Kids and Devices

Don’t Let Those Smart Toys You Got Your Kids Outsmart You: Tips From the BBB

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The Better Business Bureau CT urges parents to check out the connected toys and games they buy for their children. You may be surprised to find that, with some toys, privacy is not included. Don’t let your children’s smart toys outsmart you. Do you homework before bringing a smart toy home. — an announcement from the Better Business Bureau of Connecticut

Teddy bears once filled with stuffing are now hard-wired with smart technology.

Gift Cards Jan Mayen Wikimedia Commons

How to Avoid Problems With Buying Gift Cards: Tips From the FTC

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Gift cards are one quick way to get through your last-minute holiday shopping list. But before you give (and get) gift cards, here are a few things you need to know. — This article is from the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information blog. Cristina Miranda works in the FTC Division of Consumer and Business Education. Inspect gift cards before you buy. A gift card should have all its protective stickers in place.

Winter driving photo from AAA

Don’t Let a Cold Snap Make You a Non-Starter: Do Car Maintenance for the Winter Soon

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Cars, like humans, need seasonal checkups; in cold winter weather such as this week’s anticipated cold snap, it’s important to maximize fuel efficiency, maintain safety, and ensure your vehicle can start for the worst winter has in store for us. — an announcement from AAA Northeast
So now is the time to get cranking on car maintenance, says AAA Northeast. “No one wants to be stranded in the cold,” said Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast spokeswoman. “So properly preparing your vehicle for cold weather is essential – before your vehicle breaks down. You’ll save time, money and aggravation when the mercury dives into the teens or single digits.”
To prepare, AAA Northeast offers drivers these cold weather car tips:
Batteries: If your battery is more than three years old, have it and the charging system tested.  Even a good battery can lose up to 50% of its capacity when temperatures drop to zero.  At 32 degrees, it takes up to 30% more power to start a cold engine.

Christmas lights Eversource

When Decorating for the Holidays, Consider Safety, Saving Energy and Money: Some Tips

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With the holiday season upon us, neighborhoods are starting to twinkle with festive light displays inside and out. Here are some safety tips were recently announced by Eversource on lighting and the New Canaan Fire Marshal’s Office on other decorations, as well. ( added the boldface, not to add urgency but to make the tips quicker to scan so you can concentrate on the ones you don’t already follow.)

“Before putting up holiday decorations, it’s important to inspect them to ensure they’re not broken or damaged — check lighted displays for cracked sockets, frayed wires or loose connections,” said Ken Bogler, Eversource vice president of safety. “When decorating outside, we remind people to work from a stable surface and to always be aware of any power lines or other hazards that might be nearby.”

More Safety Tips:

Never run extension cords under rugs or coil them tightly, which can cause them to overheat
Water and electricity do not mix so keep outdoor connections off the ground
Check labels to ensure lights are used properly — outside light are labeled for outdoor use
All the parts of the lights need to be dampness and temperature-proof
Check extension cords for wear, and plug outdoor lights and decorations into GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets
Use advanced power strips where possible for all holiday lighting to eliminate standby energy loss

Customers can save money and protect the planet by replacing traditional incandescent lights with an energy-efficient light-emitting diode, or LED, holiday decoration. Not only do LEDs use 80 percent less energy than conventional bulbs, they last longer, and they are brighter and safer, as they are much cooler than incandescent lights.

Winter Train Railroad Metro-North Snow Tracks

NEWS FLASH! Wintry Weather Makes Getting Around More Dangerous — Quick Tips to Review

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No, it isn’t news that winter weather makes it more dangerous to get around, and in general, you know you need to be more careful driving, walking or even taking the train in bad weather. And you’ve probably been amazed at some of the people who don’t get that. But it might be a good idea to take a minute to quickly review some tips to make sure you don’t look like some of those people. Here’s what the AAA and Metro-North say:
Driving Tips from AAA Northeast
From an AAA Northeast announcement:
Forecasters are predicting a messy afternoon and evening commute today with snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain. Here are some reminders from AAA Northeast about driving in winter conditions:

Take the time to clear snow and ice from your vehicle.

AAA Mature Driving Course AAA Northeast

AAA Offers Free Driver Class for Mature Drivers at Darien Police Department

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Experienced Fairfield County motorists can lower their auto insurance costs while improving their driving skills when they enroll in AAA’s Driver Improvement Program classes that teach the basics of defensive driving and provide current driving practice updates. — an announcement from AAA Northeast
AAA will conduct a free four-hour driver improvement class from 4 to 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 10 at the Darien Police Department, 25 Hecker Ave. Darien Police Officer T. Courtney Isaac, a certified AAA Northeast driving improvement instructor, will lead the class. To register, go to  or call 866-901-8457.  However, walk-ins are welcome.

Winter driving photo from AAA

AAA: About 46% of Bad-Weather Crashes Are in Winter, With 2,000 Deaths

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Dangerous winter storms, bad weather and sloppy road conditions are a factor in nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The foundation has suggestions for driving and how to prepare in case you get into a winter crash. — an announcement from AAA Northeast; infographics from AAA Newsroom Web pages
About 46 percent of all crashes involving bad weather take place in the winter. AAA encourages drivers to be vigilant when hitting the road this winter and to always stay prepared by carrying an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle. “Winter weather is forecast for this weekend, and there are a disproportionate number of crashes this time of year involving bad weather and winter storms,” said Alec Slatky, AAA Northeast director of public and government affairs.