what to do during winter

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:52

    whether we like it or not, old man winter will soon be breathing down our backs. It's time to put away the lawn furniture and make room for the snow shovels. But have you ever considered how your actions, or lack there of, affect those around you? With the help of some local businesses, and residents, all informally polled, here are some of the most popular pet-peeves regarding winter do's and don'ts. Oh! That back breaking chore of raking leaves…for those of you who don't partake in this fall ritual, please ask your landscape service not to blow your leaves into the street. They will no doubt end up on your neighbor's property. You know, the guy who spent the entire weekend raking, and has 10 leaf filled bags, neatly sitting in a row at the curb. Christine Aloisio, school nurse for Helen Morgan asks parents to remind children to use tissues, cover their mouths when sneezing and coughing, and wash hands regularly. "Please, for the sake of your child and others at school, keep sick children whose fever rises to and above 100, home for at least 24 hours. Use your best judgment, when sending them back to school. Sometimes that extra day is all they need. If you're unsure, put yourself in their shoes, could you function for seven hours in their condition"? Unless you've been out of the country, you're probably aware of the flu shot shortage. It's human nature to want what we can't have, and everyone this year seems to really want the flu shot. But be considerate to those who truly are at risk. Most likely it's just your kids making you feel really, really old and vulnerable! Call your town's health department for details about requirements. So relax and curl up in front of a warm cozy fireplace. But before you do, where is your wood pile located? You know all that wood you recently chopped in preparation for the long cold winter. According to Jeff Barnett, of A. Bailey Industries Termite and Pest Control of Sparta, many people make the mistake of keeping their stock of wood too close to their home, or the homes around them risking termite and carpenter ant infestations. "Some even keep wood in their garages, which is a mistake. Most trees are cut down because they are diseased or riddled with insects. Keep wood far away from homes. Fill a log ring with only the amount of wood you intend to use that day." Barnett suggests that lady bugs deserve more respect and should not be exterminated because they devour many undesirable insects. Bird feeders are another point of contention among home owners. According to Barnett, bird feeders attract rodents looking for a good meal and a warm place to live … your house, or the house of your innocent, unsuspecting neighbor. The guy you barbequed with last summer, the one with the great deck. (You can almost hear those little buggers munching away) And speaking of wildlife, "Stop feeding the deer, they are wild animals, not pets," advises Sgt. Russell Smith. "People think they're doing these animals a favor by feeding them during the cold months, when they're actually hurting them in the long run. They lose their ability, their instinct to find their own food and fend for themselves. Your neighbors have spent a lot of money on landscaping and won't appreciate it all being destroyed by deer and other wildlife." The wildlife that you invite to your holiday parties however, is a whole different animal. But be warned, many Sussex County municipalities have ordinances against noise after 10 p.m., instituted for the well being of you and surrounding residents. The solution to a long, successful party: invite your neighbors. But be kind to your guests by informing them of the parking rules for your town or street. Nothing ruins that holiday cheer like a towed or ticketed car. When attending a party, don't block the driveways of other home owners on the street. Having no place to park even remotely close to one's home tends to upset people. (Another good argument for inviting your neighbors: additional, prime parking.) When invited to a party this holiday season, bring the dish you volunteered to bring. The hostess is counting on it to balance out the menu. Changing your mind for your convenience leaves the buffet table shy of hot dishes and overloaded with the easier alternatives of salads and desserts. Sussex County residents recently felt the temperatures drop past freezing. But fortunately the ground is not yet frozen so you still have time to be kind to your snow plow man. Help him see his boundaries and save your lawn from being torn up by placing reflective dowels in the ground between your driveway and the grass or edging material, to be used as a visual guide when everything is snow covered. If however you do not hire a plowing service, the Sparta Police Department cautions home owners about shoveling snow into the street. "It is dangerous and inconsiderate, creating a driving hazard that puts others at risk" states Sgt. Smith. If you're the lucky one in the family, you're inside a warm house while everyone else is disposing of snow outside. But have you given any thought or consideration to the person responsible for your toasty warm home? What he sometimes goes through to make your oil delivery? Charlie Brand, president of Hart and Iliff Fuel and Energy Systems says "It is often difficult for the drivers to get to the fill pipes in the snow." He recommends homeowners be kind and clear a path to, and mark fill pipes. The same consideration should be extended to meter readers. Don't settle for an estimated reading, you deserve a true meter reading which accurately assesses your usage. Now is the time to trim those bushes near your meter before they become lethal icicles. If you want to show good winter etiquette to your mail carrier, Tony Gonnella, Post Office supervisor in Sparta asks homeowners to please have mercy and dig out their street mailbox following a snow fall. "We have roughly 9,000 deliveries here in Sparta. Please salt and shovel your walkways as well. If it's not safe for you to walk on, it's not safe for us either." Gonnella offers another bit of postal etiquette. "For everyone's consideration during this busy mail season, please have your packages properly labeled and envelopes stamped ahead of time. Although we are here to assist you, it will help to move a long line faster if you have an idea of how you want to mail your items before you get to the counter." Christmas comes and goes so quickly. The gifts, the holiday cards, entertaining, decorations, Christmas trees … oh those Christmas trees. Nothing is more depressing after the holidays than seeing those once cherished trees that once proudly displayed shimmering ornaments, the tree the whole family lovingly gathered around, now sitting, lifeless and alone in the gutter waiting for weeks to be hauled away. Although you may be anxious to put Christmas behind you, consider calling your waste disposal company or town to find out when discarded Christmas trees are scheduled to be picked up and hold off on hauling them to the curb until then. The most important, and life saving "do's and don'ts" this winter according to Sgt. Smith is "Don't" drink and drive and "Do" arrange to have a designated driver. "Obeying the laws and driving cautiously on slick roads will keep everyone safe.