In August, you're no doubt still enjoying the last moments of a bright and shiny summer. But between runs through the neighborhood and plenty of outdoor parties or barbecues, it's important to prepare for the months ahead. Fall doesn't officially begin until mid-September, but now's the time to make sure you're ready for the season's unique demands. That includes safeguarding your personal health as well as your home. Follow these four handy tips to tread safely into fall:

1. Run some maintenance
Before fall sets in, it's a good idea to make sure your home is properly prepared. First and foremost, you'll want to change the batteries in both your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms. If you have any fire extinguishers handy, be sure they're replaced if they've passed the expiration date. You should also check on your home's fireplace. Just before the cold weather sets in, make sure a specialist does a through inspection, as even the smallest leaks can be a hazard. For the best specialist, go through your local Better Business Bureau.

2. Get cleaning
We've all heard of spring cleaning, but did you know it's just as essential for the fall? Not only are you preparing your house, but you're taking steps to protect the health and well-being of your entire family. Real Simple outlined a cleaning checklist, and there are several items for both inside and outside the house. For starters, clean your windows, gutters, carpets, walls and any patio furniture. You should also declutter your attic and closets. If you use gardening equipment, now's a good time to drain and store it. Finally, take care of your furniture with a thorough vacuuming.

3. Stay alert
No matter the season, the most important way to maintain your health and safety is to make sure you pay attention. For fall, that means turning your eye to the weather forecast and watching for changes. It may be a good idea to start keeping a jacket or umbrella with you for when storms roll in. As you're preparing your house, it's also important you take steps to protect yourself. If you're lifting anything heavy, always do so by bending at the knees, never the back, and keeping your legs planted for support. Never lift anything on your own if you think it's too heavy.

4. Prepare for flu season
The fall is flu season, and each year millions of people across the U.S. struggle with aches, fever and congestion. But before we're in the midst of it all, August and the end of summer is the perfect time to get your annual flu shot. You'll need at least two weeks to be fully protected, and you'll need to be prepared for potential side effects, like headaches and vomiting. And while you're preparing, make sure to reinforce to your kids the best anti-flu measures. That means covering their noses and mouths and frequent hand-washing, especially at crowded outdoor venues.

When you get your flu shot, you can always head to your nearest CareWell Urgent Care Center. With highly trained physicians at every location, CareWell's staff can make sure you're fully prepared for the fall season and beyond.