Designing Farm Buildings
to Withstand Snow and Ice
Heavy snowfalls and ice
storms can lead to roof collapses or damage in poorly designed
buildings according to Bob Schultheis, natural resource
engineering specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
It often comes down to
weight. Remember, a foot of snow is about equal in weight to an
inch of ice, and an inch of ice weighs about five pounds per
square foot. "Most farm building failures occur because the roof
structure was under‑designed for the area's snow load, the
bracing or fasteners were short‑changed during construction, or
because wind-drifted snow distributes unevenly over roofs
covered with ice," Schultheis said.
To help prevent future
such building failures, Schultheis says a few basic design rules
for agricultural buildings should be followed in southwest
First, roofs of farm
buildings should be designed to support a minimum total load
of 25 pounds per square foot. This figure includes the snow
load and the dead load (weight of building materials). If
cages, feeders, hoists or ceilings are hung from roof
trusses, figure this extra weight into the design.
The second item to
remember is that the height of the eave greatly affects how
big the poles, posts or metal frames must be to prevent
wind-racking, how many anchor bolts are needed or how deep
poles must be embedded in the ground, and how much extra
bracing is needed between trusses, poles or frames.
Usually a four to five foot embedment depth is recommended
for wood poles and posts. "Where rock prevents getting this
depth, the posts should be encased in concrete. Failure to
do so invites wind uplift or sidewall shift from excessive
roof loads," Schultheis said.
Third, keep in mind
that buildings over 40 feet wide are generally less
expensive to build with steel truss frames than with wood
trusses. Wood, however, is more forgiving for short periods
of time under excessive loads, and may withstand a 200 to
400 percent overload for two to three days without failure.
A wood roof will give you audible advance notice of failure
by screeching of nails and sounds of wood splintering. Steel
roofs, on the other hand, usually fail when the design load
is reached and without any advance notice," Schultheis said.
And finally, weak
designs often show themselves with a dip or sag in a
roofline or beam, or a leaning sidewall. Adding 2 x 6 knee
braces to posts and trusses, tying opposing walls together
with cables and turnbuckles, sistering larger joists to
existing ones, or adding extra support posts under long beam
spans are just a few ways of beefing up some of these weaker
For anyone considering
construction of a post-frame building, Schultheis recommends
NRAES-1 Post-Frame Building Handbook, which is available
from Extension Publications by calling 1-800-292-0969.
Buildings Prove Snow Can
“Weigh” Down a Roof
Many producers make the
mistake of not being concerned about roof failures until after
the building collapses according to Ed Browning, natural
resource engineering specialist, University of Missouri
“Such was the case in the
late 1980’s when several southwest Missouri poultry buildings
folded. In some cases their failure may not have been entirely
caused by the snow load, but it was certainly a major
contributor,” said Browning.
According to Browning,
snow loads will vary according to the amount of water
equivalency a snow carries at the time.
For example, in one
location during that 1980’s snowstorm, there was 12 inches of
snow recorded that was equivalent to 3.2 inches of water. In
another location, 30 miles away, during the same snow event, a
14-inch snow was recorded equivalent to about 1.6 inches of
A volume of water 12 by 12
inches that is one inch deep weighs a little over five pounds.
The 3.2 inches of water equivalency recorded would weigh nearly
Recommendations for snow
load design have changed since that late 1980’s storm.
“Today we would suggest a
minimum of 25 pound roof load capacity. It raises the cost of
the building, but on the other hand it may prevent replacement
costs,” said Browning.
For anyone considering
construction of a post-frame building, Browning recommends
NRAES-1 Post-Frame Building Handbook, available from Extension
Publications at 800-292-0969.
Care Using Chain Saws during Storm Recovery Work
Homeowners or disaster and
storm recovery volunteers who use chain saws to cut or trim
trees should use extreme caution to prevent injuries.
"In the hands of a
careless, inexperienced or tired operator, a chain saw can be
very hazardous. Injuries from a chain saw are usually quite
serious,” said Bob Schultheis, natural resource engineering
specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
More than 40,000 people
require hospital treatment each year for chain-saw-related
accidents, according to the U.S. Product Safety Commission.
To reduce risk of injury,
select a saw that fits the project and is balanced and has
safety features. It is also a good idea to read the operating
“One of biggest dangers in
operating a chain saw is kickback. Kickback occurs when the nose
of the guide bar strikes another object. It can result in severe
upper body, neck or facial injuries or death. This contact may
cause a lightning-fast reverse action of the guide bar back
toward the operator," Schultheis said.
While the smaller consumer
chain saws must come equipped with a low-kickback (or safety)
chain when purchased, this is no guarantee that kickbacks will
not occur according to Schultheis.
Be sure to match the
length of the saw's guide bar to the type of job you expect to
do most often. Do not attempt to cut material that is larger
than the guide bar you choose.
A guide bar 8 to 14 inches
long is good for trimming limbs, cutting small logs and felling
small trees. Mid-weight saws with 14- to 20-inch guide bars are
used to cut logs and for felling small-to-medium-diameter trees.
Heavyweight saws with guide bars longer than 20 inches are for
professional use and are not recommended for consumers.
Occasional saw operators
as well as professionals should wear protective clothing like
safety glasses, earplugs, high-top shoes, gloves and hard hats.
For more information on
chain saw safety and use, contact the MU Extension center
nearest you and ask for guide sheet
"Basic Chain Saw Safety and Use," and guide sheet 1958,
"Felling, Bucking and Limbing Trees,” or obtain them
online at extension.missouri.edu.
Safe Skating, How Thick Does Ice Need to be?
weather in the Ozarks has some folks anxious to get out the ice
But how thick does the ice
need to be for safe skating? Four inches is the most common
suggestion, according to Charles (Ed) Browning, natural resource
engineering specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
“Ice is probably never 100
percent safe. There are a lot of variables that can affect its
strength besides thickness,” said Browning.
For example, wind can
impact ice formation. Light winds speed up ice formation but
strong winds force water from beneath the ice and can decay the
“Always check the ice
before going out on it. Be aware that ice thickness and strength
can vary from one location to another,” said Browning.
It is also important to
watch for slush. It means the ice is no longer freezing from the
bottom and is weakening.
Other suggestions about
ice thickness are considered by many to be common sense.
For example, snow is an
insulator. It can keep the ice protected from thawing, but it
can also prevent it from freezing. Snow cover also hides cracks
in the ice and weaker areas.
Water depth also affects
ice thickness and the speed at which the ice forms. Deeper
water tends to stay warmer longer.
“So, that means that as
you move from the edge of a water body toward the deeper water,
ice may become thinner,” said Browning.
Ice that has melted and
then refrozen is weaker than new ice because the crystal
structure has changed. Ice formed over running water (like a
river) will be about 15 percent weaker than ice formed over
If several people are
skating on the ice at the same time, Browning says it is
important to spread out. It is also important to never let
children go unsupervised to skate on ice formed over a water
impoundment or stream.
“It is also a good idea to
have a rope, ladder or pole nearby that could be passed to a
victim in the event of an emergency,” said Browning.
Browning says he has also
been asked about the thickness needed for ATVs. Five inches is
the recommended minimum thickness of ice needed to support
snowmobiles and ATVs.
Offer Guidance for Owner’s of Ice Ravaged Trees
Southwest Missouri, as
well as other parts of the state, have been hit hard by recent
To Gaylord Moore,
horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension,
most of the immediate questions coming into the Greene County
Extension Center seem to be about trees.
“The ice really did a lot
of damage in this area to trees. Extension and the Missouri
Department of Conservation both have guides and other useful
information that should help folks make some decisions as what
to do with damaged trees,” said Moore.
Tree care after
These guides are available
at extension.missouri.edu in the publications section of the
website or any local MU Extension office:
and Care of Shade Trees (G6866),” “Pruning Ornamental Shrubs
(G6870),” and “Selecting Landscape Plants: Shade Trees (G6800).”
Ice Storm a Reminder to Have Emergency Supply Kit
The great ice
storm of 2007 is past by the memory of needing emergency
supplies during that time is fresh on the mind of many.
every kit needs water, food, a first aid kit, tools and
supplies, clothing and bedding and special items. “Plan
to store lightweight foods that need no preparation or
refrigeration. When buying items for the kit, make sure
there are enough items for at least a three day supply
and that you get items that family members enjoy,” said
to include are ready-to-eat canned meats, soups, fruits,
and vegetables; high-energy foods, such as peanut
butter, crackers, nuts, health food bars and trail mix;
comfort foods, such as hard candy or other sweets; dried
foods, such as raisins, apricots, jerky, potato flakes,
powdered milk; and prepackaged beverages.
Most of these food
items should be replaced yearly, although powdered milk,
dried fruit, crackers and potato flakes generally last
only six months. Some foods maybe stored indefinitely,
such as vegetable oils, baking powder, instant coffee,
tea or cocoa, salt, white rice, dried pasta, and
noncarbonated soft drinks.
It is also a good
idea to set aside at least a three day supply of water
per person (allow about one gallon of water per person,
For information on
putting together an emergency supply kit, download the
“Family Disaster Planning Kit” online at
Living in the climate controlled comfort
of modern homes and apartments, Americans quickly forget
how the forces of nature can impact our lives.
“But recently, nature seems to be getting our attention
through our utility bills and when we seek shelter from
a storm,” said Jeff Barber, housing and environmental
design specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
“These factors make this a good time to remember past
lessons about staying warm and how we might apply them
to our homes and lifestyles.”
?Get out of the wind:
Finding and stopping drafts can
have rapid results in increasing comfort. “The use of
movable insulating shutters, weather stripping and even
plastic sheeting can keep the cold air of leaky doors
and widows out of our interior climate,” said Barber.
?Bundle up to keep warm:
Verifying that a home has
a minimum of 12 inches or R-30 in the attic is a quick
and relatively low cost way to realize warmth.
Many homes built before the late 1940’s
may have walls that are not insulated. Wall insulation
should be a minimum of R-19 but is difficult to increase
without significant work and cost. “By wearing layered
clothing, fashionable stocking caps, blankets and shawls
one can quickly find comfort that may be too expensive
to buy with our furnace,” said Barber.
?Warm up with the sun:
opening drapes and shades on south facing widows during
sunny days, homeowners can use the abundantly free
energy of the sun to warm their homes. “The use of
insulating curtains or shutters at night can help us
retain this wonderful warming,” said Barber.
all else fails, build a fire:
“This can seem like a huge step backward for many that
have been lured to the luxury of converting a fireplace
with gas logs,” said Barber.
The prospect of buying wood, stacking it,
carrying it inside and dealing with the mess can be
overwhelming. But the good news is that the fireplace
industry has been very responsive to the “baby boomer”
consumer by developing pellets and grain stoves. “Just
remember that if you choose to find warmth by the
fireplace that annual flue inspections and cleaning must
be budgeted. Failure to do so can be disastrous,” said
for Trees Wounded by Ice Storm
The ice storms that
recently came through southwest Missouri left many trees with
broken branches and wounds. Repair may be in order to keep these
trees healthy and less susceptible to disease and insects
according to Tim Schnakenberg, agronomy specialist, University
of Missouri Extension."Most of the wounds on these trees will be
from limbs that broke and splintered as they fell. The broken
limbs high in the trees may require professional help but the
lower limbs that are more accessible will require care to prune
off splintered stubs," said Schnakenberg.
If a large portion of the
limb is still attached to a main branch or trunk, cutting that
heavy limb away a foot or two from the crotch will insure that
no major splintering occurs when the limb falls. Schnakenberg
recommends making a shallow cut on the underside of the limb a
foot or two from the trunk to keep the bark from tearing when it
falls, then cut it off on the top side 2 to 3 inches beyond the
undercut. The stub that is left should be cut flush and as
close to the main branch or trunk as possible. "Be very aware
of overhead power utility lines. If the branches are touching
these lines, call your utility company. They can address the
problem after full service in the area has been restored and
cleanup is complete," said Schnakenberg.
Tree wounds less than one
inch in diameter will heal quick enough to warrant no additional
treatment. Larger wounds can be treated with a tree wound
dressing or pruning paint to protect the tree while healing and
prevent the formation of a cavity.
Research has shown that these applications probably do not
increase the rate of healing but may prevent drying out and
provide some cosmetic effects.
If damaged trees are not
repaired, or if they have been repaired improperly, a cavity may
develop which could shorten the life of the tree.
"When pruning a damaged
tree, be sure it is cut flush so there is no way for water to
stand in an open pocket of the tree. If a large cavity exists,
it may require flashing or tin to keep rain from filling the
cavity with water," said Schnakenberg.
bitter cold, outdoor workers should be aware of hypothermia
during warm spells
While outdoor workers
may be aware of being susceptible to hypothermia during the
bitter winter cold, they shouldn’t let down their guard as the
temperatures rise and a thaw occurs. “People often think that
hypothermia can occur when someone is out in very cold weather
or perhaps has fallen through ice into freezing water,” said
Karen Funkenbusch, University of Missouri agricultural safety
But outdoor workers
should be aware that hypothermia can occur at much warmer
temperatures – even 50 or 60 degrees – particularly in wet,
windy conditions, she said. “Farmers or others working outdoors
for extended periods of time should realize that they are in
fact susceptible to hypothermia during such thaws,” she said.
“They should be aware of the symptoms of hypothermia and how to
treat it quickly.”
Hypothermia is the loss
of body heat due to prolonged exposure to cold. Loss of body
heat is more rapid when a person is wet with sweat or from
working in a damp environment. “Contact with water can bring on
hypothermia even faster because water cools body temperature 25
to 30 times faster than air,” she said.
First symptoms include
uncontrollable shivering and feeling of cold. Victims may become
confused or disoriented, a danger when working around machinery
or animals. Other symptoms may include slow or irregular speech,
shallow or very slow breathing, slow pulse and cold, pale skin.
“You should seek warm shelter immediately if you experience
heavy shivering, severe fatigue, drowsiness or euphoria,”
Funkenbusch said. “Older workers need to be extra alert about
the effects of cold stress.”
Dress for the cold to
prevent hypothermia, she said. Wear at least three layers of
clothing. Layered clothing creates air pockets that help retain
Avoid working alone.
Take extra work breaks when needed.
Keep energy levels up
and prevent dehydration by consuming warm, sweet caffeine-free
drinks or soup. Avoid alcohol, since hypothermia commonly occurs
with alcohol abuse.
It is important to act
quickly if you or someone around you suffers hypothermia. Remove
wet clothes as soon as possible and replace with dry blankets or
clothing. Don’t use direct heat or hot water to warm the victim.
You can place warm material (sleeping bags or hot water bottles
wrapped in a towel, for example) around a victim, covering the
body, neck and head, but not the face.
Avoid rough handling;
it might cause cardiac arrest. Do not massage the skin.
Conscious victims can be given hot, sweet liquids to drink.
cases of hypothermia require immediate medical attention. Send
for expert help. Hospitalization is essential for severe
the Power Has Been Off, Now What about the Food?
When freezers or
refrigerators are off for several hours – no matter the reason
-- the food safety rules about what to keep or toss are the same
according to Terry Egan, nutrition specialist with University of
“The bottom line is that
if power has been off for several days, all of the food in the
refrigerator should be thrown away. If people have kept their
food outside at a temperature of 40 degrees or below, that
food may be safe,” said Egan.
Refrigerators and freezers
also need to be washed thoroughly before putting food back in
them. Egan says to first wash with plain water, then warm water
and dish soap.
“It is also a good idea to
sanitize with a solution of 1 teaspoon bleach
in 1 quart of water. Do not use more bleach because it
can be dangerous or toxic. Be sure to also leave the
refrigerator or freezer door open until it dries,” said Egan.
The basic guide is if the
food still has ice crystals inside it, it can be refrozen. Egan
suggests taking a permanent marker or crayon and mark each
package in the freezer with an “X” indicating it was partially
thawed. Any items, which do not have ice crystals, should be
What if you don’t know how thawed the food items were before the
freezer came back on?
“If you notice blood on
neighboring packages or in the bottom of the freezer, this
indicts advanced thawing. At this point, since we are dealing
with an unknown, the rule is if in doubt, throw it out,” said
What about the
refrigerator? Since food in a refrigerator should be kept at
about 40 degrees or below during normal operation, two hours
without power will mean tossing some food out.
“Tossing is the hardest thing to do. But when we are in doubt,
we need to throw out,” said Egan.
According to Egan, all the
following foods need to be tossed if kept more than two hours
above 40 degrees: raw or cooked meat, poultry, fish; hard cooked
or cracked eggs; egg substitutes; milk, cream yogurt or soft
cheese; casseroles, stews or soups; lunch meats and hot dogs;
creamy-based salad dressings; custard, chiffon or cheese pies;
cream-filled pastries and cookie dough.
The condiments in the
refrigerator door -- like opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce and
horseradish -- need to be tossed if they were held above 50
degrees for more than eight hours.
The following refrigerated
foods should keep at room temperature a few days: butter,
margarine, fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and
coconut, opened jars of salad dressing (except mayonnaise
types), peanut butter, jelly, relish, taco sauce, barbecue
sauce, mustard, ketchup and olives, hard and processed cheeses,
fruit juices, fresh herbs and spices, flour and nuts, fruit
pies, bread, rolls, cakes and muffins.
Toss any of these items if
they turn moldy or have an unusual odor.
No amount of money or
planning can guarantee your family will not go through a
disaster. A disaster can come in many forms and the impact on
your family (both financial and emotional) can vary widely.
“Natural disasters, like
ice storms, can all lead to a significant drop in family income.
You may begin feeling financial stress because of your
situation. However, with some planning you can take control of
your finances,” said Janet LaFon, family financial education
specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
LaFon recommends families
impacted by the recent storm should obtain and read the “When
Your Income Drops” series of guide sheets from extension.
Contact the MU Extension
center nearest you, or go on line to
http://extension.missouri.edu/, and request the following
GH3510, “When Your Income Drops: Don't Panic,
GH3517, “When Your Income Drops: Sharpen
GH3516, “When Your Income Drops: Control
GH3514, “When Your Income Drops: Plan to Pay
Creditors and Protect
GH3515, “When Your Income Drops: Maintain
Quality of Life”
GH3511, “When Your Income Drops: Take Stock
of Family Resources”
Take Steps to
Avoid Fraud Following Disaster
The consumer who is to
trusting, who does not ask detailed questions, who does not
check references and information for accuracy, and who make
decisions without careful consideration is vulnerable to con
Annette FitzGerald, a
family financial education specialist with University of
Missouri Extension, offers these guidelines to help area
families from being conned.
Realize first that
nothing is free. It is almost impossible to get something
Avoid putting yourself
in situations where you are setting yourself up to be
deceived. Don’t listen to sales pitches on the telephone or
go to motel rooms to hear sales pitches. Don’t let unknown
door-to-door salespeople into your home.
Try not to be overly
sympathetic to sales representatives. This will help you
avoid becoming a victim of a hard-luck-story types of sales
Be careful about
buying things over the telephone. A useful guideline is not
to buy anything over the phone unless you initiated the call
or know the caller. Ask telephone solicitors to mail
information rather than discussing it over the phone. You
can call back if you’re interested after reviewing the
Never give credit
card, checking account, or social security numbers for
identification or verification purposes.
Never send cash. Don’t
send money orders or checks to a post office box unless you
are sure about the company’s reputation, have its street
address, and know about the product.
Don’t send money by a
courier service that picks up at your home or work place.
Be aware that
high-pressure sales tactics are a warning. Some sellers push
hard because they earn commission or want to win a contest.
Even if not dishonest, they do not have your best interests
Do not make quick
decisions about buying or investing. Read the fine print.
Get help from an important third person.
Don’t assume you
always have three days to cancel a transaction or that you
can always get out of a contract.
Watch out for planted
people posing as real users. When you check references you
can use on-line forums, news groups, etc. to talk to other
customers about the product and company.
"Remember, to avoid being
conned, you need to ask questions and take time in making a
decision about a product," said FitzGerald.
To report fraud, contact the
Missouri Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at
Reduction Tips For After the Storm
People who have suffered
losses during the recent ice storm will experience stress.
The loss may be as great
as a person, a home or a familiar place, or as minor as a change
of routine or even a favorite tree. Any of these losses can
create stress according to Jinny Hopp, human development
specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
"Humans enjoy change that
we control and resist change that we do not control," said Hopp.
The recent storms changed
peoples’ lives. As people react to these changes they may not
sleep well, may not want to eat, they may be angry with
everyone, or may avoid other people and activity according to
There are some things
people can do to reduce the stress they are feeling after the
For example, helpful steps
that Hopp recommends include focusing on what is important to
your family, delegating some responsibilities to others and
keeping a sense of humor.
"It is also important to
invest in your health. Establish a daily routine, eat well, and
sleep enough hours," said Hopp.
According to research,
stress can be reduced if you first accept disappointments,
grieve your losses and then begin to move forward. It is also
stress reducing to accept outside help by taking advantage of
emergency response assistance.
"Reduce tension with
organization by doing one thing at a time, breaking a demanding
project into manageable steps and keeping track of your
commitments. It is also important to live in the present and to
not dwell on the past or worry about the future," said Hopp.
Other stress reducing
ideas include letting go of anger in healthy ways (such as
physical motion) and celebrating accomplishments as you get back
For more information on
reducing stress, contact the MU Extension center nearest you and
ask for guide sheet 6651, "Challenges and Choices: Stress
Says: Know Facts before Taking a Payday
Loan to Help with Storm Damage or Recovery
As individuals and
families work to recover from the recent ice storm many may be
tempted to take advantage of a payday loan. But before doing
that it is a good idea to know the facts according to Janet
LaFon, a family financial education specialist with University
of Missouri Extension.
The number of businesses
offering payday loans has grown dramatically. As a result, the
process has become very easy. In most cases all you have to do
is provide evidence that you are employed, present a valid
identification and have a local checking account,” said LaFon.
To obtain a loan, the
borrower writes a check that is post-dated for after their
payday. The check is written for an amount larger than the
amount of cash received as a loan. “The amount you receive is
the loan, and the extra amount is the interest and fees. The
business holds your check until your payday and then deposits it
unless you renew the loan,” said LaFon.
This process involves paying any interest and
fees due and agreeing to an additional fee which is something
LaFon says borrowers need to educate themselves about. “Under
the Truth in Lending Act, the cost of payday loans must be
disclosed. You must receive the finance charge and the annual
percentage rate or APR in writing,” said LaFon.
Are payday loans an option worth considering?
you answer that question, look at these facts from a survey
conducted by the
Missouri Division of Finance in October 2002.
The total number of
payday loans made by Missouri payday lenders between Oct. 1,
2001, and Sept.30, 2002, was more than 2 million.
The most frequently
occurring loan amount was $200.
The most frequently
occurring number of renewals was three.
most common APR was 391.07 percent ($15 per $100 for 14
days). A number of lenders charged a dollar a day per $100
borrowed or 365 percent APR. The highest rate being charged
was 1022 percent and the lowest rate being charged was
152.31 percent. That means the average APR was 413.48
Defaults totaled 6.15
percent of the number of loans made.
In Missouri, 616
lenders charged a "NSF" "not sufficient funds" fee, 155
charged a late fee and 10 collected origination fees.
There were 300
complaints filed against such lenders.
Time and Best Care
Professional Key to Tree Survival
After the great ice storm
of 2007 there will be many trees in southwest Missouri in need
of pruning or weather-related damage assessment. When that is
the case the services of an arborist may be required according
to Gaylord Moore, a University of Missouri Extension
horticulture specialist headquartered in Greene County. “Finding
the correct professional to do the job is important for the best
service and tree care,” said Moore. “Time and professional care
Some decisions on which
trees to keep or cut may be easy because of the extent of the
damage. However, Moore encourages patience before taking drastic
measures. “I’m seeing situations where removals will be
necessary. At the same time, each situation needs to be
carefully accessed before making that first, and possibly final,
cut,” said Moore.
If the trees do not
represent a hazard, Moore recommends taking the time necessary
to be sure they receive proper care and attention. “Trees are
amazingly resilient and in many situations with proper pruning,
and corrective measures, they may recover,” said Moore.
PICKING AN ARBORIST
are some tips for selecting a professional to consult and
perform work on trees? Moore recommends first checking the
yellow pages and looking for certified arborists.
It is also a good idea to
ask for local references of jobs the company or individual has
done. When possible, have more than one certified arborist give
estimates. “Price may be important, but reputable arborists have
made investments in equipment and training. The arborist’s skill
may be more important than a low bid,” said Moore.
Moore also has advice for
those who want to do the work themselves. “If the tree is large,
my advice is that you don’t do it yourself,” said Moore. “If you
are pruning young or smaller trees, be sure you understand basic
pruning guidelines and principles, like where and when to cut,
before you begin.”
Use of Wood Ash in Garden Can Be Beneficial
After the artic blast most
of southwest Missouri got during January lots of homeowners will
have extra wood ash this year. If used sparingly, wood ashes
left behind after burning wood for winter heat (in wood stoves,
furnaces, and fireplaces) can benefit plants and gardens.
"Wood ashes have about one
percent phosphate and less than 10 percent potassium, but no
nitrogen. They also contain about 25 percent calcium carbonate,
a common liming material," said Gaylord Moore, horticulture
specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
Because wood ash has a
fine particle size, it reacts rapidly and blends completely into
the soil. Although small amounts of nutrients are applied with
wood ash, the main effect is that of a liming agent. "Gardeners
often question the value and safety of using wood ashes in the
lawn, gardens and flower beds. Yes, you may use them, but use
them sparingly. Adding large amounts can do more harm than
good," said Moore.
It is also important when
applying ashes to spread them evenly and avoid dumping them in
one area. It is also a good idea to know your soil pH before
adding the ashes (get a soil test). Soils that are slightly
acidic (pH 6.0 to 6.5), should not be harmed if 30 pounds of
ashes per 1,000 square feet of garden area are applied.
Moore also recommends
working ashes into the upper six inches of the soil. "If your
soil pH is 7.0 or higher, find another way of disposing of the
ashes," said Moore. According to Moore, it is also important to
never apply wood ash to acid loving plants like potatoes,
rhododendrons, azaleas or blueberries."
For more information on
fertilizer, contact the nearest University of Missouri Extension
Center and request G6955, “Improving Lawn and Landscape Soils,”
or MP733, “Lawn and Garden Soil Test Interpretations and
Fertilizer Recommendation Guide.”
Expert Says, “Be Sure to Review Operation and Maintenance
Guide for Fireplace”
Facing seasonally high
energy prices this winter, many home dwellers will choose to
burn firewood, wood pellets or corn to meet heating needs.
For those making
this home heating choice, reviewing the equipment’s operation
and maintenance is critical according to Jeff Barber, housing
and environmental design specialist, University of Missouri
“While using the fireplace or stove, the most important task is
to get a complete burn. The key to this is the use of dry, well
seasoned fuel and allowing enough combustion air. Research shows
that smaller, hotter fires produce less smoke, resulting in
reduced residue buildup in the flue or chimney,” said Barber.
Regular cleaning, inspection, and
repair of the equipment, chimney and flue will help make this a
safe option for heating the home. For additional safety, Barber
says keeping a spark arresting flue cap on the chimney will
prevent the collection of leaves, birds and other intruders
while allowing smoke to flow freely. “The buildup of creosote is
the greatest concern. When ignited, this highly combustible
byproduct causes very hot and destructive chimney fires,” said
If a flue fire occurs, quick action
can greatly reduce damage. “After attempting to smother the
flame with a dry chemical fire extinguisher, call 911 or the
fire department. Closing fireplace doors and air vents can keep
the fire from breathing,” said Barber.
It is also a good idea to use
seasoned wood (dryness is more important than hard versus soft
wood) for a fire. Barber also suggests never add cardboard,
wrapping paper, trash or Christmas trees to a fire that is
already burning, and never using water on an extremely hot
“It is also important to remember
that damaged sections should be replaced,” said Barber.
MU Extension has produced guide
sheets on this topic that are available at county extension
offices: G1730, “Wood
Stoves and Their Installation,” G1732, “Chimneys for Wood
Stoves,” and G1733, “Catalytic Combustors for Wood Burning
Stoves and Furnaces.”
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Should be Replaced Every Five Years, MU Expert Says
Homeowners may be
surprised to learn that they need to replace the carbon monoxide
detector they bought just a few years ago."Carbon monoxide
detectors are only good for about five years," said Michael
Goldschmidt, a housing and environmental design specialist with
University of Missouri Extension.
Cold temperatures bring an
increased risk for carbon monoxide poisoning as people turn up
the heat. "One of the most common areas where carbon monoxide
occurs is the furnace and the flue," Goldschmidt said.
Detectors use an
electrochemical element to measure the carbon monoxide levels in
the air. "After five years, the carbon monoxide detector can
function improperly," he said. "It could ring when there isn't a
high level of carbon monoxide or not ring when carbon monoxide
levels are high."
Carbon monoxide poisoning
symptoms include headaches, tightness of chest, dizziness,
fatigue, confusion and breathing difficulties. Severe exposure
to carbon monoxide can cause brain damage and death, Goldschmidt
dioxide poisoning results in about 2,100 deaths per year,
according to researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control, who believe more than half of those deaths could be
prevented with carbon monoxide detectors.
Gas furnaces, as well as
gas-powered water heaters, stoves and other appliances, generate
small amounts of carbon monoxide as a byproduct of combustion.
"If they are not working properly, they will produce large
amounts" of the odorless, colorless gas, Goldschmidt said. "We
recommend that you get the furnace checked every year."
Homeowners should install
carbon monoxide detectors, which will sound an alarm when carbon
monoxide levels are high, on each level of their house.
Detectors should be placed outside of bedrooms, Goldschmidt
said. "The room could have dangerous levels of carbon monoxide,
and you would be exposed to dangerous levels before the detector
rings," he said.
Carbon monoxide detectors
should have a battery back up and be tested monthly. Detectors
also should be tested after power outages. Those with a number
read out should be reset before testing.
If a carbon monoxide
detector goes off, get out immediately and then call the fire
department. "Even the time you take to open a window is enough
to be exposed to dangerous levels," Goldschmidt said.
Prior to Using it is Important to Know Sizing and Safety Tips
for Standby Power Generators
A standby power generator can be good
insurance to keep critical facilities running, according Bob
Schultheis, a natural resource engineering specialist with
University of Missouri Extension.
If you plan to use a standby
generator during power failures, Schultheis recommends first
notifying the local electric utility company and then following
the manufacturer's maintenance instructions for the generator.
"The generator must be capable of providing adequate power at
the correct voltage without putting occupants or utility workers
at risk," said Schultheis.
Portable generators with 4- to
5-kilowatt ratings are the minimum size needed for a typical
three-bedroom home. The more expensive units at this size run
quieter, are more durable and have larger fuel tanks.
But whether it's a
direct-connected engine-driven unit or one driven by a tractor
power-take-off (PTO), make sure a double-pole, double-throw
transfer switch is properly installed by
a licensed electrician.
This switch disconnects
the main power source from the standby generator and prevents
electricity made by the generator from mistakenly flowing out
onto utility lines where it could electrocute members of the
repair crew. The switch must have the capacity to carry the
total load of the farm or building it feeds, even though the
generator has less capacity.
Generators are rated in
kilowatts. One kilowatt equals 1,000 watts. If the nameplate has
two-kilowatt ratings, the larger number is the ‘short-time
overload capacity’ and the smaller is the ‘continuous-output
rating’. "Electric motors draw three to five times more power at
starting than when running under full load, so proper generator
sizing is critical to avoid motor burnouts. The ampere rating
of equipment needing power can be converted to watts by
multiplying its voltage by its amperage as given on the
nameplate," said Schultheis.
To size automatic-start
units, add the wattage of all motors connected to the generator
and multiply this number by 3.5. Then add the wattage of all
other connected equipment. To size manual‑start units, you need
to know the starting wattage of your largest motor, then add the
maximum running- and starting-wattage demand on the generator at
any point in the system to get the required generator size.
For example, a
5-horsepower, 5,000-watt running-load motor has a starting
wattage of 17,500 watts, so an 18 KW generator is needed to
start the motor. For PTO-driven units, the tractor should have a
horsepower rating at least twice the kilowatt capacity of the
generator. A 15 KW generator requires at least a 30-horsepower
tractor to drive it at full load.
Keep Your Food Safe during a
One important thing to know is how to
save as much food as possible when the electricity is off.
The first key, according to Tammy
Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with
University of Missouri Extension, is to keep the doors of the
refrigerator closed as much as possible to keep the cool air
inside. “Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator so you can
monitor the temperature when you do open the door. Food is
considered to be in the danger zone once the refrigerator
temperature goes above 40 degrees (Fahrenheit),” said Roberts.
Discard foods that have been above 40 degrees for more than two
Protein-containing foods such as raw
or cooked meat, poultry or seafood, dairy products, eggs and egg
substitutes, and soft cheeses are most at risk for
illness-causing bacteria growth.
Another option is to add dry ice to
the freezer to maintain cold temperatures. Just keep in mind
that dry ice is -216 degrees so it must be handled carefully
(and with gloves). Roberts says to allow three pounds of dry ice
per cubic foot of freezer space and to not let the dry ice come
in direct contact with the food. “If you have an upright
freezer then dry ice should be placed on each shelf. If you have
a large amount of empty space, fill the space with clean
blankets or towels to decrease circulation. Air circulation
speeds up dissipation of dry ice,” said Roberts.
Generally, food can stay frozen in
the freezer one to three days without electricity. Foods in the
freezer can be re-frozen if they still have ice crystals
present. “When you re-freeze those foods, move them to the top
to be used first. Thawed foods that have not reached danger zone
temperatures can be cooked and then frozen,” said Roberts.
Preparing a Disaster Supplies Kit
Preparing Vehicles for Winter Weather
Sizing & Safety Tips for Standby Power Generators
Stalled ... but Safe (North Dakota State Univ.)