public community safety

National Public Health Awareness Week: Get Involved in Your Community

If you live in a small, quiet, and low-crime community, you may take your safety for granted. Millions of homes and neighborhoods across the U.S. are deemed dangerous, putting the health, safety, and overall well-being of residents at risk for personal injuries and even death. You may live a healthy lifestyle and reside in a safe home, but if your community is unsafe and unhealthy it can directly impact you.


The first week of April is National Public Health Awareness Week in which the American Public Health Association (APHA) raises awareness, educates and encourages communities to strive to live more safely and healthy. The APHA strives in making the United States the healthiest nation by the year 2030. While the goal is a challenge, it is attainable if everyone made small changes in their daily lives.

What Makes a Community Safe?


Focusing on community safety is much more than reducing the rate of crime. A safer community should have low rates of unintentional injuries, the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. An unintentional injury, such as a fall or injury in a fire, can happen anywhere in a community and with proper prevention, the rate of incidence can be significantly decreased.


Hazardous Homes: While the home should be one of the safest places in a person’s life, a place of residence is often filled with hazards that lead to injury in death.


For instance, many Americans rent homes and entrust that the property they live in is safe. Unfortunately, in many homes the property is not maintained or up-to-date with safety regulations. According to Mike Sawaya, Denver personal injury attorney at The Sawaya Law Firm, property owners are responsible for maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition, or at least giving adequate warning of any danger. When a home is not properly maintained, the rates of unintentional injuries can increase.


The Solution: Landlords have a responsibility to ensure that the property is safe (regardless of the age of the property or the income level of the renters). While some landlords fail to regard safety, tenants (and potential tenants) should choose the property carefully and avoid renting any places that may have health hazards such as radon, lead paint, tripping/falling hazards, or any indication of fire hazards.


Unsafe Neighborhoods: Gun violence is a problem of epidemic proportions in neighborhoods across the United States and it takes about as many lives each year as vehicle crashes. According to the Gun Violence Archives, there were 53,037 incidents involving a gun, resulting in 13,384 deaths and 26,973 injuries. Although a majority of gun use is intentional (with 2,335 incidents due to home invasion and 1,286 due to defensive use), 1,954 gun incidences were a result of an accidental shooting.


The Solution: If you want to make your community or neighborhood safer from gun violence, there are some things you can do. First, don’t own a gun, but if you do, make sure you know how to use it safely, store it responsibly, and keep it away from others (especially children). Write to Congress and ask them to vote for safety measures to prevent gun violence. Contact the National Crime Prevention Council and find out how you can get involved in or start a Neighborhood Watch in your neighborhood.


If you become an active member in your community or neighborhood, you can help to reduce rate of preventable accidents and your participation can help make your community a safer and healthier place to live.


Easter in a Retirement Home

It’s Spring and Easter is just around the corner! The Easter season is a festive time for many families across America. Families participate in fun outdoor activities like Easter egg hunting, outdoor picnics, and even arts and crafts to add to the enjoyment of the holiday season. For some the holiday can be difficult, especially if loved ones are far from home. Many families may have a senior in a retirement home, which can be difficult and even lonely for some. Making their Easter season positive can make for a more enjoyable time for them. Let’s explore options on how to make Easter exciting for the senior in your life!


Easter Fun And Creative Activities


Retirement homes can provide fun activities that promote positivity and enjoyment during the Easter season. Holding special activities during the Easter season can add variety and fun to the lives of residents. The goal is to make the residents feel at home. The following are some ideas that can make a the Easter holiday a positive one for seniors:


  • Have music time. We never outgrow our love for music. Music sets the mood for every occasion. Have a band visit the nursing home and provide entertainment. Make sure that it’s a band that is versatile and knows a variety of music that seniors will enjoy. If dancing is involved, make sure that the resident has someone to assist them in case they have a medical or physical condition that limits them.


  • Hold an ice-cream social. Ice cream socials provide a positive and fun time for seniors as they get to enjoy good food and a moment to reminisce on childhood memories. It is important to be mindful of any health issues that may limit some seniors from participating. If a senior for instance cannot eat sugar because of diabetes, make sure to offer options so that they’re not left out of the festivities.


  • Play Bingo! Seniors love a game of Bingo since it involves good community time and learning. Award the winner with a fun prize in form a of an Easter basket. It’s a perfect time for family members to join in and participate.


  • Have the Easter bunny visit the residents. No matter how old we get, a good time filled with laughter provides medicine to the soul. Seniors can grow tired with health and physical concerns that limit their daily lives. Having their picture taken with the Easter bunny might just brighten their day!


  • Host a story-time. Studies show that keeping the mind active actually helps fight dementia. Have a director or even the senior under your care read a story about Easter. This not only involves the community, but allows seniors to feel valued and heard.


Safety Is Important

Unfortunately there have been incidents of nursing home abuse, so make sure that you are well-informed about the overall care of the senior in your life. It is important to have coverage in the case of neck or back injuries to a senior or worker during activities. The retirement home should be aware of any physical or emotional limitations a resident is experiencing. Senior citizens need special attention and care. Help make Easter bright and special for the senior in your life!


Make sure that your loved one is well cared for and in safe hands. Be an active participant in their care and well-being!

Participate in the “Season of Giving”

When the winter holidays roll around, we are asked to “give” and to celebrate the season of giving. We already know it’s beneficial to be charitable, but for millions of Americans, being a philanthropist is not always possible due to their own financial limitations and hard times. Fortunately, there are ways to give and make a difference without spending money. The season of giving is not about the amount of money you contribute, but rather the efforts you make to show you care, that you think of others, and you are trying to make a difference in a sometimes unjust world.


Feeling Good in a Season of Obligations


Although the “Season of Giving” is meant to be a time of doing good and thinking of others, it has also become another reason to participate in mass consumerism. Unfortunately, a good deed or a  thoughtful gesture has been replaced by a gift card or a material item that may or may not be needed or appreciated. It’s easy to feel pressured and obligated to give during the holidays, even if we can’t afford to or feel like one more material item won’t make a difference in the world.


If your family has a tradition of gift giving, suggest putting a limit on of gifts or request that they give towards a charity of your choosing rather than giving you one more kitchen gadget or household item you appreciate, but don’t need in your life. If your family is against straying from tradition, you can still do your part on your own time. Volunteerism is a great way to feel good year round, but particularly in a season of “obligations”. No one expects you to help and they are often grateful of any time you can dedicate.

Teach Children to About Gratitude


As grown-ups, most of us realize that materialism can be unnecessary and it’s easier for many of us to ask for nothing. However, children are still at the stage in their lives where toys, books, and other “wants” are important to them. As a parent or relative of a child, it may be difficult to meet all of the requests on a child’s wish list. Some good advice is to choose a few items that will foster a child’s interest, creativity, and growth. Encourage your child to choose an item from a store or even from his or her own toy collection to donate to a child in need. Teaching your child about gratitude and not giving into every want will help him or her grow up to be a more compassionate person; teaching your child to be a better person costs nothing.

Start Giving Early

Remember, you don’t need money to make a difference, but if you feel like you can’t make a real difference without donating money to a cause, start planning early so you don’t feel overwhelmed once the holidays roll around.  For instance, start a small jar of spare change. Once it’s full, donate the amount to a charity of your choice. If you plan on helping out at the local food shelf or serving meals at a homeless shelter, sign up as soon as you can as spots may fill, but there’s a good chance that there will be something to do, wherever you decide to participate in the season of giving.


3 Diseases We No Longer Have to Worry About Thanks to Vaccines

The vaccine is a modern miracle. First discovered in 1796 by Edward Jenner, this disease fighting technique is the product of hard science, thorough testing, and a long communications battle. Vaccines work using a counterintuitive trick. Scientists give the human body a weakened or dead version of a specific pathogen, which the body’s immune system uses as both target practice and research; your systems develops resistance techniques and learns from its battles. Then, when the virus attacks for real, your body has the skills and knowledge to fight it off.


Neat, huh? But vaccines aren’t just an interesting science experiment. They are one of public health’s most important weapons. Vaccines have eradicated many once-lethal and near-ubiquitous diseases from the modern world. Think of these diseases the next time you realize that, well, you don’t ever need to think about these diseases.


Between the late 19th century and the mid 50s, roughly 35,000 people developed polio, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Polio was a terrifying childhood disease, causing meningitis, paralysis, and even death. And it hit children. Polio was one of the America’s most serious public health crises until the advent of the vaccine in the 1950s. And this vaccine has been incredibly effective. As of this writing, not a single case of polio has been reported in the United States since 1979.


The smallpox vaccine has been called “one of the greatest achievements in human history” by medical professionals. Prior to vaccine, smallpox killed millions of people. Ancient Rome, ancient China, Africa, and Europe were all hit by the disease. Smallpox killed entire cultures when Europeans introduced it the Americas. Smallpox is a nasty disease. Sufferers develop rashes, lesions, and fevers. 30% of people infected with die, usually within the first few weeks. Or at least they to. Thanks to vaccines, this horrifying disease, which wreaked havoc on our species for nearly two thousand years, is gone. It’s simply gone. The last case of smallpox (not including one from a lab accident the following year) was reported in 1977. The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared smallpox dead in 1980. The only remaining  copies exist in a few labs for research purposes, and officials have often discussed killing even those.


Measles still exists in the world, and in 2013 killed about 16 people an hour, according to WHO. And most of its victims were not even five years old. But in most industrialized countries, people do not have to worry about measles. Prior to widespread vaccination programs that began in 1980, 2.6 million people died every year from measles. That simply is not the case any more. The measles vaccine is incredibly effective and saves countless children from a terrible disease every year. The only danger most people in the industrialized world most people face is parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, due to fear-mongering spread by anti-science conspiracy theorists.  


Plastic Microbeads: Scrubbing Your Skin, Polluting Your Planet

The next time you reach for that new skin care product, you should probably think again. That fresh face may come with a big price tag. Microbead awareness is about to have its moment, but at the moment, most people aren’t aware that many popular cleaning and skin care products are extremely hazardous, filled with tiny little plastic pieces which pollute the world’s water and may pose significant problems we’re yet to find. Activists, scientists, environmentalists, and public health experts the world over are currently pushing for bans on these deceptively dangerous little balls of plastic. And, so far, their push appears to be working.

What are Plastic Microbeads?

Plastic microbeads are the tiny little spheres of plastics, such as polyethylene and polypropylene, which are found in lots of cleaning produces. Manufacturers sell them to public based on their exfoliating properties; those teeny dots are intended to reach into your pores, scrub out the gunk, and leave your face looking bright and fresh. And, apparently, it works. But there’s a price to pay.

Microbeads and Water

That price is big one. According to a report recently published in Nature, American water habitats are flooded with eight trillion beads every day. Eight. Trillion. Every day. In Lake Ontario, researchers found 1.1 million beads per square mile.  While many of these beads are supposedly caught by water treatment plants, they still make it into the larger world, being sprayed onto crops and eventually trickling into the water system anyways, according to Nature. Then they get eaten by local wildlife. That’s when things get nasty.

Microbeads and Wildlife

Microbeads look like plankton. Plankton is an important source of nutrition for much of the world’s wildlife population. The world’s wildlife, being unaware of what polypropylene is, gobble this plastic caviar by the mouthful. Shrimp and other little creatures eat a particularly large amount of these beads. These animals are, in turn, eaten by larger animals. Which we eat. If we are what we eat, then we get closer every day to become mannequins, it seems. This is a new enough problem that the research is still out, but it can’t be good more massive portions of the American population to be eating polypropylene regularly.  

What’s Being Done

Luckily, environmentalists around North America have been raising the alarm, and lawmakers have been taking notice. In California, lawmakers recently sent a proposal governor Jerry Brown describing a law that would phase out plastic microbeads of a certain size by 2020. In Illinois, the push to get them banned by 2017. A bipartisan bill by Michigan and New Jersey lawmakers is pushing for a 2018 ban. The same thing is happening in Europe.
These laws appear to be receiving popular support. Activists should appreciate the rare ease they are having getting this issue noticed. While the damage being done is serious, and the lawmakers will take a few years to get these bills through, it seems clear that the government is doing the right thing here.    

Understanding Cholesterol Levels

While most people tend to think of cholesterol as a bad thing, it actually serves a useful purpose. According to Harvard Health Publications, cholesterol has three main functions: it makes hormones for the body, it helps produce bile acid that digests food, and it helps to make the outer membranes of cells.

There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Triglycerides, a type of fat, also contribute to your cholesterol level. LDL is considered the bad cholesterol because it contributes to plaque build-up in the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. HDL is beneficial because it moves cholesterol out of the arteries and into the liver. According to the American Heart Association, your total cholesterol level is calculated by adding your HDL level, your LDL level, and 20% of your triglyceride level.

What Is An Ideal Cholesterol Level?

The American Heart Association says that a healthy total cholesterol level should be below 200. An optimal HDL level is 60 or more, and an optimal LDL level is below 100. The key is to keep your cholesterol at a manageable level. This and can be achieved through physical activity and a change in diet.

How Do I Know What My Cholesterol Level Is?

Schedule an appointment with your doctor to get your lipid panels reviewed. This usually involves a fasting blood test.

What Foods Should I Eat To Lower LDL Cholesterol?

If your level is high, make an effort to cut out the sweets and red meats. Foods high in fiber and foods with omega-3 fatty acids can help bring your bad levels down and your good levels up. Here are several foods you should incorporate into your diet, according to Harvard Health Publications. As always, talk to your doctor first for advice on how to best lower your cholesterol level.

  • Fatty Fish Like Salmon
  • Walnuts, Peanuts, and Almonds
  • Green Tea or Black Tea
  • Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil
  • Beans

This Year’s Flu Season

Now that fall is upon us, it’s a great time to take advantage of the cooler weather. Your community probably has several festivals, fairs and outdoor events lined up in the coming weeks before winter sets in. Though it may seem early, right now is a good time to consider getting a flu shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season usually peaks in the winter months. However, some years have seen cases of the flu start as early as October. According to NBC Los Angeles, there have been “earlier-than-usual reports of the flu” reported in September.

What Are Symptoms of The Flu?

Although many people find it difficult to differentiate between the flu and a common cold, the flu is much more severe. Common symptoms include: coughing, sore throat, body ache, tiredness, chills, fever, stuffy nose, and even vomiting. Serious symptoms that require medical attention include: seizures, chest pain, blue lips, or difficulty breathing.

What Types of Vaccines Are Available?

According to, you can receive the flu vaccine through shot or nasal spray. The CDC says that this year’s vaccine protects against the influenza A (H1N1) virus, influenza B virus, and influenza A (H3N2).

How Long Does It Take The Flu Vaccine To Work?

You will be protected from strains of the flu mentioned above about two weeks after receiving the vaccine. The vaccine will keep you protected for one flu season, which is why it’s a good idea to always get an annual flu shot or spray.

Who Should NOT Get The Flu Vaccine?,

Although it is recommended that everyone six months or older should get the vaccine, it is not a good idea if you: are allergic to chicken eggs, have had a severe reaction to the vaccine in the past, are currently ill with fever, or have Guillan Barre Syndrome.

Warmer Weather Brings Out Ticks

If you enjoy hiking and spending time doing outdoor activities, you’ve probably experienced a tick bite at some point in time. Ticks are commonly found throughout the United States and have been known to carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. If you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors this summer, know the symptoms of tick-related illnesses.

Tick Borne Diseases

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are several species of ticks found within the United States that can transmit the following diseases. Though many of the symptoms are similar across illnesses, it is important to contact a doctor immediately if you recognize these signs.

  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Spotty skin rash, muscle aches, headaches, fever, nausea and vomiting are commonly associated with RMSF. This illness can be very serious and even result in fatality.
  • Tularemia: According to the Mayo Clinic, tularemia is indicated by a skin ulcer at the site of the tick bite. Lethargy and weakness, aches, fever and swollen lymph glands are other signs of the disease.
  • Lyme Disease: A circular red rash surrounded by a red ring that can spread several inches in diameter is often found at the site of the tick bite. Joint and muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, fever and exhaustion are other signs of the disease. If untreated, more severe problems can develop that include: facial droop, shooting pain, heart racing, meningitis, severe joint swelling.
  • Anaplasmosis: Symptoms include: headache, muscle aches, chills and fever, nausea, lethargy and confusion.
  • Babesiosis: People often do not develop symptoms of this disease, which attacks the body’s red blood cells. Symptoms do vary in severity and include: fever, aches, loss of appetite, tiredness, nausea, jaundice, dark urine. It can be fatal in people with weak immune systems.
  • STARI: Also known as southern tick associated rash illness can cause a large red rash surrounded by a red ring, tiredness, aches and fever.
  • Ehrlichiosis tularemia: Aches, fever and tiredness.

It is common for these diseases to develop several days or even weeks after the initial bite.

Reduce Your Likelihood of Getting Bitten by Ticks

Here are a few easy reminders that can help keep ticks away.

  • Keep the grass in your front lawn and backyard cut short.
  • Check yourself thoroughly after doing outdoor activities, including scalp.
  • Check clothing and shoes for ticks before going in your house.
  • Cut back overhanging branches or bushes that are close to your home or patio.
  • Wear light-colored clothing if you’re going through heavily-wooded areas.
  • If you have outdoor pets, treat them with anti-tick medication.
  • Check your pets for ticks after going to the park.

Healthy Foods with Real Health Benefits

Now that summer’s here, there’s certainly more variety when it comes to fresh produce. Whether you’ve decided to start your own garden or you’re a fan of farmer’s markets, you can come across some truly healthy foods. The fruits listed below have some pretty amazing health benefits.

Fruits With Health Benefits

While you might not think tomatoes are peppers should fit into this category, they are actually classified as part of the fruit family. Everything below contains antioxidants, which can prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease, immune system diseases and decline in brain function.

  • Tomatoes: Probably one of the easier plants to grow on this list, tomatoes contain potassium and carotenoids, including lycopene. Carotenoids, a type of antioxidant, contain Vitamin A and can help prevent progressive neurological diseases like ALS and cancer.
  • Blueberries: Known for having an incredibly rich amount of antioxidants, studies on blueberries have indicated they can prevent heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol. They are also high in Vitamin C and low in calories.
  • Strawberries: It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t enjoy fresh strawberries. They’re high in Vitamin C and fiber, and can increase you HDL cholesterol (which is good for cardiovascular health!)
  • Bell Peppers: Whether eaten raw, grilled or roasted, bell peppers are tasty in a variety of different entrees. They also contain Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and the carotenoids lycopene and beta-carotene.
  • Plums: With their deep, rich color, plums are full of antioxidants and Vitamin C.
  • Peaches: A perfect summertime snack, peaches are filled with potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and cancer-fighting agents.

Eating Healthier Has Its Rewards

Adding fresh fruit to your diet can work as a proactive measure that can prevent potential health problems. Incorporating these foods into your daily routine can increase your chances of leading a long, healthy life, while decreasing the likelihood of age-related illnesses.

Common Summer Time Injuries

summer injuriesThe summer is often full of relaxation for many people, but it’s also a time when the majority of injuries and accidents occur. To stay protected, educate yourself about the common summer injuries and how you can play a role in preventing them. Before losing all your worries in summer bliss, take a few precautions to ensure that the good times will keep on rolling without any major incidents spoiling your fun.

 Slip and Falls

Slip and falls are some of the leading reasons for emergency room visits every single year. They are a major cause of accidental injuries and death for both the home and the work environment. Slip and falls can happen on any surface or at any time of year, so it’s important to always be aware of the risk these injuries represent. Summertime is a time for fun in the sun, as well as for cooling off by the pool. Spills and wet surfaces, such as the deck of a pool, can be extremely dangerous for both children and adults during the summer. Those enjoying the summer on a boat or yacht should also inform all passengers about safety procedures and how to reduce accidents while on the watercraft. Particularly when summer thunderclouds bring torrential rain, accident and personal injury can be imminent disasters. Awareness and precaution can go a long way in reducing these accidents.

 Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Especially if you are working in an outdoor environment, heat stroke is much more common than you think. It’s very important to stay hydrated during the hot summer months in order to reduce the likelihood of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. Try to limit physical activities to early mornings or late evenings when the temperatures are cooler, always drink plenty of water to stay fully hydrated, and wear loose fitting clothing to reduce the impacts of heat exhaustion. Keep an eye on children to see if they are showing signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion, and make sure that all parties are properly protected with sunblock throughout the course of a hot day.

 Bites From Insects

Since many people tend to spend the majority of their summertime outdoors, there’s an increased exposure to all outside elements, including bugs. Insect bites are some of the most common injuries associated with summer for both children and adults. Besides using insect repellent, it can help to wear long sleeved clothing if you know you’ll be in an area where insects run rampant. Be aware of poisonous insects that are prevalent in your area, and always keep a watchful eye. If you are bitten, seek medical attention immediately, even if the bite seems minor at first glance. Insect bites can be deadly if left untreated.

 Auto Accidents

Summer is the ideal season for everyone who owns a motorcycle. Motorcycles are always associated with an increased risk for accidents; this danger is especially enhanced by increase traffic during holidays such as Memorial Day through Labor Day. More pedestrians and bicyclists are also enjoying the summer weather, so drivers should be aware of these additional modes of transportation. Make sure to keep a watchful eye for pedestrians and cyclists, and remember it is a social responsibility to share the road. Drivers should always remain aware of their own surroundings and proceed at a safe speed. It also helps to be able to identify reckless driving behavior in others, and report it to the authorities to get these drivers off the road. It is easy to get carried away in the summer fun and have one too many cocktails. This can endanger your life and the lives of others around you. Always make responsible decisions in regards to drinking and driving. Automobile accidents can lead to serious injuries and even death.

Make the most of your summer by staying safe.As the cliche saying goes: “Hair gets lighter, Skin gets darker, Water gets warmer, Drinks get colder, Music gets louder, Nights get longer, Life gets better-IT’S SUMMER!”