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Friday Facts: Government Information You Can Use

This Week's Facts:

-Resources Offer Tips on Fun & Safe Gifts for Kids

-Online Service Tracks Winter Road Conditions

-State Provides Advice on Preparing for Winter Weather

-Spending Plans Help Avoid Holiday Debt

-GPO App Offers Instant Info on Elected Officials

Document of the Month: Report of the Board of State Charities

The Board of State Charities was appointed by the Governor, by authority of an act of the State Legislature February 28, 1889. These reports offer an historic and insightful look into Indiana’s various institutions and prisons. Included in the annual reports are individual reports on institutions such as the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ and Orphans’ Home, the Institution for Feeble-Minded Youth, the Institution for the Blind, and others. The Board Secretary’s jail visits are also recorded by county. These recordings provide insight into county jail structures, upkeep & recommendations for improvement. The Board Report of 1890 includes the Laws of Indiana Relating to County Jails and County Poor Asylums. Later reports changed title as the department changed names – to reports of “Department of Public Welfare.” They provide rosters of the Boards, statistics for the institutions, and brief descriptions and histories. These provide historians and curious patrons about Indiana’s Institutions and care of the poor and indigent. The Board Reports can be found in the Indiana Collection under I 360 I385ar for the years 1890 through 2000.

GPO App Offers Instant Info on Elected Officials

Attention smart phone users! The U.S. Government Printing Office is proud to release its first app. This new tool is based on the Guide to House and Senate Members and allows users to search for and find quick information on members of Congress. You can browse by last name, chamber, party, or state, and search by first or last name. Although it’s almost a year away, we’re already hearing a lot about the 2012 election. Use this app to find information about presidential candidates currently serving in Congress, or about incumbent members of Congress seeking re-election. Visit this press release from GPO to access the app, either by clicking on the link provided or scanning the QR code on their page.

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Friday Facts Editorial Team:

Katharine Springer
State Data Center Coordinator

Elisabeth Hedges
Federal Documents Librarian
&

Kim Brown-Harden
State Documents Coordinator

Indiana Federal Depository Library Program

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Resources Offer Tips on Fun & Safe Gifts for Kids

Safe Gifts for KidsThe holiday season is officially underway, which means that most of us are buying presents for our loved ones. Children are generally the most fun to buy for, but it is important to think about safety when you’re purchasing presents for them. For that reason, December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month. The Department of Health and Human Services has several tips on how to choose safe toys: check labels for fire hazards; avoid toys with small parts and sharp edges; and make sure your toys are sturdily constructed. Check out this flyer from the HHS and this one from Healthfinder for more information and advice. Although both were published a few years ago, the information is still highly relevant. Additionally, be sure to visit SaferProducts.gov, a product of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. This is a great site to visit if you want to search for product recalls and reports, and even to report an unsafe project yourself!

Online Service Tracks Winter Road Conditions

TrafficWise: Your link to smart travelIt’s the first snow of the season… and guess what? Accidents on the interstates and roadways! The Indiana State Police provide resources to keep you safe while driving this winter. The first thing to remember before driving is to be prepared: Before traveling, check the forecast and let someone know where you’re going. Keep your gas tank full. Carry a winter driving kit that includes a blanket, flashlight, sand (or cat litter), shovel, candle, matches, non-perishable food, first-aid kit, jumper cables, and a cell phone. Also remember to drive according to the road conditions. Allow extra time to get to your location; clear your windows of ice and snow; and remove snow from hood and taillights. Slow down to increase traction; don’t use cruise control on slick roads; avoid quick stops and starts; & use slow beam headlights to decrease glare. If you do become stranded, don’t leave your car. It’s your best protection. Tie a brightly colored cloth to your antenna if you need help and roll down your window a small amount to get fresh air. These and other safety tips are available on the Indiana State Police website. Beginning December 1 through March 31st, you can check road conditions at 800-261-7623 or the Traffic Wise website to get travel conditions around the State as well as the Midwest. Safe winter driving can help save your life as well as other Hoosiers on the road.   Drive safely!

State Provides Advice on Preparing for Winter Weather

IDHS: Winter WeatherIt seems hard to believe, but winter is on the way. Do you know how to keep yourself and your family safe?  Winter weather’s severity caused Governor Daniels to issue a winter weather preparedness week proclamation in November. Winter will officially be here December 22nd and last through late March.    The Indiana Department of Homeland Security  has resources and information to keep you safe during winter storms, safety tips for your home, and overall winter preparedness. For many Hoosier families, alternative heat sources can provide warmth and comfort, but they can also be dangerous. For those using space heaters, fireplaces, and other heat sources please review the heating safety tips to avoid fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other dangers associated with heating sources.   If you or someone you know needs help with heating bills, contact your community action agency for assistance and information. Remember to be safe and healthy during this winter season.

Spending Plans Help Avoid Holiday Debt

USA.gov: Frugal Holiday PlanningStart by creating a holiday spending plan. Decide how much you can afford to spend this season. Include gifts, travel, parties, decorations, and any other holiday expenses. Consider discussing the plan with your family members. Look at how much you’ll earn between now and the holidays and determine how much you’ll need to set aside each paycheck to save the amount you need.

Make a list of the people you’re giving gifts. Decide how much you can spend on each one. If you have specific gifts in mind for each person, start comparing prices online and keep an eye out for discounts and sales.

Keep track of what you spend. If you find that you don’t need to spend as much as you thought in some categories, shift the extra funds to others. Or, save the money and give yourself the gift of a head start in the New Year.

Avoid impulse purchases. Instead, make a note of the product, where you saw it and how much it was. Consult your spending plan, and, if there’s room, return for the purchase. Using cash, like three quarters of Americans say they do for most of their holiday purchases, can also help you avoid splurges, as well as potentially costly fees or interest from debit cards, credit cards, layaway, or store financing.

Leave your credit cards at home unless you know you need them for a specific purchase and you have a specific plan to repay the debt.

Check the details when purchasing a gift card. Any fees that may be imposed in connection with the card will be provided on or with the card. Dormancy, inactivity and service fees (that is, fees for using or not using the card) are not allowed unless you don’t use the card for a year. If the card has an expiration date for the funds, it will also be listed on the card. The Federal Trade Commission has more information on buying, giving, and using gift cards.

Low-cost ways to give

Having trouble buying gifts for every one of your friends and family members? Chances are they are, too. Consider different ways to make the holidays fun without breaking your budget.

  • Holiday gift exchange: Draw names and only buy a gift for the person you choose.

  • Make something special: Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you make yourself.

  • Give your time: Offer to provide a service, such as cleaning or cooking a meal, for a day, a month, or the year.

This article is brought to you courtesy of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau blog and was written by Dan Rutherford, a Senior Content Specialist in the Office of Financial Education. For more holiday planning and prep tips, check USA.gov for 12 Days of Holiday Tips.

 

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