Summer is basically here, and what’s more fun than all the good summer cookouts? You’ll want to make sure your home is ready for guests, and here are some easy tips to make that happen.
It’s that decorating time of year, and no one wants to think about safety, but you can avoid holiday safety hazards by taking a few sensible precautions.
1. Practice light safety
Holiday lights are beautiful and can enhance your decorating, but be careful. Before stringing lights, check the cords to make certain none of them have frayed (or been chewed by animals–squirrels and chipmunks can damage outside light cords). Watch the limits on your extension cords or surge protectors. Don’t plug in more lights than they can safely accommodate.
Use hooks or insulated staples for your outside lights. Tacks and nails can damage the cords. Finally, always remember to turn off your lights before leaving the house and before you go to bed.
2. Cook carefully
Holiday meals can mean juggling lots of dishes at one time. Practice raw and undercooked food safety by thawing foods properly and cleaning all surfaces thoroughly. Keep wrapping paper well away from the stove. In fact, make a point of keeping all distractions away from your stove and oven. Unattended cooking is a leading cause of fire. Don’t be a statistic.
3. Care for your decorations
If you use a live tree, make sure to water it so it doesn’t dry out and become a fire hazard. Keep fragile or small decorations out of the hands (and mouths) of small children. Never use candles in place of tree lights. In fact, be careful with all candles used in any holiday celebrations.
4. Practice pet safety
Some plants are poisonous: mistletoe, holly and poinsettias are several examples. Keep such plants out of the reach of pets. Don’t let your cat climb your Christmas tree or play with the decorations. Yes, they look just like toys to be batted about, but ones made of glass or thin plastic can damage paws.
Remember that chocolate is poisonous to dogs. One client told the story of a friend who sent a pound of high-quality dark baker’s chocolate as a gift. The dog smelled it through the wrapping paper and indulged while his owners were away for a holiday party. The dog survived the mishap, but it could have been tragic.
5. Be sensible about travel plans
If you plan to travel, leave word with a neighbor to collect mail, newspapers and keep an eye on your house. Never announce travel plans on social media. Some thieves use the information to plan which homes to rob in their owner’s absence.
6. Have fun!
Yes, you need to take some sensible precautions to stay safe this holiday season, but don’t let them get in the way of having a great time with parties, family and friends.
Image courtesy of mapichai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Spring is a common time to think about regular home maintenance, and, although you wouldn’t know if from the current Virginia weather, spring will be here soon. Start thinking now about these simple tips, which can save you money and maintain your home value for that day you want to sell.
The quickest and easiest regular activity is checking and replacing your furnace filter. A clean filter keeps down the allergens in your home and reduces the strain on your HVAC system, making it last longer and saving you money. If you make no other home resolution this year, make sure to add this one to the list. Oh, and remember to get your ducts cleaned about every 4-5 years. Need an easy way to remember this? Do it on the years that are divisible by 5.
Regular Home Maintenance for the Spring
Changing your filter should be done monthly. The next items are best scheduled for the spring, perhaps in April or May. Put them on your calendar now so you don’t forget.
1. Check and clean gutters.
2. Schedule your twice-yearly HVAC system check-up.
3. Check the batteries in your smoke alarms.
4. Turn on the outside water (you did remember to turn it off before the winter, didn’t you–especially this year with all the freezing temperatures?)
5. Clean your siding and windows.
6. Check and power wash and seal your deck, if needed.
Regular Home Maintenance for the Fall
See, it’s not so bad. Now you’re set until fall, when you have some other things to do.
1. Schedule the second of your twice-yearly HVAC system check-ups. You want to make sure it’s in good shape before the cold moves in.
2. Turn off the water to the outside. This will prevent frozen pipes. Store hoses.
3. Seal windows and doors with weather-stripping and also check caulking (you can save as much as 15% on your heating bill). Replace seals as necessary.
4. Trim tree limbs away from the house.
5. Schedule your chimney cleaning, if you have one.
6. Check attic for insulation, leaks and squirrels. One of my clients had a squirrel in her attic last fall. She was lucky. The hole was small and easily repaired. But if she hadn’t checked, she could have had significant damage by spring.
And that covers it. Home maintenance can be easy if you put it on a schedule. Your home will appreciate it as much as your loved one enjoys flowers and chocolate.
I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and to share with you that we are having a Toys for Trees exchange this Saturday at our office in Kingstowne from 9am to 1pm. We will be collecting toys (for Toys for Tots) in exchange for a Christmas Tree and I have reserved one in your name! The trees are 6′ – 7′, freshly cut Frazier Firs. We will be serving light refreshments and Santa will be there too!!!. Please let me know if you would like to accept a tree on my behalf so that I can add your name to our list.
If you will not be able to accept a tree, is there is anyone you know who would like a live Christmas Tree for free or as part of the exchange? Please let me know. I just need the names of the people getting free trees by Saturday morning! Come and have fun!
Please share this with anyone you know who would like to participate. Trees will be on a first come first served basis. I personally have 30 trees reserved right now. I hope you can come by and join in the festivities.
Have a blessed day!