Set Resolutions for your Home in the New Year

10254941_SWhen you consider resolutions for the New Year, how about making some for your home?

Most people have things that they want to fix, change or add to their homes, so you could make 2014 the year that some of those dreams turn into reality. Here are a few examples.

Small maintenance tasks: A dripping faucet, weeds in the yard or even light bulbs that are burned out are easy to ignore but can be a constant irritant. Plan a day to fix those little frustrations that always seem to be postponed. Getting those done will make your home more relaxing.

Safety checks: Have you replaced the batteries in your smoke alarms? Do you have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen? How about a complete first-aid kit? Are some rugs or cords tripping hazards? It won’t take long to make sure your home is as safe as you can make it. You can find tips for keeping your home hazard free on the Internet.

Organization: Don’t feel obliged to get the entire house whipped into shape. Instead focus on a few areas that are particularly challenging. Maybe you empty and sort-out your junk drawer, or get your gardening tools organized in the garage. It could be time to dispose of all of those old cleansers and unsatisfactory cleaning products under the sink that you never use. Every place you make more functional will add to your pleasure in your home.

Special touches: Have you wanted to add scented candles to your guest bathroom? Maybe one wall is begging for some art. Pick out one or two areas that feel unfinished in your home and resolve to add those items that will make it look and feel the way you want.

If you include your home in your resolutions for 2014, your home will see improvement and you will find yourself happier living there.

Helping your Child Head Off to College

19670917_MDo you have a child leaving home to go to college? Even if you went away to school yourself, many things have changed. Here are some issues to address with your child to ensure that he or she is well prepared.

Space: Your son/daughter will want to bring pretty much everything they own with them to college, but most dorm rooms are cramped, and shared with at least one roommate.

Check the college website for a list of things to bring, and an idea of the amount of space available. Less is definitely better. For example, instead of bringing clothes for every season, students could bring what’s needed until the next vacation, and switch clothes out as it gets colder or warmer. Encourage your child to connect with a future roommate so that they end up with only one microwave and small refrigerator.

Security: Theft is more common than you would think in college dorms, so plan on creating secure options for your child. Laptop computers can be locked to a desk when not in use, and a locked file cabinet provides a safe place for purses, money and credit cards. You may want to arrange for a prepaid credit card for your child, adding money as it’s needed, to minimize the risk of loss. Encourage your child to lock his or her dorm room, and remind them of other security issues such as personal safety.

Health: Make sure your child has a physical before heading off for college, and have any prescriptions transferred to the local pharmacy. Pack up a box of over-the-counter items your child is used to having available to send along. You might include some favorite granola or energy bars – kids often don’t pay as much attention to eating when at school.

Preparation: College students have to handle laundry and general dorm-room cleaning. Start them on their laundry now, so they are comfortable managing that. Include laundry detergent and basic cleaning supplies and go over cleaning and home hygiene basics. Also mention food safety issues such as how long a cheese sandwich is safe to eat when not refrigerated.

You will miss your child and your child will miss you, but this is only the first step in the path to adulthood. You can send them off with the tools and support they need, and be extra generous with your advice so they won’t miss you as much as they thought they would.

Summer fun Means Observing Pool Safety

15845300_SIn July’s heat, a pool turns the backyard into an enjoyable place no matter the temperature. At the same time, pools pose a risk, particularly for toddlers. According to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Inez Tenenbaum, “drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of 1 and 4.”

Follow these steps to secure your pool to minimize the risk for your children and others in your neighborhood.

  • Make sure your pool fence is at least four feet tall or taller, with self-closing and latching gates.
  • If you have a spa, use a lockable safety cover over it.
  • Install door alarms on any doors that lead directly to your pool.
  • Use pool and gate alarms to alert you when children go in or near the pool.
  • For extra security, consider a surface wave or underwater alarm to notify you if a child or pet falls in the pool.

During parties and gatherings, include these steps in your planning to keep children playing in the pool safe.

  • Walk through basic pool safety tips with the children before the party starts – things such as no running near the pool, no hitting or kicking at each other, and no horseplay on the diving board.
  • Have the adults take turns serving as the designated lifeguard to watch when children are in the pool.
  • Check the pool or spa immediately if a child is missing.
  • Make sure that you or someone in your family has basic CPR training

The best way to keep your children safe around a pool is to make sure they know how to swim. Even very small children can learn basic floating techniques. With just a little effort, you can do your best to keep your family safe and happy and swimming all summer.

Holiday Safety Tips

Happy holidays can quickly disappear when safety is not given priority. Just a few precautions can keep your holiday celebrations merry. Here are a few basics.

Trees: If you want a live tree, choose one that is very fresh and free of mold. Before you buy your choice, shake the tree gently. If green needles fall, the tree is too old already. Also check the trunk for signs of mold and check for a musty smell. Sometimes storing them for too long or in less-than-optimal conditions leads to trees that are dry enough to be fire hazards. If you find more than one or two trees with these problems, find another lot. To keep your tree fresh for the rest of the season, cut at least one inch from the bottom of the trunk, and make sure your tree holder can handle at least a gallon of water. Check and fill the water daily.

Lights: Never put electric lights on a metallic tree. Never string more than three sets of lights together. Throw away any light sets or extension cords that are damaged or worn. Consider LED lights because they are cool to the touch. Make sure cords don’t become tripping hazards.

Decorations: If your household has children or pets, pay attention to the ornament and decoration choices. Small glass balls look tempting and can draw the attention of children. Tinsel can also prove a real risk to pets that will eat anything that looks interesting.

Take a few minutes to factor safety into your holiday plans and you and your family can have a holly jolly time!