Protect Pets—and Common Areas—from Parasites

imagesDogs and cats can be great companions, but they also can carry fleas, ticks and parasites into your home and our community. Infestations can spread quickly through a community when flea-infested carpeting or pet bedding is disposed of improperly, when a flea-infested pet plays with your pet and when pet waste is left uncollected on common areas.

Help avoid harmful pests in your home and community with the following tips, and follow up with your veterinarian to learn more about other ways to prevent and treat outbreaks.

• Apply a topical flea and tick pesticide. Fleas lay 40 to 50 eggs a day. Unless a pesticide kills 95 percent of the fleas, you won’t eliminate the problem. To do this, you need to use the products sold by your veterinarian. Over-the-counter products just aren’t strong or effective enough. Monthly applications will help keep pets healthy even when they’re exposed to parasites—including mosquitos and mites.

• Always leash your pet. Although you may trust your pets to obey commands, keeping them leashed lessens the likelihood they’ll be infected by other pets and wildlife.

• Keep your pet clean. Even indoor pets should be inspected for ticks and flea “dirt,” which looks like pepper at the base of the coat on the skin. An occasional bath with flea shampoo is a good idea as well. Visit your local pet store or grooming facility or check online for information on bathing routines and options that are best for your pet.

• Monitor your pet’s behavior. Scratching is your first indication that fleas have discovered your dog or cat. Apply a topical pesticide immediately. Fleas, ticks and mosquitos carry potentially life threatening pathogens, so pets can experience a wide range of symptoms if infected; be suspicious of changes in behavior and discuss them promptly with your veterinarian.

• Keep the situation contained. Once you’ve treated your pet and your home (and possibly your yard or outdoor surroundings depending on how severe the infestation), keep the pet close to home until the problem is resolved. Wash bedding and toys that may harbor eggs or larvae in hot water. Infested bedding or carpeting should be tightly sealed in plastic bags before disposing to reduce risk of spreading to others.

How to Read the Association’s Financial Report

finance_era_increase_320Many states require association boards to submit financial reports to association members—or, at least, make them available on request. A financial report includes information that association board members use to plan the community’s annual budget and direct its financial operations. Examining the association’s financial reports shows you how your money—and your neighbors’—is being used.

The following may help you understand what your association report contains:

 Start with the summary. The year’s financial highlights—what was earned, what was spent and what remains available in reserves—is usually summarized in simple language in the first page or two of the report.

 Read essential financial data. Pay attention to the association’s cash position and reserve fund balances, which will be indicated separately from the operating funds.

The financial report should be separated into the following parts:

 The balance sheet includes the association’s assets (income and reserves) and liabilities (what is owed) at a specific point in time.

 The income statement indicates what money the association can expect from regular and special assessments and other sources like clubhouse rental or interest from investments.

 The statement of cash flow is a summary of anticipated income and expected expenses than may include utilities, maintenance contract payments—landscaping, pool, trash pickup, elevators—as well as insurance costs, payroll and taxes.

 Review marketing information. Prospective buyers often ask to see an association’s financial statements, so basic marketing data about the community may be included in the report. This information can be valuable in marketing your own home if you decide to sell.

See You Later, Summer!

It’s that time of year—you’re exchanged your swimsuit for sweaters and scarves just in time to roll up your sleeves and prepare you home for cooler weather. As we watch summer fade into the sunset, consider adding the following items to your winterization checklist, and ensure your home is in tip-top shape for the fall and winter seasons.

 Update your window treatments. Summer’s venetian blinds and sheer curtain panels won’t keep the frigid air from creeping in on a cold night. Consider switching to a denser curtain fabric for the winter months to keep your home feeling cozy and keep heating bills low.

 Schedule appliance check-ups. Your HVAC system, air ducts and hot water heater should be checked by a licensed professional to ensure all elements are in good shape for the change in weather—especially if any appliances worked overtime during summer months.

 Don’t forget the attic. Check for leaks in the roof, possible cracks in attic windows and insufficient insulation. With the help of a licensed professional or advice from your local home improvement store staff, you can shield your attic from harsh weather.

 Replace weather stripping. Doors and windows need extra help to hold heat inside your home. Inspect all door and window perimeters for cracks or tears in your current weather stripping. You also can add a second layer of protection with temporary weather stripping applied overtop your existing seals.

 Deep clean and declutter. Thoroughly clean your home’s nooks and crannies inside and out. Ensure electrical cords, outlets and air vents are dust- and clutter-free; tidy up garages and storage areas; and clear any debris from your home’s exterior, especially around vents and drains.