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The American suburbs are unifying communities for many Americans. Overwhelmingly middle class and often very plain, they’re a great place to find people with the similar interests and experiences. While people often want to leave the suburbs, they’re a great place for average Joes to settle down when they’re finally ready. They’re usually uneventful, but they are safe. Well, for the most part.

Each season has its own challenges, and just because you live in a relatively low-risk place doesn’t mean your home is clean and free from germs. Additionally, there are natural disasters, robberies, and common household mistakes that may also threaten your family’s well-being. These change seasonally, so here are some cautionary tips on what to look out for when you live in suburbia, and how to stay safe and sanitary.

Spring

Those first few months following winter are known for allergens. Now, this is obviously pretty different than a cold or an actual illness, but it’s still wise to do some spring cleaning (pardon the cliche). Allergens can be tracked into the house the outside, especially if they’re plant-based (i.e. pollen).

Of course, the negative end of spring cliches is spring fever. Staying sanitary, eating well and keeping hydrated are ways to ward this off — essentially, health begets health. However, if you find that family members are sick and contagious, keep up with sanitary practices all the more. And while you’re doing spring cleaning, make sure to open some windows and let fresh air in — this is important for cleansing the air itself when it’s full of sick-person germs.

Summer

Just because it’s not cold and flu season, don’t be mistaken: Summer packs a punch. Obviously, the heat can be extremely dangerous for one’s skin. When it comes to summer skin care, there’s more to it than just using sunscreen, though that is of the top priority. But what about at home?

Well, first and foremost it’s important to stay hydrated. Heat exhaustion absolutely happens, and it comes when you least expect it. If you’re into gardening, know your geography. There are dangerous spiders and plants that can bring harm to you if you’re not careful and aware of what they look like, and they can thrive in home gardens. A home first aid kit equipped to handle poison may be a good idea if you live someplace where this is a problem for you.

It’s important not just to keep your kids safe from the heat but to also look out for them in summer activities. For instance, a lot of suburban houses have swimming pools in certain parts of the country. Unfortunately, swimming pool accidents happen, and it’s best to be aware of them. It’s good to have cold, refreshing glasses of water out for the kids while they’re swimming as well, even though they could run in and get hydrated on their own. You don’t want someone to faint from heat exhaustion while they’re swimming.

Fall

Ahhh fall — the beginning of cold and flu season. Because cold temperatures suppress human immune systems, people are more prone to catching colds and other illnesses. Additionally, any pre-existing conditions may be made worse if you’re not careful while your immune system is weaker. It’s important that from fall through the winter, you always wash your hands when you come in from outside.

Sometime in fall, before winter officially hits, it may start getting extremely cold, especially at night. If you choose to use a space heater or another electronic heating unit, you may find yourself staying healthier and not getting too cold. But be aware of how using all of that electricity could cause a fire. Always be aware of where your space heater is while it’s on and try not to run it when you don’t have to.

Winter

With the holiday season, school breaks and the hope of snow fun, winter is viewed by some as “the most wonderful time of the year.” But it is much colder, and because of this, it doesn’t take much for it to become the worst time of year. While cold and flu season begins in fall, the cold is typically at its worst in the winter, and your immune system may be even weaker than the season before. Keep washing your hands when you come in, but it’s important to keep your house warm and make sure you do regular cleaning after someone in your family is sick.

In keeping your house warm, you may discover that you have some extra maintenance or procedural checkups to take on your homefront, should the things you depend on to keep you warm and safe stop functioning.

For instance, if you never have, it would be a wise time to check for structural problems in your fireplace should you be using one. Sometimes they’ll be built improperly, with not enough insulation or incorrect valves that could cause dangerous situations such as carbon monoxide poisoning or electrical fires (depending on what kind of fireplace you have).

If you live in the midwest or toward the East Coast, you may also find that heavy snow can put your power out or freeze your pipes. In case these things happen, keep heavy blankets around, as well as candles. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to keep some hand sanitizer around your house and lukewarm bottles of water for such occasions.

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