Disclaimer – I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

iswimbandNothing makes me more upset than being at a pool or beach and watching kids playing in the water or near the shore without supervision. Without supervision doesn’t mean that a parent isn’t around – it means they’re too busy checking their phone, talking to a friend or reading a book. Even if a child has had years of swim lessons, drowning can still occur and it only takes seconds. In fact the majority of drownings happen while at least one parent was present. While nothing can replace constant supervision, I was introduced to a product that can bring another layer of protection and can alert a parent to a possible drowning threat – the iSwimband.

The iSwimband is a small, low power wireless sensor that is worn either as a headband or a wristband. The sensor is paired with a compatible bluetooth-enabled smart device running the free iSwimband app. When both the sensor and app are activated, the app continually monitors the status of the sensor. If the app determines that the sensor has been submerged into water (not simply wet), or submerged for a (user-adjustable) dangerous period of time (typically 20 – 30 seconds), it notifies the caregiver via audiovisual alerts before the event can turn tragic.

We had a chance to try out the iSwimband for ourselves to check out how it worked. The set-up was extremely easy (and I’m someone who breaks out in a cold sweat reading instructions) and the instruction manual was easy to follow.

Once the app is set up, you receive an alert that the band is connected. The sound is as loud as any other tone on your phone and what’s nice is you can also link it to speakers so if you’re in a loud area you can be sure to hear it.

The one challenge is getting kids to wear it. We tested it out on 8 year-old twin boys. One was much more receptive to wearing it than the other. It really is a matter of simply getting kids used to wearing it and insisting upon it just like a bike helmet or other safety apparatus. What I like is the ability to put it on a toddler who doesn’t swim. If you have more than one child or are at a pool party you can have your non-swimmer wear it if he/she happens to be around the deck of the pool.

One important note is that the phone must be 10ft away from the band in order for it to work so if you’re sitting at the edge of the pool it might be problematic.

Without a doubt this is a fantastic product to give parents added peace of mind. By no means does this mean you don’t need to stay vigilant but, when you have more than one child or if you’re distracted even for a moment the iSwimband can truly make a difference in preventing a terrible accident.


Disclaimer – I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

This week my kids are on spring vacation and, since I need to work, that means finding playdates and other activities to keep them busy.  Fortunately my oldest daughter is at an age where she can stay home alone for a few hours but it’s always in the back of my head wondering if she’s OK by herself.

There’s no hard and fast rule for what age is appropriate to leave your child home alone but over 10 year’s old is best.  Even then, only you know if your child is mature enough to stay calm in an emergency and know how to handle unplanned events.

Before leaving your ‘tween home alone here are some things to review with him or her:

Don’t announce it on social media – Establish ground rules as to whether your ‘tween can have friends over when you’re out.  Tell them to never post on social media that they’re home alone.  Not only is this a potential home invasion risk but an invitation for all of their friends to come over for an impromptu party.  With a home monitoring system such as COX Homelife, parents can be alerted on their smart phone or tablet every time someone comes in or out of the door.  Additionally, motion sensor cameras can be set up to see who is going in or out.

Show them where the circuit panel is – Show your ‘tween where the circuit panel is and how to identify a tripped circuit.   If a switch continues to trip or the appliance she was using continues to shut down, she shouldn’t reset the circuit as it could mean there’s an electrical hazard.  Explain to your ‘tween that if she smells smoke but doesn’t see a fire, it could mean that there is a fire behind the wall.  She should call 911 immediately.

What to do if a stranger comes to the door – Unfortunately home invasions are a reality.  Your ‘tween should never answer the door to anyone.  If you have requested that someone come over to check on her, send a text to your child alerting them to the fact and establish a password with the person for when they come to the door.   Make sure your ‘tween knows the code for your alarm system, how to reset it and how to use the panic mode.  Cox Homelife provides a silent alarm feature that can be activated through the key fob, the keypad and the touchscreen. The alarm is sent to the central monitoring service (CMS) for police assistance. CMS calls the associated phone to confirm the alarm and, if there is no answer, police are dispatched.

In an emergency the first call is 911 – For our ‘tweens, the natural instinct is to first call mom or dad in an emergency but teach them that the first call always should be 911.  Discuss with them various emergency scenarios such as a fire or an injury.  Are they aware of what to do in each situation?  Practice two different escape plans in the event of a fire and designate a neighbor’s home as the meeting place.  Remind your ‘tween to NEVER attempt to extinguish a grease fire with water!  While baking soda can put out a grease fire it takes a lot of it and the fire can get out of control very quickly.   Be sure your child is CPR and First Aid certified and review how to handle minor injuries.


electrolux-outdoor-kitchen-e57lk60essThe weather is getting warmer and that means the start of grilling season.  Here are some grilling safety tips to keep in mind:

A grill should never be used in a garage on a porch, or under any surface that has the ability to catch fire. The grill should be used away from deck railings and any low hanging braches.  Even if it’s raining you need to keep it in an open area..

Give the grill a good cleaning – especially if it’s the first time using it this year. Grills need to be cleaned frequently to ensure that they are free of grease and fat that can build up and start fires. The griddles and tray underneath should both be cleaned.

All open flames such as matches and lighters should be operated far away from a lit grill. In addition, flammable objects, most notably insect repellant, should be applied safe distance away from a grill in use.

Some grillers use charcoal and others use gas, and with each come specific safety precautions to be taken. Never burn charcoal inside and always let the coals cool completely. Do not store the grill inside with freshly burned coals and be sure to always keep the coals out of the reach of children.

As for gas grills, always be sure to check the hose for kinks or breaks in the line, and if a leak occurs the grill should be discontinued from use until it is fixed. Finally, never attempt to start a fire using the gas of the grill.

The most important thing to remember when utilizing any type of grill is to make certain children and pets maintain a distance of at least three feet from the appliance and to never leave a grill unattended.

This blog is sponsored by Travelers  

While National Fire Prevention Week may have passed, the holidays are right around the corner, which is the most dangerous time of the year for house fires. We have more candles burning, increased cooking, and the use of space heaters, which can all pose serious fire risks if not monitored carefully. It’s important to be even more vigilant at this time of year and create an emergency evacuation plan for your family that you practice often.

But, how do you know when to try and extinguish a small fire and when to leave the premises?  There is only a small window of opportunity to get your fire extinguisher operating as small fires can grow into large ones in a matter of seconds.

Your safety is most important when it comes to extinguishing a fire. If a fire starts, be sure to call 911 for help. If you are unsure about whether it is safe to fight the fire, you should leave the scene and let the fire department control the fire.

You should know exactly how to use a fire extinguisher in the event a fire develops and you feel you are safely able to fight it. It is recommended that only those trained in the proper use of fire extinguishers consider using them when appropriate.

Call for help before attempting to extinguish a fire. A fire may grow out of control more quickly than you anticipate. It is wise to have help on the way.

Determine a safe evacuation path before approaching the fire. Do not allow the fire, heat or smoke to come between you and your evacuation path.

Attack the fire using the PASS method: P.A.S.S

Pull the pin – by pulling the pin, the operating lever should unlock and allows you to discharge the extinguisher.

Aim low – point the extinguisher hose/nozzle at the base of the fire.

Squeeze the lever – this should discharge the extinguishing agent. Some extinguishers may have a button or other means of activation.

Sweep from side to side – while you are aiming at the base of the fire, you should sweep back and forth until the fire is extinguished. If the fire re-ignites, repeat the process.

Remember additional safeguards:

  • Keep your back to an exit so that there is a viable means of retreating from the fire.
  • Stand at least 8 feet from the fire and begin PASS.

This blog is sponsored by Travelers  

It’s logical to assume that cook tops, stoves, microwaves and toasters are the appliances that cause  fires in the kitchen.  But, did you know that kitchen fires also commonly involve refrigerators, freezers or dishwashers? This week is National Fire Prevention Week and, while your kids will probably be getting some great info at school, here are some things about non-cooking related fires they probably aren’t told…and you might not have considered either:

  • Plug all kitchen appliances, including microwaves, toasters and coffee makers, directly into a wall outlet. Never use an extension cord as it can overheat or overload the circuit and cause a fire.
  • Be sure to only use properly grounded outlets for larger appliances. Have the wall outlets and circuits checked by a qualified electrician to make sure they are properly grounded.
  • If a standard 2-prong outlet is present, have a qualified electrician replace it with a properly ground 3-prong wall outlet. Do not use an adapter.
  • Plug your refrigerator into its own individual outlet that matches the rating plate on the appliance. This can help prevent overloading wiring circuits, which could cause a fire from overheated wires. Check with a qualified electrician to make sure the outlet properly supports the appliance.
  • Repair or replace any power cords that become frayed or otherwise damaged. Never use a cord that shows cracks or other damage.
  • When moving kitchen appliances, be aware of power cords. Rolling over or pinching power cords can damage them.
  • Unplug small appliances when not in use.
  • Keep your stove and oven clean. Built up food splatter or grease can later ignite when the stove or oven is turned on for cooking. (Link to cooking kitchen fire content)
  • Check and clean stove hoods and filters regularly. If your stove hood vents externally, make sure insects or birds do not build nests or otherwise impede air flow through it.
  • Never store flammable liquids near appliances. Keep gasoline, paint thinners and other flammable liquids or materials in Underwriters Laboratory (UL) listed containers and out of your house.
  • Never use a kitchen oven to heat your home. Not only is this a fire hazard, but it can also give off toxic fumes.

What to do if a kitchen fire flares up

By exercising caution at all times in your kitchen, you can help reduce the risk of a kitchen fire. But if a fire does flare up, you need to be prepared.

  • Your safety should always come first. If you are unsure about whether it is unsafe to fight the fire, leave the scene, call 911 for help, and let the fire department control the fire.
  • If a small fire flares up and you are going to attempt to extinguish it, call 911 for help first. A fire may grow out of control more quickly than you anticipate. It is safer to have help already on the way.

Disclaimer –  I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

As a national family safety expert and the owner of Accessible Home Living which does home accessibility modifications for seniors and individuals with disabilities, the greatest issue I deal with is fall prevention.

For people over the age of 65, falls are the leading cause of hospital trauma admissions, traumatic brain injury and death.  The majority of seniors who fall will experience another fall within a year, compounding the threat of death or serious injury.  62% of these fall victims who don’t receive help within an hour won’t be able to live independently after recovery.

Every home should be modified with these fall prevention tips/items:

Create no-slip/no-trip flooring:

  • Secure all throw rugs with double-sided tape
  • Be sure to have non-skid mats near entry ways and in bathrooms
  • Check for tears, holes and loose threads in all carpets

Safeguard the stairs:

  • It’s important to have banisters on both sides of the stairs
  • Install return caps so that the top and bottom of the banister are not open – a potential risk for having a bag or other item get caught
  • If the person has difficulty maneuvering the steps, consider installing a stair lift
  • Be sure all stairs have tread covers to prevent slipping

All areas of the home should be well lit:

  • Use high-wattage light bulbs for all staircase areas
  • Install automatic driveway lights and walkway lights to prevent falls outside
  • Utilize motion sensors that will allow for lights to automatically turn on.  The WeMo Switch and Motion Sensor is easy to use and affordable and is now available at Office Depot.  The WeMo can be used in two ways.  You can either set commands for the light to go on or off at specific times or you can set rules that when the sensor detects motions the light will go off.  You can also set the motion sensor to various sensitivities and times so if an elderly person gets up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, the light will automatically turn on and can be set to also turn off after a certain time.

WeMo Switch n Sensor F7C028_1 August13

Finally, be prepared for an emergency. Be sure that a phone is low to the ground so it can be reached in case of a fall and consider purchasing an emergency pendant that will allow a person to call for help if they have fallen.


Disclaimer –  I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

Over the years I’ve reviewed several home automation systems.  I have done so because I feel all homes should have one for safety purposes, to prevent break-as well as injuries.  Unfortunately many of the ones on the market are just too expensive for the average consumers.  I hadn’t heard of the WeMo Switch and Motion Sensor until Office Depot brought it to my attention and asked me to review it.

WeMo Switch n Sensor F7C028_1 August13

As any of my friends will attest to, I hate reading directions of any sort.  If I can’t figure out how to use something just by looking at it, there’s a high likelihood it will sit in the box forever unless I can convince my husband or trusty business partner to read the directions and then explain it to me.

The beauty of the WeMo is that the directions are as simplistic as those that come with an iPhone or Android.  Pretty much all you need to do is:

  1. Download the free app
  2. Go to your settings and find WeMo
  3. Connect to it
  4. Plug in the sensor to one outlet
  5. Plug in the light, appliance or anything else to the switch which plugs into another outlet
  6. Launch the WeMo app

And you’re ready to go!  Yes, it’s pretty much idiot proof (or “written direction-challenged people” proof).

Basically you can use WeMo in two ways.  You can either set commands for a light or appliance to go on or off at specific times or you can set rules that when the sensor detects motions the light or appliance will go off.  Here’s what the interface looks like on your iPhone.


What’s really nice is that you can set the motion sensor to various sensitivities and times.  So, say your daughter has to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and you’re tired of her constantly calling you to go with her cause she’s afraid to get up in the dark (yes, that’s my issue).  You can set a rule that when the WeMo detects motion between the hours of 11P – 5A, her bedroom light will turn on.  And THEN, it will turn off again after 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 15 minutes, whichever you program.  On the flip side you can set another rule that in the morning at 8:30A, (once she leaves for school) if WeMo doesn’t detect motion, it will shut her light off.  Yes, another pet-peeve of mine is when I have to go around the house and shut their lights off!

This is a great little device with tons of uses that I can think of immediately –  stay tuned for more!

And, be sure to visit Office Depot to learn more.


Hurricane Sandy is coming – Make sure you are prepared!


Hurricane Sandy aka FrankenStorm

As the East Coast braces for Hurricane Sandy – aka “Frankenstorm” – now is the time to make sure that you and your loved ones stay safe in dangerous weather.  With power outages likely (and if last year is any indication, some folks can expect to be out of power for up to a week), it’s crucial to prepare for the worst of Hurricane Sandy.

It’s especially important to make sure your aging parents, friends and neighbors stay safe in Hurricane Sandy conditions, particularly during the preparation phase.  Here are five tips to help keep them safe and sound (more tips can be found in my Disaster Preparedness blog post):

  • Be sure you have a neighbor’s cell phone to get in contact with (and remind them to charge it)
  • Alert emergency responders in their neighborhood that an elderly person or couple lives there alone
  • Check that they have enough of their prescription meds to get through an extra week if they can’t get out of the house
  • Remind them not to burn candles but rather use flashlights — and ensure they have extra batteries
  • Stock up on healthy non-perishable food and bottled water for them (easy to open jars and containers are a must)

Equally critical is to tell them not to venture outside just because the worst of Hurricane Sandy has passesd.  There may be live wires downed by trees and debris scattered about.

While you’re running around stockpiling supplies for yourself this weekend, grab some for the seniors in your life.   Stay safe!