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Make resolutions to last throughout year

Every New Year, do you make the same old resolutions? Go to the gym, quit smoking, be more organized. Then, like many people, do you abandon these goals within a month or two?

Here are some resolutions you can make -- and keep -- that will benefit not only you, but also your family, your community and your world.

Improve your home's safety

There are a lot of little things you can do around the house to give yourself big peace of mind that your family is protected from all-too-common household accidents.

For example, to avoid electrical shocks, place covers over all outlets and tie up or unplug cords so they don't dangle temptingly in front of toddlers or pets. Inspect appliance cords and immediately replace any that are worn, old or damaged.

Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at lease three feet from all heaters. Make sure electrical appliances are used and stored away from wet floors and counters.

Your home's windows need to be accessible in case your family has to use them as an escape route. Make sure they are not nailed or painted shut, and if they have security grates, test the release mechanisms, to make sure they work.

On the other hand, windows can pose a falling hazard. Make sure screens are secure, and keep furniture, or anything children can climb, away from window ledges.

Save money by going green

Prices for fuel oil, propane and electricity are expected to rise this winter, so even the smallest improvements could help your family's budget.

Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents. You can save up to three quarters of the electricity used by the non incandescent. Put an insulating blanket on your water heater.

Conserve water, and reduce your water bill by making simple changes such as running dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are full and taking showers instead of baths and turning off water when shampooing or soaping.

De-clutter and help others

Especially in these tough economic times, donating your unused items to charity could be a lifesaver for homeless or needy families. If it's in good condition, out of style or outgrown, these clothes could keep a family warm during the cold winter months.

Many local charities also accept donations of household items that are in working order -- that lamp, toaster or set of dishes gathering dust in the garage could help furnish a home for a needy family. When you redecorate or remodel, don't put out of style but usable home furnishings such as light fixtures, bathroom vanities and even door knobs in the garbage.

Check with our local Habitat for Humanity and other organizations such as the Boys' and Girls' Club Thrift Store that may be able to re-sell them and the proceeds may help build Habitat Homes or support an organization.

This information brought to you by the Lake Region Builders' Association...helping to make our communities a better place to live. For more information about this association, contact the Lake Region Builders Association at or the National Association of Home Builders Web site