Home Help: Safe indoor and outdoor decorating

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Decorating Tip: 'Tis the season for a safe holiday 

The holiday season is filled with endless celebrating, shopping and decorating. But during all the hustle and bustle, people often overlook simple safety precautions.

Whether decorating a home inside and out with colorful lights, setting up holiday items in your office or stringing decorations in a dorm room, it is important to remember some important holiday safety tips.

CSA International, a global certification and testing organization, recommends that you follow these indoor and outdoor decorating and smart shopping tips to help ensure everyone has a safe holiday season:

Indoor safety tips

- Inspect holiday light strings each year and discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders or loose connections.

- Never tack or staple lighting strings or extension cords to any surface.

- Never run electrical cords through doorways or under carpets and rugs.

- Always turn off holiday lights when you leave the house unattended or when going to bed.

- Do not use open flames or candles on or near flammable materials such as wreaths, trees or paper decorations.

- Avoid hanging decorations on or near objects like fire sprinklers, fire extinguishers, exit corridors or exit signs which can hinder one's vision or safety.

Outdoor lighting tips

- Before working with outdoor wiring, turn off the electricity to the supply outlet and unplug the connection.

- Ensure that light strings, cords, spotlights and floodlights are certified and marked for outdoor use.

- When hanging lights outdoors, keep electrical connectors above ground, out of puddles or snow and away from metal gutters.

- Use insulated fasteners such as tape or plastic clips rather than nails or tacks to hold lights in place.

- Remove lights promptly after the holidays to avoid damage caused by extended exposure to harsh weather conditions.

- Use a certified timer to switch lights on and off.

Shop safe: avoid counterfeit products

Braving malls and department stores to find the perfect gift can be frustrating, time-consuming and expensive. This can lead people to shop online or at discount stores. While shopping online or searching for a "bargain" gift might make the holiday gift-giving season seem easier, it could also unintentionally put your family and friends at risk for a serious or fatal injury if that gift turns out to be a counterfeit.

Consumers should be wary when purchasing electric toys, household appliances, power tools, consumer electronics or other gifts with a price that seems too good to be true. Counterfeit electrical products have not been tested to the applicable standards and may present an electrical, fire or toxic danger.

When purchasing products this holiday season, avoid products with poor packaging graphics, misspellings, missing contact information or flimsy construction. Always look for electrical products that have a certification mark on the package and the product itself and only buy from a trusted retailer.

On the Web: For an interactive Web site on holiday safety, visit CSAHoliday.com.

-- ARA

Home-Selling Tip: Get listed

Your real estate agent should list your property with the local Multiple Listing Service. This database includes all the homes listed by local real estate agents who are members of the service. Agents then search the database for homes that fit the price range and needs of their clients.

-- www.realestateabc.com

How To: Make your own chalkboard

Chalkboard spray paint is an easy and unique way to create a chalkboard on wood, metal, plastic, glass, paperboard and hardboard. Here are some tips from Lowes:

- Measure and mark off the area of your proposed chalkboard with painter's tape.

- Spray the paint within the marked area, holding the can at least 8 inches away from the surface to avoid dripping. Apply at least three coats for a rich, black finish.

- Immediately after painting, remove the tape to avoid lifting dried paint and having uneven edges.

- Once you've painted a wall area, you can frame it with moulding or paint a border or frame around it. Stenciling or stamping the chalkboard along the edges is also a great way to create a frame. Allow the chalkboard paint to completely dry before applying the stencils or stamps.

-- lowes.com

Did You Know …

In 2010, Home Depot will begin selling indoor and outdoor paint by Martha Stewart, as well as environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Home Improvements: Add storm windows

Storm windows are installed as an addition to your existing windows. Homeowners may choose these windows because they:

- Add an insulation barrier that retains heat in winter and keeps you cool in summer.

- Reduce air leaks.

- Block outside noise.

- Protect your prime windows.

There are a variety of types of storm windows; a home improvement store will be able to guide you.

Garden Guide: How to care for a poinsettia

With proper care, poinsettias can retain their beauty for weeks. Here are some tips:

- After picking a plant, make sure it is wrapped properly. Exposure to low temperatures can damage it.

- Unwrap your poinsettia and keep it in indirect light. Six hours of light daily is ideal.

- Keep the plant from touching cold windows and away from warm or cold drafts.

- Check the soil daily. Be sure to punch holes in foil so water can drain into a saucer. Water when soil is dry. Allow water to drain into the saucer and discard excess.

-- University of Illinois Extension

Backyard Buddies: iPhone app helps birders

The BirdsEye iPhone app is a collaborative effort that helps both beginner and experienced birders plan their outings.

The app has bird data, sounds and descriptions with detailed maps to help you find the birds you’re looking for. Choose your location and browse maps of nearby sightings, or select a species and find out if it has been spotted near you.

For $19.99 you get information, sounds, and photos for 470 frequently seen North American species. You can upgrade to the full complement of 847 species for another $19.99.

-- Cornell Lab of Ornithology

GateHouse News Service