Tips and Advice to Prepare Homes and Families for a Safe and Happy Holiday Season
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. Norwall PowerSystems wishes a safe and happy holiday season for and looks forward to the coming year.
Holiday travel and shopping, family gatherings, and winter vacations are hallmarks of the season. We rush around to find that one perfect and yet elusive gift for a special someone, make final preparations for family meals and holiday traditions, and finalize our plans for getaways at warm beaches and cruise ships or a snowy ski resorts. A little preparation for emergencies goes a long way toward a smooth and less worrisome holiday season.
This holiday season, take a little time to plan and prepare before loading up the car or waiting for the arrival of friends and family. We’ve put together some advice to make your season safer, less stressful, and more fun.
Top Tips for Safe and Worry-Free Holidays
Traveling by car
Schedule maintenance with your dealer or auto shop. They will do the required maintenance, check everything, and make sure the car is ready for a trip. You want good antifreeze to keep the engine cool and the passenger compartment warm. Replace the battery if it is near the end of its life. Check all the lights including the hazards. It’s usually best to replace in pairs. If one has gone out, the other isn’t far behind. New windshield wipers, especially if yours are old, will keep the windshield clear of rain and snow. Keep extra washer fluid in the trunk with a scraper and brush, and your winter emergency kit.
Monitor the weather in the days leading up to your trip. Adjust your planned travel times to avoid bad weather. While you are traveling, refuel whenever the gauge drops below half. You’ll have plenty of fuel if you’re stranded and keeping the tank above half full helps to ensure the fuel line won’t freeze.
Tailor your car emergency kit for your family. The most important items are those that help you survive if you’re stranded. A blanket for each person in the car—small children might do better with a sleeping bag made for below freezing temperatures. Winters hats, mittens (warmer than gloves) and coats suitable for the climate. Don’t forget bottled water for everyone along with emergency foods like energy bars, hard candy, and dense, energy rich foods like nuts and dried fruits.
You should also carry jumper cables and know how to use them. A bag of salt, sand, or kitty litter for extra traction if you get stuck. A small shovel for clearing snow. Matches and one or two three-wick candles. They provide enough heat to raise the inside car temperature 10 to 15 degrees.
Preparing Your Home
If you’re leaving for the holidays, there are a few things you can do to make sure your home is safe while you’re gone and a warm, inviting place when you return.
Programmable thermostats are great for customizing the temperature while you’re at home, but when you’re away it doesn’t make sense to keep the house at 70 degrees. Temporarily set the temperature between 55 and 62 degrees. It will save fuel and keep the pipes from freezing. When you return it won’t take long to warm the house up to the usual temperature. Even better, install a thermostat you can control from your smart phone.
Everyone knows that light timers turn your lights on and off at pre-programmed times. It makes it appear that someone is home and thieves will look elsewhere. Programmable timers that vary the lights randomly are even better as no one will notice a pattern. Don’t forget to have your mail held at the post office and the newspaper stopped.
Schedule maintenance on your home standby generator before you leave. Doing it at the same time as your annual furnace checkup is a good idea. If cold weather starts are a concern—and this season’s El Nino could spell bitter cold—consider installing cold weather accessories to help it start. If there’s a power outage while you’re gone, you won’t return to pipes the froze and burst and flooded your house.
No Travel Plans But…
Even if you’re not traveling, the tips above will help you through any emergency. Put together a home emergency kit, keep your generator tuned and ready, and your car prepared for winter weather. It’s always a good idea to have warm clothes and spare hats, mittens, and gloves in the car. Emergency kits are always there if you need them, but if you don’t take the time to make one, sooner or later you’ll wish for it.
As many in the Atlanta, Georgia area found out a few years ago, winter can strike at anytime and leave people on their way home from work stranded for hours or even a day or more. Talk to your family about winter emergency plans. This is especially important for children who may come home from school and end up alone. They should know where to go and who to trust.
The holiday season is a time for families to get together. Plan for extra time even when traveling short distances. Take your time when driving to the mall or grocery store. Too many people in a rush is a recipe for an accident. Let guests know there’s plenty of time planned and a flexible meal time so no one feels undue pressure if they are running late.
From all of us at Norwall PowerSystems, enjoy a safe and happy holiday.