“Know Your Lemons” campaign (breast cancer warning signs)

January 21, 2017

As I posted on USFRA.org recently, Corrine Beaumont, a young designer and founder of Worldwide Breast Cancer, has created a great breast cancer warning signs graphic as part of WBC’s “Know Your Lemons” campaign.

Beaumont lost both her grandmothers to breast cancer at the ages of 40 and 62 and found limited pictorial data about breast cancer warning signs, so she felt compelled to come up with a solution.

Her designs provide a simple, visual way of showing what breast cancer symptoms can look and feel like using lemons. She has also developed great graphic below explaining what to feel for during a breast exam.

Learn more on WBC’s “Know Your LemonsFacebook page or visit www.worldwidebreastcancer.org and share these resources with others.


Holiday food safety tips (Fight Bac!, food intolerance + pet safety)

November 23, 2016

food-safety-fight-bacFood is a huge part of the holiday season so we wanted to share some resources and tips about food safety for your public education campaigns, as well as for you personally.

The Partnership for Food Safety Education develops and promotes effective education programs to reduce foodborne illness risk for consumers. The Partnership states the US food supply is among the safest in the world, but organisms that you can’t see, smell, or taste – bacteria, viruses, and tiny parasites – are everywhere in the environment.

Each year 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths in the U.S. can be traced to foodborne pathogens, according to the CDC.

The Partnership’s Fightbac.org site explains foodborne illness is much more than the “stomach flu”, and it is a serious health issue and economic burden for consumers. The Economic Research Service (ERS) of the USDA says each year $6.9 billion in costs are associated with five bacterial pathogens, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and 2 forms of E. coli. These costs are associated with medical expenses, lost productivity, and even death.

Food Safety tips from Fightbac.org

  • Throw away all perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles, left at room temperature longer than two hours; one hour in air temperatures above 90°F. This also includes leftovers taken home from a restaurant. Some exceptions are foods such as cookies, crackers, bread and whole fruits.
  • Whole roasts, hams and turkeys should be sliced or cut into smaller pieces or portions before storing them in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow containers. Wrap or cover the food. Leftovers stored in the refrigerator should be consumed within 3-4 days, and leftovers should be heated to 165°F prior to consumption.
  • Foods stored longer may become unsafe to eat and cause foodborne illness. Do not taste leftovers that appear to be safe, bacteria that cause illness does not affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food.
  • Frozen storage times are much longer, but some items such as salads made with mayonnaise do not freeze well. Foods kept frozen longer than recommended storage times are safe to eat, but may be drier and not taste as good.
  • WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!

Find more safety data, kids games and activities, videos, brochures and other resources at www.fightbac.org

Food intolerance

Be aware some guests may have dietary issues and/or food allergies so please don’t be offended if they decline meals or drinks or if they bring their own food and beverages.

food-safety-label-spinach-cropFor example, Bill has celiac disease so he must avoid all gluten, plus we both have issues with carrageenan, various gums (e.g. xanthan, guar, carob bean, etc.), MSG, yeast extract and more so we are very cautious about eating anything we don’t prepare ourselves.

If you purchase special foods and snacks for guests with allergy issues read product packages and ingredient labels carefully and watch for statements that say if items are processed on shared equipment. Sometimes you’ll be amazed just simple things like packaged fruits and vegetables can be cross-contaminated as shown in this photo from Oh Mah Deehness’ blog.

Many companies are getting better about including allergen information on labels and websites, plus some even offer special toll-free numbers and email ids so you can reach out to them direct.

Don’t forget about pets

food-safety-k9We all love sharing people food with our furbabies, but remember to keep toxic foods like chocolate, nuts, onions, mushrooms, grapes, raisins and xylitol (a sugar substitute) away from pets. Also limit rich, fatty foods like ham, turkey or goose and dairy products since they can cause digestive issues.

For more information on foods that could be unsafe for pets, visit the HumanSociety.org and ASPCA.org , and check out 2 great infographics on “Thanksgiving food safety: Do’s and Don’ts” and “Toxic Foods for Dogs” .

Also keep in mind holiday plants like poinsettia, holly, mistletoe and amaryllis can be toxic to pets.

If you suspect your pet has eaten something toxic, take note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Find more holiday tips in our “Winter Safety Tips for Pets and Livestock” blog post … and we hope everyone has a nice, safe Thanksgiving and Christmas season! Stay safe, j & B


Anatomy of a Hangover (how a body typically reacts to large doses of alcohol)

December 31, 2014

Most of us have probably been there … puking or “praying to the porcelain god”, massive pounding headache, queasy stomach, extreme thirst and more … after partying too hard the night before.

So before you imbibe at holiday celebrations and social functions, consider reading the below graphic to learn how a body typically reacts to large doses of alcohol. (And keep in mind it doesn’t necessarily have to be large amounts since a few sips might set off one’s chemistry into motion too.)

We also included some tips from GMA’s Dr. Savard on how to make the morning after a bit more tolerable.

MCT: Hangover anatomy

If you want to avoid a hangover, obviously the easy answer is … don’t drink. But according to GMA contributor Dr. Marie Savard, there are some things drinkers can do to help make the morning after more tolerable…

  • Sip slowly (so your stomach can absorb the drink slowly rather than getting pounded).
  • Eat chips or foods with fat in it to help slow the absorption of alcohol.
  • Drink water throughout the day / evening (or a glass between each drink) and avoid carbonated drinks since they can increase alcohol absorption.
  • Consider taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen or Alka Seltzer before drinking to decrease inflammation. Also … Dr. Joel Saper, founder and director of the Michigan Head-Pain and Neurological Institute, says “never take acetaminophen for a hangover. The combination of Tylenol plus alcohol equals death in some people.” That’s because acetaminophen stimulates an enzyme that can damage the liver. The combination can overwhelm the liver’s capacity to remove toxins from the body.1

Happy and safe holidays to all … and to our military, first responders and volunteers who work day in and day out to help keep us safe — thank you for your continued service and sacrifices. Take care, j & B


Ticks suck (things to watch for and do + what to avoid)

May 31, 2014

Photo: André Karwath aka Aka via Wikimedia CommonsYou may think ticks are insects but they’re actually bloodsucking arachnids. Adult ticks have eight legs and two body segments just like spiders, mites and chiggers.

According to the CDC, most ticks go through four life stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph, and adult. After hatching from the eggs, ticks must eat blood at every stage to survive.

Ticks that require this many hosts can take up to 3 years to complete their full life cycle, and most will die because they don’t find a host for their next feeding. And ticks aren’t choosy about their host – they can feed on mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

tick_sizes

Did you know…

  • tick watchers – from foresters to disease ecologists – are reporting a population explosion among black-legged ticks, formerly known as deer ticks, this year?! The cause isn’t clear but it could be due to a bumper crop of acorns that caused an increase of vermin (mice, squirrels, etc.) combined with the mild winter, but ticks are out there … and they’re hungry.
  • white-footed mice and other small mammals, not deer, are now known by scientists to be major carriers of Lyme disease?! Birds are major carriers too.
  • University of Virginia researchers claim a bite from the lone star tick, so-called for the white spot on its back, may trigger an allergic reaction … to meat?!

Nasty suckers

Ticks grab onto a host (animals or people walking through brush) and sink their harpoon-like barbed mouth and head into the host’s skin to dine until they’re full of blood. Then they drop off and wait for the next meal to pass by. Since ticks feast on one spot for days, they can spread bacteria and diseases from host to host (like from animals to humans) – even by touching them.

The main threat of ticks is the risk of illness or disease (like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever or tick paralysis) so the best defense is reducing exposure to ticks or finding and removing them as quickly as possible.

Things to watch for…

  • Bite or sting mark or ticks
  • Pain or burning feeling
  • Redness or Swelling or Rash
  • Stomach pain or puking
  • Flu-like symptoms – fever, dizziness, weakness, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, etc.
  • Change in skin color or bruising or rash (may look kind of like a bulls-eye)

What to do for ticks…

Key things are to find a tick before it feasts for days and to remove a tick slowly with head intact so it doesn’t spew bacteria into the blood stream.

  • DO NOT use petroleum jelly, liquid soap, nail polish or heat – they don’t work!
  • Use tweezers or commercial tick remover (or at least cover fingers with a tissue).
  • Grasp tick close to skin where head is buried – don’t squeeze it!
  • Slowly pull tick straight up until skin puckers — it may take several seconds but tick will loosen its barbs and let go.

                                        tick-removal         tick-removal2

  • DO NOT throw tick away since it may need to be tested! Put it in zippered baggie with moist paper towel, date it, and put in refrigerator.
  • Wash bite wound and tweezers with soap and water.
  • Call local health department or vet to ask if tick needs to be identified or tested. If not, throw away baggie.
  • Watch for rash, infection or symptoms for a week or so.

Things to do to avoid ticks…

  • Wear light-colored pants and long-sleeve shirt (to see ticks), a hat (to keep out of hair) and tuck in (pants in socks and shirt in pants).
  • When hiking, walk in the center of trails and try to avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Use tick repellent with DEET and make sure you spray shoes and socks too.
  • Do full body checks at least a few times a day during tick season and don’t forget to check your pets!
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Inspect and rinse off gear and shoes.
  • The CDC suggests tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. (Some research suggests that shorter drying times may also be effective, particularly if the clothing is not wet.)

TickApp

A handy tick tool is by Dr. Pete Teel, Texas AgriLife Research entomologist at College Station and hero tick stalker extraordinaire. Dr. Teel has created a one-place-for-all info-tool called the TickApp, a central cyber point that can be accessed any time/any day for all the tick information you need whether you are a dog owner, hunter, farmer or rancher, hiker, soldier, or medical professional.

Teel says the mobile smartphone app is available at no charge and is easy to use with little searching required. “Whether you are a healthcare professional needing fast tick identification information, an urban pet owner slogging through the bewildering arsenal of control alternatives or a South Texas cattleman facing financial hardship due to ticks, the app is meant for you,” Teel said in a recent AgriLife update. “It’s all very user-friendly and opens with just six easy-to-follow tabs that are quick to navigate. There’s a brief introduction, then a tick ID tab followed by tabs on tick biology, prevention and protection, removal and finally control and management practices.”

The TickApp can be downloaded at http://tickapp.tamu.edu.

 

Helpful Resources & Sources:

CDC’s Ticks site www.cdc.gov/ticks/

CDC’s Lyme Disease page www.cdc.gov/lyme/

CDC NCID’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases site at www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station’s Tick Management Handbook (71-page PDF)

CDPH’s Don’t Let the Ticks Bite – Curriculum Guide for Teachers

Outwitting the tick boom of 2012 – Philly.com

Allergic to Meat: Lone Star Tick May Make Vegetarians of Some – ABCnews.com

Predators, Prey and Lyme Disease – NYTimes.com 

Novel Animal Reservoir for Group of Tick-Borne Diseases Discovered — And It Lives in Your Backyard – ScienceDaily.com

Smartphone app battles tick problem – Southwest Farm Press

Above appeared in our July 2012 enews – and find more first aid and preparedness tips in our IT’S A DISASTER! book


Cold Weather Health Emergencies (frostbite versus hypothermia)

January 6, 2014

cold weather health emergencies frostbite versus hypothermiaStaying warm and safe may become a challenge when the mercury drops significantly below normal, especially if you have to deal with power outages.

Exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outdoors, can cause other serious or life-threatening health emergencies. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected by the most common cold-related problems: frostbite and hypothermia.

FROSTBITE

Frostbite (or frostnip which is the early stages of frostbite) is when certain parts of your body are exposed to severe or extreme cold – mainly your fingers, toes, ears, cheeks and nose. Freezing temperatures can form ice crystals in the fluids in and around cells in your body. This damages and dries out cell tissues and membranes, and extreme cases can impact deep nerves, muscles or even bones… or even lead to the loss of a limb.

frostbite, blister, handThings to watch for…

  • Skin appears white and waxy
  • Numbness or no feeling in that area
  • Possible blisters

What to do…

  • Handle area gently; DO NOT rub it!
  • Remove tight or constrictive clothing (gloves, boots, socks, etc.) and any jewelry.
  • Warm gently using body heat or soaking area in warm water (between 100-105 degrees Fahrenheit / 38-41 degrees Celsius) until area is red and feels warm. (Victim may feel a burning sensation or pain as the area warms back up.)
  • Loosely bandage area with dry, sterile dressing or cloth.
  • If fingers or toes are frostbitten, separate them with sterile gauze or clean cloth.
  • Try not to break any blisters.

Things you should NOT do…

  • DO NOT rub or massage the area since this may cause damage to cells!
  • DO NOT rub snow on the area!
  • DO NOT try to warm with dry radiant heat (meaning don’t warm with a blow-dryer or hold in front of fire or hot stove). Using warm water is best.
  • DO NOT try to thaw a frostbitten body part if it has a chance of re-freezing (if you are stuck in the wilderness) since this could cause more damage.

 

HYPOTHERMIA

Hypothermia starts setting in when your body core (the vital organs – heart, lungs, and kidneys) drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). When exposed to extreme cold for a long time, your brain begins to shut down certain bodily functions to save internal heat for the core.

Things to watch for…

  • Shivering and numbness
  • Confusion or dizziness
  • Stumbling and weakness
  • Slow or slurred speech
  • Shock (pale, cold or clammy, weak or rapid pulse, etc.)

What to do…

  • Gently move victim to a warm place.
  • Check breathing and pulse (ABCs… Airway, Breathing, & Circulation).
  • Handle victim gently and DO NOT rub body or limbs.
  • Remove any wet clothing and replace with dry clothing and/or blankets.
  • If possible, place victim in a sleeping bag or wrap in a blanket, especially if in the wilderness. (Note: Your body heat can help heat victim… so cuddle up – if victim says it’s okay!)
  • Cover the head and neck with a hat or part of a blanket (75% of the body’s heat is lost through top of the head).
  • DO NOT WARM VICTIM TOO QUICKLY, such as putting them in warm water! (If the body warms too fast, it can dump cold blood into the heart and body core causing a possible heart attack or drop in body temperature.)
  • If hot water bottles or hot packs are used, wrap them in a towel or blanket first then place on side of the chest and/or on groin area. (If heat is put on arms or legs then blood could be drawn away from body core – keep heat on the core!) Also the below graphic from Princeton.edu demonstrates placement of heat packs and how to do a wrap on a victim.

hypothermia wrap

  • Let victim sip a warm, sweet, nonalcoholic drink.
  • Keep watching victim’s ABCs.
  • Keep the person dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck, even after their temperature has increased.
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible.

Things you should NOT do…

  • DO NOT rub or massage the victims’ limbs!
  • DO NOT put victim in a hot bath! It will warm him/her TOO quickly.
  • DO NOT put hot packs on arms or legs… put them against the body (chest or groin area).

Disclaimer: These procedures are not substitutes for proper medical care. Frostbite should be evaluated by a health care provider and hypothermia is a medical emergency. Above data extracted from IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? by Bill and Janet Liebsch also appeared in PREPARE Magazine.

See also:

Preparing for winter storms (tips to winterize home, prevent ice dams and more)

Winter Safety tips for Pets and Livestock

Winter driving tips

And visit our Look inside the book page for more preparedness topics.

Stay safe (and warm) out there. j & B


Things you can do to reduce foodborne illnesses

October 13, 2013

Did you know the CDC estimates that 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) gets sick from contaminated food each year?

Most people will recover without a problem, however 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases annually. And for some the effects of food poisoning can have long-term health consequences.

For the past few weeks there has been an ongoing Salmonella outbreak associated with raw chicken products produced by Foster Farms at three facilities in California. According to Wired.com there are seven strains of Salmonella circulating within this outbreak and four of the seven strains are drug-resistant.

The CDC reports 1,000 or more reported outbreaks that happen each year in the U.S. reveal familiar culprits—Salmonella, E. coli and other common germs. And health experts know (and people need to learn) that reducing contamination works.

foodborne illness-chicken-smDuring the past 15 years, a dangerous type of E. coli infection, responsible for the recall of millions of pounds of ground beef, has been cut almost in half. Yet during that same time, Salmonella infection, which causes more hospitalizations and deaths than any other type of germ found in food and $365 million in direct medical costs annually, has not declined.

Each year, 1 million people get sick from eating food contaminated with Salmonella. Applying lessons learned from reducing E. coli O157 infections could help reduce illness caused by Salmonella.

But realize more than 250 different foodborne diseases have been identified and described on record. Most of these diseases are infections, caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can be foodborne.

These different diseases have many different symptoms, so there is no one “syndrome” that is foodborne illness. However, the microbe or toxin enters the body through the gastrointestinal tract, and often causes the first symptoms there, so nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea are common symptoms in many foodborne diseases.

Common myths about food safety at home

Myth: It’s OK to thaw meat on the counter. Since it starts out frozen, bacteria isn’t really a problem.

Fact: Actually, bacteria grow surprisingly rapidly at room temperatures, so the counter is never a place you should thaw foods. Instead, thaw foods the right way.

Myth: I don’t need to wash fruits or vegetables if I’m going to peel them.

Fact: Because it’s easy to transfer bacteria from the peel or rind you’re cutting to the inside of your fruits and veggies, it’s important to wash/scrub all produce, even if you plan to peel it.

Myth: To get rid of any bacteria on my meat, poultry, or seafood, I should rinse off the juices with water first.

Fact: Actually, rinsing meat, poultry, or seafood with water can increase your chance of food poisoning by splashing juices (and any bacteria they might contain) onto your sink and counters. The best way to cook meat, poultry, or seafood safely is to make sure you cook it to the right temperature. (Or if you do rinse them [as we do], immediately clean sink, faucet and counters around sink with a bleach water mixture as explained below.)

Myth: Marinades are acidic, which kills bacteria—so it’s OK to marinate foods on the counter.

Fact: Even in the presence of acidic marinade, bacteria can grow very rapidly at room temperatures. To marinate foods safely, it’s important to marinate them in the refrigerator

Myth: Once food has been cooked, all the bacteria have been killed, so I don’t need to worry once it’s “done.”

Fact: Actually, the possibility of bacterial growth actually increases after cooking, because the drop in temperature allows bacteria to thrive. This is why keeping cooked food warmed to the right temperature is critical for food safety.

Things you can do to reduce food borne illnesses 

  • Clean. Wash hands, cutting boards, utensils, and countertops. To clean everything effectively use a mixture of 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 quart/liter (or gallon/4 liters) of water. Also wash cooking utensils used to handle raw meats before you use them to remove cooked food stuffs. And always wash your hands [and under fingernails] after cracking open eggs and handling raw meats of any kind.
  • Separate. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods. If possible, use different cutting boards for meats and veggies (or at least always use 1 side for meats and the other for produce) … and wash it with a mixture of water and bleach (see above) to remove germs before turning it over since meat juices can spread. Also use separate plates or dishes for raw versus cooked meats.
  • Cook. Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature: 145°F (63°C) for whole meats (allowing the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or consuming), 160°F (71°C) for ground meats, and 165°F (74°C) for all poultry.
  • Chill. Keep your refrigerator below 40°F (4°C) and refrigerate food that will spoil.
  • Report suspected illness from food to your local health department.
  • Don’t prepare food for others if you have diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Be especially careful preparing food for children, pregnant women, those in poor health, and older adults.

 

Visit FDA’s Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill pages to see the most effective ways to help keep your family safe from food poisoning or learn more on www.foodsafety.gov or www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/. Take care, j & B

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Study finds choking on food still common among kids (plus tips on how to help a choking child or adult)

July 29, 2013

Here’s an interesting Monday musing…

Did you know about 34 children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms every day for choking on food, according to a new report?!

According to U.S. News, Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, looked at a national database, comparing the numbers of choking injuries year by year.

In 2001, about 10,400 U.S. children were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal choking on food. From 2001 through 2009, the annual estimate of non-fatal injuries was about 12,400 children, aged 14 and under, Smith found.

The average age of the children treated was 4.5 years old, and the age group of children from newborns to 4 years old accounted for about 62 percent of the episodes.

The top 5 foods involved in choking incidents were candy, meat, bone, fruits and vegetables. Hot dogs made the list but they were #11 according to MD Mama. Read more about the new study online and in the August print issue of Pediatrics.

So … would YOU know what to do if you see a child or adult choking..?

Things to watch for…

  • Trouble breathing
  • Coughing or choking for several minutes
  • Gripping the throat with one or both hands
  • High-pitched wheezing
  • Bluish color of skin, lips, fingertips/nails, and earlobes

NOTE: There are TWO separate “What to do…” parts here… one for ADULTS & CHILDREN and one for INFANTS!

choking adult heimlich maneuverWhat to do… for ADULTS & CHILDREN (Children over age 1)

  • Tell victim to try and cough it out. Ask “are you choking?” If victim nods yes, tell him/her you are going to help. (Be prepared to do the Heimlich maneuver.)
  •  Stand behind victim, wrap your arms around him/her and place your fist (thumb side in) just above victim’s belly button well below the breastbone.
  • Grab the fist with your other hand and give quick, upward thrusts into their abdomen.
  •  Continue giving thrusts until the object is coughed out and victim can breathe, cough or talk or until he/she stops responding or passes out.

If ADULT or CHILD stops responding or passes out:

Yell for help, check breathing, and position victim on a flat surface so you can begin CPR (30 compressions and 2 breaths) – or do Hands-only CPR – to help force object out.

choking-infant-backslapsWhat to do… for INFANTS (Newborn to age 1)

  • If infant stops breathing, have someone call an ambulance.
  • Turn infant face down on your forearm and support its head with that hand — hold at angle so it’s head is lower than chest. (May want to brace arm holding infant against your thigh.)
  • Give 5 back blows between infants’ shoulder blades with the heel of your other hand.
  • If no object comes out, turn infant over so it is facing up on your forearm (still at an angle so head lower than chest) — use your first two fingers to find the center of the breastbone on infant’s chest.
  • Give 5 thrusts to infant’s chest using only 2 fingers! (Each thrust should be 1½ inches [3.81 cm] deep!)
  • Repeat steps until infant can breath, cough, or cry or until he/she stops responding or passes out.

If INFANT stops responding or passes out: 

Place infant on a firm, flat surface above ground (like on a table or counter) so you can begin Infant CPR.

Additional Resources:

Learn more about CPR from the American Heart Association or find a CPR class near you … or contact your local Red Cross about their First Aid and CPR courses.

And visit the Child Injury Prevention Alliance for some choking prevention tips.

Stay safe out there, j & B


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