GOING ON VACATION – IS YOUR HOUSE SAFE?

School’s Out For Summer, what a great song by Alice Cooper. It also marks the beginning of summer vacation. I thought I would give you a few tips on keeping your home safe while on vacation.

The best way to safeguard your house while you’re away is having a friend and family member stay in your home. Make sure they follow your routine putting out the trash and cutting the grass etc.

If you can’t arrange for a house sitter then be sure to take some of the following steps:

  •  Have the post office hold your mail. If your mail box is overflowing this is a dead giveaway that you are not home. And don’t forget to stop the newspaper delivery.
  • Get a neighbour or family member to check on your house every couple of days to pick up any flyers and water the plants.
  • If you are diligent about your landscaping and cut your grass weekly make sure you continue that routine. Hire a service to take care of that as an unkempt yard is a definite sign of an owner’s absence.
  • Try to make your home look lived in. Put interior and exterior lighting on timers. Also get a neighbour to put out your garbage cans and bring them in after they are emptied. This will make everything appear as normal.
  • Make sure all doors and windows are securely locked. You should also disconnect the auto garage door opener so it can’t be opened with a universal remote control.
  • In the age of modern technology many home owners tell the world they are going on vacation on facebook etc. You never know who is reading your posts so be careful about what you say.
  • You could always have a security system installed to protect your home which is a good investment at any time.

I hope these tips were helpful. Please take the time to secure your home while on vacation as this will greatly reduce the opportunity for someone to break into your home. Happy vacation everyone!

NOW THAT’S COLD!!!!!!!!

imagesSSQSNPG7Is it cold enough for you? That is a question that has been asked many, many times in the last few days. As soon as someone comes into the office, it is a matter of seconds before you hear that question. I could share some of the responses but I don’t think they are suitable for publication.

I know the forecast for the next few days indicates a bit of a warming trend and you may think this is it for the extreme cold temperatures for this winter, but, you never know what Mother Nature has in store for us. I have decided to share a few safety tips to help you endure these crazy cold temperatures.

If you have to go outside choose clothes that are appropriate for the weather; dress in layers with a wind-resistant outer layer; choose warm socks, gloves, hat and a scarf; and change into dry clothing as soon as possible if clothes get wet. If you are skiing, snowmobiling or skating, be sure to wear a facemask and goggles to protect from frostbite and windburn and keep moving to keep blood flowing. If you drink alcohol before you go outside, it could increase the risk of hypothermia because of increased blood flowing to your extremities.

Not only do we need to protect ourselves from the cold, we also need to protect out home. Always make sure your heating system is well maintained so it can handle the extra stress when it’s much colder outside. If you are heading south for a nice warm vacation it is a good idea to turn off the water supply and drain all the pipes. If you are staying home you should keep the lowest taps in the house open a little so the water keeps moving. This will help prevent the pipes from freezing. If your pipes do freeze never use an open flame to thaw the pipes – use a hair dryer instead.

If you absolutely must go out in your car make sure your gas tank is at least half full and make sure you cell phone is fully charged. You should also have an emergency kit that contains the following items:

  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Booster cables
  • Extra clothing and footwear
  • Blankets and sleeping bags
  • Candles
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Bottled water
  • Granola or energy bars.

I hope this information was helpful. Remember folks, Mother Nature can get very nasty at times so you need to play it safe when you are enjoying this lovely Canadian winter! If you have any tips of your own please share them with your fellow readers.

THE HOLIDAY SEASON – A TIME FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY – BUT LET’S BE SAFE!

Yes I know this post is late again, but it is the Holiday Season and I have been busy, you know guys, all that last minute stuff! My sincere apologies.

Every holiday season there always seems to be some tragic story about a fire, automobile collisions, or just some freak accident so I thought I would just give you a few safety reminders.

When it comes to real Christmas trees, make sure it is a fresh cut tree. When you bang the stump on the ground very few needles should fall. Also the needles should bend, not break and the stump should still be sticky with resin. Your tree stand should hold 2-3 litres of water and it should be topped up daily. Keep the tree away from any kind of heat source and never use lighted candles on your tree.

As far as decorations go, choose ones that are flame-retardent, non-combustible, and non-conductive. Avoid using angel hair (glass wool) together with spray-on snowflakes as this combination is highly combustible. Your light sets should be Canadian Standards Association (CSA) approved. Make sure you use the proper lights for the environment – indoor lights for inside and exterior lights for outside – do not mix these two types of lights.

Make sure your wood burning fireplace has been properly serviced and cleaned before starting your fire. Never burn gift wrappings, boxes etc. in the fireplace as they burn too rapidly and generate too much heat.

Remember not to overload electrical outlets. This is a common cause of house fires during the holiday season. Make sure all extension cords are CSA approved and make sure they are plugged fully into the outlets. Poor contact may cause overheating or shock.

Last but not least – make sure ALL your smoke detectors work!!

All the best to you and your family this holiday season and the coming year!

BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!!

Since we are in the middle of an extreme cold weather system I thought I share with you some information on home safety in this kind of environment.

The first thing home owners worry about during extreme cold weather is frozen water pipes so here are a few tips or precautions you can take to avoid any damages.

  • Outside faucets that are dripping or leaking should be repaired prior to the winter season
  • Disconnect outside water hoses otherwise they will freeze and expand and damage the hose as well as outside faucets and connecting pipes
  • If you are going to be away from home during the winter it is a good idea to turn off the main water supply to the house. Be sure to set the furnace to a minimum 10 degrees celsius
  • If you have any pipes running along outside walls make sure they are insulated or allow the hot and cold water to trickle over night
  • If you have pipes running in an unheated area such as a crawl space add insulation such as heat tape or thermostat controlled heat cables
  • If you have discovered frozen pipes be sure to shut off the main water supply
  • If the frozen pipe is exposed use a hair dryer or space heater to thaw the ice blockage. DO NOT use an open flame
  • After they are thawed examine pipes for any leakage. Even if you don’t find any leaks you should have a professional plumber inspect the pipes that were frozen

Have you ever noticed that your heating system only breaks down or it isn’t working to its capacity when you’re in a deep freeze? Always make sure your heating system has a regular maintenance plan to ensure it is working properly. This will help you avoid a possible break down. Also make sure your furnace filters are cleaned or replaced on a regular basis. You should also clean your warm air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed. Also make sure they are not blocked by furniture, carpet or draperies. One more thing, don’t forget to have any wood burning device cleaned and inspected before the cold weather arrives.

So snuggle up, stay warm, and have a hot toddy. It won’t last forever!

Please feel free to share any tips of your own.