Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

The Official Girl Scout Cookie Sale for Girl Scouts of the Green & White Mountains begins on January 1, 2010. Girls and Troops in New Hampshire and Vermont will be selling cookies to raise money for their troops.

Girls will be going door to door selling cookies in January and early February. Mid-February through mid-March Troops will be hold Cookie Booth Sales.

You can check out all the varieties of Girl Scout Cookies offered by our GS Council here.

Girl Scouting has specific safety rules for the girls to follow when doing door to door sales. Thus many girls are only able to take orders on the weekends and may not be able to visit every home in their neighborhood. If you are in NH or VT and would like to place an order you can contact the Girl Scouts of the Green & White Mountains Council office and they will take your information and have a local troop get in touch with you to take your order.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Trying new recipes

Lately I feel that I've been in a cooking rut. I'm always cooking the same things. So today when I finally checked my email I found this yummy looking recipe in my inbox:

This is "Ham and Cheese Foldover Sandwiches" from the Bisquick website. Of course when I make it, it looks nothing like the picture. Mine looks like:

And of course I omitted the Dijon mustard (which I don't have and no one in my house really likes anyway), and I substituted Cheddar cheese for the Swiss, which again is an ingredient I didn't have. And the recipe called for thin deli slices of ham and used dices leftovers from my Christmas ham.

Anyway, it came out good! The kids liked it which is all that mattered.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 12/23/09

I drive by this several times a week and have been wondering what it was. I was thinking funky wind turbine, some sort of antenna.... A friend today confirmed it was a wind turbine. If anyone knows where in Southeastern NH or Southern Maine you can find these please post! I'm rather interested in this as it would take a much smaller footprint than a traditional wind mill.
Apologies for the crooked pic, took the shot w/ my phone leaning over the passenger seat to catch it through the open passenger window of my car while waiting at the traffic light.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Support your local toy drive

I saw an article in the paper today, the demand for donations to local charities has gone up, but so have the donations. There was a great picture of a local food pantry that I've the fortune to visit with my Girl Scout Troop.

Many non-profit and charity groups provide a wealth of services to our communities. One we don't often think about are toy banks. Christmas is just days away, and local toy banks are still struggling to meet the need of families who are just not financially able to provide Christmas gifts to their children. We see the trees with gift request tags at banks, credit union, churches and other businesses; as well as donation boxes at shops and in our workplaces. But have you taken a moment to pick a tag or purchase a gift to donate? Many of these requests are not selfish requests for electronic toys, but rather "A warm coat that fits me", "personal care items for a teenage girl" or "size 3 diapers". These aren't necessarily gifts as we think of them underneath our Christmas Trees, but gifts of necessities.

There are but a few days and hours left until Christmas. When you're out shopping please take a moment to pick up that tag, purchase one extra item and help make this Christmas a magical one.

Local Seacoast Toy Banks:

Seacoast Area Firefighters Toy Bank

The Salvation Army

Toys for Tots

Have a magical and safe Holiday Season!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Beer keg to heart anatomy and physiology lesson

Borrowed from a CPR instructors group on Google Groups that I belong to:

If I want a beer and I pump the keg 5 times and pour 1 lousy beer, the pressure drops back down (G1992)

If you and I team up and pump the keg 15 times and pour 2 OK beers, pressure still drops (G2000)

If we team up and pump the keg 30 times we get 2 really good beers (G2005)

If we pump the keg 50 or 100 times it kills us before we get a beer (50:1 & 100:1 studies)

This ends our beer keg to heart anatomy and physiology lesson for today.

Interesting analogy on the progression of compressions to ventilation ratios.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What is Congestive Heart Failure?

When the heart cannot pump blood efficiently or effectively to the body it is called Congestive Heart Failure. This can be caused by narrowed arteries leading into the heart, damage to the heart muscle, scarring on the heart and infection. Over a half a million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure each year and it is estimated that almost 5 million people lead normal lives with this diagnosis.

Signs and symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure can include:
* Early fatigue with exercise or activity
* Difficulty breathing with activity or when lying down
* Swelling of the ankles and lower legs
These symptoms are caused by a build up of fluid as blood returning to the heart cannot be pumped efficiently through the heart.

Diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure can only be made by a physician. Treatment option can include rest, modification of activity, proper diet and medication. Many people are able to live normal lives with mild to moderate Congestive Heart Failure. Follow your physicians recommendations for treatment.

For more information please visit the American Heart Association's website or WebMD. You can also view this animated tool from the American Heart Association that provides information on the warning signs and symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Safely decorating with lights this Holiday Season

Bright shining decorations make the Holiday season colorful and festive. These same decorations can also be dangerous if they are damaged or used incorrectly.

Before putting up electrical strings of lights check them for exposed and frayed wires or cracked light sockets. Replace any damaged wires with new UL approved light strings.

Don't put up electrical light strings with nails or staples. Use clips or hooks that are designed for holiday decorations.

Don't use indoor holiday light strings outdoors. Indoor light strings are not designed for outdoor use and may not hold up to the outdoor weather.

Check the packaging or directions on light displays to see how many strings you can safely connect together. Some brands may have a limit on how many strings you can safely connect.

Lastly if you are using outdoor electrical decorations make sure they are plugged into a properly installed outdoor outlet and any extension cords you are using are approved for outdoor use.

For more information you can visit the National Fire Protection Association holiday website and the Underwriters Laboratory Holiday Safety website.

NFPA's Lorraine Carli has a few safety tips to consider before you decorate your home for the holidays

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Shopping safely with children during the holiday season

Like most parents I fear losing my children in a crowded store when we're out shopping. That coupled with my less than stellar patience with crowded environments means that you won't find me in any stores on Black Friday! But with a little advanced planning your shopping trip can go smoothly.

Don’t take younger children shopping when it is close to nap times or during a time of day that they usually have a lot of energy. Those times of day can mean cranky, energetic or less-than-politely behaved children. If your child typically likes to run or hide from you, realize that they are going to do that in a crowded store as well and look around at areas that you think they’re like to hide in.

Do you need to shop at a busy time of day? Do you need to take your children to the early morning Black Friday price-slashing sale? Can you shop at a different time?

Talk to your child beforehand. Explain to them that the store may be crowded, there may be a lot of fun things to look at, but that they must stay with you so that they don’t get lost. Many young children don’t want to lose their parent in the store and will understand.

If your child is young enough to use a stroller, use it. Make sure the safety strap is securely buckled. For preschoolers and younger elementary aged children hold hands. For older children designate a meeting place in each store or mall where everyone is to meet if you get separated.

Place a card with your name and cell phone number in your child’s pocket. If you are separated store employees or security guards will be able to contact you. There is also a mom-owned business,, that makes standard & write on temporary tattoos that can have your contact information on them.

If you do lose your child:

* Start looking immediately. Call your child’s name loudly. Hopefully they will hear you and come running, hopefully it will also alert the store staff that your child is missing.

* Make contact with the store or mall staff. Many locations have a ‘code Adam’ system that has staff monitoring all exits so no one can leave with your child. If more than a few minutes go by contact your local police department.

For many of us hiring a sitter so that we can shop is not always an option. None of us want to think that we could lose our child in a crowded store. But planning ahead and knowing what to do can help prevent a lost child or make finding your child a lot easier.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Help out your local Food Pantry this winter

A few years ago my daughter's Girl Scout Troop was working on a food and nutrition badge. As we discussed some of the badge requirements in the Troop meeting we got to discussing who does not have access to good, healthy foods. Not surprisingly the girls first started listing off several impoverished nations. So they were surprised to find out that many people locally do not have access to fresh healthy food because it is usually more expensive. This led to a great service project that year with a local food pantry.

This year our Troop is again doing a Food Drive. Our last collection day is Wednesday 11/18 as we're delivering our donations the following day. If you're in Newington, NH feel free to drop any non-expired food or household item (detergent, soap, personal care items) off at the Newington Town Hall. We will be visiting the Seacoast Family Food Pantry with our donations.

The need for food is greater this year than ever. So many families are struggling to make ends meet. Sometimes the only area of flexibility in frugal budgets is to reduce how much is spent at the grocery store. Using coupons and watching sale flyers are great ways to reduce how much we spend, but we can't always provide a healthy diet with vegetables and fruits by relying on coupons and sales alone. This year there are more and more families relying on Food Pantries, some may even be your neighbors. These are not families just looking for a handout, they're regular folks who are struggling and want to make sure they're taking care of their families.

Many food pantries also collect more than just food. Household items, cleaners, personal care items, and laundry detergent are all welcome donations. The big thing to watch for is to make sure none of the donated items have expired. Several food pantries have refrigerators and freezers and can accept perishable and frozen foods, although you should check before dropping these items off.

The need is year round, but the holidays are a busy time that you can help out with. So many businesses and organizations are holding food drives. If you're able to help out pick up one or two extra things when you shop this week and drop it off at a food drive.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A new way to teach relief of choking

In most of my CPR courses I'm asked how effective the Heimlich maneuver is. We can practice where to place our hands, but this is not a skill that can be practiced on someone who is not choking and is not easy to practice on a CPR mannequin.

But today I found this really neat product and video.

This would be an easy and effective way to teach proper hand positioning and technique. Unfortunately for me it is a bit cost prohibitive. But I wanted to share the video as it is a good training aid just to see how effective proper hand placement and technique are to successfully relieve choking.

You can read more about this product at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Germs, germs go away....

After my last post on hand washing vs. hand sanitizer I received a great question about other ways to prevent the spread of germs in public places.

It would be impossible to prevent all germs from being spread around. But there are a few precautions we can take to limit germ sharing.

When my two school aged daughters were younger their classroom teachers did a fun project with them every year. The kids got to grow germs. They went around the school like little scientists and swabbed different things and parts of the building. Where do you think they grew the most germs from? Not the restroom.... from door handles, light switches, telephone handsets and computer keyboards. Places we don't often thinking of cleaning.

Most commercially available disinfectant sprays and wipes can take care of limiting germs on these surfaces. A quick spray or wipe can help kill germs and bacteria and prevent their further spread. If you work in a public place or large office and/or share workstations think about having disinfectant spray or wipes on hand. It only takes a moment or two to quickly wipe or spray a computer mouse or fax machine to reduce germ sharing. The person you might be protecting from those extra germs might just be yourself.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hand soap vs. hand sanitizer

Last week in two of my classes we had a big discussion on hand washing vs. using hand sanitizer. There was a story on Good Morning America about this which I went searching for this weekend. Both classes the participants insisted hand sanitizer was the best way to go, but some parents are concerned about accidental (or otherwise) ingestion of hand sanitizer by their kids. So what method is the best way to prevent the spread of germs? The study recommended good hand washing.

Good hand washing techniques wash germs away. It doesn't kill germs, just washes them down the drain. It really doesn't matter if you use regular soap or antibacterial soap. The study done at the University of Maryland demonstrated that use of antibacterial soap did not do a significantly better job than just hand soap. What made the difference with hand washing was the technique used. Wash for at least 20 seconds or more. Statistically they found that most people just do a quick rinse. It is the good rinsing with hot water that help wash the germs away.

There are also concerns that too many antibacterial products will lead to germs becoming more resistant or that we'll rely to heavily on antibacterial products instead of using good hand washing techniques.

Hand Sanitizers do the job of killing germs when you are unable to get to soap and water to wash your hands. To have any real effect the sanitizer must contain at least 60% alcohol. The 2 bottles I check at home this weekend at 63% & 64% alcohol. One area from the study I do disagree with it one of the last statements. GMA wrote that experts commented that most kids won't eat or lick hand sanitizers because they don't taste good. We had a large discussion on this in one of my classes last week because of all of the lovely fruit scented hand sanitizers that can be found in stores. One of the parents had a pomegranate scented hand sanitizer and actually took a lick of her finger after using it. She confirmed that indeed, it tasted like pomegranate. So for parents I'd recommend NOT purchasing scented hand sanitizer.

You can read the full GMA Article here.

So what's the best option? If you don't think you'll do a good job with hand washing (or don't think your kids will) hand sanitizer is probably a good alternative. At home and school good hand washing techniques with soap and water are the best way to wash grime and germs off your hands.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Change your clocks, change your batteries

Daylight savings time ends early tomorrow morning. On November 1st at 2am Daylight Savings Time it will become 1am Standard Time. One great benefit is that we all gain an extra hours sleep tonight!

But before you decide whether to set your clocks back Saturday night or Sunday morning, take a few minutes to pick up some new batteries for your battery operated smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

Battery operated detectors need to have good working batteries in order to operate correctly. A good way to remember this is to change the batteries every time we change our clocks. So tonight when you're thinking about when to change your clocks take a minute or two to figure out what type of batteries your detectors take and pick some up. And then either tonight before you go to bed, or tomorrow morning when you get up, as you reset your clocks replace your detector batteries. In less than 5 minutes you can ensure that your detectors will be able to alert you in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide emergency.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween Safety

Halloween is only a few days away. Different towns have Trick or Treat on different nights. Irregardless if you have children out that night or not, we all need to exercise extra caution during Trick or Treat.

If you're driving at dusk or later watch carefully for kids darting out between parked cars or crossing the road. While many costumes can be bright and colorful, some are dark and may not be reflective. It can be easy to get distracted looking at bright Halloween displays, but keep your eyes open for costumed kids near the roadway.

Like most parents I’m finishing up my kids' costumes. When you look at your child's costume think about how it will look at night. If it is a dark color does it have any reflective striping on it to help them appear more visible at night? You can make your child's costume more visible by adding reflectivity - reflective tape is sold at most fabric, craft and pet supply stores. They can also wear glow sticks and carry a flashlight.

Does your child’s costume cover their face? Does it need to? Sometimes a little make up can be more comfortable than a full face mask. It would be easier for your child to see when they are walking at night and if you think they might be running it might be easier for them to breathe if they aren't wearing a mask. Also how long is their costume? Will they trip over it? If it is a bit long you can use fabric tac, a glue stick, masking tape or duct tape to quickly shorten the length of the costume.

Are your children trick or treating with you or another adult? Are they going alone with other kids? Do you know where they will be? Plan out where you are going or make sure you know which roads your children will be on.

Remind your children to never visit homes that do not have lights on or not to visit homes of anyone they really don’t know. Double check their loot when they return home to make sure all treats are in unopened and sealed wrappers.

Halloween is a really fun holiday. A little caution can help keep it a safe one as well.

Happy Halloween!
I'm trying out

Monday, October 26, 2009


I used to have an "unofficial" routine. It worked well and I was getting things accomplished so I didn't really think about it. However over the summer the routine slowly disappeared. I think I never really noticed it until recently when some days I've found it has been a struggle to get several things accomplished in a single day. Sometimes we don't understand the importance of routines until we realize we've lost them.

Monday I tried to return to a routine. I blocked out times for different projects and activities. It worked really well until my youngest decided not to take a nap. I was counting on her nap time to get caught up on some computer work. Since the kids had watched some TV earlier in the day while I did some quality housework I really didn't want to rely on the 'electronic babysitter' for a second time. So the really ambitious routine fell apart.

So today on Day 2 of the new routine we're tweaking it a bit. Yes I still have a lot I want to accomplish, but I am not planning on nap time for focused work time.

Do you have a routine for working at home with kids? How do you organize your day to accomplish everything?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Have you changed your Smoke Detector batteries?

One of the taglines I miss this time of year is "Change your clocks, change your batteries". Now that the change from daylight savings time has moved it doesn't coincide with Fire Prevention Week. This year we will return to Standard Time on November 1st.

Fire Prevention week has just ended, but have you checked your smoke detector batteries? Have you tested your smoke detector? This is a good time to do so. In many parts of the U.S. and Canada the weather is really getting colder, we are turning on our heat or using our fireplace or wood fired stoves. A working smoke detector and working carbon monoxide detector are important to have. Unfortunately I know this first hand, we almost had a fire last winter. Fortunately I smelled the smoke, but discovered that we had malfunctioning smoke detectors in our basement.

In my brief smoke detector research this morning I found this neat website will all sorts of Fire Facts, in fact it is The site has great activities for kids, parents and teachers, including coloring pages, design your emergency escape plan, smoke detector basics and even some parent homework! The website is sponsored by First Alert, who is offering a 10% discount on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for visitors of this site. To find out about the discount visit First Alert's website at

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 10/7/09

A friend posted this on their facebook page the other day. When municipalities cut budgets and cut municipal positions our safety is what is put at risk when there are fewer and fewer firefighters and police officers on duty.

You can create your own neat posters at

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fire Prevention Week 2009

October 4-10, 2009 is Fire Prevention Week. This year’s theme is “Stay Fire Smart, Don’t Get Burned”. The focus is on fire safety and burn prevention. Burns are painful and easily avoided if we all follow some basic safety guidelines.

Burn prevention is simple, but yet we all probably don’t think of these simple safety guidelines:

  • Keep hot things away from the edge of the table or counter. It is tempting for young children to try to grab things just on the edge of their reach. It is also easier for us grown ups to bump or knock over things that are too close to the edge.

  • Keep young children away from hot appliances; this includes stoves and ovens, but also curling irons, hair dryers, irons and heaters. Don’t use or leave hot heating pads in a child’s reach.

  • Keep your hot water heater thermostat set no higher than 120 degrees. Extremely hot water can scald young children and older adults very easily.

  • Don’t rely on thermometers to check water temperature when bathing young children or assisting older adults. Check the temperature yourself. And never leave young children unattended near water.

  • Be carefully wearing loose clothing when cooking.

  • Don’t leave cooking food unattended in the kitchen, especially when frying or broiling.

  • If you have young children try to cook using only the back burners of your stove.

  • Be careful opening containers from the microwave. Hot steam can burn just as quickly as boiling water. Be mindful of the steam from tea kettles as well.

  • Keep paper, clothing, toys and other items away from fireplaces, heaters and gas appliances.

  • Have your heating equipment and chimney inspected yearly.

  • Keep smoking materials away from children, soft furniture, bedding or things that can burn easily. If you must smoke indoors make sure you don’t smoke when tired or on medication that might prevent you from properly extinguishing your smoking materials.

  • Don’t place scarves or other fabrics over lamps or lampshades.

  • Replace cracked or damaged electrical cords. Don’t rely on extension cords to regularly power appliances. If you need the extension cord all the time then it’s probably time to have an outlet installed.

  • If you have young children use outlet covers.

  • Contact an electrician if you have electric circuits that frequently trip or fuses that need frequent replacement.

  • Call 911 if you smell an electrical or burning odor from a wall outlet or appliance.

  • Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home and test them frequently. Do not ‘borrow’ the battery from your smoke detector for another use.

If you do get burned:

  • Immediately cool the burned area with cold, but not ice cold water.

  • Rinse in cool water for several minutes.

  • Cover the burn with a clean, dry cloth.

If the burn is larger than your fist; is burned completely around a finger, arm, foot, leg; or immediately starts to peel or blister you should seek medical attention. If you suspect an electrical burn or have a burn caused by a fire CALL 911. You can not see on the outside the injuries caused on the inside by an electrical burn. Do not place burn creams or ointments on any burn. Rinsing with cool water and a dry bandage are your best first aid treatments.

We’ve all heard the term, “An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and that can be applied very aptly to Fire Prevention Week as well as a host of other projects. The preventative measures we take now can prevent much larger repairs or injuries later.

Many of these tips and more can be found at the National Fire Prevention Association’s website at or

Friday, October 2, 2009

Starbucks Via

Anyone who knows me knows that I love coffee. I truly do. It's pretty rare to see me teaching or at work without coffee in my nearby vicinity. So it is probably no shock to anyone that I was at my local Starbucks this morning to taste test the new Starbucks Via, their instant coffee.

Well I was able to tell which coffee was the instant and which was the fresh brewed, which is probably not a surprise either. However this was no ordinary instant coffee. Now don't get me wrong here - I do enjoy a mug of instant coffee from time to time. Usually later at night when I'm wanting another cup and don't feel like brewing it. Starbucks Via is very much Starbucks. Strong, rich flavor - and it did take me about half of the cup sipping back and forth with the regular blend to figure out which cup was the Via and which was the regular brew.

So if you love Starbucks coffee, but want the convenience of instant; you'll love it! If you're not a fan of Starbucks and/or don't like strong coffee (yes, I know who some of you are!) then this probably isn't the instant for you. But you can always pick some up and have it on hand for those of us loving a strong cup of coffee.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 9/30/09

Today we visited the Pink Fire Truck. These guys and gals drive these pink Fire Trucks all over the U.S. to raise funds and awareness for Breast Cancer. You can see and read more about them on their website at and their blog at

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ouch! I sprained my …

Previously I posted about sprains and breaks. Sprains are more common, so I thought I’d write a bit more about them.

In general terms a sprain is when you stretch a ligament beyond its normal reach. This occurs most commonly when you roll your ankle, or fall and bend your wrist back further than it would normally go.

Sprains hurt. They can hurt a lot. Your basic treatment is to apply ice, immobilize the injured area and seek medical attention. The ice will help numb the pain and will reduce any swelling. Immobilization will help the injured area to rest and will make your trip to the doctor’s office or emergency room a lot easier or at least a bit more pain-free.

With minor sprains you can probably just use ice, immobilization or rest, and keep the injured area elevated. With more severe strains you will need medical treatment. How do you know the difference? You may not know on your own, hence the suggestion to seek medical attention. A mild sprain can be treated easily; a more serious sprain may involve actual tearing of the ligament or surrounding muscle tissue and may require surgery. A good general rule of thumb is that if you are not sure how badly you’re injured – err on the side of caution and seek medical attention. Some sprains can take longer to recover from than if you had actually broken a bone.

Now an important medical disclaimer: If you think you have a severe sprain and it is excruciatingly painful, you can’t bear weight on a knee, ankle, foot or cannot use your arm due to the pain; you’ve been involved in a traumatic situation or a fall from a height; please call 911 or your local emergency number. That is when you need the help of your local fire department or ambulance crew.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 9/23/09 #2

This is AFTER the first scrubbing. No, this is not paint - it is (was) hot pink nail polish. You can purchase nail polish remover by the gallon at Sally Beauty Supply

Wordless Wednesday 9/23/09

Thanks to for this classic picture. I am thinking that this First Aid Kit has not been restocked in a while....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Is it a sprain or a break?

You fall and go boom and something hurts ...

Is it is sprain or did you break something? Clinically the only method to truly know is with an X-ray, but basic treatment right after an injury is the same: Ice, elevation (if possible) and immobilization until you can seek medical attention.

Broken bones or fractures are often not as dramatic looking as we may see on TV or in the movies. When we (or our kids, significant others, friends, etc.) break a bone, our arm (leg, hand, wrist, ankle, foot, toes, fingers... you get the idea) does not bend out at funky angles or have bony pieces sticking out of it. Yes, occasionally that may happen to someone, but most likely it will look normal. Except that it hurts if we try to move it or put weight on it. That pain is good for a reason, it will keep us from moving it. Our first step is to put ice on it. Ice numbs the pain and also helps reduce any swelling. Our second step is to seek medical help to determine if it is a break or sprain. That is where immobilization comes in. The trick is to immobilize the thing above and below where we are hurt. So if I think I may have broken my lower arm I need to immobilize my elbow and my wrist, so that nothing above and below my lower arm can move. The final step is to seek medical attention. This can be from your local doctor or the emergency room.

Now an important medical disclaimer: If you do break something, and it is really bent funny, excruciatingly painful, you can see bone, have excessive bleeding, been involved in a traumatic situation or a fall from a height; please call 911 or your local emergency number. That is when you need the help of your local fire department or ambulance crew.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 9/16/09

Like many of you I receive a lot of emails of funny poems, pictures, 'please forward to 200 of your closest friends to receive luck' types of emails on a somewhat regular basis. Most I just delete. Today I received an email with some of the funniest pictures I've seen in a while. This was just the perfect thing for me today. The message I'm receiving here is "Just Think on Your Own, don't rely on someone or something to do it for you".

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

Today is September 11, 2009. Eight years ago our country was shockingly and tragically attacked. There are so many political and social ramifications that day has had on our country, our politics and our minds ever since.

I don't know the exact numbers, but over 5,000 people died that day. What numbers I do know is that 343 New York City Firefighters and 23 New York City & Port Authority Police Officers also made the ultimate sacrifice on that morning.

All of these folks woke up on a beautiful morning, went to work or the airport, and like us right now were probably thinking ahead on what they were doing that day, the next day and the upcoming weekend. That is over 5,000 immediate families who will wake up today missing that member of their family. For over a million they are missing a member of their extended family.

There will be a lot of talk and references to that fateful morning today, this post is probably just one of thousands (or more). My message is to cherish each day we have with each other. No politics, no stark images or reminders. Just enjoy and be thankful for each moment and day we can spend with our families and friends.

Take care.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shopping, with kids: Our unhappy soccer cleat shopping tale.

We're just finishing up the second week of school and we've already had to go shopping several times for various things. My husband took the easy job of taking the girls for their back to school supplies. I get the fun jobs like taking the kids for sneakers and soccer cleats. Oh, yeah - don't let me forget to mention that he has had a lot of overtime the past few weeks so the whole gang was able to go shopping in force.

So this post is a major slight rant. I'll apologize for it in advance.

The rant is not about shopping with 4 kids to buy 2 pairs of soccer cleats. It is about the lack of customer service we were able to experience at a very large sports box store. It was the week before soccer practices start for most public schools. We're new to soccer, the girls have never played before. We found (on our own) the soccer section. No signs pointed us the right way, we just happened upon it wandering around the store (with 4 kids). My oldest is tall for her age and has large feet and we found that none of the cleats on display were her size. So off we head to the shoe department. There was no one there. They have a running track painted on the floor so while I'm pushing the cart with my youngest in it looking for a salesperson to help us my son is running wild on the track. Eventually someone comes out, I ask for cleats in what I'm hoping is my daughters size, the clerk returns with the cleats and then completely disappears again. They don't fit - so now I'm searching for ANYONE who can help us while my son is wailing because I won't let him run wild on the track. (Can I add that 2 other families shopping are all glaring at my less than perfectly behaved children?) This happens not once, but TWICE before we find the right size (no offer of measurement - I had to wander around and find the foot measuring thingie myself). As we are attempting to leave my son announces he needs to use the restroom. We find it and I take him in. Unfortunately the restroom is located next to the GUN display. So I leave 3 children next to the restroom entrance while I take my son inside. While we're in the restroom the employees of the gun dept (apparently that dept is well staffed) hassle my children about standing next gun safes, even though my oldest explained that they were waiting for us to come out of the restroom. I'm not even going to describe the checkout experience, that also did not go well.

So why the rant? Well, just typing it all out does make me feel better. :-) But also brings up a good point for anyone in the retail business. Here I am a mom with 4 kids buying cleats for my oldest children. Odds are good that in a few years I'll be buying cleats or other sports gear for my younger children. While I'm a frugal and budget conscious shopper, customer service is really important to me when I shop. You may have the cheapest prices, but if I leave there stressed out over my shopping experience you can be confident that your store will not be my first choice the next time I need to make a sports purchase. For most parents it is worth paying a little bit more to have a knowledgeable clerk and a quick pleasant shopping trip. And while I'm not going to post where I went shopping, you can also be confident that if anyone asks me I'll be happy to share that I had a less than pleasant experience at your store. Okay, rant over!

One last quick note: I am now officially a soccer mom! I'm not sure if I should be thrilled, saddened or ambivalent to the title. What are your thoughts? Are you a soccer mom?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hurricane surf

I think it is natural human curiosity to want to see our natural world when it is altered by weather. I base this assumption on the number of weather documentaries and large crowds of people who flock to the beach during storms. However majestic those large crashing waves look, we all need to remember that storm charged surf can be very, very dangerous.

When a storm or hurricane passes off short it creates storm surge. This is an increased tide caused by the pressure of the winds around the storm. The
National Weather Service has a really good webpage that illustrates this.

Waves are very powerful and heavy. According to the National Weather Service water weighs approximately 1,700 pounds per cubic yard. This is strong enough to damage buildings, and can more than certainly knock you off your feet into the surf. You can be pulled away from shore or pushed back on to it.

Despite the draw of going to look at the rough surf - please refrain from doing so. During storm surge it is best to stay away from the beach. Rescue personnel are very busy rescuing people who do not heed warnings and can only reasonably put their lives in so much jeopardy before they have to call off a potential rescue.

Sometimes our desire to see things in action overshadows our need for caution. Hurricane season is upon us. During the next storm when you think how cool it would be to see, swim in, or surf the waves think of the power of storm surge and skip the trip to the beach.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back to school shopping - the medical checklist

In some parts of the U.S. kids are back to school already. My older children return to school in just a few weeks. The stores are busy with all their back to school sales and we're all getting ready for the first day of school.

When you're getting your kids ready to return to school there may be some additional school supplies you'll need to shop for - updated prescriptions.

If your child has a prescribed medication that you provide to the school nurse this is a good time to review if your prescription is current and won't expire during the school year. If you provide epi-pens, asthma inhalers, nebulizers or other medications, read the packaging for expiration dates. If it will expire before the end of the school year take the extra time BEFORE school starts to refill the prescription. Three months from now when everyone is busy with school, sports and other extra curricular activities you may not remember to replace the expired epi-pen that you gave to the school nurse. Many schools will check expiration dates, but some may not. As the parent of the child needing this important medication it is your responsibility to provide a valid and non-expiring medication to the school.

In addition in some smaller communities your school may not have the services of a full-time school nurse. If child may need immediate medical intervention by the use of an epi-pen, fast acting inhaler or other device, make sure you speak with your child's classroom teacher. If they do not know how to assist your child offer to teach them or assist them in locating a First Aid Class to learn how. In addition you should make sure there is at least one other staff person in the school who can assist in case there is a day when both the school nurse and classroom teacher are absent.

Lastly when you deliver your child's medication to the school nurse make a point to sit down and speak with him/her about your child's medical history and how much information is shared. Typically schools leave the dissemination of medical information up to the discretion of the school nurse. Most health care professionals are very cautious about sharing too much information. However if your child has a fragile or emergent medical condition it is important for the school staff who interact with your child frequently to be aware of his or her condition so they can recognize when they need to provide assistance.

The back to school season can be busy, occasionally stressful and full of excitement. Plan ahead, check your medications, and conference with the school staff to make sure everyone is more than prepared for the first day of school.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

So what's in your first aid kit?

Okay, the title is a bit of a play on those credit card commercials: ".. so what's in your wallet?..." the character on the screen asks. My question is "So what's in your first aid kit?". What is the one thing in your kit that you use the most? For me that would be adhesive bandages, aka 'bandaids'. Like most households with kids, we have a lot of skinned knees, toes, elbows, shins, hmmmm... almost any part of the human body! So I stock up on all different sizes of adhesive bandages to keep with my kids cuts and scrapes. A long time ago B.C. (before children) my most used first aid supply was probably the insect repellent I kept in my kit.

So what do you use the most of out of your first aid kit?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

What is an AED?

I frequently am asked what an AED is. An AED is abbreviation for an Automated External Defibrillator. An AED is used in conjunction with CPR to try to restart the heart during Cardiac Arrest.

Using an AED is very simple. Different models and manufacturers of AED's can look different but they all operate the same way. AED's have voice prompts that will guide you through how to use it, in addition there are step by step directions inside the front cover. The are actually very few steps to operate an AED, but to make it even easier I've broken it down into several steps:

Step 1 Turn the AED on. On models with a hard cover the button to open the cover is the on/off switch. On models with a soft cover there will be a green on/off button.

Step 2 Take out the package with the AED pads. Open the package and place the pads on the person following the pictures on the back of each pad. Each pad will have a picture of where it should be placed. Please note that the pad must be adhered fully to the persons skin, not on clothing. If the pads are not already plugged into the AED, plug the cables into the AED.

Step 3 Some AED's will begin to analyze the heart rhythm. For some models you may need to push an ANALYZE button. While the AED is analyzing no one should touch the person. You'll feel like you're kneeling there doing nothing; and you are doing nothing - because the AED is performing an important step right now.

Step 4 When the AED is done analyzing it will either state "Shock Advised" or "No Shock Advised". If the AED says "No Shock Advised" resume CPR beginning with chest compressions. If the AED says "Shock Advised" it will charge up to deliver a shock.

Step 5 All AED's have a red shock button. The button will light up, have a light on it, or have lights around it that will light up and/or flash so that you know that the red button is the button to push. HOWEVER (this is important, hence big letters) before you press the red button to deliver the shock YOU MUST MAKE SURE NO ONE IS TOUCHING THE PERSON. We do that by looking over the person and by saying "I'm clear, you're clear (if there is anyone else helping or close by), we're all clear" and then if no one is touching the person you can push the red shock button. The person is going to move or jump when you push the shock button. This is normal.

Step 6 After you deliver the shock resume CPR starting with chest compressions. After approximately 2 minutes or 5 cycles of CPR the AED will want to analyze the heart rhythm again. Just follow the AED's prompts.

Now this post is not intended to be an AED course, rather it is solely to explain what an AED is and the steps to use one. To learn more about AED's you can contact your local fire department, ambulance corps or hospital for an AED course near you.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Life is short

I'd love to say with no hesitation that CPR saves lives every single time. But the reality is that it doesn't. For some people when it is their time to pass away, it is just that. It is their time - and we have to accept that.

This is not meant to be a morbid post, but rather a reflection upon how short life can be. Tonight I attended a wake for a former co-worker who is not that much older than I am. He leaves behind a beautiful family and a community that he was heavily involved with.

As I drove home I started to think about how short life can be and sometimes how much time we waste on things that perhaps are not as important in the bigger picture. I have had a very stressful week full of car problems, extra bills (thanks to my car) and some hurt feelings at home. But tonight I realized that all those things that I stressed and obsessed about all week really shouldn't define or direct how I live my life from day to day. Many others have said that we define and set the path of our own happiness and yes they are true. Sometimes it takes a sad or tragic event to pull us out of our daily grind and provide us with the reminder to take a look at the big picture. The challenge is not to make this a short single event reflection, but to look at what we should and could be doing to make the time we do have as happy, enriching, and yes as productive as it can be.

For me I have realized that I am spending too much time obsessing on things and on social media; and not enough time with my family and business. I know I reasonably cannot completely change my habits overnight, but I am committing to making my daily interactions with my family and friends matter. My family is why I mostly work from home and I need to re-prioritize that in my daily routine. Even though I am with my children 160-164 hours a week, just being within proximity is not the same as being with them. My attention is not with them if I am checking email, websites, etc. I have so many people who have reached out to me in friendship and networking that I have not fully reciprocated with, and that is to my detriment.

So perhaps I am standing on soapbox that I will promptly fall off of tomorrow. Hopefully not. But while I am sad of the events that have brought me to this self reflection I am hoping that I am able to learn from this. Life is short. We don't know how long we have to make an impact on others, nor do I think any of us want to really know how long we're going to be around. The question for each of us is how do we want others to remember us and how do we really want to spend our lives. What is our bigger picture, and who and how do we want to fit into that frame.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Do your kids know their address?

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I work part time as an emergency dispatcher. I had a call recently from 2 children ages 8 and 10. Fortunately they were not in any danger but our response to them was difficult because they could not tell us their home address and were calling from a cell phone that was only enabled for 911 so we had no actual return number to locate an address from. This was challenged by a bad cell phone connection and their vague description of where they were.

As your children become old enough to play outside without a parent in attendance make sure that they know their street address and home phone number. This information is important if there is an emergency so that we can find them and locate their parents.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Reorganizing Priorities

Lately I’ve been neglecting my blog, my social networking and my business. This is hard because I enjoy all of these things. But I’ve been working and reading a bit more lately. One of the books I’ve been reading has a great quote that sums it all up, Life gets in the way.

I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the myriad responsibilities that have come my way lately. I know I volunteer way too much and I also am not good at saying NO when asked to help out. This is also a slow period for my business so I have been working more at my part time job. So when I have a free moment (hah!) there is so much that needs to be done that I can’t figure out which to do first so most of it does not get done. And I know that this is not unique to me and that this probably happens to a lot of us.

A good friend at work recently lent me two books. Both are inspiration and thought provoking. I’m taking my time to slowly read and reflect on them. I need to reprioritize my life, add more fun family time and yet still accomplish what needs to be done each day. This is a very fine balancing act that will require me to think of new daily strategies to meet these goals. It will not be an overnight process but will take some time and some help from my family. I’ve come to realize that I can be a better parent, person and friend if I take the time to step back, refocus and reprioritize, and then move forward in whatever direction I discover I need to take.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Is phone courtesy dead?

I have a part time job at a dispatch center. As a part-time dispatcher with 4 kids, a husband with an odd work schedule and my own small business, I don’t work all that frequently. So when I answer the phone not everyone knows who I am and vice versa, I can’t recognize everyone’s voice. And since we dispatch for over 20 towns there is no way I could know everyone anyway.

So I have this interesting non-emergency phone call the other day, it goes like this:

Me: I say the name of the agency and my last name
Caller: “Who is this?”
Me: I say the name of the agency again, and then “how can I help you?”
Caller: says the name of their ambulance service and asks for some info
Me: “Hold on while I look that up”
Caller: then begins talking to someone else in the room, WHILE HOLDING THE PHONE IN FRONT OF HER MOUTH, “I don’t know who this is, I don’t recognize her name”
Me: “Hi, Are you talking to me? I’m still here”
Caller: “I’m not talking to you”

So I ignore her, but quite frankly if you’re going to talk about someone you’re on the phone with to someone else in the room common courtesy would be to not speak about them to them. Move the phone away from your mouth. Another important point about phone courtesy is if you don’t know the person you’re speaking with at least identify yourself before asking who they are. If someone called my home and immediately asked who I was I would either ask them to identify themselves first or hand up on them.

What has happened to phone courtesy these days? Is it dead?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

One little thing that makes it all worthwhile

Tonight I had the most wonderful experience. My mom was up visiting and my husband and I decided to go out by ourselves. This alone was a wonderful thing, but the best part of our evening was when we stopped at the supermarket on our way home. We were in the cereal aisle when a woman with a older infant came up the aisle as well. We struck up one of those 'supermarket' conversations about the price of Cheerios when she said that I looked familiar. At first she thought I worked for the local hospital, which I don't, but I mentioned that I taught CPR. Turns out she was in one of my classes almost a year ago. Then she tells me "You saved my daughter's life". Her daughter began to choke on food a few months ago and she successfully performed infant back slaps and chest thrusts to remove the object. Her daughter is almost 13 months old and was happily sitting in the shopping cart smiling at us. We hugged in the aisle. It probably looked odd to anyone else shopping in the evening, but seeing that little girl smile is what makes what I do and teach all worthwhile.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ticks & Lyme Disease

With summer now here I thought I'd share some info on Lyme Disease & ticks. Sometimes you don't need to be in the woods to pick up a tick, they can be almost anywhere other animals travel through. Lyme Disease is primarily carried by Deer Ticks, but those ticks can attach themselves to other host animals. I've had the kids pick up ticks just a few feet from our house and not in the woods out back. Ticks like warm dark places, so they will attach along your ankle, under your sock; behind the ears or along the hairline; and around the edges of your clothing. Since most of us tend to use sunscreen and insect repellent during the day it is a good idea to check for ticks each night when you shower off. Especially check your kids and pets. Household pets can easily carry ticks into the house. If you have a tick the best way to remove it is to use a pair of tweezers or a tick removing device (a fancy pair of tweezers). Grasp the tick as close to the head as you can and gently pull it out. There are a lot of 'old wives tales' methods of removal that may or may not work, but this is the easiest and less likely to scare a child. Then just flush the tick down the toilet or flick it into the woods. If you check daily they are easy to remove. If they are in for a few days they can be harder to remove and you may need to go to your doctors office to have it removed. Signs of tick bite infection are similar to any other open wound infection. Redness, swelling, pain and sometimes a bullseye pattern. The best way to treat a tick bite is to prevent it. If you're going to be near a wooded area wear light long sleeved and long panted clothing and check for ticks frequently. Use insect repellent and reapply as needed. Checking yourself and your kids frequently is the easiest way to prevent Lyme Disease.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Does it take the strength of 10 men?.....

I did a CPR review class recently for the local chapter of Mothers of Multiples. What a fun group! I visited them during one of their meetings to give them the chance to practice their CPR skills and to answer any questions they might have. It wasn't really a class and they had some great questions - some of which I had to really think about! I think it's good to get stumped by questions when I teach, it keeps me on my toes and reminds me why I should be reading all those updates and studies.

One of the moms in the group asked me a really interesting question though. She had been told that she was "too small" to do CPR on an adult male. She was rather petite and slender, but I had never heard of anyone being too small to do effective CPR. My immediate reply to her, as a mother of TRIPLETS she probably has more upper body strength than I do! I don't think I could pick up more than 2 kids at a time!

But looking at the physics & body chemistry involved in CPR I can't really see how anyone could be too small. When we perform chest compressions on an adult we use 2 hands and we lean over their body with our arms underneath our shoulders. We use the muscles of our back, abdominals, shoulders, and to a lesser extent arms, to perform chest compressions. We use the weight of our upper body to provide most of the force in the downward cycle of the compression. We don't use just our arms to perform the compressions - otherwise we'd get way too tired way too quickly! It is not meant to be a cardiovascular exercise - we compress evenly at 100 pushes per minute (try singing "Old MacDonald had a Farm") letting the weight of our upper body do most of the work. Secondly when we get excited or stressed our body releases a natural chemical called adrenaline. We've all heard the term of the adrenaline rush and possibly heard the stories of the frantic mom who has picked up a car (or other heavy object) to save their child. Well for most of us, the first time you see someone collapse and you need to start CPR you are going to have a serious adrenaline rush! I know I did the first time my son choked (yes we've done this twice!). Thinking back I still can't believe how quickly I had him up & out of that seat and on my arm doing infant back slaps.

Pretty much anyone can do chest compressions on anyone of any size. You do not need the strength of 10 men to perform adequate compressions. So the next time someone tells you that you are too small or too light or too weak to help someone who needs CPR just smile and don't listen to them. Because you can do it and you can make a difference for someone who needs your help.

June 1-7, 2009 is National CPR & AED week. Have you taken a CPR course recently?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The value of CPR & First Aid

Cost of CPR Barrier Sheet: $9.50
Cost of Pocket Mask: $12.25
Cost of CPR course: $40.00
Cost of First Aid Kit: $10.00
Cost of First Aid Course: $40
Knowledge that you can make a difference for someone in an emergency: Priceless

In our current economy a lot of us are watching our budgets and trying to get the best value for our money. Taking courses is no exception to that. Prices for CPR and First Aid courses vary depending upon location, who is offering the course, etc. Sometimes I hear that courses are too expensive or I'm asked if discounts are available. So what exactly does the course charge cover and what is the value of knowing CPR and First Aid?

First let's take a look at what goes into the cost of a course.

I can only speak from my experiences as an American Heart Association Instructor, but the AHA does not set the prices for the courses, it is up to individual instructors to set their own prices. For my business I set up a formula. It is based on a minimum class size of 4 students so some expenses are divided by 4 to spread out the cost. So per person my costs are based on:
• Cost of book for the course
• Replacement lungs for 1 Adult & 1 Infant mannequin (divided by 4)
• Barrier sheet (I think it's important to know how to use one)
• One-way valve for face mask (if we cover this in the course)
• Cost to have Course Completion cards issued by my Training Center
• Cost to rent the space to hold the course (divided by 4)
• My time to teach the course, prepare before course and clean up after course

How much time do I put in for each course? I have to arrange the location, order the supplies, pack the materials, set up for the course, teach the course, clean up after the course, sanitize all the equipment after the course, submit the roster, request the cards and then mail out all the cards. Not factored in is all the other things that go into running a business, advertising, marketing, insurance, returning phone calls, email, etc. For private groups my charges vary as there are usually fewer expenses and I can pass that savings on to the group.

What is the value of knowing CPR or First Aid?

First and foremost you have the peace of mind to know that you know what to do in the first few minutes of an emergency. For parents and grandparents this is most likely foremost in your mind.

For care providers you may be required to have certification for your state license. For babysitters, advertising that you know CPR or First Aid makes you more attractive to parents looking to hire you. Some parents may pay a babysitter more if they are certified in CPR or First Aid.

Some employers may offer incentives for trained employees or may require certification as part of their job description. Some professions require certification for state licensing or for insurance coverage.

I could cite statistics and quote a lot of reasons why everyone should know CPR or First Aid, but today's post is on the value and what you're getting for the cost of the course. You are getting an instructor who has been trained and mentored to teach the skills and to answer your questions. You are getting the certification you may need. You are getting supervised practice time to learn the physical skills involved. If you're a believer in Murphy's Law you know that the more you are prepared the less likely you may need to use what you've learned. But most importantly you are learning a very important life saving skill. For $40 (or whatever the charge is where you are) you are learning how to possibly save another person's life.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How would you find a CPR course?

My last posts on online CPR courses hit a few nerves and there are a few good comments and a lot of interesting Twitter posts about Online CPR courses. When most people think of taking a course the first programs that come to mind are those offered by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. Both organizations offer good programs, but they are not the only programs out there. If you searched for CPR courses on the web you'd get thousands of hits back, some from companies you've never heard off. So how do you find a course?

There are basically three types of CPR courses: Classroom, online and self-directed.

Self-directed courses are programs you can purchase with equipment to learn and practice on your own. The American Heart Association's CPR Anytime and Infant CPR Anytime at are good examples of this. You purchase a kit which contains a DVD and a small inflatable mannequin. The program does not lead to certification or a CPR card, but is a good way to learn and practice the skills in the comfort of your own home.

Classroom courses are just that, in a classroom - or living room, workplace, etc. This is the traditional course with an instructor and equipment. The courses are usually video based and you watch and practice the skills along with the video and the instructors guidance. Most layperson courses no longer have a written test and the programs are more based on ability to practice the physical skills.

Online courses are taken from a website. Here is where it can get confusing. Any valid and legitimate online course will have a practical skills component. For the American Heart Association the online portion of a course is called "Part 1", you have to meet with an instructor for "Part 2" (and Part 3 in some cases) for the practical skills portion of the course. The instructor cannot issue you a card until you have completed the practical skills component.

Now I can only speak for American Heart Association courses as that is the organization that I am affiliated with. However you may want to question the legitimacy of an online CPR, BLS or ACLS course that does not require a practical skills component. I like to use the analogy that it's like driving a car. You can read the book and take the test, but does that mean you know how to drive the car? Would you want an ambulance crew or ED nurses working on you who had never practiced the skills, but were certified by taking just an online test? Probably not.

Also keep in mind that some of the 'bargain' prices you may see online may not necessarily be a bargain. Speaking only from my experience, the AHA does not set guidelines on what instructors may or may not charge for courses. Some instructors or sites teach entirely for free, others charge just to cover their basic expenses. While there are some out to make a profit, most of us look to charge what is usual & customary and to cover our out of pocket expenses to offer the course. There are many organizations that sponsor courses to keep the charges reasonable, so check around.

Where can you look locally? Start by calling your local hospital and ask if they offer classes. Many Fire Departments offer classes as well as many individual instructors like myself. Most of us are aligned with a local Training Center which may be the local hospital as well. Take a look on the web. If you come across a site that you don't recognize the name look at the course requirements. If it doesn't contain or require a practical skills portion with a local instructor then skip to the next hit on the list. Also make sure the organization has a local instructor in your area who can provide the necessary practical skills component. Not all Training Centers allow their instructors to perform these. You want to make sure that there is someone who is available to offer the practical skills portion before your register and pay for the online course. Also keep in mind that you most likely will have to pay the instructor for the practical skills portion separately from the online course.

If you're boggled by how to determine the legitimacy of an online course then look for a traditional classroom course which you know will contain the practical skills practice required for certification.

My goal is not to confuse anyone away from online courses, or to highlight one national organization. I am very pro-active in Health Education and want more people to learn CPR. But to learn in the correct environment for them from an organization that requires practical skills practice and testing to make sure the skills are taught correctly.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Be wary of some online BLS courses

Previously I've written about Online CPR courses. They're easy to take, convenient and affordable. My earlier post was about the Online American Heart Association Courses. There has been confusion about them in the past and some clinical providers didn't realize that the online portion was only Part 1 of the course. There is also a Part 2 (or Part 3) which involves a practical skills component. Overall if you follow the guidelines, complete all the required parts, and successfully pass any online or practical tests you will receive your certification.

However you have to be rather careful about which online courses you take. Recently I had a nursing educator unfortunately get scammed by an online site promising her a card, which she was able to print her own card at the end of the online course. However the large Red Flag for me was when she called me to schedule a practical exam and then told me she was able to print her own card, AHA programs do not allow participants to print their own cards from a website.

This particular site mimicked itself after both the AHA and ARC, promising "ILCOR Recommended" and "meets all ECC 2009 Guidelines". The name of the course was a mix of the AHA BLS for Healthcare Providers and the ARC CPR for the Professional Rescuer. For the reduced price of $19.95 she took an online course and was able to print a rather official looking card at the end. There was no practical skills component required. Having taken the AHA BLS for Healthcare Providers Online before she called me to schedule the skills test, not realizing she had been scammed. It was such an awkward phone situation to have to explain to her what had happened and that I could not just give her a practical test, she had to take the AHA written exam and then the practical in order for me to be able to have an AHA card issued to her. I felt crummy about it and wanted to emphasize that if only she had called me first.... but at this point the damage was done and we have since met, tested appropriately and she will soon receive her AHA card. In conversing about this situation with my Training Center Coordinator I also found that this has also happened with advanced level cardiac courses and other hospital staff being scammed by some online sites.

My caution to everyone is, if you need CPR certification - whether you are a Healthcare Provider or other care provider, and you are looking at online courses, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, make sure you are taking a course through a valid source and that THE ONLINE COURSE REQUIRES A PRACTICAL SKILLS COMPONENT WITH A LOCAL INSTRUCTOR. Yes, I meant to type that in all caps because I feel it's important and I'd be happy to shout it from the top of really tall hill. I can only speak on very familiar terms with American Heart Association Courses, but the BLS for Healthcare Providers Online and the Heartsaver AED Online programs both require a second session with an instructor to provide a practical skills session and testing. I have seen another online program not sponsored by the AHA and ARC that required meeting with that organizations instructor for the practical skills component.

If something seems like a bargain online there is a good chance that it isn't. In this recent situation the 'bargain' price of $19.95 was still more than the $17.50 the AHA charges for the BLS Online course. Other advanced level course may try to charge you more for a card that is basically worthless. Most clinical locations will not accept a card from a program that does not contain a practical skills component.

So when looking to take a class, or when you need a renewal look at online courses with a slightly cynical view. If it is not a nationally recognized organization like the American Heart Association or American Red Cross, check their credentials, check to see if your employer will accept the course and check to see if there is a practical skills component. If the answer to any of these queries is no, then don't sign up for the course and look for one that meets the certification requirements you and your employer need.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NH Heartwalk fun!

This past Sunday the kids and I walked in the NH Heartwalk. This was our second year doing it and we had such a great time! All of the event organizers and volunteers were so positive, upbeat and genuinely friendly to all the participants. This was our first year walking the Heartwalk in Manchester, NH as this year the Seacoast Heartwalk merged with the Central NH Heartwalk.

My older daughters initially didn't want to walk this year, but became really excited when we they found out the walk would start and end at the Fisher Cats Stadium. We're not that familiar with Manchester so we looked the directions up on the web and headed off. For such a large city the stadium was very easy to find and we had no problem finding nearby parking.

It was slightly overcast and lightly raining, but registration and vendor tables were all set up in the grandstand out of the weather. We (I) took the Healthy Heart Pledge and visited the Go Red for Women table. The kids had their faces painted and played some kids games they had set up in a kid's activity area. There was even someone handing out small blow up beach balls with hearts on them.

The light mist cleared as the walk began and we had fun walking through the mill area. I did see the sign for the SEE Center which is a fun kids museum I've always wanted to take the kids to, so now I know how to find it!

The plan was to walk the 5 mile loop. However as we approached the 2nd water stop my oldest (the one who wanted us to speed walk at the start!) saw the large hill and pretty much announced she was ready to walk back. My second daughter who I expected to want to turn around pretty quickly wanted to keep going! But by this point the 2 little kids were really starting to fight with each other in the stroller so we did turn back. So we ended up walking roughly 2 miles.

Back at Heartwalk Central the kids enjoyed the Climbing Wall compliments of Vertical Ascent of Manchester and some great BBQ from The Meat House. We took some fun pictures of the stadium and the little kids got a chance to run around the much more vacant grandstand.

We had a lot of fun! The Fisher Cats Stadium was a great location to host the event! Easy to find, ample nearby parking, plenty of restrooms with baby changing stations (hey, with 4 kids this is a plus for me!) and there was an elevator to get us up and down the grandstand. The only suggestion I could make for next years Heartwalk is to place the grills in the larger open grandstand area and not next to the elevator as we couldn't navigate the narrower walkway to the elevator due to the food line and had to go bump, bump, bump down all the stairs. However lots of people offered to help! My son had fun walking down the stairs and my youngest got to enjoy the bumpy ride.

We're still taking donations if you'd like to help us wrap up our Heartwalk fundraising! We didn't meet our goal, but you can help us get a little closer!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Heat emergencies Part 2

In Part 1 I wrote about Heat Exhaustion. This post is about Heat Stroke, the more serious and potentially life threatening heat emergency.

Heat Stroke occurs when the body becomes so overheated that it begins to shut down. Your skin becomes hot, red and you lose the ability to sweat. As your body temperature rises you become confused, disorientated and can have a seizure. Eventually you will become unresponsive and permanent brain and tissue damage can result.

Heat Stroke can be fatal. This is a life threatening situation. If you suspect someone is suffering from Heat Stroke call 911. Begin cooling the person with cool water and move them to a cool environment or shade.

The best way to treat Heat Stroke or Heat Exhaustion is to prevent it. When we're outside in warm weather it is easy to get preoccupied with what we are doing and forget to take breaks or drink water. Keep an eye on the weather forecast. When the forecast is for hot weather or if the heat stress index is very high plan for frequent breaks in the shade or in air conditioning. Drink plenty of water and try to break large outdoor projects into smaller ones or see what can be rescheduled for a cooler day.

We've all heard the expression that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. This is very true in hot weather. Keeping an eye on yourself, your family and your co-workers and watching for the warning signs of overheating during the hot weather is one of the best ways to prevent a heat emergency.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Heat emergencies Part 1

Summer is quickly coming and while our prequel to summer temps in NH is over this is a good time to get ready for the heat of summer and keeping ourselves and our kids safe in higher temps.

Heat emergencies are when our bodies get overheated. This probably happens to a lot of us quite frequently in the warmer months. The trick is to recognize the symptoms and take action before a true emergency develops. There are two types of heat emergencies; heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion is when we move beyond just feeling overheated. We begin to feel flushed, hot and very sweaty. Kids will begin to look very hot with reddish and sweaty skin. We begin to feel very weak, lethargic and sometimes irritable. Our kids may seem sleepy or develop upset stomachs. To treat this we need quick but gentle cooling. Move to a shady and cool area. Fan yourself or your child. Placing a towel or scarf soaked in cool water on your neck, shoulders or head can also cool you down. The trick is to cool off with cool water, not ice cold water.

To avoid heat exhaustion drink plenty of water when you'll be outside for long periods of time. Take frequent breaks in the shade when possible. Caffeinated sodas, coffee and teas are natural diuretics and can leave you dehydrated and possibly more prone to heat exhaustion.

Recognizing the signs and taking preventative measures to avoid overheating and heat exhaustion are your first steps for a healthy hot weather summer! Ignoring the signs can lead to a more serious condition, Heat Stroke, which I'll cover in my next post. Please note any heat emergency where you or your child lose consciousness, lose the ability to sweat or do not respond/act appropriately is a true heat emergency and you should contact 911

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Gearing up for the NH Start! Heartwalk

Okay, so we're all getting excited at home for the NH Start! Heartwalk in Manchester on May 17th. Unfortunately we seem to be running into some snags on the fundraising aspect of the walk. I know times are tight, so I thought I'd throw out a few things that the American Heart Association does with your fundraising dollars.

Research on the effectiveness of CPR and how we teach it.
Has it been a few years since you've taken a CPR course? Did you know we know do 30 compressions rather than 15? Have you heard of the new guidelines on "Hands Only CPR"?

Public Awareness of Heart Health
Do you know your risks for Heart Attack or Stroke? You can find out at Go Red for Women or the American Heart Association website.

Research on Heart Health and Risks

So it doesn't need to be much, every little bit helps!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Safer Table Saw

This morning my husband was showing me a brochure and a video of a new table saw. He's a Firefighter and has been slowly renovating our house. So when he saw a video of a safer table saw at our local woodworking store yesterday he was really excited about it.

We've all heard the sad and horrible stories of accidents involving power tools, especially saws. However this company has patented a new technology that stops and retracts the blade when it senses skin. I have no idea how this works, but I understand the general principal and I think it is amazing.

Disclaimer - I do not have this saw and I have not personally seen this saw. I am expressing my opinion solely on the brochure and video on their website. However if the folks at SawStop,, want to lend us one to review my husband would be thrilled and I'd be excited to see some movement on our home improvement projects.

The website states:
SawStop saws detect contact with skin.
The blade carries a small electrical signal, which the safety system continually monitors. When skin contacts the blade, the signal changes because the human body is conductive. The change to the signal activates the safety system.

The safety system immediately shuts down the saw and drops the blade into the table bed preventing any further injury.

Since I'm by nature pretty cynical I was not completely believing the brochure. However the videos and pictures on the website are really convincing. For the faint of heart please note - the video I watched showed them running a hot dog over the blade - I did not see anyone attempting to amputate their fingers. There is also a small picture gallery of customer testimonials of contractors who actually triggered the safety features and suffered only a minor nick instead of losing a finger or worse.

I think it is great to see more companies looking at innovating ways to make their tools safer. This is a great use of technology - sensing the body's natural conductivity - to make a staple tool of the construction and woodworking industry safer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Baby's 1st First Aid Kit

When you're getting ready for a new baby's arrival it can seem overwhelming sometimes all the things that we need! Even more overwhelming is the selection of things when we go to shops specializing in baby gear. I remember when I was expecting my first child going to large baby stores with my mom in the Boston area. The selections and choices were overwhelming! Even your local baby gear store can have more strollers or crib bedding to choose from than you could have previously thought!

One item that there can be a lot of choices on are First Aid kits. Baby gear stores sell them, your local department stores also sell them. There are number of brands and choices - so what is the right kit for a home with a new baby? I'm not able to recommend or endorse any one kit at this time, but I can share with you what to look for and what to be cautious of.

Most kits have most of these basic staples:
*Absorbent compress
*Adhesive bandage (aka band-aids)
*Adhesive tape
*Antibiotice ointmenet
*Antiseptic swab
*Antiseptic wipe
*Antiseptic towelete
*Bandage compresses in different sizes
*Burn dressing
*Burn ointment
*CPR barrier sheet
*Cold pack
*Eye covering
*Eye wash
*Roll bandage in different sizes
*Sterile pads
*Triangular bandage
You would want to have a majority of these items in your First Aid Kit. You may also want to add really small bandages as the bandages in the kit are probably too big for a baby. You may also want to add a package of disposable wipes to clean with as the antiseptic cleaners will sting on an open cut or scrape. If you child has any special medical conditions or allergies you should include any special supplies that you would need in an emergency.

What to avoid or be cautious of:
Medications: Most infant medications have not been tested on infants and studies have not conclusively shown that OTC medications have much effect on infants. You run a greater risk of illness by overmedicating your child. Just because it is in the kit does not mean that you need to use it. Also, medications do expire! Check the expiration dates on the packaging.
Burn Cream: If your baby or child has a burn one of the first things your physician or the emergency room staff might need to do to treat it would be to remove anything you put on the burn. So any burn ointment or other goop (my generic term for creams, salves, etc.) you may have put on the burn would need to be scraped off. This can be very painful. If your baby or child has a burn that appears like a bad sunburn or worse, blisters or causes immediately peeling of the skin do not put any goop on the burn and contact your physician right away. Again, just because it is in the kit does not mean that you need to use it.

Do you need to have an official First Aid kit in your home? No, you don't. You can have any of the basic First Aid materials in your home, car, diaper bag, etc. As long as the materials are easy to find and reach. Make sure any other care givers in your home know where you store your First Aid kit or supplies.

Want to know more about how to use some of the First Aid supplies? Take a First Aid class! Check with your local doctors office or hospital to find out where classes are held locally in your area.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Passion for Pork

Several weeks ago I got an interesting email about one of my nutrition posts. I meant to really jump in and reply and well, life got in the way. I think most of the folks who read my blog are similar to me in that we fit a lot of things in our lives, family, work, volunteering, etc. and sometimes we just get really busy.

His email was very enthusiastic and I have to say I felt really excited that someone had taken the time to really read my blog and not just comment, but to actually email me. Which is where the name of this post comes from, I felt he really had a passion for pork.

No big surprise, the link he provided me with goes to the Pork Board. No, this is not about government spending - despite the title! But Pork as in, "The Other White Meat". The big emphasis was on a study in last month’s British Journal of Nutrition that revealed that eating a calorie-restricted diet with additional protein at breakfast, including Canadian bacon and eggs, led to increased feelings of fullness throughout the day. "Blink!" The light bulb just went on. This is exactly what I am learning with the new Weight Watchers Momentum Plan.

I think I'm not alone in writing that I often struggle to come up with dinner each night. I'm also trying to cook healthier while also keeping my budget and what my family will reasonably eat in mind. This is the link he sent me and the page is about pork and weight management. There are some great links to research done about the benefits of pork as well. Such as The Daily Pork which has recipes & links in a calendar format.

I will admit I have not yet tried the recipes, but am incorporating two into my meal planning for next week. I'm excited to try some new variety and the study does reinforce that my current habit of skipping breakfast most days is not in the best interest of my diet and weight loss (or lack of lately). So if you have a minute check out the links and try a recipe. Let me know which was your favorite or if you have a good low calorie/low fat pork recipe post it here to share!