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.
For many of us the backyard is our home away from home, or more specifically our home outside our house. Many of us will be spending a lot of time in our yards this summer and keeping things safe is just as important in the backyard as it is inside the home. Here are some reminders for backyard safety this summer and throughout the year.
- Grills – Keep your grill at least ten feet away from the side of your house, and keep it away from decks and shrubs. Never use it inside garages or under porches for cover. Keep children and pets away from the grill while in use, and always extinguish the coals before leaving it unattended.
- Decks – Waterproofing will help keep your deck in good shape. Inspect it for cracks and splinters, as well as for screws or nails popping up through the wood. Test railings for sturdiness.
- Plants – Choose plants carefully for your landscape to prevent any interactions like rashes or worse. Likewise inspect existing plants and know what poison ivy looks like and how to remove it safely.
- Pools – Follow existing guidelines and local laws for fencing around a pool. Store chemicals in a safe place and out of reach from children. Check that the drain cover complies with established safety standards. Establish house rules for the pool including, “No one swims alone.”
- Pests – Keep the mosquito population down by eliminating sources of standing water. Change the water in birdbaths and fountains frequently. Do not overuse weed killers or pesticides and be aware of their potential dangers for humans.
- Play Sets – Check frequently for the effects of use and weather like loose bolts, splinters, rust, etc. Provide a soft cushion like wood chips around equipment. Supervise young children while they play.
- Underfoot – Eliminate dangers in the yard that may cause tripping like sticks, rocks, tree stumps and uneven terrain.
- Mower -The spinning blades of power mowers can make dangerous projectiles out of sticks, stones and even toys. Keep everyone inside, especially children, when mowing the lawn.
Of course parents warn their children to be safe when walking to school or the park or to meet their friends. Kids, like anyone else, are more receptive to reasons than rules. Judging speed and distance isn’t fully developed in youngsters and their smaller size and inexperience with traffic rules puts them at greater risk of pedestrian dangers. On October 8, 2014 we’ll be celebrating International Walk and Bike to School Day. If your child/children will be walking or biking to school on Wednesday, take some time to go over these reminders and pedestrian safety tips with them:
- Cross the street using crosswalks or at street corners.
- Make eye contact with drivers before crossing so that you know that they see you.
- Use the sidewalk whenever available.
- If there is no sidewalk, walk on the side of the street and face the traffic.
- Don’t enter the street from behind parked cars.
- Watch out for cars that are turning or backing up.
- Pay extra attention when using electronic devices.
- Put electronic devices down when crossing the road.
- If using a cell phone is necessary, stop walking/biking and find a safe place to use it.
- Pay attention to 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.
Pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death for children aged 5 to 19. Do not assume that older is wiser as teens account for half of those deaths. Spend some time walking with your kids around the neighborhood and set a good example for them to follow. 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.
For more information about pedestrians and safe driving, visit our blog, Protect Pedestrians with Safe Driving – The Garage Plan Shop.
Now that you are an experienced boater, you will most likely enjoy sharing that enthusiasm with your family or friends. Whether taking along children or pets, below are some boating safety tips to protect you and your loved ones, including your furry friends.
- Provide Shade – Both animals and little ones will need refuge from the sun. If your boat has a cabin you’re set. If not, you will have to provide some shade for them. Try a small pop-up tent or umbrella.
- Protect Feet – The surfaces of boats can get very hot in the sun. Dogs absorb that heat through the pads on their feet. Cool down the surface before letting your pet on board or provide something for him to walk on like a piece of carpet. Children can also be more sensitive to that heat than adults, so don’t forget some comfy shoes for them.
- Drinking Water – Of course you will want to keep plenty of fresh water available for all of your guests, but don’t forget to provide it for the pets too. The motion of the boat may make it difficult to keep a water bowl full, so check it often.
- Potty – Before you board, walk your dog so he can relieve himself. Depending on the amenities of your boat, it may be a good idea to get everyone relief before taking off.
- Short Trips – To get both children and pets used to the movement of the boat, make the first few trips short or make frequent stops at shore for short rests.
- Life Jackets – Not all dogs can swim and some dogs tire easily, so you may want to provide them with a life jacket. Let them get used to it by taking them for a test run in the water before boarding the boat. To be effective, life jackets need to fit correctly. They should fit snugly and for children, have a crotch strap and also a collar to keep them face up in the water. Choose bright colors for visibility. You may want to attach a whistle and instruct them on sounding it in emergency situations.
- Learn to Swim – Knowing how to swim is important for water safety, but it is not a substitute for wearing life jackets in the boat. Teach your children that swimming in open water is different than in a pool. There are underwater hazards and there can be undertows even in still water. No diving, as you cannot be sure of the depth. Most recreational areas have designated areas for swimming for safety purposes.
- Rules – Specify the rules like no running and keeping hands and feet in the boat before embarking. Older children can benefit from a boating safety course.
- First Aid – For peace of mind in protecting your family, take a first aid course that includes CPR training. Don’t forget that the effects of hypothermia can occur more quickly for the young ones.
- Carbon Monoxide Alarm – Just like in your home, this can be a life saver on a motorized vessel.
- Alcohol – Coping with the pets and kids in the enclosed environment of a boat all day may drive you to drink, but be smart and wait until you are on dry ground.
Hurricane season begins in June and lasts to the end of November. If you live in a coastal area, of course you will want to prepare ahead of time. Below are eight hints and tips to help you prepare:
- Plan – Create a plan for your household and review it with all of its members. Include a place away from home where everyone can meet if they cannot get home. Also, designate a contact away from your immediate area that everyone can call in case of emergency. Keep hard copies of emergency numbers in case cell phone batteries fail.
- Emergency Kit – Put together an emergency kit in a waterproof container and keep it in a handy place. Include items like a battery operated radio, first aid kit, water, non-perishable foods and flashlights.
- Utilities – Know the procedures for shutting down electric, gas, water, etc. Prevent damage from sewers and septic systems with a backflow device.
- Stormproof – Consider reinforcing roof trusses, garage door openings and other vulnerable areas. You may want to install storm shutters. If you board up windows and other openings, have your supplies ready to go. Secure outdoor items. Keep the trees near the house trimmed and consider replacing landscaping gravel and rocks with softer items like bark or mulch.
- Evacuation Route – Review the safest and most direct route to your community shelter should you have to evacuate. Plan to avoid dangerous areas like dams or levees and know alternate routes should yours be blocked.
- Pets – Collars and chips should include your current contact information. Have leashes and carrying cases ready in case of evacuation.
- Check Information – You may be able to sign up with your local government for emergency alerts via phone or email. Make a record of important phone numbers to call for assistance. Don’t forget to have your insurance information handy just in case.
- Cash – When disasters hit and power is out for prolonged periods, cash is king. ATMs don’t work, businesses may not be able to process credit cards for a while and banks may be damaged or closed. Plan ahead and have a reasonable amount of cash available.