December is a month of chilly nights and warm holiday spirit. If you live where snow is prominent, you know that keeping your family safe from icy slips and snowdrifts is important. December can also be a month of winter storms and power outages. Use this checklist to keep your home in tip-top shape this month.

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Inside the home:

  • Untangle and inspect holiday lights
  • Call & schedule a carpet cleaner to take care of post-party spills and stains
  • Check & clean humidifiers for better air indoor quality
  • Call & schedule an attic insulation specialist to make sure your home is operating efficiently this winter
  • Check fire extinguishers, place near kitchen & fireplace
  • Test GFCI outlets (read how to do this)
  • Test smoke alarms & carbon monoxide detectors
  • Remember to open windows for 5 minutes a day to circulate fresh air (read more about indoor air quality)
  • Reverse ceiling fans to push warm air down
  • Call & schedule a professional home organizer to ensure a clutter-free 2015

Outside the home:

  • Keep salt & shovel ready to keep sidewalks and driveway clear
  • Check your gutters for ice dams or icicles

Frost dates:

12/04: Frost date  for Sacramento, CA*

12/05: Frost date for Phoenix, AZ*

12/20: Frost date for Houston, TX*

12/26 Frost date for San Jose, CA*

*Indicates first fall frost (50% probability)

Holidays & events:

12/21 Winter Solstice

12/22 Hanukkah begins

12/25 Christmas Day

12/31 New Year’s Eve

Porch Tips: Stay safe during the holidays

December can be a busy month filled with company events, holiday parties, travel and holiday decorating. Keep your home, family and pets safe during this season by following these tips:

  • Check the stability of your ladder before hanging lights
  • Turn off all holidays lights before you leave the house or go to bed
  • Look for the certification mark of safety on all electrical decorations
  • Only place candles on a heat-resistant surface out of reach from kids and pets

DIY Project of the month: Check your GFCI outlets

The ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet in your kitchen, bathroom and laundry room is designed to keep you safe from electrocution. These outlets are required when located near a water source and can shut off the electrical flow within 25 milliseconds – fast enough to prevent a human from being electrocuted.

Test your GFCI outlets each month by following these steps:

  1. Push the “reset” button on the GFCI to prepare the outlet for testing
  2. Plug an ordinary nightlight into the outlet and turn it ON. The light should now be on.
  3. Push the “test” button. The nightlight should turn OFF.
  4. Push the “reset” button again. The nightlight should now go ON again.

If the nightlight doesn’t turn on the second time, then your GFCI is not properly working. Contact an electrician to replace it right away.

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