Home Safety

This section is about ensuring that your home is a healthy and safe environment. It explores ways in which you can minimize risks around your home and improve you and your family’s health and safety. 

A Roadmap to Becoming an Informed Consumer

Young or old, we all buy stuff. Sometimes finding the cheapest product feels like a win, but not too soon. Lowest cost may mean compromising on your health or quality of the goods, but going for the most expensive choice is not nice for the wallet either. We have access to an abundance of information (sometimes too much of it) and still, falling for a scam is easier than you think, and buying products you don’t need is all too common.


Considering how the products you buy affect your health and finances may sound tedious, but it is easier than it sounds and will save you a lot of headache and poor decisions. We have a four step process, and a few neat links to make a happy consumer out of you. When you get in the habit of asking these questions before buying something, it will be like second nature to you. And then before you know it, you’re an informed consumer and the satisfaction of making good choices will have you feeling proud of yourself.

Four considerations to make before making a purchase:

1. What does your budget say? – Frequent evaluation of your finances and a quick look at your accounts before making an unexpected purchase can help to dodge a stressful situation.
2. Are you prioritizing your health? – As much as we want to save money, it should never be at the expense of your health.
3. Are you sure you are smarter than the scammers? – We all know not to respond to fishy emails, but any consumer, especially when shopping online, is vulnerable to counterfeit goods and even theft.
4. Are you smarter than the marketers? – Have you ever bought something and then never used it again? Have you done that again after that? A few simple guidelines can put an end to that for good.

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How mindfulness works

Mindfulness is a state that involves the self-regulation of attention, allowing you to focus on the present moment and experience thoughts and sensations objectively, with curiosity, openness and acceptance, with the ultimate goal of controlling your reaction to those thoughts and sensations. The more you practice mindfulness, the better it works, and the greater the benefits.

Principles of good mindfulness practice

  • Paying attention to the moment-to-moment details of experience
  • Paying particular attention to the body and one’s experience of it
  • Recognizing the experience of mind and not getting caught in memories of the past or plans for the future
  • Trying neither too much nor too little
  • Letting go of distractions and paying attention to the present moment
  • Noticing one's experience without judging it
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Are you moving enough at work? Create a Walking Group!

To lead a healthy lifestyle, it is recommended that adults get 150 minutes of heart-pumping action each week. Learn how to take physical activity into your workplace by starting a walking group and adding movement into your workday with these healthy tips.

Build movement into your workday by:

  • Starting a walking group at work
  • Taking stretch breaks throughout the day
  • Have standing, or walking, meetings
  • Take the stairs
  • Build more walking and exercise into your commute
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Don’t be Fooled: Some Common Scams and how to Avoid Them

We all think we are too clever to fall for a scam, but even the best and brightest of us can get caught off guard. Scam artists are professional fraudsters, and they work very hard to find new ways to trick us. The majority of scams still happen through phone and email requests. Here are a few current scams to watch for and some tips on how to avoid getting fooled.

Types of Scams

  • Grandparents Scam – someone calls a senior on behalf of their grandchild, child who is in trouble
  • Lottery Scams – when people are told they have won large sums of money and are asked to wire money to handle shipping and taxes
  • Robocalls that insist you owe money to Canada Revenue Service, a utility, bank or large company lke Microsoft
  • Asset recovery cons that work by charging victims to file a complaint about a scam which can be done for free
  • Emails that ask you to change your PIN number or for personal information to solve a computer problem.
  • Read more to learn actions you can take to avoid scams including how to protect your family and  yourself from a hacker.
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Guidelines for Coping with a Crisis if You are a Disabled Person

Often strategies for coping with emergency situations are directed toward non-disabled people who would, for example, have the ability to take stairs to evacuate an apartment building during a power outage, easily carrying a flashlight and an emergency kit. But what if you are elderly, disabled, visually impaired or who need mobility aids? For you, the guidelines for preventing and coping with a crisis situation are different.

Here are some steps you can take to prepare:

  • Keep a list of your personal network of friends, relatives, health care providers and neighbors who understand your special needs.
  • Keep a list of facilities that provide life-sustaining equipment or treatment.
  • Keep the list in an emergency kit that also includes a flashlight and a fully charged cell phone.
  • Enroll in a medical alert program that will signal for help if your immobilized.
  • For people who are blind or visually impaired, keep an extra collapsible cane by your bed. Attach a whistle to the cane in case you need to attract attention.
  • For people who are hearing impaired, include extra batteries for your hearing aids in your emergency kit.
  • If you are not evacuating and it is safe to stay in your apartment, make sure someone knows you are there and that you are safe.
  • If you have a service animal make sure that you have a prepared “go bag” to ensure that they are also cared for in a crisis situation.
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Be Prepared to Stay Alive

Preparing for a worst-case scenario is not just for survivalists or doomsday prophets. It is an important routine safety practice, like wearing a seatbelt or childproofing your home. Being prepared for an emergency can not only mitigate the damage but even prevent disaster from happening. The danger of impending harm to you, your family or your property requires you to quickly make decisions and take action, including extraordinary measures. You must be prepared.

Make a Plan

In the event of an emergency that forces you to evacuate your home, you will need to react quickly, so planning ahead is crucial.


1. Devise an exit strategy. Identify safe exits from your house. Identify escape routes from the neighborhood.
2. Your family may not be together when an emergency occurs. Decide on a safe place for everyone to meet outside the home in case you are separated.
3. Create one or more Emergency Kits or “Go Bags” and  make sure your family knows where they are and who is responsible for carrying them.
4. Pets will need carriers and collars. Note the location of pet-friendly hotels, shelters or kennels where your pet can be safe. Do not leave your pets behind.
5. Always keep your car’s gas tank at least half full.

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Coping with man-made emergencies

Natural disasters are to some extent predictable. Earthquakes and floods are often regional, seasonal occurrences, and preparing ahead of time can save lives and limit property damage. A crisis caused by human error or ill intent, however, is more likely to be unpredictable and chaotic. These situations will require you to think and respond quickly and decisively. Knowing what to do ahead of time might save your life.

Terrorism: Fight the Fear

A terrorist’s primary objective is to create fear. The best way to defy this and to cope with the situation is to stay calm and refuse to give in to panic during what can be an emotionally arduous situation.


Here are some strategies:

 

  • Be aware of your surroundings and calmly assess the situation. Whatever your location, consider the best means of evacuation.
  • Do not act alone if possible. Report any suspicious objects, vehicles or persons to police or security personnel.
  • Look out for secondary hazards, including falling debris or small fires, as well as additional suspicious packages or people. Report any concerns to public safety authorities.
  • For your own protection, follow the instructions of emergency service personnel. Always give the right of way to emergency vehicles.
  • It is fair to warn others of imminent danger, but avoid spreading rumors – confirm information with a credible source.
  • Consider changing the voicemail message on your phones to include your family’s status.
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How to keep a clean house all week long and not go crazy

If you are responsible for cleaning your home, chances are you’re also the one with the burden of groceries, cooking, and working a job. The more people that are under your wing, the more exhausting balancing all the responsibilities can get. There are two types of extremes when it comes to housekeeping. One is to live in a constant state of mess, and the other is to be anxious over every untidy spot. Living in a mess is harmful for your physical and mental health, so cleaning is a must. But expecting that you will keep your dwelling spotless every day of the week is unrealistic. You have to accept that unless you stay at home all day and have no children, you cannot have an out of the magazine clean house at all times. There will be a messy room or spot every now and then. Consider the level of cleanliness that is both achievable with the time you have on hand, and acceptable for your comfort, and go from there. It is possible to have a generally clean house all week long however by having a systematic approach to cleaning.

Why cleaning is a must for your health:

  • A kitchen with piled dishes over a long time will collect disease causing bacteria and attract rodents
  • A dirty bathroom will build up mold which is associated with depression, as well as grow other dangerous bacteria
  • Clutter will increase dust and aggravate respiratory diseases and allergies
  • Clutter can also be a safety and tripping hazard
  • A messy house may cause stress, while cleaning reduces it
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Don’t bring an uninvited guest home… take bed bug precautions.

Anyone, anywhere can be exposed to bed bugs. Exposure is not tied to your cleanliness. These small bugs are about ¼ inch long and resemble an apple seed in appearance, they do not jump and they do not have wings. They can be found in hotels, schools, rooming houses and hospitals. Acquiring second-hand items also increases your risk of exposure. So if you travel for work, or work in one of these environments don’t bring an uninvited guest home… take bed bug precautions.

Take the following precautions when staying in a hotel

  • Keep clothing in a tightly tied plastic bag in your suitcase or hang clothing in the closet
  • The bathroom is a good place to keep your luggage, or put it on a luggage rack
  • Before you unpack
    • Check the headboard and nightstand for bed bugs
    • Next check the mattress and box spring. While mattresses and box springs are changed frequently in hotels exam these for evidence of bed bugs which could include blood stains and bed bug droppings. Don’t forget to check the seams and mattress tag.
  • If you detect signs of bed bugs request another room and tell hotel management what you found
  • If you have bites or find evidence of bed bugs during your trip take extra precautions when you return home
    • Unpack outdoors
    • Launder washables using the hot water setting
    • Place everything in the dryer at the highest temperature for at least 30 minutes
    • Vacuum your luggage
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Navigating Flood Waters

Of all the emergency situations we could face, natural disasters are the least preventable. Survival depends heavily on being prepared ahead of time and on acting quickly and decisively to avoid personal injury and mitigate property damage. Here are a few things to learn in advance about coping with rising water levels.

Learn your terms:

  • Flood Warning: River levels have exceeded bankfull or will exceed bankfull imminently, and that flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers will result.
  • Flood Watch: River levels are rising and will approach or may exceed bankfull. Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur.
  • High Streamflow Advisory: River levels are rising or are expected to rise rapidly, but no major flooding is expected. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible
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Know Earthquake Survival Tips for Home or Travel

In any sudden crisis, the goal is to mitigate damage and escape personal injury. An earthquake can happen without warning and depending on where you live you may not have much experience with how to handle this situation. Survival may, therefore, depend on preparing in advance and thinking ahead about how to respond quickly, taking the guesswork out of managing the situation. Read these tips if you are planning on travelling to earthquake-vulnerable counties like Japan, Nepal, India, Philippines or even Mexico. In Canada, British Columbia is the region that experiences the most seismic activity. However earthquakes can also occur in other regions including Quebec, Newfoundland, the Northwest Territories and even Ontario.

In an Earthquake:

  • If you are indoors when shaking starts, drop to the floor, preferably against an interior wall.
  • If you are in bed, put the pillow over your head.
  • If you are on the floor, cover your head with your arms.
  • If you use a wheelchair, lock the wheels.
  • Stay away from windows, hanging objects and mirrors.
  • Remain inside during an earthquake.
  • If you are outside, look for an open area, free of debris and fallen power lines.
  • If you are a near an Ocean, head for higher ground. A tsunami may be approaching.
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Meditate your way to accident prevention

We know that practicing mindfulness improves both mental and physical health because it strengthens the part of the brain that helps you cope with anxiety, improves your eating habits and prepares you to face the unexpected without fear. It is not surprising, then, that there is a correlation between mindfulness and safety prevention. Researchers studying the effects of mindfulness have noted response mechanisms to various stimuli, that imply it can help prevent accidents.

Practicing meditation

  • Pay attention to details
  • Stay in the moment
  • Stay alert to stimuli without reacting emotionally
  • Be receptive to new information and ways of interpreting that information
  • Try not to over-plan everything. Most plans are too specific and prevent you from acting in the moment in response to new information.
  • Pay particular attention to the body and your experience of it
  • Face your thoughts, sensations and external stimuli objectively and non-judgmentally
  • Be aware of unexpected or negative stimuli without practicing avoidance
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External Links

Government of Canada Emergency Preparedness

This guide explains in greater detail the steps Canadians should take to become better prepared for emergencies. Included are a Family Emergency Plan template and list of emergency kit items.

If an emergency happens in your community, it may take emergency workers some time to reach you.

You should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for a minimum of 72 hours. Here are the steps you should take:

 

Step 1. Know the risks
Step 2. Make a plan
Step 3. Get an emergency kit

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