Winter’s on its way: How safe is your home?

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This post is sponsored by Kidde. All opinions are my own.

Last year when our family had a stomach virus forEVER, someone asked me, “Are you sure you don’t have carbon monoxide poisoning?” Well, I WAS sure, but it did prompt me to look at our carbon monoxide detector, which I discovered was outdated and not really functioning properly. So, I quickly ordered a new one. But my concerned friend was right to ask, because winter is the time when most fires and carbon monoxide incidents occur. Before we turn on heaters and fireplaces, we need to make sure that our carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are up to date!

To help spread the word about home safety this winter, Kidde, the makers of Worry-Free smoke and CO alarms, asked me to take a home safety survey and share my results and a few safety tips with you. Sad to say, I didn’t get 100% on the quiz! Here are some areas my family needs to improve in.

Fire Alarm Age: Our alarms are 12 years old, so they need to be replaced even though they are hard-wired to our electric. All smoke alarms need to be replaced after 10 years because of the sensor quality, regardless of whether they are hard-wired or battery powered.  Most smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years, although you often need to replace the batteries twice each year. Until Kidde introduced its Worry-Free models, most CO alarms had a lifespan of 5-7 years. If you replace your CO alarms with a Worry-Free model, you are set for 10 years.

Kidde makes Worry-Free alarms with 10-year lithium batteries. They only chirp at you once… in 10 years when the whole alarm needs to be replaced.

KiddeWorryFreeAlarms

Other safety products: We have a fire extinguisher downstairs, but we should have one on our second floor as well. We should also have an escape ladder on our second floor. I can’t believe we don’t have one! As a child, I used to look at the one in my home (in my brother’s closet) all the time! I’m going to make purchasing one for our home a priority.

Escape plan. Every family should have an fire escape plan and should practice it. We do not, and we’ve got to get one together. There are a million ways to get out of every room on our main floor, but the upstairs is much more complicated.

Here are some areas where my family is doing great with home safety.

CO Alarm age: Our CO alarms are both new within the past year. If yours are out of date, get some new ones! CO is nothing to mess around with! Check out this infographic to learn a bit more.

CO infographic - high-res

Installation of alarms: We have fire alarms and CO alarms on every floor of our house, so we are doing great there! Our Kidde CO alarms have the latest technologies: long-life, un-removable batteries, digital displays that show the air readings every 15 seconds,

Kids in the know: Both of my big kids know their address and how to call 911, and I have a list of emergency phone numbers posted for them on our fridge, and they know where to find them.

Appliances are winter-ready. Our appliances/fireplace have been recently inspected and vent to the outside, and the area around them is free of clutter.

As you can see, I’ve got a few things to do this month to ensure my house is safe this winter! How is your family doing with home safety? To get some simple home safety tips, check out this really helpful section on Kidde’s website.

And while you’re thinking about safety, take a couple minutes to read through this list of questions – the same survey I took – to make sure you’re good to go this winter in terms of fire and CO safety.

  • One in four older homes needs to update fire safety equipment. How old are your alarms?
  • Seventy-five percent of homeowners don’t know where to install smoke alarms. Do you have one on every floor, and inside/outside all bedrooms?
  • Do your alarms incorporate the newest features and technology?
  • Do you need other safety products? (e.g. fire extinguisher, escape ladder)
  • Have you developed a family escape plan?
  • Do your children know their address and how to dial 911?
  • Are your appliances and chimney winter-ready?

Hope you have a safe and warm winter!

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Health insurance is one hot topic!

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Aflac. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Health insurance is a hot topic right now in our country. Unless you live in a cave, you have heard a lot about it lately. It’s something I think a lot about, especially every October when my husband’s employer has information meetings about it during their open enrollment period. Fortunately for us, his employer is very good about getting all information about plan changes out to us. I am very thankful because the past couple of years there have been big decisions to make about coverage levels, premiums, deductibles, etc. and having all the info has been helpful. According to a survey commissioned by Aflac, 71% of workers surveyed said they only sometimes or rarely understand the changes that are being made to their health insurance program. Yikes! That’s a huge majority.

Some of the other findings of the survey mirror what’s going on with my family’s plan: 4 out of 10 employees say they will have to cut expenses elsewhere if premiums increase and 20 percent say they will trade down on their benefits package in exchange for lower premiums. Our premiums went up big-time last year, and this year during open enrollment we took a higher deductible to make the premiums more reasonable. Hoping that works out for the best…you just never know what’s going to happen with your family’s health!

One tip I have about dealing with changes during open enrollment is not to let yourself be overwhelmed by options and paperwork. Bobby gets all the info from meetings at work, and it’s typically a lot – but it becomes much more manageable when we put two sets of eyes on it. Also, we ask questions to his benefits administrator at work and she’s always very helpful. So don’t be afraid to ask questions so you can really understand what you’re getting when you sign up.

We’ve always had a fairly expensive plan because my husband is employed by a fairly small business. We’ve also had supplemental insurance for years because my husband doesn’t get “sick time”, so if he is injured or has a prolonged illness we are up a creek since I don’t work full-time. In the event of a big stretch of him being unable to work, disability or worker’s comp would not cover all our expenses (does it ever? I don’t want to find out!) So, for more than five years now, we’ve also had Aflac. Luckily, we’ve never had to use it for an emergency or serious situation, but the policy we have has a wellness benefit where we get paid for getting our yearly cancer screenings – so I get a check after my “yearly” at the OB-GYN! Let me just say that makes the whole experience much more pleasant when that check arrives. LOL.

Any time we’ve had to file a claim with Aflac, it’s always been very easy. Their forms are simple and their reimbursement is fast. We couldn’t be happier that we’re a customer of theirs and I imagine we will be for years to come.

Do you have any health insurance woes this open enrollment season? How have you handled them, and have you opted for supplemental insurance? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.

 

 

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The swankiest baby monitor on the face of the earth

Angelcare

Angelcare provided me with this baby monitor to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own. 

Back when I had my first child – you know -almost 10 years ago? In the dark ages? Baby monitors were fancy if they came with more than one receiver. By the time I had Sophie, video monitors were all the rage. A video monitor? WOW! Even the Jetsons couldn’t have dreamed this up!

Well now, we have reached the “Back to the Future III” era of baby monitors. I present to you, the Angelcare AC1100 Digital Video, Movement, & Sound Monitor. It is super-swanky, y’all! It would take me 1,000 words to truly verbalize all it’s features, but I’ll try to give you the big picture in fewer than that.

I agreed to review the Angelcare AC1100 because we still keep a baby monitor on Jonah. Because of my sleeping problems, I have to sleep with REALLY LOUD white noise, so Bobby and I can’t hear Jonah from down the hall if he is in distress without a monitor. And we love having a video to see what he’s doing at naptime when he’s not napping! The Angelcare is amazing, but it is really much more than we need for Jonah at this point. However, if I were a new parent, this is the one I would buy. Here’s why! Just a few of my favorite features:

  • Great color digital video picture with zoom, so you can get up in baby’s business if you need to!
  • Walkie talkie feature!!! You can soothe your baby with your voice without having to go in the room. I LOVE this – wish I’d had it earlier.
  • Parental Unit locator – I’ve needed this a few times too! Find your receiver with the touch of a button. (I also need one of these for my cell phone…)
  • Movement alarm – if you have a newborn or child with health needs, this is a great feature! There is a monitor pad you place under the mattress that monitors movement. An alarm will sound if there’s no movement in the crib after 20 seconds.
  • LCD touch screen on the receiver. YES! It’s like the smartphone of baby monitors!
  • Temperature display – the parental receiver tells you what temp it is in the baby’s room. This is such a great feature! Our boys’ room gets really hot and cold in summer/winter so this is super-handy for us to make sure they are comfortable.

There are plenty more features but these are my favorite. They all come together to make this a really versatile monitor. And  if you don’t need a certain feature – like the under-the-mattress movement sensor, for example, you can easily turn it off.

Since, as I said, this is more than we really need for Jonah right now (not that I don’t love it) we are giving this to my brother and sister-in-law who have recently been licensed as foster parents and will likely have a baby or toddler in their home very soon. It’s nice to know that even though they will have different kids with different needs from time to time, they will have a monitor that is versatile enough for each child they care for.

Thanks, Angelcare, for making such a cool tool for parents and baby safety, and thanks for letting me review it!

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