Safety tips for Halloween

October 29, 2009 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Jack-o-lanternsBoo! Halloween is here. This Saturday actually. It can be fun but also dangerous especially for little kids. Health experts therefore give us some tips (from the American Academy of Pediatrics) on how to keep our little ones happy and healthy during this fun and spooky occasion. However, the tips can apply to adults as well.

On costumes:

  • Costumes should be visible – “bright and reflective”. All the better for motorists as well as supervising adults to see.
  • Avoid costumes/shoes that can cause tripping, entanglement, or asphyxiation.
  • Masks can obscure vision. Hats shouldn’t slide over the eyes. Face faints can cause allergic reactions (check out US FDA warning in face paints below).
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives.  Hats and wigs should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • Costumes, wigs and accessories should be flame resistant.  Check the labels.
  • Accessories such as a sword, cane, or stick shouldn’t be sharp, too long, or cause the child to trip.

On decorations:

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins according to the AAP. They can draw the faces on the jack-o-lanterns but adults should do the cutting.halloween
  • Use votive candles for candle-lit pumpkins.
  • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.
  • Avoid decorations that may be a fire hazard. Garlands can cause entanglement and choking.

On home safety:

  • Remove from the porch and front yard anything that trick-or-treaters could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes, garbage cans, and lawn decorations. Clearly mark or temporarily fence off ponds. Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves are slippery and should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets, especially dogs so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite trick-or-treaters.
  • Lock up if you aren’t home at Halloween.

On the trick-or-treat trail:

  • An adult should always supervise young children on their neighborhood rounds. There is no age limit but parents should know when their kids are ready to go alone or not.
  • Use flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Teach children how to call somebody, be it 9-1-1, the local emergency number or their parents in case they have an emergency or become lost.
  • If older kids are going alone, plan and review the route that you feel is safe and emphasize that they should stick to the route, just in case you need to find them. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to houses with a porch light on and stay on the porch. Tell the kids never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Trick-or-treaters should stay together in a group.
  • Carry a cell phone and important numbers for quick communication.
  • Walk on the sidewalks and go on well-lit streets only. Don’t take shorts or cut across yards or use dimly lit alleys. Cross only on crosswalks.
  • Watch out for motorists.

candiesOn treats and sweets:

  • A good healthy meal before trick-or-treating will discourage kids on gorging on their booty.
  • Think about treats that can be alternative to sweets: sugar-free candies, whole grain cookies, little toys.
  • Advice kids not to eat any sweets until you’ve checked them out. Throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Pay attention especially if your kids have allergies. Check out the labels for undesirable ingredients.
  • Try to ration the sweets over several days.

On face paints:

Check out what the US FDA has to say about face paints and theatrical make up:

And don’t forget to have fun!


Photo credits: stock.xchng

Safety Tips for Retirees Embarking on a Fitness Program

March 10, 2008 by  
Filed under OBESITY

It is never too late to exercise, even if you have already retired. While you should really have already been physically active before, you can still start as exercise can still be beneficial to you. Of course, as you get older, there are more risks in starting exercise for the first time than if you started when you were younger. However, those risks should not hold you back. There are some safety tips and suggestions you can follow to determine the right exercise regiment for you.

Consult your doctor first

Your doctor is likely the one telling you to get some exercise. Therefore, he or she should be able to tell you where you can start, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition. Certain medical problems like diabetes and heart disease or other issues like smoking or obesity can greatly affect your health.

People with breathing problems, chest pain, odd weight loss or weight gain, hernia, frequent infections and eye conditions should definitely be careful and consult with a doctor in advance of starting an exercise program. In addition, hip or knee replacement can also affect how you exercise as well.

Overall though, older adults can start out slowly on an exercise program that focuses on strength, balance, flexibility and endurance. These four factors all play a part in allowing older adults to stay more independent.

Strength Training Safety

With strength training, you can boost your metabolism which helps you burn calories and lose weight. During strength training, the most important thing not to do is hold your breath. When you hold your breath, you could affect your blood pressure. In addition, use smooth, flowing movements with weights as jerking movements can cause stress to muscles.

Do not lock your arms during strength training and learn to breathe in when lifting and breathing out as you lower your weight. Keep in mind that when you first start, your muscles will be sore for a while and you will get tired easily. Extreme fatigue, joint pain and pulled muscles are not normal.

Balance Exercises for Safety

Practicing balance exercises can greatly diminish your chances of falling. Balance exercises are a key ingredient in independence as well as strength. Lessen your chances of a broken hip or other bone through balance exercises. When you first start out, make sure that you hold onto something so as not to lose balance. As you build up your strength and balance, you will not have to hold onto anything.

Be sure to build your balance slowly. First, try holding onto something. As your balance increases, try the exercises without holding on but having a person spot you. Then, try to exercise with your eyes closed, again with a spotter nearby.

Safety Tips for Stretching Exercises

Stretching warms up your body for endurance, strength and balance exercises. It is imperative that you stretch first so as to avoid injury. Stretching should not cause pain however; a mild sensation of pulling is acceptable. Always use smooth movements and never bounce when stretching. You could easily tear a muscle that way.

Endurance Exercise Safety Tips

Any activity that can increase your heart rate and breathing, for a particular time frame, is considered an endurance exercise. For those that are rather sedentary, you will have to gradually build endurance even if it means exercising for only five minutes at a time. Just be sure to add a minute each day that you exercise. Eventually you could work your way up to a nice 30 minute walk.

There are quite a few endurance exercises to take part in, just be sure that the exercise you do will not cause chest pain or difficulty breathing. Chances are that if this happens, you took too much on, too soon. Indulge in gardening, swimming, walking, stationary cycling and raking leaves. As you build endurance, you could try climbing stairs or cycling up a hill.

Be sure that after you finish your endurance exercises, do some stretching to stay limber and keep your muscles warm. Stay hydrated by drinking water and dress appropriately to the weather conditions if you are outdoors.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.