Tag Archives: holidays

Don’t Trust an Old Sack for the Perfect Gift: Questions to Ask Before Buying That Toy

Gift giving season is upon us, and for little ones, that means toys. Sure, teens and adults are happy with gift cards or cash, but children are rarely thrilled by something so abstract, preferring the immediate satisfaction of a toy they can play with right away. Even if you don’t have children to shop for, with so many children in need, many of us buy and donate to a toy drive. So it seems most of us are probably toy shopping at some point this time of year!

And that can be stressful. Walking down the toy aisles at your local supercenter may seem a bit overwhelming with all the options, and with all the new technology, toys are far more complex than they were 20 years ago. When confronted by all this variety, safety may be at the back of your mind, but it shouldn’t be.

John Hopkins Medicine released statistics showing that over 200,000 children are treated in emergency rooms every year for toy-related injuries, and 3% of those require hospital care. Although the majority of incidents involve riding toys such as tricycles or scooters, other injuries can be caused by choking, drowning or suffocation. Choking in particular is a risk for children under three years of age, as young ones are more likely to put small pieces in their mouth and their airways are smaller.

Yes, these are scary statistics, putting a damper on that toy shopping, right? But the toys you pick out this year don’t have to be a part of these statistics or put anyone in the hospital. Check out the simple questions below to keep in mind during your stroll through the dolls and dinosaurs, and you’ll be sure to err on the side of safety while shopping:

  • What is the recommended age? Keep in mind the age of all the children in the house, because you never know who might be able to get their hands on that toy.
  • Does it have sharp points or edges? When kids play rough you don’t want anyone poking an eye out.
  • Are there any long cords or strings? This may not be the first safety concern to come to mind, but cords or strings could get wrapped around someone and cause serious injury or suffocation.
  • Is it small enough to fit in a mouth? Or are there small pieces that could break off? Especially with toddlers, if it can go in a mouth, it will go in a mouth.
  • Are the magnets safely secured in plastic? See the previous question, since swallowed magnets can be even more dangerous than swallowed plastic.
  • Is it loud, and can the volume be turned off or lowered? Toys with without adjustable volumes aren’t just annoying; they can damage hearing as well.
  • Is it nontoxic? Some countries have stricter regulations on materials than others, so make sure any toy you pick up is made safely and reliably by checking where it was made.
  • If it’s made from fabric, is it washable? Spills happen all the time, and no one wants a favorite toy ruined forever by a favorite juice, plus fabrics can harbor bacteria in a way plastic can’t.
  • Are the batteries securely screwed in? If you can pry them out without a screwdriver, it might be best to put the whole toy back.
  • Perhaps most important, was it recalled? Doing some research online may save you from giving a toy that shouldn’t be sold in the first place.

Yes, this is a lot to think about for just a simple gift. But if you ask yourself all these questions while shopping, you’ll walk away with a safe, reliable, well-made toy that can last for years. And if you practice by questioning toy purchases, think of how many other purchases you could make with the same safety principles, creating established, lasting habits of safe buying?

6 New Year’s Eve Safety Tips to Keep You Out of Harm’s Way as You Ring in 2016

There is just something about closing out an old year and ringing in a new one, with the excitement of resolutions made and hopes renewed! The joy we experience on New Year’s Eve, however, shouldn’t get in the way of staying safe while celebrating the ringing in of the new. To keep you safe and sound on this last day of 2015, we have six safety tips for you and yours—commonsense reminders that apply always but most especially on this night…

Eating
Eating as a safety tip?? Yep! Because chances are that most people heading out to ring in the New Year are going to imbibe, and you’ll be better off imbibing on a full stomach. You might be too nervous or rushed for a meal, but that doesn’t negate that fact that eating before drinking is one smart safety tip!

Drinking
And speaking of drinking, we can’t say enough about having a designated driver. You absolutely positively should not be driving on New Year’s Eve if you have been drinking, even if you only have one or two drinks. But also keep in mind that drinking makes people vulnerable—men and women both. For that reason, you really need to consume with caution so you’re not setting yourself up for bad choices, trusting people or situations that you normally wouldn’t.

Driving
There are two sides to the driving safety on New Year’s Eve. You should not be driving if drinking, obviously. And if you are the designated driver, be extra vigilant while on the roads, watching out for those who are less responsible and driving while intoxicated. Be on the lookout for drivers who are swerving, driving erratically, or slowing down and speeding up without reason. Keep your distance from those cars! To minimize your risk, try not to drive during the peak times, like right after midnight, or when the bars close. If you can hang out sipping coffee for a while before heading home, try to do so.

Going out in public
Whether you’re headed to a bar or a gathering spot to watch the ball drop, be wary when in crowds. When you’re getting pushed around and jostled, it’s easy to get your purse or wallet stolen. Also, there is safety in numbers. Don’t go out alone, and even two might be too few to be safe. Try to be part of a group if you can.

Communicating
And even when in a group of people, keep your phone with you and fully charged. If you’re somewhere loud and you won’t hear your phone ring or chime, check it regularly throughout the night. Also make sure people know where you are at all times and that you know where they are, whether these are the friends you’re with or family members back home. When in a crowded situation, you can easily get separated. Which is also why we also suggest you…

…have a backup plan
If there’s a chance you will get separated from your friends (and there is usually a chance of that on New Year’s Eve), have a set meeting place and time so you can reconnect at some point during the evening. Obviously, you won’t want to schedule this for 11:55 p.m., so think that through.

The new year is almost here, our chance to take on those tasks and revisit those resolutions that somehow didn’t come to fruition during the past 12 months. That is exciting! But while everyone wants to get the New Year off to a great start, yours will be much better from the start if you’re safe and sound while welcoming that first day of January and 2016!

Wishing you and yours a safe and sound New Year!

Keeping Your Home Safe and Secure Throughout the Holidays

“It’s the holiday season,” sings Andy Williams, and indeed it is! During the hectic weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we busy Americans might get stressed, but we do also try hard to be of good cheer! And keeping our homes safe and sound is one way to keep our holidays happy despite the busy-ness and stress.

The holidays bring with them not just parties and shopping, but also candles, rickety ladders, Christmas trees, electric lights, extension cords, busy kitchens, packages on doorsteps, and a general carelessness that can result from being over tasked, in addition to other risk factors. To help you keep not just your sanity but your home safe and secure throughout December, we offer some seasonal safety tips for you:

  • When you start prepping to hang lights, whether outside, inside or on the tree, check those lights for any fraying or exposed wiring. If any lights are questionable, set them aside for recycling, even if it means you’ll have to buy more lights this year. (Wouldn’t you rather make a trip to the hardware store for new lights than call 911 for a house fire?)
  • Turn off outdoor Christmas lights as well as the tree lights and any other decorative lighting before you leave the house for work or go to bed at night. If you’re away for the holidays and don’t want to broadcast an empty house to potential burglars, put your lights on timers.
  • When putting up lights, keep your extension cords to a minimum, never plugging one into another for a longer cord. Also be careful about creating tripping hazards by running extension cords across sidewalks, steps or porches.
  • Follow our Christmas tree safety tips, for a tree that will stay fresher, longer, decreasing the risk of fire.
  • Use common sense with candles. Keep candles away from drapes or the edges of tables where they might get knocked over. Also make doubly sure every single candle is out before you go to bed!
  • Practice fire prevention! According to the Red Cross, over 47,000 house fires happen during the holidays. Check the Red Cross’ tips for preventing house fires during the holidays.
  • Keep up and ramp up your home security measures. Crime doesn’t take a holiday, and estimates are that 400,000 home break-ins occur between November and December in the U.S. Take steps to ensure you’re not one of the victims, and keep in mind that most burglaries happen in broad daylight.
  • Also be mindful of packages being left on your doorstep. Consider having boxes sent to your work address instead or find some other way to make sure you won’t have those tempting packages sitting there not only easily stolen, but telling the bad guys “no one’s home” at the same time.
  • And if you’ll be traveling and away from home, review our seven tips for keeping your home safe while away.

We wish you nothing but good cheer this year, and if we can do a little something to ensure your home is a safe and secure place to enjoy that good cheer, so much the better!

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Customer Reviews

I feel so much better knowing my family is protected! I spoke with SafeStreets USA in the evening and a technician was able to come install the system for me then for my parents first thing the next morning. Very impressed with his knowledge and care!

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We had our ADT system installed by SafeStreets USA and were really impressed with the service we received from our technician. He was very friendly and answered all of our questions on the system and how it worked. He set everything up in a couple of hours and was a real pleasure to talk with []

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