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A Helpful Guide to Moving

If you plan to move, planning ahead can save you time and money.

Things like packing and finding a reliable moving company are just some of the ways you can avoid problems. And, depending on your situation, you may be able to deduct moving expenses from your federal tax return.

When you’re ready to move, make sure to keep these tips in mind:

Packing

  • Instead of packing what you don’t use anymore, sell anything you don’t need. You can also donate clothes or household items that are in good condition to charity.
  • Use recycled packing boxes. Look for unused boxes at local stores or supermarkets. Save the boxes if you have a moving date ahead.
  • Write on the box what it contains, for example: kitchen utensils, bathroom towels, tools, cosmetics, etc. This will make it easier to unpack in your new home.
  • Use newspaper to wrap any fragile or delicate items.

Choosing a moving company

  • Request written quotes from various moving companies so that you can compare rates and services.
  • Make sure to pick a moving company that has a number with the U.S. Department of Transportation, known as U.S. DOT #, and check if the mover is properly registered.
  • Make sure the company offers damage insurance.
  • Check to see if the moving company has a history of complaints by calling your state or city’s consumer protection office.
  • Thoroughly read over all the terms in your contract, as well as any other documents related to your move, before signing.

Note: If you would like to register a complaint against a moving company, get in touch with the Department of Transportation at 1-888-368-7238, or file it online.

When filing your taxes

If your move this summer is work-related, you may be able to deduct moving expenses on your next federal income tax return if you meet certain requirements:

  • You move close to the date you begin your new job.
  • Your new workplace is at least 50 miles farther away from your previous home than your old job location was from that home.
  • You work full-time for a specified amount of time after moving.

Read this post in Spanish.

Summer Safety Tips

With warm weather comes more opportunities to explore new places, spend time outdoors and share quality time with friends and family.

Swimming, walking or having a picnic are just some of the many things you can do together during the Summer.

To enjoy these activities safely and accident-free, make sure to keep these tips in mind:

Water safety

  • Supervise your kids, as well as other children, when playing or swimming in the ocean, lakes, rivers or pools.
  • Only use life jackets certified by the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Avoid swimming in rough or deep water.
  • Respect “No Swimming” signs.
  • To prevent choking, make sure children do not eat or chew gum in the water.
  • If your home has a swimming pool, install a protective fence around it. Be sure to place a cover on the pool when it’s not in use.
  • Take cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) classes to help people who are drowning or choking.

Protection against sun and heat

  • To avoid dehydration or heat exhaustion, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid beverages that contain alcohol, caffeine or too much sugar.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Also wear sunglasses and a hat that covers your face and ears.
  • Apply sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher a half an hour before any sun exposure. Reapply several times a day, or according to the product directions.
  • Keep your lips hydrated with a lip balm that contains sunscreen.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure when ultraviolet (UV) rays are at their strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Try to spend the majority of your time protected by cool, shady areas.

Food safety

  • If you’re camping or you plan to do any outdoor cooking, use a cooler with ice to keep your food refrigerated. Make sure to keep the cooling temperature (PDF) at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before handling any food.
  • To avoid cross contamination, separate raw meat from other food, and place meat on its own plate or tray.
  • Make sure meats are cooked and served at an internal temperature (PDF) of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
  • Immediately refrigerate or freeze any leftovers. Don’t leave perishable foods out in the open for more than two hours.
  • To avoid getting food poisoning, follow these tips for eating safely at fairs and festivals.

For more information about food safety contact the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854.

Read this note in Spanish.

Keep your home free of summer pests without pesticides

Summer temperatures can be pleasant, but the warm weather is also attractive to insects and rodents.

This is the time of year when ants, roaches, mice and other pests make their way into your home, especially if they find the right living conditions. All they really need to get comfortable is water, food and a place where they can hide or reproduce.

You can fight these pests without pesticides if you follow these suggestions:

Restrict access to food sources

  • Tightly close any food packaging, like boxes and bags of cookies, chips, cereals or candy, so that ants or roaches can’t get in.
  • Store items such as flour, sugar, rice or pasta in airtight bags or plastic containers.
  • Clean any food spills or stains off the countertop, floor, and other areas throughout the kitchen.
  • Do not let crumbs sit in pet dishes, as this can attract cockroaches, ants or rodents.
  • Remember to take out the kitchen trash frequently, preferably every night.

Limit access to sources of water or liquids

  • Try not to leave water drops or other liquids in the kitchen or anywhere else around the house. Roaches can’t live more than a week without water.
  • Wash and dry your dishes immediately after each meal.
  • Repair leaky faucets or pipes in the bathroom, kitchen, backyard and any other area of the house.
  • When gardening or watering plants, don’t leave puddles or excess water. Standing water encourages mosquito reproduction.
  • Open the bathroom window after bathing to clear out the steam; these tiny drops are drinking sources for cockroaches and other insects.

Limit entry access to your home

  • Seal cracks around pipes, doors and windows to stop insects from getting inside.
  • Repair holes or tears on screen doors and windows.
  • Close off the spaces underneath doors.
  • Before coming home from a shopping trip, make sure there are no roaches hiding inside bags or grocery boxes.
  • Throw away or recycle unwanted boxes or wrappers.

Put mouse traps inside and outside the home in areas where children or pets can’t access.

Read this note in Spanish

How to Treat Pollen Allergies in the Summer

Pollen is the main trigger of allergies in the summer. Pollen allergies can cause sneezing, nasal congestion, coughing and itchiness in the nose, eyes and throat.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, about 35 million Americans suffer from pollen allergy, commonly known as hay fever.

Follow these tips to prevent or treat this type of allergies.

Allergy prevention

  • Limit your outdoor activities in the mornings, a time when pollen levels are at their highest.
  • Take a shower and change clothes at home if you were outdoors. This will help clear out any pollen left on your hair, body and clothing.
  • Avoid hanging your clothes to dry outdoors.
  • Keep your home and car windows closed on sunny, windy days. If possible, use air conditioning.
  • Avoid mowing the lawn or sweeping the deck or patio too often.

Allergy medicine

Certain medicines may help alleviate symptoms of allergies or allergic rhinitis. Talk to your doctor about the right allergy medications for you. 

Some common allergy medications include:

  • Nasal and oral decongestants
  • Antihistamines in pill, syrup, or drop form
  • Nasal sprays, with or without corticosteroid

Allergy tests

If your symptoms are too difficult to manage with medication, your doctor can perform a skin allergy test to get a more accurate diagnosis. Based on the results, the doctor will prescribe the proper course of treatment.

Read this note in Spanish.

How to Prepare for Hurricane Season

The Atlantic hurricane season begins each year on June 1 and ends on November 30.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 35 million people live in areas that can be affected by hurricanes.

The strong winds, heavy rains and flooding that go along with hurricanes can cause serious damage to property and endanger lives. Being informed about what to do before, during and after a hurricane can help you and your family stay safe and prevent property damage.

Before and during the storm

  • Be aware of any emergency alert signals issued by authorities
  • Get to know the evacuation routes and emergency procedures of the places you and your family frequent, such as school or your office building
  • Identify the most secure places in your home, which can be a room with few windows, a hallway or a basement
  • Find evacuation and emergency shelters for your neighborhood
  • Put together an emergency supply kit
  • Use shutters to cover your house’s windows
  • Make sure blinds and windows are closed

In case of an evacuation

  • Tune your radio to NOAA’s National Weather Service to know what to do and where to go
  • If you are away from your family, make a plan where to meet once the hurricane passes
  • Shut windows and doors and unplug any electrical appliances before leaving the house
  • Pack a bag with clothes, medicine, important documents, cash and your emergency kit
  • Drive only on roads that have been approved by officials and avoid taking shortcuts that could be hazardous

Returning home

  • Return home only when authorities say the danger has passed
  • Don’t walk or drive in flooded areas or unstable structures, such as bridges or alternate routes
  • Check the area outside your house before going in, as there could be loose power lines or other dangerous objects that aren’t immediately visible
  • Do not go inside if you smell gas or if there are signs of any flooding or fire as the home’s structure may be weakened
  • Take photos of any damaged areas to use when filing a claim with your insurance company

Resources

Read this note in Spanish.