September is National Preparedness Month

A few easy steps can prepare for disaster
No part of the country is immune to natural or man-made disasters.

During September, the Department of Homeland Security joins with national, state, and local agencies to encourage Americans to prepare their homes for disasters of all kinds.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), engaging citizens in disaster preparedness is a critical first step in effective response and recovery efforts.

In other words, if you know what to do when a disaster is predicted, what to do when it occurs, and what to do afterward, you will be in a better position to save yourself and your home before help arrives.

While there are obvious differences in preparing for a hurricane and preparing for a forest fire, there are similarities in preparedness for all types of disasters. You should know where you will go to escape, what your mode of transportation will be, and when you should leave. (It’s never a good idea to let your car be almost out of gas.)

Assemble important documents to take with you including copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account numbers. Use a waterproof container and include some cash.

It may not be necessary to leave your home. Do what you can in advance of a storm or earthquake to make it safer. Remember the basics of survival: water, food, clean air, and warmth.

Consider the amount of water and non-perishable food your family will need to stay in place without power for at least three or four days. Always have extra batteries for portable radios. Also have a backup battery for cellphones.

ADHD teens and car accidents

Teens with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder(ADHD) are more likely to have a car accident, according to a new study.

According to Allison Curry, director of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, ADHD teens are less likely to get a license after they become eligible and more likely to have an accident.

Curry’s study compared New Jersey health records to car accidents. Of the 2,500 teens with ADHD, nearly 43 percent had a car crash. About 36 percent of teens without ADHD had a crash, the study found.

Only 12 percent of ADHD teens had been prescribed medication in the month before driving.

The study was reported in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Heat and humidity add up to danger

Emergency rooms see an increase in cases of heat stroke and dehydration in July and August.

The American College of Emergency Physicians gives this advice on how to stay safe in hot weather:

*Check the heat index before going out to work, play or practice and plan accordingly.

*Avoid direct sunlight in the middle of the day. Schedule activities for the early morning or early evening hours.

*Wear loose, light-colored clothes and hats. Dark colors absorb more heat.

*Drink lots of water or sports drinks; about 8 ounces an hour when in the sun in order to avoid dehydration.

*Take frequent breaks in the shade or in air-conditioning to cool off.

Calculate the “apparent temperature” before taking part in activities. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

* At 90 degrees and 50 percent humidity, it feels like 96. At 70 percent humidity, it feels like 106 degrees. Heat exhaustion is likely, so take it easy.

Heat exhaustion can include cramps, heavy sweating, nausea, heart-rate changes and dizziness. Get the victim out of the sun, remove excess clothing and place cool towels on extremities. Fan and give small sips of water.

* At 95 degrees and 50 percent humidity, it feels like 107 degrees. At 70 percent humidity, it feels like 124 degrees. At that temperature and at any higher temperature or humidity, it is extremely dangerous to be outside and heatstroke could occur.

* At 100 degrees, humidity ranging from 35 percent to 55 percent can cause heat exhaustion. At 100 degrees, humidity of 60 percent or higher puts a person into heat stroke territory.

Heatstroke is a medical emergency. Symptoms include confusion, an altered mental state, unconsciousness and hot, dry skin. Call 911. Do not give fluids, which can cause seizures.

Active shooter safety

Active shooter safety

As the number of active shooters in public spaces rises worldwide, government, industry and educational institutions have focused on training people to act immediately during a shooting.

Remember most active shooters do not have a specific target in mind. They will shoot at random.

The rules:
Run, escape if the path is accessible.
Hide, in less obvious places.
Fight. As resort of last hope, attempt to disrupt, distract or incapacitate an active shooter.
If you believe you have a chance to escape, don’t pause to urge others to follow you. Act immediately. Get out and do not stop of help injured people.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, if you can’t escape, then find either cover or concealment. Cover might protect you from gunfire. Concealment will hide you from the view of the shooter.

When law enforcement arrives, they will be focused on the shooter. They will not have time to help injured people until the threat is over. Officers might shout orders and everyone must be prepared to follow the orders immediately. Officers might push people to the ground to get them out of the line of fire or even out of the way of responders.

As officers arrive, you must put down any items in your hands, raise your hands, and prepare to follow instructions.

Poison Centers are your lifeline in an emergency

Poison Centers are your lifeline in an emergency
Millions of people use the services of a poison center when faced with a poisoning emergency.

Set up to provide expert advice and information to healthcare professionals and the public, the 55 poison centers around the country, are available 24 hours a day, all-year-round. Specially trained nurses, pharmacists, and doctors offer a free and confidential service that includes interpretation services in 161 languages, emergency advice, as well as, the provision of educational materials on poison prevention and treatment.

According to data collected between 1980 and 2008, poisoning is the leading cause of injury-related death in the US. Coming into contact with a dangerous or potentially dangerous substance is called an ‘exposure’ and in 2014, there were about 2.2 million exposures and a call to a poison center every 11 seconds, Almost half of these exposures involved children under the age of 6, though the more serious cases occurred among adolescents and adults.

More than 75 percent of recorded exposures are unintentional and according to the 2015 annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). The top 5 substances that affected adults were analgesics, household cleaning substances, cosmetics/personal care products, sedatives/antipsychotics, and antidepressants. Cosmetics, household cleaners, analgesics and foreign bodies/ toys were among the substances that affected children. Most exposures involve ingesting something harmful but also include inhalation and contact with the skin and eyes. People also call the poison center in the event of insect bites and carbon monoxide poisoning.

One of the roles of poison centers, which are partly financed by congressionally mandated federal funds, is to collect real-time data to help detect possible public health emergencies.

Recent studies have seen a rise in the annual rate of calls to poison centers related to cannabis exposure and an increased risk of unintentional cannabis ingestion and overdose by children. Data collected between 2000 and 2013, show that rates of cannabis exposures in children under the age of 6 in states where medical cannabis was legalized before the year 2000 were more than 2.82 times higher than in those where the drug remained illegal in 2013.

Living longer means planning for later life

With Americans living longer than in the past, planning for long-term care has become a priority.

In March, the results of a Nationwide Retirement Insurance survey revealed that many women over the age of 50 are hiding a big retirement worry from those they love: the fear of burdening family if long-term care is needed. But, it doesn’t have to be such a worry, or such a secret. With planning ahead of time, people can feel secure in their futures.

Some of the issues families must consider:
1. Housing: Will Dad sell the house and move to a long-term care facility if he can no longer live alone? Does he agree? Has he chosen some places he likes? If he does not agree, what are the options for the family?

2. Health care: If mom stays healthy and active, she may avoid the move to long-term care. It could be helpful now, while she is strong, healthy and of sound mind, to create a living will or health care directive that lays out exactly what they want to happen if they get sick and need long-term care. Getting that information on paper and signed can help to protect her and ensure that wishes will be followed if they cannot make those decisions on their own.

3. Legal decisions and planning: There are several documents that are helpful and important in situations where long-term care is a possibility. The first of these is a living will or health care directive, as outlined above. The second is a health care power of attorney. This designates a specific person to make medical decisions if a person cannot make them.

4. Financial planning: Long-term care can get expensive. To reduce this expense and stress, it is important to consider purchasing a long-term care policy that will pay for costs when that help is needed. Having long-term care insurance can lessen the financial impact.

No flu for you!

Flu season is upon us and one shot could save you two weeks of suffering, says the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

This is recommended for everyone over the age of six months, except for those who may be adversely affected because of a weakened immune system.

There are a variety of vaccine options available to help individuals avoid the virus, or to lessen its impact, and they come in multiple forms – typically a shot, or a nasal spray.

This year, the CDC says that the nasal spray vaccine should not be used during the 2016-2017 flu season.

The CDC recommends the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or the recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV). There are vaccines with three components (a trivalent shot) or four components (a quadrivalent shot). No matter which you choose, it usually takes about two weeks for the vaccination to fully take effect.

If you’re interested in getting a flu shot, there are a variety of places where you can go to get that vaccination, including your doctor’s office. A local health clinic, a pharmacy or even a drive-through flu shot clinic, if you can find one, are all places where you can get a flu shot.

If you’re going to get a flu shot, now is the time to do it – too early and you may suffer later on, from waning immunity around the time that flu peaks next January or February.

Hate needles? Dentists may soon use nasal spray

Forget those scary needles; an anesthetic nasal spray is on its way to the dentist’s office.

Kovanaz is a pain-killing nasal spray which has now received FDA approval for use in dentistry. Patients must weigh at least 88 pounds to use the spray, according to the FDA. More tests might expand use to smaller children.

According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, Kovanaz is a combination of the anesthetic Tetracaine and the nasal decongestant Oxymetazoline. In its Phase 3 trial, the spray was demonstrated to be as effective at preventing pain as a shot for 88 percent of patients during a simple filling operation. This is comparable to the success of numbing injections. Side effects were minimal.

The product was developed by medical research company St. Renatus, named after the 5th-century patron saint of anesthesia.

It was discovered after a serendipitous accident. Co-founder Mark Kollar took a basketball to the chin and required 21 stitches. The doctor who stitched him up also diagnosed him with a deviated nasal septum. On Kollar’s follow-up visit, the doctor gave him a nasal spray containing Tetracaine to remove a nasal stent.

But Kollar noticed that his teeth were numb. And, it so happened that other patients had reported this.

A practicing dentist, Kollar tested his teeth with a pulp stimulator and found that his teeth were, in fact, numb.

The company hopes the new anesthetic will make trips to the dentist much less stressful.

Help for Parkinson Tremors

A new gyroscopic glove that reduces tremors from Parkinson’s Disease by 80 percent is currently in the prototype stage.

GyroGear will begin shipping the first gloves in 2017 for use by patients with a wide range of conditions that cause hand tremors.

The device works with an electric gyroscope mounted on the back of a fingerless glove. The gyroscope spins and the wearer’s hand is held level, resisting tremors, but allowing for voluntary hand movement.

See gyrogear.co (not .com) for more information.

Parkinsons

Pre-habilitation: Exercising now pays off before surgery

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic have found that fitness counts when surgery is scheduled. Increasing evidence shows that being fit before surgery may reduce the length of your hospital stay, as well as your risk of post-operative complications.

People who can walk a few blocks or climb several flights of stairs with no problem have fewer complications after surgery than those who aren’t able to do these things.

Recommended exercises are: regular walking or cycling and strength training with resistance bands or free weights. One study found that several weeks of walking and performing breathing exercises improved fitness in a group of volunteers awaiting colorectal surgery.

Other pre-habilitation steps include:

* Stop smoking. Smoking is a risk factor for surgical complications, cardiovascular problems and pneumonia.
* Control blood sugar. If you have diabetes, getting blood sugar under control can reduce the risk of complications.
* Get enough sleep. Sleep apnea increases the risk of post-surgery breathing and blood oxygen problems.
* Improve your diet. Being underweight, especially if you have had rapid weight loss, is a risk factor, as is being significantly overweight.
* Manage stress. Stress management skills can help you cope with anxiety about your surgery and recovery. Pacing your activities and accepting help from family and friends can have a positive impact on your recovery time.