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Ask the experts

May 01, 2010

Q: What's the No. 1 senior safety concern of the Washington County Sheriff's Department?

A: Con artists, according to Cpl. Jim Holsinger. As weather warms up, unsolicited home improvement offers appear. Some of these are legitimate, but some, he said, are from scammers.

"The key is unsolicited. If they contact you, that's a tell-tale sign," Holsinger said.

Homeowners might be open to saving money by hiring contractors who say they'll work for a low, low price. But Holsinger said, "We tell everyone, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

He said scammers sometimes complete half the job, then jack up the price. Or scammers might do a shoddy job - such as "sealing" a driveway with cheap, black paint.

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Holsinger's bottom line: Work with an established, reputable, home-improvement company that is licensed and insured and has references.

"If you need something done, you make the call," he said. "To a reputable business."

Q: What's the most dangerous room in the house?

A: According to home.howstuffworks .com, a website associated with Discovery Channel, the kitchen and bathroom are the most dangerous rooms in the house.

Bathrooms have slippery floors, hard-edged furnishings, toxic chemicals and electricity. Many people slip and fall in their bathtub.

Kitchens have sharp objects, more toxic chemicals, fire or hot stove elements, bacteria and electricity.

Fire is a concern for Stoyan Russell, fire safety specialist and retired Emergency Planner for Washington County. Russell will present a talk on fire safety from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 4, at Washington County Division of Fire and Emergency Services, 16232 Elliott Parkway, off Greencastle Pike north of Williamsport. The public is invited. Use lower rear entrance.

Grease fires are a common complaint for fire companies in Washington County. Russell says these flare-ups should be easy to extinguish, but sometimes people panic.

"People grab the pan and run outside," he said. But they end up dropping the pan because it's hot. The fire can easily spread.

Preventing the flare-up from becoming a major incident is easy: Keep a lid handy while cooking and, if grease catches fire, just put a lid on the pan and cut off the oxygen.

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