This year resolve to be prepared. Here are some emergency preparedness tips for you and your family so that you all can be ready for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. Share these messages.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR FRIGID TEMPS
A cold front on Saturday will usher in Freezing conditions this weekend. A freeze watch is in effect Saturday night for the northern half of the Houston area with additional products possible Sunday night. Wind chill Sunday morning will be in the teens to twenties.
With winter temperatures dropping significantly, staying warm and safe can become a challenge. We want to remind area residents to take precautions to protect life and property during the winter weather, including checking on elderly, taking care of pets and livestock, protecting plants and exposed plumbing.
Here are some tips for dealing with freezing temperatures:
Tips And Alternatives For Christmas Tree Disposal
“Dried Christmas trees can be a real fire hazard, especially if, as some people have done, the tree is set on fire as a means of disposing of it,” Stafford said. “Depending on the location and circumstances, this could start a wildfire.”
Stafford said there are a number of safer — and more creative — ways to dispose of a real Christmas tree. Many local recycling centers have free drop-off locations where they will chip and shred the tree. She said some other applications for used Christmas trees might include:
- Cutting up the tree and using the firewood for small and carefully planned campfires.
- Mulching the tree and using it in landscaping beds.
“Composting is another great way to dispose of your Christmas tree and extend its use,” Stafford said. “The branches from your tree make a good base for a compost pile. If you take your tree to a chipper, you can use the resulting mulch in your compost heap. Compost makes great natural fertilizer.”
- Chip it. Some local communities will host chipping days after Christmas to provide a safe way to dispose of trees.
- Cut the trunk into small pieces and use it as pathway edging.
- If feasible, toss the tree in a pond to create a fish habitat and help produce nutrients for aquatic life.
In addition, many communities offer curbside pickup of Christmas trees for recycling once the holiday season is over. Best practices for preparing Christmas trees for community waste pickup include:
- Making sure all ornaments, ribbons, tinsel, lights and other decorations are removed.
- Cutting the tree into four-foot sections or shorter.
- Chopping smaller trees into pieces small enough to fit inside the waste can.
The Pick Your Own Christmas Tree site has an alphabetical listing of Texas cities where people can recycle their Christmas tree.
A flocked tree can’t be recycled and shouldn’t be turned into mulch. Instead, cut it into pieces for disposal. However, some local waste management departments will not accept flocked trees for disposal, so check for specific department guidelines.
Feasting with family is part of many holiday celebrations. Follow these tips to help prevent food poisoning, or foodborne illness, during the holidays.
- Keep foods separatedexternal icon. Keep meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods at the grocery store and in the refrigerator. Prevent juices from meat, chicken, turkey, and seafood from dripping or leaking onto other foods by keeping them in containers or sealed plastic bags. Store eggs in their original carton in the main compartment of the refrigerator.
- Cook food thoroughlyexternal icon. Meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs can carry germs that cause food poisoning. Use a food thermometer to ensure these foods have been cooked to a safe internal temperatureexternal icon. Roasts, chops, steaks, and fresh ham should rest for 3 minutes after you remove them from the oven or grill.
- Keep food out of the “danger zone.”external icon Bacteria can grow rapidly in the danger zone between 40°F and 140°F. After food is prepared, keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Refrigerate or freeze any perishable food within 2 hours (1 hour if food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F, such as in a hot car). The temperature in your refrigerator should be set at or below 40°F and the freezer at or below 0°F.
- Use pasteurized eggs for dishes containing raw eggs. Salmonella and other harmful germs can live on both the outside and inside of normal-looking eggs. Many holiday favorites contain raw eggs, including eggnog, tiramisu, hollandaise sauce, and Caesar dressing. Always use pasteurized eggs when making these and other foods made with raw eggs.
- Do not eat raw dough or batterexternal icon. Dough and batter made with flour or eggs can contain harmful germs, such as E. coli and Salmonella. Do not taste or eat raw dough or batter that is meant to be baked or cooked. This includes dough or batter for cookies, cakes, pies, biscuits, pancakes, tortillas, pizza, or crafts. Do not let children taste raw dough or batter or play with dough at home or in restaurants. Some companies and stores offer edible cookie dough that uses heat-treated flour and pasteurized eggs or no eggs. Read the label carefully to make sure the dough is meant to be eaten without baking or cooking.
- Thaw your turkey safelyexternal icon. Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes), or in the microwave. Avoid thawing foods on the counter. A turkey must thawexternal icon at a safe temperature to prevent harmful germs from growing rapidly.
- Wash your hands. Wash your hands with soap and water during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- After handling pet food or pet treats or touching pets
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After touching garbage
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
Pregnancy and Holiday Food
Pregnant women are at increased risk of food poisoning, so take extra care if you’re pregnant or preparing food for someone who is.
- Do not eat or drink raw or unpasteurized milk and products made with it, such as soft cheeses. They can contain harmful germs, including Listeria. Do not eat soft cheeses such as queso fresco pdf icon[PDF – 2.49 MB], Brie, Camembert, feta, goat cheese, or blue-veined cheese if they are made from raw or unpasteurized milk.
- Be aware that cheeses made from pasteurized milk, such as queso fresco, also have caused Listeria infections, most likely because they were contaminated during cheese-making.
- Processed cheeses, cream cheese, mozzarella, and hard cheeses are safer choices.
- Don’t drink raw or unpasteurized juice and ciderexternal icon.
- Be careful with seafoodexternal icon. Do not eat smoked seafood that was sold refrigerated unless it is in a cooked dish, such as a casserole. Instead, choose shelf-stable smoked seafood in pouches or cans that do not need refrigeration.
- Avoid certain holiday beverages. Drinking any type of alcohol can affect your baby’s growth and development and cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Don’t drink holiday punches and eggnogs that contain alcohol. Avoid eggnog entirely unless you know it doesn’t contain alcohol and is pasteurized or made with pasteurized eggs and milk.