Most of us think of the holiday season as a fun and enjoyable time of the year. But others think of it as stressful and sometimes plagued with illness and poor health. There are many simple things you can do to maintain good health throughout the duration of this exciting and busy time of year. The Garage Plan Shop recommends reviewing the following health tips for a happy and healthy holiday season.
- Wash Hands – Keeping your hands clean is perhaps the easiest and most important thing you can do to stay healthy and prevent spreading germs to others. During the holidays we find ourselves in more public places more often than usual. Grocery stores, airports, restaurants, and shopping malls are filled with germs. Experts recommend washing your hands often with soap and warm water. Scrub for at least 20 seconds and rinse well. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. You can even keep a travel size hand sanitizer in your purse or pocket when you go out.
- Stress Management – The holidays are a wonderful time to have fun, be cheerful, participate in special activities and enjoy the company of family and friends. But don’t let all your extra activities wear you down mentally and/or physically. Maintain a relaxed and positive attitude about holiday activities. Manage your time between work, home and fun. Avoid over-committing to too many people and activities. Be sure to get plenty of rest. Finally, make sure to manage your holiday budget as over-spending will surly add more stress to the holiday season.
- Practice Food Safety – When preparing holiday snacks, cookies, meals and other edibles, keep you, your family and your friends safe from food-related illnesses. Wash your hands and food preparations surfaces often. Thoroughly clean cookware, cooking utensils, and dishes in between uses. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping poultry, seafood, meat and eggs (and their juices) away from ready-to-eat foods. Be sure to cook foods to their proper temperatures. Refrigerate leftovers right away. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.
- Dress Warm – For most of us, changing temperatures and colder weather coincide with the holiday season. Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems. They are especially dangerous for the elderly and infants and small children. Using several layers, dress warm whenever you go outdoors and stay dry. Be sure to cover your hands and head.
- Be Active, Eat Healthy – 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 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 like ice skating, sledding or taking a walk through the neighborhood after dinner to look at holiday light displays. Organize an afternoon family game of football or kickball. Keep in mind, a little fresh air will do some good for everyone.
- Medication Management – It is easy to get off track, change your schedule or 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 and as prescribed. Do not make changes in how you take medications. If you always take your medications with breakfast, makes sure you continue taking them with breakfast. If you are traveling out of town for the holidays, don’t forget to take your medications with you. It is important that you do not skip doses.
Following these simple tips will help you stay healthy and enjoy the entire holiday season.
Are you planning to decorate your home, yard and garage with those old strings of incandescent lights this holiday season? According to the St. Louis County Health Department, it is time to make the switch to LED lights. Most strings of incandescent lights are wrapped with a hard plastic PVC coating, which protects the wire inside. This coating is a problem for our landfills taking up to 500 years to breakdown. In addition, PVC is heat resistant and sometimes contains metals such as lead, cadmium and tin that are harmful once they make it into the ground.
So what are the benefits of using LED lights for your holiday decorating and light displays? Consider the following facts about LED lighting as reported by the St. Louis County Health Department:
- LED lights use one tenth of the energy when compared to a traditional strand of holiday mini-lights. Using less energy means a lower electric bill.
- They last two times longer than incandescent lights – that’s up to 20 years!
- LEDs can withstand, heat, cold and moisture making them ideal for outdoor displays.
- These energy efficient lights are cool to the touch reducing the risk of fire.
- The brightness of LED lights does not fade over time.
- They are durable and harder to break than traditional holiday lights.
- LEDs can be found at most home improvement centers and hardware stores.
Before you throw those old light strands in the trash, check locally for a recycling/collection program. Many hardware stores and home improvement stores offer collection programs, and some even give a discount on the purchase of new LED holiday lights for every strand of old lights you recycle.
So, be earth-friendly this holiday season and decorate your house, garage and yard with LED lights.
Did you know the Thursday before Thanksgiving is Use Less Stuff Day? It is a day for us to commit or pledge to reduce our resource consumption during the holiday season. It is time for all of us to start a new holiday tradition. Get your kids, family and friends involved and make the commitment to work toward an earth-friendly holiday season.
These ideas should help you get started:
- Plan to recycle. Set up bins to collect gift boxes, wrapping paper, holiday greeting cards and envelopes, beverage cans and bottles. Tell your guests what to recycle and where to place the items so they don’t end up in the trash can.
- Use fewer disposable paper products and eating utensils. Rent dinnerware, glassware and silverware for a large holiday party or ask guests to bring their own for a smaller gathering. This will eliminate paper plates and plastic cups, forks, knives, etc. from going in the trash.
- Use less energy. A large crowd will warm your home. Turn the thermostat down a few degrees before guests arrive.
- 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.
The commitment is easy. Tell your friends and family about Use Less Stuff Day and make a pledge to participate in an earth-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.
If you enjoy decorating your home, garage and yard for the holidays, The Garage Plan Shop has a few tips for decorating and storage of your light displays and other holiday décor.
- Begin by going through all of last year’s décor. Get rid of strands of lights that don’t work (some hardware stores and home improvement centers collect non-working strands of lights and give a discount if you purchase new LED lights), throw away broken or weathered decorations. Remember to recycle anything you can. Replace any items that you discarded with new items you’ll need for your outdoor holiday display this year.
- If you like the way you decorated your yard, porch, garage, etc., take photos of this year’s display. You don’t need to print the pictures. Just save them on your computer and reference them next year. This way you won’t have to figure out just how you made your display looks so good last year.
- When the holidays are over and it is time to pack your lights and decorations, group them by the area in which they were used and place them is separate boxes or storage containers. Label the containers, i.e. “roof,” “porch,” “garage,” “yard,” etc. When it is time to decorate outside next year, you’ll already know which decorations are for what part of your home or yard. If you decide to print the photos mentioned in Tip # 1, include the photos in the corresponding boxes of decorations so you’ll have them for a reference.
With these holiday organization and storage tips, decorating the exterior of your house and your yard will be a snap next year!
With the holidays right around the corner, chances are you’ll be taking at least a road trip or two to visit family and friends or experience the joys of the season in another city or town. The Garage Plan Shop recommends following these travel safety tips provided by a traffic safety researcher.
1. Prepare your car – Make sure your car is in tip-top shape before setting out on a road trip. Change your oil and check tire pressure and antifreeze levels.
2. Map your travel plan – If your road trip is going to take more than a single day’s travel, consult maps and find hotels along your route in which to stay for the night. Also use resources like Google Maps and travel sites to locate hotels along your route. Don’t forget to bring your maps with you.
3. Drive safe during the day – Research shows roadways are most dangerous to travel early in the morning and late at night when drivers are more likely to be tired or intoxicated. Limit your driving times between 7:00 am and 10:00 pm. Depart early and plan to be at your destination or hotel before it gets too late.
4. Plan to take breaks – Plan to pull over every 2-3 hours to stretch your legs, give your eyes a quick break and recharge. If you are traveling with another driver, take turns driving in shifts so no one experiences fatigue.
5. Wake up or catch up on sleep – Statistics report in 2009 alone over 100,000 car crashes were due to drowsy driving. If you are driving in shifts with another driver, take a nap while the other person is behind the wheel. If not, pull over in a safe well-lit place and take a quick power nap. But perhaps the best idea is plan to check into your hotel early in the evening so you can go to bed early and catch up on sleep for the next day’s drive.
6. Do not drink – It is not safe and it is illegal to drink and drive. Studies show a single alcoholic drink can cause important changes in cognition affecting your ability to drive. So, skip the beer at lunch and wait until you are at your destination (a holiday party) where you can relax, celebrate the holidays and not have to worry about getting behind the wheel later.
The holidays are a wonderful time for everyone. Make sure you and your loved ones enjoy them by staying safe when taking a holiday road trip.