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[1THING] Blog: Archive for December, 2013

[ Holiday Foods and Decor Can Be Deadly for Pets ]

With the holiday season in full swing, there are foods, decorations and plants in the home that, while pretty and tasty for humans, can prove toxic and even fatal for your pets.

Some items on that list may surprise you. According to K.C. Theisen, director of Pet Care Issues for The Humane Society of the United States, grapes, raisins and garlic can be toxic for pets, and chocolate, which is plentiful this time of year, can be especially bad.

“The darker the chocolate you have, the more poisonous it’s going to be to the animals in your home, as well as the sweetener called Xylitol. It’s often used in sugar-free foods but it can also be found in lots and lots of candies.”

Plants such as holly and poinsettias can be toxic, as can mistletoe berries. Theisen said to be sure to keep stocking-stuffers and ribbons well out of reach. A cat, for instance, could mistake ribbon or plastic decorations for a cat toy “… and take it and ingest pieces of it that aren’t meant to be consumed, and they run the risk of choking or getting a blockage in their digestive system that can be a very, very expensive veterinary crisis,” she warned.

Theisen said that just how sick your pet might get depends on age, size and its overall health. A good number to keep handy, she said, is the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435, or be sure to contact your vet to see how you should proceed if your pet ingests something toxic.

Source:  Keystone State News Connection


[ Solar Micro-Grid Aims to Boost Power and Food in Haiti ]

In Haiti, a country where 75 percent of people lack electricity, a new project combines smart meters, solar panels, and a micro-grid to power a downtown and jump-start local agriculture. Could the model work elsewhere?


[ At last! Alaska’s Izembek refuge spared from road building ]

With the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act looming, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was asked to do the unthinkable.



[ 8 ideas for winter recreation on your public lands ]

These are your public lands, so be sure to make the most of them year-round.



[ Dolphin lllnesses Linked to Gulf Oil Spill ]

Dolphins living in waters affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill are showing elevated levels of lung disease and other health effects.


[ Tesla Model S Owner’s Garage Blaze: A Fire Expert Weighs In ]

‘Tis the season for festive lights, family gatherings—and residential building fires. Usually wintertime home fires start because of factors like heating, cooking, and dry trees strung with lights close to fireplaces and candles, along with the simple fact that more of our activities take place indoors. But last month, the owner of a Tesla Model S electric sedan in Irvine, California awoke just before 3 a.m. to a fire in her garage, where the car was plugged into a 240-volt wall socket.

As the fourth report since October of a fire involving the best-selling electric car, the incident has garnered a tad more attention than your typical electrical fire. Citing a copy of a report by the local fire authority, Reuters has reported that investigators could not pin down the definitive cause of the fire. “The most probable cause of this fire is a high resistance connection at the wall socket or the Universal Mobile Connector from the Tesla charging system,” the report says, according to Reuters. Tesla, meanwhile, has conducted its own inspection of the car, its charging cable, and the vehicle’s data log, and concluded that the battery was charging normally. The company said in a statement, “Based on our inspection of the site, the car and the logs, we know that this was absolutely not the car, the battery or the charge electronics. There was a fire at the wall socket where the Model S was plugged in, but the car itself was not part of the fire. The cable was fine on the vehicle side; the damage was on the wall side.”

The most likely explanation, according to fire protection engineer Peter Sunderland, an associate professor at the University of Maryland, is poor wiring. “Imagine a wire barely touching onto a screw,” he said. That bad contact can create resistance heating. “Otherwise, if that’s done properly, two things need to be a problem: the car needs to be drawing too much current, and the circuit breaker in the house didn’t activate. Both those things can happen, but it’s unlikely both those things happen at the same time—it’s a two-point failure.” Sunderland, whose current work includes fire-testing lithium battery cells for Ford, also offered a third explanation. “It’s possible the electrical outlet was faulty, just made badly in the factory.”

Electrical fires make up a small portion of all home structure fires—only about 13 percent between 2007 and 2011, according to the National Fire Protection Association. But they exact a high toll, resulting in more deaths and higher dollar losses on average than other types of residential fires. Electrical issues leading to fire can include short circuits from worn or defective insulation, faulty contacts, broken conductors, and mechanical failures.

Especially in older homes, overloading circuits is a risk. Fires can result from “outdated wiring that is deteriorating, inappropriately amended, or insufficient for the electrical loads of a typical household in the 21st Century,” the U.S. Fire Administration warns. “If an outlet is added to an existing circuit, then the load easily can be more than the wiring originally was designed to conduct.”

Of course, 20th-century technologies present their own risks. “Gasoline is very flammable,” Sunderland said. “And that can catch fire in your garage, too.”


[ 10 weirdest (and wildest) nature stories from 2013 ]

From weird invasions of moose parasites to strange vandalism cases on our public lands, there was no shortage of drama in places that are otherwise known for their peace and tranquility. In case you missed them, we thought we’d share a few.



[ How “looking before leasing” can save America’s wildlands from oil and gas drilling ]

We know that Arches National Park and the red rock canyons, buttes and mesas that make up Utah’s San Rafael Swell are Too Wild To Drill—but not that long ago nearby wildlands



[ Wilderness Society Statement on Senate Hearing to Protect Green Mountain Lookout ]

The Wilderness Society issued the following statement from Kitty Craig, Pacific Northwest regional representative:



[ Wilderness bills await Congressional action ]

Wilderness bills await Congressional action

Wild areas around the country are waiting for Congress to pass legislation that would protect them as wilderness or under other designations.