A few tips when fitting wooden flooring

Laminate and wooden flooring looks great in almost any room. If you are considering fitting the wooden flooring yourself then there are a few tips that may help you to fit it easier and may add a more professional finish to it. With some hard work, patience and the right flooring tools it may not be as difficult to achieve a good finish as you imagine.

Before laying the laminate or wooden flooring ensure that your under floor is in good condition and is as flat and bounce-free as possible. Uneven areas should try to be repaired. The flatter the surface the better the wooden flooring will look. Ideally you will want the new wooden flooring to run length-ways along your room as this looks better than width-ways, however if your existing floorboards also run length-ways it is a bad idea to fit them directly together as this can lead to joint separation and unevenness. If this is the case then fit plywood over the entire floor surface so that you have a flat surface to then work on.

Once your existing floor is ready, lay an insulating membrane across the entire flooring area. This keeps heat in the room and dampens noise when the wooden flooring is walked upon and is highly recommended. Once this has been laid you are ready to lay your new wooden flooring panels. The easiest way is to work from farthest wall from the door inwards as this is the most seen part of the room. If possible remove skirting boards and door architraves so that you can work from the wall. If this isn’t possible then beading can be fixed to these areas afterwards to give a tidy finish.

When laying the flooring panels always stagger joints by using random length flooring pieces as this will add to the strength of the flooring and the aesthetics. Ensure that all pieces are firmly locked together before re-applying skirting and architraves or adding beading. Flooring can contract and retract based on the heat of the room and moisture levels so do not fix skirting or beading to the floor. Fix skirting to the wall and fix beading to the skirting.

 by: Xander Palmer 


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Going gluten free may not be enough to manage celiac disease

Contrary to popular belief, celiac disease is more than just an upset stomach. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that can impair the ability of the body to absorb necessary nutrients which can lead to other health problems like anemia, weight loss, depression, osteoporosis, infertility, lymphoma and dental issues.

It is often difficult to diagnose, because the symptoms can be similar to those caused by irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, intestinal infections, lactose intolerance and depression, and each person experiences symptoms in a different way. Blood tests are the first step in a diagnosis of celiac disease.

The Food and Drug Administration established regulations in August that defines “gluten-free” for product manufacturers. The label “gluten-free” can be placed on any products that contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten.

However, even those who carefully choose their foods based on gluten-free labels also need to be aware of cross-contamination dangers, both at home and in the community. For example, if a cutting board is used to chop bread and vegetables without a thorough washing in-between, a person with celiac disease eating the vegetables could eat enough gluten to cause symptoms and/or injury to the small intestine.

For many people, completely eliminating gluten from their diet isn’t enough to alleviate all of their celiac disease symptoms or allow for complete healing of the intestinal damage caused by small amounts of gluten in the diet. About 60 percent of patients still experience moderate to severe symptoms of their disease while following a gluten-free diet, according to a recent study. The CeliAction Study is a clinical research study that will determine if an investigational drug is able to improve the damage in the lining of the intestine caused by even the smallest trace of gluten. The study will also evaluate whether the investigational drug improves any symptoms of celiac disease. Patients randomized into the study will not purposefully be exposed to gluten during the study. To learn more and to see if you qualify, call 855-3333-ACT or visit CeliActionStudy.com.

Patients can differ in the severity of their symptoms, and how those symptoms are managed. A lot of information is available both online and through health centers, providing patients and their families with knowledge about living on a gluten-free diet, including shopping tips and recipes.

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Quick tips for getting the most out of your smartphone camera

Smartphone cameras are quickly replacing basic digital cameras for snapping photos on the go, and for good reason. Capturing a memorable moment is easy with your cellphone at your side, but if you aren’t sure what you’re doing, you may end up with fuzzy, dark or distorted pictures. To help you get the most out of your smartphone’s camera capabilities, Stephen Sneeden, Xperia product marketing manager at Sony Mobile Communications, offers some expert tips:

Tip No. 1: Get to know your device
 Most new smartphone cameras offer multiple camera functions, effects, settings and options. It’s important to learn what’s available on your phone so you don’t miss a beat. Visit the manufacturer’s website or check out tutorial videos on YouTube – many phone makers now make these available to consumers for free.

Tip No. 2: Know when to use certain functions – and when to turn them off
 While your smartphone camera may have a flash, zoom and other features, sometimes those functions won’t be optimum for the conditions in which you’re shooting. For example, turning off the flash may help prevent glare, bright spots and red-eye in certain situations. Zooming may cause an image to degrade or blur; you may want to shoot the entire image and then use editing software to crop it for the portion of the image you want to focus on.

Tip No. 3: Consider an upgrade
 Technology is ever-evolving, and smartphone cameras are constantly being improved. If you’ve had your phone for a while and aren’t happy with the photos it takes, it may be time for an upgrade. When shopping, analyze key camera elements like megapixel count, sensor quality, user interface and ease of use. Most smartphones have 8 megapixel, primary cameras. The Xperia ZL from Sony outshines that standard with a 13 megapixel camera and HDR (high dynamic range) for photos and videos.

Tip No. 4: Make the most of HD technology
 High resolution capabilities are a significant advantage for smartphone videographers. Look for cameras that offer Full HD recording. This function gives you the ability to capture details that translate well on larger HD screens like that of a TV.

Tip No. 5: Download free photo apps
 Enhance your phone’s photo capabilities with some of today’s best photo apps that cost absolutely nothing. The award-winning application Snapseed (iOS, Android) allows you to adjust saturation, color levels, brightness, contrast as well as edit and enhance styling with a variety of filters. Quickly crop, edit and fix flaws with Adobe’s Photoshop Express (iOS, Android). Of course, social media junkies love Instagram (Android, iOS) because it’s a snap to share photos across social networks like Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter.

Tip No 6: Don’t forget photo basics
 The principles of good picture-taking remain the same, no matter what kind of camera you use. That means it’s important to keep the lens clean, carefully frame the shot, fill the frame with your subject, make sure the image is in focus, pay attention to lighting, and when photographing kids and pets get on the same level as your subject.

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A career in nursing can be fulfilling

If you are searching for a career that offers many opportunities, take a close look at the nursing profession. Nursing is projected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2020, as reported in last year’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS attributes this expansion to technological advances and greater awareness of preventive care, in addition to the rising health care demands of the aging baby boomer population. 

A degree in nursing offers more options than you may think. Wendi Jakubiak, registered nurse and program administrator for Academic Affairs at Brown Mackie College – Oklahoma City, offers insight into the professional options available. Jakubiak worked as a nurse for 25 years before becoming a certified nurse educator.

“I have watched changes happen over the years. Nurses are more involved than taking vital signs, giving medications and bathing patients. A more team-oriented approach has evolved in hospitals,” says Jakubiak. “Nurses don’t simply follow doctors’ orders. Critical thinking skills are required. Their patient loads are bigger, and patients are more complicated now. Idiosyncrasies occur in the care of individual patients because of varied medical histories. All members of the medical team rely on one another.

“Nurses must be able to work through problems that don’t have a recipe solution,” Jakubiak adds. “If a life-threatening problem occurs, the nurse must take action within their scope of practice to save a patient. Nurses must have the ability to think on their feet and assure patient safety.” 

Nurses often go the extra mile to help their patients. Many people, especially the elderly, are reluctant to take a medicine prescribed by a doctor other than their regular doctor. “I often call a patient’s regular doctor to explain this type of obstruction to the patient’s current health care needs,” Jakubiak says. “Usually a word from that trusted source will help the patient comply. 

“There are a lot of things a nurse can do other than work at a hospital,” Jakubiak says. “Not all aspects of nursing require physical, hands-on care.” One employment option, which appeals to those who don’t necessarily want to touch every patient physically, is to become a care manager or care coordinator. This position involves managing outpatient care to make sure needs are met and health is maintained when a patient leaves a medical facility.

The home health care coordinator’s job is broadly based on patient education. Good health assessment skills and good nursing skills are necessary elements of care. These skills, plus teaching skills, help keep the patient as independent as possible.

The care coordinator’s position at an insurance company is similar to one employed by a hospital. “They work with an eye toward keeping treatment aspects in line with guidelines,” says Jakubiak. “A knowledge base is essential to perform the job. One must be able to be a manager, have a broad understanding of the body and a scientific background.” 

Education is another option for those with a nursing degree. A shortage of nurses, widely reported since 1998, has abated somewhat, due to a large number of nurses delaying retirement in a down economy, according to a recent report by Bloomberg. As the economy improves, another shortage of nurses is anticipated. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, enrollment in entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs increased 5.1 percent in 2011.

“I literally run into people who remember me taking care of them 20 years ago. They often stop me to say, ‘Thank you,'” Jakubiak says. “The profession can be what you make it. We have the ability as nurses to show compassion and caring – on top of all the technological stuff – to impact someone’s life when they are most vulnerable. This opportunity is a huge gift to make a positive impact.”
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Surgery insight: What happens while you’re under anesthesia?

What you should know before surgery

Before you schedule your next surgery, ask the hospital the following questions to help ensure a successful procedure:

* How long does the surgical procedure take?
* What can be expected for recovery?
* Who are all the members of the surgical team? Will a physician anesthesiologist be present?
* What should be done to prepare for surgery? (i.e. eating restrictions)
* What pain medications will be administered before, during and after surgery?
* Who is going to care for me immediately after surgery?
* Who will communicate the status of surgery with the patient’s loved one or caregiver?

Who is providing your medical care?

Regardless of the type of surgery you will undergo, you’ll likely require anesthesia or sedation. It is important for you to know who is administering your anesthesia. As the leader of the Anesthesia Care Team, your physician anesthesiologist will care for you before, during and after surgery. You, like the majority of patients, may be unaware that anesthesiologists are in fact medical doctors.

Physician anesthesiologists have 12,000 hours to 16,000 hours of clinical training and 12-plus years of extensive medical education which covers the entire human body and all of its systems, including evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and management of a full range of medical conditions and needs. Physician anesthesiologists are able to intervene should complications arise in a routine surgical procedure or in an emergency.

Anesthesia is safer than ever because of the work and research of physician anesthesiologists. However, each patient comes with a unique set of circumstances and health risks that require the medical training of a physician anesthesiologist.

Take for example, the story of a woman who was administered a routine epidural during childbirth. Without warning, the patient experienced cardiac arrest due to an amniotic embolism. If it was not for the split-second diagnosis and action of Patrick Allaire, M.D. (Ames, Iowa), who was able to restart the patient’s heart and ensure a successful Cesarean section, the outcome would have been grave. Despite an 85 percent fatality rate during such procedures, both the mother and her child survived.

What is the role of my physician anesthesiologist?

ASA President-Elect Jane C.K. Fitch, M.D. notes that physician anesthesiologists play three key roles before, during and after any surgery. Here’s what you can expect as a patient who will be undergoing surgery:

1. Before surgery, physician anesthesiologists draw on their advanced education and training to diagnose illnesses, ensure you are in optimal shape for surgery and help fine-tune surgical plans.

2. During surgery, physician anesthesiologists manage any medical conditions you have, as well as anything that arises during the procedure. They help ensure you remain comfortable and manage pain.

3. After surgery, physician anesthesiologists address any complications from your medical condition or from the surgical procedure itself, helping you to heal properly.

Many people are surprised to learn physician anesthesiologists also have active roles outside of the operating room. Dr. Fitch explains, “After some surgeries, patients may have issues that require close care. Some physician anesthesiologists specialize in critical care medicine to take care of those patients. Likewise in terms of pain medicine, physician anesthesiologists are able to provide comprehensive pain medicine care, either acutely right after a surgery or procedure, or on an outpatient basis for chronic medical conditions.”

When seconds count, when a life hangs in the balance, when medical emergencies or other complications occur, you and your family members need to know that there is a physician anesthesiologist responsible for your care. For more information on patient-centered, physician-led anesthesia care, please visit www.asahq.org/WhenSecondsCount.

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Hiring pros for spring cleaning tasks? What to look for and what it should cost.

Some traditional spring cleaning tasks are easily accomplished on your own, like clearing out clutter or rearranging storage areas. Other important tasks such as cleaning air ducts or your carpets may require professional assistance – and that’s where things can get confusing.

When you hire a professional to handle a cleaning task, how do you know what he or she should be doing for the money you pay? For that matter, how do you know how much you should expect to pay? Here are some common spring cleaning and maintenance tasks that you might hire a professional to do – and some guidance for what these jobs should entail and cost.

Air duct cleaning/HVAC maintenance

Regular maintenance of your home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems can help avoid costly break-downs, and keeping air ducts clean can improve air quality in your home. Concerns about HVAC contractors are among the top 10 most common complaints received by the Better Business Bureau.

Before you hire someone to clean your air ducts and service your HVAC systems, check their credentials with a credible organization like NADCA, the HVAC Inspection, Maintenance & Restoration Association. NADCA members carry general liability insurance, have at least one person on staff trained and certified as an Air Systems Cleaning Specialist, and clean and restore heating and cooling systems following the association’s guidelines.

A cleaning/maintenance inspection should include examination and cleaning of ductwork, including supply and air return ducts; cleaning of all supply registers, return air grilles and diffusers; cleaning of supply and return air plenums; and maintenance on various parts of the system. Check the NADCA website at www.nadca.com for a complete checklist of what a cleaning should entail. A typical cleaning should cost between $450 and $1,000 per system, depending on the services rendered, the size of the system, how easily accessible it is and how dirty it is, according to NADCA.

Window washing

Cleaning your home’s windows can have a dramatic impact on both the interior and exterior of the house, but it is a major project. If your home is large, you have a lot of windows and little time, hiring a professional may be the best way to get your windows cleaned. Look for companies with an established reputation. A typical window cleaning should include the inside and outside of all windows in the home, removal and cleaning of screens, and cleaning of all sills and tracks (which means they must open every window to fully clean it).

Most companies charge per pane and your total cost will vary based on many factors, including the number of windows in your home, how many are on upper floors and even your region of the country. Typically, however, you should expect to pay between $2 to $7 per pane, according to CostHelper.com.

Carpet cleaning

While you can rent a machine and shampoo your own carpets, cleaning rugs may be better left to a professional if you have particularly challenging stains, a lot of furniture to move or a material that requires special care. Typically, the cost of carpet cleaning is about 25 cents to 35 cents per square foot, according to The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI).

Several factors will influence the final cost, including the size and number of rooms, your area of the country, how much furniture cleaners will have to move, and how badly soiled the carpet is. A typical cleaning should include vacuuming before cleaning by a technician with professional certifications for carpet cleaning, according to CRI.

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