Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the excitement of the holidays that we throw caution to the wind. Thanksgiving is near and as soon as it passes, we go into Christmas mode. Now is a good time to think about holiday safety. These are just reminders for things you already know, but may get too busy to give your full attention. Take a moment to review and truly have a safe holiday.
- Smoke Alarms – Test smoke alarms to make sure they are functioning. Batteries should be changed twice a year. Make sure family members know what they sound like and what they should do when they hear them.
- Escape Plan – Review escape routes and designate a meeting place outside of the house for everyone to gather.
- Fireplace Safety – Keep the chimney clean and have it inspected. Use a fire screen to prevent sparks from entering the room. Don’t add anything to the fire. It is tempting to watch that flash of flames from discarded plates and cups or that big ball of wrapping paper, but don’t jeopardize you and your family’s safety. Someone should always be in the room when a fire is burning and put the fire out before going to bed.
- Candles – Like the fireplace, this is an open flame that you are allowing in your home. Don’t discount the damage it can do because it is small. Keep candles a good distance from other decorations and extinguish them when leaving the room.
- Cooking – Leave nothing unattended. Banish small children from being underfoot in the kitchen. Be aware that your holiday clothing doesn’t flow into a flame. Review how to put out stove top fires and have a working fire extinguisher close by. Unplug any small appliances that you are not using.
- Water the Tree – If you keep a live tree in the house make sure you water it every day. Keep it at least three feet from any heat source. Don’t let the rearranging of your house to accommodate it, block any exit routes.
- Check the Lights – Check cords for wear and don’t run any wires under carpets. If your lights blink and they are not supposed to, discard that strand. Don’t overload your circuits and turn all lights and decorations off when going to bed or leaving the house.
As everyone knows, there will be an increased number of children out on the street on Halloween. These kids are distracted by excitement, are poor judges of traffic threats, may have restricted movement and vision because of their costumes, and believe they are indestructible. With that in mind, motorists must be especially careful on Halloween night. The list of tips below will help keep motorists safe on this special night:
- Stay Home – If you don’t have to be anywhere, plan on an evening at home. Keep in mind Halloween festivities start as early as 4:00 PM. In fact, accidents involving pedestrians are four times more likely to occur between 4:00 PM and 8:00 PM on this holiday than any other day.
- Use an Alternate Route – Try choosing a route that is less likely to be used by trick-or-treaters. There may already be kids on the streets when you leave work so plan accordingly.
- Discourage Teens from Driving – Keep inexperienced drivers off the road by giving them a ride or by planning activities to keep them at home.
- Slow Down – Keep your speed below the limit in residential areas to give yourself more time to stop, should a child dart out in front of you.
- Stay Alert – Watch the sidewalks and curbs where kids are walking. They may step out from between parked cars, so be aware. Stopped vehicles are likely to be letting out passengers that may cross in front of you, so don’t pass them.
- Avoid Distractions – Turn down your radio and don’t use a cell phone while driving.
- Signal – Let other drivers and pedestrians know what you are doing. If you are dropping off or picking up passengers, turn on your hazard lights. Use turn signals at intersections and when changing lanes.
- No Drinking – Don’t be distracted by the holiday parties that you might attend. There’s never an excuse to drink and drive.
Automobile related accidents with pedestrians increase as much as four times on Halloween most frequently occurring between 4:00 and 8:00 PM. Below are a few tips for driving safely on Halloween night:
- Drive slowly. This is especially true in residential areas where there’s a lot of action. Keeping your speed below the limit gives you more time to stop in an emergency. Don’t pass stopped vehicles as they are most likely dropping off or picking up trick-or-treaters.
- Stay vigilant. Keep an eye on the sidewalks and curbs where kids are walking as they can change direction and be in the street at any moment. Be cautious at intersections or even when turning into driveways.
- Eliminate distractions. Do not use a cell phone or text while driving. Turn down the radio to help you concentrate on the road. Remember that many children are out early so stay alert on your way home from work.
- Yield to pedestrians. Many children may not know the rules for crossing the street safely or are too distracted and excited to notice cars. They may assume that you will stop. Give them the right away.
- Use signals. Let other drivers know your intentions by not neglecting to use turn signals when turning and stopping. Turn your lights on before dark to help pedestrians see your car. Use your hazard lights when stopping to drop off or pick up passengers.
- Be responsible. Halloween is a holiday for adults too, with a lot of parties where drinking will occur. Two thirds of the accidents on this day are alcohol related. Plan ahead and designate a driver.
Remember to be safe on the road for you, your passengers, and all the trick-or treaters that are out this night.
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 lights – At the end of the holiday season take inventory of your holiday lights. Throw away or recycle and strands that no longer work properly. Then, roll each good light strand in a ball and place each ball in a separate plastic bag. Place all of the bags of lights in a plastic storage container preventing moisture damage.
- Artificial Christmas tree – The original box your artificial tree came in seems like the most logical storage box. However trying to squeeze the tree back into the box will seem like an impossible task. You’ll have to smash and bend all the branches in order to squeeze the tree back into the box. 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, consider purchasing a Christmas tree bag or a commercially available Christmas tree storage box.
- Christmas wreaths – Most department and home stores sell holiday wreath storage boxes of various sizes. Make sure you buy the right size storage box because you’ll damage the wreath if you try to squeeze it in a box that’s too small. Also, consider boot boxes. They often work well for medium-sized and smaller Christmas wreaths. Just remember, whatever you use to store your wreaths must be able to maintain the shape of the wreath until next year.
- Ornaments – Many holiday ornaments come in individual boxes. It often works best to just repack these ornaments in their original boxes and store together in a large container. Try using other small boxes for homemade ornaments or wrap them in tissue paper and store together 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 (or tightly wrap larger items in lager plastic bags or trash bags). Place all of your plastic-wrapped linens in a large plastic storage container to prevent moisture damage. Another option to consider is dedicating the top shelf of your storage or 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.
- Decorations that you’ll have to reassemble next year – Before taking down Christmas decorations that you had to assemble in order to display, take pictures of them the way you set them up so you can remember how to do it next year. Then take everything down and or disassemble in the reverse order of the way you set it all up.
- Christmas candles – Wrap each candle in an old stocking, sock, tissue paper or a plastic shopping bag to prevent scratching. Store together in a box or storage container. Be sure to store away from heat sources such as an attic where heat could melt the candles.
- 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 these holiday storage tips and a little planning and effort, you can organize and store your holiday decorations in an efficient manner that will make them easy to find and display next year.
It is no secret the fall and winter holidays are fast approaching. It is a time when homes are filled with family and friends, overnight guests, sparkling lights, festive decorations, holiday trees, and tasty meals and treats. Many of us look forward to good times and special holiday moments, but this combination often comes with a risk. For example, the US Fire Administration reports structure fires increase during the winter holiday season and the dollar loss per fire is 34% greater than normal. Take some time to review the countless safety articles, holiday tips and other safety information that is available before the decorating and festivities begin. Doing your part to keep your family and home safe during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays will ensure enjoyment for all.