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  • Joe Brunetto

Fall is here and the holidays are fast approaching.

This has customarily been the time for gatherings with friends and family. This year may be a dramatic departure for many of us but there is still the excitement that comes with decorating our home, frying the turkey and enjoying uplifted hearts. More of us will stay home this holiday season due to health concerns relating to the Covid Virus. This means it may not be Grandma's or Aunt Margaret's house hosting scented candles throughout, simmering cider and a 72 hour cooking marathon, it may be our own. What's more, it could be the first time. Here are some tips to assure a safe and Happy Holiday season. 

Check those Holiday Tree light wires. Discard nicked, frayed or cut wires. That extension cord you nicked with the hedge trimmer, discard that too!  Make certain you use outdoor lights for exterior illumination.   

Lit candles near a live tree or towels in the bathroom or hand towels in the kitchen is an invitation to disaster. Move the candle or get those artificially powered candles that look like they are burning. You can spend as much or as little as you like, depending on where you like to shop.

Make sure you check the stove top and oven before leaving the house. All too often a neighbor may ask us to join them for a walk around the neighborhood or we need to make a quick trip to the store. Having a pan or pot on the stove waiting to come to a boil may mean spending the holiday at a hotel near you. 

That little rope thing on your garage door opener with the red handle. Pull it so the knotted end of the rope is toward the floor and the red handle is nearest the garage door opener's rail. That little red handle is a Holiday Tree magnet when you pull in the garage with your holiday prize bundled on the roof rack. 

First time and experienced turkey fryers alike, make sure that apparatus is on concrete, gravel or grass. No newspaper or other flammables should be near by. Flammables include your wood deck, vinyl siding on your house or anything else that can melt or burn. Always remember, if you wash an aluminum pot before frying, triple check to make sure it's dry before placing over the flame. Traces of water in the pot can cause the aluminum to melt. I know, I've done it. 

Indoor cooking appliances have become more convenient and in many ways more reliable for holiday meal preparation. These include turkey fryers, oven roasters, crock pots and the like. As our counter space becomes limited during the holiday cooking spree, these items should be moved to the back of the counter. Remember, they are hot and filled with things that can burn if knocked off the counter by someone passing by or something else being placed on the counter.

Decking the halls is fun. Just be certain that when hanging lights on the gutters, placing that sixty inch wreath high enough so it can be seen by the entire neighborhood, have a stable ladder. One leg of a ladder can sink into soft soil making it unstable.  It is a good idea to have an adult standing at the bottom of a ladder to stabilize your ascent and decent. 

Pumpkins, Candy Canes, Snowmen Reindeer always add a lovely touch to our indoor and outdoor decor. If they light up, make sure the decoration or their extension cord doesn't create a trip and fall hazard. Try to decorate the outside with your UPS, Amazon and Fed Ex driver in mind. Remember, he/she is trying to empty a truck and get home before 9:00 to spend time with their family too. They are moving fast, often with an armful of packages and may not be able to see an extension cord or candy cane in their direct path.

Don't leave holiday lights on while out of your home. This is printed on the packaging and for good reason. 

Secure your indoor holiday tree. A piece of wire or string secured to the top of the tree on one end and wrapped around a window lock, a discreetly placed hook near the mantle or some other stable item prevents your beautiful tree from falling over. A falling tree can mean lost heirloom decorations, damaged gifts under the tree or just scaring the bejeebies out of your dog or cat. 

Speaking of pets, if yours isn't used to strange people visiting the house, secure them in a kennel, bedroom or other location where they aren't disturbing you or your guests. 

If you are leaving for the holiday weekend or longer, turn the water supply to the house off. Nothing worse than coming home to a house full of water at just the time you are looking to relax and enjoy. As homes age, so does the plumbing. Copper and PCV pipe can burst without warning. 

And if you are lucky enough to travel to Grandmas or Aunt Margaret's, feel free to bring this list with you. 

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