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Updated: 45 min 29 sec ago

Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Thu, 2018-01-18 10:12

“Photo” by Ian Dooley via Unsplash, July 31, 2017, CCO.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month.  Human trafficking is defined by the Department of Homeland Security as, “modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.”  2015 (most recent date) statistics from the FBI show that in Texas alone there were 285 offenses and those were just the offenses law enforcement identified.

A common tactic that human traffickers use is isolation of the victim.  They strive to keep victims from having contact with friends, family, law enforcement, social workers, etc.  The one point of contact that a victim may have access to is a healthcare professional.  For this reason, it is essential that healthcare professionals know what to look for and what they can do to help.

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center offers a comprehensive list of screening questions that healthcare providers can utilize.  It is also advisable to try to speak to the patient one on one as they might be hesitant or unable to answer questions in front of other people.  If a patient screens positive for human trafficking or you suspect they may be a victim, there are plenty of resources available at the state and national level.  The National Human Trafficking Hotline offers a comprehensive list of service providers that can be contacted to assist a human trafficking victim.

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Tips for Achieving Your New Year’s Resolution to Quit Smoking

Tue, 2018-01-16 10:01

“Ashtray” by Ali Yahya via Unsplash, December 22, 2017, CCO.

Nearly 7 in 10 smokers in the United States wants to quit smoking.  With statistics that high, it is likely that a sizable number of people chose their new year’s resolution to be to quit smoking.  “Many people underestimate how difficult it is to not only quit smoking, but to maintain the change,” says Zane Freeman, research coordinator for the YMCA exercise intervention for smoking cessation study taking place at the University of Texas at Austin.

Although some smokers do attempt to go “cold turkey” it is recommended that you develop a plan.  Smokefree.gov recommends knowing the reasons why you are quitting.  It is sometimes helpful to write these down so if you feel your resolve starting to weaken, reviewing the list can help boost your motivation.

Futurity.org advises you to be sure you have social support.  Make sure your friends, family, co-workers know you plan to quit and are able and willing to support you.  Ask them to offer words of encouragement and help with accountability.

Other features of a plan could include identifying weaknesses, developing a back up plan, easing into cessation, and consulting a healthcare professional.

The CDC has a list of free resources for people trying to quit smoking:

  • 1-800-QUIT-NOW(1-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569) (for Spanish speakers). This free service offers a lot of resources, including coaching, help with making a quit plan, educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live.
  • Smokefree TXT. This free 24/7 texting program sends encouragement, advice, and tips to help smokers quit smoking for good. To get started, just text QUIT to 47848, answer a few questions, and you’ll start receiving messages.
  • Online help. This Tips From Former Smokers®web page provides helpful online quit resources.
  • Smokefree App. The QuitGuideis a free app that tracks cravings, moods, slips, and smokefree progress to help you understand your smoking patterns and build the skills needed to become and stay smokefree.

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Cervical Health Awareness Month

Thu, 2018-01-11 09:01

“Picture of Girl” by Samantha Gades via Unsplash, July 25, 2017, CCO.

January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month.  The goal is to raise awareness about how women can protect against HPV (human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer.

HPV is a group of viruses that are sexually transmitted and can put women at risk for developing cervical cancer.  HPV can fall into either the low risk or the high-risk category.  Low risk HPV can be asymptomatic or can cause genital warts.

Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are a group of related viruses. They can cause warts on different parts of your body. There are more than 200 types. About 40 of those types affect the genitals. They are spread through sexual contact with an infected partner. Some of those can put you at risk for cancer.

There are two categories of sexually-transmitted HPV. Low-risk HPV can cause genital warts. High-risk HPV can cause cervical, anal, oral, throat, vulvar, or vaginal caner.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2014 (the most recent year numbers are available)—

  • 12,578 women in the United States were diagnosed with cervical cancer.
  • 4,115 women in the United States died from cervical cancer.

Medlineplus.gov advises that pap tests can detect changes in the cervix that might lead to cancer. Pap tests, along with HPV tests, are used in cervical cancer screening.  Correct usage of latex condoms greatly reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of catching or spreading HPV. Vaccines can protect against several types of HPV, including some that can cause cancer.

How can Cervical Health Awareness Month make a difference?

We can use this opportunity to spread the word about important steps women can take to stay healthy.  Here are just a few ideas from healthfinder.gov:

  • Encourage women to get their well-woman visit this year.
  • Let women know that most insurance plans must cover well-woman visits and cervical cancer screening. This means that, depending on their insurance, women can get these services at no cost to them.
  • Talk to parents about how important it is for their pre-teens to get the HPV vaccine. Both boys and girls need the vaccine.

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Folic Acid Awareness Week

Tue, 2018-01-09 10:07

“Folic Acid” via medlineplus.gov, October 16, 2017, public domain.

January 7th through January 13th is Folic Acid Awareness week.  What is folic acid and what should we be aware of?

Medlineplus.gov defines Folic acid as “a B vitamin. It helps the body make healthy new cells. Everyone needs folic acid.”  Folic acid is especially important for women who are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant.  The Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says, “Folic acid protects unborn babies against serious birth defects.”  It is recommended that women get 400 mcg of folic acid daily.

The potential for birth defects as a result of folic acid deficiency is serious.  CDC statistics show that every year in the United States we see the following:

  • There are 3,000 pregnancies affected by spina bifida or anencephaly, which are neural tube defects (NTDs) caused by the incomplete closing of the spine and skull.
  • About 1,300 babies are born without a neural tube defect since folic acid fortification.
  • Many, but not all, neural tube defects could be prevented if women took 400 mcg of folic acid daily, before and during early pregnancy.
  • Half of all pregnancies are unplanned.

Folic acid can be found in food such as leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans, peas and nuts.  It can also be obtained by consuming enriched breads, cereals and other grain products.  Those that do not get sufficient folic acid from their diet can take a dietary supplement.

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New Year’s Resolutions

Thu, 2018-01-04 08:52

“Happy holidays 2018” by Norwood Themes via Unsplash, December 2, 2017, CCO.

A new year often starts with individuals making a promise to themselves that most know as a New Year’s resolution.  According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 41% of Americans usually

make a New Year’s resolution but only 9.2% felt they were successful in achieving it.  Improving health is at the top of the most common resolutions so it is disheartening to see so many fail to achieve something vital to their well-being.

What can one do to succeed with living a healthier 2018?  The CDC offers 6 simple tips for a healthier year including regular healthcare checks, hand washing, making healthy food choices, being active, and getting plenty of sleep.  They also recommend a smokefree lifestyle and have a list of resources available for those who are looking to kick their smoking habit in 2018.

Are some people more prone to success with healthy patterns?  A new study suggests yes and finds that people with a sense of purpose tend to do healthier stuff.  “Our analysis found that participants’ sense of purpose was positively associated with their reports of both vigorous and moderate activity, vegetable intake, flossing, and sleep quality,” says the study’s lead author Patrick Hill, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University at St. Louis.

If living healthier is important to you, don’t let the lack of a New Year’s resolution or failure to maintain that resolution bring you down.  Warren Holleman, director of MD Anderson’s Faculty Health & Well-Being program states, “It takes a lot more than a resolution to change.  It takes a self-understanding, skills, strategies and support.”

Resolution or no resolution, NNLM SCR hopes that 2018 is a healthy year for you!

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Tips to Stay Healthy Over the Holidays

Thu, 2017-12-21 10:47

“Photo” by Mira Bohzko via Unsplash, November 23, 2017, CCO.

The holiday season brings wonderful things such as family traditions, gifts, potential paid time off work, and extra time with loved ones.  It can also be very stressful and pose potential health risks.  Navigating the holiday crowds, preparing for out of town houseguests, and cooking large dinners are just a few of the things that could lead to pitfalls this holiday season.

Will you be traveling via airplane for your holiday plans?  WebMD.com offers a list of recommendations that include using disinfecting wipes on armrests, tray tables, seatbelt buckles and air vents in the area of your assigned seat.

Do you work in an office that has a seemingly never ending delivery of holiday treats? Mayo Clinic has a list of holiday nutrition tips you can utilize!

For a more comprehensive list of ways to for stay safe (and sane) this holiday season, the CDC offers some great tips including preparing food safely and washing your hands often.

We also can’t forget the fire risks associated with real Christmas trees and overburdened electrical outlets.  Visit the National Fire Protection Association website to learn more about home safety at Christmas time.

No matter how you celebrate this holiday season, NNLM SCR encourages you to do so in a safe and healthy manner!

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The Lesser Known Impact of Terror Attacks

Tue, 2017-12-19 09:24

“Elizabeth” by Ian Espinoza via Unsplash, August 21, 2017, CCO.

Terror attacks are horrifying and produce obvious, immediate effects such as loss of human life, injury, property loss, and emotional impact.  Norwegian researches recently found that there might be a less obvious but potentially debilitating impact; migraines and/or daily headaches.

“We found that the survivors more often suffer from headaches as compared to controls, with more frequent and severe complaints such as migraine,” said the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Synne Stensland, of the Norwegian Center for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies in Oslo.

This study found that terror attack survivors had a higher risk three to four times that of those in a control group.  This still held true even when other factors, including past exposure to violence, were considered.

Dr. Matthew Robbins is director of inpatient services at Montefiore Headache Center in New York City. He said, “We know that a stressful life event can lead to a new headache disorder, or make an existing one even worse.”

If you experience any of the following symptoms, Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor immediately or going to an emergency room:

  • An abrupt, severe headache like a thunderclap
  • Headache with fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or trouble speaking
  • Headache after a head injury, especially if the headache gets worse
  • A chronic headache that is worse after coughing, exertion, straining or a sudden movement
  • New headache pain if you’re older than 50

To learn more about the study, click here.

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Fresh Christmas Trees Might be Hosting Uninvited Guests

Thu, 2017-12-14 09:30

“First Christmas” by Jared Lind via Unsplash, December 2, 2017, CCO.

Christmas trees typically are adorned with ornaments, lights, and the usual Christmas decorations.  Occasionally, a cat will even find its way into the tree.  This holiday season, consumers should also be aware of unwanted critters that may find their way into homes clinging to a freshly cut Christmas tree, said Texas A&M University entomologist, Dr. David Ragsdale.   “It should be no surprise that when a living plant is brought into the house it has hitchhikers,” he said.

The Department of Entomology at Penn State University has a complete online listing of the different types of insects you might find on your tree and the potential harm that insect might cause.  The good news?  Most do not pose a significant threat to your health or the health of other plants you have in your home.

The experts do have a list of tips to help minimize the risk of insects on your tree:

  • Tree farms often have mechanical shakers that can be used to help dislodge dead pine needles and insects.
  • Vigorously shake the tree before bringing it inside your home.
  • Do a visual inspection of the tree and remove any egg masses or nests.
  • Do NOT use any type of aerosol or insecticide as these are flammable.

 

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Color Blindness Basics

Tue, 2017-12-12 11:54

The American Academy of Ophthalmology defines color blindness as “when you are unable to see colors in a normal way.”

There are three variants of color blindness:

  • Red-green color vision defects which are the most common form.
  • Blue-yellow color vision defects.
  • Complete absence of color vision.

According to the National Eye Institute, “men are much more likely to be colorblind than women because the genes responsible for the most common, inherited color blindness are on the X chromosome. Males only have one X chromosome, while females have two X chromosomes. In females, a functional gene on only one of the X chromosomes is enough to compensate for the loss on the other. This kind of inheritance pattern is called X-linked, and primarily affects males.”

The National Weather Service has put together a simulation (below) of what each variant of color blindness would see compared to someone with normal vision.

 

Most of the time, color blindness is genetic. There is no treatment, but most people continue with normal activities with little to no limitations.

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NNLM SCR Hires New Social Media Assistant

Thu, 2017-12-07 11:13

The NNLM SCR is pleased to welcome Kelly Wonder who will serve as the Social Media Assistant.

Prior to working for the NNLM SCR, Kelly worked in the non-profit sector for an organization that serves those impacted by domestic and sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking.  While there, she directed their volunteer program and trained advocates to provided crisis intervention services in emergency settings.  Kelly was also active in training new recruits at the Southwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in best practices for interacting with victims.

Before joining the non-profit sector, Kelly spent nearly 10 years as the Marketing Director for a private practice group of orthopaedic surgeons with locations covering Southern Indiana and Western Kentucky.

She is very active volunteering in her community and has served on the board of directors for the Evansville Youth Hockey Association and Autism Evansville.  Kelly has also given her time to the Easterseals Rehabilitation Center, Albion Fellows Bacon Center, the Arthritis Foundation, and United Way.

Kelly is very excited to join the NNLM SCR in enhancing public health.

Contact Kelly at kelly.wonder@unthsc.edu.

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Taking Multiple Medications Poses Risks

Tue, 2017-12-05 08:51


“Photo” via medlinegov, November 29, 2017, Public Domain.

Many older Americans take multiple medications — but only about one-third ever discuss possible interactions between drugs, a new poll finds. The poll was conducted by the university’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. It was sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine, the university’s academic medical center.

“Interactions between drugs, and other substances, can put older people at a real risk of everything from low blood sugar to kidney damage and accidents caused by sleepiness,” said Dr. Preeti Malani, who directed the nationwide poll.

FDA.gov recommends before taking a drug, ask your doctor or pharmacist the following questions:

  • Can I take it with other drugs?
  • Should I avoid certain foods, beverages or other products?
  • What are possible drug interaction signs I should know about?
  • How will the drug work in my body?
  • Is there more information available about the drug or my condition (on the Internet or in health and medical literature)?

There are also online tools available that can help inform about possible interactions.  AARP and WebMD both have drug interaction checkers which allow users to enter their medications to screen for possible interactions.

Alison Bryant is senior vice president of research for AARP. “Even with trackers and systems in place, patients need to be open with their providers and tell them all the medications and supplements they’re taking, including herbal remedies,” she said.

 

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Learning to Breathe Better

Thu, 2017-11-30 13:34

Photo by Brina Blum from Unsplash

This past month has been National COPD Awareness Month. COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and essentially it makes it difficult to breathe. It occurs when the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs aren’t clear.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has created a program to help others learn about and take steps toward understanding COPD. Many people do not recognize the early warning signs of COPD, which could lead to losing valuable treatment time. These symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Chronic cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Mucus
  • Wheezing

COPD most often occurs with people who smoke, have a genetic predisposition, or have long-term exposure to lung irritants. If these don’t apply, avoid areas where there might be pollutants (like secondhand smoke) or going outdoors when the air quality is poor. You can check air quality using the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) AirNow website.

Some may worry about breathing in air pollution while exercising, but the health risks associated with that are less than having an inactive lifestyle.

To read more about COPD, explore the topic page on MedlinePlus.

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NIH Blood Pressure Study Data Supports AHA/ACC Hypertension Guidelines

Tue, 2017-11-21 13:22

1952924 by Myriam from Pixabay via CC0

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded a landmark study that supports a crucial component of the 2017 Hypertension

Clinical Practice Guidelines put forth by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC).  The AHA and ACC guidelines state that high blood pressure should be treated earlier by changes in lifestyle and medications for some.  The new guideline recommends treatment at 130/80 instead of 140/90.

Recommendations are the result of the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) that was designed to determine how to best treat adults with high blood pressure, over the age of 50, and at risk for heart disease.  SPRINT was sponsored in part by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and The National Institute of Aging (NIA), divisions of the National Institutes of Health.

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Launches a Crowdsourcing Project Called PregSource to Better Understand Pregnancy

Tue, 2017-11-14 16:55

PregSource, collects information from pregnant women to increase knowledge about pregnancy.  The research project delves into emotional, physical, labor, and delivery aspects to identify specific challenges experienced by subsets of women, to include those with physical disabilities.  The overarching goal of the research program is to form better strategies to improve maternal health care in the United States.

Participants of PregSource answer online surveys to share information about their experiences like sleep, mood, weight changes, morning sickness, and others.  According to the NIH, by collecting this data, the NIH hopes to answer the following research questions:

  • How many women experience morning sickness? How long does it generally last?
  • How much does pregnancy affect women’s sleep patterns? How do these patterns change over the course of the pregnancy?
  • What are the patterns of weight gain during pregnancy, and how do they affect health?
  • How do women with challenges, such as physical disabilities or chronic diseases, experience pregnancy and new motherhood?

Pregnant women ages 18 years and older can enroll.  Enrollment is free.  Information from participants will not be sold to third parties.  Personal information is de-identified, meaning names and addresses are removed from data collected.  The information is then shared with researchers to be used in future studies.

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What is Really in Your Supplements?

Thu, 2017-11-09 05:00
pills

1905067 by Emilian Danalia from Pixabay via CC0

HeathDay and MedlinePlus reports that in over half of the supplements studied by researchers, the actual ingredients differed from what was written on the label.  Some ingredients may actually be harmful. Researchers find that 80% of bodybuilding and 70% of weight-loss supplements contained ingredients not listed on the labels. Also, half of the body building supplements contained anabolic steroids that were not included on the label.

Health professionals and researchers worry that undisclosed substances may contribute to long-term liver damage. Researchers state that over 20% of liver damage cases reported are attributed to herbal and dietary supplements.  In one case cited, a bodybuilder experienced liver damage after taking a supplement that contained an anti-estrogen cancer treating drug called tamoxifen.  Liver damage is known to be caused by tamoxifen toxicity or overdose.

The Federal Drug Administration does not regulate supplements the way other drugs are regulated. Talk with your doctor, dietician, or nutritionist before taking any supplements.  If supplements are needed, those professionals can point you to supplements that are more trusted and have gone through more rigorous standardization processes to ensure consumers get a high-quality product.

Research findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, in Washington, D.C.

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The NIH Data Science Releases a Case Study Underscoring the Value of Librarianship in the Patient Care Setting

Tue, 2017-11-07 05:00
NLM

The National Library of Medicine

A NIH Data Science published a report titled A Case Study in NIH Data Science: Open Data and Understanding the Value of Libraries and Information Services in the Patient Care Setting.  In short, the NIH used other research studies to learn where and how clinicians reported using PubMed/MEDLINE as an information resource influencing clinical decision making.

Journals and PubMed/MEDLINE were the two resources most used by clinicians according to the NIH data analysis.  In addition, the NIH discovered that when clinicians use a greater number of information resources, the probability of changes to patient care were higher and so is the prevention of negative events.

According to the NIH, the advantage of using research that is already available saves time, money, increases collaboration, and extends the life of the original work.  This has direct implications for researchers and librarians, in particular.  Leveraging information service skills is an important part of affecting patient care.

Who best to provide that service than a librarian?

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Get the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointments

Thu, 2017-11-02 18:58

“checklist” by Tero Vesalainen from Pixabay via CC0

Plan to get the most out of your doctor’s appointments.  You can address your concerns as best as possible, by following some key steps.

Tips

1) Make a list of the questions and concerns you want to talk about with your doctor.

2) Put them in order, listing the most important question or concern first.  Make sure to ask all the most important questions during your visit.

3)  Take a list of your medications and dosages.  This includes over-the-counter medications, herbal medications, supplements, and vitamins.  Or, bring all your medicine with you in a clear plastic bag.

4) Bring your insurance cards.

5) Bring the names and phone numbers of all the doctors you see.

6)  If you feel comfortable, take a friend or family member.  This person can help you remember what you want to say and take notes for you about what the doctor said in the appointment.

Learn more on the National Institute of Aging website.

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The Trouble with Drugs: Possible Solution to the Opioid Problem

Wed, 2017-11-01 18:41
pills

“health medicine tablet pills” by Aloísio Costa Latgé ACL from Pixabay via CC0

The opioid epidemic has become a national crisis, one that may lead the White House to declare a national state of emergency. But there may be good news on the horizon about one possible solution to the rising number of overdose deaths.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that deaths from prescription drugs, heroin, and synthetic opioid like fentanyl have more than quadrupled in the last 20 years. Almost 30,000 deaths a year are attributed to illegal and legally prescribed opioids.

However, in the state of Colorado, the growth of overdose deaths has slowed over the past few years, an adjustment linked to the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana.

In a study published in the American Journal of Public Health and coauthored by researchers in the School of Public Health at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, an analysis of data from the year 2000 to 2015 shows a 6% reduction in Colorado’s number of opioid-related deaths after recreational marijuana was made legal in 2012.

The study, the first of its kind to look at short-term public health benefits of legalized marijuana, has garnered a huge amount of attention, trending on Google and ranked high on Web of Science for number of citations soon after it was released.

Despite the potential benefits demonstrated by the study, the lead author recommends caution for policymakers considering legal decisions, as further study is necessary to examine the long-term effects of expanded and legalized marijuana use. This is one story you’ll want to add to your saved folder and check back on in the future.

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Arm Yourself Against the Flu

Tue, 2017-10-31 01:08

Get your flu shots! The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting our first flu cases of the season in our region.  The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu vaccine by the end of October.  The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent flu illness.

Take three actions to fight the flu:

1) Get your flu shot.

2) Stop the spread of germs by avoiding close contact with sick people, wash your hands frequently, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

3) If you get the flu, take your antiviral medications as prescribed by your doctor.

If you experience the following symptoms, you may have the flu:

flu symptoms

Infographic from CDC via CC0

Seek treatment from a doctor if you think you may have the flu.

Find out more by visiting the CDC website.

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Happy Fall Holidays

Thu, 2017-10-26 13:34
pumpkins

“Large harvested pumpkins” by Aaron Burden via Unsplash

Happy Halloween! Here are health and safety tips for the big day, courtesy of the CDC:

  • Provide healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks.
  • Offer a variety of fruits and vegetables if you have guests over.
  • Use party games and trick-or-treat time as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.
  • Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could cause someone to fall.
  • Keep candle-lit jack o’lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.
  • Remind drivers to watch out for trick-or-treaters and to drive safely. For more tips, go to the CDC’s Halloween health page

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