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Celebrating the Holidays Safely During COVID-19

October is finally here! And that means holidays are just around the corner. We’re still facing certain challenges due to the novel Coronavirus and, as human beings, naturally, we are social beings. Therefore, we need human contact in our daily lives. In order to accomplish a sense of normalcy back into our lives, there are certain steps we can take to achieve this.

Celebrating holidays through the use of Zoom meetings, FaceTime, and WhatsApp have given us the opportunity to stay connected to the ones we care about. These methods pose little to no risk of person-to-person spread of COVID-19. Still, before gathering with your loved ones, it’s a good idea to be sure you aren’t carrying any symptoms. Additionally, consider the confirmed cases of COVID-19 in your immediate and surrounding areas and make your ultimate decision based upon that. If your area has a considerable amount of confirmed cases, it may be wiser to keep things virtual for now. You may find current statistics in your area here:

https://www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/healthdirectories/healthdepartments.html

  • Furthermore, consider the areas in which your attendees have been traveling from. If people are traveling from multiple locations, it may pose a higher risk than if people were traveling from a single location.
  • You should be aware of the behaviors of your attendees as well. Have they been practicing social distancing and wearing a mask prior to traveling? Maintaining proper hygiene is also essential i.e. washing your hands regularly.
  • If you are planning to host a gathering, consider doing so outside. If this is not possible, do everything you can to make sure the area indoors is properly ventilated. If weather permits, consider opening windows to increase circulation of fresh air.
  • Give your potential guests time to consider avoiding contact with people outside of their households for a minimum of 14 days before your event.
  • During your gathering, still consider maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between yourself and others.
  • Wear a mask around people that do not live with you to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Keep all areas around food and drinks clean. At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that handling food contributes to the transmission of the virus. And although it’s always a good idea to keep surfaces disinfected, this is not considered one of the main ways in which the virus is transmitted. Maintaining proper hygiene is important and is something we should all strive for, regardless of having a social event or not.

  • Everyone should be washing their hands regularly with hot water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds. If it is not possible to wash your hands, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol should suffice.
  • Consider wearing a mask when preparing food for yourself and others.
  • If you’re serving any food, consider designating one person as distributer of food to avoid multiple hands touching utensils or food.
  • Avoid any situation that would allow for self-serving of food or drink i.e. a punch bowl or a bowl filled with potato chips.
  • If you are using any kind of reusable items, be sure to disinfect them first before using them again.

We hope that everyone continues to stay safe during these uncertain times.

 

 

 

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Bonfire Safety

Bonfires are a fun, popular way to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family on those cooler days and nights. It’s important to remain educated about bonfire safety. What are some of the Do’s and Don’ts of bonfire safety? Let’s explore…

Do’s

  • In order to have a fun, safe experience with bonfires, you’ll want to make sure that your set-up is a far enough distance away from any structure. Use enough wood to build a substantial fire that everyone can gather around, but keep in mind that it must be small enough to be controlled. Always keep water or an extinguisher close by.
  • It’s not safe to start a fire of any kind on dry land. Make sure that any area surrounding the fire are nice and damp.
  • Keep a water source nearby.
  • Choose a location that is away from trees, bushes, and structures.
  • Don’t build your fire near dead grass, any dry leaves, branches, or bark.
  • Keep children a safe distance away from the fire at all times (this includes our furry friends!)
  • Only use dry, untreated wood for your fire. Wood that is covered with paint may be dangerous because paint can have flammable chemicals in it. This can be dangerous.
  • Have the appropriate tools available to adjust burning wood as needed.

 

Don’ts

  • Never start a fire with lighter fluid, gasoline, or kerosene.
  • Never throw anything into a bonfire. Roasting marshmellows is different because they are usually attached to a stick or a long pole, so you’re able to roast them while maintaining a safe distance from the flames.
  • Fumes from aluminum are toxic, so be sure to keep soda cans a beer cans away from the fire at all times.
  • Moist wood like cedar and pine have the potential to create dangerous situations like sparks. Do not use them.
  • If your wood bends, but doesn’t break, this means it is too wet to use for the fire. Plus, wet wood can cause irritating smoke that can bother your eyes.
  • Never leave the fire location until it is properly and sufficiently put out. In order to know when it’s safe to leave the location, place your hand about a foot away from the embers. If you can still feel heat, it’s still too hot to leave. To put out of the fire, add more water and dirt.

It’s important to note that consuming alcohol has contributed to over 60% of burns suffered at campfires, beaches, and bonfires. Always have a sober adult present to act as overwatch.

As temperatures drop, the idea of a bonfire is most certainly an attractive one. Being surrounded by family and our closest friends is definitely something we want to be able to do. At the end of the day, we all want to have an enjoyable, memorable experience. Practicing these Do’s and Don’ts will help you do just that.

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How to Prepare for a Hurricane

Your ability to anticipate an upcoming hurricane is extremely important and is something that you should prepare for. How well you prepare could be the difference between staying afloat, leading a pathway to eventual recovery, and financial ruin.

Preparing the outside of your home is essential to minimizing any potential damage caused by the hurricane. If a hurricane is in your area, you should do the following:

  • Trim you trees or remove trees that appear sickly or diseased. They are less likely to be able to withstand high wind speeds.
  • Store all of your outdoor furniture in a dry, enclosed space.
  • Use permanent shutters to protect your windows.
  • Have a substantial supply of plywood and nails on hand, so you’re able to board up your home if you need to. If you wait until the last minute to do this, you may be subject to inflated prices. As more and more people run to the store for these supplies, a shortage may occur. As a result, prices will go up.
  • Have you talked to your insurance agent about flood insurance? Typical homeowners insurance policies exclude flooding caused by a hurricane.
  • Have an emergency communication plan in place. If you’re ever separated from other members of your family, they will be able to get in contact with you.

It’s a good idea to put together a survival kit in case of emergencies. The following items should be in your survival kit:

  • Water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Medications for yourself, your family, and your pets
  • A portable radio
  • Flashlights
  • Spare batteries
  • Battery chargers for your cell phones
  • Any other chargers for other electronic devices you may own i.e. an Apple Watch, laptop

 

Hurricane Watch

During a Hurricane Watch, you should do the following:

  • You should make sure your car’s fuel tank is full in case an evacuation order for your area is given.
  • If you own a boat, use rope or a chain to secure it to a trailer.
  • Use tie downs to anchor your trailer to the ground or to your house.
  • Any valuable items like jewelry or personal papers should be stored in a waterproof container.Hurricanes can be extremely dangerous. It’s important to take the proper precautions to ensure the safety of yourself and others.
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Traveling Safely During COVID-19

 

Our lives have been upended since the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus. Many of us have had to cancel vacation plans we may have had for months. Vacation may be one thing. But, what if we have a job that requires us to travel far across the country or to another country altogether? Sometimes, we don’t have a choice.

If you must travel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend following certain steps to ensure your own safety as well the safety of those around you:

  • When possible, maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between yourself and other people.
  • Wear a mask that covers both your nose and your mouth to prevent droplets from escaping.
  • Limit your contact with surfaces that are frequently touched i.e. handrails, elevator buttons, and kiosks. If you have to touch these surfaces, either wash your hands immediately or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Wash your hands often. This is especially important after using the restroom and before eating. If you cough or sneeze, wash your hands immediately, so that any bacteria that may have landed on your hands is killed.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a safe hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Depending on where you are traveling, you may encounter a situation where you are required to wear a face covering or quarantine yourself for 14 days. In order to avoid these unpleasantries, check for restrictions at your destination before you make your final decision. Your most reliable source for this kind of information is a state or local health department website. Changes occur frequently, so be sure to stay up-to-date.

Due to the fact that it’s considerably more difficult to practice social distancing while on an airplane, the CDC and FAA have issued precautionary measures for potential passengers. Most major airlines in the U.S. are requiring both crews and passengers to wear face coverings. These measures may differ depending on the airport or airline. Check their websites for details.

To help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has implemented more vigorous cleaning procedures at security checkpoints.

TSA employees have made various changes to the process of screening passengers before they board flights. For example, passengers have been asked to wear masks during screening, but may be asked to adjust them for proper identification. Each individual is allowed to travel with one container of hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces in their carry-on luggage. Keep in mind that these containers will need to be screened. Food items should be in a plastic bag and put in a bin for proper screening. Keeping food separate from other items may reduce the time it takes to be screened by security. Instead of placing them in bins, items such as keys, wallets and phones should be stored in carry-on bags to minimize handling of these items.

If you and your friends are planning to hit the road for a roadtrip, here are few things you might consider before starting leaving:

  • Plan out your trip, so you’re able to make the least amount of stops possible.
  • Pack face masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes and store them in a place that’s easy to get to.
  • Should restaurants be limiting patrons, be sure to pack your own non-perishable food items, that is until you get to your intended destination.
  • Gas stations are some of the dirtiest places you can go to. Countless people fill up their cars every day. In doing so, they touch a lot of different surfaces and you shouldn’t count on the fact that they washed their hands. It’s better to be safe than sick. Wipe down handles and buttons with disinfectant wipes before and after you use them. After filling up your car, use hand sanitizer until you have a chance to wash your hands with hot water and soap.
  • If possible, use drive-thru when stopping for meals.

 

If you’re traveling by bus, do your best to maintain proper social distancing, wear a mask, and use hand sanitizer (until you have an opportunity to wash your hands) until you reach your final destination.

If you’re staying at a hotel, be sure to follow all health and safety guidelines being implemented.

As always, if you’re feeling sick, stay home.

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