With 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Decorations – Check decorations for small pieces that could be a choking hazard for children or pets.
- 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.
One 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.
With Halloween just days away, it is necessary to think about your family’s safety on this special night. Below are some Halloween safety tips that you probably already know, but please read through them as a reminder to stay safe this Halloween. Remember scary is only good if it’s fun!
- Accompanied by an Adult – Children should always be chaperoned, preferably by their parents. There is safety in numbers, so travel in groups if possible, and know where you are heading before you start out on Halloween night.
- Unrestricted Costumes – Make sure your children’s costumes are short enough that they won’t trip when walking. Enlarge the eyeholes in masks or use makeup instead, to help them see where they are going. If they are carrying any props like swords or brooms, make sure they are flexible to prevent injury if they should fall.
- Light It Up – Bring along flashlights with fresh batteries to help brighten your path. Use reflective tape or glow lights on costumes to help little ones to be seen. Try to stay on well-lighted streets and go only to the houses that have a porch light on at the front door.
- Don’t Eat the Candy – Wait until you get back home and have time to go through all the loot your children receive. Inspect wrappers for tampering of course, but also check for choking hazards like small hard candies or toys and items your children are allergic to.
- Identify Your Auto – If you are staying with the car while sending your trick-or-treaters up to the porches, remember cars can look alike in the dark. Decorate your dash board or radio antenna with something that lights up so the little ones can easily identify their ride. Be sure they are aware to enter the car on the curbside instead of the street side. Don’t forget seatbelts, even if it is a short ride.
- Obey the Law – Remind little ones the proper way to cross the street, using crosswalks and signal lights when possible. Stay on sidewalks and do not cut through alleys. Some communities post a curfew for trick-or-treating, so start early and get home in a timely manner.
Sometimes we make New Year’s resolutions that are hard to keep, but making a commitment to live a greener lifestyle is easy because there are so many ways to start living a little more eco-friendly. Below is a list of ideas for living green in 2013. Even if you just get into the habit of doing of few of the things suggested below, you’ll be making a positive impact for future generations while protecting our environment.
- Switch to using natural cleaners at home like baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice instead of harsh chemicals. They are better for the environment and your health.
- Turn the thermostat down 5-8 degrees when you are not home and while you’re sleeping during the winter months to save energy and money on your heating bill. In the summertime, do the opposite. Set the thermostat a few degrees higher when you are not home so the air conditioner doesn’t run so much. Also, open the windows when the outdoor temperature is comfortable instead of using the air conditioner.
- Make the most of natural lighting by arranging furniture such as a desk or reading chair near a window and do homework or read by natural light instead of turning on the lamp whenever possible. Open up the blinds during the daylight hours instead of switching on the lights.
- Turn the water off. Whether you are washing your hair or brushing your teeth, turning the shower or faucet off while your scrub and brush will save a precious natural resource – water.
- When doing laundry, only wash a full load of clothes.
- Clean the lint out of the dryer after every load. This makes the dryer more efficient and eliminates a fire hazard.
- Use reusable shopping bags for every shopping trip whether you are headed to the grocery store, shoe store or the mall. This eliminates waste.
- Don’t waste unwanted holiday gifts. Re-gift them or donate to charity.
- Grow your own vegetable garden. You’ll save on your grocery bill, reduce trips to the grocery store and be eating something healthy that you know wasn’t sprayed with harmful pesticides.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle. Set up a recycling station in your home or garage and teach the kids what things can be recycled from aluminum cans and newspapers to glass jars and plastic packaging. Additionally have a yard sale to get rid of any items in your home that you don’t need but are still usable, or donate them to charity.
- Walk or bike to work and other activities whenever possible. Or car pool with friends. This saves you money, while reducing wear and tear on your car and reducing emissions.
- Shop online to reduce fuel emissions.
- Purchase appliances with Energy STAR ratings ensuring the energy efficiency in the kitchen and laundry room.
- Turn off lights and appliances when not in use.
- Connect your kids with nature – appreciation now leads to preservation for future generations. Plan a monthly outing such as a hike at a state park or an afternoon of fishing at a nearby lake.
These are not the only things you can do to live greener in 2013. Maybe our ideas will inspire some of your own.
After the winter holidays have passed you’ll face the enormous task of packing and storing all of your holiday decorations for next year. Below are eight tips that will make the task go more smoothly than before and make it easier to decorate your home next Christmas.
- Christmas tree – The box your artificial tree came in seems like the most logical storage box, but repacking your tree in that box will seem like an impossible task. You’ll have to smash and bend all the branches in order to squeeze the tree back inside it. Also, the cardboard box can deteriorate if subjected to moisture and could also be prone to insect infestation. Instead of using the Christmas tree box, try a Christmas tree bag or a commercially available plastic Christmas tree storage box.
- Christmas lights – Get rid of the tangled mess of light strands you deal with every year. Dispose of any strands of lights that no longer work properly. Then, roll each good strand of lights into a ball and place each ball in a separate plastic bag or empty coffee can. Another option is to wrap each strand of lights around an empty wrapping paper roll or a sturdy piece of cardboard. Then place all of the bags, cans or wrapping paper rolls together in a plastic storage container to prevent moisture damage.
- Decorations that you’ll have to reassemble next year – Before taking down decorations that you had to assemble, take pictures of them the way you set them up so you can remember how to do it next year. Then take everything down in the reverse order of the way you set it all up.
- Christmas candles – Wrap each candle in an old sock, tissue paper or a plastic shopping bag to prevent scratching. Be sure to store away from heat sources such as an attic where heat could melt the candles.
- Holiday wreaths – Most department and home stores sell Christmas wreath storage boxes of various sizes. However, boot boxes often work well for small and medium-sized wreaths. Just remember, whatever you use to store your wreaths must be able to maintain the shape of the wreath until next year.
- Christmas ornaments – Many ornaments come in individual boxes that work well for repacking and storage until next year. Try using other small boxes for homemade ornaments or wrap them in tissue paper and store in a larger box. For small ornaments, use an egg carton.
- Holiday linens – Store each Christmas linen in an individual Zip Lock bag if possible, and then put all of them in a plastic storage container together to prevent moisture damage. Or you might consider dedicating the top shelf of your linen closet to holiday linens, towels, blankets, pillows etc. Place a few dryer sheets in between your items to keep them smelling fresh until next year.
- Label the storage boxes – Tape a detailed list of what is inside each box to the outside of the box so you can quickly determine what is inside when it is time to decorate next year. Clearly number the boxes so you know how many you have (for example, Box 2 of 9). Use the number order to identify which boxes should be unpacked first next winter. Box 1 should be prominently labeled and contain all the things you’ll need at the beginning of the holiday season like your advent calendar and the holiday greeting cards that you’ll be sending to family and friends if you bought them on clearance this year.
With a little planning and effort, you can organize and store your holiday decorations in an efficient manner that will be easy to find and display next year.