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It’s hard to believe that kids will be heading off for college in the next few weeks, it feels like summer just started!  While my own daughter has a few years to go, many of her friends will be starting their freshman year and it got me to thinking about all of the stuff needed to outfit a college dorm.  While they might be thinking design I’m thinking safety and practicality. 

Here are a few items you might not have considered sending your son or daughter off to college with:

Tower Power Strip with USB

There are a lot of products to charge and overloading an extension cord is a serious fire hazard.  In fact, overloaded extension cords are one of the leading causes of fires in college housing.  Overloaded extension cords, power cords and outlets can overheat and when cords overheat, they can also deteriorate quickly and cause a potential shock/fire hazard.

I love this Tower Power Strip as it has 6 adapter-friendly outlets and 4 USB ports and is designed to handle larger adapters without the cords getting tangled.

The built-in Smart IC automatically detects and delivers the optimal charging current for all connected devices and charges at full speed.

Most importantly the on/off light switches with an integrated circuit breaker for overload and overcurrent protection.

First Alert Fire Extinguisher Aerosol Spray

Along with overloaded power cords, candles left burning and smoking are the other most common causes of fires in dorms.  A traditional fire extinguisher is intimidating to most people and they’re unsure who they are supposed to use it.  Fortunately, there are small, easy-to-use fire extinguisher aerosol sprays that can be kept in a dorm room.

Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Combo

If your child’s in class and a fire breaks out or there’s a CO leak the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm combo will alert her remotely.  This smart alarm — which costs less than $100 — detects problems, identifies the severity of the issue, and alerts you with a calm voice or remote alert. You can then check in on the alarm and silence it from any connected mobile device.


If you have a child who tends to be disorganized and is constantly misplacing things it’s a good idea to send her off to school with some Tiles. Tile is a tracking gadget that uses Bluetooth technology to help you keep track of everything from keys to your phone. Simply tag the items you want to track, and you’ll never frantically search for a lost item again. You can ring your missing items if they’re in a 100-foot radius or use GPS to find out where you last had the item.

Yak About It Locking Safe Trunk

Theft happens more often than colleges would like to admit.  From small items to laptops, cameras or money make sure your child has some place to lock up valuables while she’s away from her room.  The Yak About It trunk offers lots of space for a laptop, books and other larger items and small shelves for a passport, money or medication.  It’s easy to put together and doesn’t take up a lot of room but will keep everything safe.

Sending your child off to school with a few safety items might not be top on their priority list but it can certainly help give you a bit more peace-of-mind.

Every year there are thousands of home fires and hundreds of fatalities due to Christmas tree fires.  This video just released by the Consumer Products Safety Commission is a harsh illustration of what can occur.

Here are some tips to help prevent Christmas tree fires and keep you and your family safe:

Choose the right lights

Try to use the cooler-burning “mini” Christmas lights as opposed to the traditional larger bulbs. The older style burns much hotter and can start fires. Don’t use numerous light cords attached to each other.  Purchase a cord specifically designed with multiple outlets along the wire.

Use a stand that fits your tree.

As a general rule, stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Avoid whittling the sides of the trunk down to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking up water and should not be removed.

Make sure it has enough water

Make a fresh cut to remove about a 1/2-inch thick disk of wood from the base of the trunk before putting the tree in the stand. Be sure that the water remains above the base at all times. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water.

Position the tree properly and protect it

Never place a tree near a heater or other source of heat.  If you have pets or small children in the house place a gate around the tree to prevent the pets from biting on the wires or having it fall down. Keep paper away from the lights.  This includes wrapped presents piled up and homemade Christmas ornaments made from paper.