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

Wellness Wednesday: Eating Healthy During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is filled with hustle and bustle, shopping, decorating, gift-giving (and receiving) and spending time with family and friends. But let’s face it … it’s also a time for over-indulging in some pretty awesome food!

Head of the family cutting the turkeyBetween Thanksgiving and New Years, if you’re like most people, there is no shortage of family and friend get-togethers filled with great feasts and delicious treats. There’s turkey and ham, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, seven fishes (if you’re Italian), Christmas cookies, chrusciki (if you’re Polish), pies (oh, so many pies!) and lots of candy treats.

And if you’re Jewish, or invited to the home of Jewish friends or family, you’ll likely find plenty of chocolate gelt, rugelach, kugel and sufganiyot (jam-filled doughnuts) as well.

It’s easy to get carried away and many of us have felt that bloated feeling of eating too much during this time. And if you’re dieting … it can become a make a break time if you’re not careful.

But it doesn’t have to be so difficult. You can indulge in some of your favorites if you just remember … moderation. If you are the one doing the cooking or baking, you can make some changes in the menu or recipe to help keep calories down without losing flavor.

Sweet potatoes vs. sweet potato casserole. Instead of candied yams or sweet potato casserole, which is often loaded with butter and sugar, make fresh sweet potatoes and offer cinnamon and sugar or sugar substitute on the side. Sweet potatoes are actually very nutritious and loaded with potassium.

Use olive oil instead of butter in recipes when possible.

Applesauce instead of butter. If you’re making a cake, you can substitute and equal amount of apple sauce for butter in the recipe, and it will still taste great with less calories.

But what if you’re visiting friends and family? How do you eat well when you’re out?

Mandarins covered with chocolate and pistachio, top viewBring a healthy dessert. It’s always polite to bring something when you visit someone’s home. So bring along a home-baked dessert. This way, when everyone is having sweets, you can partake and won’t be as tempted to eat something you shouldn’t.

And don’t forget to stay physical during the holidays. Do you tend to make a New Years resolution? Start early. Physical activity is helpful to increasing your metabolism and it also can make you feel better and help beat holiday blues.

Start taking a walk around the block each night after dinner or in the morning before work, then increase to twice around the block. It can help clear your mind and relieve the stress that is often felt during this time of year. Take the family for a walk through the neighborhood to look at the lighted houses. You can do a few blocks each night. And you won’t notice because you’ll be enjoying the view.


More Information:

AHA Holiday Healthy Eating Guide

Wellness Wednesday: Holiday Shopping Safety

It’s the time of year you love or hate … getting ready for the winter holidays. People are out in droves looking for those perfect gifts. Even if you steered far from the Black Friday frenzy, you know that the next few weeks are going to feature trips to crowded stores.

If you’ve finished your holiday shopping, kudos to you! You are ahead of most of us. But there’s still a good chance you may find yourself needing to make a trip to your local Target, Walmart or Walgreens during December, even if it’s to pick up household necessities.

While most people are just going about their merry way, reveling in the Christmas spirit, there are bound to be a few grinches out there who may want to steal your fun … and your wallet! So, especially at this time of year, you should be extra careful when you are out shopping.

Here are some tips to practice safe holiday shopping:

On the Internet …

Happy young woman online shopping for Christmas presentsAlways make sure your anti-virus software is up-to-date. Keep your personal information private and your password secure.

Stick to business websites that you know. Use websites for big name retailers like Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, Macys, etc. Or use reputable online-only retailers like Amazon, Wayfair, Overstock, Zappos, etc. Make sure to review their shipping and return policies before you make a purchase. If you use a site such as ebay or Etsy, review the seller’s background, policies and feedback first.

Legitimate businesses will never ask for your password. They will NOT ask you to click on an unsolicited email to verify your account. So unless you initiated the contact, do not click! Additionally, you can ignore any email that says a Nigerian Prince is giving you money, that Aunt Sally is in jail and needs cash right now, or that the IRS is investigating you. (If you do have an Aunt Sally and she is in jail, you’ll hopefully get a phone call, not an email.)

If you get an email that looks somewhat legit but asks you to click on something, don’t do it. One such example is an email from PayPal that says you have authorized a large payment for something you know you didn’t purchase. It might look like it came from PayPal. It might have the logo and appear all official-like. But the minute it asks you to click on a link, that’s your red flag. If you are concerned, most companies have an email account you can send suspicious emails to. For PayPal, you can forward it to spoof@paypal.com.

In the store …

Woman with Shopping BagsKeep your purse close at all times. Do not leave it in a cart! Purse snatchers are quick and are always looking for opportunity. Don’t give them one.

Know the prices of what you are purchasing. Make note of signs advertising sale prices and watch as the items are scanned.

Save your receipts. Keep them at least until the credit card bills or bank statements come in. If they are gifts, ask the cashier for gift receipts and place them with the item for safe keeping.

Always have your keys in your hand when approaching your vehicle. Make a quick check of the back seat and around and under the car as you approach and before getting in. When loading your car, again, keep your purse on you. If you put it in the car, make sure the passenger side doors are locked. Most cars, when you unlock the back doors, all of the doors unlock.

Do not leave packages visible through your car windows. Lock them in the trunk or, if possible, take them directly home. If you have to place them in the back seat, cover them with a blanket. Again, thieves are looking for easy targets.

If you are shopping with children, keep them close and make sure they know what to do if they get separated from you.

Getting everything home …

Senior couple gets help at store loading television into carRemember … whatever you buy, you have to carry. All that shopping can add up when you’re carrying multiple bags around the mall. Distribute the items into equal weights and carry some in each hand to wreak less havoc on your body. Ask a store associate for help getting large items out to your car.

If you can, take your packages back to your car and place them in the trunk. Again, try to avoid putting your packages in the back seat where they are visible. And always be aware of your surroundings in the parking lot.

You also have to get these items from the store to your home. So before you make a purchase of a large item, make sure it will fit into your car. Bring a tape measure with you. Last thing you want is to get that large flat screen TV all the way out to your car and find out it doesn’t fit!

When you do get home, don’t be a hero! There is no prize for bringing all of your bags inside in one trip. Take your time. And if you have purchased something large or heavy, plan ahead to have help getting it inside.

Shipped items …

Keep track of your online purchases and when they are scheduled to ship. Save and/or print out tracking numbers and request text updates. You will be notified by text when the item is shipped, when it’s out for delivery and when it’s delivered. If your item does not arrive when it is supposed to, recheck the tracking information and contact the seller to be sure it shipped to the correct address.

Have purchases shipped to an alternate location if you won’t be home. Thieves, dubbed ‘porch pirates,’ have been known to take packages right off front porches. Some will even follow delivery trucks, waiting for an opportunity. According to Insurancequotes.com, more than 20 million packages were reported stolen from homes last year. So consider having your item shipped to a friend or family member who will be home. Additionally, if you order from Amazon.com, they offer self-service delivery locations called Amazon Lockers, where customers can pick up and return Amazon.com packages. There are locations in and around major cities. You can find out if there is a location near you on their website.


More Information:

10 Ways to Keep Your Packages Safe This Holiday Season

Amazon Lockers

Top Tips for Safe Online Holiday Shopping

Safety Tips for Holiday Shopping with Kids

 

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

 

Wellness Wednesday: Safety First, Last and Always

It’s June. And that means backyard barbecues, pool parties and kids home for the summer …which makes it the perfect time to talk about safety!

Warning SignJune is National Safety Month. That doesn’t mean you can ignore the rules of safety during the other 11 months of the year. It just means it’s time for us to focus on what it means to practice proper safety methods in everything we do, every day of the year.

During the summer, that means practicing sun and fun safety. Here are some summer safety tips:

Wear sunscreen, stay hydrated and seek shade. You can reduce your risk of skin damage and skin cancer by seeking shade or shelter before you need relief from the sun. Your best bet to protect your skin is to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing when you’re outside—even when in the shade.

Keep children and pets safe. Do not leave pets or children in hot cars or near a pool alone. It only takes 5-10 minutes for a car to reach dangerous levels! And do not leave your pets outside unsupervised or for long periods of time without shade. They have a much harder time regulating temperature than humans.

Don’t let safety take a vacation. Always remain aware of your surroundings while on vacation. Carry your purse or wallet close to your body or in a front pocket. Never share on social media that you are going to be away from your home for an extended period of time. Let someone at home know where you will be at all times and how to reach you in case of emergency.

Be safe at the beach. Always swim near a lifeguard stand, and listen to what the lifeguards tell you. Never take your eyes off children and don’t assume the lifeguard or someone else is watching them. Beware of dangerous rip currents, which can occur in any open body of water. If caught in a rip current swim parallel to the shore until you are out of the current, then swim to shore.

Never, ever swim alone. Just don’t do it! Even if you’re an excellent swimmer, you can’t plan for every emergency. A child or an adult can drown in mere seconds.

Hear thunder? Get out of the water! If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you. Lightning kills an average of 49 people in the U.S. each year. And in the water is the most dangerous place to be in a storm. Wait at least a half hour after hearing the last rumble of thunder before entering the water again.

Young boy wearing flotation device holds onto edge of poolSecure your backyard pool. Tragically, over 300 children under the age of 5 drown in backyard swimming pools each year. And it is not always even their own pool. 33 percent of drowning incidents happened in a pool owned by friends, relatives or neighbors. So make sure you have the proper enclosure or fencing for your pool, even if you don’t have children. This isn’t just a suggestion. Pool safety barrier guidelines have been written into most residential building codes. Also, children can drown in as little as one inch of water so empty kiddie swimming pools when finished with them as well.

Leave the fireworks to the professionals. If you do use fireworks, keep a bucket of water handy and use them in a clear area away from buildings and trees. Make sure to obey your state’s laws regarding fireworks. Never let children use fireworks!

When picnicking, carry food in a cooler with cold packs. Keep your cold food cold. Food can spoil much quicker in warmer weather. Clean produce and keep any raw meats separately. Be sure to cook food thoroughly and never reuse utensils or serving plates that have been used to carry raw meats.

These are just some of the most important safety tips you should always remember to keep yourself and your family safe. And these apply not only during the summer months but all year round.

What are some other summer safety tips you’d recommend?

Sources: American Red Cross, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Food and Drug Administration