5 Holiday Tips for a Home Safe Home

Closeup photo of family feet in wool socks at fireplace

As the season of togetherness rolls in, regular routines roll out. You do things you don’t normally do: decorating, cooking, hosting guests (and their germs), or playing a pick-up game of football in the backyard. As you channel your inner Julia Child, Aaron Rodgers, or Martha Stewart in preparation for your holiday gatherings, here are five things you should remember:

1.      Don’t let your holidays go up in smoke

Winter is the season to put up a tree, light up the fireplace, or set out candles to decorate your holiday table. Unfortunately, candle fires are four times as likely to happen during the winter holidays. The kitchen is also a source of danger: cooking fires account for 72 percent of Thanksgiving Day fires.

  • Keep alert. Installing a smoke alarm on every level of your home cuts your risk of dying in a fire by half. Make sure to test alarms once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Mind the stove. Keep pot holders, wooden utensils, food packaging, and towels away from the stove. Never leave the stove unattended, even for a few minutes – and turn off the burner if you leave the kitchen.
  • Blow it out. Make sure all candles, smoking materials, and fireplaces are properly extinguished before leaving the room or going to bed. Remember to unplug holiday lights too!

 2.      Beware kitchen nightmaresLet's Talk Turkey

Cutting, chopping, and busy preparations mean you’re paying attention to many things at once. Whether you’re hosting an elaborate dinner party or bringing a dish to the neighborhood potluck, keep these tips in mind:

  • Cut carefully. Use a stable surface and make sure your cutting board doesn’t slip away. Remember to cut away from your body and keep your fingers out of the way of your knife.
  • Little fingers make big disasters. Children can reach up and grab a pot or pan and spill the hot contents over themselves. Use back burners when possible and turn pot handles away from the edge.
  • Be food safety savvy. Don’t invite food poisoning to your feast. Use separate cutting boards, plates, and knives for produce and for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Use a food thermometer to make sure food cooked in the oven or on the stove top or grill reaches a temperature hot enough to kill germs. In the case of your Thanksgiving turkey, that’s 165°F.

3.      Give the gift of health

Nothing brings down the holiday spirit like a case of stomach flu or a cold. Germs from a cough or sneeze can live on surfaces for longer than 2 hours and spread from person to person in close quarters. Holiday gatherings are breeding grounds for germs like the flu and the common cold. Airports, airplanes, taxis, and rideshare cars are also likely places to pick up a virus.

  • Wet, lather, scrub, rinse, dry. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Hands off. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Get a flu shot. Remind your guests (6 months of age and older) to get vaccinated this year.

 4.      Bundle up!

Twice as many people die every year from extreme cold temperatures as extreme heat. If you’ll be outside, make sure you’re dressed for the weather.

  • Choose your wardrobe wisely. Wear warm winter clothes, plenty of extra layers, and don’t leave areas of the skin exposed to the cold.
  • Avoid. Spot. Treat. Learn to recognize the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite.

 5.      Avoid the ER

Many holiday activities are things you only do once a year, like running in the annual turkey trot or decorating the outside of your house with holiday lights. Stay out of the emergency room with these tips:

  • Ramp up gradually. Your risk for a cardiac event, such as heart attack, or other injuries can go up when you’re suddenly more active than usual. Don’t just jump into that backyard football game or holiday 5K. Instead, gradually increase your activity level in the weeks leading up to the event.
  • Take your time. Be sure to work slowly when doing chores outside, like shoveling snow or hanging lights, because your body is already working hard to stay warm.

 Use these tips to prepare this season and make home the safest place of all for your family and guests. Here’s to a happy and safe holiday!

11 Winter Weather Tips : As Told by Adorable Dogs

Don’t be stuck in the dog house by not preparing for winter weather. Whether it is avoiding frostbite or heating your home safely, make sure you know how to prepare for and handle winter weather.

1. Winter weather can be hair-raisingly unpredictable.

Funny australian shepherd running and enjoy snow time in cloud of snow flying away from his legs

Unusual weather can hit at any time. That’s why it is important to be prepared for all types of weather emergencies. Take actions to prepare for winter weather before a storm impacts your area.

2. Be sure to dress properly for winter weather.

Huge Dogue De Borgeaux dressed with hat, scarf and sweater sitting in the snow

When temperatures drop, it is important to dress warmly, wear plenty of layers, and stay dry. Try to stay indoors when the weather is extremely cold, especially if there are high winds. If you have to go outside, be sure to practice winter weather outdoor safety.

3. Avoid exertion.

Cute small dog under a blanket snuggling with a teddy bear

Winter is a great time to stay in and cuddle. Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold. If you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly.

4. Prepare your car for winter weather.

dog sitting in the drivers sear of a car

No one wants to ride unprepared. Always have an emergency kit in your car with supplies you can use if your car breaks down. Prepare your car for winter by following CDC’s guidance.

5. Heat your home safely.

two pugs staring wide-eyed in front of the fireplace

As these guys know, fire can be scary. Not knowing how to safely heat your home or use a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater can be dangerous. Take time to learn about safe ways to heat your home and find more important winter weather indoor safety tips.

6. Create a Support Network.

four husky puppies in a basket

Even if your support network is not as cute as this one, it is important to have one. Having a support network of family and friends to help you during an emergency is very important. Check on your neighbors, and help older adults and the disabled shovel snow for safe walking paths. Use these CDC eCards to invite your friends and family to join your support network.

7. Know how to spot, avoid, and treat Frostbite and Hypothermia.

curly haired dog half burried in snow

Even with a fluffy coat of fur you could be at risk for frostbite or hypothermia in severe winter weather. Know the signs and how to avoid frostbite and hypothermia by following CDC’s Safe and Healthy Winter Weather guidance.

8. Take care of your pets.

pug-dog in winter outerwear pulling on a leash

Pets get cold too! During cold weather bring your pets inside, even if they don’t want to go. As you prepare your home for winter weather, take special measures to care for your pets, make sure they have adequate shelter and access to unfrozen water.

9. Tips for coping with severe weather.

dog covered in snow with large sad eyes

Coping with severe winter weather can be tough. Learn how to manage the stress and emotions of dealing with severe weather or a catastrophic event and how to maintain a healthy state of mind.

10. Avoid ice.

white dog staring at an icicle

Ice can be extremely dangerous. Many cold-weather injuries result from falls on ice-covered sidewalks, steps, driveways, and porches. Keep your steps and walkways as free of ice as possible by using rock salt or another chemical de-icing compound. Sand may also be used on walkways to reduce the risk of slipping.

11. Stay inside during severe winter weather.

Large saint burnard dog sitting on a couch leaning on a man trying to read the paper

When winter weather hits, find a comfy spot and try to stay inside. Staying indoors during extreme cold can help reduce the risk of car crashes, falls on the ice, hypothermia and frostbite. It’s also much cozier.

Lessons from Atlanta

photo of television screen showing news coverage of Atlanta snowstormWhat many would call a “dusting,” we Atlantans would call a “snowpocalypse” as evidence by this week’s 2 inches of snow which crippled the city, causing severe gridlock across the metro area, stranding school children and commuters who were forced to abandon cars on the highway. The mayor of Atlanta and Governor Deal have been making the media circuit, trying to explain what happened to cause the city to grind to a halt, but regardless of who’s fault it was, it’s time to take a look at the situation and see what we can learn from a preparedness perspective. Here are our top 5 lessons learned, that don’t just apply to folks in the Deep South, but to everyone who might be caught in an emergency situation.

  1. You can always count on…yourself. We’d like to be able to tell you that someone from your local, state, or federal government will always be available 24/7 to help everyone during an emergency, but that’s just not realistic. First responders are there to help the people in the most need, it’s important that everyone else be self-sufficient until emergency response crews have time to get the situation under control. That means you need to be prepared for the worst, with supplies, plans, and knowledge to make sure you can care for yourself and your family until the situation returns to normal.
  2. Keep emergency supplies in your car. So much of our lives revolve around our vehicles. For most of us that’s how we get to and from work everyday, shuttle our kids, and buy groceries. And in places like Atlanta many of us have long commutes, during which time anything could happen. You have emergency supplies in your house, why not in your car? Many motorists were stranded on the highways for 10 hours or more. You need to make sure you have a blanket, water, food, and other emergency supplies stored away in your trunk just in case.
  3. Make a family emergency plan. If you can’t pick up your kids who will? Many parents were stranded on the interstate and unable to get to their children’s schools. Sit down with your family and go over what you would do in different emergency situations. Is there a neighbor or relative in the area that can help out if you aren’t able to get to your kids. Let them know you’d like to include them in your plan. Make sure you also come up with a communication plan, that includes giving everyone a list of important phone numbers, not just to save in your cellphone but to keep in your wallet or kids’ backpack. Many commuters’ cell phones died while they were sitting on the roadways for hours. If all your important phone numbers are saved to your device and it died, would you be able to remember your neighbor’s number to ask them to check in on the kids when a Good Samaritan loans you their phone?  
  4. icy streetKeep your gas tanks full. This is important to remember in other emergencies like hurricanes, when people are trying to evacuate.  If there’s a chance you’re going to need your car, or your ability to get gas is going to be restricted (due to road closures or shortages), make sure you fill up your tank as soon as you hear the first warning. Many of the motorists trying to get home this week ran out of gas, worsening the clogged roads and delaying first responders from getting to people who really needed their help.  
  5. Listen to warnings. The City of Atlanta and the surrounding metro area was under a winter storm warning within 12 hours of the first flakes, but residents and area leaders were slow to listen, most people didn’t start taking action until the snow began to fall, which lead to a mass exodus of the city. While no one likes to “cry wolf” in situations like these, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Learn the difference between a watch and a warning, and start taking action as soon as you hear the inclement forecast.