The fall and winter holiday season is quickly approaching. It is a time when homes are filled with neatly decorated trees, twinkling lights, tasty meals and treats, festive decorations and family members and friends. All of us expect this combination to yield happy memories and good times for all, but it also poses a huge risk. For instance, the US Fire Administration reports structure fires increase during the winter holidays and the dollar loss per fire is 34% greater than normal. There are numerous safety tips and informational articles available to help keep your family and home safe throughout the fall and winter holidays. Take some time to review this helpful information, so your Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are enjoyable and memorable for all.
Now that the holidays have come and gone, it is time to start packing up those holiday decorations and get them ready to store for next year. Below are a few simple ideas to help you store holiday lights so you don’t find a tangled mess of light strands next holiday season.
- Cardboard Square – Cut a square of heavy duty cardboard. Cut a slit in one side of the square. Then, secure the end of a light strand by threading it through the slit. Wrap the strand of lights around the cardboard and thread the other end of the strand back through the slit.
- Plastic bags – Wrap each strand of lights in a ball and place each ball in an individual plastic bag (any type will do.) Then store all the bags together in a clearly labeled box.
- Empty Wrapping Paper Tube – Simply cut a slit in both ends of a wrapping paper tube. Secure one end of the strand of lights by threading it through the slit. Then wrap the lights along the tube. Thread the other end of the light strand through the slit at the opposite end of the tube.
For more holiday ideas, check out our entire collection of holiday blogs.
While the holidays can be fun, they can also be a time of sickness and poor health. The House Plan Shop encourages you to review the following tips for a healthy holiday season.
- Keep Warm – For most parts of North America, the holidays come with the changing temperatures and cold weather. Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially for the elderly and infants. Dress warm using several layers of clothing and stay dry. Don’t forget to cover your head and hands.
- Wash your Hands – Keeping your hands clean is one of the easiest and most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and prevent spreading germs to others. Airports, shopping malls, grocery stores and restaurants are filled with germs, and they are all places we seem to spend more time than normal during the holidays. Wash your hands often with soap and warm, clean running water Scrub for at least 20 seconds. If clean water and soap are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Remember Food Safety – When preparing holiday meals, cookies and other edibles keep you and your family safe from food-related illnesses. Wash your hands and food-prep surfaces often. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping meat, seafood, poultry and eggs (and their juices) away from ready to eat foods. Thoroughly clean cooking utensils, pots, pans and dishes in between uses. Cook foods to their proper temperatures. Refrigerate leftovers immediately. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.
- Manage Stress – The holidays are a time of fun and cheer so don’t let them take a toll on your body and health. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook on all holiday activities. Avoid over commitment and manage your time between home, work and fun. Also, manage your holiday budget and do not overspend. In addition, get plenty of rest.
- Eat Healthy, Be Active – Moderation is the key to following a healthy diet during the holidays. Substitute your favorite piece of fruit for candy. Eat small portions so you can enjoy a small taste of all of your favorite holiday meals. When it comes to dessert, choose one or two of your favorites from the plethora of sweets and treats at holiday parties. Make an effort to schedule a half hour of exercise every day. Also, encourage your family to participate in fun, healthy activities…and a little fresh air will do everyone some good. Take a walk through the neighborhood with the kids after dinner to look at holiday light displays. Go sled riding. Organize a family game of football or kickball before dinner.
- Medication Management – It is easy to get off track, change your schedule and skip your daily routines during the holidays due to so many different special activities and gatherings. If you take daily medications, it is important to stick to your medication schedule. Take medications on time as prescribe. Do not make changes in how you take medication. If you always take your medications with breakfast, make sure you continue taking them with breakfast. If you are traveling out of town for the holidays, don’t forget to pack your medications. It is important that you do not skip doses.
Keep these health tips in mind to ensure you have a happy and healthy holiday season.
Are you still decorating your yard and home with incandescent holiday lights? The St. Louis County Health Department says it is time to make the switch to LED lights. Often, strings of incandescent lights are wrapped in a hard plastic coating of PVC to protect the wire. This coating can take up to 500 years to breakdown in our landfills. Furthermore, PVC is heat resistant and may contain metals such as tin, lead and cadmium which can become harmful once they make it into the ground.
Using LED lights for you holiday decorating and light displays has plenty of benefits. Consider the following facts about LED lighting:
· LED lights last twice as long as incandescent lights – up to 20 years!
· They use 1/10th of the energy of traditional holiday mini-lights, which saves on your electric bill.
· LEDs are cool to the touch reducing the risk of fire.
· Their brightness does not fade over time.
· LED lights are durable and harder to break than traditional lights.
· They can withstand moisture, heat and cold.
· LEDs are available at most hardware stores and home improvement centers.
Before you throw away those strands of incandescent Christmas lights, check with you local hardware or home improvement stores to see if any are sponsoring a collection/recycling mission for broken or non-functioning incandescent holiday lights. Some places even offer discounts on the purchase of new energy-efficient LED Christmas lights for each strand of old lights you recycle.
So, go ahead and make the switch to LED Christmas lights. You’ll save energy, have a more environmentally-friendly holiday light display and save money on your electric bill.
It is time to start a new holiday tradition. The Thursday before Thanksgiving is Use Less Stuff Day. Make a commitment or pledge to yourself to reduce your resource consumption during the holiday season.
Here are a few ideas:
- Don’t buy too many groceries or prepare too much food for a holiday gathering. If you do prepare too much, send leftovers home with guests or reheat them the following day for yourself. Try your best not to throw away usable food.
- Use less energy. Turn down the heat before a holiday party. The body heat of guests will keep the room warm, so lower the thermostat a few degrees.
- Have a recycling plan. Set up recycling bins to capture all the wrapping paper, gift boxes, bottles, cans, plastic cups, etc. Inform your guests and make sure they know what items to recycle and where to place them.
- Use fewer disposable paper products and eating utensils. If all your dinnerware, table settings and silverware must be matching sets, rent dinnerware, glassware and silverware for your holiday party. Otherwise, ask guests to bring their own and eliminate paper plates and plastic cups, forks, knives, etc.
- Use cloth napkins that can be washed and reused at your next holiday gathering instead of buying disposable ones and filling the trash can.
Go ahead and make the commitment to use less stuff. Tell your friends and family about Use Less Stuff Day and work toward an environmentally-friendly holiday season without sacrificing the fun and joys all of us look forward to each year.
For more ideas about Use Less Stuff Day, please visit www.use-less-stuff.com.