Tag Archives: holiday safety

Give Yourself the Gift of a Stress-Free Holiday

Here are some steps you can take (if not this year, next) to protect your and your family’s health by keeping it simple during the Christmas season. This was originally published at HealthFinder and I hope it’s helpful:

‘Tis the season to be jolly, not stressed out, and an expert offers some tips on how to take care of yourself during the holiday rush.

While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the shopping, planning and other tasks associated with the season, you need to take steps to keep your stress under control in order to protect your health, said Dr. Gary Kaplan, founder of the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine in McLean, Va.

“Stress is the way our body automatically responds to difficult situations. You may feel nervous, irritable and depressed, experience increased aches and pains, or you may just not feel like yourself,” he said in a center news release.

Kaplan offered the following tips to relieve holiday stress:

  • Share the workload. Learn how to say “no” to requests for your time and delegate tasks to others when possible.
  • Keep it simple. Skip the shopping, make homemade gifts and spend quality time with family and friends.
  • Maintain your regular schedule as much as possible. Humans are creatures of habit and feel out of sorts when routines are disrupted.
  • Find ways to burn off physical and emotional tension. Vent to a friend, write about your feelings in a journal, go for a walk or take a bubble bath.
  • Look after your body. Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise and do things that restore your energy, such as meditating or getting a massage.

For more information, the American Psychological Association offers more ways to deal with holiday stress here.

Ten Ways to Avoid Christmas Tree and Holiday Allergies

Here are some nice tips from the folks at Fox News. Of course, by now, some of us have learned the hard way, right?

  • Rule No.1 – Keep your decorations “off season” in enclosed containers, this will reduce dust and mildew from accumulating – and avoid sniffles when opened.
  • Rule No.2 – Avoid artificial “snow sprays” that can aggravate your sinuses, eyes and cause annoying respiratory symptom including cough.
  • Rule No.3 – Watch out for those lovely faux holiday “poinsettias” if you have skin allergies, especially if you have a sensitivity to rubber, it may cause a itchy rash.
  • Rule No.4 – Don’t bring in wood for the fireplace until needed, it may bring mildew and molds into your home, especially when not completely dry or damp.
  • Rule No.5 – Watch out for those pesky mold spores if you have a natural, fresh Christmas tree in your home, especially if you have indoor allergies!
  • Rule No.6 – If you humidify your home, measure the indoor humidity level with a low cost hygrometer, and keep the level of humidity at 50 percent or less.
  • Rule No.7 – It may be best to avoid wood burning stoves or direct exposure to poorly ventilated home fireplace, especially if you have asthma or respiratory problems.
  • Rule No.8 – Stay away from scented candles and potpourri, incense, room fragrance devices that can irritate your eyes and nose as well as your breathing.
  • Rule No.9 – Wash all non-porous holiday decorations, with warm soapy water to clean off dust and mildew, before placing on your tree and other areas of the home.
  • Rule No.10 – A HEPA air cleaner (both a portable room unit and/or central heating/ventilation system can help to reduce indoor allergens and pollutants.)

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2010/12/20/ways-avoid-christmas-tree-holiday-allergies/#ixzz18g57yIrt

Physicians’ group and FDA say radiation risk from TSA scanning is “miniscule”

With all the news today about the new body scanners that TSA is using, I thought it might be reassuring for my readers to understand that the radiation exposure in these scans is incredibly low. In fact, a national group of radiologists is now saying that it would take 1,000 TSA whole body scans in one year to reach the effective dose of radiation a person gets with one standard chest X-ray.

USA Today reports,”The nation’s Homeland Security chief asked for air travelers’ ‘cooperation’ and ‘patience’ with full-body scanning and pat downs this holiday season amid a growing public backlash that the airport tactics are intrusive.”

But, “some consumer, civil rights and pilots groups are protesting new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) methods,” in part because they “could emit dangerous radiation,” even though “a Food and Drug Administration review found no health threat.”

CNN also covered  the story, and noted that the “American College of Radiology, an organization of more than 34,000 professionals, including radiologists, oncologists and medical physicists, said it believes backscatter technology is safe.”

The group stated, “The ACR is not aware of any evidence that either of the scanning technologies that the TSA is considering would present significant biological effects for passengers screened.”

The organization referenced a report from the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, citing that a traveler would need to receive 100 doses of backscatter radiation per year to reach what it calls a “Negligible Individual Dose.”

“By these measurements, a traveler would require more than 1,000 such scans in a year to reach the effective dose equal to one standard chest X-ray,” the group’s statement said.

The probability of dying from radiation from a body scanner and that of being killed in a terror attack are roughly the same, he said. About one in 30 million.

The bottom line, and I’m on the road over 150 days a year, I won’t think twice about going through the whole body scanner at the airports this year.

If safer toys are on shelves this year, how can you find them?

In general, parents shopping for children this holiday season can be confident that toys on the shelves are safer than they have been in the past, at least according to a report by ABC News.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has had 38 toy recalls this year, down from 162 in 2008 and 148 in 2007, when 45 million toys were recalled and the public demanded stronger laws and better enforcement.

But not all toys on shelves are safe, and parents still need to be vigilant.

“We are seeing progress, but there’s no magic wand you can wave to improve the CPSC overnight,” Elizabeth Hitchcock, a public-health advocate with US PIRG (Public Interest Research Group), which released its 24th “Trouble in Toyland” report on Tuesday, told ABC News. It’s the group’s first such report since Congress strengthened regulations on toy safety.

The report, which lists some unsafe toys being sold, focuses on three still-problematic areas:

  • choking hazards,
  • noise level, and
  • lead and phthalate (chemical substances added to plastics) content.

It credits much of the progress being made to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act passed in August 2008, which strengthened the CPSC and toughened regulations against hazards like lead and phthalates. The current standard for acceptable lead content in paint on children’s toys is 90 parts per million,  much lower than the 600 parts per million that was allowed a year ago. (The overall limit for lead content in children’s toys, previously unregulated, is 300 parts per million.)

“The new safety rules are on the side of the consumer and children,” CPSC chairman Inez Tenenbaum told reporters Monday, citing the new lead and phthalate restrictions as well as new independent testing standards.

At the same time, she urged parents to pay attention to labeling and age suggestions for toys.

“These are safety standards. They’re not cognitive ability. When it says 3 to 5, that deals with the safety of your child,” Ms. Tenenbaum said.

Even with the new regulations, PIRG found a number of toys for sale that don’t comply with the standards, for example, that aren’t labeled properly for choking hazards or have noise levels exceeding the acceptable limit. One cloth book that the organization tested had lead levels in the paint at 1,900 parts per million. An Elmo lunch bag had a banned phthalate at a 7.2 percent concentration level.

US PIRG also unveiled a new tool Tuesday for parents to use with hand-held smart phones. It allows them to scan a list of toys the organization found that weren’t safe, as well as to review basic safety steps to avoid hazards. Consumers can also report any products that are unsafe.

The list of unsafe toys isn’t comprehensive, Ms. Hitchcock notes, but she hopes it provides a useful starting place for getting people to think about safety.

Some of it may come down to common sense.

“People need to think about how their kid is going to play with a toy . . . take it apart, see if there are small parts,” Hitchcock says.

For parents, the recalls and discoveries of unsafe toys still sold in stores can seem like a constant lurking danger. But Hitchcock offers some suggestions for how to shop safely:

  • If a toy is small enough to fit through an empty toilet-paper tube, don’t buy it for a child who still puts everything in his or her mouth.
  • If a toy seems too loud to you, it’s too loud for your child.
  • Avoid soft plastic toys, those that say they contain PVC, and metal costume jewelry – the top suspects for unsafe levels of lead and phthalates.

Ten Health Eating Tips for the Holiday Season

Here’s an article I wrote for Significant Living magazine on Ten Health Eating Tips for the Holiday Season:  

Food is an important part of almost all holidays, celebrations, family reunions, and cultural traditions. And, this is certainly true of the Jewish festivals and Christian holidays. In fact, most special occasions at church center around faith, food, fellowship, friends, and family. Given that some people can consume 3000 to 4000 calories on any given holiday — and, add to that all the calories consumed at parties and social gatherings — it’s no wonder that so many people gain a little (or even a lot of) weight between Thanksgiving and New Years. But, I have good news! It’s not necessary to avoid holiday gatherings in an attempt to maintain or lose weight. Instead, consider these tips for enjoying food and fellowship during this holiday season!

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