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Today is March 14

Check your batteries day

Daylight savings, which begins today, provides an excellent opportunity to check the batteries in smoke detectors.

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, roughly 25,000 home fires causing more than 300 deaths occur in the United States each year. Homeowners can keep themselves and their families safe by being aware of the dangers around a home that can contribute to house fires and the preventive measures that can reduce the risk for such fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the following are the most common factors that can lead to fires around the house.

  • Cooking accidents: It can take mere seconds for grease splatters or an overheated pan or pot to cause a fire. Stay in the kitchen at all times when cooking.
  • Heaters: Have furnaces and other heating appliances regularly inspected. Keep portable heaters away from anything that can burn, including curtains and furniture. Do not leave portable heaters running while you are sleeping or out of the home.
  • Smoking: Smoking inside a home can lead to fires. Some people forget to extinguish the smoke or embers may fall, while butts may smoulder for hours before causing flames to form.
  • Washers and dryers: Between 2010 and 2014, American fire departments responded to an estimated 15,970 home fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines each year. Mechanical or electrical failure or malfunction was involved in the vast majority of home fires involving washing machines. Failure to clean dryers also can cause fires to ignite.
  • Candles: Candles can add ambiance to a room and are commonly used in decorations, but they also can be a fire hazard. Candles easily can be knocked over by children, pets and others. Do not leave candles lit and unattended.

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Sleep Awareness Week

Many people wish they could get more sleep. Whether they’re professionals facing the challenges of demanding careers or parents juggling the responsibilities of work and family, many men and women find it difficult to get a full night’s sleep.

A restless night here or there likely is not much to worry about. However, a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than one-third of adults in the United States were not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Routinely failing to get a good night’s rest can have a profound effect on a person’s overall well-being, including some surprising side effects.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, insufficient sleep will not make a person sick any more than getting enough sleep will prevent illness. However, the NSF notes that failing to get enough sleep can adversely affect a person’s immune system. That makes people more susceptible to cold or flu. That vulnerability is linked cytokines, a type of protein made by the body that targets infection and inflammation. Cytokines are produced and released during sleep, so without enough sleep, a person won’t produce or release enough cytokines. That can throw off the immune system response, rendering it less effective when confronting colds and the flu.

The NSF also notes that vaccines might not be as effective if people are not getting enough sleep. That’s because chronic sleep loss, which refers to prolonged periods of inadequate sleep as opposed to random nights in which shut-eye proved elusive, reduces the body’s ability to respond to viruses like the flu. Even people who have been vaccinated against the flu need their immune systems to be operating at full strength to fight the flu. Without adequate sleep, the immune system cannot perform at peak capacity.

A heightened risk for diabetes is another surprising side effect of prolonged periods of insufficient sleep. The online medical resource Healthline.com notes that lack of sleep affects the body’s release of insulin, a hormone responsible for lowering blood sugar levels. People who do not get enough sleep have high blood sugar levels, which increases their risk for type 2 diabetes.

Busy adults often sacrifice sleep to meet the demands of everyday life. But such sacrifices can produce some surprising side effects that may make men and women reconsider their daily sleep routines.

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Learn about Butterflies Day

Although it’s virtually impossible to count them, insects are the most diverse group of organisms on the planet. Nine hundred thousand different kinds of insects are known to exist. At any given time, it is estimated that there are around 10 quintillion individual insects living.

Gardeners grow frustrated when seeing their gardens infested with insects. In an effort to restore their gardens, homeowners might be tempted to eradicate any bug that moves in their yards. But gardeners would be wise to first learn which insects are hurting their gardens and which can actually help gardens in the long run.

Harmful

Certain insects can be dangerous to animals and plants. The following are a handful of insects that can threaten the vitality of gardens.

Aphids: These insects suck on the juice needed to sustain plants, particularly when they congregate.

Bald-faced hornet: Hornets tend to be an aggressive species that can sting repeatedly. Should you find a nest near an entertaining space or garden, it can cause trouble.

Carpenter ants: These ants will burrow into wood causing damage. They may compromise any wooden structure in and around a home.

Locusts: Various species of locust can damage plants and crops due to their voracious appetites.

Treehoppers: These small, green insects mimic the look of leaves, and their appetites can affect crops and gardens.

Red pavement ant: As they feed on all manner of human food, these ants can quickly overtake areas with their staggering numbers and deliver painful bites.

Grasshoppers: Certain grasshoppers, like the red-legged grasshopper, can decimate food crops and transfer parasites to birds when eaten as prey.

Caterpillars: Many caterpillars, the precursor to adult moths, will feed constantly on leaves, stems and other parts of plants. The tobacco hornworm moth caterpillar can damage potato and tomato plants.

Helpful

Plants depend on insects to transfer pollen as they forage, and many insects are quite beneficial to have around. While some pollinate, others are predators of other pests.

Antlion: A foe of ants, they’ll help eat and control ant populations and pollinate flowers. They pose no threat to humans, either.

Big dipper firefly: These colorful insects feast on earthworms, slugs and snails during the larval stage. Fireflies add drama to evening gardens with their twinkling lights.

Garden spiders: Although some spiders can be venomous, many are quite handy to have around the garden. They’ll help control pest populations that can damage plants and crops.

Dragonflies: These arial artists that zip around the yard are consuming smaller insects that would otherwise pester plants and humans.

Blue-winged wasp: This wasp attacks the larvae of Japanese beetles, helping to control beetle populations.

Bees and butterflies: Butterflies and bees are some of the best pollinators out there, and each can add whimsy to gardens.

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Butterfly Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

COOKIE

1 cup Land O Lakes® Butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 large Land O Lakes® Egg

1 tablespoon milk

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pink, green and purple gel food colors

DECORATIONS

Sparkling decorator sugar

Assorted candies, such as licorice wheels, licorice pastels, chewy fruit-flavored jelly candies etc.

STEP 1

Combine butter and sugar in bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Add egg, milk and almond extract; continue beating until well mixed. Add flour and baking powder; beat at low speed until well mixed.

STEP 2

Divide dough into thirds; place each portion into separate bowl. Tint each portion with desired gel food color.

STEP 3

Shape each dough into a ball; flatten to 1/2-inch thickness. Wrap each in plastic food wrap; refrigerate 2-3 hours or until firm.

STEP 4

Heat oven to 400°F.

STEP 5

Roll out dough, one-third at a time, on lightly floured surface (keeping remaining dough refrigerated) to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter.

STEP 6

Form butterflies by placing 2 cookies with tips slightly overlapping onto ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with decorator sugar. Decorate as desired. Repeat with remaining cookies. Bake 6-8 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to cooling rack.

For more recipes visit https://www.landolakes.com/