The days grow shorter and the nights become colder, and before you know it the holidays are upon us. Even small household accidents become tragedies when they involve your family or guests. Entertaining overnight guests may create a little extra stress for the household. Take time to prepare your home for the holidays, so everyone can be nestled all snug in their beds.
1. Prepare the Family – With all the excitement of pending visitors, every household member needs to know what to expect. Try to keep the everyday routine as normal as possible. Remind everyone of the changes that may have to be made to keep the guests comfortable and safe. This may mean giving up a bed or room to grandparents or putting toys with small parts away where toddlers can’t reach them. If guests will be coming and going while you are not home, you may need to inform the neighbors so that there will be no problems with mistaken identity.
2. Prepare the Guests – Once your visitors have arrived, review your family emergency escape plan with them. Show them where the fire extinguishers and first-aid kits are kept. Keep essential phone numbers nearby or program their cell phones. If it’s necessary to use a space heater, instruct them on its safe operation. If they will be on their own in the kitchen, review the workings of appliances like the stove, toaster, and coffee pot.
3. Prepare the House – Keep the outside walkways clear of snow and ice and also well lit. Remove any hazards that could cause tripping like throw rugs or runners. Locate nightlights to help nighttime navigation. Use nonslip mats in the bathtub and install grab bars if necessary. To protect youngsters, lock up anything toxic, like cleaning supplies and medicines. If you are not used to having children around, you may need to seek help in childproofing the house. Inspect smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working.
4. Prepare the Decorations - Consider using flameless candles. If you must light up, keep candles high enough that pets and children can’t reach them but away from draperies and curtains. Place extension cords away from foot traffic, but do not place them under carpeting or area rugs. Be aware of the placement of glass ornaments so they are away from both pets’ and toddler’s reach. Refrain from using tinsel around pets and children as it can be toxic. Be aware that some holiday plants like poinsettias can be poisonous. Check with your guests about allergy information. Your beautiful live Christmas tree could cause them constant sneezing and wheezing.
Keeping these tips in mind, we wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season!
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.
If you enjoy the occasional fire in your wood-burning fireplace or you heat rooms in your home with a woodstove, there are a few crucial safety tips you should follow before you build your first fire this winter. Fireplaces and chimneys are involved in over 40% of home-heating fires, so take precautions before you strike up a fire to ensure your home and family are safe.
- Clean the chimney – Hire a chimney sweep to clean your chimney before winter to remove soot and debris that have built up in the chimney.
- Assess the chimney for damage and problems – Carefully inspect your chimney for loose bricks, missing mortar and cracks. Check the chimney liner for cracking and deterioration. Have a professional make any necessary repairs.
- Inspect the chimney cap – Your chimney should be covered with a cap fitted with wire-mesh sides. The cap keeps debris, rain, squirrels, birds and other critters from entering the chimney. If your cap is missing, replace it. If it is damaged, repair or replace it.
- Select the right wood – When burning a fire in your fireplace, it is best to burn dense and seasoned hardwoods such as oak that has been split and stored in a dry place. Burning green and soft woods such as pine produces more creosote which builds up in the chimney. (Creosote is a flammable by-product of combustion.)
- Stick with small fires – Build and burn small fires. They produce less smoke and therefore less creosote buildup in the chimney. Also keep in mind, fires that are too big or too hot can crack your chimney. This damage can be expensive to repair.
- Use kindling – When you’re trying to get your fire started, use kindling. It is very dangerous to use flammable liquids to start your fire.
- Protect against embers – It is not uncommon for embers to shoot out of the fireplace. Prevent this from happening by using a mesh metal screen or glass fireplace doors. If you have a woodstove close and secure the door.
Following these tips every winter will help prevent a fireplace accident from happening and keep your family and home safe.
Winter is almost here. Now is the time to make yourself aware of winter hazards and the precautions you can take around your home and neighborhood to stay safe this winter. With winter usually come snow and ice hazards. Be very careful during snowy and icy weather. Below are some tips to help you avoid injury due to wintry conditions:
- Stay indoors if possible when snow and ice accumulates.
- If a snow or ice storm strikes during the overnight hours, try to alter your morning schedule. Don’t hurry of to work or school before plowing has been completed.
- Walk slowly and use railings when available during icy weather. If there is no railing, try walking in the snow instead of directly over icy patches on sidewalks, driveways, parking lots and streets.
- If you must go out in the ice and snow where boots with good traction to help you walk safely.
- Be alert for “black ice” on driveways, porches, sidewalks and streets. This is a thin layer of invisible ice that can form on concrete and other flat surfaces. You may think the sidewalk or driveway is clear and then step on black ice and slip. Check for black ice on walking surfaces and pavement if you see or know there was precipitation while experiencing freezing temperatures.
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.