless videos demonstrating the process on YouTube.
The average American spends, on average, four hours per week taking care of their lawn. That adds up to an average of 208 hours per year, or over eight days. Understanding these proper care tips can help you maximize the durability, performance, and lifespan of your riding mower and other lawn care equipment.
Space is an unforgiving environment. Anyone who has ever seen The Martian or read up on the health hazards of weightlessness knows the risks astronauts take when they sign up for an extended stay on the International Space Station: from bone density and muscle loss to exposure to space radiation, the time spent on the massive station (its solar array wingspan is around 240 feet long) -- exciting though it may be -- is not without risk. But what about germs?
When Immune Systems And Solar Systems Collide
A great and many studies have been performed on how the human body reacts to extended time spent in the near-weightlessness of space, including how gravity impacts and distorts cellular fluids. For example, earlier experimentation found that spaceflight boosts the virulence (the disease-causing potential) of the food-borne germ Salmonella; since space travel already weakens astronaut immunity, this places significantly more risk on the health of the astronauts.
"By studying the effect of spaceflight on the disease-causing potential of major pathogens like Salmonella, we may be able to provide insight into infectious disease mechanisms that cannot be attained using traditional experimental approaches on Earth, where gravity can mask key cellular responses," explained Cheryl Nickerson, who made the discovery with her colleagues.
Vaccines In Space
Vaccines operate by pre-activating T-cells; they are able to react faster to block development of the disease because these killer cells are already geared up to protect us from invaders. Our immune systems are bolstered as a result, and -- as Nickerson proved -- are still a necessity even on the ISS, where astronauts are exposed to fewer pathogens.
The most common (and one of the most important) is the influenza vaccine: it's estimated that as many as 710,000 flu-related hospitalizations have been prevented since 2010 due to the efficacy of inoculations, and since there are no hospitals on the ISS, their administering is vital to its residents' health. By studying how the human body, living in zero gravity, responds to immunizations, further developments can be made regarding long-term space travel; the better we can safeguard the immune systems of astronauts, the longer they'll be able to stay in space.
Advancements That Could Take Us To Mars
Compounding on this immunology finding is the work of Dr. John Campbell, a lecturer at the University of Bath, and his team: they've discovered that living in space does not alter an astronaut's levels of B-cell immunity, the white blood cells that create antibodies to fight off infections. B-cells are companions to T-cells, so their unaltered state offers extra protection from outside invaders.
"Our results are good news for current astronauts aboard the ISS … and for all future astronauts who will attempt long-duration space missions," said Dr. Campbell, hinting at the possibility of a trip to Mars; since the flight takes three years to complete (around three times longer than the U.S. current record set by astronaut Scott Kelly), this kind of knowledge could take us one step closer.
Each day, more than 10,000 people reach the retirement age of 65 throughout the United States. And while many seniors benefit from certain financial and medical protections, that doesn't always safeguard them from harm. But one tech startup is hoping to help seniors stay safe.
One of the biggest physical risks for many seniors is the seemingly simple slip-and-fall incident. According to recent data, nearly 9,500 fatalities among older Americans are attributed to trips and falls every year, with approximately 20% to 30% of those who fall experiencing severe complications and even disabilities as a result. And because over 50% of all falls take place within the home among older adults, one company is vowing to take action to ensure the home is truly a haven for many seniors.
Cherry Labs created an in-home alarm and surveillance system, known as Cherry Home, that's powered by artificial intelligence to do just that. It can detect and track residents using microphones, compasses, vision sensors, and complex algorithms. Its creators claim that the AI system can actually distinguish different people by their faces, limb lengths, hair colors, clothing, postures, and gaits.
The idea here is to be able to prevent a fall before it actually occurs, so the information captured by the system is transmitted in real time through video footage and audio recordings (which can include instances of stumbles, cries, shouts, and other activities) over a Wi-Fi network to a separate PC equipped with a backup battery. The computer saves and analyzes that data before delivering it to caregivers and medical professionals so that they can ascertain whether the seniors in question might benefit from further treatment. If and when a more serious fall or other incident occurs, the system will send an alert to family members, nurses, and other caregivers to ensure the individual can receive help.
Although police respond to 38 million alarm activations every year, an AI system like this would probably be more precise -- or at least more helpful -- than a false alarm notification through a home security system. Backers evidently felt the same way, as Cherry Labs announced they'd received $5.2 million in funding from GSR ventures. That funding will allow for a pilot program partnership with TriCura, a mobile app platform geared towards information sharing between caregivers and agencies, and TheraCare, a service that provides caregivers for those in need.
While it isn't clear whether the average senior or familial caregiver will be able to afford the Cherry Home System (its tentative costs can range up to $2,000 for coverage of six rooms, plus a monthly subscription fee), the startup isn't the only one developing similar tools to help older populations. They are, however, providing services that other platforms currently aren't. For one thing, the video captured is processed locally (meaning it never leaves the premises) and the identity of the seniors in these videos will be protected through unique means. It's also one of the only tools that could monitor changes in behaviors, rather than just major falls, to help caregivers be more effective at their jobs and ensure seniors receive the care they need when no one else is around.
Max Goncharov, CEO and co-founder of Cherry Home, noted in a statement: "Understanding human behavior has a long list of applications, from home security to in-home senior care to the overall goal of making smart homes totally autonomous. But improving senior care is arguably one of the most important areas for technological improvement."
Your home is your family's sanctuary, so you should have the tools to keep it as safe as possible. Start this year with safety at the forefront of your mind by participating in National Radon Action Month this January. The Environmental Protection Agency promotes this country-wide month of radon awareness and action to help protect against the dangerous gas.
Every year, over 36 million kids around the U.S. play organized sports. Kids love playing soccer, baseball, basketball; even swimming is the fourth most popular sporting activity in the United States. Despite some recent controversy, one sport remains at the top of millions of Americans' list: football.
Last year alone, the number of people ages six and above who participated in tackle football amounted to roughly 5.22 million. Whether it's a little kid running around aimlessly on the field or a professional in his 10th season, at some point, every player's goal is to make the NFL Pro Bowl. People love watching their favorite NFL players compete against their other favorite players every year.
No party is complete without festive food for the occasion, even if your guests dressed in their best ugly sweaters for the event. If you want to serve up the best samples of the season, try these festive shots and drinks that put the "spirit" in Christmas spirit.