New Year Checklists: A few important things to check on this January

Making New Year’s resolutions is a long-standing tradition.  Who hasn’t resolved to exercise regularly, eat more healthily, or spend less time in front of the screens?  Alas, who hasn’t also failed to keep even the best intended resolutions?  We tend to set goals that are too general or too sweeping.  But January is also a good month to make a checklist — a list of specific, simple things you can get done and check off.  There are a lot of tasks that need to be accomplished periodically — for many of them once a year is often enough. Marking the start of a new year in a month that has short days and long cold nights, and is also the beginning of the onslaught of winter in central Illinois, is a perfect time to remember those things you’ve put off all year and get them done!  Here are some suggestions to put on the list:


  • Test life-saving warning devices, like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and change the batteries if they are replaceable
  • Check that fire extinguishers are still charged.  Make sure the pressure gauge is in the green — if not, replace it or get it recharged
  • Clean or replace filters — furnace, range hood, humidifiers, water, etc.
  • Check outdoor lighting and replace burned-out bulbs, or consider getting better and more effective bulbs and fixtures that are now available
  • Last, but certainly not least, maintenance is particularly important for our elderly or disabled loved ones, for whom winter can be extra challenging.  The National Institute of Health provides a number of suggestions you may wish to keep in mind when checking on elderly loved ones and visiting their homes.


  • Organize and file (either electronically or on paper) all the important documents you’ve gathered over the past year — instruction manuals, serial numbers, important receipts, insurance policies, etc.
  • Same for the “stuff”; it’s an especially good time to organize, while weeding out and selling, discarding, or donating what you don’t need and haven’t used in the past year

Updates to lists, plans, and emergency kits

Things change, and even the best prepared have to keep things up to date.  We focused on some of the financial, estate planning, and insurance issues last January.  If you haven’t done those, now is a good time.  But even if you have, updates are required for these and other items:

  • Household inventories for insurance purposes
  • Beneficiary lists
  • Emergency plans, especially emergency contact lists
  • Some items in emergency kits expire — batteries, food, water, etc. Kids are another year older; is the stuff you included for them still appropriate?
  • Check first-aid kits for replacing medicines and supplies that have been used or are out dating
  • A good time also to make sure your car emergency supplies are up to date, especially with things needed for winter, like ice scraper’s, etc.

We hope you have a great new year and find these suggestions helpful for getting off to a great start!

Happy New Year!

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