Tricks to Ensure Your Halloween is a Treat

Halloween is just around the corner! Here are some tricks from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for you and the kids to have a fun and safe Halloween!

 Photo Credit:  swansbill  Flickr via  Compfight   cc

 Photo Credit: swansbill Flickr via Compfight cc

Halloween Safety Tips 2016

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

ALL DRESSED UP:

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective.
  • Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes. Makeup should be tested ahead of time on a small patch of skin to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises on the big day.
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child's costume, make sure it is not sharp or long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he or she stumbles or trips.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as "one size fits all," or "no need to see an eye specialist," obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Review with children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they ever have an emergency or become lost.

CARVING A NICHE: 

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and not on a porch or any path where visitors may pass close by. They should never be left unattended.

HOME SAFE HOME:

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

ON THE TRICK-OR-TREAT TRAIL:

  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or-Treaters:
    • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
    • Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
    • Carry a cellphone for quick communication.
    • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
    • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
    • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
    • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
    • Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn't mean others will!
    • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

HEALTHY HALLOWEEN:

  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats for the days and weeks following Halloween.

Following these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics will ensure you have a fun and safe Halloween with the kids!

Thursday, October 20 is Earthquake Preparedness Day

This Thursday, October 20, at 10:20 AM is The Great California Shakeout.

Living in California, one of the biggest natural disasters that occurs here are earthquakes. We get earthquakes in California every day. California is known as earthquake country. Just a couple weeks ago an earthquake warning was released to southern California by the Governor's Office of Emergency Services after a series of small temblors deep under the Salton Sea, which is located on the 800-mile-long San Andreas fault. Following the earthquake warning, there was a 2.4 magnitude earthquake centered at Seal Beach, CA. According to the California Department of Conservation,

"Each year, California generally gets two or three earthquakes large enough to cause moderate damage to structures."

With that being said, it is best to always be prepared. We don’t know when the “big one” will come, but at least we’ll be ready for it.

Photo Credit:  kellyb.flanagan  via  Compfight   cc  

Photo Credit: kellyb.flanagan via Compfight cc 

So how do we join in The Great California Shake Out?

The Great California Shake Out is an annual earthquake drill that businesses, schools, government agencies, and individuals participate in. You can register HERE. Once you register, you can join in on The Great California Shake out by practicing your earthquake drill.

For more information on how to participate in The Great California Shakeout, go to http://www.shakeout.org/california/

Participate in The Great California Shakeout on October 20, 2016 at 10:20AM! “Drop, Cover, and Hold On!”

Tips on preparing for an earthquake

Here are a few tips provided by the Red Cross and Ready.gov:

  • Pick a safe place in each room of your home, workplace, and/or school away from windows, bookcases, or tall furniture.
    Windows can shatter during an earthquake, so you should find a safe place away from windows. Bookcases and tall furniture can fall on you during an earthquake.
     
  • Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed.
    In the event of an earthquake, power can be lost so it'll be good to have a flashlight near your bed. Sturdy shoes are important, especially if there is broken glass or debris from the earthquake.
     
  • Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation.
    This is especially important. If your home is not securely anchored to its foundation, your home has a greater possibility of collapsing.
     
  • Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
    Bolting and bracing water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs will help prevent any water and gas leaks in the event of an earthquake.
     
  • Learn to shut off gas valves in your home and keep a wrench handy for that purpose.
    Going along with the previous tip, you do not want gas leaks in your home after an earthquake, so make sure you know where your gas valves are and learn how to shut them off.
     
  • Keep and maintain an emergency supplies kit in an easy-to-access location.
    This is especially important when a strong earthquake occurs. Having an emergency supply kit ready and easy to access will help tend to minor or major injuries that occur after an earthquake until the medical aid arrives.
     
  • Store critical supplies, such as water, medication and documents.
    For devastating earthquakes, this is especially important. You may be left with no power or running water, so it would be handy to have food, water, medications, important documents, and other supplies stored.
     
  • Plan how you will communicate with family members.
    We never know when or what time an earthquake will happen, so coordinate with family members on how you will communicate or meet if you are all not together when an earthquake occurs.

Contact Kaplan Construction at 562-495-0483 or via email at BOB@KAPLANCONSTRUCTION.COM to check your home’s foundation.

More information on The Great California Shake Out and Earthquake Preparedness

For a complete list of the earthquake safety checklist, you can find it at: http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4240216_Earthquake.pdf and http://www.ready.gov/earthquakes

Sources:
http://www.shakeout.org/california/
http://www.earthquakecountry.org/
http://www.conservation.ca.gov/index/earthquakes/Pages/qh_earthquakes.aspx
http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/earthquake
http://www.ready.gov/earthquakes

Good Energy Saving Investments

Sometimes in Southern California we get weeks of heat in October, when it should be feeling more like fall. In our previous energy saving blogs we have discussed FAST AND FREE SUMMER CONSERVATION TIPS and INEXPENSIVE ENERGY SOLUTIONS, this time we want to discuss some good energy saving investments.

Photo Credit:  christianbroscabinets  via  Compfight

Photo Credit: christianbroscabinets via Compfight

Here are some energy saving investments you may want to consider to save money on your electricity bill and conserve energy.

Install a whole house fan

If you don't own an air conditioning unit, installing a whole house fan is a good alternative. It might not cool as good as an air conditioning unit, but the costs of purchasing and installing a whole house fan is cheaper than an air conditioning unit. Whole house fans typically use one-fifth to one-tenth of the electricity an air conditioning unit would use. Some utility companies offer rebates for having a whole house fan, so you should check with your local provider to see if you qualify for a rebate.

Install window shading

Window shading is a great way to block out the sun's heat from entering your home. This can definitely make a difference when it's hot out. For best results, make sure the shade is as close to the glass as possible. There are different styles and types of window shading out there, so it will be easy to find one to match your home and suit your needs.

Invest in a new AC unit

Newer air conditioning units are more energy efficient than their previous models. It would be a good idea to look into replacing your AC unit if it is really dated. It will save you money on your electricity bills.

If AC units are too expensive for your budget, you can look into the whole house fan, discussed earlier, as an alternative. You should also look into portable AC units or evaporative coolers as another alternative as well. For more information on portable AC units and evaporative coolers, you can check out our blog post, PORTABLE AIR CONDITIONING UNITS VERSUS EVAPORATIVE COOLERS - WHICH TO BUY?, which discusses the advantages and disadvantages of both portable AC units and evaporative coolers.

Seal your ducts

Sealing your ducts will prevent any air leaks and ensure you are using your heating and cooling system as efficient as possible, resulting in energy savings. Not only will sealing your ducts save you money, it also will also improve the air quality coming into your home by keeping out allergens, particles, and dust.

Replace your refrigerator or any other appliance with an ENERGY STAR model

If you need to purchase a new appliance for your home, it is best to choose an ENERGY STAR product. ENERGY STAR products are energy efficient appliances. In California, some electricity companies offer rebates for having ENERGY STAR products in your home. For instance, according to the ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder, if you live in Long Beach, CA, Southern California Edison will give you a $200 rebate on a hybrid heat pump water heater.

NOTE: These rebates change from time to time and vary based on your location, so it's best to check the ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder for the current list of rebates offered in your area.

Here is a link you can use to see what products utility companies offer rebates for based on where you live: ENERGY STAR REBATE FINDER

Increase attic insulation

Increasing the insulation in your attic is a great way to save energy in your home. With more insulation in your home, it prevents cold air from your cooling system or hot air from your heating system from escaping, making it easier to maintain a desired temperature in the house.

Keep these options in mind if you are looking into saving energy and saving money on your electricity bill in the long run.

Contact Kaplan Construction for your general contractor needs at (562)495-0483 or via email at BOB@KAPLANCONSTRUCTION.COM.