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Superheroes of safety

It's Daredevil versus Vapora! This Marvel Comic book is designed to teach kids about the dangers of flammable vapors, such as those from cans of gasoline. It's part of an awareness program by the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association. Each year between May and September, the number of fires, burn injuries and deaths caused by the ignition of gasoline vapors doubles. You can get the comic book and a Home Activity Guide with warning stickers that can be placed on flammable liquids by calling (800) GAMA-811.

Extra parking and a porch

Two signs of the times? First, on garages: Thomas M. Kruempelstaedter, a Largo architect who designs homes for Arthur Rutenberg Homes, says, "We're designing no homes over 2,200 square feet without a three-car garage." And on front porches: Architect Jerry Messman, with the Tampa office of Bloodgood Sharp Buster, acknowledges their emotional appeal: "If everyone could have a front porch, I think they would buy it," he said. But he conceded that in Florida's climate, "they won't use it much." Often the decision to eliminate a front porch is a financial one for buyers: "They can't afford it, so it goes away, and they put their money elsewhere." There are structural challenges as well: Builders would be happier if architects designed porches to be integral to the existing roof system, not an additional system. Creating a porch that can't readily be eliminated would make it easier, financially and aesthetically, for buyers to retain the porch.

An issue of home dangers

This month's Consumer Reports offers a special report on hazards around the house: lead in paint and water, radon, asbestos and carbon monoxide. The report offers information on where the hazards exist and how to handle them, and evaluates 32 products designed to test for the products at home. It's at newsstands now.

Owning not best for all

For some people, home ownership is not the right choice, says John A. Tuccillo, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors. Home ownership makes sense for people with a nuclear family and a stable job, he said. "But it can be an impediment" for those who aren't certain about their job security (that's lots of people these days), or for people who live in arrangements other than nuclear families (and that's a growing number of people as well).

Where the jobs are

Tampa Bay ranks 11th in employment growth for the last four quarters, with 41,600 new jobs for a growth rate of 4.4 percent, according to U.S. Housing Markets. Leading the job parade was Las Vegas, which added 38,000 jobs for a rate of 7.7 percent. Las Vegas also ranked first on the report's "Buzzin' Dozen," with 24.5 residential building permits issued in the last four quarters per 1,000 residents. Tampa Bay issued 6.9 permits per thousand.

_ Compiled by Homes Editor JUDY STARK

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