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Is your home a Christmas decoration danger?

christmas-homeIt’s not so much the season to be jolly as to do yourself some damage, so it seems! Unfortunately Christmas can be a dangerous time, due to an overload of decorative lights, electrical leads trailing everywhere and festive candles glowing in every corner. So, as homes the length and breadth of the country are adorned inside and out, here’s how to stay safe this Christmas!

1. Christmas overload

No, we’re not talking too much turkey or watching an endless loop of Christmas repeats! Overloading your electric sockets can quickly lead to overheating, which could give you an electric shock or even cause a fire. Before plugging in your Christmas lights, invest in extension leads and sockets to distribute the load, and never plug an extension into an extension!

2. Tree-mendous

christmas-decorationsUsing last year’s fairy lights? Inspect them carefully for any damage that may have occurred whilst they were boxed up in the attic, checking the plug itself for cracks and the cable for stretched sections or bare wires in addition to looking for broken bulbs. Replace older tree lights with newer, extra low-voltage versions that have a transformer unit and/or a control unit close to the plug. LED lights are much safer than old-fashioned lights, as well as being cooler to the touch and more energy-efficient.

3. To the point

There’s often a spot of last minute DIY to be done once the presents have been opened, with batteries to be added and plugs to be prepared. But, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, many parents accidentally stab themselves by using scissors, rather than a screwdriver, to assemble toys, and people cut themselves with knives in their haste to open gift. And that’s before we start tripping over trailing leads and discarded wrapping paper, so take your time and take care!

4. Everything in the garden

dar-lighting A light-hearted competition with the neighbours to decorate homes and gardens can really bring out the Christmas spirit, but experts from the Institution of Engineering and Technology advise taking extra care with outdoor lights. Always use a residual current device (RCD), which can be identified by a test button on the consumer unit. Press the test button and then reset the device before plugging in the lights and, if RCD protection isn’t already installed, plug-in RCDs can be bought in good DIY shops.

5. Deck the halls

Believe it or not, about 1,000 people hurt themselves every year when decorating their homes for Christmas, according to RoSPA! Injuries include those sustained falling off chairs and ladders whilst hanging up decorations, falling out of the loft whilst retrieving them and children biting into glass baubles. Always keep glass and novelty decorations out of the reach of children and pets, ask someone to hold the ladder for you and never over-stretch yourself when reaching for the top of the tree!

6. Burning issue

Sadly, people are 50% more likely to die in a house fire over Christmas than at any other time of year. RoSPA’s advice is to never put candles on or near a Christmas tree and never leave a naked flame unattended. It’s safer to place tea lights in a suitable container away from the tree, as well as away from the TV and other electricals.

Inset 1: Dotcomgiftshop

Inset 2: Dar Lighting

Smart money is on the homes of the future!

biometrics

If you’re thinking about buying or renovating your dream home, you might want to wait a few years – as the technology enabling your property to make all your decisions for you could be on its way!

Future technology could take decisions about what to eat, what music to listen to and even whether to turn up the heating out of homeowners’ hands, instead using habit recognition to make independent choices for them – and saving them money!

According to home technology experts Finite Solutions, homes of the future will revolutionise the way we live, programming our living habits for the good of our wellbeing – and our bank balances. Smart gadgets will make decisions without ‘user intervention’ (that’s human thought to you and me!), with typical family homes connected by 500 devices!

Finite Solutions director Simon Mathieson believes that in just seven years’ time, small wrist devices to be worn around the home will ‘pair’ themselves to a person’s heartbeat, enabling it to automatically adjust the lighting and room temperature and even play music based on pre-programmed choices.

“According to world leading IT research company, Gartner, a wide range of domestic appliances will become smart in the sense of intelligent sensing with the ability to communicate and control the environment wirelessly,” said Mr Mathieson. “There will be no passwords; the future will be at biometric authentication with a strong protocol behind it.

shower“Using biometrics, the smart home of the future will decide on when to wake you up based on your schedule and sleep quality, and offer what to eat to promote a healthier diet. Sensors in the house will use fingerprints, body temperatures and heartbeat rhythms to differentiate between the family members and adapt to their preferences automatically, for example, adjusting the water temperature in the shower, adjusting the lighting and playing custom music to a person’s liking.”

Already, beds are available with integrated monitoring technology capable of telling you how long you slept, how much you moved, the depth of your sleep and your heart rate. This is to be replicated in the bathroom, with showers recognizing body mass and automatically switching to your favourite temperature, whilst a new Japanese invention under development is a toilet that can assess your waste, alerting you when there’s a problem and even book a doctor’s appointment!

Mr Mathieson said: “One of the biggest benefits of a smart home is the energy saving technologies available. The typical future house will rely on self-generated electricity and intelligently go off-grid when necessary to self-sustain. Lutron is one of the forthcoming companies offering smart lighting solutions… and Nest has been one of the dominating companies in the smart home industry with its smart thermostat.

“For the garden, the GreenIQ Smart Hub can be controlled through WiFi devices and can control your watering schedule, sprinklers, and outdoor lighting through a couple of buttons. It can actively respond to changing weather conditions in your local area over a period of time, monitoring the nearest weather station and responding accordingly.

“Ultimately, technology can be extremely practical and when used to its full potential becomes vastly more cost effective and beneficial to almost all family needs.”

Award winners Finite is one of the UK’s biggest custom installation firms and last year launched the country’s most technologically advanced, £1m show home, allowing property developers, architects, designers and their clients to road test high-tech, digital equipment.

Hunt is on for flooring most foul!

ugly-carpetsHere at DIY Advice Online, we’re usually keen to showcase only the most beautiful and inspirational home style. But, this time, we’re promoting the downright ugly!

Flooring specialist Posh Flooring is on the lookout for the UK’s ugliest carpet. The owner of the most hideous will win a fabulous £150 prize from special occasions firm Red Letter Day, as well as being able to brag that their flooring is officially the worst in the land!

Philadelphia-based cultural analyst Margaret J. King has commented: “There seems to be a contest between British carpets and British wallpaper. Where do these grotesquely wonderful patterns come from?” So why, as a nation, are we so obsessed with carpeting our homes – and why do we opt for some truly awful patterns?

Most kitchens, hallways and bathrooms are nowadays tiled or have laminate flooring. But you don’t have to look far to see a less than flattering carpet somewhere in the British home, which is why Posh Flooring wants to find the country’s worst.

Simply send a picture of your foul floor covering to @poshflooring on Twitter. If you don’t have your own, why not name and shame one of your friends or relatives if their carpet deserves a mention? Submit your photo alongside a short background on why you think this carpet is particularly dreadful, and let Posh Flooring judge for themselves!

Posh Flooring is a Leeds-based online flooring retailer, with warehouses in Leeds, London, Southampton, Coventry and Cardiff. Luckily, their flooring is not at all hideous, so take a look at www.poshflooring.co.uk!