Heat-Related Emergencies (what to look for & what to do)!

Summer is here & it can be hot outside. I am not complaining, just sending a word of caution.

A person's condition, during a heat-related emergency, can change quickly (& can be life threatening). Know the the signs & symptoms & what to do to help.

 

 

There are 3 levels of heat-related emergencies:

Heat Cramps

What to look for - cramps/muscle contractions in abdomen &/or legs, moist sweaty skin.

Treatment – rest in a cool place, give fluids like juices, sport drinks or water.

Heat Exhaustion

What to look for – exhaustion/tired/dizzy, nausea, moist sweaty skin (that is redder or paler than normal), body temperature may be slightly raised.

Treatment - rest in a cool place, give fluids like juices, sport drinks or water. Remove heavy, tight or sweat soaked clothing. Put cool water on the skin (fanning the skin can also help). Stop all activities in the heat.

Heat Stroke

What to look for – skin stops sweating (can no longer cool itself). NOTE: because this person was sweating before, wipe the sweat off their face & see if it comes back. When skin is "dry", red & hot skin is trouble/life threatening!

Body temperature can be as high as 41C or 106F. 

There is irritable, bizarre or aggressive behaviour. The person is very weak (progressive loss of consciousness). Breathing & pulse can be irregular & seizures are possible.

Treatment for Heat Stroke

- Have someone Call 911 as heat stroke is life-threatening!  Have the person rest in a cool place. If walking down stairs into a cooler area/basement, support the person (they may not be steady on their feet & could fall). Give only small sips of cool water. 

- Cool the body quickly any way that you can. If possible, immerse the body in cool water from the neck down (in this case, don't leave their side as they can become unconscious & drown in less than a minute). Don't use ice cold water (cool them but don't make them shiver). 

- If you don't have a lot of water available, lay the person down on a cool cement or tile floor. Wet their hair & sponge the body with cool water (then fan).  An air conditioned vehicle is another option. Stay with this person until EMS arrives (their condition is serious/life threatening).

- Use ice packs to cool large blood vessels in each armpit, back or neck & groin area (have a thin layer of cloth between the ice pack & skin). A cool cloth on the forehead is also nice/helpful.

People, who have experienced Heat Stroke or Hypothermia in their past, will be at greater risk of getting Heat Stroke (than the average person). If you are tired, sick, young, elderly or have a medical condition; you will also be at greater risk & may not be able to handle the heat. 

Please do not leave children & pets in a car on a hot day...not even for a minute!!! You, your family & your pets should avoid strenuous physical activity in the heat.

When temperatures are extreme, & you have to be outside, be prepared. Wear light clothing & a hat. Dehydration promotes heat emergencies, so pack/drink plenty of fluids (water, Gatorade etc). FYI: caffeine (contained in coffee & soft drinks) & alcohol dehydrate the body & are not recommended. 

Take a break when you need it, slow down, get in the shade & drink fluids. Pay attention to your body. It can still be hot & humid under a shady tree. If you don't feel well, tell somebody. Stay cool & hydrated & stay well! 

Knowing the levels, signs & symptoms & treatment of heat related emergencies will also help to keep your family & co-workers safe (look out for each other)! Have a great Summer!

Preparing for Natural Disasters & Severe Weather

Natural disasters can hit home at anytime. Are you prepared? Something as simple as an extended power outage can be devastating. What if no stores could open & you are caught without water or are low in prescription medications. Here is a list of emergency supplies that you need to have ready.

The Emergency Supply List below is recommended by the Canadian Red Cross. Store these items in a backpack or small bag so you can take them with you if you have to evacuate an area. Plan/pack enough supplies for at least 3 days (72 hour time frame).

-          4 litres/1 gallon of water per person per day (use sealed, unbreakable containers & replace the supply every 6     months). In a pinch/emergency (dire circumstances) your hot water tank & toilet tank store water.

-          Packaged or canned food that won’t go bad (& don’t forget a can opener). Replace the food once/year.

-          Walking shoes, rain gear & change of clothing

-          Blankets or sleeping bags very 6 months)

-          Toilet paper & other personal supplies

-          Battery powered radio & flashlight (& extra batteries)

-          Spare cash

-          Extra set of car keys

-          List of family doctors

-          Important family information, such as medical conditions

-          Photocopies of important identification for you & your family, including health card #s.

-          Special items for babies, elderly or disabled household members

-          Prescription medications (insulin etc)

-          Cellphone & contact information for family & friends

Most people don’t think about the need for an emergency supplies kit until something devastating happens.

All kinds of natural disasters are possible in Canada. Raging firesearth quakes, floods & ice storms. Did you know that Canada is second in the world for having the most # of tornado’s? During a tornado, people will seek refuge in a basement. This is a good place to store/keep your emergency supply/survival kit. 

There is so much information to share when it comes to emergency preparedness for natural disasters & severe weather. You might also find this site helpful:  http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/.

I just hope to have increased awareness & education on this topic. Perhaps I’ll help to prevent a possible bad situation from getting worse. Plan for the unexpected to keep you & your family safe. Start gathering items from the list above for your emergency supply kit & stay safe!

Reducing Stress

What a stressful time. I see it in people's body language, hear it in their voices & even sense it in written communications. I was teaching a First Aid CPR course recently & noticed how serious everyone was. In conversation, I found out that everyone was worried & stressed due to rumor of layoffs. Companies are downsizing & those lucky enough to keep their jobs have more work to do.

I am not immune. There is a trickle down effect which effects all businesses. Companies don't have as many employees (which means fewer & smaller classes for me to teach). People that I have enjoyed working with have moved on etc.

Life will always have ups & downs, twists & turns, like a roller coaster. We are going for a ride, so hang-on & make the most of it. Through life's experiences we have the potential to be better & stronger. Like it or not, change is constant & so is stress, so we need to learn how to deal/roll with it. I have a few tips to share, which I hope will help.

Tips to Reduce Stress

1) I find that the best way for me to work through stress is through physical activity or exercise. I always feel so much better after a work-out. Sometimes, I don’t even realize how tense or stressed I was, until after. All you need is your running shoes & a little bit of your time. You’ll feel better (mentally & physically) & sleep better.  

2) Take care of your body, especially when stressed. Try not to skip meals or eat fast foods. When blood sugars drop, thinking can be cloudy & irritability can set in. Empty calories just make us sluggish. Lack of sleep has the same effect. Your mind & body will respond to the way that it is treated. Treat it well, stay mentally sharp & strong & you will be better prepared for life's challenges.

3) Don't ignore stress; it can build over time (& so does your blood pressure). It can help to talk/work things out (get it off your chest). Reach out to people in your support system &/or to a medical professional. Be there for others who are experiencing stress. Sometimes, people just need to vent & lean on us for a while (a big hug can also help). 

4) Take the time to get organized. Make a written list of what has to be done (not a mental list, as clutter in the brain can overwhelm us & cause us to lose sleep).. Sometimes, we can only do so much...one step/task at a time & one day at a time. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness (this just lets you focus on the priorities).

5) Sometimes it helps just to slow things down...breathe...clear your mind (give it a break). Leave work at work. Life can be too seriousThink about what makes you happy & do it. Turn off the TV or computer & turn on the music. Especially when stressed, find ways to nourish your mind, body & soul. 

6) In stead of carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders; try to let it roll off your back. Realize that we don't always have control over situations & how others behave.

Don't let others bring you down or diminish your self-worth. Thinking that you are victim of circumstance &/or blaming others, doesn't help. Let go of the negative & stay positive. Be a survivor. Believe in yourself, stay confident & persevere. Do your best & be proud of your efforts. 

7) Get outside...fresh air & sunshine will elevate your mood & clear your head (& nourish your body with a natural source of vitamin D). We have been stuck inside all winter (which in itself can be depressing), so take advantage of our warmer spring weather. 

I hope the tips that I have shared in this blog will help. Chin Up! I sincerely believe that this roller coaster of life; can be an enjoyable ride. 

 

Holiday Season Fire Prevention Tips

Every holiday season, there are house, garage or condo fires in the news. Few of the victims have house or tenant insurance. In the most tragic cases, lives had been lost. Here are a few fire prevention tips, specific to the holiday season:

-          Candles are popular this time of year. Cut candle wicks short before lighting (to prevent a high flame). Better yet, use the flame-less candles (they flicker & look quite real).

-          Never leave burning candles unattended. Don't leave anything cooking on your stove unattended. Out of sight, out of mind. It is easy to get distracted or forget. Using a timer can also help to prevent food from burning (& a potential fire).

-          Use sturdy candle stands. Put them in a location where they won’t be knocked over.

-          Keep candles away from children, pets & curtains. If the candle is integrated into a centre piece, don’t let it burn down & ignite the rest of the decorations.

-          Resist the urge to overload electrical outlets. Use appropriate extension cords (for example, grounded plugs for  outdoor lights & decorations).

-          When replacing light bulbs, don’t exceed recommended wattage. Use light bulbs that are safety certified & that stay cool (LED for example).

-          Keep real Christmas trees well watered. Once a tree has dried out it becomes flammable, it is time to take the lights off to store for next year.

-          Use appropriate extension cords (for example, grounded outdoor cords for outdoor use etc). Don’t use cords that are damaged with exposed wires or bad connections. Don’t run electrical cords under carpets.

-          Turn off all holiday/decorative lights off before going to bed &/or before you leave home.

-          Ensure fireplace chimneys are clean of debris before using.  Burn woods that don’t spark & use a fire screen. Make sure the fire is out before going to bed or going out.

-          Keep matches & lighters out of reach of children.

-          For guests that smoke, create a designated smoking area with a safe place to dispose of their cigarette butts (for example, a tin can full of sand makes a good outdoor ashtray).  

-          Ensure fire alarms & carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order.

-          Educate visiting family & friends about fire escape routes (keep everyone safe, just in case).

-          It is not a good idea to leave the house with items baking in the oven. Keep flammable materials well away from the stove burners. Use a timer!

-          Buy a small fire extinguisher for your home. A small chemical extinguisher is best for your kitchen (best to put out grease fires).

It takes just a few minutes for a fire to be out of control. Minimize your risks to prevent a fire from happening in the first place. Stay safe…everywhere…always…but in particular this holiday season

How AEDs are Saving Lives

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Automatic External Defibrillators, or AEDs, are so easy to use & very effective at saving lives. A person will have 50 – 70% better chance of survival if an AED is used within the first 3 minutes of their cardiac arrest. This is very impressive.

AEDs are found in City owned facilities, public places like fitness centres, shopping malls & most workplaces. AED training is now included in every first aid/CPR course.

What is an AED? It is an electronic device that is used when someone is in cardiac arrest. The device analyzes the person’s heart rhythm & delivers a shock, if necessary, to keep a persons heart rhythm regular.

An AED is similar to a pacemaker (or implantable cardioverter defibrillator). The most obvious difference is that a pacemaker is implanted in a person’s body, whereas the AED is used externally (used on the outside of a person’s body).

I had to use an AED once, while performing CPR. I just followed the voice prompts (it really was easy to use). Every 2 minutes the device told me to stop CPR so that it could analyze the person’s heart rhythm. I'd use it again, if I had to (it makes such a difference).

Again, a defibrillator does not start a heart that has stopped. It is designed to deliver a shock when an irregular, potentially life-threatening, heart rhythm is detected. 

Cardiac arrest can happen to anybody, anywhere & at anytime. AED's are user friendly & are saving lives.

Sign-up for First Aid CPR AED training so that you gain the confidence in your ability to save lives. Join us, we offer courses on a regular basis (http://go-getters.ca/first-aid-safety-courses-products/) or invite us to your workplace for group training (http://go-getters.ca/group-first-aidcpr-training/).

If you would like more information about the costs of an AED, follow this link: http://go-getters.ca/first-aid-safety-courses-products/aed-defibtech.  A person’s life is worth the investment.

Mosquitos; Stop Their Bite!

Mosquitoes are out in swarms & are a big itchy nuisance. Mosquitoes don’t see well, so they use scent & heat to find us. Beer & Bananas, for example, may actually attract mosquitos. Find out more...here are a few Mosquitoes bite prevention tips:

1)      Wear light colored clothing (if they can’t see you they are less likely to bite you). Keep still...if you are moving you are something alive (with blood that mosquitos want).

2)      Use insect repellent, just don't put it around your lips & eyes or around wounds & irritated skin.

Insect repellents contain DEET (a poison that mosquitoes don’t like).  When it comes to children 1 - 8 years, don’t use an insect repellents with DEET in concentrations greater than 25%. Never put DEET on a baby’s skin.

3)  When sitting outdoors, citronella candles can help (but are only effective when you are in close proximity to the vapors). Other products like citronella clip-ons are also available.

4)  Mosquitoes use scent to find us. This includes the carbon dioxide (CO2) that we exhale our body odour & fragrances worn.

- I teach First Aid CPR certification courses to quite a few people, who work in construction, oil industry etc. Many have said that after eating bananas, mosquitoes were more attracted to them.

I have learned that bananas are high in Potassium, which attracts mosquitos. While scientific studies related to mosquitos & the foods/beverage we consume are limited, it might be best to eat/pack citrus fruits (instead of bananas) if heading outdoors.

- Don’t use a fragranced sun screen, when going on a hike (I learned this the hard way). If planning to enjoy the outdoors, don’t wear perfumed hair products, deodorants, lotions etc. To prevent mosquito bites; switch to as many unscented products as you can.

The Canadian Garden Magazine lists a variety of plants that mosquitoes don’t like:

- plant marigolds or lavender in containers, & then place the containers where you want a mosquito-free zone (mosquitoes don’t like their fragrance). Other plants that mosquitos don’t like include: citronella grass, lemon grass & catnip (plant these next to your patio).

- rub basil, lavender &/or peppermint leaves on the skin as a natural mosquito repellent. Eucalyptus & Tea Tree fragrances also repel mosquitos.

- use rosemary, garlic & cloves as natural mosquito repellents.  If we eat more garlic, mosquitos may not be as quick to bite us.

For more information about plants that repel mosquitos:  http://www.canadiangardening.com/how-to/pests-and-diseases/six-plants-that-repel-mosquitoes/a/42758.

5)  Mosquitoes don't see very well, but they are heat-seeking experts/missiles.

            - The warmer your body is, the easier it is for a mosquito to find you. Pregnant women,         for example, produce more body heat & therefore attract more mosquitoes.

- People, who work or exercise out doors are mosquito magnets. This is because they are producing great body heat & lactic acid as well as exhaling more carbon dioxide (all of which attract mosquitoes). If you like to mountain-bike or hike, take mosquito repellent (important for back-country survival/emergencies).

- I have heard mosquitoes are more attracted to people, who are drinking beer. It is suggested that this could have something to do with an increase in blood flow & body heat. I have found little supportive scientific data on this topic. Personally, I find an occasional cold beer on a hot summer day refreshing (mosquitoes be damned)!

Here are more mosquito bite & breeding prevention tips:

6)      Mosquitoes are out most at dusk & dawn. They like cooler weather & shade. If possible, stay indoors during these times.

7)      Mosquitoes prefer to be in the grass (so stay on the pathway, gravel or sidewalk).

8)      Wear long-sleeved shirts & pants when outside.

9)      Don't leave your doors open & make sure your windows are covered with screens.

10)  It is believed that mosquitoes are more attracted to incandescent lights (in part, perhaps because of the heat these lights produce). For outdoor lighting, consider installing fluorescent lights. 

11)  Bug zappers aren't recommended as they kill good insects too. 

12)   A good website, about mosquitoes (Fighting the Bite): http://fightthebite.info/.

13)   Get rid of any stagnant water. Empty any standing water that you might find in your yard. Water collects in old tires, in flower pot trays, in wading pools etc. Twice weekly, clean your bird bath & add fresh water. Clean your house eaves troughs, spring & fall, as debris can cause water to accumulate.

14)   If you have a rain barrel, ensure openings are covered by screens.

15)   Aerate ornamental ponds. Stock ponds with fish that eat mosquito larvae.

Don’t let mosquitoes take a bite out of your summer…Enjoy!

How to Manage Spring Allergies

Are you sneezing & wheezing from allergies? You are not alone. This spring, allergies are worse than ever! 

After a long winter indoors, we can finally get outside. I am amazed how many people I see cleaning up their yards, on the walking/biking trails etc. However, many are stuck inside, suffering from spring allergies. 

Hay fever is most common this time of year. This is a reaction to pollen (from trees & grass) & mold in our environment. Symptoms include: headache, dry cough & irritated eyes, nose & throat. 

The following suggestions may help you to manage your spring allergies:

-          Watch/listen for pollen reports in your area. When pollen reports are high, stay indoors & keep windows & doors closed. 

-          Check this website: http://www.accuweather.com/en/health-articles/allergies/surviving-allergy-season-1/64481.

-          Leave your shoes outside & change your clothes when you come indoors.

-          Get someone else to do your yard-work (or wear a mask & garden gloves if doing the work yourself).

-          Consider landscaping your yard. Get rid of grasses & replace them with decorative stones or other ground cover choices. Plant all-female trees & shrubs or varieties that are not high pollen producers.

-          Pollen is highest during dry windy weather. Enjoy the outdoors when the wind is calm.  On cooler, wetter days you can expect less pollen in the air. If allegic to mold from old snow, stay indoors during spring showers.

-          Pollen is highest in the morning, so enjoy the outdoors in the afternoon instead.

-          Shower & wash your hair more often (bedding too). Vacuum rugs more often.

-          Invest in an a good quality air purifier. Use HEPA filters (clean filters often).

-         To relieve allergy symptoms, visit a naturopathic clinic for natural therapies. You can also talk to a pharmacist (they will recommend an over-the-counter medication that may help). Tell your boss if you are taking/reacting to over-the-counter medications (be safe; perhaps you shouldn't be working/operating machinery/vehicles).   

-         See your doctor for an allergy shot, if over the counter medications don’t help, if you have a high fever or if you think that you may have a sinus infection. If breathing problems become severe, call 911.

My last suggestion would be to enjoy a warm cup of herbal tea (with a little bit of honey to sooth your sore throat). I hope these spring allergy suggestions help, so that you can enjoy spring. Stay well!

How to Pace Yourself

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Warm your body & mind up to the idea of exercise. If you haven’t been physically active for a while, it is best to start slow.

Try a light work-out then see how your body feels the next day. Listen to your body during & after exercise & it will tell you if you are working at a good level of exertion.

What is a good level of exertion? If your level of exertion is too easy, you won’t get results. You should be working at level that you feel challenged, at least a little bit. As your body conditions/adapts to the demands that you put on it, challenge yourself a little more.

A moderate to challenging level of exertion is best. Find a pace that you can comfortably maintain. You should be enjoying your experience.

Learn to self monitor (how you feel). If you are challenging your self too much, slow down. You should be warm, have a slight bead of sweat on your brow & a spring in your step.

To maintain a good pace, try listening to upbeat music (motivating & more fun). Exercising with friends or with a personal trainer can help, if you need an added challenge

Extreme levels of exertion aren't recommended. If you do too much, burn-out & injuries are likely. No pain, no gain is a myth. Pain does not motivate me to exercise. 

If you are not sure how much is too much, try using the Talk Test (I use it all the time, to make sure that I am in the best & safest heart training zone).

1) Too Easy = you are able to sing, while exercising (therefore, not exercising hard enough). 

2) Moderate level of exertion = you should be puffing a bit but still be able to talk (this is best)

3) Too Hard = breathing is difficult & unable to have a conversation

Throughout history, the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion has also been used (the scale goes from 1 – 20: http://www.doctorsexercise.com/journal/borg.htm). A simpler, version of this scale:

1          =          too easy

2          =          a bit challenging

3          =          challenging

4          =          very challenging

5          =          too much

Remember, listen to your body after exercise as well (the next day for example). If you wake up too sore, perhaps you did a little too much too soon. Adjust your level of exertion accordingly. 

If your body needs a rest day, take it. A rest is just as good as a work-out (for muscle recovery). I think our brains need this as well. I have been burned-out from work. We need to try to find a balance. 

Be realistic. We are all different. Don’t try to keep up with someone else. Pace Yourself. Be proud of what you can do & that you are improving your health. Keep it up & you'll make great strides!

Rise in Pedestrians Deaths (Prevention Tips)

Recent statistics reveal that on average 3 pedestrians are hit by a vehicle in Calgary every 2 days. Most recently, a young child was hit after getting off a school bus. I find this both tragic & alarming. Something needs to be done.

Everybody needs to share in this responsibility in order for everybody to stay safe.

Drivers:

-          clean your windshield/windows, mirrors & headlights for the best visibility

-          always be aware of what is going on around you (look out for pedestrians, cyclists etc) &

keep your eyes on the road at all times (avoid distractions like cell phones when driving).

-          follow the rules of the road. Use extra caution & slow down when roads are icy & when driving through school/playground zones &/or past construction sites, emergency vehicles etc.

-          don’t drive under the influence of alcohol &/or drugs. Some people have bad reactions to over the counter cold/flu medications, muscle reactions etc.

-          please plan ahead. Before a road trip, get a good night’s sleep (tired drivers are just as impaired as drunk drivers). Make sure that you are also eating enough & staying hydrated.

          

Pedestrians

-          please try and be responsible for yourself. Make eye contact with the driver of an approaching vehicle & make sure that they are stopping (don't assume right of way). Parents, please teach your children to do this as well.

-          always be aware of what is going on around you (look out for vehicles, trains etc).

-          avoid distractions (like texting or reading while walking).

-          use all your senses to stay safe. Don’t just look for danger, listen for it as well (Click Here for Sound Advice).

-          be sure that you can be seen. Put reflective strips on clothing, if outdoors at dusk, dark or dawn. Certain jobs may require personal protective equipment (vests, hard hats etc).

-          use extra caution at intersections, where a high # of pedestrians have been hit by vehicles. If you live in Calgary, this map provides insight: Click Here for MAP.

-          let your City planners know your concerns. Perhaps better systems need to be in place (for example; flashing lights at cross walks, street lights etc).

As spring approaches, even more pedestrians will be out & about. Enjoy the warmer weather but please, everybody, look out for each other & look out for yourself. Even one un-necessary death or life changing injury caused by a vehicle hitting a pedestrian, is too many.  Stay safe!

Getting Enough of the Sunshine Vitamin

Enjoying a Hike on a Sunny Day

Our skin absorbs the sun's rays & produces Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin).

During Winter months, the sun isn't out for long. When weather conditions are poor, it is best to stay indoors. 

When we do venture out in the cold, we cover our fingers, toes, cheeks, ears & nose to prevent frost nip & frost bite.

Our skin sees little sun from October to April. At this time of the year, we get lower doses of the “sunshine” vitamin (Vitamin D).

It is important to get enough Vitamin D, because it has so many benefits. For example, it promotes calcium absorption & helps to build strong bones & teeth.

According to Osteoporosis Canada “Vitamin D also improves the function of muscles, which in turn improves balance and decreases the likelihood of falling. Vitamin D is therefore doubly essential in helping protect you against fractures.”

The Dietitians of Canada mention that “Recent research suggests that vitamin D may also have benefits in fighting infections, reducing heart disease risk factors, and preventing diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and some types of cancers (especially colorectal cancer)”.

Vitamin D has also been known to fight physical fatigue & boost the immune function (helping to fight common cold & flu viruses).  

Unfortunately Vitamin D is found in a limited number of foods (like egg yolks & some fatty fish).  It has been added to milk & some yogurts & cheeses.

Osteoporosis Canada “recommends routine vitamin D supplementation for all Canadian adults year round. Healthy adults between 19-50 years of age, including pregnant or breast feeding women, require 400 – 1,000 IU daily”.

Before you start taking Vitamin D supplements, talk to your doctor or pharmacist first. Some supplements should not be taken with other medications.

My doctor recommended Vitamin D to me when I turned 50 years (it is even more important as we age). Taking Vitamin D3 is part of my wellness routine.

When weather/conditions & time permits, I try to get outside. I let my skin produce Vitamin D the most natural/organic way possible. I always believed that "a little" sun on our cheeks was good for us! Getting out on a sunny blue sky day, always makes me feel better.

Please be careful; too much sun on the skin can be harmful. It is important to protect your skin when UV ratings are high &/or if you plan to be outdoors for a while (cover-up, wear sunglasses & sunscreen). Sunburns can happen in the winter too (with the sun reflecting off the snow & a wind). Also, be careful in the Spring (as your sun hasn't seen the sun for many months). 

Enjoy the sunshine & always stay safe, stay well & live long!

http://www.osteoporosis.ca/osteoporosis-and-you/nutrition/vitamin-d/

http://www.dietitians.ca/Nutrition-Resources-A-Z/Factsheets/Vitamins/Vitamin-D--What-you-need-to-know.aspx

 

Winter Fall Prevention Tips (to keep you on your feet).

I admire the tenacity of Canadians. Life doesn’t stop, just because it is -42 C (with the wind chill). We still go to work, run our errands etc. We are used to this, so we bundle up & off we go.

Beware; a slippery layer of ice can be hiding under the snow. Tread carefully. Falling on slippery slopes, sidewalks, stairs & decks causes injuries.

Recently, I went for a run & it was challenging to say the least. The pathway was covered in snow & ice. Because of the slippery uneven surface, many stabilizing & core muscles were recruited. I felt a good fatigue in my muscles as I ran & sense of accomplishment when done.

I prevented a fall by:

-          slowing down my pace & taking smaller strides.

-          wearing winter running shoes, that have good grip/tread.

-          wearing ice picks, that strap on to my running shoes  (I won’t go on winter walks or runs without them). They are compact to carry & quick to put on.

-          staying focused & aware of my terrain as each foot landed in/on the snow

-          running only when the light was good (so I can see where I am going)

-          staying on the pathway (avoiding gopher holes in the grass that could be covered by snow)

Falls on ice can also be prevented by:

-          cleaning fresh snow off your own sidewalks, stairs & decks, before it melts & freezes again.

-          using products specifically designed to melt ice (pet friendly brands are available)

-          being a snow angel & shoveling fresh snow off a neighbors sidewalk & step (especially if they are elderly, single parents, sick or injured).

-          exercising & stretching muscles on a regular basis (to keep you balanced & steady on your feet no matter what surface you are on).

-          finding indoor exercise alternatives, when Winter weather & conditions are extreme/dangerous.

I hope these Winter Fall Prevention Tips will help to keep you on your feet, whether you are exercising, playing, working or accomplishing day-to-day activities.

If you do fall on the ice, take a moment to catch your breath. Move each body part slowly, from head-to-toe to see if you experience pain. If ok, slowly make your way to your feet.

Tell others what happened, in case your condition gets worse. A visit to your doctor or an emergency health clinic is recommended, especially if you are hurt &/or hit your head (& blacked out or saw stars).

If your injury is minor, treat with R.I.C.E. (R = rest            I = immobilize               C = cool           E = elevate).

Years ago, I broke 3 ribs by falling on my icy deck. A simple fall can be serious!  Stay safe & don't fall!

Compression/Hands Only CPR - Easy To Do & Saves Lives

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November is CPR month. I am a Canadian Red Cross Certified CPR instructor. In my opinion Compression/Hands Only CPR is one of the most important skills that I teach.  With quick action & Compression/Hands Only CPR, anyone can save a life. It is easy to do & you don’t have to take a course to perform this skill.

I teach 30 compressions & 2 breaths in 1 cycle of CPR. Both the compressions & breaths are important. However in a real-life medical emergency, we won’t have a CPR mask immediately/when we need it.

Someone has to find a first aid kit, with a CPR mask, & bring it back to you. This will take time. Don't panic & don't perform CPR breaths without a barrier/mask when trying to save someone who isn't family (to protect your health).

Waste no time; brain damage can happen in as little as 4 minutes. If someone collapses suddenly in front of you & they are not breathing; this is what you can do:

1)      make sure you & others are/stay safe

2)      direct someone to call 911 & report back to you

3)      direct someone to find you a first aid kit (with CPR mask & gloves)

4)      start Compression/Hands Only CPR immediately.  Push Hard & Push Fast

(centre of chest & about 2 inches deep). 

Brain damage can happen in as little as 4 minutes. By starting Compression Only CPR, on a person who is not breathing, you will be circulating oxygen that is in their blood to brain & body (helping to keep them alive until more advanced care arrives).

When discussing Compression/Hands Only CPR in one of my courses, a student made the following comment:

“This skill makes me feel more confident about saving someone’s life. You never know when or where CPR might be needed. Now I know I can do something immediately that has the potential of making a big difference. Compression Only CPR is easy to do & remember”.

Dr. Andrew Travers is the chair of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s policy advisory committee on resuscitation.

Many people hold back from doing CPR because they are afraid they may do it wrong or that they may hurt the person,” says Dr. Travers. “We want to make it clear that technique is less important than doing chest compressions quickly and firmly.”

Here is a Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation video about Compression/Hand’s Only CPR

http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3483921/k.6662/Heart_disease__Learn_CPR_8211_How_to_restart_a_heart.htm.

I hope you never need this skill, but it is good to be prepared. Consider taking a full First Aid & CPR course. Good information will be shared that can be used at home, work & play. If you are in Calgary, join us! First Aid & CPR course information:  

http://go-getters.ca/first-aid-safety-courses-products/.

Beating January Stress

Christmas is over & we are faced with paying the price for holiday indulgences & over spending. Start the New Year with a plan to get back on track & a positive attitude. Find ways to beat stress or it will beat you. Try these tips to beat January stress & enjoy a healthier & happier New Year.

Exercise – Physical activity is one of the best ways to beat stress. Pent up energy is released. Endorphins improve attitude & energy. Fitness resolutions stress us out. Just sit less & move more. Find an activity that you enjoy doing. Try something new like a fitness class. Work up a little sweat (don't over-do it if just getting started). You’ll feel better & sleep better.

Get Out Doors – we don’t see enough sunlight in the winter months. Natural sunlight & fresh air is good for us. When weather permits, get outside. Go for a walk, hike, snowshoe, ski, toboggan or skate on an outdoor rink. Notice the beauty of nature.

Eat Well – Wholesome healthy foods stabilize our moods & have been proven to reduce stress levels. Avoid caffeine, sugar & alcohol. Replace them with fruits, veggies & lower fat, higher fibre foods. The party is over!

Pay it Down – Time to get back on track financially. Find ways to cut back on expenses. Paying the minimum amount required on your credit cards will never get you ahead. Get serious. Pay at least double & pay it down. STOP spending.

Practice Relaxation Techniques – We are all different, so find what works for you. You might find a walk very relaxing. Read a good book or enjoy a bubble bath. Deep breathing, visualization, creative imagery, meditation, massage & yoga have also been proven ways to beat stress. Relax before bed to ensure that you get a good night’s sleep.

Get it off your Chest – Our immune systems get a big boost when we get things off our chest. Let it go. Watch a good movie & have a good cry. Don’t keep emotions bottled up; communicate! Let go of resentments, anger & negative thoughts (they weigh you down physically & emotionally). Talk to a spouse, close friend, family or co-worker about things that are bugging you & work it out. Talk to a medical professional.

Stand Tall - Don't slouch & cross our arms & legs in a closed defeated body position. Rather lift your head high, relax shoulders down with chest forward in strong confident position. Our body language can have an effect on self-confidence & mood. Believe in yourself.

Live in the Present – Find joy in the present moment. Live in the present & with purpose. Practice “mindfulness”. Be aware of your surroundings, who you are talking to & what you are doing. Stay focused on your goals. Seek out positive situations & people. Do an act of kindness.

Discover Which Diet Works Best for You

When overweight; losing as little as 5 percent of body weight can dramatically reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Losing weight isn’t easy & we all want quick results. There are diet pills & plans on the market that can be very dangerous for our health. If weight loss would benefit your health, which diet is best for you?

I have always coached others to take a healthy balanced approach to weight loss. Eat healthy fresh foods & use the Canada food guide (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php). I also shared a few weight loss tips in this blog: http://www.go-getters.ca/blog/2011/3/24/weight-loss-tips.html.

Easy to say, but not always easy to do. One diet, does not fit all. For example, some people have health concerns (like high blood pressure) & physical limitations to consider. Some have trouble with motivation, will-power etc. Since we are all different, we have to find what works best for us.

At a recent AFLCA fitness conference, I attended a presentation given by a registered dietician. She talked about a 2012 Report on Best Diets (to help us sift through all the information out there).  Many of the best overall diets were healthy eating patterns developed to prevent & manage chronic disease, & not for weight loss. Interesting, the healthiest approaches to weight loss seemed to work best!

In this Report, experts in diet, nutrition, obesity, food psychology, diabetes, and heart disease rated diets in seven categories:

1)      how easy it is to follow,

2)      its ability to produce short-term weight loss,

3)      its ability to produce long-term weight loss,

4)      its nutritional completeness,

5)      its safety,

6)      its potential for preventing and managing diabetes, and

7)      its potential for preventing and managing heart disease

The DASH diet was rated the Best Overall Diet (it stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Weight Watchers scored highest as the best commercial weight loss diet. To learn more & to discover which is the best diet for you, check this link: http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/articles/2012/01/03/what-is-the-best-diet-for-you-2.

Most of the diets studied, promote healthy eating habits & physically activity. Get moving (no more excuses):  http://www.go-getters.ca/reasons-not-to-exercise/.

Rally for support & get a friend or family member(s) involved. Talk to your family doctor about weight loss goals, diets & exercise. When you find a healthy weight loss plan that works for you, stick with it! On the long-term, it will work & will be worth the effort!

New Job Survival Tips

Starting a new job can be exciting. You’ll be meeting new people, learning new skills & making money. Unfortunately research has shown that workers, who are new on the job, have higher rates of incidents & injuries. If starting a new job, here are a few survival tips (your life may depend on it).

1              Start/stay well rested, nourished & hydrated. Always bring a positive attitude to work. Be open to learning new things. Ask questions.

2              Work Safe Alberta recommends that you ask your new boss “5” important questions:

-How can I be injured doing my job?

-What safety procedures do I need to follow?

-Who will give me safety training?

-Do I need any safety gear?

-What happens if I get hurt?

If you aren’t trained to do a job &/or think it may be dangerous, you can refuse to do it. If you’re unsure, call 1-866-415-8690 in Alberta.

3              It is your life, so take responsibility when it comes to protecting it. Wear personal protective equipment required. Follow procedures & safe work practices. If you see an unsafe working condition, do something about it before an injury happens (& tell your supervisor).

4              Conditions, plans & workers on the job can change. On an ongoing basis, take the time to be safe. Identify possible hazards & think about what could go wrong. Hazards need to be controlled before someone gets hurt. Attend all safety meetings.

If you work outdoors, dress in layers & prepare for fluctuating weather conditions. Bring water to stay hydrated.

5              Tell your supervisor if you are sick & taking over the counter medications (side-effects of medication may put you & others at risk on the job). Also, tell people if you have siezures or angina, are diabetic, carry an epi-pen for severe allergies or use asthma medication (this is nothing to be embarrased about). Let them know how to help you in a medical emergency. 

6              Just like driving a car, you have to be aware of possible mistakes made by others. Even experienced employees can make mistakes. Be aware. Don’t rush. Stop & look around. Make staying safe a priority. Talk to your co-workers about safety & look out for each other. 

Enjoy your new job, just remember that workplace safety is a team effort. If in doubt, always err on the side of caution & talk to your supervisor about safety concerns. You might prevent an injury or even worse, a fatality. Stay safe & prosper!

Why do people get hurt at work?

Injuries at the workplace are no accident. By understanding why people get hurt at work; incidences (injuries & fatalities) can be prevented. We all need to take responsibility. Don’t let one or more of the following causes of workplace incidents, bring you, your team or your co-workers down.

1                     Tired

Lack of sleep has led to many injuries & fatalities. Find ways to relax before bed. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Stay rested & well nourished & you will feel positive, energized & alert: http://www.go-getters.ca/blog/2012/1/24/sleep-uncovered-how-much-is-enough-stages-more.html.

2                     In a Hurry

Rushing to get a job done can be fatal. Plan ahead. Give yourself extra time. Get help if you need it.

Slow down. Know where you are placing your feet & check for grip before distributing your weight (falls are one of the most common workplace incidents). 

3                     Pressure/Stress

This will affect your health & your performance. Don’t take things personal. Talk to someone & find ways to lighten your load. Don’t bring stress from work into your home or visa versa. Exercise. Learn ways to handle stress (deep breathing for example).

4                     Time

We need to take the time to be safe, every where, all the time. Always start by checking for hazards in your enviroment. Take the time to check your equipment & to put on required personal protective equipment. Don’t rush or take short-cuts. Take the time to be safe.

5                     Complacency

There are lots of things that we can do on auto-pilot. When we do things repetitively, our minds can wonder (we lose focus on the task at hand). We have to make a concious effort to stay safe.  Focus. For example, move your eyes before you move your feet, your bike or your vehicle.

6                     Focus (lack of)

We have so many things on the go, we have lost our focus. Once again, slow down. Be aware of everyone, everything & all that needs to get done. Make a “to do” list. Prioritize. Get rid of distractions.

7                     Failure to do an Inspection

Don’t be over confident & don’t take short cuts where safety is concerned. Have the peace of mind that everything possible has been done to ensure the safety of your team. Health & safety inspections keep people safe.

8                     Horseplay

There is a time & place for everything. It is great to get along with your co-workers, but work now & have fun later. Horseplay at work can lead to injuries. Look out for each other when it comes to safety.

9                     Distraction

It is proven, distractions cause injuries & fatalies. For example, a person is 25% more likely to get in a collision when texting while driving. Eliminate distractions & stay safe.

10                 Carelessness

Since nothing happened before, nothing will happen this time. Wrong. Realize the possible consequences of being careless. Its not just yourself that could get hurt. Do things the right/safe way, everytime.

11                 Impairment (under the influence)

Judgement can be impaired, reaction time can be slowed  & drozziness may occur when under the influence of medications, stimulants (like high energy drinks), drugs &/or alcohol. 

There is no place for drugs/alcohol at work. Some workplaces are now banning high energy drinks. Find out side-effects before taking over the counter medications for colds/flus (it may not be safe to drive or operate machinery).

12                 Failure to provide adequate personal protective equipment, equipment, policies, controls & supervision

Employers must do everything they can to keep their workers safe. This might include protection of a worker's head, eyes, ears, hands & feet. Specialized equipment like reflective vests may also be required. Equipment should be in good working order with safety features. If a worker is not competent & has little or no experience, proper supervision is needed. There should be good lines of communication, where safety is concerned. 

13                 Training (lack of)

Employers must ensure workers receive proper training when it comes safe work practices & the operation of equipment & machinery. Everyone should know workplace emergency procedures. Staff need to be first aid & CPR trained. OH&S requirements must be met.

According to Work Safe Alberta, “if you see something unsafe at work, tell your boss. If you don’t feel safe, refuse to do the job. It’s your life, so share the job of protecting it”.  Good advice.

Suggestions for prevention, listed above, are just the tip of the iceburg. Invite me to give a presentation at your workplace. I have a wealth of information to share. I’ll work with your team, so that they don’t get hurt at work. We'll have fun, share a few stories & prevent injuries! 

Sound Advice about Headphones

Music is good for the soul. It can motivate us to sing, dance, exercise or unwind. However, when enjoying music on the go (walking, jogging or biking), it can become a distraction & isolate the listener from their enviroment. Injuries & fatalities have resulted. Here is some sound advice to stay safe.

Two Canadian teens were killed less than a month ago when struck by a train. They were walking on the tracks & listening to music on their headphones just before this happened. Fatalities of this nature are easily preventable.

According to a new U.S study, the number of deaths involving pedestrians wearing headphones has risen dramatically in the past seven years. In 2004, 16 fatalities were reported. By 2011, 47 fatalities were reported.

When on the go/in transit, it is important to pay attention to what is going on around you (teach your children this as well). Focusing only on your music can get you into trouble quick. It is important to look & listen for traffic & other potential dangers.

When listening to music while exercising outdoors, don’t have the volume too loud. You should still be able to hear things around you, like warning sirens, horns & bells.There is a time & place for everything. When in the safety of your home, for example, turn up the volume to hear lyrics, notes & instruments. When exercising outdoors, you really only need to hear the beat of the music to establih a rhythm or to set the pace.

Music distractions have become a serious safety concern for Canadians. In Quebec, it's actually illegal to cycle with headphones on, with fines for infractions. I think that this law is a good idea for cyclists, who share the road with other vehicles. However, this law may be a bit extreme for cyclists on designated pathways or wildress trails.Wearing only 1 headphone/ear bud has become law for cyclists in some American states. I think this is the best idea.

I learned a long time ago that awareness of your surroundings is the 1st step to being safe/self defense (especially for women). I only wear 1 earbud while jogging or hiking. This way, I can hear if someone (or an animal) is coming up behind me. My music moves me but I stay safe at the same time.

Music can make an activity fun & is very motivating. Enjoy it, when active outdoors, just don’t let it distract you. Stay mindful & take notice of all the sights & sounds around you. Stay safe, everywhere, all the time!