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(NewsUSA) - As winter rolls around, most households are busy digging out their winter coats and firing up the woodstove. However, few people realize that as they gear up for festivities, pest invaders like rodents, cockroaches and nuisance wildlife are just one foundation crack, open utility pipe entry point or broken basement window away.
The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) reminds homeowners that the potential for pest infestations increases during the cold months of the year as pests seek shelter -- most often in people's homes.
House mice nest in dark, secluded attics and basements. In addition to carrying diseases and bacteria, causing indoor allergies and asthma attacks, they can also chew through drywall and wires, increasing the risk of electrical fires.
Keep house mice from entering the house by sealing outside cracks and holes. It's also important to keep basements and attics dry and clutter free to prevent nesting spots.
Norway rats nest in basements, piles of debris and other undisturbed materials. They can gnaw through almost anything to obtain food and water. Like house mice, Norway rats also carry diseases and pose a risk of house fires.
Fill any gaps or cracks on the outside of the home, and eliminate sources of moisture in crawl spaces and basements.
Raccoons often climb through chimneys or attics in search of a denning site, posing danger to humans. Not only can raccoons attack if they feel threatened while trapped indoors, but they are also a major host of rabies in the U.S.
To repel raccoons, store waste cans in sealed areas, or use an animal-proof lid. Check the outside of your home for access points, repair loose siding or shingles, and use a mesh cover or cap for your chimney.
German cockroaches live in small areas close to food and moisture. They can sneakily enter the home in bags and boxes, and can contaminate food sources and spread bacteria.
To defend against cockroaches, keep counters and floors clean. Vacuum frequently, and dispose of garbage regularly, paying specific attention under appliances and sinks.
Visit PestWorld.org for more information on pests and prevention tips and to find a pest professional in your area.
IFR TO CELEBRATE 25 YEARS AS AN OKLAHOMA CITY INSTITUTION
OKLAHOMA CITY â€“ Oklahomaâ€™s capital city is much different than it was in January 1991.
Thereâ€™s an NBA franchise in town, and the 89ers became the RedHawks and are now the Dodgers. Gary Gibbs was in his third season as coach of the Sooners football team, Eddie Sutton was running the Oklahoma State basketball program and Bryant Reeves was a senior at Gans (Okla.) High School.
The downtown landscape has changed dramatically, rising into the heavens. But one thing has remained constant: The International Finals Rodeo is a January staple, now in its 25th year in Oklahoma City. IFR 45 is scheduled for Jan. 16-18 at the Jim Norick State Fair Arena.
â€śI actually didnâ€™t qualify for the IFR the last two years in Tulsa,â€ť said Dale Yerigan, general manager of the Oklahoma City-based International Professional Rodeo Association and an 11-time steer wrestling world champion. â€śWhen I found out that the IFR was moving to Oklahoma City and that the money was going to increase, thatâ€™s one of the things that helped me make the decision to focus on rodeoing in the IPRA.â€ť
Itâ€™s a good thing he did. Yerigan won IPRA gold in 1985-86, then regained that championship form in Oklahoma City. Clarence LeBlanc won the 1990 championship at the conclusion of IFR 21 in January 1991, and Yerigan took over the IPRAâ€™s bulldogging world for nine straight years after that, winning the titles for the 1991-1999 seasons â€“ because the IFR is in January, champions care crowned for the previous calendar year; the 2014 champs, for example, will be crowned in a few weeks.
â€śIn the 1990s, I had a streak of winning world titles, and a lot of that was because of the move to Oklahoma City,â€ť he said. â€śThe future was one of the things that helped me make my decision and my focus. It was easier on my family to rodeo together.â€ť
As the IPRA general manager, he shares his time through the weeks between business at the office and his home in Pryor, Okla., which is about 155 miles northeast of the IPRA office.
The 1991 IFR took place in what used to be the Myriad, now the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City. It moved to Jim Norick Arena shortly thereafter and has had a long run in that storied facility at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds. In 2004, the IFR took place inside the Ford Center, which is now Chesapeake Energy Arena.
â€śThe move back downtown to the Ford Center was sponsor-driven, but it was a new facility, and you hope it sparks some new interest in your event,â€ť Yerigan said. â€śNow they host an NBA franchise, which is no small fete in mid-America.
â€śWeâ€™re glad to be back at the fairgrounds, and I believe itâ€™s the best facility for us. We want to grow there.â€ť
Growth has been steady, and it comes with the help of key sponsors like Loveâ€™s Country Store, RAM Trucks, Tenerâ€™s, Grahamâ€™s, Oxbow Tack, OG&E, Langstonâ€™s, Cattlemenâ€™s Steakhouse, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Harrison Manufacturing. Of course, it also helps that fans have come to expect a strong production from the annual January showcase.
â€śLike most of rodeo, weâ€™ve changed some over the years,â€ť Yerigan said. â€śThe competition part of it is still based on the same things it was founded on, which goes back to ranch competitions. We preserve that really traditional part of it. Us, along with most rodeos, have tried to update with the times with the kind of music and the lights we use.
â€śRodeoâ€™s a little bit louder than it was 25 years ago, but people have come to expect that. We try not to go too overboard. We try not to make it a rock concert but try to step it up and liven it up. Production has become faster, and we want to see things quickly.â€ť
At the IFR, the competition is mixed with excellent production to make for a night of family-friendly entertainment.
â€śWe have whittled this down to the top 15 that come compete,â€ť he said. â€śYou get to see the same 15 compete every performance for four performances. Whether itâ€™s Friday night or Sunday afternoon, you get to see the top level of competition.
â€śWhen you come to the IFR, the cream will rise to the top. The 15 contestants in each event have earned their way to be there. Youâ€™re going to see the top level competition.â€ť
Itâ€™s something fans have come to expect over the last 25 years. Itâ€™s just as it should be.