Weekly Home Help with checking smoke alarms, new distracted driving apps, setting up a sewing station and more.

Like a string tied to a finger, the switch to Daylight Saving Time has become synonymous with changing the batteries in smoke alarms.


This year, as we get ready to “fall back” on Nov. 6, the experts at First Alert are encouraging Americans to ensure their alarms are in proper working condition and to replace batteries as needed.


According to a recent nationwide survey by First Alert, out of all U.S. households:


 * 66 percent are not in compliance with the national recommendation for the number of smoke alarms set by the National Fire Protection Association.


 * 90 percent do not comply with the recommended number of CO alarms per home.


 * 40 percent reported having zero working carbon monoxide detectors in their home.


The current recommendation by the NFPA is to have at least one CO alarm on each level and one in or near every bedroom or sleeping area. For smoke alarms, homes should have one installed at the top of each staircase and one in every bedroom or sleeping area.


Once installed, alarms should be tested every month and immediately replaced if they fail. CO alarms should be replaced every five years; smoke alarms every 10. If you don’t know how old an alarm is, the safest bet is to replace it immediately.


Tip of the week: Setting up a sewing station


If you don’t have a sewing station in your home, it is easy to sneak one in. Transform a 6-foot dresser into a sewing structure by placing both a cutting surface and a pressing mat on the dresser top. Store fabric and materials in the drawers, and store the cutting mat and pressing board under the dresser when not in use.


Scripps Howard News Service


Home-Selling Tip: Is it a DIY project?


Some home projects are simple enough to tackle yourself, but know your limits. When preparing your home for the market, be realistic about when you need to hire a professional, like for any electrical work. Doing some home improvement projects yourself can save you money, but other projects end up costing you money if it is not done right.


-- FrontDoor.com


Going Green: States find unconventional energy source


Through its Clean Bay Power project, Maryland is seeking to buy electricity generated from animal waste like poultry litter and livestock manure. It may have gotten the idea from Vermont, which produced 12 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year by converting manure from six dairy farms.


-- Earth911.com


New Product: Distracted driving apps


An increasing number of apps that aim to prevent distracted driving are being introduced, particularly aimed at teens and parents. A couple options include Sprint’s Drive First app, which locks a smartphone’s function when the car is going faster than 10 mph. AT&T’s app, DriveMode, automatically sends a reply to text messages that says you are driving and can’t respond now.


-- ConsumerReports.com


Did You Know …


NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun recently said it’s misplaced to argue that the mortgage interest deduction is part of the deficit problem when it’s been part of the federal tax code for nearly 100 years.


Garden Guide: It’s time to plant garlic


It seems fitting that an herb associated with many fables, including protection from vampires, is best when planted near Halloween, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.


"Sometime between the first frost and about 4 weeks before the ground freezes is planting time for garlic," said Nancy Pollard. If not planted too early, the cloves put down roots, yet the few emerging shoots remain winter hardy. The winter chilling period promotes flower and bulb formation. They resume growth in March or April."


GateHouse News Service