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How Long Can You Wait Before Breaking Out the Rake?

By Paul Harsch
Guest Column
11:12AM / Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall season is the time for yard clean ups and readying your home for the cold winter ahead. Living in Berkshire County which is famous for the fabulous fall colors displayed by maples, oak and birch we are very aware of falling leaves. Take a minute and review our safety tips to make the coming winter months a safe and happy time for your family.
As temperatures drop, so will the leaves from the trees around your Berkshire home. It is important to rake or blow leaves away regularly in the fall so your grass can “breathe.” Experts say you should not go longer than three to four days before raking, especially if the layers of leaves are wet, thick and heavy from the fall rain.
Change the batteries in your smoke detector now or when you turn the clock back for daylight savings time.  Remember to check the alarm AFTER you install the new batteries to be sure it is working properly. Checking your carbon monoxide alarm should also be done at the same time as you check your smoke alarm.

Use extra caution when climbing ladders to clean gutters or install home decorations. Shoes and boots may be wet and result in slipping or falling.  Remember the “three point hold” when climbing ladders. Both hands and one foot should always remain in contact with the ladder.

Check and replace any home fire extinguishers that have expired. Always wear heavy duty gloves when doing outside yard work.  Lawn equipment is a factor in over 68,000 emergency room visits per year according to the National Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Don’t be one of those emergency cases. Wear safety glasses and long sleeves when working in the yard to prevent eye and skin injuries. Caring for your Berkshire Real Estate should not result in requiring medical care for yourself.

Don’t forget to protect your flowering deciduous shrubs if you live in Berkshire County, where snow and freezing temperatures are common. You can create a homemade “lean to” structure using poles set into the ground and covered with a chicken wire or heavy gauge wire cage. Cover the structure with black lawn cloth and consider heavy mulch inside the cage to prevent heaving and thawing during winter storms. Drain your garden hoses and store them away from ice. Turn off your exterior water faucets and drain the pipes to prevent them from bursting.

If you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the past several years talk to your family physician about getting one called a Tdap. This particular immunization vaccine contains both Tetanus and pertussis vaccine. Pertussis (a respiratory disease that can result in nonstop coughing) is making a comeback in the United States. Also consider discussing with your family physician whether you are a candidate for the influenza vaccine and pneumonia vaccine.  Covering all your bases by preparing ahead for the long winter days can ensure you, your family and your home will arrive safely when spring returns next year to the Berkshires.

Paul Harsch is proprietor of Harsch Associates of Williamstown and has worked in the real estate field for 35 years. He can be reached at or  413-458-5000.

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