It’s National Public Health Week – How’s The Family?
National Public Health Week 2013 has your pocketbook as well as your vital signs in mind.
The theme is "Return On Investment," a reminder that a little forethought and wise budgeting now could save much more in medical care costs later.
Federal, state, county and local health officials are focusing on different aspects each day through Friday: Home, work, school, on the move, and healthy communities.
Today, they suggest, look around the house and take into account the ways that simple preventive steps can not only ensure good health but avert tragedies.
Prevent Fires and Be Ready Just In Case
"Make sure that you have smoke alarms. They can double your chances of surviving a fire," says Leslie Terjesen at the Ocean County Health Department in Toms River. "Install alarms on every floor of your home and be sure they're working. When we change the clocks [in and out of Daylight Savings Time] we should change the batteries, whether they need it or not."
The same goes for carbon monoxide detectors, she continues, adding that a smoke-free household further minimizes the risk of fires. "You also avoid serious health problems and chronic diseases," she notes.
Emergency kits well-stocked with durable food, batteries, flashlights, blankets, water a portable radio and similar items, she says, fortify any family against disasters. Develop a plan, let everyone contribute to it, and stay informed when a crisis appears at hand.
Potential Poisons Lurk Unnoticed
If your home rings with the laughter of children, a good way to ensure that it keeps pealing through the rooms is to keep household cleaners and other toxins out of the reach of young hands.
"Keep potentially dangerous cleaning products, cosmetics, prescription medications locked up," says Leslie. "You certainly don't want to store household chemicals in old food containers or where you keep food items."
If your best efforts can't prevent an accidental poisoning, the National Poison Control Center maintains a 24-hour hotline: 1-800-222-1222.
Of course, getting rid of old meds is a sure way to keep them away from children. But flushing them away, says Leslie, helps no one. Infiltration of water systems poses threats not only to humans, but to underwater life - some of which are fish that we catch for dinner.
"There are dropoff boxes at the Toms River Police Station, the Seaside Heights Police Station and the Lacey Township Police Station," she notes. The Ocean County Health Department also maintains instructions for disposing of needles and lancets on their web page. You can take a look at it on the department's web page here.
A common-sense way to reinforce family health is through quality nourishment, says Leslie. "Cut down on high-sugar and high-fat items," she advises. "Learn about proper food handling and cooking techniques to avoid food-borne illnesses.
Family members in their advanced years face different obstacles. Every stray item, unlit spot, slick floor, or rickety piece of furniture presents the potential for a tumble, and possibly serious bone breakage or - in the worst case of landing on one's head - irreversible brain damage.
Keep the Fun in Summer Splashing
Then, says Leslie, there's the outside of the house. Homeowners with backyard pools are taking the tarps off, clearing away leaves and filling them up. What's to prevent a toddler from wandering in with no idea how to swim?
"Make sure that you have four-sided fencing that's at least five feet high with self-latching gates," she recommends.
Simple preventive measures now can men a healthy, happy clan long into the future.