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

 

Wellness Wednesday: Living Well as You Age

May is Older Americans Month. People in the U.S. are living longer than ever before. Many older adults live active and healthy lives. But there’s no getting around one thing: as we age, our bodies and minds change.

Logos2Though there are things you can do to stay healthy and active as you age, it is important to understand what to expect. Some changes may just be part of normal aging, while others may be a warning sign of a medical problem. It is important to know the difference, and to let your healthcare provider know if you have any concerns.

As you age, your heart rate becomes slightly slower, and your heart might become bigger. Your blood vessels and your arteries also become stiffer, causing your heart to work harder to pump blood through them. This can lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems.

Two senior women having fun painting in art classEngaging in social and productive activities you enjoy, like taking an art class or becoming a volunteer in your community or at your place of worship, may help to maintain your well-being.

Research tells us that older people with an active lifestyle:

  • Are less likely to develop certain diseases. Participating in hobbies and other social and leisure pursuits may lower risk for developing some health problems, including dementia.
  • Are more happy and less depressed. Studies suggest that older adults who participate in what they believe are meaningful activities, like volunteering in their communities, say they feel happier and more healthy.
  • Are better prepared to cope with loss. Studies suggest that volunteering can help with stress and depression from the death of a spouse. Among people who experienced a loss, those who took part in volunteer activities felt more positive about their own abilities.
  • May be able to improve their thinking abilities. Another line of research is exploring how participating in creative arts might help people age well. Other studies are providing new information about ways that creative activities like music or dance can help older adults.

For more information about healthy aging, visit these websites:

http://nihseniorhealth.gov/category/healthyaging.html
https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/
https://www.choosemyplate.gov/older-adults
https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/
https://www.cdc.gov/aging/index.html
https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/seniorshealth.html

Sources: Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health and the Administration on Aging

Wellness Wednesday: The Dangers of UV Exposure

May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, so Mercy Health System encourages you to be safe in the sun.

blazinghotsunExposure to UV radiation increases the risk of developing skin cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is linked to getting severe sunburns, especially at a young age.

Every year, there are 63,000 new cases of and 9,000 deaths from melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Ultraviolet (UV) exposure is the most common cause of skin cancer. A new CDC study shows that the majority of Americans are not using sunscreen regularly to protect themselves from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

In fact, fewer than 15% of men and fewer than 30% of women reported using sunscreen regularly on their face and other exposed skin when outside for more than 1 hour. Many women report that they regularly use sunscreen on their faces but not on other exposed skin.


Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Yet most skin cancers can be prevented.


What are your family’s risks from exposure to powerful UV rays? Consider these facts and statistics.

The Dangers of UV Exposure

  • You can sunburn even on a cloudy day.
  • On average, children get 3 times more exposure than adults.
  • Concrete, sand, water and snow reflect 85% to 90% of the sun’s UV rays.
  • Depletion of Earth’s ozone continues to increase your exposure to UV rays.

Skin Cancer

  • In some parts of the world, melanoma is increasing at rates faster than any other cancer.
  • More than 1.2 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the US.
  • Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, kills one person every hour.
  • One blistering sunburn can double a child’s lifetime risk of developing skin cancer.

Visit the American Cancer Society website and take their sun safety quiz to see how much you know about staying safe in the sun.

Source: www.sunsafetyalliance.org


More Information:

Protect Your Family from Skin Cancer

Suncreen: The Burning Facts

FDA Sheds Light on Sunscreens

NIOSH Fast Facts: Protecting Yourself from Sun Exposure

Wellness Wednesday: Thinking F.A.S.T. can help save lives

Do you know how to recognize a stroke? Do you know what steps to take if someone is having a stroke? Thinking F.A.S.T. can help save lives and improve stroke recovery.

May-stroke1May is American Stroke Awareness Month. It is very important for you to know that anyone can have a stroke. Strokes can affect people of all ages and backgrounds.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. In 2008 alone, more than 133,000 Americans—or one person every four minutes—died from stroke, making it the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Warning Signs

Most people don’t know the warning signs of stroke or what to do when one happens. Stroke is an emergency. But acting quickly can tremendously reduce the impact of stroke.

A stroke is a brain attack that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. Brain cells begin to die.

Recognizing stroke symptoms can be easy if you remember to think FAST:

F= Face  Drooping

Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

A= Arm Weakness

Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S= Speech Difficulty

Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T= Time to call 9-1-1

If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

Risk Factors

There are many risk factors for stroke. Some risk factors, such as gender, ethnicity and age, are uncontrollable. But there are some risk factors that you can control.

Some controllable risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Tobacco use
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity and obesity
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Illegal drug use

Taking control is the first step to managing your risk.iStock_000042882876_Medium

  • Get moving. If you are healthy, participate in moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise at least 40 minutes per day, three to four times per week.
  • Watch your diet. Consider reducing sodium intake to Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) or Mediterranean diets.
  • Know your numbers. Keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels in check.
  • Know your family medical history. If high blood pressure and diabetes are common conditions, it’s important you ask your doctor what you can do to prevent them.
  • Drink moderately. Studies show a strong connection between alcohol and stroke so make sure to moderate your alcohol intake. No more than two drinks per day for men and one for women.
  • Stop Smoking. Smoking decreases your health in general, but smokers also have 2-4 times the risk for stroke compared to nonsmokers and those who have quit for more than 10 years.

Source: American Stroke Association


More Information:

Let’s Talk About: Stroke, TIA and Warning Signs

Let’s Talk About: Hemorrhagic Stroke

Let’s Talk About: Risk Factors for Stroke

Let’s Talk About: High Blood Pressure and Stroke

Let’s Talk About: Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Stroke

Wellness Wednesday: Give the Gift of Life

April is National Donate Life Month. It’s a month to celebrate those who have received transplants, to recognize those who continue to wait, to honor donors and donor families and to thank registered donors for giving hope.

30K-infographic1In 2015, organ transplants performed in the United States exceeded 30,000 for the first time annually. This incredible ‪‎milestone‬ is possible only because of donors and their families who make the generous decision to share life through donation.

Currently, over 118,000 men, women and children are awaiting organ transplants in the U.S. About 58% of patients awaiting transplants are minorities. Sadly, 8,000 people die each year22 people each day—because the organs they need are not donated in time.


Every 10 minutes another name is added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list.


Who can donate?

NDLM-2017-InstagramAd_WebPeople of all ages and medical histories can be potential donors. Transplantation is one of the most remarkable success stories in the history of medicine. It offers patients a new chance at healthy, productive and normal lives and returns them to their families, friends and communities.

The vast majority of Americans support organ donation. However, many people overlook the important step of registering as a donor. Donors are often people who died suddenly and unexpectedly. Their families are then faced with making the decision at a time of shock and grief. Registering now relieves your family of this burden.

30K-infographic2More than 121 million people—approximately 51% of the U.S. adult population—are
registered organ, eye and tissue donors. Yet, the wait is still long for some patients. The average waiting time for a kidney from a deceased donor is 3 to 5 years.

Each year, approximately 30,000 people are registered as tissue donors and more than 1 million tissue transplants are performed; the surgical need for donated tissue is steadily rising. One tissue donor can help save more than 50 people.


Approximately 79 organ transplants take place every day in the United States.


 HAP17 web ad 728x90_fnl_HAP

Wellness Wednesday: Environmental Wellness

In the spirit of conservation, this is a recycled (and updated) version of a post from last year at this time (see what I did there?)


With Earth Day approaching, this week’s Wellness Wednesday column will focus on environmental wellness.

April-earthday2Environmental wellness refers to your relationship with your immediate surroundings and expanding to nature and the world around you. It refers to becoming aware that we are all a part of nature and recognizing that we need to take steps towards maintaining a lifestyle that maximizes harmony with the earth’s nature environment. It’s also to gain an understanding how your behavior and interactions affects and impacts your surrounding environment.

Relax. This isn’t about hugging trees, holding hands and singing Kumbayah.

But unless NASA finds a practical way for humans to get to and live on another planet—without being left behind like Matt Damon—Earth is our only home. And we need to take care of it in order for it to provide what we need to survive.

It stands to reason that if our surroundings are clean and well-cared for, we will benefit. There are many ways we can help in our own small part of the world that collectively will have a greater impact on the overall health of our environment.

Recycle and Reuse

  • Use paper, glass and aluminum recycling bins in your home and community.
  • Take your own bag to the grocery store.
  • Use a reusable water bottle, preferably stainless steel, which helps prevent ingesting toxic chemicals from plastic bottles
  • Use recyclable materials.

Conserve

  • Save water. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth, shaving or washing the dishes.
  • Turn off the television, computer, tablets and other electronics when not in use.
  • Conserve on gas.
  • Improve your home’s energy efficiency with newer appliances.

Clean Green

  • Use natural or home-made cleaning products and pesticides.

Enjoy and Respect Nature

  • Enjoy, appreciate and spend time outside in natural settings.
  • Do not pollute the air, water or earth if you can avoid doing so.

Doing our part to preserve the wellness of our environment contributes directly to our own wellness.


Did You Know?

Here are some interesting facts about the environment and recycling.

  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours.
  • During the time it takes you to read this sentence, 50,000 12-ounce aluminum cans are made.
  • An aluminum can may be recycled ad infinitum (forever!).
  • Every day, American businesses generate enough paper to circle the earth 20 times!
  • Only 1% of the world’s water supply is usable, 97% are the oceans and 2% is frozen.
  • Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
  • An automatic dishwasher uses less hot water than doing dishes by hand, an average of six gallons less per cycle, or over 2,000 gallons per year.
  • The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
  • A modern glass bottle takes 4000 years or more to decompose.
  • Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour, most of which are thrown away!

 

Wellness Wednesday: Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of designing a person′s environment so that it facilitates the highest level of function. A person′s work environment should fit his or her capabilities as a worker.

Business woman with neck pain sitting at computerGood ergonomics prevent injury and promote health, safety, and comfort for employees.

The use of ergonomics principles can increase worker productivity and quality. Employers can implement a program that includes guidelines for employees to follow, contributes to an efficient work environment, prevents injuries and the development of chronic medical conditions, and helps employees return to work after an injury has occurred.

Occupational therapy practitioners are trained in the structure and function of the human body and the effects of illness and injury. They also can determine how the components of the workplace can facilitate a healthy and efficient environment or one that could cause injury or illness. An occupational therapist can help employers identify hazards that may contribute to on-the-job injury, and determine how it can be eliminated.

What can an occupational therapist do?

  • Identify and eliminate accident and injury risk factors in the workplace, such as actions associated with repetition, force, fixed or awkward postures, poorly designed tool handles, heavy loads, distance, vibration, noise, extreme temperatures, poor lighting, and psychosocial and other occupational stresses.
  • Analyze job functions and job descriptions based on job tasks.
  • Design pre-hire screenings to determine a candidate’s suitability to a particular job.
  • Modify tools and equipment so that they do not enable injury or illness.
  • Provide education and training on injury prevention, workplace health and safety regulations, and managing job-related stress.
  • Determine reasonable accommodations and worksite accessibility that is in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
  • Recommend changes employers can take to minimize injury and accident risk factors.

What can a person do to employ good ergonomics in the workplace?

  • Take a proactive approach to preventing injury in the workplace.
  • Follow guidelines set forth by employers that may prevent injury and illness.
  • Report hazards or poor work conditions or employee behavior that may contribute to illness or injury in the workplace.

Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are trained in helping both adults and children with a broad range of physical, developmental, and psychological conditions. Practitioners also help clients and their caregivers with strategies that can prevent injury and secondary complications, and support health and well-being.

Copyright 2004 by the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.