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!
http://heartwalk.kintera.org/newhampshire/gailklanchesser

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, www.sawstop.com, 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
*Gloves
*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!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Do you know how secure your medical records are?

By now most of us are familiar with the privacy practices at our doctor's office. It seems almost annually we have to sign the disclosure stating we are familiar with it. But what does that all mean and what is HIPAA that law that these privacy practices are based on?

In a really summarized version, HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Title I protects health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs. Title II (aka the Administrative Simplification (AS) provisions) requires the establishment of national standards for electronic healthcare transactions, and identifiers for providers, health insurance plans, and employers. It basically helps people keep their information private. HIPAA applies to medical information as well as financial and payment information. Wikipedia has a good definition of the privacy rules http://is.gd/sbsp.

Why am I writing about HIPPA today? Because I keep getting medical faxes on my home phone. It seems someone at a local doctors office can't keep the phone exchanges straight and gives out my home phone number as their fax number. So I keep getting calls from fax machines. I have an all-in-one which is not normally connected to the phone so when the fax calls I have to move the printer to the kitchen, disconnect the kitchen phone and hook up the all-in-one to find yet another medical fax. Why do I do this? If I don't then the fax machine calls me repetitively every 20 minutes for the entire day. I've called them several times and they seem angry at me. All I did was answer my home phone! The phone I've had for 15 years. To add to this I can share that they also give out their office number wrong and the local library is intermittently getting their office calls as well.

The fax machine has become an important and time-saving office tool. It is one of the fastest ways to transmit data between offices. However medical office staff need to be trained in the importance of privacy and accuracy. I'm sure they are not disclosing to their patients that they are faxing their medical records to my kitchen. Nor should I be responsible for the receipt and proper disposal of someone's medical data. So next time you're at the doctors office ask them how careful they are with the electronic transmission of your personal data.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Special Agent Who ?!?

Like most parents I try not to rely on TV as an electronic babysitter. But a few times a week I really relied upon the Disney Channel's Little Einsteins at 8am to keep my youngest 2 children occupied while I did some quick housework. Recently Disney changed their line up and added a new show, Special Agent Oso.

Disney describes the show as "Playhouse Disney is proud to introduce the newest animated series, Special Agent Oso! Special Agent Oso teaches kids fundamental skills such as mailing a letter, brushing your teeth or flying a kite. He reminds kids that they can complete these tasks using 3 special steps.".

The show pronounces it as 'oh-so' ... i.e. he is 'oh-so' good at... Now I think my son's pronunciation and verbal skills are pretty good. We've been through speech therapy with one of his older sisters so I'm pretty confident in his verbal skills. He's watched the show 3-4 times and well, he is not pronouncing the characters name correctly. The most family friendly I can describe his pronounciation would be Special Agent As .... ol - you can fill in the blanks.

What were the creators of this show thinking? Most kids aren't going to pronounce this correctly and may make the same mistake as my son. The first time he said it I almost fell over. I'm trying to correct his pronunciation, but I think quite a few 3 and 4 year olds are going to make similar verbal mistakes. So for now we're going to skip the Disney Channel at 8am and I'm going to have to change my morning routine.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

NH Start! Heartwalk

This year the kids and I again will be participating in the NH Heartwalk to raise funds and awareness of the dangers of heart disease and stroke.

Did you know the number one cause of death of men and women in the United States is Sudden Cardiac Arrest? The number three cause of death for adults in the U.S. is Stroke. By raising awareness of heart healthy living we can hopefully lower these numbers. By raising money for the American Heart Association we can hopefully save lives each year.

I've never been good at being pushy or asking people for donations, so my fundraising goals are low. However you can prove me wrong and make a donation to push me past my goal. Just visit my fundraising page at http://is.gd/rDyx.

We had to miss last years walk, but this year the kids are really looking forward to it. This year the Seacoast Heartwalk is merging with the Central NH Heartwalk to be just the NH Heartwalk. We'll be walking someplace new for a great cause. We hope you can help us out!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

National Start! Walking Day

Wednesday April 8th was National Start! Walking Day. Did you get out and walk?

What is National Start! Walking Day? It's a great way to support the American Heart Association and to promote physical activity. Spring is here, depending upon where you live the weather is getting warmer (was downright chilly up here today) and the simple act of taking a short walk several times a week is a first step in getting active. Regular physical activity is just one part of following a heart healthy lifestyle and is something that most of us can do.

So make a great Start! Try to fit a little walking into your day!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Think calories when dieting

There are so many diet plans out there that it can be overwhelming to figure out what diet is the best to follow. When I decided that I needed to lose weight and get back into shape I made a mental list of what would help me to follow a plan and what would actually work for me.

I have 4 kids and a spouse with a busy work schedule. I can't cook one meal for me and one for everyone else. So any diet changes I made needed to fit into my regular meal routine. Eating together as a family is important to us and my meals need to be healthy and filling for everyone.

I chose Weight Watchers. Why? Two main reasons: First the support aspect. Going to weigh in at a meeting every week makes me accountable to someone other than me. I feel so motivated after a meeting, even if I did gain weight that week. Second was the meal plan. When I joined it was the Flex Plan, now it is a new program that is very similar - the Momentum Plan. What I like is that I still plan my daily meals. I am not tied into pre-made meals or specific menus. We've tried some great recipes from some Weight Watchers cookbooks and I can use the online etools to modify existing family favorites.

The other part I like at Weight Watchers is that I can choose where my points come from. I am really anti-fake food. I prefer to use real sugar, not sugar substitutes. I like to cook with butter and am concerned about foods with trans fats and lots of ingredients that I can't pronounce. I can still do that with Weight Watchers - I just log all my food and points accordingly.

Today I received an interesting article in a newsletter from the company I order CPR supplies from. Which Diet Is Best? Think Calories, Not Composition. The brief summary referred to a study from the Harvard School of Public Health and Pennington Biomedical Research Center of the Louisiana State University System. They compared four different diets over several years and found that the best way to lose weight overall was to reduce your calorie intake. So its not only about cutting carbs or just low fat. It is really looking at what you eat and how much of it. On the Weight Watchers Momentum Plan they have labeled a lot of foods as "filling foods" which are also low in calories - like fresh veggies!

So when I have a moment today I'm going to take a look at the full Harvard & Louisiana State Report.