Both Experienced and Beginner Gardeners Should Keep These Tips in Mind
Gardening can be a fun activity for seniors to spend time with their family, relax for themselves, spend time outdoors, care for something other than themselves and even provide their own fruits and vegetables. Spring is the perfect time to start making plans for the garden and the weather is perfect for spending time outside. (Image above: Haws Design Traditional Peter Rabbit Design Metal Watering Can created by John Haws in 1886. Made in England.)
Physical, mental and age-related conditions must be considered, however, when older people work in the garden, but they should not prevent people from enjoying the garden.
Skin – fragile, thinning skin makes older people susceptible to bumps, bruises and sunburn.
Vision – changes in the eye lens structure, loss of peripheral vision and generally poorer eyesight can restrict activities.
Mental abilities – mental health, thinking and memory abilities may be affected by dementia and similar conditions.
Body temperature – susceptibility to temperature changes and a tendency to dehydrate or suffer from heat exhaustion, are common concerns with outdoor physical activity for older people.
Skeletal – falls are more common because balance is often not as good. Osteoporosis and arthritis may restrict movement and flexibility.
So whether you are an experienced gardener, or just beginning, you should keep these tips in mind:
Dress to Protect
Gear up to protect yourself from lawn and garden pests, harmful chemicals, sharp or motorized equipment, insects, and harmful rays of too much sun.
Wear safety goggles, sturdy shoes, and long pants to prevent injury when using power tools and equipment.
Protect your hearing when using machinery. If you have to raise your voice to talk to someone who is an arm’s length away, the noise can be potentially harmful to your hearing.
Wear gardening gloves to lower the risk for skin irritations, cuts, and certain contaminants.
Use insect repellent containing DEET. Protect yourself from diseases caused by mosquitoes and ticks. Wear long-sleeved shirts, and pants tucked in your socks. You may also want to wear high rubber boots since ticks are usually located close to the ground.
Example: These Sloggers wide brimmed hats for women and men are great for gardeners!
Use Ergonomic Tools
Gardening can be very hard on seniors’ backs, hands and wrists. However, with the right tools, gardening can be made more comfortable and enjoyable. Bottom line: these items really make a difference in the gardening experience.
This KI Store Super thick and shock-absorbing 2.36” high density memory foam kneeling pad with EVA foam protects knees comfortably from hard and uneven ground.
Its double water-resistant layer protection and easy clean exterior and removable and washable, quick-drying neoprene covered means it effectively block the water. The water-resistant interior layer prevents foam swelling if water seeps through seam.
This pad is portable, easy to clean and light weight (just as the size of briefcases when folded).
Switch up your Routine
Gardening can be more strenuous than you may realize. If you haven’t been outside in a while and haven’t been getting regular exercise, your best bet is to pace yourself and do a little at a time.
Consider changing both your position and activity every 20 to 30 minutes and take a 10-minute break between switching. Tending to your garden can involve a lot of bending, lifting, and pulling which can leave you sore the following day if you overdo it, so it is important to listen to your body and slow down whenever you feel you need to.
To get a more well-rounded exercise and rest your back, rotate your daily gardening routine. Work on ground plants one day and then on stand and work on vines and trees the next. Switching things up will work out various muscle groups while giving the other group a rest on alternate days.
Gardening in the morning when temperatures are lower can reduce chance of heat exhaustion or any other sun-exposure related issues. Start your morning in a relaxing way by working in the garden.
Know Your Limits and Stay Hydrated
Even being out for short periods of time in high temperatures can cause serious health problems. Monitor your activities and time in the sun to lower your risk for heat-related illness.
If you’re outside in hot weather for most of the day you’ll need to make an effort to drink more fluids.
Avoid drinking liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar, especially in the heat.
Take breaks often. Try to rest in shaded areas so that your body’s thermostat will have a chance to recover. Stop working if you experience breathlessness or muscle soreness.
Pay attention to signs of heat-related illness, including extremely high body temperature, headache, rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea, confusion, or unconsciousness.
Eat healthy foods to help keep you energized.
It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re gardening, especially for seniors. Be sure to bring a large bottle of water and maybe even a light snack to stay hydrated on sunny days and prevent dehydration.
You can garden all day with this “Coldest Water Bottle,” which keeps liquids seriously cold up to 36 hours or more!
Work at the Right Pace
As a senior, you may not be able to work at the same pace or rate that you used to, so don’t be hard on your self. Work at a comfortable pace that is safe for your physical condition, take breaks when you need to and don’t push yourself! Progress is progress no matter what!
Bring your Cellphone
Bring your cellphone in case of unexpected falls or accidents so that you can easily call for help.
If you’re looking for a new cell phone, I highly recommend the GreatCall Jitterbug Smart Phone for Seniors. This is the phone my Dad uses, and he has been so pleased with both the way it functions and the customer service.
Make it a Social Activity
Try inviting a family member, neighbor or friend to garden with you. You can exchange tips and knowledge about gardening and both benefit from the finished product of their work. You can even share lunch afterword!
Safety Proof your Garden
Outdoor spaces have major potential for accidents. Before you begin working in your garden, make sure there aren’t any rocks or roots in your path that could lead to falls. Also, be sure to look out for slick spots or forgotten tools that could cause you to trip or slip.
Attend to Injuries
If an elderly gardener has pre-existing injuries or develops injuries while gardening, tend to them immediately and take a break from gardening if necessary. Whether a cut, bruise, or bite, take care of it before you begin to work again. Gardening with open wounds can easily lead to infection, especially in seniors with weakened immune systems. Have an all purpose household first aid kit available, as well as some insect repellent and insect bite cream.
A raised bed is a good way to alleviate some of the strain that can come along with plants that are lower and close to the ground. With a rectangular shaped planting bed, you can find a chair or board so that you can sit and garden from a more comfortable, less strenuous position. Ideally, the width should be about arms length so that you can access the plants without risking losing your balance as you reach across.
Example: This CedarCraft Elevated Garden Planter is available in a variety of sizes, and allows you to garden at a comfortable height. It assembles easily, with no tools required.
Vertical gardens are also more convenient for seniors who may be less agile and have a harder time bending and moving around as much. This type of gardening is ideal for vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, zucchini as well as different kinds of melons. You can tend to these gardens from your feet without needing to crouch all the way down to the ground. Some other added benefits of a vertical garden are the fact that they take up very little space and also get more sunshine than regular beds.
Certain types of plants can require a lot of time and maintenance. Some will need a lot of water and you may not be equipped to carry a hose or a heavy watering can around. Before you decide what you will have in your garden, be sure to research what the upkeep will consist of and determine whether or not you’re physically capable of handling it yourself.
This is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to creating beautiful gardens, including all the basics of planting, growing, and caring for trees, shrubs, flowers, fruits, vegetables, lawns and other greenery. This book has plenty of clear and explanatory full-color photographs, and it gives beginners the inspiration and simple guidance they need.
If you are going out to the garden alone, you should have access to either a cell phone or a medical alert system. Doing so will ensure that you can get the necessary assistance if you fall or feel like you may be suffering from any ailment caused by the heat.
Example: This Senior Help Dialer system has no contract or monthly fees, and comes with a panic button unit for your wrist and neck. If you get into trouble, it instantly calls up to 3 phone numbers and plays your personalized emergency message. It’s water proof and pacemaker safe.
Gardening provides many mental and physical benefits for seniors. Not only is it a great way to stay active and get outside, but gardening can improve overall mobility, dexterity and reduce stress.
Creating a garden can turn into one of your favorite hobbies and can even improve the way you eat if you can grow fresh fruits and vegetables of your own. You will feel motivated and encouraged by the progress of your plants and will also feel better physically.
Sticking to good safety habits in the process will help to ensure that you can enjoy your garden for many years. Follow these simple tips to ensure that you or your elderly loved one can garden safely and enjoy their time.
Thanks for visiting and reading …
I hope this article provided you some inspiration to get out in the dirt. I welcome your comments below.
P.S. For an excellent selection of anything and everything you need to get gardening (and things you didn’t know you needed!), check out Amazon’s Gardening Products!
The Garden is a Great Place to Achieve an Effective Mind/Body Workout and Help You Drop Some Pounds.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, gardening is compared to “moderate cardiovascular exercise.” Gardening 30 to 45 minutes a day can burn 150 to 300 calories. This isn’t just standing there watering the flowers, but weeding, digging, hoeing, raking and planting. And there’s nothing like being at one with nature to help create a calming, relaxed state of mind while you let go of the pressures and anxiety of everyday life.
A recent South Korean study, published in the journal HortTechnology, found that some gardening tasks qualify as moderate-to high-intensity physical activity.
The researchers asked 15 college-aged students to complete 10 gardening tasks on two separate occasions. They did five tasks on each occasion for five minutes each, with five-minute breaks in between each one. The tasks included digging, raking, weeding, mulching, hoeing, sowing, harvesting, watering, mixing growing medium, and planting transplants. The researchers also asked participants to wear devices that tracked their heart rate, calorie burn, and oxygen consumption.
When the researchers measured the results, they found that all of the tasks were considered moderate- to high-intensity physical activity for the volunteers. (One word: Yay!)
Some of the activities were more intense than others: Digging was the highest-intensity job. Next up was raking, followed by weeding, mulching, hoeing, sowing, harvesting, watering, and mixing growing medium. Planting transplants was the lowest-intensity job.
There are some extenuating circumstances that can make these results vary from person to person, such as differences in the type of garden tools, gardening methods, gardening conditions, and garden size can all impact the results. However, the point remains: Gardening is, in fact, a legitimate physical activity that can help you lose weight!
…But you didn’t need a study to tell you that, did you? So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of how you lose weight with gardening.
How Gardening Helps You With Weight Loss
According to the University of Virginia, gardening rates up there with other moderate to strenuous forms of exercise, like walking and bicycling. It all depends on what gardening task you are doing and for how long. Like any other form of exercise, you have to be active for at least 30 minutes for there to be a benefit.
Gardening = Exertion
While enjoying yourself in the garden, you are also working all the major muscle groups: legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, neck, back and abdomen. Gardening tasks that use these muscles build strength and burn calories.
Besides the exertion involved, gardening has other pluses that make it a good form of exercise and calorie burning. There can be a great deal of stretching involved with gardening, like reaching for weeds or tall branches, bending to plant and extending a rake. Lifting bags of mulch, pushing wheelbarrows and shoveling all provide resistance training similar to weight lifting, which leads to healthier bones and joints. Yet while doing all this, there is minimal jarring and stress on the body, unlike aerobics or jogging.
Burning Calories Without Thinking About It
Losing weight requires you to burn more calories than you consume and so the amount of weight you’ll lose gardening depends on several factors including your size and the task you are performing.
Some general examples from Iowa State University, below, show how some of the more strenuous gardening tasks can really burn calories.
The National Institute of Health lists gardening for 30 – 45 minutes in its recommended activities for moderate levels of exercise to combat obesity, along with biking 5 miles in 30 minutes and walking 2 miles at the same time.
But Wait – There’s More!
Research is showing that gardening for just 30 minutes daily will help:
Decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels
Lower your risk for diabetes
Getting The Most Out of Your Gardening Session
It takes at least 30 minutes of exercise several days a week, to really receive any health benefits from gardening. However, researchers are now saying that you can break that 30 minutes up into shorter active periods throughout the day. As long as each activity lasts at least 8 minutes and is of moderate intensity when you total them up to 30 minutes per day, you’ll reap the same rewards as if you had been gardening for a half hour straight. So you can do a little weeding in the cool of the morning and go back out to the garden in the evening to prune and trim.
Start slowly, if you’re not used to the exertion. Lift properly, by using your legs. Vary your tasks and your movements and make use of the major muscle groups, to get the most benefit. Aches and pains aren’t necessarily a sign of a good workout. Your muscles may feel tired, but they shouldn’t hurt unless you’re using muscles you haven’t worked in a while or you’re using them wrong.
Gardening isn’t usually enough exercise to forsake your daily walk or swim, but it’s nice to know those tired muscles you feel after turning the compost are actually something good you did for your body and your health. As with any other form of exercise, check with your doctor first, if you’re not used to strenuous exercise. Make sure you incorporate a little stretching before and after gardening and take things slowly in extreme heat. We do a garden for the pleasure, after all. Getting in shape and losing weight are just the icing on the cake.
Gardening gets you moving in an enjoyable way is a great strategy for staying healthy, especially for those who are attached to their desks most of the week. Gardening also forces you to get outside and dig around in the dirt, which will do wonders for your body. It’s an excellent form of functional exercise, incorporating many of the elements of a moderate to intense fitness routine. Stretching, pushing, pulling and lifting incorporate multiple muscles at one time and improve the quality of your overall fitness level.
Gardening also helps improve balance, flexibility and sharpen your senses. The movements, the sights and smells are all part of the healthy benefits while you tend your green space.
The fresh air, focusing on tending your garden and unplugging from technology all open the door for more creativity, too. Gardening helps you connect with the earth, your body, mind and spirit, which allows space for relaxation, stress-reduction and creative thoughts. Immersing yourself in nature is a natural relaxer and helps boost those endorphins, which help you feel better, help you become more grounded, centered and relaxed.
By the way, if you don’t have access to a garden, you can volunteer at a local park in the neighborhood; it’s a good way to give back to the community, and benefit physically and mentally at the same time!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that older adults complete at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Walking is one of the safest ways to fulfill this requirement because it’s a functional activity that is gentle on the muscles and joints.
Treadmills allow you to fulfill your daily activity goal year round, but how do you select the right treadmill for your needs? You can start by considering the size of the treadmill because you must make sure that it fits comfortably into your living space. The width of the walking belt is also important because you need room to hit your natural walking stride comfortably.
If you want to enjoy interval training and other walking exercises for seniors, the range of speed available on your treadmill is also important. While most seniors aren’t up for a treadmill run, it is reasonable to assume that you will want to pick up speed as you become more physically fit. Many seniors are surprised at how fast they can walk once they get accustomed to their treadmill.
Finally, look at the advanced features offered on some treadmills. You may want a built-in heart rate monitor to ensure that you’re working within your target heart rate zone, or you may prefer a console with pre-programmed workouts to ensure that you don’t get bored during your workout sessions. You may also look for a machine with a well-lit console to ensure that you can easily see the feedback delivered throughout your workout.
How to Choose the Right Treadmill For Your Needs
When used frequently, an electric treadmill is a wise investment that will help you fight against disease and illness while managing your mood and increasing your ability to continue daily activities without depending on your loved ones. While you may start shopping with your maximum budget in mind, it’s more important to find a machine that safely accommodates daily exercise and rehab for the elderly.
The treadmills recommended below are all suitable for older users because they have extra cushioning on the walking belts and safety features like the red key that locks the belt between workout sessions.
In addition to those basic features, you may want to consider the location of the speed controls and the start/stop button for added safety.
You should also think about the number of pre-programmed workouts that you will use and what type of programs will best fit your needs.
Some advanced treadmills now offer pre-programmed heart rate workouts that require you to walk with your hands covering the pulse sensors in order to create workouts based on your pulse. You may not need this type of advanced programming if you just want a basic treadmill to increase your daily activity level, but those interested in improving their cardiovascular endurance may consider investing in a treadmill with this capability.
Every senior will select a different treadmill based on their unique needs, so start by identifying what you want to accomplish with your machine. You can then match the available features to your needs and budget to select the best treadmill for your healthy lifestyle.
The ProGear HCXL 4000 is approved for users up to 400 pounds, and the extra-wide walking belt measures 20 inches. It’s also equipped with a 1.5 HP motor that is designed to operate quietly.
The maximum speed for this treadmill is 4 mph, and that is adequate for most seniors walking at moderate to fast speeds. For an added challenge, you can manually incline the walking belt.
The 18-inch safety handles contain speed controls, and a key lock system secures the belt until you’re ready to begin your workout.
The Exerpeutic TF1000 Walk to Fitness Electric Treadmill
Whether your goal is to get your heart rate up for weight loss or to just add more physical activity into your daily life, the Exerpeutic TF1000 delivers adequate speed and walking space to meet your needs.
With a maximum speed of 4 mph, pulse grips to monitor your heart rate and a 20-inch wide walking belt, this is a treadmill that you aren’t likely to outgrow as your fitness abilities increase over time.
This is also a wise choice if you’re concerned about safety during your walks. The extra-long safety handles extend along each side of the machine, and a bright red button on the console allows you to stop the belt at any moment. A safety key is also offered to secure the belt between workouts.
Weslo Cadence R 5.2 Treadmill
While this is one of the most affordable treadmills available to seniors today, the Weslo Cadence R 5.2 treadmill is far from lacking in advanced features. This includes a large console loaded with six workouts designed by personal trainers.
The walking belt is 16 inches wide and 50 inches long, and the belt is cushioned for added protection of your joints and muscles. That cushioning is important if you plan on speed walking or going for a light jog, and with a maximum speed of 10 mph, the machine is suitable for high-intensity workouts.
If you’re concerned about the amount of space a treadmill may consume in your home, note that this is a folding model. Some seniors may need help raising and lowering the walking platform, but you can fold it up against a wall or roll it between rooms as necessary.
Sole Fitness F80 Folding Treadmill
The Sole F80 is a mid to high range item. It comes with a powerful 3.5 CHP motor and a two-ply walking belt designed to reduce the impact on your muscles and joints for a safer walking experience.
The large console is equipped with an advanced sound system that allows you to connect an MP3 player for entertainment. You can walk at your own pace or select from eight pre-programmed workouts, two of which are based on your heart rate.
The belt on this treadmill is a generous 22 inches wide, but it is a larger treadmill that will consume more space in your home. The manufacturer warranty is also quite impressive with lifetime coverage for the frame.
LifeSpan TR1200i Folding Treadmill
The LifeSpan TR1200i Folding Treadmill is a mid-market electric treadmill. It’s suitable for users up to 300 pounds and features a 20-inch walking belt, well-lit color console and speed controls conveniently located on the handlebars.
If you’re concerned that you’ll get bored walking on a treadmill, you’ll appreciate the 17 pre-programmed workouts and your complimentary membership to the online LifeSpan Fitness Club.
You can walk or jog up to 11 mph, and there are 15 incline levels to ensure that your body is continuously challenged over time.
With a 2.5 CHP motor, this is a high-quality treadmill that will keep up with most seniors.
Thanks for visiting and reading … I hope this article provided you some helpful ideas. I welcome your comments below.
For many, the long awaited summer months bring to mind family picnics, cool drinks on the porch, and lazy afternoons at the beach. But, as temperatures soar, warm weather activities can increase the risk for another staple of summer: dehydration.
Not getting enough fluids, especially when it is hot outside, can pose serious health problems for anyone, but older adults are at particular risk for dehydration, which is the most common fluid or electrolyte imbalance among the elderly.
Why Seniors Are at Risk
There are a few reasons why older adults are more susceptible to dehydration. As we age, our body’s ability to conserve water is reduced, causing increased difficultly when it comes to adapting to things like extreme temperatures. Additionally, the sense of thirst also diminishes with age, so by the time someone actually feels thirsty, essential fluids could already be extremely low.
Certain medical conditions and medications can also affect a senior’s ability to retain fluids. Individuals with dementia may forget to eat and drink, which severely reduces their intake, and drugs like diuretics, antihistamines, laxatives, antipsychotics and corticosteroids may also cause frequent urination that depletes water and other fluids in the body. Seniors who experience incontinence may also refuse or limit water in order to avoid accidents.
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration
As a family caregiver, it’s important to be mindful of the signs and symptoms (both for yourself and your loved one), and to communicate with a doctor or health professional should you notice red flags that could indicate complications from fluid loss.
There are a few clear symptoms and warning signs that all family caregivers should remember to look for if they are caring for an older loved one.
It is important to pick up on the more subtle, early signs that indicate a senior needs to up their fluid intake before they lose too much water. Rather than go by thirst, color of urine is a better indicator of hydration. It should be clear or light yellow.
Keep in mind that thirst is not usually a helpful indicator. These signs include headache, constipation, muscle cramps, dry mouth and sleepiness or lethargy. Urine color is also a helpful indicator and should be clear or light yellow for someone who is properly hydrated.
If severe dehydration goes unchecked, it can cause seizures due to electrolyte imbalance, a reduction in the volume of blood in the body (hypovolemic shock), kidney failure, heat injuries, and even coma or death.
For most of us, drinking plenty of fluids and eating foods with high water content is a great way to keep our bodies properly hydrated in warmer weather. Most adults need about two quarts (64 ounces) of fluids every day, but that amount increases with heat and humidity and can change based on various medications.
A good rule of thumb is to try balancing fluid intake with output. If a senior is sweating or urinating more frequently, then their fluid intake should become more frequent as well.
If a loved one is suffering from an illness that causes fever, diarrhea or vomiting, carefully monitoring fluid intake is crucial. Keep in mind that you can become dehydrated in cold weather, too.
Ways to Increase Fluid Intake
If your loved does not enjoy drinking water, it is good to remember that most fluids count towards the 64 ounces (except for fruit juice, alcohol, soda and caffeinated beverages), and many foods do too.
Sometimes a caregiver must pick their battles, though. If a senior refuses to drink plain water, there are some modifications and alternatives available.
Try using water enhancers, opting for flavored waters, serving a half water half juice mixture, or including plenty of ice in their preferred beverage if they like it cold.
For those who enjoy warm beverages like tea or coffee, hot chicken, beef or vegetable broth can provide a soothing source of fluids and electrolytes that seems more like a “meal” and less like a drink. Even stubborn elders are often fond of sweets, so popsicles, milkshakes and smoothies may be more enticing options that also function as a sneaky vehicle for fluids.
How you serve beverages can have an effect on a loved one’s willingness and ability to drink as well.
Someone with low vision might be able to see an opaque, brightly colored cup more easily and therefore drink from it more often. Particularly resistant seniors may find a beverage more appetizing if it is served in a pretty glass or with garnish. For example, try serving a healthy smoothie in an old-fashioned soda fountain glass with a piece of fresh fruit on the rim.
Sometimes specialized drinkware may be necessary for those with swallowing difficulties, tremors, arthritis, motor skill problems and muscular weakness. Cups with two handles, a no-spill lid, built-in straw, or ergonomic features may simplify the process and prevent spills.
While water is the go-to for most people, keep in mind that beverages are not the only source of fluids. Raw fruits and vegetables can pack a hydrating punch as well. For example, a small plate of cut vegetables, like celery sticks, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes and carrots served with a healthy dressing or hummus for dipping can be a nutrition- and fluid-filled snack. Use the list below to add foods that will help your loved one stay hydrated.
Foods with High Water Content
Percentage of Water
Serving Size to Obtain about 4 Ounces of Water
1 cup peeled and sliced
1 cup diced, or 10 balls
¾ cup sliced
1/10 (1 small wedge)
If a senior has an aversion to fruits and vegetables, especially when they are uncooked, high water content foods like crudités, salads or gazpacho, may be an unrealistic approach. On the other hand, sneaking healthy ingredients into foods they already enjoy can yield small victories for a caregiver.
Try adding a cup of fresh berries to a loved one’s yogurt, cereal or dessert, or add slices of tomato and a few leaves of lettuce to wraps and sandwiches. These may not seem like meaningful additions, but every little bit adds up. Incorporating these items on a daily basis can help your loved one prevent dehydration without changing the amount of liquid they drink.
While these helpful guidelines make good health-sense, it is important to stay in communication with your doctor and keep in mind that managing some medical conditions, such as heart failure and kidney or liver disease, may require intentional restrictions on fluid intake.
Top factors and features to consider in selecting a portable air conditioner
It’s that time of year again, the weathers starting to get warmer so it’s time to put away the heater and start thinking about how you’re going to cool down this summer.
Nothing saves money better than a portable air conditioner, and we’re here to help you pick out the right unit. They’re perfect for areas in apartments or offices because they are compact, easy to maneuver, convenient to use, and most importantly, energy-efficient.
They can be used in various spaces to make any room cooler, tolerable, and comfortable.
Deciding on Your BTU Requirements:
The power of your portable air conditioner is measured in British Thermal Units (BTU). The higher the BTU, the more cooling power your unit will have. The amount of BTUs needed to cool the room goes up with room size. Consider the square footage of the room you would like cooled, and decide on the right number of BTUs for perfect ventilation.
Here’s how to calculate your BTUs:
Step 1: Calculate the room’s square footage by multiplying its length by its width.
Step 2: Verify the size of the window opening for venting.
Step 3: Check the plug type and electrical requirements of your room.
If your room measures 30 feet by 30 feet, your BTU will be 12,000:
20′ x 20′ = 400 square feet
400 square feet = at least 12,000 BTUs
As such, if your room measures 400 square feet, you will need a portable air conditioner that offers 12,000 BTUs of cooling.
Some exceptions may also apply, such as:
For second story homes or especially sunny areas, add the BTU amount by 10%
For shaded areas, reduce the BTUs by 10%
For each additional person over two persons in a room, add 600 BTUs
To cool a kitchen, add 4,000 BTUs (there nothing more off putting when cooking than being to warm)
The following are general guidelines for the maximum room size and the coinciding BTU’s that are typically recommended for portable air conditioners (note that the figures in the chart are estimates based on average room conditions in a moderate climate).
Other considerations when picking out a portable air conditioner include controls, noise level, or energy efficiency. All that matters is your preference and the area you need cooled.
Here’s a list of important features that you may want in your portable AC unit:
Portability: does the unit have sturdy and durable wheels to be pushed from room to room, or a handle to easily lift and place elsewhere.
Ventilation: All portable air conditioners are built to be vented to the outside and need to be placed within a few feet of a window or vent. Some units also have a hose system that vents the compressor separately to provide even more efficient cooling.
Airflow: With a fan, an AC unit is able to circulate air efficiently. Look for units that oscillate and have adjustable airflow for truly great air circulation.
Temperature: Features with timers or sleep modes are convenient. It won’t use more energy longer than you want the unit on.
Noise Level: If you’re going to be using the air conditioner in a bedroom, office, or children’s room, it’s important to pay special attention to the volume each portable air conditioner produces. Particularly if you want a good night’s sleep.
Controls: Some portable AC units either have a remote control or digital controls available. Remote controls are convenient because you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own chair. If you’re not so tech savvy, it’s best to opt for the simplest settings of digital.
Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER): EER is calculated by dividing your BTU by the wattage used to achieve this cooling. The higher an EER, the more efficient the unit is at cooling. High EER ACs will save you money because they use less electricity to keep you cool.
Recommended: If you are thinking about a portable air conditioner, I highly recommend looking at the NewAir units.
NewAir is a premier provider of custom built and luxury home appliances. They have been in business since 2002, and are a renowned leader in air quality control, and ice, wine and beverage cooling and freezing systems.
NewAir has set standards for home appliance manufacturers all over the US by creating high quality and reliable products that offer unprecedented performance and value. Their products are stylish, efficient and eco-friendly.
A Simple Comparison of NewAir AC Units:
Below are a selection comparing NewAir’s best selling portable air conditioners to help you make a choice based on the key areas that are important in a portable air conditioner, as well as compare these units to other brands you may be considering:
Remember that portable air conditioner must be placed near a window. The condensed hot air must be vented out of the room with a hose to be slid into a window, and with the exhaust hose being fitted into the appropriate window space.
Air conditioners are useful in many different types of rooms and spaces thanks to their compact size and lack of installation.
Best Rooms for your Portable AC
Many portable air conditioners operate quietly, so you can have a peaceful nights sleep. If you share a room, then its even more beneficial, as the more people in a room, the warmer it is.
When you’re sitting down all day, it’s easy to become uncomfortable and fidgety. Portable ACs are perfect to cool down any office because of their mobility, size, and low level noises.
Most dorm rooms do not come with any central air or heating system. Sometimes not even a window. The size and no installation make it perfect to move-in with.
It’s important to keep the air fresh, cool and and ventilating in the living room because that’s where more guests will relax. It will also save you a lot of money instead of a central AC unit with it’s energy efficiency.
Basement and Garage
Both areas can be difficult to work in when it’s suffering from warm, humid air. You’re going to need a cooling option and a portable air conditioner is a great alternative. Additionally, most portable air conditioners can also help to dehumidify the air.
Portable AC Maintenance
Portable Air Conditioners require less maintenance than any other alternative cooling system.
Your unit may collect a good amount of water in it’s bucket, which needs to be emptied periodically.
Other units have the ability to evaporate the moisture in which does not require any draining of water.
Most portable air conditioners can support the connection of a drain hose that allows water to be drained continuously, and there are even condensate pumps available which pump the water outside or into a drain pump located indoors.
The air filters eliminate airborne particles, and require bi-weekly or monthly cleaning or replacing in your portable AC.
If your portable air conditioner has a washable filter, slide the filter out, immerse it in warm water and detergent, rinse thoroughly, and let it dry before replacing it back into the unit.
After storing you portable air conditioner for the colder months, you will want to do some simple maintenance to get the unit ready for summer use:
Vacuum Out Dust and Debris
Before you plug your unit in, pop out the filter frames and remove the filters. Use a vacuum with a hose attachment to clean out all the vents and louvers. Make sure you reach inside with the hose to suck up anything inside the air conditioner’s case. Unless you’ve kept it wrapped up in plastic, it will have some accumulated dust, and maybe the leavings of a few buggy friends who used your air conditioner for a winter home.
Cleaning the Coils
Clean condenser coils work more efficiently when free of dirt, grease and grime. If the coils in your unit look particularly grubby, you can clean them off with a store-bought coil-cleaning product, or a homemade acidic solution of vinegar or lemon juice mixed with water. Just spray it lightly onto the coils and let it sit a while to remove the dirt.
Clean or Replace the Filters
If you didn’t clean the filters before storing them, now is the time to do it. Most air conditioner filters are washable, so all you have to do is rinse them under warm water. Let them dry thoroughly before you put them back in the unit. Washing the filters is something you
should do every couple of weeks when you are using it regularly – dirty filters will impact air circulation, which means your AC won’t work as well.
If after you wash the filters, they still look dirty or worn, then it is time to replace them. Contact the manufacturer for fresh filters, to ensure your indoor air is clean and breathable. Usually, filters need to be replaced about once a year.
The activated carbon filters might need to be replaced a little more frequently, depending on your circumstances. Since these filters are designed to remove odors from the air, if you have pets or do a lot of cooking then you might have to change them once a month or so to experience their full benefit.
Washing the Exterior
Washing the exterior of your portable air conditioner is the easiest part of cleaning it. Just use a soft cloth and warm water. If necessary, you can use a mild cleanser – dish soap, for example – but avoid any cleansers that have abrasives in them, as it could scratch up the plastic casing and leaving it looking worse than when you started.
Once everything is cleaned and put back together, it’s time to take your air conditioner for a quick test drive. You can do this before you install the exhaust hose and window kit for the summer, just to make sure everything is operating correctly. Basically, turn it on for 5 or 10 minutes and make sure it is blowing cold air.
Summer weather can pose special health risks to older adults and people with chronic medical conditions.
Here’s what you need to know about keeping your loved one staying safe and comfortable while enjoying the warm weather.
Elderly people (people aged 65 years and older) are more prone to heat stress than younger people for several reasons:
Elderly people do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature.
They are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat.
They are more likely to take prescription medicines that impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration.
It is critically important that adults particularly susceptible to hyperthermia and other heat-related illnesses know how to safeguard against problems. Hyperthermia is caused by a failure of the heat-regulating mechanisms of the body.
Heat fatigue, heat syncope (sudden dizziness after prolonged exposure to the heat), heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are forms of hyperthermia … older adults are at risk for these conditions, and this risk can increase with the combination of higher temperature, individual lifestyle and general health.
Lifestyle factors can include not drinking enough fluids, living in housing without air conditioning, lack of mobility and access to transportation, overdressing, visiting overcrowded places and not understanding how to respond to hot weather conditions.
Older people, particularly those with chronic medical conditions, should stay indoors in cooler spaces on hot and humid days, especially when an air pollution alert is in effect.
People without air conditioners should go to places that do have air conditioning, such as senior centers, shopping malls, movie theaters and libraries.
Cooling centers, which may be set up by local public health agencies, religious groups and social service organizations in many communities, are another option.
Factors that increase the risk of hyperthermia may include:
High blood pressure or other health conditions that require changes in diet. For example, people on salt-restricted diets may be at increased risk. However, salt pills should not be used without first consulting a doctor.
Heart, lung and kidney diseases, as well as any illness that causes general weakness or fever.
Use of multiple medications. It is important, however, to continue to take prescribed medication and discuss possible problems with a physician.
Reduced sweating, caused by medications such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers and certain heart and blood pressure drugs.
Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the body loses its ability to sweat, and it is unable to cool down. Body temperatures rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Warning signs vary but may include the following:
An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
Rapid, strong pulse
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids.
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Warning signs vary but may include the following:
Nausea or vomiting
Skin: may be cool and moist
Pulse rate: fast and weak
Breathing: fast and shallow
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
You can follow these prevention tips to protect yourself from heat-related stress:
Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages. (If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him how much you should drink when the weather is hot. Also, avoid extremely cold liquids because they can cause cramps.)
On a hot summer’s day, a misting fan can be your loved one’s best friend, and provide insurance against heat risks. It works on the same principle of a humidifier, and its a great, inexpensive option for when and where you don’t have air conditioning. Even in air-conditioned conditions, the misting fan helps to keep the moisture balance in the air, making it more comfortable and less irritating to the throat and eyes.
A misting fan blows a fine mist of water into the air and if the air isn’t humid, the mist evaporates, taking heat from the air with it. This allows the misting fan to work like an air cooler. In a dry climate, a misting fan can work very well outdoors.
Its beautiful styling to accent any indoor or outdoor living space
It is safe to leave outdoors: ETL “Wet Listed” safety rating with GFCI
The weight painted bases provide stability for windy conditions
The telescoping neck piece is height-adjustable
What You Can Do to Help Protect Elderly Relatives and Neighbors
If you have elderly relatives or neighbors, you can help them protect themselves from heat-related stress:
Visit older adults at risk at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Encourage them to increase their fluid intake by drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages regardless of their activity level.
Warning: If their doctor generally limits the amount of fluid they drink or they are on water pills, they will need to ask their doctor how much they should drink while the weather is hot.
Take them to air-conditioned locations if they have transportation problems.
What You Can Do for Someone With Heat Stress
If you see any signs of severe heat stress, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency.
Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the affected person.
Do the following:
Get the person to a shady area.
Cool the person rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the person in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the person with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the person in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101°–102°F
If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
If antihistamine drops sting or burn, try keeping them in the refrigerator or using refrigerated Lubricant Eye Drops before you use the medicated drops.
Prescription Antihistamine eye drops include:
Ketotifen (Alaway, Zaditor)
Olopatadine (Pataday, Patanol)
Pheniramine (Visine-A, Opcon-A, others)
Decongestants are used for quick, temporary relief of nasal and sinus congestion.
They can cause insomnia, headache, increased blood pressure and irritability. They are not recommended for women who are pregnant or for people with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, glaucoma or hyperthyroidism.
Pills and liquids
Oral decongestants relieve nasal and sinus congestion caused by hay fever (allergic rhinitis).
Many decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Afrinol, others), are available as over-the-counter drugs.
A number of oral allergy medications contain a decongestant combined with an antihistamine.
Many decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Afrinol, others), are available as over-the-counter drugs.
A number of oral allergy medications contain a decongestant combined with an antihistamine.
Mast cell stabilizers block the release of immune system chemicals that contribute to allergic reactions.
These drugs are generally safe but usually need to be used for several days to reach full effect. They are usually used when antihistamines are not working or not well-tolerated.
Generic over-the-counter nasal sprays are sold as Cromolyn (NasalCrom).
Prescription eye drops include the following:
A leukotriene inhibitor is a prescription medication that blocks symptom-causing chemicals called leukotrienes.
This oral medication relieves allergy signs and symptoms including nasal congestion, runny nose and sneezing. Only one type of this drug, montelukast (Singulair), is approved for treating hay fever.
In some people, leukotriene inhibitors may cause psychological symptoms such as irritability, anxiousness, insomnia, hallucinations, aggression, depression, and suicidal thinking or behavior.
Immunotherapy is carefully timed and gradually increased exposure to allergens, particularly those that are difficult to avoid, such as pollens, dust mites and molds.
The goal is to train the body’s immune system not to react to these allergens. Immunotherapy may be used when other treatments aren’t effective or tolerated. It may help prevent the development of asthma in some people.
Immunotherapy may be administered as a series of shots, usually one or two times a week for three to six months. This is followed by a series of less frequent maintenance shots that usually continue for three to five years.
Side effects may include irritation at the injection site and allergy symptoms such as sneezing, congestion or hives. Rarely, allergy shots can cause anaphylaxis, a sudden life-threatening reaction that causes swelling in the throat, difficulty breathing and other signs and symptoms.
Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)
With this type of immunotherapy, you place an allergen-based tablet under your tongue (sublingual) and allow it to be absorbed.
This daily treatment has been shown to reduce runny nose, congestion, eye irritation and other symptoms associated with hay fever. It also improves asthma symptoms and may prevent the development of asthma. SLIT tablets contain extracts from pollens of different types of grass, including the following:
Short ragweed (Ragwitek)
Sweet vernal, orchard, perennial rye, Timothy and Kentucky blue grass (Oralair)
Timothy grass (Grastek)
Emergency Epinephrine Shots
Epinephrine shots are used to treat anaphylaxis, a sudden, life-threatening reaction. The drug is administered with a self-injecting syringe and needle device (autoinjector).
You may need to carry two autoinjectors and wear an alert bracelet if you’re likely to have a severe allergic reaction to a certain food, such as peanuts, or if you’re allergic to bee or wasp venom.
A second injection is often needed. Therefore, it’s important to call 911 or get immediate emergency medical care.
Your doctor or a member of the clinical staff will train you on how to use an epinephrine autoinjector. It is important to get the type that your doctor prescribed, as the method for injection may be slightly different for each brand. Also, be sure to replace your emergency epinephrine before the expiration date.
Examples of these medications include:
Get Your Doctor’s Advice
Work with your doctor to choose the most effective allergy medications and avoid problems. Even over-the-counter allergy medications have side effects, and some allergy medications can cause problems when combined with other medications.
It’s especially important to talk to your doctor about taking allergy medications in the following circumstances:
You’re pregnant or breast-feeding.
You have a chronic health condition, such as diabetes, glaucoma, osteoporosis or high blood pressure.
You’re taking any other medications, including herbal supplements.
You’re treating allergies in a child. Children need different doses of medication or different medications than adults.
You’re treating allergies in an older adult. Some allergy medications can cause confusion, urinary symptoms or other side effects in older adults.
You’re already taking an allergy medication that isn’t working. Bring the medication with you in its original bottle or package when you see your doctor.
Keep track of what symptoms you experience, when you use your medications and how much you use. This will help your doctor figure out what works best.
You may need to try a few different medications to determine which ones are most effective and have the least bothersome side effects for you.
Thanks for visiting and reading …
I hope this article provided you some helpful ideas. I welcome your comments below.
Many aging adults spend the bulk of their time just managing to get through the day. They take care of life’s basics but often don’t leave their home, assisted living center or nursing home, except for doctor appointments and an occasional holiday.
Enjoying a breezy spring day or the warm summer temperatures don’t have to be a distant memory for elders and caregivers.
After being cooped up in the house for possibly months at a time, senior adults can breathe in the fresh air, even if they are experiencing mobility problems.
It takes some advance planning and choosing an activity that won’t seem like a chore, but it’s worth getting out of the house, for you and your elderly parent.
The Benefits of Getting Outside
A main advantage of heading outdoors, even for a short period of time, is being able to soak up the sunlight, which generates Vitamin D – necessary for the brain, bones and muscle function, says Dr. Michael Raab, a geriatrician with Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, Fla.
Some doctors even prescribe sunlight as a source of Vitamin D, which research also finds can improve cognitive function.
Another key benefit is that being outside enables elders to socialize and interact with caregivers as well as other adults, children and animals.
Those activities can give people an extra spring in their step and rejuvenate them, says Christina Chartrand, vice president of training and staff development for Senior Helpers, an in-home senior care agency with offices in 40 states.
Raab adds: “Whatever you can do, it’s going to be mentally uplifting.”
Although caregivers may be aware of the benefits, sometimes it seems as if the obstacles, such as wheelchair access, bathroom access, frailty and fatigue, are too great to overcome the great outdoors.
Caregivers can start to prepare elders with mobility problems to take the steps to head outside. Your physician can suggest chair exercises to make them more stable and build their muscles, for example.
Even though the temperatures may be pleasant, Raab says it’s also important to make sure an elderly family member stays well hydrated; if not, it can impact muscle function and blood pressure and lead to a dangerous situation.
Families and friends might like to take a senior out for some fun but they don’t know how to go about it.
Stumped For Ideas?
Here Are a Few to Get You Started:
Take a Sunday Drive
Back in the “olden days,” driving around the community to check out home town activity was a Sunday afternoon ritual for many adults.
While life is more complicated now, many elders still enjoy watching new construction or being shown how the town that they’ve lived in for decades is changing.
For those who live near flood prone bodies of water, spring is a terrific time to take a drive to see how this year’s water levels compare to other years.
A twist on this approach is to pick a prime time when cherry trees, crab apple trees or other ornamentals are at their peak and do a flower tour. Getting out of the car is optional, based on your elder’s abilities and wishes.
Go to the Zoo
Who doesn’t like baby animals? Spring is birth time for most species. Rent or borrow a wheelchair if one is needed for longer walks. Not only will your elders see baby animals, they will see young children reacting to the animals.
As with everything suggested, watch your loved one for signs of fatigue, thirst, too much sun or other issues that could signal that it’s time to leave, perhaps with a promise to return at another time should they wish to do so.
Go to a Restaurant
When was the last time you took your elder to a restaurant that he or she has enjoyed over the years? Now that snow isn’t a problem, it’s easier to navigate such adventures.
Keep in mind that going for a meal at off-peak times is a good idea. That usually means less stress for everyone. Also, elders who are hard of hearing won’t feel as isolated if there’s less background noise.
Visit an Ice Cream Place
Ice cream treats are a favorite of many a senior. I suggest encouraging your loved ones to sit outside if the weather’s nice and they are able.
Enjoy Children at Play
Watch children swim or play on playground equipment. Spring brings young children out in throngs. People who enjoy children often like hearing their laughter and watching the seeming innocence of this type of play.
Check Out Summer Programs at the Park
Take your elder to the spring programs that most schools sponsor. This is particularly nice if a grandchild or great-grandchild is involved, but that’s not necessary. If your elder doesn’t know any of the children, then I’d suggest focusing on the younger ones; their antics can be pretty entertaining!
If grandchildren are involved, take your elder to watch them perform in their concerts, plays or other activities. You may have to arrange for a spouse or friend to be available to take Grandma home if she gets tired or uncomfortable.
A twist on this idea is to attend one of the concerts in the park that many communities have during the spring and summer.
Have a Picnic
Whether you go to a park, stay in your own backyard or use the grounds of the nursing home, a picnic is often possible. If your loved one is able, going to a park would be nice, however many nursing homes have gorgeous grounds and nice areas with tables that accommodate wheel chairs. If all else fails—and I’m aware that this isn’t an outing but sometimes we have to punt — bring a picnic to your loved one in the care home.
Check out the Crops
If your elder has an agricultural background or is interested in wildflowers, try taking a country drive. Even if your loved one didn’t have any first-hand agricultural experience, but they will probably still enjoy driving in the country to see new crops being planted and wild flowers blooming.
Tailor this outing to your area of the country and your elder’s preferences. Maybe you can pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables from a farm stand.
A friend told me that his community sponsors events where elders are taken out on pontoons—wheelchairs and all—to fish. Volunteers are there to help with anything the elder can’t do.
Just being out on the water and holding a rod can be a thrill for someone who has enjoyed fishing in the past. Again, this can be adjusted to accommodate other pastimes.
Visit a Friend
Many elders lose touch with their peers. Sickness, the death of a spouse and/or difficulty getting around can mean they haven’t seen a dear friend for months or even years. See if you can set up a lunch or just a visit with someone your loved one has enjoyed through the years. Perhaps you can take them both to a park or a restaurant.
Use these ideas as springboards. You know your loved one. What did his or she enjoy in their earlier, healthier days? Don’t be afraid to ask what they miss doing or what they’d like to do. They may not hear those questions very often these days.
If you get a shoulder shrug or an “I don’t know,” then be ready to say, “Sunday looks nice so we’ll go for a picnic.” You may get some resistance but if it seems like simple inertia, just say with a smile that it would make you very happy if they’d do this for you. If a loved one truly doesn’t want to be part of an activity, try whittling down your expectations and suggesting something less strenuous.
As mentioned above, during any of these activities monitor your loved one for dehydration and heat issues if the weather is warm, or chilliness if it’s cool. Older bodies don’t adjust to temperature changes as well as younger ones.
A Final note – caregivers do need to be sure that before they head outdoors, they have protected both themselves and their elderly loved ones against the damaging effects of the sun, which can lead to melanoma.
New York dermatologist Arielle Kauvar says that most people don’t do enough to protect aging skin. For instance, instead of a dollop of sunscreen smeared on the face as you’re heading out the door, you should be applying a shot-glass size amount about 30 minutes before you leave. If you’re swimming or sweating, you should reapply the sunscreen every two hours.
The sunscreen should be a water-resistant, broad-spectrum product that protects against both UVA (ultraviolet short-wave) and UVB (ultraviolet long-wave) rays, with an SPF or sun protection factor of 30 or higher. It should be applied before you get dressed, so you can be sure that you haven’t missed any spots.
This product contains a broad spectrum SPF 30. It is formulated with shea butter and vitamin E for extra conditioning of sensitive, dry chapped lips. This lip protectant is fragrance-free and dye-free.
If your activities will require a water-resistant sunscreen, pick up Cotz Plus; this is an excellent broad spectrum SPF 58 sunscreen which will stand up to water activities without any chemicals to irritate sensitive skin.
Dark clothing with a tight weave can also protect the skin, but may not be the best choice for seniors, since they get hotter than loosely woven, lighter-colored clothes.
For this reason, Dr. Kauvar suggests buying special clothing that protects against ultraviolet rays. Made for gardening, swimming and leisure wear, the clothing should have a UPF or ultraviolet protection factor above 30 (by comparison, she says, an ordinary tee shirt only has a UPF factor of 6).
I like the UPF sun protection garment choices from Coolibar. They have a good variety of clothing items for men and women which are perfect for keeping skin protected during outdoor activities.
Has your beloved barbecue been buried under a pile of snow for much of the winter?
Before you flip your first batch of burgers this spring, it’s a good idea to give your grill a deep clean. This will ensure it’s ready for another season of serving up sizzling goodness. Here’s what to do.
What you’ll need (and what to avoid)
Cleaning a barbecue is dirty work, so slip on a pair of rubber gloves before you get started.
You’ll also need a wire brush or scouring pad, a sponge, a few cloths or paper towels, and a pail of warm, soapy water.
Plastic or wooden tools are best, as they won’t scratch the metal.
With most barbecues, it’s best not to use oven cleaners or other harsh chemicals. Not only could they cause damage, they may also leave a nasty residue that affects the taste of your food.
High-pressure hoses are also a bad idea – they’ll blast grease everywhere, which attracts ants, and can drive tiny bits of debris deeper into burner holes.
Be safe with your wire barbecue brush
If you use a wire brush to clean your barbecue, make sure it’s in good shape.
As brushes age and wear, the wire bristles can break off and stick to the grill grates. If that happens, there’s a risk those stray wires will get stuck on food and be accidentally ingested, leading to potentially serious health issues.
If your brush is old, dirty, warped or cracked, it’s always best to replace it. Test the wires on your brush by pulling on a few bristles with a pair of pliers – if they come out too easily, toss the brush in the trash and buy a new one.
How to clean
If you’ve got a gas grill, make sure to disconnect the propane tank for safety reasons before getting started.
Begin by soaping up the outside of your barbecue with a sponge, then rinse it clean and wipe it dry with a cloth or paper towel.
If your barbecue is made of stainless steel, be careful not to use abrasive sponges or cloths and remember to clean in the direction of the grain so as not to damage the metal. Avoid circular motions when scrubbing and wiping.
Once the outside is clean, open the lid and look for any black flaking or peeling inside. Most of this messy mix of carbonized grease and smoke can be removed with a brush or scourer. Scrub off anything left behind with warm, soapy water and a sponge.
Use a brush to clean any big pieces of debris off the grill grates and burner protectors, then lift them out and scrub them with a soapy sponge.
If your grates are small enough, you may be able to fit them in the dishwasher – run them through on the pots and pans cycle.
Finish up by rinsing the grates and burner protectors, then dry them well. You can also rub grates with a light coating of vegetable oil – this seasons them and helps prevent rust.
With the grates removed, use a brush, scraper or putty knife to clean out grease and debris from inside the barbecue. Use your sponge to wipe the cooking bowl clean, then dry it with a cloth or paper towel.
If any part of your barbecue is coated with a stubborn layer of grease, here’s a good way to soften it up first.
Fill a spray bottle with an equal mix of lukewarm water and vinegar and spray it on the problem area. Let the liquid sit for an hour, then scrub the area clean with a brush, scourer, or a ball of aluminum foil.
Before firing up your barbecue, take a few minutes to examine it for signs of wear and damage.
First, make sure the burners are in good working order, providing an even flame throughout.
Second, reconnect your gas tank and coat the tube with soapy water, then turn on the gas. If you see bubbles starting to form along the tube, you may have a leak that needs to be fixed.
This is also a good time to look inside the burner tubes for signs of spider nests, which can cause dangerous blockages. Get rid of them with a pipe cleaner or blast them out with a can of compressed air.
Finally, check to make sure all handles are tightly attached and that the control knobs are fully functional. You don’t want future cookouts spoiled by faulty equipment.
Got tips on how to get your barbecue ready for a new season of grilling? Share them with me.
Here are some Heart Healthy Barbecue tips to keep in mind:
For Meat, Poultry and Fish
Go for grilled fish more often. The healthiest types include salmon, trout and herring, which are high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Buy chicken breasts – and remember to remove the skin before eating – instead of the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs). Or try grilling up chicken or turkey burgers using breast meat, and add diced onions for another layer of flavor.
What cut of meat to buy? Choose “loin” and “round” cuts of red meat and pork. And buy “choice” or “select” grades of beef instead of “prime.” While these have the least amount of fat, don’t forget to trim the fat when you get home.
Use a rack so the fat drips away from the food.
For Side Dishes, Drinks and Desserts
Go green… and red, orange, yellow, purple and more. Serve green leafy salads or fruit salads (or a combination of both, like baby spinach with strawberries or mixed greens with orange slices) instead of mayonnaise-based salads. Add some crunch – and healthier fats – with some toasted walnuts or almonds instead of croutons.
Instead of potato chips, which can be high in saturated and trans fats, serve raw veggies like cucumber, carrot and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes and broccoli and cauliflower florets with a low-fat dip.
Drink water or diet soda. Regular sodas are loaded with sugars and calories.
Cut back on commercially baked foods, like cookies, pies and cakes. Remember that most store-baked goods are made with egg yolks, butter or shortening and other ingredients that are high in saturated fat and/or trans fat.
A smoothie with luscious fresh fruit in season, fat-free vanilla or lemon yogurt and a touch of honey makes a healthy, refreshing dessert alternative.
Try grilling fruits like pineapple slices, nectarines, peaches or plums – the natural sugars caramelize with the heat and give them great flavor. Fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber – and they’re low in calories.
Oils, Dressings, Seasoning and More
Multi-task with one bottle… Use reduced-fat, low-fat, light or no-fat salad dressings (if you need to limit your calories) on salads, for dips or as marinades.
Watch the salt – cut back on salty seasonings and condiments like teriyaki, soy and barbecue sauce.
Choose low-fat, reduced-fat or fat-free cheese for your sandwiches and hamburgers.
Choose whole-grain, high-fiber breads and rolls, such as whole wheat, oats, oatmeal, whole rye, whole-grain corn and buckwheat. In addition to being good for you, they add more flavor and texture to your meal.
Some Delicious, Quick and Healthy Barbecue Recipes To Get You Started
Spiedini of Chicken and Zucchini with Almond Salsa Verde
With a wonderfully complex and flavorful sauce like this, the chicken and zucchini need almost no seasoning―just salt, pepper, and the grill’s flame. The salsa’s combination of tangy, briny, herbal, and nutty flavors is perfect for chicken, pork, fish, or shrimp, especially if they’re grilled. To save soaking the skewers for a half an hour, use metal ones instead of wood.
6 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch slices (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Soak 12 (10-inch) wooden skewers in water 30 minutes to prevent burning.
2. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
3. To prepare salsa, combine first 12 ingredients; set aside.
4. To prepare spiedini, thread chicken and zucchini alternately onto each of 12 (10-inch) skewers. Coat spiedini with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Place on grill rack; grill 6 minutes or until done, turning once. Serve with salsa.
Opposites attract in this dish: hot steak sits atop cold salad, and tender meat contrasts with crunchy vegetables. The basic salad with red wine-lemon vinaigrette is easy and works great, but you can customize the salad with your favorite vegetables (or fruits) and dressing. Just about anything will match the steak.
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound lean boneless sirloin steak, trimmed
8 cups spring-blend salad greens
1 1/2 cups red bell pepper strips
1 cup vertically sliced red onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 (8 3/4-ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained and rinsed
Combine first 7 ingredients; rub over both sides of steak. Heat a nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat. Add steak; cook 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Cut the steak across grain into thin slices.
While steak cooks, combine salad greens and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss well to coat. Top with steak.
To prepare dressing, combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Set aside.
To prepare shrimp, combine 2 teaspoons olive oil and next 6 ingredients (through shrimp) in a large bowl; toss well. Thread about 5 shrimp onto each of 6 (8-inch) skewers. Place skewers on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes or until done.
To prepare salad, add spinach, mushrooms, and onion to vinegar mixture; toss gently to coat. Serve with shrimp skewers.
Char-Broil’s Grill Yourself Skinny is for everyone who loves grilled foods and healthy eating. This is not a fad diet book but a collection of 130 nutritionally sound recipes that rely on science to pack a nutritious and delicious punch.
Author Heidi Skolnik, MS,CDN, FACSM, is a nationally recognized thought leader in nutrition who believes that all types of foods can fit into a healthy diet. In this book, she offers mouth-watering, healthy recipes for everything from Steak and Eggs on the Grill to Grilled Strawberries with Balsamic Port Glaze, Blue Cheese & Walnuts.
Plus, you’ll find lots of savory seafood, poultry, meat, and vegetable dishes, including some from a host of celebrated chefs, such as Angelo Basilone, Executive Chef of the New York Giants and Brad Farmerie, Executive Chef at Public in New York City.
Each recipe comes with a breakdown of calories, protein, carbohydrate, and fiber, for those who are counting. You’ll also find informative Nutrition 411 sidebars sprinkled throughout the book. Read the reviews