For Your Interest

SAFE Engineering Inc. is pleased to bring you the following general interest articles....

Some cheaper cars may cost more to own than higher-priced alternatives
52% of Americans would rather be dead than disabled

Hydration is the key to summer fun and safety
Automaker websites should target over-50s
How to improve stormwater management in your yard



Some cheaper cars may cost more to own than higher-priced alternatives

A cheaper car can cost consumers more in the long run compared with a more expensive alternative, according to Consumer Reports' new owner-costs comparisons.

For example, at about $17,500, a Mitsubishi Lancer could cost $5,000 less than a Mini Cooper to drive home. But considering the total costs of ownership for each car, the Lancer could cost drivers around $3,000 more over the first five years. A Toyota Highlander can cost $3,000 more to purchase than a V6 Ford Explorer, but owning the Ford after five years can end up costing an additional $6,500.

Consumer Reports recommends that in addition to looking for a good deal on their next car, car shoppers also consider how much the model will cost them to own. To help, CR is introducing new owner-cost estimates (found online at www.consumerreports.org or in the magazine's annual April automotive issue). This information can help consumers compare models and possibly save thousands of dollars.

The differences in long-term costs are affected by depreciation, fuel costs, interest, insurance, maintenance and repair, and sales tax. Because depreciation is factored into the estimates, CR assumes that the vehicle will be traded in after five years.

CR's calculations in seven common automotive categories show that the most expensive vehicle to run for five years is the Mercedes-Benz S550 at about $101,750. CR calculated that the least expensive vehicle to run over five years was the Toyota Yaris with a manual transmission, at about $23,250.

In analyzing ownership costs, CR made some notable discoveries:

. Most Lexus models have relatively high maintenance and repair costs (primarily due to maintenance), despite excellent reliability. The Lexus ES350 racks up an average of $2,300 in maintenance and repair in the first five years, about twice what a consumer would pay for a Lincoln MKZ.

. The Toyota Prius hybrid actually costs less to own than similar conventional models. The Prius costs about $7,500 more to buy than a similarly sized Chevrolet Cobalt, but costs almost $2,000 less over five years.

    

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52% of Americans would rather be dead than disabled       

Fifty-two per cent of Americans would rather die than live with a severe disability, according to a recent national survey commissioned by Disaboom.com, a website for people touched by disability. Disaboom announced the shocking results in an effort to educate people about why this viewpoint is so tragic.

The survey, launched in an effort to understand America's perception of disability, asked, "Which would you choose: Living with a severe disability that forever alters your ability to live an independent life, or death?" The survey findings noted significant attitudinal differences based on age, income, geographic location, and level of education.

Highlights of the research include:

. Middle-aged Americans were less willing to live with a severe disability than older Americans. 63% of people aged 35 to 44 chose death over severe disability versus 50% of people 55 to 64 and 56% of Americans 65 and older.

. People with higher incomes were more likely to choose death over severe disability. Among those with household income levels of $75,000 or more, 59% chose death, versus those with household incomes of $25,000 or less, of whom 45% chose death.

. Geographic location affected a person's choice of death over severe disability. While only 45% of people living in the South chose death, 61% of people in the West would rather die than be severely disabled.

. Americans with higher levels of education would rather die than live with a severe disability. Of those with a college education, 57% answered that they'd rather die than live with a severe disability, versus 30% of respondents who have not completed a high school education.

Dr. Glen House, founder of Disaboom , was the first person to climb 14,110-foot Pikes Peak in a wheelchair. A doctor, inventor, extreme sports enthusiast, husband and father, House hopes that Disaboom will spark a paradigm shift in the way America views disability.

The website offers a variety of resources In its effort to engage, educate and encourage people with disabilities, as well as their friends, family and caregivers.

                                                     

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Hydration is the key to summer fun and safety   

Summer is here and with it Canadians turn to sun-filled outdoor activities, which means they need to take a few simple steps to reduce their risk of suffering dehydration and heat-related ailments over the summer months.

"To safeguard against dangerous bouts of dehydration, adults and children alike, need to continuously refresh their bodies with fluids, especially water and sports drinks," says Hugh McDonald, executive vice-president of sales and marketing at Canadian Thermos Products.

"Unfortunately," McDonald adds, "many Canadians overlook the importance of keeping themselves adequately hydrated while enjoying their favourite summer outdoor activities. Even low exertion recreations like gardening, fishing, or sunbathing can pose a health risk as, every summer, thousands of Canadians are admitted to hospital suffering the ill effects of heat exhaustion or dehydration.

The problems from hydration can be severe, ranging from dry mouth, nausea, fatigue and dizziness to potential kidney failure or even death in the most extreme cases."

According to medical experts, adults should consume approximately 200 ml (seven ounces) of water or sport drinks every 15 minutes while performing moderate levels of exercise.

Even when not involved in any strenuous activity, the average person needs to consume two to two and a half litres of fluid per day to keep their body functioning normally. In hot weather, fluid intake should be even greater.

When temperatures soar above 30 degrees Celsius, it's important for anyone spending time outdoors to drink water, or other rehydration drinks, every 15 to 30 minutes, whether or not they feel thirsty.

During these conditions people prefer fresh temperature-controlled beverages. In response, Thermos has developed new insulated hydration bottles. Available in many sizes up to 1.5 litres, they keep and dispense refreshing fluids on demand.

    

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Automaker websites should target over-50s

Subaru ranks highest among auto manufacturer websites in satisfying Canadian new-vehicle shoppers, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Canadian Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study.

Now in its third year, the study examines Canadian manufacturer websites from the viewpoint of shoppers who intend to purchase a new vehicle within the next 12 months.

Four factors contribute to overall customer satisfaction: information/content; ease of navigating throughout the site; appearance of the site; and speed of pages loading throughout the site.

Subaru ranked highest among 25 auto manufacturer website with a score of 840 out of 1,000 possible points. Subaru performed particularly well in information/content, speed and ease of navigation of its site. Kia and Volvo tied to follow Subaru in the rankings with scores of 835.

The study finds that overall satisfaction among Canadian consumers with manufacturer websites has decreased for a second consecutive year -- down 12 points since the study's inception in 2006. Despite the overall decline, manufacturers that focused on redesigning their websites in 2008 tended to improve in overall satisfaction compared with 2007.

"It's interesting to note that while previous redesigns received unfavourable ratings from customers, the few manufacturers that redesigned their websites in the past year were some of the only automakers to achieve improvements in satisfaction among new-vehicle shoppers," said Adrian Chung, manager of automotive syndicated research at J.D. Power and Associates.

The study also finds that respondents older than 50 are more likely to be dissatisfied with manufacturer websites, particularly in the areas of navigation and appearance. Individuals in this age group -- often the most affluent shoppers -- comprise nearly one-half of new car buyers.

"Most features on manufacturer websites are aimed at shoppers younger than 30 years old, who are most comfortable shopping online but represent only 12% of new-vehicle purchases," said Chung. "Manufacturers stand to benefit by adjusting their websites to also meet the expectations of new-vehicle shoppers older than 50, who tend to be more critical of websites, but are far more likely to purchase a vehicle."

The 2008 Canadian Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study is based on evaluations provided by 3,639 new-vehicle shoppers who indicated they would be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 12 months.

     

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How to improve stormwater management in your yard : Designing a rain garden

Whether it's melting snow in the spring or rainfall all year round, stormwater runoff from your roof, driveway and other hard surfaces in your yard can tax municipal sewer systems, pollute lakes and streams, and harm aquatic habitats.

One relatively easy and inexpensive way to reduce runoff is with a rain garden -- a planted or stone-covered bed specifically designed to receive stormwater and allow it to be absorbed into the soil.

To help you let your stormwater runoff soak in, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has a series of tips on how to design and build an attractive rain garden for your yard, including:

- First, find a suitable location. Observe where stormwater normally accumulates in your yard, and place your rain garden at a low point along that natural flow.

- Make sure your rain garden is as level as possible, to prevent water from simply flowing over the lower edge. If possible, avoid slopes greater than 12% to minimize the amount of soil you need to build up on the lower edge.

- To avoid moisture problems, place your rain garden at least four metres away from vulnerable areas, such as your house foundation, septic beds or neighbouring homes.

- Look for soil that is sandy, gravelly, loam or a mix of soils that drain easily so that you don't have standing water for more than two days. Avoid clay soil, because it can substantially slow the drainage process.

- Direct your roof downspout extension into your rain garden to absorb runoff from your roof..

- Loosen compacted soils in the rain garden to a depth of between 0.6-1.2 metres, to ensure that the soil drains easily. You can amend your soil to this depth by working in sand, fine gravel and organic matter to improve drainage.

- Make certain the surface of the depression is at least one metre above the seasonally high shallow groundwater table.

- Consider locating your rain garden in a sunny or partially shady area, to allow you the greatest selection of plant varieties and species.

- Make sure the rain garden is at least 1.5 times longer than it is wide, to capture as much stormwater as possible.

- Finally, select perennials, shrubs and grasses that can tolerate both wet and dry conditions. Or, for an attractive alternative, cover the rain garden with loose, hard materials such as pebbles or river stone or combine pebbles and river stone with plants.

For more information or a free copy of the 'About Your House' fact sheet on Rain Gardens: Improve Stormwater Management in Your Yard or other fact sheets on virtually every facet of owning, maintaining or renovating your home, ask CMHC at 1 800 668-2642 or visit www.cmhc.ca . Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is Canada's national housing agency and a source of objective, reliable housing expertise.

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