Holiday & Winter Home Safety Tips

The holidays and winter months present their own specific safety considerations in the home. Learn how to protect yourself and your family by minimizing the risk of fires and other hazards.

Heating the Home


At the beginning of each winter season, get your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional before using it. Buildup in the chimney can cause a fire if it is not properly cleaned.

Also, never use the following in your fireplace:

  • Flammable liquids.
  • Evergreen trimmings or boughs.
  • Wrapping paper, cardboard, trash, or debris.

These materials can cause intense flames that can start chimney fires or send sparks into the room. Some of these materials may even cause toxic smoke.

Use a fireplace screen to keep sparks and embers from coming into the room.

Portable Heaters & Space Heaters

Make sure all heaters are in safe working condition. Place space heaters at least three feet away from anything that could catch fire, including paper, clothing, and furniture. (Do not use heaters to dry clothing.)

Small children and pets should not be left alone with heaters. Make sure to turn off heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.

Cooking & Kitchen Safety

Cooking fires are the most common type of fires in U.S. households. By paying attention while cooking, you can prevent a kitchen fire.

If you are frying, grilling, or broiling food, stay in the kitchen. Turn off the stove if you have to leave the kitchen, even if only for a short time.

If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, you don’t have to stay in the kitchen, but you do need to stay in the home. Check the food regularly and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.

Keep flammable objects—pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, and paper or plastic bags—away from the stovetop. Wear close-fitting clothing that won’t drape over or touch burners while you are cooking.

Although turkey fryers may produce delicious holiday dinners, they pose significant fire hazards. For safe turkey fryer use tips visit the U.S. Fire Administration’s page on cooking safety.


When choosing decorations for your home avoid materials with the following characteristics:

  • Sharp or breakable.
  • Leaded.
  • Flammable or combustible.
  • Anything that a child could swallow or inhale or might be tempted to eat.


If you decorate with candles, keep them away from decorations, evergreens, or other combustible materials. Never place candles on trees.

Keep candles in stable holders where they cannot be knocked over. Do not leave children unattended with lighted candles.

Electric Lights

Only purchase lights that have been safety tested by an independent lab. This will be stated on the label. Check that extension cords and strings of holiday lights are in good repair, with no fraying, cracking, or bare wires.

Do not connect more than three strands of lights, unless the directions specifically say that is safe. Use an extension cord for lights instead of plugging them straight into the outlet. Make sure to turn off the lights when you go to bed or leave home.

Keep lights out of reach of children who might be tempted to play with them. The bulbs can break, which can cause cuts and electrification or choking hazards.

Holiday Trees

If you use trees for decorations, make sure they do not block doorways or get in the way of people moving through the room. Do not place trees next to heat sources, such as a fireplace or heat vent.

Never use candles on or near trees.

Artificial Trees

If you buy an artificial tree, make sure its label says “fire resistant.”

Fresh Trees

If you purchase a real tree, keeping it fresh will make it less of a fire hazard. If the tree is a conifer (e.g., pines, firs, cedars), “fresh” means the following:

  • The tree is green and does not shed needles when tapped on the ground.
  • Needles are hard to pull off the branches and do not break when bent.
  • Sticky resin is around the trunk.

To keep the tree fresh, cut a few inches off the trunk to expose live wood. Put the tree in a tree stand filled with water. Heated rooms can dry out a tree, so be sure to check the water levels in the stand and fill it as needed.

General Precautions

Following these tips can help make life safer year-round, not just during the holidays.

  • Keep candles, matches, and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • Install at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home, including near sleeping areas.
  • Keep fire extinguishers in the kitchen, laundry room, and garage. An extinguisher with an ABC rating can fight fires caused by paper, wood, cloth, flammable liquids, and electrical short circuits.
  • Make a family plan for fire emergencies. Practice your escape plan.
  • Use your common sense. Identify potential danger spots in your home and take the proper precautions.
Adapted and excerpted from:

C. Lehtola, “Cool Weather and Holiday Safety Reminders,” Safety News & Notes, Vol 7., No. 11, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering (11/2006).

Holiday Decoration Safety Tips (CPSC-611)” (1.35MB pdf), U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission(accessed 11/2011).

Winter Fire Safety,” U.S. Fire Administration(11/2011).

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Preparing for winter storms, whether your work involves being inside, outside or in a vehicle, is crucial to survival and safety. Become familiar with winter storm warning signals so you can take appropriate action, and learn the dangers of winter ailments so you can avoid injury. Use these tips from Long & Foster Insurance,  a leading independent insurance agency that represents many of the nation’s top rated insurance companies, to refresh your knowledge on winter storm preparation.

Winter Weather Warnings

Keep in touch with the following weather alerts and familiarize yourself with what they mean so you know when to be on your guard and what actions you may need to take:

  • Winter storm watch: Be alert, a storm is likely
  • Winter weather advisory: Experts expect winter weather conditions to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous, especially to motorists
  • Frost/Freeze warning: Experts expect below freezing temperatures that may cause damage to plants, crops or fruit trees
  • Winter storm warning: Take action, a storm is entering – or is already in – the area
  • Blizzard warning: The combination of snow and strong winds will produce blinding snow, near zero visibility, deep drifts and life-threatening wind chill – seek refuge immediately

Gearing Up to Prevent Cold Injuries

Frostbite and hypothermia are serious conditions resulting from extreme cold that can progress rapidly if ill-equipped. To prevent these conditions, which could result in death or permanent damage, do the following:

  • Select proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions
  • Layer clothing when possible, and be sure to include layers that repel moisture away from the skin
  • Take frequent, short breaks in warm, dry shelters when possible
  • Avoid over-exhausting yourself, as the body needs this energy to keep the muscles warm
  • Plan to work in pairs when it’s cold to share the load and watch for warning signs of frostbite or hypothermia
  • When you know you will be exposed to extreme cold, prepare yourself warm, sweet beverages to drink – avoid drinks containing caffeine or alcohol
  • Prepare warm, high-calorie foods to consume if you know you will be outside for long periods of time

Other Winter Storm Hazards to Be Prepared For

  • Adverse driving conditions such as low visibility and slippery roadways
  • Slips and falls on icy walkways or from heights
  • Being struck while walking or in your vehicle by falling objects like icicles, tree limbs and utility poles
  • Electrocution due to downed power lines or downed objects in contact with power lines
  • Roof collapses under weight of snow or flooding from melting snow
  • Exhaustion, dehydration and back injuries from conducting manual labor in the snow


Source: OSHA, © 2010, 2014 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Poinsettias- Tips to keep them looking beautiful all holiday season

If you are like me, you enjoy Poinsettias during the holiday season. I found this article on Lowes.Com that gives very helpful hints about how to choose and keep your poinsettia alive and looking vibrant all season long!

The fiery red plant poinsettia is everywhere at holiday time. Make this classic easy-to-care-for favorite a part of your holiday decor.

The Poinsettia’s Colorful History

The poinsettia is indigenous to a region in Mexico, where they bloom during December, creating crimson mountainsides and growing to heights of 16 feet. The plants delighted the first missionaries to Mexico who included them in their Advent-season ceremonies. Hence, the association with the holidays began. Poinsettias were later introduced to America by botanist and first US Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett.

Choosing Your Poinsettia

Choosing Your Poinsettia

When shopping for a poinsettia, look for:

  • Dark green, dense and plentiful foliage.
  • Tightly-clustered buds to last throughout the holiday season.
  • The smallest leaves surrounding the yellow buds to be fully colored. If they’re still partially green, your plant will quickly lose its color.
  • If the yellow buds in the center of the flower have started to drop off or have already shed pollen (look for tiny yellow grains), the plant is not fresh.
  • Avoid plants with yellow, greenish-white, or sagging leaves. Plants with faded, torn or discolored bracts (leaves beneath the flower) are not the best choice either.
  • As with any plant, make sure your poinsettia is free from insects and diseases.

When you have chosen the perfect poinsettia, don’t leave it in your car while you continue shopping. An indoor plant that’s exposed to cold winds and temperatures below 50° F can be damaged or killed. Get the store to bag the plant, but be sure to remove any wrapping as soon as you get home.

Caring for Your Poinsettia

Poinsettias are easy to care for throughout the holidays. Just follow these simple rules:

Light - Poinsettias need a minimum of six hours of bright (but not direct) sunlight each day.

Temperature - These plants prefer temperatures from 65-70° F during the day with a drop to 60°-65° at night. The lower night temperatures help the poinsettias keep their brilliant color. Protect the plants from both cold and hot drafts from outside doors, heat registers or appliances. Never let the plant be exposed to temperatures less than 55° F.

Water - Poinsettias like moist, but not wet, soil. When the top of the soil becomes dry, add room temperature water to the plant. Allow the water to drain through the pot when watering, and then discard any excess water in the saucer. If the plant’s container was wrapped with decorative foil, be sure to remove the foil from the bottom of the container to allow water to drain through the plant.

Overwatering the poinsettia and letting it sit in excess water are common mistakes that will kill the plant. If your poinsettia begins to wilt, too much or too little water could be the culprit. If the plant feels dry, add water immediately. If the container feels heavy and the soil is wet, allow the poinsettia to dry out before watering it again.

Poinsettias and Their Poisonous Reputation

Poinsettias are not poisonous. Ingesting the leaves (it would take a lot) would cause some stomach discomfort (as with eating many other nonfood items). If leaves or stems are eaten, rinse the mouth with water. The sap can be a skin irritant to humans or pets; wash the affected area with soap and water after contact. As with any plant or material, if you experience a severe reaction of any kind, seek medical help promptly.

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Biggest Home Seller Mistakes

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image001 (1)

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4 Reasons to Buy a Home During the Holidays

In a recent article by Vera Gibbons posted on Yahoo, she talks about the 4 Main Reasons to Buy a Home During the Holidays.

In the market for a new home? Here are four reasons to add real estate shopping to your December to-do list.

1. Bargain prices

Did you know that, historically, home prices are lower in December than in any other month?

As for the overall housing picture, if you’re not yet in the market, you’ll like this news: While home prices are continuing to rise, it’s happening at a much slower pace.

According to a recent report from Zillow, U.S. home values are currently up 6.4 percent year-over-year and have been slowing for nearly two years. Next year home values are expected to grow at 3 percent — roughly half their current pace.  These changing dynamics, and a shift toward healthy stabilization, put more power in the hands of buyers.

2. Low mortgage rates    

What’s driving affordability? Low mortgage rates. Currently hovering in the 4 percent range, rates are projected to edge up to 5 percent by the end of 2015, according to Zillow Chief Economist,Stan Humphries.

To put this in perspective, did you know that if rates go up by just one percentage point, your purchasing power is reduced by a whopping 11 percent? Find out how much waiting to buy could cost you.

[Ready to buy a home? Click to compare mortgage interest rates from lenders now.]

3. Motivated sellers

If sellers are listing their home for sale this time of year, this likely means they’re serious about shedding the weight of their residences.

Regardless of why that is – perhaps they’ve recently gotten divorced, have to relocate for a new job opportunity, or are under some other personal pressure – this puts you, the buyer, in a much better position to negotiate and ultimately cut a deal, particularly since competition is minimal this time of year.

4. Tax savings

At the end of the year, everyone is looking for ways to lower their tax bill. And closing on your new home before Dec. 31st is one way to get some breaks.

After all, you can deduct home purchase costs, including mortgage interest, property taxes and points — while you build equity and save yourself a significant amount of money.

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Congratulations to my Philadelphia-East Falls Seller!


Congratulations on selling your home Andrew!

3127 Midvale Ave, Philadelphia PA 19129Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 6.32.30 PM

This magnificent 6 bedroom, 3.5 bath stone Dutch colonial is located on a beautiful tree lined street in East Falls. As you enter into this stately home through the Grand Foyer entrance to the right you will find the large Living Room with fireplace, built-in bookcases and 2 french doors exiting to the wonderful heated year-round sunroom. To the left of the foyer is the Dining Room with exit to back covered patio and yard. Just past here you will find the stunning kitchen featuring silestone counter tops, center island, tile floor, ceramic back splash, stainless appliances including a high end Blue Star stove, abundant cherry wood cabinets, pendent lighting and more. Hardwood floors, original wood moldings, crown molding, master bedroom with full bath, walk in closet & 2 double doors to roof top deck, 2 other large bedrooms on 2nd floor with hall bath. The 3rd floor consists of a new hall bath, one large bedroom & 2 additional bedrooms. New high velocity central air has been installed. There is a newer furnace and many newer windows along with lots of built-ins throughout. The basement is partially finished (13 x 29) with a fireplace and other storage areas. The exterior grounds have mature plantings, lots of space for your summer enjoyment, large driveway, 2 car gar & so much more! McMichael Park is steps away, trains and buses are nearby and convenient to most major routes. A real delight! Come see for yourself today and make this yours to call your home.

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Congratulations to my Ardmore Buyers!

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Congratulations to my Buyers of 518 E. Spring Ave, Ardmore, PA 19003!

I wish you the most happiness in your new home this holiday season and many more to come!

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5 Easy fixes to help you sell your home

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The TODAY Show on NBC featured real estate expert Barbara Corcoran discussing 5 easy fixes you can do that will help sell your home. This is great advice!

Click here to watch the video:

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Kevin Toll celebrates 1 Year Anniversary of his Havertown Office

Representatives from the Havertown office, Janet Rubino the overseeing manager, and Jeremy Durkin & Ryan O'Conner of Prosperity Mortgage
Representatives from the Havertown office, Janet Rubino the overseeing manager, and Jeremy Durkin & Ryan O'Conner of Prosperity Mortgage

Representatives from the Havertown office, Janet Rubino the overseeing manager, and Jeremy Durkin & Ryan O’Conner of Prosperity Mortgage (not included in the picture was Sage Title’s representative) 


Kevin Toll & His team celebrated the 1 Year Anniversary of his office location at 95 S. Eagle Road last Thursday night at Brick and Brew in Havertown. Kevin and his team are have been growing all year and have become more prominent in Havertown. Attending and support local community events such as the Haverford Township Day as well as both the Spring & Fall Music Fests.  Look for Kevin and his team in the community; ready to help you make your real estate goals of buying and/or selling a home come true. If you are interested in joining the team, contact Kevin today (610-609-1096 or 

Kevin with agents Alex and Tim

Kevin with agents Alex and Tim

Brick & Brew in Havertown was were the celebration occurred

Brick & Brew in Havertown was were the celebration occurred



Kevin & Megan

Kevin & Megan

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Havertown Office a Toys For Tots Drop off location

Long & Foster’s Toys for Tots Campaign has Started!

Collection to run through mid-December

Since our founding in 1968, Long & Foster has strived to give back to the communities in which we live and work. It’s a commitment made by Wes Foster long ago, and one that we continue to maintain today. That’s why this month, we launched our 24th annual Toys for Tots campaign. Together, Long & Foster agents and employees will collect toys for the local U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, supporting the Marines in their efforts to bring holiday cheer to deserving families around the United States.

Thank you for your participation in the 2014 Toys for Tots Campaign!


95 S. Eagle Road – Havertown is a drop off locations for Toys for Tots!

Please bring a new, unused and unwrapped toy to donate!

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