Durham Fire Department notes increase in kitchen fires during COVID-19 pandemic

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) — The aftermath of a fire can be shocking.

“It’s more than just you burn up your favorite pan and have to throw it in the trash. And it can happen really, really quickly,” said Elaine Towner, Durham Fire Department life safety educator.

That’s why every October, the Durham Fire Department tries educate residents about fire safety before it’s too late.

This year is all about safety in the kitchen. Durham firefighters said they have seen an increase in kitchen fires during the pandemic.

“There are a lot of distractions going on in people’s’ homes because that’s where they are all the time and it’s really easy to lose track of what’s going on in your kitchen,” Towner said.

RELATED: Raleigh family escapes fire tragedy thanks to 4-year-old child’s quick thinking

Towner says the number one way to prevent a kitchen fire-don’t leave your stove unattended if you’re cooking and don’t leave anything on the counter that could catch on fire. If you’re cooking with grease, keep a pot lid nearby.

“If it flares up, put the lid on it and turn the stove off,” Towner said.

During fire prevention month, firefighters usually spend a lot of time talking to school groups to spread their safety messages, but the pandemic put those presentations on pause. For now, they’ve gone virtual by creating educational videos on their Durham Fire and Life Safety Facebook page.

Towner said firefighters are still answering calls for help.

“It does take a little bit longer to get all that PPE on and get into the home but they’re still coming. We’re still running calls,” Towner said.

If you would like to share those educational videos with your family, click here.

SEE MORE: Fire escape planning with your family

Durham Fire Department said teachers can request virtual fire prevention classes and virtual field trips for their students. For more information, visit the Durham Fire Department website and submit a community service request.

Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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U.K. House Prices Post Biggest Annual Increase Since 2016

(Bloomberg) — U.K. house prices posted their biggest annual gain since 2016 in September as a tax cut fueled a post-lockdown demand to move.

Values climbed 5% from a year earlier to an average of 226,129 pounds ($290,000), Nationwide Building Society said Wednesday. The report comes a day after Bank of England data showed mortgage approvals have hit a 13-year high.

chart: U.K. house prices up most since 2016

© Bloomberg
U.K. house prices up most since 2016

The strong housing market contrasts with other parts of the economy, which are still struggling to recover from the coronavirus disruption as the U.K. government reimposes some restrictions on movement and leisure.


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On Wednesday, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation found private-sector confidence subdued and many firms reducing pay. Lloyds Bank said its measure of business sentiment improved in September but remained well below the long-term average.

There was also a warning for Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak about a surge in insolvencies unless the government extends measures designed to shield firms struggling amid the virus crisis.

The Institute of Directors made its plea on the day that the suspension of wrongful trading rules is due to come to an end. That emergency decision protected firms that may be facing a short-term hit from the virus from being forced to file for bankruptcy.

The relative outperformance of the housing market is in large part due to a government decision to suspend a tax on home purchases until the end of March as part of it stimulus package for the economy. Many analysts say the property boom will probably peter out after a few months as unemployment rises and aid packages come to an end.

For now, real estate is benefiting from pent-up demand following the lockdown, as well as a desire for bigger properties as people work from home more regularly.

“Housing market activity has recovered strongly,” said Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist. “The stamp duty holiday is adding to momentum by bringing purchases forward. Behavioral shifts may also be boosting activity as people reassess their housing needs.”

(Updates with insolvencies, business confidence)

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White House Telegraphs Willingness to Increase Stimulus Offer

(Bloomberg) — The White House strongly signaled Wednesday that it is willing to increase its offer in talks with Democrats and that Senate Republicans should go along in order to seal a stimulus deal in the next week to 10 days.

a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 24: U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he walks toward Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on July 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump is spending the weekend at his Bedminster, New Jersey residence. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

© Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 24: U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he walks toward Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on July 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump is spending the weekend at his Bedminster, New Jersey residence. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said President Donald Trump is open to the compromise $1.52 trillion stimulus proposal from a bipartisan group of House lawmakers that was an effort to break a months-long deadlock over bolstering the U.S. economy amid the pandemic.

The long-shot plan from a 50-member group of House Democrats and Republicans has a bigger total spending figure than the administration previously endorsed. It’s also higher than what Senate GOP leaders say would be acceptable to Republicans.

Meadows said on CNBC that the amount is not a “show-stopper.” But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called it insufficient, while Senator John Thune, the chamber’s second-ranking Republican, said a $1.5 trillion stimulus would cause “a lot of heartburn” for GOP lawmakers.

Trump on Twitter urged Republican lawmakers to accept a higher level of spending. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said later at a briefing that the higher level was relative to a slimmed-down Republican Senate bill blocked by Democrats last week.

After initially proposing a $1 trillion stimulus at the end of July, Senate Republicans attempted to advance a bill providing $650 billion in economic aid, without the direct payments to individuals the president — and Democrats — want.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to comment when asked about Trump’s call for Republicans to go higher. Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer released a statement saying they were “encouraged” by Trump’s call for higher spending. “We look forward to hearing from the president’s negotiators that they will finally meet us halfway,” they said.

Stimulus negotiations have been handled by Pelosi, Schumer, Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The Problem Solvers Caucus plan was developed over six weeks with the knowledge of the White House and leadership from both parties. But the track record of bipartisan groupings of moderates in either the House or Senate in brokering major deals has been poor in recent years.

The proposal offered compromises on the thorniest issues in the stalled talks. On aid to state and local governments, the group is backing about $500 billion, splitting the difference between the $915 billion sought by Pelosi and Schumer and the $150 billion put forward by the White House.

Read more: House Moderates Unveil $1.52 Trillion Bipartisan Relief Plan

Meadows said the $500 billion figure is more than the White House estimates that states have lost in revenue due to the pandemic, but added

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New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway Tolls Increase Sunday

Syndicated Local – CBS New York

New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway Tolls Increase Sunday

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — It will cost more to drive on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway starting Sunday.

The toll hikes will continue beyond this year.

The Turnpike Authority, which oversees both roads, approved the hikes in May.

MORE: Toll Increases Expected To Be Approved For N.J. Turnpike, Garden State Parkway

The average increase on the turnpike will be 37% and it’s a 26% jump in price for the parkway.

The plan also includes an annual hike in tolls with a cap of 3% each year starting in two years.

You can get the latest news, sports and weather on our brand new CBS New York app. Download here.

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Best Home Improvements to Increase Value

Whether you’re thinking of selling in the next six months or a few years down the road, remodeling with ROI in mind is a smart move. Your home is a huge financial investment, and any money you put toward it should not only increase your enjoyment of the home now but also add value that you’ll recoup when you sell.

According to the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2018, sellers make an average of 2.2 renovations or improvements before selling. And 79% of sellers make at least one improvement, which means that only 21% list their home as-is.

How to budget for renovations to increase home value

Before researching renovations that might add the most value to your home, decide how much you can afford to spend and how you’ll pay for the renovations.

All-cash home improvements

If you can afford it, paying cash is your best option, as you’ll avoid debt and interest payments. But the drawback is that the money you spend will be tied up until you sell the home.

Using financing for renovations

Many homeowners opt to finance their remodeling project — especially if they’re planning on selling shortly after finishing the project — as they’ll be able to pay the loan back in full after closing.

There are a few different ways to pay for your project, but note that most lenders require that your remaining mortgage balance plus the amount you borrow total less than 90% of your home’s pre-improvement value. For example, if you owe $270,000 on your $350,000 home, lenders would consider loaning you up to $45,000 ($315,000 is 90% of $350,000).

Here are two common financing options:

Second mortgage

Much like your first mortgage, a second mortgage allows you to borrow a fixed amount of cash, in a lump sum, with a fixed interest rate.

Home equity line of credit (HELOC)

A HELOC operates like a revolving credit line, secured by the equity in your home. You borrow what you need as you go, but you’re borrowing with a variable interest rate, so costs can go up (or down) over time.

Best ROI home improvements in 2019

If you’re contemplating investing in a major remodeling project, the following 10 home improvement projects provide the best return on investment for homes nationwide, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value Report.

1. Garage door replacement

  • Cost: $3,600
  • Resale: $3,520
  • Recoup: 97.5%

2. Manufactured stone veneer

  • Cost: $8,907
  • Resale: $8,449
  • Recoup: 94.9%

3. Minor kitchen remodel

  • Cost: $22,507
  • Resale: $18,123
  • Recoup: 80.5%

4. Deck addition (wood)

  • Cost: $13,333
  • Resale: $10,083
  • Recoup: 75.6%

5. Siding replacement

  • Cost: $16,036
  • Resale: $12,119
  • Recoup: 75.6%

6. Entry door replacement (steel)

  • Cost: $1,826
  • Resale: $1,368
  • Recoup: 74.9%

7. Window replacement (vinyl)

  • Cost: $16,082
  • Resale: $12,332
  • Recoup: 73.4%

8. Grand entrance (fiberglass)

  • Cost: $8,994
  • Resale: $6,469
  • Recoup: 71.9%

9. Window replacement (wood)

  • Cost: $20,526
  • Resale: $14,530
  • Recoup: 70.8%

10. Deck addition (composite)

  • Cost: $19,150
  • Resale: $13,232
  • Recoup: 69.1%

Best low-cost home improvements for resale

You don’t have to

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7 Home Improvement & Remodeling Ideas that Increase Home Value

With the real estate market still in a slump, more and more people have decided not to sell their home. Instead, they have chosen to stay put, until things get better. I count myself in this group; I had my own home on the market for two years. My house sold, and the sale fell through, on two separate occasions. As a result, I’ve resolved to stay put until the real estate market improves.

However, now that I’ve decided to stay in this home instead of moving, I plan to make several home improvements to make my home more comfortable (e.g. building a sunroom to combat the dreary Michigan winters, and building a backyard deck).

Many home improvement projects don’t add value to your home, especially in a down market. In fact, some improvements can even detract from the asking price when you decide to sell. On the other hand, some projects can add significant value to your home.

So which home improvement projects should you invest in, and which projects should you avoid? Below are some helpful tips for home improvement projects that increase the value of your home, and home improvement projects to avoid altogether.

Before we actually talk about the different home improvement projects you should or shouldn’t do, let talk about money. No matter if you want to make big or small changes to your home, you need to have a way to pay for them. You can either save up the cash or use the equity you have in your home by using a home equity line of credit through a company like Figure.com.

7 Projects That Add Value to Your Home

Many projects do add value to your home, and improve your family’s quality of life. By working on these projects now, you can enjoy the benefits and updates. If you make green upgrades, then you can also start recouping your investment in these green energy technologies once you complete the projects.

Some home improvement projects that add value to a home include:

1. Remodeling the Kitchen

Most people consider the kitchen to be the heart of the home, and because of this, updates in this room pay off. According to HGTV, you can expect to recoup 60%-120% of your investment on a kitchen remodel, as long as you don’t go overboard. You should never make your kitchen fancier than the rest of the house, or the neighborhood.

Why You Shouldn’t Invest in a Deluxe Kitchen
For example, a historic home in my neighborhood has been on the market for more than two years. During the owner’s last open house, I went in to check it out, and immediately saw why the house hasn’t sold. The quaint Arts and Crafts style home was built in 1900 and has a lot of charm. Unfortunately, the homeowners had invested over $60,000 upgrading the kitchen.

The enormous kitchen, easily the size of the living room, features appliances and countertops that might look more at home in a

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Increase Value of Your House by Upgrading Your Bathroom and Kitchen

Is it time to sell your home? Whether flipping a house or trying to get a good price before a move, there are a few ways to gain value through a kitchen or bathroom refurbishment. Outdated kitchen and the bathroom styles are the quickest way to make a house feel older and more rundown. Here are a few ideas to get you started on your renovations.

Custom design

A made to order design makes the most sense when trying to get the most money for your home. Bespoke bathrooms are noticeable and make a difference in price. A real estate agent or home buyer will be able to tell if tiling and fixtures were simply placed in the space or made for the space. Avoid outrageous designs that might make classic homebuyers feel uncomfortable. You never want a space to only appeal to a particular type of style. Exquisite stonework with classics such as natural stone, granite, slate, and travertine are always a good idea.


Flooring is important in a bathroom and linoleum is out. Linoleum in the bathroom or kitchen can make an entire house seem outdated, ugly and dirty. Hard wood can take a real beating in these spaces and look old and worn quickly, even after refurbishing it. The best idea is to put down ceramic or porcelain tiles or natural stone flooring instead. These will sustain heavy amounts of foot traffic, clean well, and always look nice. They appeal to a modern home design and can go with almost anything a home buyer may want to decorate with.


Bathrooms can be purely conventional, or they can be home spas and relaxation areas. One way to create a more elegant and expensive feel is to create a separate bathtub and wetroom. A spa tub can be a place to relax and separate from the conventional use of a shower. Travertine or marble make great custom tiling jobs for a bespoke bathroom bathtub. Mosaic tiles work well to add a decorative flair to the wetroom wall. IF the home buyer finds your space relaxing, they will feel excited about buying it. Make the bathroom, especially the master bathroom, somewhere they want to be.

Kitchen Counter Tops

Just like with the floors, linoleum is out. A granite kitchen worktop is your best bet. It looks nice and is extremely practical. Choose a neutral color that can go with any style your home buyer may have. Make sure it matches the cabinets, hardware, and floor. Replace old cupboard hardware to match your new counters. The kitchen is the most-used room in the house. Make as modern, comfortable, and conventional as possible.

Selling your home can be an overwhelming process. Start with these tips in the bathroom and kitchen to increase the value of your home. You can always add some of your own personal flair and ideas. With the right plans, rocks, and fixtures, you can easily gain the most for your dollar.

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