5 Easy Ways to Have a Safe and Stress-Free Holiday Season
When it comes to simplifying your holiday season, a little preparation can make the difference between being able to sit out a storm in cozy comfort or having to go into emergency mode. Here's how to ensure you spend your time the way you want to this winter.
#1: Do a Pre-Winter Storm Check
Yes, you've heard it before, but just in case.... If you haven't gotten around to getting your gutters and downspouts cleaned out yet, now's the time! It only takes one major downpour for drainage problems to create needless damage.
At the same time, have the roof and any flashings checked for signs of potential leaks, and tour your home's perimeter to make sure all water is being directed away from the walls and foundation.
#2: Stock a Great Car Emergency Kit
Most people know that carrying a car emergency kit is a superb idea, but how many people actually have one? The fast and easy solution is to order a pre-assembled kit, such as this AAA emergency kit on Amazon
(currently on sale for under $40), but unfortunately, most kits like this don't include some very helpful emergency items.Here are five things that I highly recommend putting in every vehicle you own
(they also make great gift ideas):- The Life Hammer
This inexpensive tool is both a seat belt cutter and a window breaker. Like most emergency items, it's not something you're likely to need, but if you ever do, you will really
need it. (A few years ago a lady drove off an embankment on her way to work and was trapped by her seat belt for days before she was rescued.)- 15-Minute Emergency Tire Repair Kit
Rather than changing a flat tire on a wet winter road, why not use some 'Slime' to plug the leak, and then simply drive home? This version comes with an air compressor and sells for just under $23 on Amazon.- Emergency Mylar Sleeping Bag
This waterproof, windproof emergency sleeping bag reflects 80% of your body heat and folds into the size of a wallet. At its current price of under $2, it's worth ordering a supply for every vehicle.- Emergency Light Sticks
These 12-hour glow sticks activate when you bend them, so you don't have to worry about batteries running down while they are stored.- Battery-Powered Charger with Flashlight
Imagine being stranded on the road for a day or two, as occasionally happens to people. If your car couldn't be started, this battery-powered charger would keep your iPhone, iPod, or any other device that charges via a USB up and running - and it currently costs just $6.My Two Cents:
The five items listed above are probably at least as likely to come in handy as anything you'll find in a pre-assembled emergency kit, if not more so. Since you can order all of them for under $60 total, wouldn't they make a great gift package for anyone you care about who drives? Including, of course, yourself. :)
(I've linked to the item postings on Amazon simply for convenience; they are available from many other online vendors.)
#3: Flying? Spare Yourself Trouble with the TSA
If you're traveling by air during the holidays, remember that the Transportation Security Administration needs you to keep gifts unwrapped in both carry-on and checked luggage. Here's a link to the TSA page with helpful tips
on how to get through security faster.
The TSA may also need to open your luggage to screen it, which means that if your locks are not TSA-recognized they would have to break them. Here's a link to TSA-recognized luggage lock information
Two of my favorite links for air travel are SeatGuru.com
, which lets you choose the best seats in virtually any airplane, and AirBnB.com
, which has a huge selection of nightly rentals in 167 countries.AutoSlash.com
is another good one. Their free service tracks your car rental rate and lets you know if it drops, giving you the option to save money by re-booking.
#4: Avoid Water Woes Before You Leave
Did you know that $12 out of every $100 paid out for home insurance claims are for non-flood-related water damage? That's because leaking or frozen pipes can create havoc in only a few hours.
Turn the Water Off
Is it reasonably easy for you to shut off the main water supply to your home when you leave for an extended period of time? As long as you don't plan to leave a trickle of water running through some pipes to prevent freezing, this might be the best option.
If not, check all visible hoses and connections on the washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator, and sinks before you go, and turn off the water supply to specific areas of your home that will not need it.
Plan for Colder Weather
Temperatures can drop quickly, even in moderate climates. That's when a $4 insulator on an outside faucet can save you hundreds of dollars in damage repair costs. Hardware stores frequently run out of these prior to cold snaps, so here's a link to a faucet cover on Amazon.
#5: Staying Home? Tap Into Helpful Resources
Let others brave the highways and the crowded airports! If you're the destination instead of the traveler, here are some resources that can help make your entertaining easier and more enjoyable.
Use Online Tips for Entertaining
You probably have plenty of your own ideas when it comes to festivities, but if you need a little extra inspiration, Food Network's Holiday Recipes and Party Planning Ideas web page is a great place to start. You can browse the 'Most Popular' recipes in the right sidebar to get an idea of what might be most likely to appeal to your guests.
If you find chocolate or candle wax stains the next day, cleaning up is a lot easier when you use this very extensive online stain removal guide. (It lists over 50 different types of stains, so apparently there really is a way to remove virtually anything from your carpet.)
Keep a Home Emergency Checklist
Emergencies can happen at home as well as in the car, so it makes sense to have a home emergency kit in both places. Here's a link to the government's two-page home emergency kit checklist.
Tip: When severe weather is forecast, stores typically experience a run on rock salt, snow shovels, batteries, and space heaters, so stock up early on whatever you think you might need.
Above all, enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!
Do you have questions about any of this information, or are you looking for a resource that you don't see here? Please feel free to call me, or simply reply to this email and I'll be happy to help.
(What the lawyers make us say: The information in this newsletter is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Please always consult a qualified expert before making decisions based on this content. Nothing in this article is meant to be taken as expert legal, financial, or tax advice.)