How to Unhaunt your House & Neighborhood

• Welcome trick-or-treaters at home by turning on your exterior lights. Leave your porch lights off if you won’t be home or do not want any ghosts coming to your door.Otmqi

• Remove objects from your yard that might present a hazard to visitors. It is often dark out when children are trick or treating and yard ornaments that are delightfully frightful during the day can pose a tripping hazard at night.

  • Make sure the cords for any electrically powered creatures are safely tucked away.

• Drive slowly all evening—you never know what creature may suddenly cross your path.

Report any suspicious or criminal activity to your local police or sheriff ’s department.

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Trick or Treat: Safety Tips for Parents

Halloween doesn’t have to be spooky. Here are some safety tips that will make sure that children and families have a safe and fun Halloween this year.

  • Do not choose costumes with long, billowing or trailing fabric.trickortreat_900_400_90_s_c1
  • If your child is wearing a mask, make sure they are able to see through the eye holes.
  • Provide children with glow sticks or reflective tape as part of the costume.
  • Keep any dried flowers or crepe paper away from flames and heat sources as they are highly flammable.
  • Use battery operated candles inside Jack-o-Lanterns instead of real candles.
  • Make sure decorations do not block escape routes.
  • Keep all matches and lighters out of children’s reach.
  • Only eat factory-wrapped candies and examine all treats for any tampering or choking hazards.
  • Walk only on sidewalks and only cross the street at crosswalks.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum! Do not let your cell phone keep you from safe trick-or-treating.
  • Do not assume the right of way. Wait until vehicles have come to a complete stop before crossing.
  • Make sure older kids go out with friends and not alone. Younger children should be accompanied by an adult. If you live in a rural area, offer all kids a ride in the car.
  • Set a time limit for children to trick-or-treat. Together, map out a safe route so you know where they’ll be. Remind them not to take shortcuts through backyards, alleys, or playing fields.
  • Remind kids not to enter a house or get in a stranger’s car.
  • Try to get kids to trick-or-treat while it is still light outside. If it is dark, make sure the children are carrying working flashlights.

Reserve Studies: Do they matter?

1398366592Why is a reserve study needed?

There are four important reasons to conduct a custom-comprehensive reserve study:

  1. To maintain the property’s value and appearance – By identifying and budgeting for future capital improvements, the property’s common elements continue to look attractive and well-kept, adding to the community’s overall quality of life.
  2. To fulfill the board of directors’ fiduciary responsibility – Board members of community associations have a fiduciary responsibility to their members. Directors are legally bound to use sound business judgement in guiding the association and cannot ignore major capital expenditures or eliminate them from the budget.
  3. To establish sound financial planning and budget direction – A comprehensive reserve study lays out a schedule of major repairs or replacement to common property elements and applies cost estimates to them. To ensure property owners have adequate reserve funding to cover anticipated costs, a reserve funding plan typically spans 30 years. In short, it’s your blueprint for the future.
  4. To comply with state law – Florida Condominium Associations are required to propose a budget showing full reserve funding for roof replacement, pavement resurfacing, building painting and any other expense over $10,000. Many Homeowner Associations also have statutory requirements, depending on the types of reserve accounts they have established.

When and why should associations update their reserve studies?

Reserve studies should be updated every three to five years, depending on changes in your property and whether you are meeting recommended bench mark funding goals. A reserve study update considers local changes in replacement costs, actual and expected dates of replacement, and incorporates any changes in future reserve contributions. These changes can occur as a result of delayed or accelerated projects, extraordinary maintenance, extreme weather, changes in construction methods and materials, and additions and deletions to the property.

Will a reserve study help us with next years’ replacement projects?

Yes, comprehensive reserve studies prioritize upcoming projects and recommend a replacement schedule to ensure that replacement projects are planned and budgeted in an efficient manner. The Board can see at-a-glance, all upcoming projects and allocated costs in one location. Board meetings take less time during the budget process. Evaluation of contractor bids becomes easier, and empowers the board.

How can homeowners find value from a reserve study?

A home is one’s biggest investment, but also poses a potential risk if not properly managed. A comprehensive reserve study should represent a best practice for managing a property year-round, maximizes curb appeal and marketability of a unit to future buyers year-round, while minimizing the prospect of a surprise special assessment at the wrong time.

This Q&A brought to you by Matthew Kuisle of Reserve Advisors, Inc. (800) 980-9881.

Volunteering in Community Associations

Neighborhood events are one of the great features of living in a community with an HOA. One unique way to come together and give back to the community is to hold a volunteering event.volunteer_clip_art

Personal Benefits of Volunteering

The biggest benefit of volunteering is that you get to help other people and make a difference in their lives, which rewards you with a feeling of accomplishment. For students, volunteering can also be a great addition to a college application, and some volunteer work may even look good on your resume.

Benefits to Your Community

Volunteering can also improve your community. When you host volunteering events, you give residents a chance to get out and interact with each other. They get to know each other, which automatically creates a stronger feeling of community. Residents in neighborhoods that feel like communities are more likely to watch out for each other, and keep the neighborhood looking and feeling great. Plus, the positive feeling of doing something good creates a powerful bond that keeps residents close.

How to Host a Blood Drive

One great volunteering event you can do within your community is a blood drive. Blood drives make it much more convenient for people to get out and donate blood. If your community wants to host a blood drive, you’ll need to offer the location, recruit donors and schedule appointments. The rest is handled by the Red Cross. They even help you organize the event and offer ideas on how to recruit donors. To host a blood drive, you’ll need to call 1-800-GIVE LIFE(1-800-448-3543).

Other Volunteering Opportunities

Of course, there are many other volunteering opportunities for your neighborhood. Whether you’re helping the homeless, disabled vets or anything in between, there is something your community can do to help. Some common volunteering options include:

  • Food drive
  • Clothing/coat drive
  • School supply drive
  • Christmas gift drive

If you’d rather collect money for a specific group of people, such as for a soup kitchen or VA hospital, you could host a fun event (block party, auction, etc.) and charge people who attend.

Volunteering is extremely rewarding, but it can also be something that can grow your neighborhood into a close-knit community. Whether you host a blood drive or gather donations for an organization, your community can make a big difference in someone’s life.