The Wellness Corner … by Judith Wallace, RN, FCN
Autumn Health and Safety
Autumn requires us to make changes in our lifestyle due to outdoor work and fun, changing weather, school activities, and upcoming holidays. Greet the fall with ways to help keep you and your family safe and healthy.
1. Be active outdoors and indoors.
Make fall yard work into beneficial exercise. Find different ways to pick up leaves or pine cones (i.e., squatting, bending, leaning, stretching, or balancing on one foot); this uses different muscle groups and helps to prevent over-exertion. Use rakes and other tools that are sized for comfort and safety. For indoor family fun, play board games and computer games that encourage physical activity. Physical activity refers to motion that flexes and extends the major muscles and causes you to take deeper breaths. Remember that children and adolescents should be active for at least one hour a day, and adults should be active for at least 2 1/2 hours a week. Don't forget to apply sunscreen and insect repellent to protect you and your family from the sun, mosquitoes, and ticks. Those pesky bugs are still around even in crisper fall weather.
2. Check out your teen's job.
A job can be very rewarding for a teen as he/she gains hands-on experience, earns extra income, and learns new skills. However, sometimes what's required for the job is beyond what a teen can handle. In 2005, 54 youth under age 18 died from work-related injuries. It is estimated that approximately 160,000 youth sustain work-related injuries and illnesses each year. Take an active role in your child's employment, and know the laws. Be alert for signs of fatigue or stress as your child tries to balance the demands of work, school, home, and extracurricular activities.
3. Take steps to prevent the flu.
Flu is unpredictable and can be severe. The CDC estimates that influenza was associated with more than 48.8 MILLION illnesses, more than 22.7 million medical visits, almost 960,000 hospitalizations, and 79,000 deaths last year.
Protect yourself and your children with these three steps:
Take time to get a flu shot (available at pharmacies and covered by Medicare);
Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs (including frequent hand washing and staying home when sick); and
Take flu antiviral drugs when your doctor prescribes them.
4. Test and replace batteries.
Check or replace carbon monoxide batteries twice a year when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Replace smoke alarm alkaline batteries at least once a year. Test alarms every month to ensure they work properly.
5. Be prepared for cold weather.
Exposure to cold temperatures can cause serious health problems. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected. Know how to prevent health problems and what to do if a cold-weather emergency arises. Remember that using space heaters and fireplaces can increase the risk of household fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Fall is a beautiful season. Take a few steps to protect your family's health and safety.
For more on this topic, or other health questions, contact me at www.westyorkcob.org.
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