Nov 19 2014

7 Hints for Holiday Safety – The House Plan Shop

Christmas TreeWith Thanksgiving right around the corner, people will begin turning their attention Christmas decorating and holiday parties shortly thereafter. The holidays not only bring new safety hazards into the house, but the excitement of them distracts even the most wary. Below are a few hints to help keep you safe for the season.

 

  1. Trees – Live trees require lots of watering and even then they will dry out. Place them well away from any heat sources. Don’t burn discarded trees in the fireplace as it can lead to creosote build-up in the chimney. Instead consider taking it to a recycling center or compost it for the garden.
  2. Fireplaces – Of course by this time of the year you have had your chimney swept and inspected. Don’t be tempted to reduce the landfill by burning wrapping paper or other paper products in it. Besides the flash fire they produce being dangerous, they could have coatings that produce unsafe fumes when burned. Check for opportunities to recycle paper and plastic products to ease your guilt.
  3. Smoke Alarms – Check all smoke alarms to make sure they are functioning. Replace batteries at least twice a year even if they are still working. Install a carbon monoxide detector for added safety.
  4. Candles – Keep candles away from all combustibles and extinguish when leaving the room. Place them so they are away from areas where they can be knocked over. The coffee table is just the right height for Fido’s tail to do damage. Don’t forget to stow away the matches or lighters that could be temptations for inquisitive children.
  5. Lights – Check all strands for any damage and for the UL approved label. Turn them off when going to bed or leaving the house. Don’t run any wires under carpets and don’t overload the circuits.
  6. Decorations – Check decorations for small pieces that could be a choking hazard for children or pets.
  7. Guests – Don’t assume that your guests know what you know. Remind them not to place their gloves on the space heater for drying or throw anything in the fire in the fireplace. Ask them to help keep the kids safely out of the kitchen while food is being prepared. If you have overnight guests, review your household escape plan with them in case of emergency.

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Nov 05 2014

Winterize your Car with these Hints – The House Plan Shop

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Category: Seasonal,The Garage

Car BatteryAs the weather begins to get colder, it’s time to get your car ready for winter. By preparing now, you can keep your vehicle running efficiently and safely and hopefully avoid a roadside breakdown in the cold. Here are some tips to get you started:

 

Fluids – Have all fluids checked and replaced if necessary. Don’t forget the oil, coolant, brake fluid, windshield fluid and gasoline. Yes, gasoline. Keep your tank full to prevent moisture from freezing in the lines. Also, when unexpected weather hits and you are delayed in traffic, you won’t have to worry about running on empty.

Wiper Blades – Weather ages blades quickly and they tear easily in freezing temperatures, so start out the season with new ones.

Battery – Cold weather reduces the cranking amperage of the battery. Have it tested, serviced and replaced if more than 4 years old.

Tires – Of course cold sloppy freezing weather brings traction problems so check those tire treads and replace tires if necessary. The cold can also reduce the pressure so check often for proper inflation and don’t forget the spare.

Floor Mats – Tracking snow and salt into your car’s interior can ruin carpeting so make sure you have some good all-weather mats in place.

Emergency Kit – Items you may want to include are flares, boots, gloves, shovel, blanket, ice scraper, flashlight, rock salt or kitty litter for traction. Also have emergency numbers and insurance information handy and maybe some spare change, just in case

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Oct 23 2014

Tips for Throwing a Safe Halloween Party at Home – The House Plan Shop

Halloween 2014One of the best ways to keep your eyes on the little ones on Halloween may be to keep them home. Of course that may involve throwing them their own party which can still involve safety issues for you and your guests. Here are a few tips to keep everyone safe on Halloween night:

 

  • Costumes – Even if you are not hiking the neighborhood, you still want to keep the costumes safe. Shorter is better so that there is no tripping. Enlarge the eyeholes in masks or use makeup to enable children to see their best. Check the labels for fire retardant clothing.
  • Food – Be aware any food allergies that your guests may have. Common allergies include dairy, shell fish and peanuts. Stay away from small hard candies that may present a choking hazard. If using dry ice, prevent children from handling it as it can cause burns.
  • Childproof – Move any breakable items beyond reach or to another room. Don’t let a broken keepsake spoil your night. Candles may add to the atmosphere of spookiness, but don’t be tempted to use them. There are plenty of flickering lights available that are battery operated and eliminate the hazards of a flame.
  • Pets – A houseful of exuberant party goers in strange costumes could freak out your pets. Also, your guests may share too many things with your pets that shouldn’t be eaten by animals. Arrange for your pets to stay in another part of the house or away from home.
  • Guests – Know your guests. With the excitement and hubbub of escorting costumed guests in and out of your house, unescorted trick-or-treaters could accidently crash your party. That would be a scare for both you and the unknowing ghosts and goblins.
  • Plan – Plan ahead to include lots of fun activities to keep your guests busy. The good memories that they have will last a lifetime.

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Oct 06 2014

Pedestrian Safety: International Walk and Bike to School Day

CrosswalkOctober 8, 2014 is International Walk and Bike to School Day. If your children will be walking or biking to school on Wednesday, take some time to go over our pedestrian safety tips with them.

 

  1. Always wear a bike helmet when riding a bike.
  2. Use crosswalks with crossing the street or cross at street corners.
  3. Be aware of the cars around you. Stay alert for those that are turning, backing up or pulling in and out of driveways.
  4. Be sure to use sidewalks when available. If there is not sidewalk, travel on the shoulder of the road and face the oncoming traffic.
  5. Avoid using electronic devises when crossing the road.
  6. If you must use a cell phone while walking or biking, stop and find a safe place to use it.
  7. Make eye contact with drivers before crossing so that you know that they see you.
  8. Pay attention for cars backing out of driveways or out of parking spaces as well as those that are turning.
  9. Do not enter the street from behind parked cars. The parked car will block you from the view of oncoming drivers.
  10. Be alert for cars moving in or out of driveways.
  11. Wear light or reflective clothing especially if you must be out walking/biking after dark.
  12. Stick with your normal walking/biking route or use only parent approved alternatives.

 

For children aged 5 to 19, pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death with teens accounting for half of those deaths. Take time to walk around the neighborhood with your kids and set a good example. Only walk or bike routes that you’ve approved for them to travel when you are not present. Make sure they know the safest routes. Provide them with reflective clothing or reflective stickers for backpacks and book bags. Remind them to speak up and warn others if they notice another pedestrian in danger.

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Sep 15 2014

Preparing your Home and Yard for Fall – The House Plan Shop

Fall LeavesThe official start of fall is fast approaching and winter won’t be too far behind. Get your home and yard ready for fall and winter with this handy checklist:

  • Hire a professional to inspect your furnace and make sure your heating system is working properly.
  • Inspect you chimney for cracks and any debris that may have accumulated in the flue.
  • Clean and covered or store patio furniture.
  • Fertilize the lawn and winterize your lawn mower.
  • Rake leaves.
  • Clean gutters and clear them of debris before winter weather arrives.
  • Hang holiday lights. It is easier to do and more enjoyable while the weather is still nice.
  • Harvest the rest of the produce from your vegetable garden.
  • Plant/move trees and shrubs.
  • Mulch trees and shrubs to protect them from harsh winter weather.
  • Drain and store hoses. Turn off outdoor faucets.

Buy winter supplies such as snow shovels, ice melt, and ice scrapers.

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