December Can Be a New Beginning Too!

Well, it’s December! How did that happen?

Hello DecemberFor many of us, our lives are so hectic, it feels like we suddenly looked up at the calendar and 2017 is almost over. Thanksgiving is already a week behind us. Halloween was over a month ago. And summer … wow.

This time of year is especially hectic with so many holidays and end of year plans, that many of us tend to get a bit stressed out. Maybe you made resolutions last January and never followed through. Or you had a project you wanted to complete this year that you never got to.

It’s okay!

We are only human. If it didn’t happen, that’s okay. If it’s truly something you want to do, you can still do it. And maybe it’s just not a priority in your life right now.

Many people tend to look at December as an ending, rather than a beginning. After all, it’s the last month of year. Everything leads up to January 1. So people either give up on things or say, “I’ll wait until next year.” It doesn’t help that the days are shorter and colder and some people become depressed during the winter months.

But why wait?

Okay … okay … maybe because December tends to be crazy with holidays, shopping, decorating and visiting friends and family. That’s true. But if you wanted to start a diet or an exercise routine or plan a trip or a home renovation, you don’t have to wait until January to get started.

Why put off ’til January what you can do today? Do you want to try to lose a few pounds or start eating and living healthier? Start today. You will have a month head start on all those people who are waiting until January.

But the holidays are filled with cookies and pie and candy and …

Sad gingerbread manSo, if you start eating healthier now and slip a little bit as December rolls on, you are still ahead of the game. And there are ways to eat a little healthier around the holidays. Begin to add some exercise into your day. Start walking up and down steps at work instead of taking the elevator. Park a little bit further away in the parking lot (But always be careful. See our blog post on Holiday Shopping Safety).

Start looking into airline and hotel deals for that trip you have been wanting to take. There may be some excellent deals you can find now instead of waiting until the new year to book.

Planning a new kitchen or addition to your home? Or maybe just a freshening up with new paint? Retail stores are not the only ones with deals at this time of year. Pick up the supplies now or start putting feelers out for contractors so you’ll be ready to go when the new year rolls around.

December does not have to be an ending. Every day is a new day, whether it’s December 1, January 1 or May 1! So, get out there and start anew … a whole new December is waiting for you!


More Information:

SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder

AHA Holiday Healthy Eating Guide

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Wellness Wednesday: Fireworks Safety

Each July 4th, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks—devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death.

Firework Background - 4th July Independence day celebrationFireworks are no joke. They are not toys and should not be handled by children or even by untrained adults. However, if you (adults) are determined to use fireworks, you must put your safety and the safety of those around you above all else.

Fireworks by the numbers

  • Fireworks were involved in an estimated 11,900 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during calendar year 2015
  • An estimated 8,000 fireworks-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments during the one-month period between June 19 and July 19, 2015.
  • Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 26 percent of the estimated 2015 injuries. Forty-two percent of the estimated emergency department-treated, fireworks-related injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age. (Note that this means more than half of injuries were to adults over the age of 21!)
  • There were an estimated 1,900 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers and 800 with bottle rockets.

Ignited sparkler with the American flag in the backgroundFollow these safety tips

  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees—hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

Fireworks and pets

 

july-4-dog
Click to enlarge

More pets go missing on July 4th than any other day of the year. The days surrounding the holiday are the busiest at shelters because many pets get scared of the loud noises and strange burning smells and run off. Also, the additional people at holiday barbecues, leaving open doors and/or gates, can contribute. Even indoor cats who have never run off can go missing.

 

So pay close attention to your pets. Be sure you check all gates and doors throughout the day. Don′t allow your pets near any fireworks, candles or foods they shouldn′t eat. And always have a safe place for them to retreat, away from the noise.

Alternatives to fireworks

4th-of-July-Confetti-PoppersThere are other ways to celebrate the 4th of July. If you don′t have to stay home, enjoy a public display put on by professionals. If you are hosting a party or invited to one, here are some fun, child-friendly ideas:

  • Piñatas … You can purchase or make your own colorful paper-mache piñatas, filled with red, white and blue confetti and candy!
  • Confetti-filled balloons … fill balloons with red, white and blue confetti and let the kids pop them.
  • Glow in the dark toys and bubbles … great for after dark with no worry about fire.
  • Confetti poppers … again, incorporates the red, white and blue colorful display with a popping noise.
  • Noisemakers … always a hit!

Conclusion

Remember, fireworks can be dangerous, causing serious burn and eye injuries. You can help prevent fireworks-related injuries and deaths. By spreading the word and practicing safety at your next holiday barbecues.

Sources: National Council on Fireworks Safety, Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Fire Protection Association, Petfinder, Safe Kids and Protect America.


More Information:

Fireworks Safety Tips [PDF]

Fireworks Fact Sheet [PDF]

4th of July Piñata Balloons

4th of July Flag Balloon Game

DIY Confetti Poppers

 

Black History Month: African American Firsts

In celebration of Black History Month, below is an updated list from last year of just some of the important African American firsts in American history. Listed in chronological order, you’ll see that several of these “firsts” actually occurred in just the last 25 years.

The First African-American …

1773
Woman (known) to publish a book: Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral

1783
Doctor in the U.S. (unlicensed): Dr. James Durnham purchased his freedom after apprenticing with several doctors and opened his own practice until new laws prohibited him from practicing medicine unlicensed.

thomas jenning1821
Patent holder: Thomas L. Jennings, a ‘dry scouring’ process that was a precursor to modern-day dry cleaning.

1823
College graduate: Alexander Lucius Twilight (Bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College, Vermont)

1837
Medical doctor: James McCune Smith, MD (Graduated from the University of Glasgow in Scotland after being denied admission to American schools.)

1847
Medical doctor to earn a degree from a U.S. medical school: David Jones Peck, Rush Medical College, Chicago, Ill.

1863
Commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy: Robert Smalls

1864
Woman to earn a medical degree: Rebecca Lee Davis Crumpler, MDNew England Female Medical College, Boston, Mass.

1870
U.S. Senator (appointed): Hiram Rhodes Revels (Revels filled the seat left vacant by Jefferson Davis when Mississippi seceded from the Union.)

Mary_Eliza_Mahoney
Mary Eliza Mahoney

1878
Graduate of a formal nursing school: Mary Eliza Mahoney, New England Hospital for Women and Children, Boston, Mass.

1893
Surgeon to perform open heart surgery (of any race): Daniel Hale Williams, MD, Provident Hospital, Chicago, Ill.

1897
Psychiatrist: Solomon Carter Fuller, MD, Boston University School of Medicine

1904
Person to run for the presidency: George Edwin Taylor

1921
Licensed pilot: Bessie Coleman

1940
Oscar winner: Hattie McDaniel, supporting actress for Gone with the Wind

1947
Major league baseball player (20th Century): Jackie Robinson

1953
NFL quarterback: Willie Thrower

1956
Secret Service Agent: Charles LeRoy Gittens

1963-sidney-poitie_oscar
Sidney Poitier

1963
Best Actor Oscar: Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field

1966
U.S Senator (elected): Edward Brooke

1967
Astronaut: Robert H. Lawrence, Jr.

1975
MLB manager: Frank Robinson, Cleveland Indians

1992
Woman U.S. Senator: Carol Mosely Braun

condoleezza-rice-lg
Condoleezza Rice

2001
U.S. Secretary of State: Colin Powell
Best Actress Oscar: Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball

2005
Woman Secretary of State: Condoleezza Rice

2009
President: Barack H. Obama, elected Nov. 2008

Watermelon: A healthy, refreshing treat

WatermelonToday is National Watermelon Day! So here are some interesting facts about this healthy, delicious treat!

Watermelon is both a fruit AND a vegetable.

It is a fruit because it’s sweet and grows from a seed. But it’s also a vegetable because it is harvested and cleared from the field like other vegetables and is a member of the gourd family.

Watermelon helps relieve inflammation.

Watermelon contains more lycopene than tomatoes. One cup of watermelon has 1 ½ times the lycopene as a tomato. Lycopene is an inhibitor for inflammatory processes and works as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals.

Watermelon juice helps with muscle soreness.

Watermelon contains L-citrulline, an amino acid, which helps protect against muscle pain. Research shows that citrulline and arginine supplements derived from watermelon extract lead to significant improvements in blood pressure and cardiac stress.

Watermelon rind is edible.

Watermelon rind contains more of the amino acid citrulline than the pink flesh. Most people throw away the watermelon rind, but try putting it in a blender with some lime for a healthy, refreshing treat.

Watermelon is about 92 percent water.

Watermelon is an ideal health food because it doesn’t contain any fat or cholesterol, is high in fiber and vitamins A & C and is a good source of potassium.

Watermelon is good for the brain.

Watermelon is a mind booster because of its richness in Vitamin B6 which has high influence for proper functioning of brain.

Wellness Wednesday: Fireworks Safety

Independence dayWe’re coming up on the 4th of July. Hooray for long weekends, parties, good food and good times!

Of course, we should never forget why we are actually blessed with this 3-day weekend. So we celebrate the birthplace of our nation with cheer, American flags, ceremonies and (of course) fireworks.

Unfortunately, this is also the time of year when the emergency department sees a bit of an uptick in the number of abrasions, burns and more serious injuries stemming from these brightly burning festive sticks of fire. So, this is why we urge you to please, please leave the fireworks to the professionals!

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), eight people died and more than 11,000 were injured badly enough to require medical treatment after fireworks-related incidents in 2013. Additionally, fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 reported fires in the U.S., including 1,400 structure fires, 200 vehicle fires, and 14,000 outside and other fires.

Safe Fireworks?

fireworksThere are no such thing as completely safe fireworks. But there are ways to keep you and your family safe during a fireworks celebration.

  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
  • Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks
  • Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.
  • Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

Sparklers

Many people think sparklers are the perfect way for a child to be part of a 4th of July celebration. They can wave them around, make swirls and letters and everyone has a good time.

Except when they don’t.

Sparklers can burn anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 degrees—hot enough to melt some metals. Sparklers can quickly ignite clothing, and many children have received severe burns from dropping sparklers on their feet.

The CPSC reports that approximately 16 percent of all consumer fireworks injuries are caused by sparklers burning hands and legs. Young children account for the majority of sparkler injuries.

As disappointed as they may be, do not let children younger than 12 hold a sparkler. They often lack the physical coordination to handle sparklers safely and likely will not know what to do in an emergency. Close supervision of older children is necessary.

Pets and FireworksFourth of July kitten

No, we’re not going to tell you to not let your pet play with fireworks. We sincerely hope you already know that is a very, very bad idea! And if not, I guess this serves as us telling you.

It is important though to keep pets safe over the 4th of July holiday. And this does include keeping them away from fireworks but not just because of injury.

July 5 is the busiest day of the year for pet shelters. This is because so many animals become anxious and frightened by the loud noises of fireworks and escape their yards, homes and leashes.

We recommend you leave your pets at home when attending any celebration this weekend. And even at home, you should take precautions even if your pet has never ran away or escaped before.

And it’s not just dogs. Many people have barbecues and parties for the holiday. This means a lot of people going in and out of the house, including children, leaving the door open long enough for a quick escape.

So it’s probably best to make sure your pet is in a secure inside room with plenty of food and water and someplace to tuck into when the loud noises start.

It’s also a time when a lot of different foods are left out and are sometimes dropped on the floor. So there is a greater chance of your pet getting hold of a food that may not be very good for him. Also the ASPCA notes, that citronella-based repellants, oils, candles and insect coils are irritating toxins to pets.

The American Veterinary Medical Association and ASPCA recommend that you consider microchipping your pet, even if he spends all his time indoors. And you should be sure the information on the chip is kept up to date with your current phone and address or Veterinarian information.

Conclusion

We want this to be an enjoyable, festive and safe holiday weekend for you, and your family (including your pets). So please play it safe and Happy 4th of July!

Sources: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Council of Fireworks Safety, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Veterinary Medical Association.


More information:

NFPA Fireworks Infographic

National Council on Fireworks Safety

CPSC Fireworks Information Center

AVMA: July 4th Safety

ASPCA: Fourth of July Safety Tips

 

Black History Month: African American Firsts

In celebration of Black History Month, below is a list of just some of the important African American firsts. Listed in chronological order, you’ll see that several of these “firsts” actually occurred in just the last 25 years.

The First African-American …

1773
Woman (known) to publish a book: Phillis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral

1783
Doctor in the U.S. (unlicensed): Dr. James Durnham purchased his freedom after apprenticing with several doctors and opened his own practice until new laws prohibited him from practicing medicine unlicensed.

thomas jenning1821
Patent holder: Thomas L. Jennings, a ‘dry scouring’ process that was a precursor to modern-day dry cleaning.

1823
College graduate: Alexander Lucius Twilight (Bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College, Vermont)

1837
Medical doctor: James McCune Smith, MD (Graduated from the University of Glasgow in Scotland after being denied admission to American schools.)

1847
Medical doctor to earn a degree from a U.S. medical school: David Jones Peck, Rush Medical College, Chicago, Ill.

1863
Commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy: Robert Smalls

1864
Woman to earn a medical degree: Rebecca Lee Davis Crumpler, MDNew England Female Medical College, Boston, Mass.

1870
U.S. Senator (appointed): Hiram Rhodes Revels (Revels filled the seat left vacant by Jefferson Davis when Mississippi seceded from the Union.)

Mary_Eliza_Mahoney
Mary Eliza Mahoney

1878
Graduate of a formal nursing school: Mary Eliza Mahoney, New England Hospital for Women and Children, Boston, Mass.

1893
Surgeon to perform open heart surgery (of any race): Daniel Hale Williams, MD, Provident Hospital, Chicago, Ill.

1897
Psychiatrist: Solomon Carter Fuller, MD, Boston University School of Medicine

1904
Person to run for the presidency: George Edwin Taylor

1921
Licensed pilot: Bessie Coleman

1940
Oscar winner: Hattie McDaniel, supporting actress for Gone with the Wind

1947
Major league baseball player (20th Century): Jackie Robinson

1953
NFL quarterback: Willie Thrower

1956
Secret Service Agent: Charles LeRoy Gittens

1963-sidney-poitie_oscar
Sidney Poitier

1963
Best Actor Oscar: Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field

1966
U.S Senator (elected): Edward Brooke

1967
Astronaut: Robert H. Lawrence, Jr.

1975
MLB manager: Frank Robinson, Cleveland Indians

1992
Woman U.S. Senator: Carol Mosely Braun

condoleezza-rice-lg
Condoleezza Rice

2001
U.S. Secretary of State: Colin Powell
Best Actress Oscar: Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball

2005
Woman Secretary of State: Condoleezza Rice

2009
President: Barack H. Obama, elected Nov. 2008

The Catholic Roots of Mardi Gras

Did you know that Mardi Gras actually has its roots in Catholic tradition?

MardiGras

While best known for parties, costumes and beads, Mardi Gras has religious origins in the Catholic calendar as well as in pre-Christian pagan celebrations. Mardi Gras (French for ‘Fat Tuesday’) is actually the final day of the festivities known as Carnival.

The Latin root of the word Carnival is carne vale, which means “farewell to meat”—a reference to the upcoming 40 day fast of Lent that commences at midnight on Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday was named because it was a time of extravagant feasting of rich foods such as meat or pancakes before the upcoming fast. According the Catholic calendar, the season of Carnival actually starts on the 12th day of Christmas, known as the Epiphany (January 6). And in Germany, where Carnival is known as Fasching, festivities start on Epiphany and build toward Mardi Gras.

Fat Tuesday is also known as Shrove Tuesday, a reference to “shriving” or confession, which was meant to prepare Christians for the fast ahead. Some communities use Shrove Tuesday to burn palm fronds from the previous year’s Palm Sunday to create the ashes that are used on Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of penitence and fasting that leads to Good Friday and Easter. Ash Wednesday is a solemn observance when many Christians receive ashes on the foreheads and are reminded that “they are dust and to dust they shall return.”

Happy Mardi Gras!