Check Your Lights — 13 Safety Tips for Families

If our neighborhood is any indication, most people who are planning to put up Christmas decorations this year have already put up Christmas decorations. My Christmas tree and decorations are still in boxes, but that’s pretty much the norm for this time of year. They’ll go up soon though — definitely before Christmas Day. I usually make up for my late start by leaving my Christmas tree up until the middle of January. I don’t know if that’s sad or funny, or some tragic combination of the two, but that’s not the point of this post.

Putting up holiday decorations involves quite a process. Checking the hanging ornaments to make sure they’re not broken and making sure there are enough hangers are the easy tasks. The really complicated effort — besides making sure there’s color balance around the tree — is checking and stringing the Christmas lights. We won’t count “building” the 7 foot artificial Christmas tree; I saved the directions.

Things tend to be easier when you plan ahead.

Once, many years ago, I was in a hurry to get my Christmas decorating done. I grabbed strings of lights out of the directions box, connected them, wrapped them around the tree, and then plugged them in to view my handiwork. Parts of the tree weren’t twinkling.

I checked the plugs, hoping that maybe one of the strings I’d joined wasn’t completely plugged in, but I knew before I checked. The problem was a bulb on one of the many strands that were now twisted and looped around my tree. It would take forever to figure out the exact cause of the problem. Besides, I had other things to do.

I was in a hurry, but I couldn’t leave those dark holes in my tree. I went to the nearest store which was, of course, out of the lights I needed. Luckily my next stop had them in stock – and on sale. I grabbed more than I needed (just in case) and headed home to finish decorating. In case you’re wondering, I just turned all the lights on and wrapped new strands where the tree was dark. There’d be time for all that unwrapping when I took the tree down.

What do Christmas lights have to do with anything?

Most people who have experienced the joy of hanging Christmas lights have, at some point, experienced the frustration of plugging in a string and having only half of the bulbs light (hopefully before hanging them). There’s nothing like strands of colored lights to teach the importance of planning and preparation. Plugging in the strand of lights before you hang them or wrap them around your tree just makes sense. Taking a few minutes before the year’s end to check the status of the other lights in your life makes sense, too.

Some of these suggestions might seem obvious, but take a moment to think them through. Sometimes in the busyness of everything else the obvious is overlooked. So check your lights – literally and figuratively.

Flashlights, Nightlights, and Candles

  • Make sure you and your loved ones have flashlights and other lighting for emergency situations.
  • Check the batteries and bulbs to make sure they’ll light when needed.
  • Make sure everyone knows where to find flashlights and is able to get to them.
  • Candles aren’t necessarily the easiest or the safest option for emergency lighting. If you do keep them (for flashlight backup), make sure to check lighters or matches for ease of use.
  • Create an emergency light kit that you leave out for any caregivers or visitors so they don’t have to go hunting for light in an emergency.
  • For everyday living, check darkened rooms and hallways and install light or motion sensitive nightlights as needed.

Light Switches and Fuse Boxes

  • Make sure everyone knows where light switches are, especially people who are just moving in or are visiting.
  • Consider eliminating light fixtures that require special “tricks” — like the lamp that stays switched on but only lights up if the wall switch is flicked.
  • Make certain that lamp switches can be easily manipulated by anyone who needs to use them. Large replacement switches may be substituted for regular switches if you don’t want to replace a lamp.
  • Show family members and caregivers where the fuse boxes are and instruct them in their use.

Your Loved Ones

  • Check in with loved ones who don’t live with you and make sure they have contingency plans for emergency situations.
  • Make sure everyone who does live with you knows what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Take a close look at your older loved ones and see if all of their needs are being met.

Association may help to defeat procrastination.

So there’s the point of this post. Whether or not you celebrate or decorate for holidays, associating Christmas lights with other lights can be a good practice, like changing the batteries in smoke detectors when we change our clocks. We should all make checking our preparedness a regular habit. It’s time to check your lights.

Some resources for emergency preparedness

Disaster Preparedness – A Servant’s Heart Senior Care
Safety for the Elderly (checklist) – International Association of Home Inspectors

Some thoughts on Christmas lights

Christmas Lights Community – Blog of an organization for Christmas Lights enthusiasts
Christmas Lights Advice – Blog for “Tips, Tricks and Articles about Christmas Lights”

Some thoughts on other issues in the sandwich generation

The New Old Age – Tips for Multigenerational Households
Time Goes By – What It’s Really Like to Get Older

With A Servant’s Heart Senior Care, older adults and their families can navigate through the next steps in aging with expert advice and assistance. Whether it’s providing caregivers so that your loved ones can remain at home, resolving an immediate crisis, help with finding an appropriate retirement home or assisted living facility for them, or just providing expert answers and advice and looking in on your loved ones from time to time to make sure that they’re ok, our full-service, CAHSAH-certified company can help.  For more information call us toll-free at 800-777-4750 today!

Originally posted 2008-12-19 01:07:45.

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Tim Colling

Tim Colling is the founder and President of A Servant's Heart In-Home Care, which provided in-home caregiving services in San Diego County, and also of A Servant's Heart Geriatric Care Management, which provided
professional geriatric care management services and long term care placement services in San Diego County. Tim has more than 30 years of experience in management in a variety of industries. He held a Certified Care Manager credential from the National Academy of Certified Care Managers. Tim is also a Certified Public Accountant (retired), and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from California State University at San Diego. In addition to writing blog posts here for the Servant’s Heart blog, Tim also is a regular contributor to HealthLine.com and to FamilyAffaires.com as well as blogs of other eldercare services provider companies. Finally, Tim is also the president of A Servant's Heart Web Design and Marketing, which provides home care marketing as well as website design and online marketing for those who serve the elderly and their families.

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