1. Heating Unit Servicing – Heating units are the second cause of house fires in the US. (Cooking is the first.) Call a licensed, reliable heating company to make sure yours is in proper working order. Change all intake filters every three months to help circulate cleaner air throughout the home.
2. Chimney Sweep – Professionals recommend an annual inspection of chimneys prior to using your fireplace for the first time of the season. An inspection is performed to determine if there are any issues related to creosote build-up, cracks, excessive moisture, and/or pests, as any of these can cause major problems with your chimney.
3. Dryer Vent Cleaning – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that lint-filled dryer vents cause 15,500 fires, 10 deaths and at least 10 injuries every year. These fires are preventable. Cleaning your dryer vent should be done once a month and now is a great time to mark your calendar and get into the habit.
4. Gutter Cleaning – This important task should be done once a year, more often if there are trees close to your house. When clogged gutters overflow, they can divert water under your house and even inside the windows and walls which can cause damage as well as moisture and mold issues.
5. Smoke alarm batteries – It is estimated that a third of the smoke alarms currently installed in homes are not working properly, often due to failure to replace a worn out battery. There is no one single item that is more vital to your family’s safety during a fire than a smoke alarm.
6. Avoid Sickness – Cooler weather means spending more time indoors. Good hygiene practices such as frequent hand washing can help minimize the spread of germs. The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of six months get a flu shot as this is the most effective way to evade this infectious virus.
7. Manage stress – Sometimes less is more – simplify the holidays this year. Commit to rushing around less and make every gift purchase count. Shop on the web – it’s always open and you don’t have to be stressed by crowded stores.
8. Healthy eating & exercise – The holidays can be particularly challenging to our waistlines. Keep a food journal of what you are eating throughout the day and write down your goals for exercising. Making a check list can help keep us on task instead of letting time just slip away.
9. Get adequate sleep – With so much to do during the holidays, it is tempting to forgo sleep to get everything done but it isn’t always worth it. Good sleep is vital to good health and a cheerful disposition.
10. Just say no – Just because there is a need, it doesn’t always mean we are the ones that are called to fill it. Over commitment equals excessive stress which can lead to mental, emotional, spiritual and physical exhaustion. Do say yes every day to spending some time with God.
Julie Tomsett is a published author and the office manager at GracePointe Healthcare; a direct-pay family practice and full service travel medicine clinic located in Cool Springs. www.gracepointehealthcare.com