I love scrolling through my Facebook feed early in the year and reading about everyone's intentions, goals, dreams and resolutions. Most of the time these are big goals - they could involve starting or growing a business, losing weight, eating healthy food, or working on relationships. I do not deny that these are all valid resolutions, and I can't wait to see the results!
This post isn't about the big things. It's about the small stuff - the things that keep our families safe - the things that often get neglected, but NEED to get done. Some of these are things that I've been procrastinating doing for years.
You've read the news. You've heard the horror stories....and it only takes seconds.
Take a few minutes to write out a fire exit strategy from your home, and do a quick practice run with your kids. You don't need to go all Royal Tenenbaum on them (if you haven't seen the movie, the firedrill scene is hilarious) but you should certainly help your kids know where to exit, where to meet outside, and how to call 911.
Please, please, please... have working smoke detectors in your home. There should be one on every floor, and we also bought a couple extra for the girls' rooms (I may be slightly terrified of a fire.) Test any old smoke detectors to check if they need new batteries, and also take a look at the date of manufacture on the back. If your smoke detector is over 10 years old, you should be purchasing a new one!
Do you detect a theme here? OK, I promise the last two tips will have nothing to do with fire. Did you know that a good fire extinguisher could be enough to save your entire home from burning down? A small local fire in the kitchen would be simple for you to put out (although please escape your home immediately if you think the fire is too big.) The extinguisher could also be the one thing you need to escape safely out your front (or back) door.
There are three types of extinguisher classifications - A is ordinary combustibles (like wood) B is for flammable liquids, and C is for electrical. Check the label at the store, as some will fight all three types of fires. Generally bigger is better, but you don't want it so big that you can't even use it to put the fire out. Get a bigger one for a garage or workshop, and keep the small one for the kitchen. And don't forget that extinguishers expire too. You can get ones that are refillable, so you will need to check when the pressure has gone down.
Did you know that 16% of lung cancer deaths in Canada can be attributed to radon exposure? Radon is a radioactive gas found in the environment (soil, rocks or water) and can seep into buildings through cracks in the foundation. It is odourless and colourless, so you can't detect it!
Good news is that there's an easy way to test for radon in your home, and there are ways to secure your home if radon is found. The Government of Canada provides a ton of information on how to test for radon. We bought a testing kit from Amazon for $45, and writing this post reminds me that we need to send in for the results!
I've written about this before, but it's a smart idea to have a small emergency preparedness kit sitting somewhere in your basement. You don't need to go crazy and hoard all the canned chickpeas you can fit on your shelves, but it's a fantastic idea to have a few supplies on hand. I've occasionally filled my camping jug with water when I know we're getting a significant amount of freezing rain, just in case.
We can't control when we're going to die, but we can control how things play out after we're gone. The worst thing you can do to your family is kick the bucket before you have a will completed (power of attorney is also important, and law firms will often include this in a legal will package.)
If you think I'm spouting off this tip because I'm perfectly prepared at all times and had my will done many years ago you are WRONG. I still don't have a will, and I have a seven and four-year-old. I'm not sure why I've procrastinated, although it's really really common. Many of my 30-something friends with kids don't have one as well.
So I'm following my own advice, and an appointment with a lawyer has been booked for this month! The cost will range from $500-$800 depending on your needs (more if your situation is complicated.) Just think about it this way - if your car broke down, you'd fork out the cash to have it fixed, right? Even if you didn't have the cash saved? So consider your will an expense that sucks the big one, but that you just have to do. And if you're really strapped, do a cheap legal will kit in the meantime, just so you have something on paper.
Would you add anything to this list?