Staying on top of house keeping


Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 12:32 a.m.
The first part of this list of things to do to get your house in order was published last week, but as everyone knows a homeowner's work (or that of an apartment dweller, for that matter) is never done.
This list of things to do around the house can sound imposing but tackling one task will lead to another and another. Start small.
Consider these suggestions, not commands, and spread them out over the year.
Get ready for June 1 Start preparing now for the next hurricane season: Decide how you'll protect your windows. Order shutters or replace your windows with impact glass, or cut plywood to size, label and store it now.
Start stockpiling other items you'll need: flashlights and batteries, wind-up or battery-operated radios, first-aid kit.
Prepare a home inventory, a list of everything you own with prices, receipts, photos. Go low-tech and do it on paper; go middle-tech and videotape it; go high-tech and put it on a disc or on a thumb drive that you store in a safe-deposit box or take with you.
Make copies of important documents and put them in a lockable box you can grab when you evacuate. Or scan them and store them digitally.
Include the kids Get an artist's portfolio or a big flat box to store the kids' artwork and school papers. At the end of each school year, whittle the stack down to, say, 10 items per year.
Buy school supplies in bulk so you aren't making midnight trips to the drugstore for notebook paper and markers.
Encourage the kids to let go of toys and games they've lost interest in or have outgrown. Pass them on to shelters or charity resale shops.
Photo ops Put your photos into albums or frames and enjoy them. Or sort the photos into boxes by year. Don't worry about making the perfect scrapbook.
The only school photo you need to have out is the kids' current one. Rotate the others into that album or box.
Throw out duplicate shots or bad photos.
Make this the year to have a really nice photo taken of your family. If you don't have good images of the grandparents, have those taken this year too.
In your home office Replenish supplies of envelopes, sticky notes, tape, mailing labels, pens, pencils, markers, file folders. Throw out the stubs and the pens that don't work; sharpen your pencils.
Stock up on greeting cards.
Buy a roll of postage stamps.
Update your address book.
Mark birthdays and other important dates on your 2007 calendar. If someone's birthday is at the beginning of the month, note it with a sticky note on the previous month so you have cards and gifts in plenty of time.
Clean out your files.
Photocopy all your credit cards and other cards you carry in your wallet. If your pocket is picked, you'll know what you've lost. Check your credit card statement to learn what to do if a card is lost or stolen and keep that information with your credit card copies.
In the car Have the car washed and waxed. Clean the inside, the console, the glove box and under the seats.
Get a new set of maps and a street finder.
Put together a car emergency kit: a can of flat fixer, a tire gauge, motor oil, window-cleaning solution, flares or snap lights, duct tape, pad and pen, a couple of envelopes, some change for tolls, paper towels, flashlight, premoistened towelettes or a canister of wipes.
Are license-tag frames cracked? Replace them.
Get a good travel mug and a trash container.
Find the owner's manual and learn how to reset the clock and program the radio.
Check the oil and other fluids.
In the garage Whose garage couldn't use a good sweeping out?
Safely dispose of old paint and household chemicals. Don't pour them down the sewer; check with your county for safe disposal sites. Get rid of scrap lumber and other odds and ends you know you'll never use.
Figure out what sort of hooks, racks or containers will make it easier to navigate: a locker for mops, brooms, household chemicals; bike racks; shelves with labeled boxes for small items.
Get a new hose, or a new nozzle.
Talk about the big stuff If you don't have a will, make this the year to write yours. If you have one, review it and make sure it still reflects your wishes.
Discuss end-of-life issues with your family. Name a medical surrogate to make decisions for you if you cannot about whether and under what circumstances you wish to be kept alive by artificial means. Talk to your surrogate and your family about what you want. Fill out the paperwork for a living will. To obtain free living will and health care surrogate forms, call the Florida Registry of Living Wills toll-free at 1-800-624-5498. Or contact the nonprofit Aging with Dignity for its ''Five Wishes'' living will form: toll-free 1-888-594-7437 or www.agingwith dignity.org.
Older persons may want to start discussions with their families and spiritual leaders about the kind of funeral they want (this can eliminate family quarrels) and about how they want their possessions distributed. Elders may be surprised that items they treasure are of little importance to their children. Better to learn that now and make alternate plans.
Make this the year to ask older relatives to tape-record their personal history and to help you sort through old family photos (they remember who's in the pictures).

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