Home Safety Guidance for Winter and Beyond

January 13, 2021

Winter season is upon us and COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise. With many families still having to work and manage virtual learning from home, there is no better time than now to evaluate the health of your home. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released Everyone Deserves a Safe and Healthy Home: A Stakeholder Guide for Protecting the Health of Children and Families.

Everyone Deserves a Safe and Healthy Home provides home safety tips to help vulnerable family members suffering from chronic illnesses who may be at risk when faced with common occurrences in the home such as mold, dust, toxins from lead, and old imbedded asbestos. It also provides guidance on everyday cleaning chemicals, as well as silent and odorless carbon monoxide and radon, which can pose health risks if not effectively treated and kept under control. Each topic is fully explained including what causes the problem and how to prevent and eliminate it. The publication provides a room-by-room safety checklist for conducting a complete healthy home assessment for your house or apartment.

Another popular home safety guide from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right, provides important facts about lead and how it can affect your family’s health. If you’re a property owner thinking about hiring a painting contractor or plumber, you will find this publication useful. It explains how best to choose a contractor, and, whether you’re a do-it-yourself type or not, how to prepare for a renovation or repair job. And finally, it tells you where to get more information about lead safety issues.

The GPO Online Bookstore – Easy Access to Federal Publications


Sign up to receive promotional bulletin emails from the US Government Online Bookstore.

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy a vast majority of eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at https://bookstore.gpo.gov.

Order by Phone or Email: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.  Email orders to ContactCenter@gpo.gov

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

Find more than a million official Federal Government publications from all three branches at www.govinfo.gov.

About the author: Trudy Hawkins is a writer and senior marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).

Homeowners & Landowners: The U.S. Gov Has You Covered!

April 26, 2016

Homeowners and landowners! The U.S. Government has several useful publications to help you make knowledgeable decisions about your habitat. Reduce the hazards of lead-based paint. Stop up energy-wasting air leaks. Know what you need to know about interstate natural gas projects. Read on!

Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home

055-000-00683-1Lead-based paint is hazardous. You probably know that. The older the building, the more likely the inside and outside surfaces contain the heavy metal (the chemical element, not the music). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development pulled together this brochure to help you identify the many sources of lead and eliminate risks.

First step: “The only way to find out if paint, dust, or soil lead hazards exist is to test for them.” For homes and childcare facilities built before 1978, you have cause to act even quicker. In fact, Federal law requires disclosure of lead-based paint information to prospective buyers and renters of pre-1978 properties. Protect your family from damaging health effects—check your home for lead!

A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating with Energy Star

055-000-00684-9Does Aunt Mabel often feel a draft when she’s visiting your home? Better patch up those leaks! The EPA offers this handy guide to locate and seal leaks, specifically in the basement and attic where most problematic leaks are hidden. Pesky leaks love to seek cover behind insulation.

To get started, make a rough sketch of your home’s floor plan. Spatial reference points will help you locate common household air leaks in wiring holes, plumbing vents, furnace flues, etc. Then follow the booklet’s guidance for plugging holes and caulking gaps. Enhance the performance of your insulation, reduce your energy bills, and make your home more comfortable—this government resource will get you there.

An Interstate Natural Gas Facility on My Land? What Do I Need to Know?

061-000-00967-1_Page_01If these are questions that keep you up at night, then grab yourself a copy of this Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) booklet. FERC is responsible for approving private natural gas pipelines projects. The agency assembled this concise, illustrative pamphlet to let consumers know:

  • How the Commission’s evaluation process works;
  • Landowner rights;
  • Issues involving project location and pipeline construction
  • Environmental, safety, and storage issues.

Bonus: a two-page graphic of a pipeline installation sequence gives visual context to what it takes to move natural gas across state boundaries. It’s quite the process. And FERC is here to tell you all you need to know.


Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

 Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Chelsea Milko, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations Office.

Goblins, Ghosts and Witches, Oh My! Happy Halloween, October 2014

October 29, 2014

It’s nearly Halloween, and if you’re thinking about buying candy or pumpkins more than reading Federal government documents, it’s understandable. All the same, it would be regrettable if you missed reading some very relevant Federal government documents before preparing for your Halloween celebration.


(Image courtesy of CPSC: Click on image to enlarge)

Whether you are pulling together a costume for yourself or for kids, you need to make sure the costume is safe to wear. There are a few basic tips to follow when you get ready for trick-or-treating, according to the CPSC’s Halloween Safety: Safety Alert.

  • Decorate costumes with reflective tape
  • Carry bright flashlights
  • Trim or hem long costumes to avoid tripping
  • Choose flame-resistant material
  • Wear good walking shoes
  • Prefer cosmetics over masks when possible
  • Wear masks and headgear that are securely tied and do not obscure the wearer’s vision

The FDA recommends getting professional help to avoid eye damage if you plan to wear decorative contact lenses as part of your costume. The safe costume tips from these documents are good hints for choosing Halloween party gear, as well.

The CPSC also recommends that you stick to safe houses, make sure your children walk (and don’t run), and that you check children’s candy before letting them eat any, in case of evidence of tampering (although the history of Halloween candy tampering is spotty). Food safety overall is always a concern at Halloween, and reading the FDA’s Halloween Food Safety Tips for Parents is good preparation for anyone responsible for children attending Halloween parties and celebrations.

Those revelers staying in one location will want to follow guidelines given in Halloween Fires. House parties at Halloween frequently feature candles, bonfires, firepits and the like. The US Fire Academy says Halloween is a night when fires spike, with “a 63 percent increase in the daily occurrence of incendiary or suspicious structure fires for October and November. ….the peak in incendiary and suspicious structure fires on Halloween is slightly lower than the peak on July 5th but higher than New Year’s Day” (p. 12). Many of the fires on Halloween (and the night before Halloween, known as Devil’s Night), are the result of arson, and accidents play a role as well. Be aware and know the exit locations at the party you’re attending. If the party you are holding or attending has includes fire as part of the fun, have fire-extinguishing equipment nearby.

And if you’re planning to stay at home for Halloween, heighten your sense of the holiday mood and read some of the spooky traditions of Halloween in The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows, from the Library of Congress’ Folklife Center. You can learn about the origins of Halloween, originally a Celtic festival of the dead called Samhain. Samhain was the biggest holiday of the Celtic year, and served as a new year. The Celts lit bonfires for the dead to create a barrier between them and the living. Supposedly, the bonfires guided the dead back to the netherworld at this time of the year when the Celts believed the border between the dead and the living was thinnest. This brief monograph also covers how the Catholic Church appropriated Samhain from the Celtic natives to become All Hallows, and eventually Hallowe’en (Hallows evening). If you finish reading the piece wanting to know more, the author links a selected bibliography of resources on Halloween and related topics at the end of the text. You get to learn a bit of history and appreciate the author’s poetic text also. He closes the piece by noting that traditional American Halloween activities “…reaffirm… death and its place as a part of life in an exhilarating celebration of a holy and magic evening.”

There are records available for the electronic versions of Halloween Safety: Safety Alert and Halloween Fires in the Catalog of Government Publications. You can find the records for these documents in your local Federal depository library.

How can I access these publications?

In addition to clicking on the links in the article above to find the publications, you may find these publications from the following:

  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library.
  • Visit a Public Library: Ask your local public librarian about Federal Government books available to check out as well as Federal eBooks that may be available for library patrons to digitally download through the library’s Overdrive subscription.

And to find popular current Federal publications, you may:

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling GPO’s  Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

About the author: Adapted by Trudy Hawkins, Government Book Talk Editor and Senior Marketing and Promotions Specialist for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, from an original post by Jennifer K. Davis, formerly from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP).

Over 1 Billion Served: GPO’s Pueblo Distribution Center Hits Historic Milestone Today

May 7, 2013

GPO_Pueblo_1_Billion-Shipped1 Billion.  One thousand million. Any way you count it, that’s a bundle! And at the US Government Printing Office Document Distribution Center in Pueblo, Colorado, we have reached that magic number. As of today, our Pueblo facility has shipped over 1 billion consumer publications, making it a bundle of bundles sent out to the American people!

GPO’s Western Expansion

Growing up, I always heard or read public service announcements from the Federal Government offering helpful advice on everything from how mortgages work to getting vaccinations. Each time, the commercial or ad would end with the same tag line: “To order this helpful free publication, contact us in Pueblo, Colorado” and an address and phone number (and today, a website address) would be given with ordering information.  I thought it amazing that all this great consumer information was available from one Colorado town.

Although unbeknownst to me at the time, it turns out this famous Pueblo location is actually one of two distribution facilities operated by the Government Printing Office’s Agency Distribution Services that stores and ships out Government publications on behalf of our Federal agency clients to the public –the other being in Laurel, Maryland.

In an effort led by House Appropriations Committee member Congressman Frank Evans, the GPO distribution facility was proposed and then approved on October 8, 1970, by the Joint Committee on Printing and the 15th Public Printer of the United States, Adolphus Nichol (Nick) Spence. The Pueblo Public Documents Distribution Center (PuDDC) was dedicated on October 8, 1971, and opened on October 11, 1971, to provide support for the expanding dissemination needs of Federal agencies, from books to posters to other products.

GPO_Pueblo_Congressman-Frank-Evans-Distribution-CenterLast year, President Barack Obama signed an act of the 111th Congress to rename the center the “Congressman Frank Evans US Government Printing Office Pueblo Document Distribution Center” after the former Congressman who passed away in June of 2010. It was re-dedicated on October 11, 2011, for the fortieth anniversary of the Pueblo facility.

Image: Renaming ceremony of the GPO Pueblo facility on October 11, 2011.

Today, GPO’s Pueblo Document Distribution Center provides distribution services to 10 federal agencies and other entities including: The Federal Citizen Information Center (FCIC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Health and Human Service (HHS – Women’s Health), Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and three programs within the Department of Homeland Security  that produce items such as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) posters, bookmarks and baggage inserts.

Ruehlen-at-Pueblo-PuDDCImage: Jimmy Ruehlen has worked for Pueblo’s Government Printing Office Distribution Center since it began operations 40 years ago. Photo credit: The Pueblo Chieftain / Mike Sweeney (Photographer)

The Pueblo Distribution Center has processed over 105 million customer orders from the day it opened its doors through the end of April 2013, and as of today, May 2, 2013, the Center has distributed over 1 billion publications on behalf of its various Federal clients.

GPO Gets a “CIC” out of Distributing Consumer Publications

The Pueblo facility really got a kick-start when it signed an inter-agency agreement with the General Services Administration (GSA) in January of 1973 to take over the warehousing and distribution of the millions of printed consumer publications being provided through GSA’s then-new Consumer Information Center (or CIC), which itself has provided service to the GSA’s Federal Citizen Information Center (or FCIC), the U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Education.

Consumer-Info-Catalog-Winter-Spring-2013_coverThe gem in the FCIC’s crown is the Consumer Information Catalog, printed by GPO, which lists the latest and most popular of the many thousands of consumer publications available by topic and is updated several times a year.

Most of the print publications–the majority printed by GPO– in the Consumer Information Catalog are FREE for U.S. delivery if ordered online; the rest require only a nominal fee. Plus, a number of the publications are offered for FREE in electronic format for immediate download on the Publications.USA.gov website.

Some of the many categories of helpful consumer pamphlets and publications include: Education; Employment; Family including Pets; Federal Programs and Benefits, Food; Health including Drugs and Exercise & Diet (even information on braces, tattoos, and tanning!); Housing including Financing and Home Maintenance; the ever-popular Money category including Fraud, Credit Cards, Living Trusts, and Retirement Planning; even Small Business and Travel, and more.


Image: Page from the Consumer Information Catalog Winter/ Spring 2013 Edition.

How can I get a copy of the Consumer Information Catalog and order publications?

Find the latest Consumer Information Catalog in PDF format online, or you can also order FREE print copies to be mailed to you at the same Publications.USA.gov website.

Consumer-Action-Handbook-2013The most popular document distributed by Pueblo remains the annual Consumer Action Handbook, a free trouble-shooting guide to help Americans solve all sorts of consumer problems. I’ve ordered five to share with family and friends!

In addition to ordering from GSA’s Publications.USA.gov website, you can find a number of these consumer publications on GPO’s US Government Online Bookstore.

Below are some of the more popular publications in the Consumer Information Catalog that are also available on GPO’s online bookstore:

You can also browse our Consumer, Home & Family category on our online bookstore.

With so many useful consumer publications available from the Federal Government, I’m sure it won’t be long until we distribute another billion items to help American consumers!

About the Author:

Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.

Society through a Comic Lens

February 7, 2012

By Guest Blogger, Marianne Mason, Federal Information Librarian, Research and Library Instruction at The University of Iowa Libraries

Comic books are not really books and often not comic, but are serialized graphics-based stories expressed through political and cultural rhetoric.  Think Maus, a story of the Holocaust.  Think Peanuts’ ethics and theology.

O.K., not all comic books or graphic novels are Pulitzer Prize winners or speak to a deep sense of ethics.  The pure entertainment value of storytelling through sequential art can be worthy on its own merits.  However, the comics can inform, persuade, and encourage new behaviors in readers.  This is the purpose of comic books authored by U.S. government agencies.

Used as social program marketing tools for decades, the government-authored comic book format has been used to promote program benefits (Social Security Administration) and to educate (Consumer Product Safety Commission) using superhero/anti-hero models like Sprocket Man (reviewed in our April 9, 2010, blog post “Just for Fun: Sprocket Man!” ) and El Gato to capture the attention of the targeted audience and cross educational boundaries.

The Army made instruction manuals measurably more appealing to combat personnel in PS Magazine by incorporating sexual innuendo in both dialog and character illustration such as in this Preventive Maintenance manual shown below:

In October 2011 the University of Iowa hosted a scholarly symposium entitled “Comics, Creativity, and Culture: International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives”, a by-invitation-only event for scholars, artists and creators of the art and literature of comic books.  The Symposium spawned a semester-long series of complementary university sponsored events ranging from art exhibits, radio broadcasts, discussions, and interactive workshops for educators and K-12 students.  The University of Iowa Libraries contributed to the celebration by creating a Comic Book Café based on the Japanese “Manga Café” model.  Several specialized library collections, including Government Information, pooled their best examples for the café.

As the U.S. Government Information Librarian, I found that this event gave me an opportunity to draw attention to the characteristics and range of government authored comic books.  Creating a government comics research guide  gave me an opportunity to do a thorough survey of the collection,  access the content of the print collection and provide links to digitized collections from the broader government information community, including this latest online booklet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Preparedness 101: A Zombie Pandemic”.

In addition, the research guide provides database access to many Congressional hearings and reports in the UI collection from the 1950’s linking juvenile delinquency to explicit violence in comic books.

Whether quirky or more profound, all reflect changing societal norms that drive public policy initiatives.

On October 4th an “egg timer” book talk called Thought Balloons: Talking about Comics”, was held in the Café for creators and readers of comics to share insights and stories about connections to comic book literature.  One reader commented that when she and her boyfriend merged their comic book collections, she knew their love was here to stay!

Note regarding Images:

Images in order of mention: Sprocket Man, The 9 Lives of El Gato, PS Magazine, Comic Book Café, Zombie Pandemic (“broader gov. community”), Comic books and juvenile delinquency.  Serial Set 11815-1 (S. Rpt. 62, 84 Cong., 1st Session) 1955, Thought Balloons. Source: University of Iowa Libraries.

About our Guest Blogger:

Marianne Mason has worked with Government and legal resources in several law libraries and universities and at University of Iowa Libraries since 2001 as the regional librarian for the State of Iowa.  Her idea of a fine vacation involves clear water, forests, and the absence of machinery/technology noise.  She knows how to knit socks, two-at-a-time, toe up.

More resources about Government-created comics:

Safe Playgrounds for Kids

February 16, 2011

Back in the day, I did a couple of stints as a parent at a cooperative preschool. It was a great experience but, as in most aspects of life, some of the jobs were tougher than others. Take the annual mulching of the playground, for instance. The recipe: Take one truckload of mulch dumped in the school driveway, a couple of wheelbarrows, several shovels, mix in what was invariably a hot, humid Saturday in late August, add whichever parents you’ve managed to corral for the job – and start spreading. We weren’t enriching our kids’ intellectual or social lives – just trying to prevent yet another trip to the emergency room.

In fact, according to the Public Playground Safety Handbook, in recent years children have made more than 200,000 trips annually to the emergency room due to injuries on public playgrounds, defined as those in apartments and condominiums, restaurants, parks, child care facilities, other areas of public use, and schools, like Valley Drive Cooperative Preschool, my (by parental extension) alma mater. I’m sure that a lot of those injuries are due to falls, so proper playground surfacing is important. When I was a kid, playgrounds were floored with sand or dirt, or at least that’s the way I remember it. According to the Handbook, produced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, mulch is a good surfacing material, as is sand, but not dirt. This very useful book also deals with playground siting, shading (would I think about how the shade fell if I were planning a playground? probably not – I can’t even manage that at a cookout.), equipment selection and installation, hazards, and much more.

I liked reading this book because it’s detailed but clear, matter-of-fact about hazards, not preachy about regulations, and designed to help even very small entities, like preschools, design and maintain playgrounds to keep children safe. Are there any guarantees? Dream on! As a child, one of my sisters-in-law stuck her head through a porch railing and couldn’t get it out until assisted by the local mail carrier. This escapade so enthralled the neighborhood children that she felt compelled to show them how it happened – and got stuck again. The Handbook is up against the limitless ability of kids to get themselves in fixes but, given the nature of the challenge, I doubt if it could be met much better than by this book. You can read  the Handbook here, get your own copy here, or find it in a library. And keep your head away from that railing!

Just for Fun: Sprocket Man!

April 9, 2010

Government Book Talk has had a busy couple of weeks getting up and running, so it’s time to kick back, relax,  and talk about one of the many unexplored corners of the world of Federal publications. Sprocket Man, the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s superhero for safe biking, began in 1975 as a comic book character created at Stanford University for the California  Department of Public Safety and the nonprofit Urban Bikeway Design Collaborative. Somewhere along the line, he and his comic books were picked up by the Commission. I know that the GPO sales program carried them at one time, although I don’t know if we sold them singly or in packages. (I checked, and we don’t sell them anymore).

Thanks to the depository library program, you can find Sprocket Man here. Although at first the idea of a superhero dedicated to bicycle safety seems a bit…overdone, I can see how he’s a good way to reach younger bikers. He’s pretty intense, but he gets his message across. Although a few comic buffs seem to scorn him, Sprocket Man is still available for download at a number of safety-oriented Web sites and for collectors at several comic book sites.

 Tune in next Friday for another trip down the one of the many byways of Government books, and don’t forget to wear your helmet!

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