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Fire Safety – Christmas Trees, Lights & Candles

by TammyDecember 18, 2014

12.18

 

 

The Christmas holiday season is a time of year that we should be spending with family and spreading joy to all of our loved ones.  During this time of year it may be easy to overlook some of the fire hazards that come along with the decorations of the season.

The NFPA estimates an average of 230 American homes are damaged each year by fires caused by ignited Christmas trees.  Another 150 home structure fires are caused by line voltage decorative lights.  Together these fires cause an average of 15 deaths, 38 injuries and $26.7 million dollars in property damage each year!  These sobering figures cannot be ignored and safety precautions need to be taken to help ensure you and your loved ones have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Here are some great tips we would like to pass your way to help you keep your holiday fire free.

  1. When choosing a tree be sure to pick one that is a fresh as possible. Look to see your tree has green, semi-pliable needles.  Dry needles have a much higher possibility of catching fire.  Cutting down the tree yourself is the best way to ensure its freshness.
  2. If you have an artificial tree be sure it is labeled Fire Retardant by the manufacturer.  While having a real tree might bring a sense of holiday authenticity, the simple fact of the matter is that artificial trees are much less likely to catch fire.
  3. Before putting your real tree in a stand be sure to cut off at least 2 to 3 inches of the base to expose some fresh wood.  This will allow the tree to stay moist and prevent dryin gout.  Be sure to check the water level of the tree every day.  A real Christmas tree will be very thirsty in the dry winter months.
  4. Choose where you place your tree wisely.  Never place your tree near any heat source like a fireplace, radiator, heating vents, hot lights or candles.  And of course never place your tree in front of any exit.  In case of a fire you want to make sure you have a clear path to get out of the house.  Another suggestion is to place your tree somewhere that the tree cannot be knocked over by the family pet or playing children into a heat source.
  5. When choosing lights for your tree and extension cords be sure that they are rated properly by an independent testing laboratory and are UL-listed.  Some lights are intended for indoor or outdoor use only.  Today’s LED lights are a great choice as they do not create any heat. We hope it should go without saying, but never use real candles to light up your tree.  This is an old tradition before electric lights were invented and we highly suggest you do not attempt this.
  6. Once you have your new lights selected or have pulled out the lights from storage, be sure to check them well for any loose bulbs or damaged wires. If you can replace the bulbs be sure to unplug them before doing so to avoid any shock.  If the wires or plugs are defective, replace the entire string.  Don’t risk a fire due to an electrical issue as this is the number one reason trees ignite.
  7. When you are ready to plug in your lights, be sure not to overload any one circuit.  Plug a maximum of 3 light strings together.  If you are using LED lights, consult the manufacturer’s suggestion on how many strings you can safely plug into each other to create one chain.  It is highly suggested that you plug all lights into a surge outlet protector instead of directly into a wall outlet.  Lastly, always remember to shut off the lights before going to bed or leaving the house.
  8. If you will be decorating the outside of your home than be sure to choose lights that are intended for outdoor use.  Using indoor lights that are not designed to be used for outside weather can result in them shorting out or even worse.  Don’t run the risk of electrical shock or a fire hazard by using indoor lights outside.  If you are unsure if your lights are safe for outdoor use than look for the color-coded UL logo on the packaging.  A green logo is only safe for indoor use while the red logo can be used inside or outdoors safely.  The same safety precautions need to be taken with any extension cords that are being used.
  9. Once the festivities are over and the holiday has come and gone you are better off taking the tree down as soon as possible.  Real trees do not last that long and the needles will quickly begin to dry out making them a fire hazard.  The majority of fires involving Christmas trees happen after the holiday and not before.  It is also suggested that you remove outdoor lighting immediately after the holiday to reduce any risk of fire and to help preserve the life of your outdoor lights.

While Christmas tree fires are not a common occurrence, when they do happen the damage is usually significant as can be seen in the video at the end of this article.  These fires can also leave a significant scar on the memory of the holiday itself.  We hope that you find our tips useful and have a safe and happy holiday season with your family, friends and loved ones.

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7 Ways to Prepare Your Car for Winter Weather

by DerekDecember 16, 2014

12.16

With record cold and snowfall already blanketing our country, it’s sure to be a long and treacherous winter.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t stop for the weather. That means many of us will be driving in our cars in freezing, snowy conditions.

My Alarm Center wants you driving and traveling in a safe manner this holiday season. Here are our top tips about how to prepare your car for winter weather.

Check the Battery

Heat and cold are hard on batteries. You don’t want to be stalled because of a dead battery and you’ll need a strong battery to power your vehicle in inclement weather. Have your mechanic inspect the battery and charging system for top performance.

Tune Up

Winter magnifies performance issues with your car. It’s wise to get a tune up (if you are due for one) prior to the onset of winter.

Brakes

Your brakes are the most important safety feature of your vehicle. Have them inspected for proper operation.

Emergency Safety Kit

Get a comprehensive kit of items to help you with on-the-road emergencies as they arise. Amazon, Google or your local hardware stores are all great places to one-stop shop for Safety Kits.

Tires

Tire tread depth and tire pressure is key. Check tire pressure weekly, as it can fluctuate greatly in cold temperatures. See how to measure tire tread depth with a coin.  If you drive in lots of snow and ice, you may want special snow tires. Check with your local tire retailer for more tire safety recommendations.

Antifreeze

Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. Most manufacturers recommend you do this every two years.

In Your Garage

There are three things we recommend to protect your car while it is parked in your garage. A car cover helps protect your car from freezing, snow, water and other damage. A battery charger is nice to have when needed to start your car. And don’t forget to close your garage door and turn on the portion of your home alarm system that protects the garage. After all, your car is a valued resource in your life. With a little bit of care and attention, it will help keep you safe when driving this winter.

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How to Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing (or What to Do In Case Your Pipes Burst)

by CassieDecember 11, 2014

12.11

One of the worst home disasters that can happen in the winter are freezing or bursting pipes.

Low winter temperatures can cause your water pipes to freeze or burst.

So how can you protect your home before, during and after a pipe freezes?

First, take actions to prevent pipes from freezing. These actions include:

  • Disconnecting all gardening hoses from faucets.
  • Installing covers on outside faucets.
  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Insulating all outside walls and unheated areas of your home and garage.
  • Weather seal all windows to prevent drafts.
  • Cover or close open air vents. Freezing temperatures with wind drafts can cause pipes to freeze more frequently.
  • Keep your house temperature at 68 degrees or higher and, in extreme cold, open cabinet doors below sinks to allow warm air to circulate.
  • Wrap pipes near exterior walls with insulation or heating tape.
  • If you are going to be away from your home for an extended period, shut off the water supply valve to your washing machine.

Your first sign that pipes are starting to freeze is reduced water flow from a faucet. Check for water flow before you go to sleep at night and when you wake up in the morning. Allowing a faucet to drip slightly can help prevent freezing.

If a pipe freezes, you can thaw it out using a good hair dryer or by soaking towels in very hot water and then wrapping them around the cold sections of the pipe. When thawing out a pipe, turn on the faucet. This will allow the melted water to drip out. Start thawing the part of the pipe that is closest to the faucet.

Let’s hope that you never have a pipe burst. If you do, shut off the water at the main valve. Close the valve on the top of your water heater. Then, begin the clean-up, call your insurance agent and call your plumber.

As with any home situation, use your best judgment to determine what’s right for you.

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Top 10 Things That Make Your Home a Target to Burglars

by AmyDecember 9, 2014

12.09

Home burglaries are never random, quite the opposite.  Criminals certainly do their homework and seek out homes that are vulnerable to attack and avoid ones that look like they are well protected.  In an attempt to raise awareness and help you better protect your home, we want to share with you the top ten things bad guys look for when scoping out a home.  We will start with some of the obvious, but often overlooked reasons.

  1. Open garage doors: Even during the day your garage door should remain closed at all times.  It is an incredibly easy way to enter your home.  Even if the interior door to your home is locked, the burglar can close the garage door behind him and have all the cover he needs to gain access to your home.  An open garage door is also an invite for criminals to do a quick dash and grab of any valuables in your garage like tools and bicycles.
  2. Open windows: It can be very tempting to leave your windows open to get some fresh air, but it is also a signal to burglars that your alarm system is disabled.  It only takes a moment to slash a screen and gain entry to your home.  Try to avoid leaving your windows open, especially on the first floor.
  3. Unlocked doors: You would be surprised to find out how many homes are burglarized each year due to unlocked doors.  The most common of all is the interior garage door.  Even when you are at home you should keep your doors locked to keep a potential burglary from turning into a home invasion.
  4. Valuables or electronics: Can you see that 65” flat screen in your living room through the window when you drive by your home?  So can the criminals!  It is a good idea to have sufficient curtains or blinds that help to limit any line of sight into your home.  The less valuables one can see from outside the less tempted they will be to get their hands on them
  5. Empty home: Most home burglaries happen during the day when the homeowners are away at work.  Criminals want to avoid confrontation as much as possible and also have a much lower chance of looking suspicious during the daylight hours.  It is in your best interest to keep your home as safe as possible while you are away.  During the holidays or other times of travel, let a trustworthy neighbor know you will be away so they can help keep an eye on your place.
  6. Bad lighting: When night falls, one of the best ways to keep your home safe is with the use of outdoor lighting.  The fewer shadows a burglar has to hide in the less of a chance they will try to break into your home.  They aren’t going to stand under a bright light and try and pry open a window or a door.
  7. No dogs: Some dogs will roll over and take a belly rub from an intruder, but you can guarantee yourself burglars will think twice about breaking into a home if they hear a dog barking.  The noise from a barking dog also helps to draw attention to the bad guys.  If you are not a fan of owning a dog, invest in a “beware of dog” sign.  Criminals will see that and again think twice about entering your property.
  8. No security system: Home security systems are affordable and priceless when there is an incident.  You don’t need the most sophisticated system available, but not having one at all leaves your house completely vulnerable to criminals.  Give yourself and your family the peace of mind knowing your home is protected.
  9. No security window decals: This is one of the easiest ways to deter the bad guys.  A simple security system decal in the first floor windows is a big red flag to burglars.  Let the bad guys know that your home is protected.
  10. No security yard signs: Just like the security window decals it is also a good idea to have at least one security system yard sign out front of your house.  Criminals often case neighborhoods and may scratch you off their potential list if they see the sign in your yard.

Taking the proper measures to secure your home and make it less of a target will greatly decrease the chances of a break in.  If your home looks like Fort Knox, the burglars are going to move on to the one that doesn’t.  If you would like more information on how to protect your home, or simply need to request yard signs or window decals give My Alarm Center a call at 855 334 6562.

 

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Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

by CassieDecember 4, 2014

12.04

Many people really enjoy shopping during the holiday season. After all, gift-giving is a long standing holiday tradition, one that most Americans participate in.

Holiday time is also a hectic time and the hustle and bustle of the season can leave people vulnerable to theft and holiday crimes. That’s why we’ve generated this list of holiday shopping safety tips for your protection this season.

When actually shopping do the following to avoid theft or crime:

  • Make sure you have a record of all your credit cards and other important information stored in a safe place in case your cards, purse or wallet get stolen.
  • Shop during daylight hours whenever possible.
  • If you must shop at night, shop with a friend.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings. Even though you are excited or in a hurry, be aware of what’s happening around you.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Don’t be visible to others with your cash when you are paying for things.
  • Try to pay by check or credit card.
  • Don’t wear expensive jewelry.
  • Be extra careful when carrying a wallet or purse as they are prime targets for thieves.
  • Be wary of strangers that approach you as this can be a distraction designed to allow someone to pick your pocket or to steal your belongings.
  • Don’t overload yourself with packages. Make sure you can see clearly and have freedom of movement so you can respond to critical situations.
  • Save all receipts so you can verify credit card and bank statements.

When parking your car do the following to avoid theft and crime:

  • Keep all doors locked and windows closed while in or away from your car.
  • Use your car alarm or anti-theft device if needed.
  • Park in well-lighted areas when shopping at night and avoid parking next to trucks with camper shells, vans or cars with tinted windows.
  • Park as close as you can to the store or mall entrance.
  • Never, ever leave your car unlocked and unoccupied with the motor running.
  • Get your keys out so you are ready to open the car before you leave the store or mall.
  • Don’t approach your car if there are suspicious people around it, or if something feels wrong or out of place to you.
  • If you are carrying a purse or bags, don’t put them on the hood or roof of the car. Doing so makes it too easy for people to grab them and run.
  • Store packages in your trunk or in non-visible locations of your car. Don’t leave things out in the open for thieves to see and steal.
  • Ask mall or store security to escort you to your car.

When shopping online do these things to avoid theft and crime:

  • Check to ensure that your computer security is up-to-date and working correctly. Make sure you have anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti –spam security software and a good firewall.
  • Do not respond to requests to “verify your password” or any personal information unless you initiated the contact.
  • Shop with companies you trust. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
  • Shop only on secure websites.

All of us at My Alarm Center want you to have a safe, happy holiday season. Keep these tips in mind to stay safe while shopping!

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Winter Driving Safety Tips

by TammyDecember 2, 2014

12.02

As we begin to close out the 2014 calendar year the leaves are starting to turn colors.  As the leaves drop to the ground we all know that winter weather will soon be upon us as well.  This time of the year sees a rise in road travel for family get-togethers for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year celebrations.

With leaves, rain, snow and ice taking to our streets, it is important to remember some safety tips while driving.  Safely driving ourselves and our families during the autumn and winter seasons requires a few more precautions to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect ourselves out on the road.

The fall presents driving conditions that are specific for this time of year.  For starters, school is back in session.  Our streets will see many more cars and buses on the road as kids are shuttled to and from their schools.  Pedestrian traffic will also see a major increase in the early morning hours and late afternoon as children walk to and from school.  Take note of the bus stops and walking routes around your local schools and watch your speeds in these areas to avoid any unfortunate accidents.

Rain is also likely to be present during the fall season which can make the streets really slippery.  Especially if the oil and other contaminants left behind from summer traffic has not had a chance to wash away.  Mix the rain with excess leaves on the street and it can be a real concoction for disaster.  Besides being slippery when wet, leaves can block traffic lines and fill dangerous potholes.  It’s best to take your time on leaf covered streets and give other drivers the space they need to react.

The fall is also the most likely time of the year to encounter fog.  Cold fall mornings tend to create fog in the low lying areas and a regular mistake made by many drivers is to use their high beams instead of low beams.  High beams actually create more window glare which makes seeing cars, curves and stop signs in front of you much more difficult.  Use fog lights if your car is equipped and keep a good distance between you and the car in front of you in case they need to stop suddenly.  Frost is also starting to form during this time of year so watch out for ice patches on bridges, overpasses and parts of the road that does not get enough sunshine during the day.

Fall is also the season for deer hunting.  Be aware that deer activity is much higher this time of the year as they attempt to migrate and outrun the hunters that are stalking them.  Deer commonly move during the morning and evening hours from sunset until dawn.  If you live in a heavier populated deer area, you may want to invest in a whistling deer deterrent for your car.

When winter hits, we all know it is a whole different ball game so to speak.  Freezing temperature, snow and ice all can make for treacherous driving conditions.  It is this time of the year that we all need to take extra precautions and be better prepared for driving on winter roads.

Before your car ever leaves its parking place there are a few things to be done.  Make sure that your tires are properly inflated and never mix radial tires with other types.  If you can afford to do so get a set of winter tires for your vehicle.  Blizzak tires from Bridgestone are just one of many excellent winter tire choices available.  The right set of winter tires will make all the difference when faces with tough winter driving conditions.  Another preventative tip is to always keep your gas tank at least half full to help gas lines from freezing up.

You should also prepare a winter emergency kit for your car in the event of becoming stuck or stranded.  If you should become stuck or stranded, stay with your vehicle.  Never try to walk through storm conditions.  Staying with your car will provide some shelter and make it much easier for emergency crews to find you.  A proper emergency kit should be able to get you through a prolonged emergency.  Here are some items every car owner should have on hand while traveling during the winter season.

  • A small shovel – Just in case the plow buries your car or you slide into a ditch.  It is always easier to dig yourself out with a shovel rather than your hands.
  • Windshield scraper – This is an absolute necessity unless you use your credit cards or driver’s license to remove ice from your windows.
  • Flashlight, battery powered radio and extra batteries – you are going to want to see at night and listen to weather forecasts if you become stranded.
  • Snack foods and water – Energy bars, candy bars and dried fruit are all good ideas to keep in an emergency snack kit.  The water might freeze so don’t fill the bottles all the way up.  You will be happy to have fresh drinking water instead of trying to melt roadside snow and ice to stay hydrated.
  • Warm clothes and blankets – For extended winter emergencies, be sure to have extra hats, gloves, socks and blankets on hand to keep warm should you be stuck for a while. You may also want to invest in some hand warmers.  They are really inexpensive, but can be priceless when needed in an emergency.
  • Tow rope – You might see a passerby that is willing to try and tow your car from being stuck, but without a tow rope you are going to have to wait until other help can arrive.
  • Salt, sand or kitty litter – Road salt, sand and cat litter are all useful in gaining traction on icy road conditions.  It might only take a little bit to get you the traction you need to get going again.  If you live in mountainous or hilly areas you might want to consider a set of tire chains to help you get up that hill.
  • Jumper cables – Nothing is worse than having a car that would run and drive just fine if only it would start.  Dead batteries are ultra common during the frozen months of the year.
  • Flares, reflectors and fluorescent flags – Be sure you have a way to let other motorists and emergency crews know where you are.  In blizzard conditions these markers may be the difference in being  found or spending the night in a ditch.

Driving in winter requires an extra skill set as well.  You may be only taking a short trip to the grocery store, but may be required to handle your ride like a rally car.  It should go without saying, but be sure you accelerate, decelerate and drive slower than you would during the rest of the year.  Most accidents caused during the winter were started by one of these three culprits.

If you find your car begins to slide when applying the brakes, slowly let off the brakes to regain traction and use a gentle steady pressure until you begin to slow down.  This may have to be repeated to get the car to come to a full stop.  Most cars today are equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS).  If you have an older vehicle without ABS you may need to pump the brakes to get it to come to a full stop.  This is why it is extra important to leave enough space between your car and the guy in front.  You should always anticipate that stopping could be an issue.  Allow at least 3 times as much room as you normally would on a dry road.

If your car begins to slide and spin, keep your foot off the brake and always turn into the spin.  In other words, always look and turn in the direction you want to go.  If your rear wheels are sliding left then steer left.  If your rear tires begin to slide right then steer to the right. Be careful not to over-correct as you are trying to recover control. If your wheels start sliding the other way then ease the steering wheel back the other way.  You may have to steer left and right a few times to get back under full control.  With spinning being one of the most dangerous situations to be in, make sure that you never use cruise control in the winter.  It is too easy to lose the feel of the road when your foot is off the accelerator.

The best tip we can give you to stay safe during the fall and winter driving months is to stay tuned to the weather reports and when bad weather is approaching, stay where you are.  Even if you are excellent in driving in rain, snow and ice doesn’t mean everyone else is.  Do your family and vehicle a favor and stay home and make alternative travel plans.

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Thanksgiving Safety Tips In and Out of the Home

by DerekNovember 27, 2014

11.28

Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays of the year.  Families get together to celebrate with each other and bountiful feasts adorn the dining table.  .

Thanksgiving is also a time to keep safety in mind both in and out of your home.  Whether you are traveling to see family and friends or will be hosting the Thanksgiving festivities in your home, there are a few things to keep in mind to help ensure you all have a safe Thanksgiving holiday.

If traveling outside of your home for the holiday you may want to take the following precautions.

  • Your best bet against burglary or vandalism while away from home is to have a monitored home security system in case of any emergency.  For even greater piece of mind you can use a home automation system like MyHome from My Alarm Center that will allow you to completely monitor and control your home while away.
  • Do not post your travel plans on social media.  Criminals often use sites like Facebook to find who will be where.  If they see you are traveling out of town for the weekend, they will know that your home is vulnerable to a break-in.
  • Make sure the telephone ringer is turned all the way down.  This way no one outside of your home will hear repeated unanswered phone calls.  You might also consider reviewing your answering machine messages to make sure your messages do not let callers know you are away.
  • Have the post office stop mail delivery while you are away or have a neighbor that you trust collect the mail for you until you return.
  • Do not leave an extra key hidden outside of your home.  Seasoned burglars know where to look and chances are they can and will find it.
  • Set up timers on interior lights to turn them on and off during the evening to give the appearance of activity within the home
  • This last tip should go without saying, but be sure to lock and secure all windows and doors throughout your home.  Second story windows are commonly overlooked and the bad guys know this.  Be sure to lock all of them.

If you are the host for the Thanksgiving festivities, then there are a totally different set of precautions you should keep in mind to make sure the event is a safe and joyous occasion for everyone.  Most of the safety tips we offer are meant for the heart of the home during Thanksgiving… the kitchen.

  • Accidents can happen so we first suggest keeping a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and make sure everyone involved knows where it is and how to use it.  You should also have a smoke alarm already installed in your kitchen since that is where the majority of home fires originate.
  • Cooking attire is also important for the chef and any kitchen assistants for the day.  Do not wear loose fitting clothes that could catch fire from an open flame.  You should wear short sleeves or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
  • It is a good idea to always have an adult in the kitchen while the stove or oven is on.  Not only can you keep an important dish from burning, but you can also keep an eye out for anyone getting too close to hot surfaces or other dangers in the kitchen.
  • Have a short talk with the kids.  Make sure they know they should stay at least 3 feet away from the stove.  They should also be kept clear of any hot liquids and food.  Hot gravy or the steam from the vegetables can cause serious burns.
  • With children in mind again, be sure that all sharp knives are kept out of their reach.  You should also keep all electric cords out of their reach as well.  Coffee makers, plate warmers, mixers and electric knives can be dangerous if pulled off the counter by little ones.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from open flames or the stove top.  This includes items such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, pot holders, paper or plastic bags or other food packaging that could catch fire.
  • Regularly clean cooking surfaces to avoid unnecessary grease build-up.  Grease fires are some of the most common kitchen fires.
  • After you have finished cooking the Thanksgiving feast, be sure that the stove and other cooking appliances have been turned off

We hope that these simple safety tips will keep you, your family and friends safe for the upcoming holiday season.  Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at My Alarm Center!

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Safety Tips for Frying a Turkey

by TammyNovember 25, 2014

11.25

If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner and frying a turkey, then this blog post is quite valuable to you.

The number one cause of Thanksgiving Day accidents involves frying a turkey. While frying your turkey may result in an outstanding meal, it’s also ripe with danger.

Here are a few tips to keep you and your dinner guests safe while frying a turkey.

  • Always fry a turkey outside.  Never attempt to use a turkey fryer inside of your home, in your garage or even out on a wooden deck or near any combustible surface.  It is advisable to keep the fryer at least 15 feet away from your home.  Make sure you set it up on a dry, level surface.
  • Use a thermometer to keep your oil around 350 degrees.  Oil that gets too hot can release combustible fumes that can ignite or explode.
  • Always make sure that the turkey is completely thawed and toweled down to remove any additional moisture from the turkey.  Ice or water that comes into contact with the hot oil will cause a flare up.
  • Never operate a turkey fryer if the weather is bad.  High winds, rain or snow means you will have to use an alternative cooking method.
  • Do not overfill the oil basin.  Too much oil will overflow and could possibly ignite from the burners.  It is best to fry a smaller turkey for this reason.  8-10 lb. turkeys work best.  Try to avoid frying a turkey over 12 lbs.  Your turkey fryer should have a max oil level mark located inside the oil basin.
  • It is a good idea to wear safety goggles to protect your eyes and oven mitts to protect your arms and hands from any oil spillage.
  • Turn off the burner before you lower the turkey into pre-heated oil.  Lower the turkey very slowly to avoid flare ups.  There is bound to be a small amount of oil flare up when the fresh turkey hits the hot oil.  Lowering the turkey slowly will help minimize this.  Turn the burners back on after the turkey is fully submerged and oil flare ups are not an issue.
  • Never leave a turkey fryer unattended.  Keep a fire extinguisher close by and keep all children far away from the fryer at all times.
  • Once the cooking is complete be sure to shut off the burners, cover the oil basin and keep it on a level surface to cool.  The oil will remain hot for quite a while so be sure all children and adult guests keep a safe distance.

We hope that these safety tips on frying your Thanksgiving turkey will help you to have a happy holiday and safely assist you in presenting a mouth-watering turkey for your holiday meal.

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Holiday Airline Safety and Travel Tips

by AmyNovember 20, 2014

Chrismas Travel

The 2014 holiday season is upon us with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year celebrations just days away.  With the holidays comes a lot of air travel for all of us to reunite with family, friends and loved ones.  We all hope for smooth sailing, but with a few tips and precautions, you can rest assured you have done everything in your power to make sure your holiday air travel goes smoothly.

We have all heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and this statement rings especially true when planning your flight during the holiday seasons.  Here are some steps to take before you ever leave for the airport.

1.  When booking your flight, do yourself a favor and spend a little more to book a direct flight to your destination if possible. Avoiding connecting flights reduces the chances of something going wrong due to weather or heavy air traffic delays.

2.  If you are unable to obtain a direct flight the next best thing to do is to avoid airports that are notorious for flight delays due to storms.  Denver, Chicago O’Hare and New York airports are all commonly plagued with winter storms during the holidays.

3.  Create a Plan B.  Looking ahead of time for alternative flights in case your plane is delayed or cancelled allows you to suggest the alternatives to booking agents that may be a little frazzled in the heat of things.

4.  Add the airline reservation numbers to your cell phone.  In addition to that it is a good idea to have the numbers to a frequent flier representative as well if you are a member.  These booking agents are often much more creative in finding solutions to flight delays.  Also include the numbers to any third party websites you may have booked through like Travelocity or Expedia.  You may even want to have the reservation numbers of airport hotels handy in case you need to book a room due to a cancellation.  Hotel rooms are often first-come-first-serve and will often sell out during holiday mishaps.

5.  Set up a flight alert for yourself and anyone at your destination responsible for greeting you at your arrival.  Most airlines offer this service and will notify everyone on the list via text or email should there be any delays or cancellations.  Most airlines will also notify everyone to let them know that the flights are on schedule as well.

6.  Pack as light as possible.  Do yourself another favor and really try to eliminate any items that are not absolutely necessary.  The best way to avoid any issues with delays or lost luggage is not to check a bag at all.  You may want to consider shipping gifts and possibly personal items to your destination 2-3 weeks prior to departing.  If you do bring gifts with you, be sure not to wrap them before the flight.  With security issues these days the TSA may need to unwrap them in order to clear them for flight.  Ship your gifts or wrap them when you get there.

So now your trip is planned, you are packed and ready to go.  You may want to check in online rather than stand in line at the airport.  Most airlines allow passengers to check in 24 hours prior to take-off.  The last travelers to check in are usually the first to get bumped on an overbooked flight.

If you are going to be parking at the airport it is probably a good idea to reserve a parking space as well.  There are websites like AirportParkingReservations.com that allow you to find and reserve the closest and safest parking spots for your vehicle.  Once you are parked, be sure not to leave any valuables in plain sight for criminals to see as an easy smash and grab.  Most airport parking terminals are well guarded, but the bad guys are still out there.

Before you leave the house be sure that you have secured your house by locking all the doors and windows, setting your alarms and setting light timers to make you house look lived in during the holidays.  You should also ask a trustworthy neighbor to collect your mail or have the post office put a hold on it while you are away.

Once you are ready to get to the airport it is advisable to arrive at least 2 hours in advance during the holiday seasons… 3 hours in advance if you are flying internationally.  This is the time to put on your patient hat, keep a positive attitude and hope for the best.  By now you have planned for all possibilities  if you followed our preparation steps and will be prepared if and when a delay or cancellation does occur.

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How to Talk to Your Parents about Aging and Independent Living

by DerekNovember 18, 2014

Old Couple

One of the most stressful and overwhelming discussions adult children can have with their parents is about aging and independent living.

Talking with your parents about their ability to care for themselves and their home is something many of us resist. We don’t want our parents to feel that they are being forced to do anything, especially giving up their independence. We also don’t want a heated discussion with our mom and dad about an unpleasant topic.

By the same token, many of us also recognize that our parents are aging and that they may need additional measures for their care and safety.

So how do you begin a conversation with your parents about this important issue? Experts suggest you take the following measures:

Make it an ongoing discussion – It’s best to hold this conversation before a crisis develops. Let your parents know that as their adult child, you want the best for them and you want to follow their wishes. Ask your parents to share their wishes with you so you can be there to help them along the way.

Choose your words carefully – What starts as a discussion may quickly escalate into an argument if you don’t handle things correctly. Some parents may feel threatened and lash out. No one likes getting older and on one likes to admit that aging may impact their ability to care for themselves. Make it a point to speak in a calm, clear, and pleasant voice.

Identify all options – If both of your parents are alive and living together, ask them what they’d like to happen if one of them dies. No doubt it will be a difficult conversation but it will help you learn their desires. Although they both may be OK right now, ask them what they expect if that changes.

Express your desire to help – It’s important to hold discussions that enable you to understand your parent’s desires. It’s not your place to dictate actions and behaviors to them. It’s your place to help them and love them. Make sure your mom and dad understand your sincere desire to understand their needs and that you are there to help them.

Use technology to help parents maintain their independence – Modern technology can help you care for your parents without putting them into an assisted living facility or using in-home care options.  Two of our favorites are personal emergency response systems and home automation systems. Personal emergency response systems allow your parents to summon emergency help when needed via an alarm monitoring center, and the monitoring center may even check in with your parents at regular intervals to ensure everything is OK. Home automation systems can automate certain functions while allowing you to watch in real time what’s happening at your parent’s home right from your smartphone or tablet.

The idea of being a burden and unable to care for themselves can be terrifying to your parents. They know that day may likely come and understandably they want to put it off as long as possible. With empathy, understanding, planning and lots of love, you’ll help them successfully handle life’s inevitable transitions.

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7 Safety Tips When Your Home Is For Sale

June 5, 2014

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