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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Four Great Winter Activities to Get Your Family Outdoors in Saint Paul

Don’t let the snow keep you indoors this winter. Bundle up the kids and get ready to kick that cabin fever as your family enjoys all the great winter activities, programs, and events Saint Paul has to offer.

Ice Skating

Ice Rink Locations
Saint Paul has fourteen locations with general skating rinks, as well as the Winter Skate refrigerated rink at Landmark Plaza and three refrigerated hockey rinks located at Phalen, North Dale, and Palace recreation centers. At the time of this post, North Dale, Palace, and Landmark Plaza are open, as well as several other rinks throughout the city. There is no cost to skate at Saint Paul ice rinks. For information on rink conditions, warming facility times, additional locations, and other information, visit the Ice Rink page.

Skating Lessons
For those who aren’t ready to hit the rink on their own just yet, Saint Paul Parks and Recreation offers skating lessons at Groveland, Langford Park, Phalen, North Dale, North West Como and Palace ice rinks. Children will learn all the fundamentals, including forward and backward skating, stopping, and falling safely. Lessons begin in January and online registration is available.

Family Skating Parties

Create memories at a Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Family Skating Party this winter! Parties take place in January at Hayden Heights, Phalen, Langford Park, North Dale, and North West Como recreation centers. Additional activities vary by location, but may include winter arts and crafts, snow games, hot chocolate, snacks, bonfires, snowshoeing and other winter themed activities. Family Skating Parties are free of charge. More information can be found online, or by calling the recreation center.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Cross Country Skiing
Cross country skiing is a great way to have fun outdoors and get a full body workout at the same time. Saint Paul Parks and Recreation offers groomed cross country trails for classic and skate skiing at Como Park Ski Center, Highland 9 Golf Course, and Phalen Golf Course. There is no cost to cross country ski with your own equipment. Cross country ski rentals and lessons are available at Como Park Ski Center. For cross country trail maps, conditions, and more information, visit the cross country ski website.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

Who says you have to leave town to have a great time on the slopes? The Como Park Ski Center features two rope tows and a 150 foot vertical drop on 15 skiable acres. The Como Park Ski Chalet offers a warm retreat with restrooms, concessions and rental equipment. Snowboard and downhill skiing lessons are available in December and January for ages four and up. For hours, admission prices, rental rates, and other information, visit the Como Park Ski Center website.

Sledding Hills 

Feel the wind in your hair and the chill on your cheeks as you glide down a slope of fresh powder at a Saint Paul sledding hill. Saint Paul Parks and Recreation offers fourteen great sledding hills located at parks and recreation centers around the city. Hill slopes range from gentle to steep. There is no cost to slide. Check out a map and full list of locations on the sledding hill website.

Other Winter Activities
We could have listed 100 great winter activities in Saint Paul, but we will let you browse the rest yourself in our Winter/Spring Activity Brochure. Inside you will find more fun family programs and events such as Snow Cave Making, Geocaching on Snowshoes, Family Snowman Making, Ice Fishing, and more! Registration is available online for many activities.

Bonus: The Como Park Zoo is open seven days a week, 365 days a year. Hours are 10am-4pm through March. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Have a Happy and SAFE Holiday Season

The holidays are a time for family festivities and good cheer, but unfortunately the holidays also present an increased risk of home fires. Cooking, candles, Christmas trees, and other holiday decorations all contribute to this seasonal increase in fires. Add to that the often hectic nature of the holidays, and the chance for home fires grows even more. However, with a little added awareness and a few safety precautions, most home fires can be prevented.
  • December is the peak time of year for candle fires, and more than half of all candle fires start when things that burn are too close to the candle. Consider the following:
  • Using a battery-operated flameless candle – there are many now that look and smell like real candles without the fire risk.
  • If you use a traditional candle, use a holder that’s sturdy and won’t tip over easily and place on a flat, uncluttered surface. 
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.
  • Blow out all candles whenever you leave the room or go to bed, and never leave a child alone in a room with a lit candle.

Christmas Trees
Although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be serious – an average of one in every 40 Christmas tree fires in the U.S. result in death.
  • If you use an artificial tree, make sure it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant. 
  • If you use a real tree, choose one that has fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. 
  • Before you place it in the stand, cut two inches from the base of the trunk. 
  • Add water daily to the tree stand to keep your tree from drying out. 
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from all heat sources, including fireplaces, radiators candles, or heat vents – a heat source too close to the tree causes one in every six Christmas tree fires.
  • Never use candles to decorate the tree! 
  • After Christmas, get rid of the tree. 
  • Do not leave the tree within 10 feet of your home or garage. 
  • In this dramatic video, you can see how a dry Christmas tree becomes completely engulfed in flames and spreads to the entire room in less than a minute.

  • Some lights are for indoor or outdoor use only, while others can be used indoors and outdoors, so be sure to read the label to make sure you’re using the right kind of lights for the location. 
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. 
  • Connect no more than 3 strings of mini lights or a maximum of 50 screw-in bulbs. 
  • Read the manufacturer’s directions for the number of strings of LED lights you can connect. 
  • Turn off all light strings before leaving your home or going to bed.

Holiday Entertaining
  • Make sure you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Test each of them monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
  • Ask smokers to smoke outside and keep their smoking materials with them so children don’t have access to them. Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers. 
  • Stay in the kitchen and look when you cook! Keep anything that can catch fire at least 3 feet away from the stovetop and turn off burners when you leave the kitchen, even if it’s for a short period of time. 
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Slide the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it’s completely cooled. 
  • Never put water on a cooking oil fire.  For an oven or microwave fire, leave the door closed and turn off the heat. 

Project Safe Haven
Saint Paul homeowners can help make sure their homes are safe for the holidays by participating in Project Safe Haven. Through this free program, homeowners will get a brochure with a home safety checklist, and you can have Saint Paul firefighters come to your home to make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are installed correctly and working. They will also provide you with and install smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and stovetop fire extinguishers for free if you need them. 
For more information about Project Safe Haven, call 651-228-6273 or go to and click on the link for Project Safe Haven and let us help you make your home a safe haven from fire.