Pick A Lock

As Americans hit the road this summer for vacation, would-be burglars are scoping out their next victim. Don’t let it be you. Make sure your home is securely protected by the latest and greatest in locks. Some tips from This Old House hold the key.

Exterior doors: Most break-ins happen at the front door, so make sure it has a dead bolt. Ranging from $25 to $300, they come in separate pieces (a dead bolt and a lock set) or a handle set that has both features. Two important parts to look for: a dead-locking latch bolt, which prevents entry by jimmying with a credit card, and hardened pins that can’t be sawed. The best option in case of an emergency? A handle set that allows you to open the dead bolt and latch from inside in one motion.

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Outside Influence

Summertime, and the living is easy? It may not seem that way when you’re entertaining guests, but hosting friends and family doesn’t have to be stressful, especially if you choose to do it outside using these simple ideas from Martha Stewart.

Even before prime outdoor entertaining season gets underway, stay ahead of the game with built-in decorations. Hanging brightly patterned or monogrammed dishes on the side of your house can make a fun and personal statement. A graphic-print umbrella on the patio can tie the space together. Create storage space and seating (and add another pop of color) by painting wooden chests and topping them with custom cushions made of waterproof foam and fabric.

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Cool Runnings

Summer can be sticky and uncomfortable — and dangerous. It’s prime time for heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. But, take heart: There are some ways to. At the pool, on the street or inside your home, stay smart with these tips from MedicineNet.com.

Plan your outdoor workout routine for early mornings or late evenings, when the temperatures are cooler. If you must exercise during the heat of the day, walk instead of run and decrease the duration. Wearing loose clothing in a light color (cotton instead of synthetics) will also help keep you cool. Stave off dehydration with frequent sips of water or electrolyte-filled sports drinks, and avoid caffeine and alcohol.

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Landscaping Adds Value

Is your yard helping or hurting your chance of getting top dollar for your home? According to a survey by landscape manufacturer TruGreen, nearly three-fourths of Americans believe it takes only a few seconds for them to form a first impression about a home’s appearance.

Most REALTORS® agree that curb appeal is essential when selling a home. Lackluster landscaping can turn off prospective buyers and affect the home’s resale value, say experts at the Appraisal Institute. But before making any improvements to your landscaping, consider how long you’ll be living in the home and whether to make short-term updates or plan for the long term. Ask yourself the following questions:

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