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.
October 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.
- Always wear a bike helmet when riding a bike.
- Use crosswalks with crossing the street or cross at street corners.
- Be aware of the cars around you. Stay alert for those that are turning, backing up or pulling in and out of driveways.
- Be sure to use sidewalks when available. If there is not sidewalk, travel on the shoulder of the road and face the oncoming traffic.
- Avoid using electronic devises when crossing the road.
- If you must use a cell phone while walking or biking, stop and find a safe place to use it.
- Make eye contact with drivers before crossing so that you know that they see you.
- Pay attention for cars backing out of driveways or out of parking spaces as well as those that are turning.
- Do not enter the street from behind parked cars. The parked car will block you from the view of oncoming drivers.
- Be alert for cars moving in or out of driveways.
- Wear light or reflective clothing especially if you must be out walking/biking after dark.
- 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.
When it is time to head back to school, preparing your kids for the upcoming school year can be stressful. Below are some tips to help you remain stress-free as your family gets ready for the new school year.
- Routine is key. – Get everyone on a schedule and find a comfortable routine that works for your family. Children are comfortable with routines because they know what is expected of them and what will happen next. Stress-free kids equals stress-free parents. Additionally, consider asking your kids for their input when making the schedule. By adding their input, you’re kids will be more cooperative when it comes to the daily routine.
- Shop with a plan. – When it comes to buying back-to-school clothing, only buy what your kids really need rather than overbuying. Determine what each child has outgrown and purchase only the clothing items needed to fill in the gaps. You’ll spend less time shopping and less money on clothing that isn’t necessary. Additionally, when buying school supplies, shop from the list provided by the school/teacher for each child. There is no need to buy items that are not on the list. This will help keep your budget in check.
- Get organized. – Getting ready for school each morning will go more smoothly if you take some time to get organized before the first day of school. Designate a space to store backpacks, jackets, etc. If your children put all of their belongings in the designated space when they come home from school, everything will be easy to find in the morning. Also, create a plan for packing lunches. If you children buy lunch at school, distribute lunch money as part of the daily or weekly routine. If they take lunch form home, pack lunches (or let the kids do it) and place them in a designated area each morning, so the know where to find them before leaving the house.
- Eat breakfast. – We’ve heard it a thousand times, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Eating breakfast before everyone heads out the door will curb hunger, boost energy, improve mood and help everyone focus throughout the day. Breakfast will provide plenty of energy until lunchtime, and when the kids are happy and in good moods, you’ll be less irritable and happy too.
- Take a break. – Parents often spend so much time taking care of others that they do not take care of themselves. Schedule “me time” each week and stick to it, whether that means going for a weekend jog or sleeping in on Saturday morning, when your happy, rested, and relaxed, it will help you take care of others with a smile.
Hurricane season can last almost a half year (typically June – November), and with hurricane season quickly approaching, you don’t want to be caught off guard. If you live in a coastal area, now is a good time to review your emergency plan and prepare your home and family in case disaster strikes. Review these tips and hints to help you prepare:
- Create an Emergency Supply Kit – Create your own emergency supply kit. Consider storing these items in a waterproof container: First aid kit, flashlights, blankets, clothing, shoes, water, non-perishable food, radio, prescriptions, toiletries, insect repellant, extra keys, important documents like insurance policies, emergency phone numbers and some cash. Include a phone charger that plugs into the car’s power system for at least one of your cell phones. If you have children, include toys to keep them occupied and of course bring the usual diaper bag contents for infants. Don’t forget leashes and carriers for the pets.
- Prepare you Auto – Keep your car maintained and the tank full of gas. Know ahead of time the safest route to an emergency shelter and keep in mind alternate routes in case yours becomes blocked.
- Safety – Safety features in your house should include smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors. Consider learning first aid, including CPR. Know when and how to turn off your utilities. Review with your children how to call 911 and other emergency numbers.
- Have a Plan – Everyone may not be at home when the storm hits, so designate a meeting place and review it with all family members. Also, designate a friend or relative that lives away from the storm’s path, as an emergency contact. Write down all contact information for each family member to carry with them. Practice your plan so that everyone can remain calm and competent when the storm actually hits.
- Keep Informed – Register for emergency alerts for your cell phone, tablet or computer. Bad weather can take out phone lines and cell towers so be sure to keep a battery powered radio tuned to the appropriate channel/station. Know the difference between a Hurricane Watch and a Hurricane Warning. A watch means a hurricane could happen, while a warning means that it will happen. This is when all of your preparation and practice will go into effect.
With these helpful tips and a little planning your and your family will be better prepared should a hurricane make land fall in your area.