Is home safety on your list of New Year's resolutions? January is National Crime Stoppers Month, with a common sense focus on how individuals can keep their families and valuables better protected.
Home safety expert First Alert offers the following tips to help homeowners protect their property throughout 2013:
Hide away: It's a simple strategy to protect valuables. Safes don't have to be huge or heavy to be effective; they can hide in plain sight as a coffee table or nightstand. Some small safes help homeowners camouflage their important possessions by discretely hiding valuables in what appear to be common household products or containers. When stored alongside other household items (such as under a sink or in a pantry), these safes blend in and potential thieves never suspect. An example: Quickie Brand All-Purpose Cleaner Can Safe. Other clever safes look like reference books, the perfect disguise in a bookcase.
Play safe: Some items won't fit in a cleanser can and need a bigger safe. Experts say to look for concealed, pry-resistant hinges. Many safes feature a digital keypad or combination lock. If so, make sure it comes with an emergency override key just in case you lose the combination.
Watch out: New technology allows home-owners to keep a closer eye on their property around the clock. Do-it-yourself wireless or wired security cameras can monitor entrances and vulnerable windows. Smartphone apps allow long-distance monitoring of security systems. Motion-sensor lights are a good deterrent, too.
For more tips, click on www.firstalert.com.
Happy new garden year! If you don't already do it, start keeping track of your garden activity and observations, especially any additions (you will plant something in 2013) or subtractions (tree removal, dead shrubs, summer annuals, etc.) plus seasonal chores such as pruning and spraying. The squares on a large new 2013 calendar are enough space for many garden notes. Hang the calendar in a handy spot (such as a shed or garage door) where you're sure to see it often. You also can post reminders (feed the lawn, spray the fruit trees, etc.).
Speaking of which, this is rose pruning season. Trim back bushes.
Clean up leaves and debris around fruit trees and rose bushes to prevent the spread of disease.
Apply oil to fruit trees soon after a rain to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective. Don't apply on foggy days.
This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl.
In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.
Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.