Halloween Safety Tips

Published October 10th, 2017 | By

For many, Halloween is a fun time of year that if filled with people decorating their homes, dressing in costumes, and for children, a magical night of trick or treating. All these, along with the newly crispness of the air have us welcome the fall season. It’s nice to shed the stifling heat of the summer months and enjoy simple things such as a variety of warm pumpkin spiced drinks. As we embrace all of these little enjoyments, it’s crucial to keep in mind that there are plenty of accidents that can occur during this time of year. You can always enjoy all that Halloween has to offer, but you should also be aware of what dangers can lurk and how to address these issues.

Here are two main dangers associated with the Halloween season:

Fire Hazards

As you’d assume, lit pumpkins do present a fire hazard, since they can be knocked over and catch both decorations and houses on fire. Indoor candles too may be present to create a “spooky” ambience during household parties. Or like how most fires start in the kitchen, monitor what you bake (i.e. Halloween cookies) or other themed treats. Whatever the reason, it’s crucial to be aware of potential fire risks.

To put this into perspective, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) showed various fire statistics from 2011-2013, a three-year average during Halloween (October 30th to November 1st). According to the USFA, there were an estimated 10,300 fires, which resulted in approximately 25 deaths and 125 injuries. These fires caused about $83 million in property damage—a number that is staggering and essential for homeowners to be aware of.

When looking at fires by property type, outside fires accounted for 37.5 percent; residential fires, 33.1 percent; vehicle fires, 14.6 percent; and nonresidential fires, 8.8 percent. All of these numbers in general are higher than normal in non-Halloween timed fires.

Trick or Treating Dangers

On this one night, there are countless children all over the country who are going out, door-to-door, dressed up and seeking candy from their neighbors. This consists of them having cross streets in the dark—sometimes with their costumes even obstructing their vision (wearing masks). Due to this, there are many pedestrian-related injuries. According to one report by the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Injury Facts 2017, in 2015, of pedestrian-related accidents, there were an estimated 6,700 deaths and 160,000 injuries that needed medical attention.

Most of the pedestrian deaths (17 percent) happened when people crossed improperly (such as jaywalking). And lack of visibility (such as difficulty seeing in the dark) accounted to 15 percent of these deaths. As you can see, trick or treating must be done cautiously to avoid these potential risks.

To help ensure the safety of your child while they trick or treat, it’s always a good idea to have them accompanied by an adult—never have them go alone, unless they are at a suitable age that knows the general rules of the road. Another thing you can do is to have older children, such as pre-teens and teens periodically check-in with you and let you know where they are and how they are and where they are going.

Enjoy all that Halloween has to offer while being safe and smart! It’s certainly a fun time of year!

3 Eco-Friendly Tips for your Home

Published March 23rd, 2017 | By

Transforming your home into an eco-friendly home doesn’t have to be difficult, especially with some tips on how to go green. Though it might take some adjustments, the benefits of green living are substantial, and you’ll notice them over time. The payoff is great, even when it comes to saving money on utilities.

Here are a few tips on how to transform your home into an eco-friendly home:

1. Add Additional Landscaping

Depending on where you live, you may or may not have a lot of landscaping. Newer residences in particular tend to be scare when it comes to having trees and bushes. If that’s the case, get prepared to roll up your sleeves and do a little planting. Landscaping not only adds some curb appeal, but it also provides several additional things: 1) air purification 2) natural cooling and 3) extra protection.

Plants help absorb carbon monoxide and in turn, they produce oxygen. With all the pollutants that we put in the air, we need all the air purification that we can get! When it comes to natural cooling, having trees in particular provide shade. In summer months especially, any extra cooling is certainly welcome. You wont have to withstand the blaring heat with some planted trees that will grow and mature with time. And lastly, trees and shrubs also add extra protection in the event of things like a car crash or even an outdoor fire. With a little strategic planning on your part, landscaping can truly go a long ways.


2. Use Solar Power and Eco-Friendly Products


Today, many homes are deciding being equipped with solar panels to cut back on the use of fossil fuels. We’ve depended on fossil fuels for over a century and we continue to use it at an alarming rate. Unfortunately as popular as fossil fuels are, they are polluting the planet and emit greenhouse gases (which causes global warming). Homes with solar panels save around 20 percent on monthly utility costs. Overtime, that amount is staggering! Also, when you invest in solar, there are government tax incentives, which is great to claim when you file your taxes.

If you don’t want to go so far as getting solar for your home, you can still make some minor everyday energy-saving modifications, which will help make your home more eco-friendly. First, look for Energy Star products. These range from appliances (dishwashers, washers, dryers, refrigerators, etc.), electronics (TVs, stereos, tablets, etc.) building products (windows, doors, insulation, etc.), and more.

How far can an Energy Star product actually help? Well, one Energy Star light bulb alone uses 75 percent less energy and lasts much longer than a standard light bulb. Looking for that Energy Star seal of approval will greatly impact how much energy is being used by your home—saving you countless dollars in the process.


3. Invest in Smart Technology

Smart technology isn’t just for those who are tech-savvy. Believe it or not, many smart products are made for virtually anyone to use and are accessible by easy-to-use interfaces, such as an app. Smart technology doesn’t have to mean complicated…but it CAN help your home become more energy efficient.

Can you believe that 7 percent of people’s salaries go towards paying energy costs? Think of all the heating and cooling, and lighting required for daily living. Utilities are expensive and prices will only go up—unless you can curb how much is being consumed. Smart technology allows you to have a range of products such as smart thermostats smart appliances and smart lighting.

The central part of these amenities is that it allows you to remotely management whichever—whether it’s the thermostat, appliances or lights from any location (even if you are away from home). This is particularly great if you’ve forgotten to do things like decrease the thermostat on your way out, or if you’ve forgotten to turn off a light. You can save nearly 20 percent on energy consumption with a smart thermostat alone.

Again, going eco-friendly has its numerous advantages. Taking these steps will get you well on your way to better, cleaner living.

Tips for Safe Grilling

Published May 20th, 2016 | By

There’s no better way to prepare some delicious food than outside on a grill. Food just tastes…better. Whether you are grilling out to simply take advantage of great weather, or you are hosting an event for some friends, neighbors or family, be sure to exercise caution. Some people prefer gas grills; others are diehard charcoal fans—but one thing to keep in mind is that without plenty could go wrong with an open flame.

Each year, there are nearly 9,000 grilling-related fires throughout the U.S. Of these, 82 percent are caused using gas grills. It’s reported that there is an average of 140 injures per year and nearly $100 million lost in property damages throughout the country.

Want to get the most from your grilling experience? Try these on for size:

General Safety Tips

  • Allow a 3-foot grilling area. You’ll need some space that’s away from anything that could potentially catch on fire. Many backyards and patios are filled with landscaping—like pine straw, wood chips and even over-hanging trees. A clear, three-foot grilling area, away from these will make the most of a pleasant grilling experience.
  • Never leave your grill unattended when it’s in use. You’ll find that grilling requires a lot of back and forth to get supplies and food from inside. As tempting as it is to leave the grill for a few quick minutes, it’s best to either plan ahead accordingly, or have someone man the grill while you step away. One second is all it takes for something to potentially happen.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill. A grill stays hot long after you are done using it—so it’s essential to keep all kids and pets away from it while it’s in use and a couple of hours afterwards too.
  • Never use an outdoor grill inside. Just don’t do it—it’s not worth the risk! It’s just asking for trouble.
  • Remove grease build-up from the grilling rack and drip tray. Few things catch fire as quickly and easily as fat and oil. Every time you grill some chicken, steak, etc., a layer of grease and fat is building up both on the grilling rack and on the dripping tray, located down at the bottom.

Charcoal Grill SafetyChimney_starter_in_Smokey_Joe

Grilling with charcoal can be a lot of fun. The smoke from the charcoal seems to be it’s own pleasurable reward when taking the first few bites of your grilled meal. But the very thing that gives off such a great flavor can literally make anything it touches go up in flames. Embers fly and are easy to catch on nearby trees, pine straw, the deck, or even your house.

  • Avoid using lighter fluid to help light your charcoal. Plenty of places sell fluid, so it’s easy to get some, but what really is safest (and works best) is actually a chimney charcoal starter. When using a chimney charcoal starter, the charcoal is able to light and heat up evenly before you begin cooking. Within 15 minutes, you’ll be ready to scatter the lit up coals and throw the food on the grill.
  • Use grilling mitts and proper grilling utensils. With charcoal grills in particular, you have to scatter the hot charcoal once it’s ready. Especially in using a chimney charcoal starter, you’ll have to dump the charcoal into the bottom of the grill—meaning embers will be able to potentially fly. Also, your hand and arm will be exposed near the heat. Using a grilling mitt and good grilling tools will help you keep control of the charcoal and reduce the likelihood of getting your skin burned.
  • Let the coals die down completely before trying to discard them. It takes a while for the coals to cool off; and more than likely, they’ll turn into a powdered ash that you can then quickly scoop away.

Gas Grill Safety

Gas grills are easy to light up—a benefit for many who don’t want to deal with charcoal.bbq-825711_960_720

  • Always remember to turn off the gas when you are done. It’s dangerous to have a gas line running continuously; it’s a certain fire hazard.
  • To look for gas leaks, use soap. If something doesn’t seem right with your gas grill, put soap on the closed gas tank. Bubbles will form if gas is leaking.


Looking for more home safety tips? Here are other ways to protect your home and family.


Stay Safe Against Winter Storm Jonas

Published January 21st, 2016 | By


If you live on the east coast and have looked at new stories within the past 24-48 hours, you know that states up and down the coast are getting ready for the impact of Winter Storm Jonas starting on Thursday night.

The hardest hit areas are expected to be the Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and New York City regions, with the National Weather Service anticipating blizzard conditions for area. Heavy snow is expected to cover fifteen states.

States such as North Carolina, which are not used to snowy conditions, are expected to receive about 1-4 inches of accumulation. The National Weather Service has placed a winter storm warning in effect from Thursday night until Saturday at 6 PM. NC Governor Pat McCrory has issued a State of Emergency, as has Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe.

Amongst the seemingly yearly panic that engulfs storm-stricken states, it’s important to review simple steps to take in be prepared for a winter storm.

1. Don’t Panic

While the media tends to enjoy instilling fear into residents at-risk of getting caught up in a storm, it’s important to not let the hysteria get to you. If you’ve been living on the East coast for a sometime, then there’s a chance this isn’t the first time you’ve been faced with this type of weather.

Residents in big cities such as Baltimore and Washington D.C. certainly have reason to be a bit concerned, but conditions expected for North Carolina and Virginia aren’t slated to be destructive. By Sunday morning, everything will have passed, and temperatures are in fact expected to rise again by next week.

2. Avoid Unnecessary Travel

This tip applies to some drivers more than others.

The fact is, if you’re not used to driving in snowy and icy conditions, then you’ll want to avoid unnecessary travel if the conditions appear risky. If you’re an experienced driver living in southern states, you’ll want to be cautious of drivers who may not have the skill you do.

3. Have an extendable roof scraper and bag of salt ready

If you’re going to run and purchase anything before the storm, make it something that you’ll most likely need to battle the conditions at their possible extreme. With Winter Storm Jonas – and again, depending on where you live – you may or may not really need to go stock up on food. But one thing you’ll really want is a bag of salt and a roof scraper.

With icy conditions anticipated for a better part of the at-risk area, being able to lay down salt in front of your steps and around your house is worth taking the time to do so. This will mean a safer outdoor area for you and your family.

If your area is in for a lot of snow, and you don’t already have a roof scraper, it’s definitely worth the trip to make a purchase. These scrapers can run up between $50-60 bucks, but they essentially last a lifetime.

If you want to stay on top of what’s happening with Winter Storm Jonas, take a look at Google’s Public Alert system for your area.


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