At this time of the year, we all are very busy shopping and partying with our friends and family. Just promise us that you will take a few minutes and give your home a safety upgrade. Here are a few things you’ll want to check:

Fire hazards are a lot more common during the wintertime than during the summer. Be prepared. Test all of your smoke detectors and replace dead batteries. Add a couple more if you only have one or two. It’s amazing how many lives a small, inexpensive device like this has saved.

Every home ought to have at least one working fire extinguisher. They don’t cost much and are easy to operate. Buy a general-purpose type for all kinds of fires and keep it handy. Use it AFTER calling 911 in case of a fire.

Don’t leave candles or heating appliances unattended.

Have your gas appliances inspected for carbon monoxide leaks. Install a carbon monoxide detector if you don’t already have one.

If you will have children as guests in your home, install electrical outlet covers and move all items within grabbing distance up to higher tables and shelves. A good way to look for kid issues is to crawl around your house on your hands and knees looking for problems, and address them. Other things to move are lamp cords, and cords for blinds and drapes.

Some plants are dangerous for kids and pets, so keep things like mistletoe out of reach of both.

If you don’t have a basic first-aid kit, now is the time to get one. If it’s not been restocked in a while, at least refill the bandages. A few other stomach and headache remedies also might come in handy.

Have a safe holiday season!


Q: I have some old metal school lockers that I want to use in my garage for storing our sports equipment. They are rusted in some places and the paint is starting to peel. What do I need to do to clean them up and make them look better? – H.U.

A: If the lockers are very old, you probably ought to test the old paint for lead. If no lead is present, use a power sander to get rid of all of the loose paint and rust. Then you can use a metal primer and a paint made for metal.


Q: I need to replace a small piece of wood trim on a very old dresser. It’s plain, but I can find nothing in the way of molding to match it. What should I do? – R.O.

A: Probably the easiest thing to do is mold one out of clay. Check your hobby store for one that will harden quickly and can be sanded and painted. Mold it by hand and tools to match and, after it has hardened, you can finish it to match perfectly with a little more tooling and some paint.


Our sinks have automatic overflow devices, so why shouldn’t our toilets? Well, the Penguin Toilet does! Most clogs happen just at the drain opening in the toilet bowl. The Penguin Toilet has built-in overflow holes, so if the water gets too high in the bowl, it flows down into these holes and out the drain before it hits the rim and makes a huge mess for you to clean up. Check it out for sure at

Got a question or a handy tip? Send it to the Super Handyman at Those of general interest will be used in future columns.