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Volume III
December 9, 2011

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

Holiday Preparedness

By Patty Liston

This isn't the usual preparedness article. There will be no water to buy, 72 hour kits to furnish or cars to stock. Today we will just talk about preparing ourselves and our animals for the holidays that are coming. Being able to think about what we will be doing in the days ahead is a simple way to prepare our homes and ourselves, against any accidents.

1. If your camper has been sitting in your driveway, or has otherwise been visible for the past months, everyone will know you are home. However, when it is suddenly missing because you are going "over the river and thru the woods to grandmother's house", others will know your home is empty. Have neighbors watch your home for you. Consider getting lights on timers that will go off in various rooms in your home. Stagger the light times for on and off.

2. Make sure that someone is picking up newspapers and mail while you are away.

3. Think of having someone stay in your home while you are away. When my husband and I were first married, an older couple invited us to stay in their home while they went on vacation. It was lovely to get out of our cramped apartment and enjoy the large home - and swimming pool - that our friends owned.

4. If you have candles burning in your home, designate someone in the family to be the Candle Blower-Outer. He or she would go around the home before leaving to make sure all fires are out.

Holiday Survival Kit
Martha Steward came up with some must-haves to keep Christmas morning running smoothly in your home:

•  box or bin for storage of all your stuff
•  batteries in multiple sizes (button batteries, AAs, AAs, Cs and Ds)
•  chargers or extra batteries for cameras
•  camera(s)
•  notepad and pen to write down who got what (or funny things the kids say)
•  sharp scissors to cut pesky straps and plastic from toys
•  set of mini screwdrivers for battery operated toys
•  something to put paper and Christmas gift bags in for re-use next year.

Please remember that many toys require the little button batteries. These can be quite dangerous if you have little children or pets around because they are so easy to swallow. Keep your batteries in a plastic case or bowl with a lid so that these do not become confused with candy.

Pet and Child Survival
Oh my, how much fun the holidays can be for our pets and toddlers. They are also a veritable mine-field of disasters and accidents waiting to happen. Follow these simple steps offered by veterinarians to keep your pets safe. Many of them are also good for little children as well.

1. If you have a real Christmas tree, keep the water in the stand covered so your animals can't drink it. The pine sap is dangerous if ingested and the needles could get caught in their throat

2. Tree lights should not be left on when you're not around. Pets and children who are teething, can chew through lights/wires which can cause electrical shock, and shattered/chewed glass can cause severe intestinal problems.

3. If you are worried about your pets or toddlers knocking the tree over you can try securing it to a wall or ceiling with fishing line and a hook. I had a friend who put her Christmas tree along with the gifts, in a playpen where the little toddlers couldn't get to it. Brilliant!

4. Once the tree is decorated be sure to pick up tinsel, ribbon and ornament hooks on the floor. Glittery items are attractive playthings to children and pets, but they can get sick if these items are ingested. If a blockage occurs in your pet's stomach or intestines emergency surgery may be needed to save him/her.

5. If your pet shows an interest in playing with decorations on the tree, decorate the bottom third of the tree with wood or plastic ornaments that won't break.

6. It is a good idea to keep all gifts that contain human food off the floor so that pets will not be tempted by the smells. Human treats can be dangerous for pets, especially foods containing chocolate, alcohol, raisins, onions, ham and other meats. These types of gifts should be kept out of areas your pet has access to. I don't think we want little children eating some of this foods either! There is nothing worse than a tired child with a massive belly-ache!

7. Holiday plants like poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe can be poisonous to your pet and a child, if ingested or chewed on. Keep these plants well out of reach of your pet, or use artificial plants for decoration.

8. Make sure burning candles are in places that are inaccessible to your pets and children, and don't leave candles burning unattended. Either one could easily start a fire by knocking a candle over.

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