Tag Archives: winter

Have Yourself a Greener Little Christmas…with Gifts that Last

The environment is top of mind for many this holiday season, after a year of horrendous natural disasters. That might mean we’re a little greener in our Christmas preparations this year. And even if wildfires and hurricanes aren’t pushing us to be greener, the rising awareness of plastic waste should be. As we switch to re-usable grocery bags and restaurants stop offering straws, we are paying more attention to that waste. And now is the time to do it, because the amount of trash we throw away in the U.S. increases by an estimated 25% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

Yes, that makes the holiday season an excellent time to step back and figure out ways to make less waste of all kinds…starting with gifts. To help you get greener, we offer four ways to give gifts they’ll love—with less waste.

Give quality gifts
Choose a higher quality product if it will last longer, and most definitely avoid kitschy things that no one really wants anyway. (Hint: If it looks like it belongs a White Elephant party, it belongs at a White Elephant party.) Spend a little more and give a little less if you have to make up the difference in price. When you spend more for a higher quality product that lasts, you benefit in the long run by cutting down on waste.

Restrict your buying to local, independently owned shops
One way to cut back on waste is by driving less and spending more locally. It’s easy to go online and go on a splurge, buying things people might not need or want and generating lots of plastic shipping material that gets thrown away. Try shopping locally and you’ll make less waste while benefiting your local economy. (We are trying an experiment at our house this year: We are taking the money we saved for Christmas out of the bank as cash and only using that to do our Christmas shopping, forcing us to shop at brick-and-mortar stores and not online.)

Give gifts that keep on giving
It might not be glitzy but a gift like home security is a gift that keeps on giving without generating more waste. It’s something useful and much appreciated. It doesn’t take up any room or need storage, but it gives plenty of peace of mind. And it’s a gift that causes the recipient to think of you every time he or she uses it. Home security can be a priceless gift that keeps on giving. If not home security, maybe it’s a subscription to a publication, or a donation to a charity, or something else your loved one would appreciate.

Wrap naturally
Although we’ve been saving and re-using the same Christmas wrapping bows for years now (and admittedly, some are looking haggard and worn!), we are transitioning to all natural materials for gift wrapping. Check Pinterest for ideas, and you’ll see how gorgeous this kind of gift wrapping can be!

As our awareness of plastic waste increases, organizations and businesses are taking steps to decrease the amount of that waste. You can read updates on the fight against plastic waste at the National Geographic website. And you as an individual can take your own steps to reduce waste by going a little greener with gifts this season!

5 Christmas Tree Safety Tips–for Those of Us with Real Trees!

Lately the controversy has been heating up about which is the greener choice: a real Christmas tree or a fake one. If you really think about it, the real tree seems to be the greener choice, but surprisingly, over 80% of trees Americans will display in their homes this holiday season will be fake.

That still leaves about 20% of us committed to the real tree, and that means it’s worth reviewing Christmas tree safety tips. So our gift to you today: 5 Christmas tree safety tips.

1) Find a fresh tree—and keep it fresh
We live in an area surrounded by Christmas tree farms, and many trees are harvested well before Thanksgiving. Unless you’re cutting your tree yourself, check for freshness when you head out to find your perfect tree. Pull on the needles to make sure they aren’t falling off. Pick up the tree a few inches off the ground and drop it to see how many needles fall off. A few is okay. More than a few is not.

Buying your tree earlier in the season might help you to find a fresher one too. The longer the tree sits on the lot waiting to be sold, the more dried out it will get. We don’t put our tree up until right before Christmas but we buy it early, cut off the bottom 2 inches of the trunk, and keep it outside in a bucket of water until we are ready to put it up. We heat our house with a woodstove (because it was built in 1890 before central heating), and that can quickly dry out a tree, we learned the hard way. Keeping the tree in a bucket of water like just described has made a big difference in keeping the tree fresh.

2) Display your tree in a safe place
As I said, we heat our house with a woodstove, so our tree has to go in another room. All Christmas trees should be displayed far from woodstoves and fireplaces, as well as out of traffic areas where they might get bumped into by a toddler running through the house or a rambunctious big dog jumping about because he’s excited about a new toy. (I’m not going to say I’m speaking from experience here, but….)

3) Get the right size tree
As much as you might want something grandiose for displaying in your home, you don’t want your tree to be a hazard! So give your space serious consideration before you head to the tree lot. Our living room has ceilings that are 9-feet high, but our living room is small so the tree has to be skinny. It takes us a while to find a tall but very skinny tree! Even then, we end up trimming branches before we decorate, to make sure the tree is not sticking out and in the way at all.

4) Keep your Christmas tree watered—and watered, and watered
Once your tree is in the house, you’ll put water in the tree stand, of course, but you have to keep up with it. Your house is warm and that will dry out the tree quickly. Keeping the stand filled with water will help to slow down that process. And don’t let the tree stand go dry. If the bottom of your tree gets a chance to harden up again, you’ll have a hard time getting it to soak up any water. I make watering the tree part of my nightly routine, even when it’s soaking up less water after a few days.

5) Turn off the lights–safely
I don’t like turning off the lights on our Christmas tree. We only have it up for 3 weeks each year, so I want it lit up 24 hours a day during that time. That’s not safe, however. It’s not safe to have to climb under or around the tree to unplug the lights before bed either (something we are guilty of), so consider using a timer for your tree lights, or a surge protector with a switch, or something else that ensures you’ll turn the lights off when gone or in bed—without jeopardizing the tree.

I have to admit I was saddened by reading that only 20% of us are using real Christmas trees. There’s just something about the search for the right tree, the smell of the tree, the uniqueness of each tree every year…it would be hard to give that up. So for now, I count myself proudly among that 20%, using a real tree and following the tips above to keep it safe!

Review These Shopping Safety Tips Before You Whip Out Your Wallet This Weekend…

Thanksgiving is early this year. No, it really is. It falls on November 22nd, which is the earliest date it can fall on. So, it’s not your imagination. Thanksgiving did sneak up on you! And on us too, we admit, and because of that, we are all of a sudden realizing it’s time to talk about safe holiday shopping before the buying frenzy begins.

It’s going to be a big year for holiday shopping
And a frenzy it will be! Last year 174 million Americans parted with their money during the Thanksgiving weekend shopping, which includes Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You can expect that number to be higher this year because the economy is booming and consumer confidence is high. As a result, eMarketer predicts 2018 holiday season will bring strong retail sales: offline sales are expected to increase 4.1%, while online spending will increase 16.2% to $123.39 billion.

Will you be one of the confident consumers coughing up cash this weekend? Before you whip out your wallet this Thursday, Friday or Monday, review these safety tips first, so your holiday won’t be more expensive than you’d planned.

While shopping online
More money will be spent online than in person this Thanksgiving weekend, so be ready to be safe for any shopping that involves your laptop or mobile phone:

  • When at a website, check the URL and look for https:// rather than just http://. You can also look for a lock or similar symbol, showing that the site is confirmed secure.
  • Change up your passwords on a regular basis.
  • Pay with a credit cardinstead of a debit card.
  • Have a plan for any packages that will get delivered to your house, so they’re not sitting on your front porch and easily stolen.

While shopping in person
Despite the allure of online shopping, many of us still like to go spend our money in person. If you’re going to be hitting the Black Friday sales, pay attention to these safety tips:

  • Don’t flash any cash and only pull out your wallet when you’re ready to pay.
  • Keep your purse close to your body or carry your wallet in a front pocket.
  • Only purchase what you can carry at one time.
  • Keep your phone charged.
  • Set up meeting times and places if you’re shopping with others.
  • Park under a light if you’ll be shopping until after dark.
  • If you put packages in your car and do more shopping, keep those packages out of sight by hiding them in the trunk.
  • Once you’re back home, don’t advertise expensive purchases. Don’t leave boxes on the front porch and break down large boxes as soon as possible to keep your buys to yourself.

Don’t spend what you don’t have
Although the buying and giving is fun, and these tips should help keep you and your property safer, we offer one caveat to all this: Avoid the debt. Consumer debt is set to reach $4 trillion by the end of 2018. You might think that’s unrelated to home security and safety, but when debt affects our physical health, marriages, and financial futures, it’s totally related. No matter how good the Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal might be, if you have to borrow to buy it, you’re going to end up paying more for it anyway.

And on that note, have fun, buy smart, and stay safe this Thanksgiving weekend!

Wary of Winter Driving? You Should Be! Here’s Help…

Although our part of the country is going through an extremely mild winter (as in little snowpack which will probably lead to water issues this summer), other parts of the country are getting the usual blasts of arctic air and bouts of heavy snowfall. Since winter weather has to be extreme to get people to stay home, plenty of us are out there driving no matter the road conditions. And that’s dangerous.

According to reporting by USAToday.com, over 4,000 Americans have died in winter-related car crashes in the past five years. In fact, car accidents kill more people than weather disasters, and commonsense says accidents are more likely when visibility is bad and roads are slick.

We are all about safety and security at SafeStreetsUSA, and that includes watching out for you while you’re on the road. So we compiled some tips for you for safer winter driving, based on advice offered by AAA…

Before you leave the house
The best way to be ready for winter driving is to be prepared ahead of time. Take time to see to these things long before you grab your keys and coat:

  • Stock your car with things you might need in an emergency, such as blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and medication. Also carry something brightly colored in case you get stuck. (Find more advice here.)
  • Avoid driving while tired. Your reaction time won’t be as good should you need to avoid an accident.
  • Make sure your car is well maintained, and your tires are properly inflated. Or, as we like to say, make sure your car is trip worthy. This is sound advice all year long, but especially in the winter when being stranded will be a bigger challenge.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full. This is in part to avoid your gas line freezing, but it’s also sound advice for being prepared for adversity.
  • Keep an eye on the weather forecasts, especially before a long-distance drive or driving in an isolated area. If you can’t postpone a trip, make sure someone knows your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.

While you’re on the road
Once you’ve left the house or work, follow this advice to be a safer winter driver:

  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, whether it’s snow, ice, excess water or sand that’s making it slippery.
  • Accelerate slowly so your tires get a chance to grip the road when the surface is slick.
  • Decelerate slowly because it will take you longer to slow down, and hitting the brakes is a good way to go into a skid on winter roads. You know the stoplight is ahead of you. Anticipate it.
  • That said, be extra careful of other drivers who might hit their brakes hard. Keep your distance just in case.
  • Drive slowly. (Are you picking up on the “slowly” theme here?) Yes, accelerate and decelerate slowly, but also take your turns with care, and be more deliberate and cautious.
  • Take it slow and steady when going uphill, rather than trying to power up the hill. Otherwise, you might set your wheels spinning. Build some inertia on the flat before you get to the hill instead. You want to start your descent slowly too. This will help.
  • AAA says to brake by keeping the heel of your foot on the floor and using the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Try not to come to a complete stop. It’s harder to get going again when roads are slick. This is particularly true on hills, so if you’re going uphill, keep on going even if you have to crawl along to avoid stopping.

If you get stuck
If you get stuck, you’ll be glad you packed emergency supplies in your car! But also follow this advice:

  • Stay with your car. It’s your shelter from the storm, and it’s easier for rescuers to spot because it’s bigger.
  • Walking away from your car in a storm can mean losing sight of it. Don’t do it.
  • Don’t over exert yourself trying to push or dig your car out of the snow. A little effort is okay, but save your strength.
  • If you need rescuing, tie a brightly colored cloth to your antenna during the day. At night, keep your dome light on if possible.
  • If you have to, run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill but try to conserve gasoline. Also make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow or ice because that could cause carbon monoxide to get into the car when the engine is running.

However, the absolute best advice for driving in winter weather is to stay home. Despite all of your precautions, you’re at the mercy of the weather and the other drivers, who might not be as cautious or prepared as you are. Wouldn’t you rather stay in, wait out the storm, and avoid the worry altogether?

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?

Stop Blaming Ben Franklin and Focus on Getting Ready for Darker Days Instead

Daylight Saving Time ends November 5th, and most everyone will be looking for someone to blame when the sky starts getting dark an hour earlier than we’re used to. But did you know that the man who invented the bifocal glasses did not invent Daylight Saving Time?

A Short History of Daylight Saving Time (DST)
Although Ben Franklin did write an essay on using daylight hours more efficiently by getting up earlier, it was actually New Zealand scientist George Vernon Hudson who in 1895 first proposed setting clocks forward two hours in March and setting them two hours back in October. That idea didn’t stick, but a small town in Canada kicked things off by setting their clocks one hour forward in 1908, followed by the rest of the country and then popularized by Germany. By 1918, the United States had passed legislation to establish DST, and by the end of World War II, most European countries also followed the time change.

Time to Perform a Lighting Audit
Whether or not you agree with setting our clocks forward and backward in the middle of the night when the time changes, soon it might be dark by the time you get home from work. And if you can’t see the pathway walking up to your house, it’s probably time to reevaluate your home lighting—before the days get any shorter.

One way to check the adequacy of your home lighting is to walk up to your home in the dark as if you don’t live there. Come up the sidewalk as if you’re a guest visiting for the first time.

  • Can you see your feet, the path right below you, and the path in front of you?
  • Check your porch or your front door: Is it well-lit from the outside?
  • Are there lights on inside the home to ensure suspicious characters know the house isn’t empty (even if it is)?
  • If you walk to your outbuildings, are they well-lit?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, you could be risking someone tripping and hurting themselves in the dark, or even inviting burglars in by giving them darkness to hide under.

Light It Up Instead
If you’ve taken a look around and decided your lighting could use some adjustments, what then? You can place small pathway lights leading up to your home and to any outbuildings, reducing the risk of tripping over an unseen obstacle. Another option for these outdoor lights is to install motion sensor lights, which work well to eliminate hiding spots by dark buildings. If you’re home while the skies get dark, you can make sure to turn on any outside lighting and leave on a few lights inside as well. If you aren’t home, your home automation system can be used to turn on your lighting at any time you set it to, or even remotely. You can be halfway around the world, and as long as you have WiFi, you can turn on your lights.

Although we’re talking about shorter days, it is also a good idea to keep a couple lights on inside while it’s still light out as well since 65% of burglaries happen between 6 am and 6 pm. Just because it’s daytime doesn’t mean your home isn’t vulnerable after you leave for work.

We have a lot of things to credit Ben Franklin with (even swim fins are his invention!), but we can’t blame him for losing that extra hour of sleep in the Spring and that extra hour of light in the Fall. Instead, we can keep our houses well lit, thank him for our bifocals while reading a good book, and settle into the darkness and quiet that fall brings.

Winter Weather Keeping Little Ones Inside? Prevent Injuries With Some Extra Home Safety Checks

For many of us in the U.S., February is a time of doldrums due to yucky weather and shorter days. It’s an even bigger challenge when you have little ones at home who have as much energy now as they do in July! Although my two are all grown up now, I remember well the bouncing off of the furniture and walls when it was too wet/cold/muddy/windy/snowy/etc. to go outside and play.

And all of that extra time indoors means more opportunities for accidents to happen around the home!

If your little ones are going through some winter-induced cabin fever and they’re a bit more rambunctious than usual around the home, take a quick review of your home to ensure it’s as safe as you think it is for tripping toddlers and precocious preschoolers. To help, here’s a partial list of things to consider:

Falling objects
The curiosity of kids almost guarantees they will pull something over someday. Make sure anything that’s heavy and can hurt them (like a television or stereo) is either out of reach or in some way connected to a wall or stand. Also watch out for tablecloths and runners hanging over the edges of tables within reach of little hands, and keep those electric cords connected to lamps beyond their grasp too. Think of it this way: If gravity can have an effect on it, so can your kid.

Falling children
When little ones aren’t busy causing objects to fall, they’re likely falling themselves. Some of this falling can’t be helped. The toddler learning to walk and run is going to fall; it’s part of the process. But we can minimize the injuries! Make sure area rugs aren’t trip hazards (or slip hazards!). If a child could fall into a piece of furniture like the corner of a coffee table, take steps to prevent it. It might be the coffee table goes into the garage for a few weeks until the little legs get more stable!

Also remember to use baby gates at the tops and bottoms of stairs (and they are handy for keeping little ones out of the kitchen too when you’re cooking!). Keep windows shut and locked. And if they’re just about crawling out of that crib, you’re probably ready to move them to a toddler bed. Better to make that adjustment before they start taking tumbles out and on to the floor below!

You might also want to lay down some rules about playing on and jumping on furniture. As we said above, many kids are more energetic than winter weather allows, and getting rambunctious indoors is normal. But a fall from a sofa or bed is going to be a more serious one as they have farther to fall before hitting the floor.

Inquiring minds
Although we as parents want to encourage our kids’ curiosity, we have to balance that against the dangers inherent in our homes—and takes steps to prevent those inquiring minds from getting hurt, especially when bored kids with boundless energy are housebound. And to do this, you really have to think like a child, seeing things (a.k.a. temptations) from their points of view. Even the innocuous liquid laundry packet is a danger.

As your baby becomes more mobile, or your toddler taller, or your preschooler more inquisitive, you will have to stay one step ahead at all times, keeping anything even remotely dangerous out of reach, even if that means putting a lock on the cabinet where your cleaning supplies are stored. All of this is even more important when kids are stuck inside with plenty of time on their hands for getting into mischief.

Consider every little thing they could possibly get in to, assume they will, and take action to prevent it. Period.

At our household these days, the oldest is on his own and the youngest is a senior in high school (meaning the only time she’s bouncing off the walls is when she’s in a teen aged hormone-induced temper). The only one pestering me to go outside and play despite the winter weather is the 100-pound pooch who is actually very well mannered in the house (but as energetic as a toddler!). But well do I remember those days and the occasional bruised shin or bump on the head when I didn’t keep the home as safe as I could have. So put these tips to use to keep your own little ones safe, and let’s hope for an early spring.

What’s Your Real Threat? Winter Driving Statistics That Might Surprise You

According to the Federal Highway Administration, of the 5.7 million car accidents that happen each year, 22% of them (almost one-fifth) are caused by weather. That weather might cause adverse conditions such as snow or fog, or it can contribute to accidents because the weather has led to slick streets. Of those 1,259,000 weather related accidents that happen annually, almost 6,000 people are killed.

Where you live impacts what kinds of winter weather issues you’ll encounter. Obviously icy road conditions are a bigger concern in Minnesota than Texas, for example. However, it turns out that where you live also has a bearing on the likelihood that you’ll be the victim of car theft during the winter months too.

But perhaps most surprising to me as I looked at the winter weather car accidents statistics compiled by my insurance company is that the most common cause of accident claims has nothing to do with winter at all.

What the most common cause of auto insurance claims during the winter?
If you live in the Southwest, your biggest threat during the winter months is mischief. Yes, mischief, with 31% of claims the result of “vandalism and mischief” which includes theft.

But every other region in the lower 48 shares the same most common accident and it’s not what you think. It’s not icy road conditions. It’s not adverse weather. It’s not anything you’d think of as winter-related.

What is it? Collisions with animals! Yes, and in this order:

  • New England: 26%
  • Pacific Northwest: 27%
  • South Central: 28%
  • Southeast: 29%
  • Midwest: 35%
  • Mid-Atlantic (New York, etc.): 43%!

By animals, I’m pretty sure we mean deer, elk and moose, as little damage is likely to occur when colliding with a possum or raccoon.

We Americans also do a lot of rear-ending, it seems
Regardless of the region and the percentage of claims related to collisions with wildlife, every region shares the second more common cause of claims: rear-end accidents. These range from 12% to 16%, for every region in the lower 48 states. This probably has to do with slick road conditions, but I do wonder if this has to do with texting while driving as well? Hmmmm?

For the third most common reason for making a claim, we don’t see much variety. The three categories are hitting an object or pedestrian, backing up into something, and getting hit while legally parked. But none compare to the surprising stats about running into wildlife!

So yes, be prepared for driving in adverse weather conditions before you start out on any journey this winter, but also be on the lookout for other causes of winter driving accidents, as in four-legged ones! And keep your eyes on the road, not your phone, to prevent driving into the back of the car in front of you too.

Winter Weather: 4 Tips for Keeping the Outside of Your House a Safe Place to Be

 

Winter officially arrives on December 21st this year, but weather wise, it has already shown up in many parts of the country. Have you taken steps to winterize your home? Prepare your car?

Good. Now the next question: Are you ready to keep the outside of your home safe for your family?

You can find plenty of tips and advice on being ready for winter in your home and in your car, but we also need to make sure the cold doesn’t make us more vulnerable outside of the house. You don’t have to get out on the road to be at risk when it’s 10 degrees. You can have a really good (meaning bad) fall right outside your back door if you’re not careful! So follow these four tips to ensure you’re keeping those falls and accidents at bay.

Tip 1: Say no to slippery sidewalks
Make sure walkways are clear of tripping hazards before it snows. Otherwise that hazard might be buried and unseen, causing a bad fall when someone trips over it. Or it could be debris that makes the surface even more slippery. Debris includes leftovers from fall, such as leaves or pine needles. Keep the sidewalks clean before the snow falls or the ground freezes, and it will be easier to keep them safe and clean after.

When the cold strikes, shovel snow if you need to and as soon as you can, and have salt or sand to use on icy sidewalks to keep them from being slippery. Keep the sand or salt inside the house or just outside the door so you don’t have to walk on the icy surfaces to get to it. The same goes for the snow shovel. If you can’t get to your winter supplies because of winter, there has been a lack of thinking ahead!

Tip 2: Ditto for driveways
Just as with your sidewalks, shovel the snow when you can, and use salt or sand as needed. Also be mindful of tripping hazards that might not be in your driveway (since you drive on it) but could be right next to it, such as garden tools or a hose. Clear the sides of your driveway before the snow strikes to remove those potential tripping hazards.

Beyond that driveway, make sure you really can drive safely. Do whatever you need to ahead of time to get your vehicle winter worthy, whether that’s having snow tires put on or carrying chains in the trunk. Then, be honest with yourself about the road conditions and if you’re prepared for them. Also check the forecast to see if the weather is predicted to get worse or colder, changing those driving conditions while you’re gone. Stay home if you can. Even if your car is prepared and you’re experienced with driving in snowy, icy conditions, that doesn’t mean the drivers around you are.

Tip 3: Wear winter shoes
When you leave the house, even if it’s only to go outside to check the mail, but especially if you leave the house to go somewhere, wear shoes that are appropriate, with good grip. It won’t do you much good to keep the sidewalks clear if your shoes have slick soles!

Tip 4: Keep an eye out for icicles
Icicles might look picturesque hanging from the eaves, but they are not only dangerous: They are potentially deadly too. Ideally, you prevent icicles in the first place by making sure your attic is well insulated and not letting snow build up on the roof. (Do not climb on the roof to remove it! Get a snow rake or higher a professional.)

As far as the icicles once they do form, many people say to leave them alone because you can damage your gutters when trying to knock them off. However, if they are hanging over a pathway or doorway, you will want to either avoid walking under them or find a way to remove them. That’s when it’s time to call a professional for advice.

Winter can bring beauty but it can also bring broken bones if we’re not careful. So do some prep work now in order to keep everybody safe once it’s cold outside!

18 Ways to Prepare Your Home (and Family) for Winter

Winter is on its way and it looks like it might be a doozy, according to predictions at AccuWeather. Are you ready? And by that I don’t mean are your skis sharpened. I mean is your household ready for whatever kind of weather winter might bring?

If you haven’t yet winterized your home, now is the time to do so. Although your winterizing to-do list will depend on where you live and the kinds of weather you can expect, in general most people need to do the following:

  1. Change furnace filters—Having lived in a rental once that had filthy filters (I found out later after suffering chronic illness while living there), I can attest to this task as beneficial not just for heat and efficiency reasons, but health reasons too!
  2. Get your furnace a checkup—Have a professional come out and make sure all is working as it should be now before you really need the heat.
  3. Have the chimney sweep out—Heating with wood means a wonderful warm heat, but it also means careful maintenance of your chimney and wood stove!
  4. Block drafts—Blocking drafts can be as simple as rolling up a towel and putting it in front of a door.
  5. Apply weatherstripping where needed—For something more permanent than a rolled up towel, apply weatherstripping where you know you have drafts.
  6. Install storm doors or windows or install the plastic window insulation kit—If you have storm doors or windows, now is the time to put them up. If not, you can get the plastic window insulation kits at your local hardware store and use those instead.
  7. Reverse your ceiling fans—I don’t have ceiling fans in my house, but I have seen this tip all over the Internet. Apparently this pushes the warm air that rises up to the ceiling back down to where the people are. Who knew?
  8. Clean the gutters—Clean the gutters now before the rains come and water is pouring over the edges of them! This also gives you a chance to check for any loose gutters.
  9. Check for loose roofing—If anything looks like it might come off in a strong wind, it will.
  10. Double check caulking and flashing—Caulking does not last like I think it should! Double-check caulking around doors and windows, and also flashing around chimneys, skylights and wherever else you have it installed.
  11. Check your trees and limbs—Have a professional out if you need to, because you can’t always see when a tree has dead parts that are a danger (and I’m speaking from experience here). You want to make sure your trees and branches are going to stay vertical during a storm, and not end up on your roof or across your driveway.
  12. Wrap water pipes and outside faucets—I would add to this list to pick up and put away any hoses that might freeze.
  13. Check lighting outside—This is more of a safety issue, but make sure your outside lighting is good to decrease the chances of someone tripping and falling.
  14. Keep sidewalks clear of slippery leaves—Ditto.
  15. Have salt or sand handy—In case of ice and snow. You don’t want to be slipping and sliding to go to the hardware store for this stuff after the fact!
  16. Make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning—Replace batteries and make sure they are working correctly.
  17. Be prepared for emergencies—You can find plenty of emergency preparedness advice
  18. Make full use of your home automation system—Your home security or home automation system can monitor your lights and your thermostat to help winterize your home yet keep your utility bills down.

Although we are in the home security business, we are constantly thinking about safety too, and winterizing your home as well as always being aware of potential threats to your home and family is part of keeping you and yours safe and sound.

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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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