Maintain a Safe Office

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By taking a few precautions, you can ensure that your office is safe for you, your employees, and visitors. Taking a variety of factors into account is necessary, including both the physical and mental safety of workers and the hospitableness of the environment.

The CDC asserts the importance of office safety and provides a clear explanation of all the elements to be considered: "Maintaining a healthy office environment requires attention to chemical hazards, equipment and work station design, physical environment (temperature, humidity, light, noise, ventilation, and space), task design, psychological factors (personal interactions, work pace, job control) and sometimes, chemical or other environmental exposures."

Certain aspects of office safety mentioned in this safety manual are as simple as keeping your work and eating areas and restrooms clean. "Injuries in office settings often come about because the 'housekeeping' of the office has become slack...Cleanliness and good housekeeping can also reduce allergic reactions to dust/mold and prevent illness such as the flu or a virus."

If you have the luxury of planning out your office space or starting from scratch with office furniture and technology, try to purchase ergonomically designed equipment that will improve employee health and comfort. The CDC explains this further: "A well-designed office allows each employee to work comfortably without needing to over-reach, sit or stand too long, or use awkward postures (correct ergonomic design)."

Office conditions are not always ideal. If you find that employees are experiencing discomfort or a lack of productivity due to their workspaces, encourage them to take breaks from their desks or to rearrange their spaces to personally improve their work environment. "Studies have shown that those working at computers have less discomfort with short, hourly breaks."

Every office is different. Take stock of yours to see how things could be improved for the safety and health of your employees. Better conditions for workers can decrease workplace stress. According to the CDC, job stress increases: "when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities or resources of the worker."

Untreated stress can result in sickness so keeping a continuous watch on the mental and physical health of employees in conjunction with office safety will only improve conditions for everyone in your workplace.


Personal Safety against Winter’s Chill

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Winter brings joyous holiday celebrations and for many, outdoor activities like skiing, ice skating, or simply building a snowman in the backyard. It can also bring storms which leave homes without power and/or snowed in. Planning for protection against the cold weather, whether you have chosen to be in it or a blizzard has swept through your neighborhood, is the best way to ensure a safe and happy winter season.

The CDC recommends these preparations for outside activity in winter: first and foremost, wear appropriate clothing. Lightweight layers of warm clothes, hats, mittens, scarves, and waterproof boots are a necessity.

It is also wise to familiarize yourself with outdoor safety precautions and "take a buddy...when you are participating in outdoor recreation." If you are alone or with a friend, take a cell phone and emergency kit. Don't overexert yourself when participating in chores.

A list of items that every household should have when preparing for the possibility of being trapped by a winter storm can be found here. It includes: a three day supply for each family member of "food that does not require refrigeration and can be prepared without heat or electricity," a "supply of specialty items such as medications, infant ready-to-feed formulas, and dietary items," and a flashlight with fresh batteries, including spares.

The Weather Channel suggests formulating a "Family Preparedness Plan" for the winter season. The plan should provide for "a place to go when a winter storm warning is issued, depending on where you home, school, work, or if you're outdoors or in your car." Also, choose a place at which family members can meet if you are separated by the storm and select a friend or relative as a severe winter storm contact.

Taking the proper precautions can make your winter a safe and enjoyable one. Dress appropriately and prepare accordingly. And one last suggestion: a generator is an advisable purchase, but only if it is safely installed and operated.


The Difference between LED and Incandescent Lights

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Before choosing which type of holiday lights with which to decorate your home, or simply choosing lighting in general, it's a good idea to become familiar with their similarities and differences. When fully informed, you can decide which method of lighting, LED or incandescent, fits your home and style better.

According to Elemental LED, the "only similarity" between LED and incandescent lighting is that both are powered by electricity. The fundamental difference between the two, highlighted by Elemental, is the way in which light is created by them.

Incandescent lights, as explained by Energy Star, "produce light using electricity to heat a metal filament until it becomes 'white' hot or is said to incandesce. As a result, incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat." LED lights, according to Elemental: "produce light through electroluminescence, a process that creates very little heat and wastes little electricity, but otherwise relies on the same general principles of physics that incandescents do."

A major difference between LED and incandescent, which weighs heavily in favor of LED and will make the most sense to a consumer, is cost efficiency. The annual operating cost, according to Design Recycle Inc and based on the use of thirty incandescent bulbs per year equivalent, $32.85 per year for LED as compared to incandescent at $328.59 per year.

A well informed decision is vital when choosing lighting, particularly when planning for the holiday season. Researching and understanding the differences between LED and incandescent lighting will make your season brighter.


Preparing Your Fireplace for the Winter

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A roaring fire in the fireplace can bring comfort, warmth, and a sense of nostalgia to your winter. It can also help to cut heating costs in this economy. Making sure that your fireplace is properly prepared for the coming cold weather is the necessary first step to adding a safe bright spot to the dark winter months ahead.

At This Old House, Shyra Peyton provides a step-by-step set of instructions on correct fireplace preparation. One suggestion encourages homeowners to hire a professional to ensure that the fireplace and chimney are properly cleaned: "The National Fire Protection Association recommends that chimneys be swept at least once a year at the beginning of the winter to remove soot and debris."

Peyton suggests using the Chimney Safety Institute of America to find a certified sweep. The sweep should also check for "cracks, loose bricks, or missing mortar." Better Homes and Gardens suggests that you or the professional sweep check that "the damper is working properly and that the chimney is capped with screening to keep out critters."

The BHG article also emphasizes the importance of carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors when winterizing your home. To ensure advance warning if anything goes wrong when you are using your fireplace, remember to check and replace batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors if necessary.

Building a safe fire from the right materials makes a huge difference. Choose well seasoned hard wood like oak, which is less likely to smoke, as compared to pine which produces creosote. BHG describes creosote buildup: "Burning wood releases volatile gases that cool and condense on the inside of the chimney, forming [the] sticky, smelly, highly flammable" substance.

Don't overbuild your fire; start small to avoid smoke and creosote buildup. High heat can crack a chimney. Also make sure that logs are near the back and kindling is used as a fire starter rather than a flammable liquid.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure a safe, warm, and comforting hearth will be at the center of your home this winter.


Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

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With the holiday season upon us, we must remember that the most important part of holiday decorating is not picking out a lighting color scheme or choosing between a natural or artificial tree; it is rather, ensuring that whatever the decorations chosen, they are safe! Here are some helpful strategies for making your holiday season a secure and joyful one.

Outside lighting is one way many bring holiday spirit to their homes and following a few simple guidelines can make it a safer experience for you, your family, and your neighbors. The CSPC has an excellent online pamphlet with suggestions, including: whether you choose lights for "indoors or outside, use only lights that have been tested for safety. Identify these by the label from an independent testing laboratory."

They also suggest that light strands be firmly secured to the house, trees, walls, or other sturdy support to guard against wind damage. Checking light strands for damaged sockets or broken bulbs can also protect against fire. The Electrical Safety Foundation International, ESFI also remind us not to overload extension cord sockets or to string more than three strands of incandescent bulbs together.

Trees are often at the center of holiday decorations and by taking a few precautions they can be a safe addition to your home. Making the decision between a natural tree and an artificial one comes down to personal preference but each comes with its own set of care requirements. Choose an artificial tree only if it is identified as "fire resistant."

When choosing a cut tree, keeping it watered is by far the most important step in making it safe for your home. CSPC suggests: "Cut off about two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption. Trim away branches as necessary to set tree trunk in the base of a sturdy, water-holding stand with wide spread feet. Keep the stand filled with water while the tree is indoors."

The U.S. Fire Administration provides information on choosing a healthy tree for your home: "Needles...should be green and hard to pull back from the branches and...should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch." The USFA states that trees which have been sitting too long can be identified simply by bouncing the trunk off the ground. If a large number of needles fall, the tree is most likely dried out and is already a fire hazard.

Keeping yourself and your family safe around the holidays is a matter of common sense. Read directions, look for quality guarantees, follow safety guidelines, and maintain your decorations throughout the season. Add sparkle to your season safely.


Prepare Your Heating System for the Winter

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With the cooler months approaching, we all need to be sure we are taking the necessary precautions when we deal with our heating system. Here are a few tips to prepare yourself and your system so you are not stuck in the cold this winter.

Test your system. I know what you are saying, but yes, this is probably the most important tip we could give you. Too many times, people wait until the last minute to try their heating system, leaving them virtually no time to resolve whatever issue there may be. Start up your system and make sure it kicks on with no problems, and that your ducts are blowing adequate amounts of air through your home. You also want to make sure that the dampers on your heating system (should you have manual dampers to redirect airflow), are adjusted to the proper rooms you wish to heat more heavily than others.

Change your Air Filter. The air filter is the cardboard square that fits in your heating system that catches all the debris that might be floating around your home. When your air filters get dirty, which they most definitely will no matter how clean you feel your house is, it causes the heating system to work harder than it has to. A clean air filter helps reduce the amount of energy your system must use in order to run properly.

Seal leaks throughout your home. Look at all of your doorways and windows, and seal up areas that might be letting in a draft. Wherever cold air can penetrate your home, it will find a way in, so be sure to make it difficult for that air to do so. Your heating system will be your saving grace in some cases this winter, so be sure to take care of it leading up to the cold weather.

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Ensure Your Family is Safe with Gas Detection Systems

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Carbon monoxide, radon, and smoke are three factors that every homeowner needs to be aware of. The biggest difference between the three is the fact that you can actually see and smell smoke, whereas carbon monoxide and radon are both odorless and colorless. There are a few simple ways how you can work to keep your family safe from these problems.

Install or replace your detection systems for carbon monoxide. This tip is the easiest one to do. Make sure that you have installed a carbon monoxide detector in your home. As mentioned above, this gas is odorless and colorless, so you will not be able to detect it using your nose or eyes. Anytime you are running your heating system, generator, or even starting your car in the garage, be sure to check for leaks in your pipes, and that you have proper ventilation in the area you are working with. Be sure to test your detectors often as well, and whenever you hear your alarm going off, crack some windows and let the house air out, while you step outside for a stroll.

Test for radon. This one is something that many people overlook. Specifically in older homes, you might run into a situation where radon is present. Once again, similar to carbon monoxide, radon is odorless and colorless, so the only true way to tell if your home is affected, is to hire a professional company to detect for radon, or purchase a radon detection kit from your local hardware store. You always want to be sure your home is radon free, and if you do detect any problems, consult a professional for proper maintenance.

Check the batteries in your smoke detector. This is something that everyone in the family should pay attention to. Yes, your smoke alarm is very loud and it hurts your ears. GOOD! That is what it is supposed to do, so in order to make it work properly and continue to work properly, be sure to check the batteries and test the alarm monthly. There should be a test button on all smoke detectors, so it is as simple as that to determine if you need to change the batteries.

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Protecting the Home from Environmental Risks

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As a homeowner, there are a few things you need to keep in mind and check for on a regular basis in terms of environmental risks. Some of these risks include lead, air pollution, and drinking water contamination. Keeping up with your home's safety when dealing with these and/or other environmental risks is not only important in the upkeep of your home, but the protection of who is living inside.

If your home was built prior to 1978, have your home tested for lead through either a paint inspection or a risk assessment by a qualified professional, who can in turn, fix those lead hazards for you. Keep in mind, that lead-based paint in good condition is usually not harmful, so keep an eye out for any chipping, keep areas clean of dust, and test on a regular basis.

In terms of indoor air quality, there are a few basic strategies for improvement. One strategy can be to seal off or reduce the emission of the sources of air pollution, such as gas stoves can be adjusted to reduce emissions. Another strategy, is to increase the amount of fresh air coming into your home, open up the windows and just let it flow in, indoor heating and cooling systems do not do that for you. Finally, there are air cleaners on the market, even simple inexpensive options, that can definitely help.

Last but not least, you can always contact your local water supplier and request a local water quality report. That can help you in the decision of which, if any, water filtration system you will need or whether drinking bottled water is a more viable option, remember to consider the cost factor as well.

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Alarm Security System Installation - Common Misconceptions

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When deciding whether or not to install an alarm system, keep in mind a few common misconceptions vs. the reality of this extremely useful tool:

1. A system is too costly
On the contrary, people are finding that the cost of an alarm system is becoming more and more affordable with advancements in technology. Furthermore, an alarm security system installation can do even more than keep your property safe; for some homeowners, it can also mean major savings in terms of your homeowners insurance. Mostly, the peace of mind that you gain with these systems is priceless!

2. A system will not work if we lose power
You may be surprised to learn that almost all security systems can be equipped with a backup power system and with the use of cellular technology, you can still be connected in the event that landlines go out.

3. A system will not deter burglaries
Statistics show that security systems are an excellent deterrent to theft and burglary, they make your home three times less likely to be a target! Thieves will not take second chances when it comes to their safety too, and would rather deal with an unprotected house.

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Video Security System Planning

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There are a lot of questions that you should consider before the installation process of your video security system. A few of the main ones include camera placement, how many cameras you will need, and how you wish to view your cameras.

As far as security camera placement, you may just want the ability to scan the perimeter of your property, including driveways and walkways. In the case of homes with a swimming pool, having a camera directed at it would allow you to keep an eye out, which gives you peace of mind in terms of safety. Points of entry into your home are also important options, including doors, windows, bulkheads or attached garages. Carefully consider these camera placements, this will allow you to be ready to go on installation day.

How many cameras you would like to utilize depends on the dimensions and setup of your home and what your personal security needs are. Contact our security camera system experts for help determining the right number of cameras for your needs.

How you can view the footage that your cameras capture is now easier and more instant than ever thanks to new technology. More and more now, people are utilizing Tablets and Smartphones to see what is going on in their homes while they are not there to see for themselves, this new technology is proving to be extremely effective and provides peace of mind to many.

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