Have a Safe Halloween

For kids, Halloween is a fun and thrilling holiday. The candy and costumes alone are enough to rank it among their favorite days of the year. Along with all the preparation that goes into picking the right costume and planning Halloween-inspired games, it is important to remember certain safety precautions to take to ensure this weekend goes off without a hitch. Here are some tips that will help make your Halloween a safe one.

Make sure costumes are safe for trick-or-treating. When choosing a Halloween costume for your child, it is important to consider certain safety aspects. If face paint is required, test it on the skin ahead of time to make sure it does not cause a reaction. If you choose to go with a mask, make sure it fits correctly. This will help with your child’s comfort as well as vision. Accessories such as wands, knives, swords and axes should be as soft, flexible and short as possible to avoid injury from tripping and poking. Once the perfect costume is picked, apply reflective tape to your child’s costume and candy bag to increase visibility.

Remember trick-or-treating safety. When trick-or-treating, your child should be accompanied by an adult. Always use flashlights or glow sticks when trekking from house to house. Kids are generally very excited on Halloween and may not always be aware of their surroundings. Accordingly, traffic safety rules should be followed.

Examine candy before eating. Before your kids dig in to all that delicious Halloween candy, examine everything in their bags to make sure nothing has been tampered with. Choking hazards or opened treats should be discarded. Anything received while trick-or-treating that is obviously homemade should also be thrown away.

Prepare for trick-or-treaters. If you are expecting trick-or-treaters at your home this Saturday night, ensure the walk up to your door is clear of leaves or anything that could cause someone to trip. This week, check all outside lights to make sure they are in working order. Jack-o’-lanterns and Halloween luminaries that contain candles should always be monitored and kept away from foot traffic and flammable materials.

Halloween offers plenty of fun for the entire family to enjoy. Have an entertaining and safe Halloween!
If you have more Halloween safety tips, please share!

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Fall Fun in Denver

Fall in the Denver area can be a magical time for the entire family. From a health perspective, it is always a good idea to get outside, breathe in the fresh air and have fun! From pumpkin farms to corn mazes and haunted houses, there is an abundance of opportunities to get some exercise and make lasting memories for years to come. Below is a list of some of our favorite places for children and adults to enjoy this fall.

Pumpkin farms. Picking pumpkins is all about family fun. Enjoy enormous amounts of fun picking out those perfect pumpkins for this year’s Jack O’ Lanterns!

  • Flat Acres Farm is located at 11321 Dransfeldt Road in Parker and is open through Halloween. Don’t miss the hayrides and petting zoo!
  • Anderson Farms is located at 6728 County Road in Erie and is open through the first of November. Enjoy a rich family atmosphere with plenty for the kids to do.

Corn mazes. Get lost in nonstop fun at these area corn mazes!

  • Corn Maze at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the 1st of November. Aside from corn mazes of different shapes and sizes, you can also enjoy pony rides, hayrides and giant pillow jumping!
  • Haunted Field of Screams, located at 10270 Riverdale Road, is open every Thurs-Sat from now until the end of October. Get ready for hair-raising thrills as you test your nerves by exploring the Haunted Field of Screams, Dead Man’s Night Maze or Zombie Paintball Massacre. For added chills, you can experience all three!

Haunted houses. Prepare to be thrilled and terrified at these heart-stopping destinations!

  • The 13th Floor Haunted House is located at 4120 Brighton Blvd. and is open until November 14th. Visit the 13th Floor Haunted House and discover the eerie truth behind the legend of the 13th floor!
  • The Asylum is open until November 1st at 6100 E. 39th and features three terrifying attractions. This year’s attractions are Primitive Fear: Patient Alpha, Post Mortem: The Escape and The Abandoned.

Other Halloween-themed attractions around town. Here are some less scary events that may be more suitable for younger children.

  • The Trick or Treat Train, at the Colorado Railroad Museum, is open from 10am to 4pm on Halloween. Take this historic locomotive ride while trick-or-treating through family-friendly Railroad Halloween Town!
  • Boo at the Zoo is located at the Denver Zoo and is open from 9am-5pm on Oct. 24, 25, 31 and Nov. 1. Boo at the Zoo features trick-or-treating, animal exhibitions and entertainment the whole family will enjoy!

Do you have any favorite fall attractions to add to this list? Please share in the comments below!

Stay Fit This Fall

The arrival of fall doesn’t mean you have to give up exercising and do away with all the progress you made over the summer. Outdoor exercise in the fall can be even more enjoyable than in the summer months. Here are some tips to help you enjoy a safe and productive fall season of fitness.

Focus on safety. In the fall, the sun rises later and sets earlier. These shorter days make exercising outside a little trickier in terms of safety. If you find that your regular workout time has suddenly left you in the dark, be sure to wear reflective clothing so passing vehicles can see you. If you are running or walking, bring a flashlight or wear a headlamp. When riding a bike, consider outfitting it with reflectors, a headlight and a taillight. Also, pick a route you are familiar with.

Dress accordingly. One benefit of working out in the fall is the absence of the grueling summer heat. However, the change in weather does warrant more preparation for your outdoor workouts. Remember to wear layers of clothing that protect you from the wind and the cold.

Remember to enjoy the scenery. While working hard to achieve your fitness goals this fall, don’t forget to take in the extraordinary beauty around you. After all, the colorful foliage of autumn is a short-lived delight! You might even consider varying your usual routine to explore nearby parks or mountain trails where the changes in leaves are more prevalent. Other characteristically fall activities like apple picking, pumpkin picking, visiting a haunted corn maze and raking leaves are also fun alternatives.

Continue to drink plenty of water. Even though the heat of summer has given way to the cooler temperatures of fall, staying hydrated is just as important. Remember that hydration helps your body recover from your workouts. Although you may not feel as thirsty in the cooler weather, your body still needs those fluids.

Explore new activities. Autumn is a season of change, perhaps it’s time to bring on some change of your own. This fall might be the perfect occasion to give a brand new activity a try. Depending on your interests, you might consider tap dancing, spinning, fencing, boxing or yoga.

As the summer sun fades, safely discover all the exciting and new opportunities that the fall has to offer! As always, make sure to talk with your doctor before you begin any intense physical regime. Do you have any fall fitness tips? Please share below!

Fall Home Maintenance

Even though summer temperatures are still blazing, those winter chills will soon be on their way. Now is the time to start thinking about fall home maintenance. Here is a list of some minor tasks you can perform around the house to prevent any expensive mishaps and unwanted dangers in the coming winter.

Put away garden hoses and disable sprinklers. To prevent costly damages from early freeze snaps in the beginning of the fall, make sure your garden hoses are removed from all outdoor faucets and make sure there is no residual water. Any remaining water can freeze and crack faucets and pipes. Drain and store hoses indoors for the winter. If you have a sprinkler system, turn off the main valve to cut off the water and open the drain valves to let the water flow out. Remember to empty all sprinkler heads of any water.

Seal cracks. Sealing cracks is a simple and inexpensive way to avoid high heating costs. Simply inspect the exterior of your home for cracks in the foundation, in the areas around windows and doors and near spots where wires and pipes enter the house. If cracks are found in these areas, use caulk to fill them.

Check your roof and clear the gutters. To inspect your roof safely, consider contacting a certified professional. Some telltale signs of damage that you can spot from the ground include rusted flashing and shingles that are missing, warped or cracked. Gutters should be cleared of leaves and other debris. Sagging gutters are a safety hazard and might be a result of water being trapped. Damaged gutters should be replaced.

Get your furnace ready. Be sure to get your furnace inspected by a licensed professional. Furnace filters should be replaced every two months. If your furnace is performing poorly or unpredictably, it is likely time for an inspection.

Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. This is a good time to make sure all the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your house are in working order and have fresh batteries so your family is kept safe this winter.

Don’t let the coming weather changes catch you off guard! Follow these simple tips and enjoy the many delights of autumn! Do you have more home maintenance tips? Please share in the comments below!

5 Basics for Back-to-School

Now that summer is winding down, this is the perfect time to start preparing your kids for the return of school. Because there are a lot of details to keep track of, this can be a very stressful and chaotic time. However, remembering a few of the basics will help you get this school year off to a great start!

Take your kids to the doctor. Be sure to schedule your children’s medical appointments prior to the beginning of the new school year. These include medical checkups, eye exams, dental appointments and hearing tests. Remember that your child’s medical records and vaccinations should all be up to date at the start of every school year.

Appropriate bedtimes. Your children likely have a much more liberal sleep schedule during the summer months. If that is the case, try to establish an earlier bedtime one or two weeks before school starts. If you have trouble accomplishing this, consider dimming the lights an hour or so prior to the designated bedtime or giving them a hot bath to calm their bodies down.

Meal schedules. Along with sleep schedules, this is also the time to adjust your kids’ eating schedules to support the levels of energy they will need throughout the school day. The regularity of breakfast, lunch and dinner should be reintroduced and upheld. Depending on your schedule, it might be easier to prepare school lunches the night before. Another option to help ease this transition is to prepare and freeze some easy dinners ahead of time.

School supplies. Stock up on school supplies early! Save your receipts to prepare for the possibility that some teachers may prefer students to use particular items for their class. Look for backpacks that are sturdy enough to handle the workload and regular wear and tear. When buying clothes, be sure to review your school’s dress code. After the supplies are purchased, appoint specific spots in the house for lunch boxes, backpacks and other supplies. This will cut down on the unwanted clutter that can occur during the school year.

Proper study area. Provide your child with a specific space in the home to do homework. This spot should be quiet, uncluttered and separate from household distractions. Setting time schedules for doing homework might also be helpful. The intent in doing all of this is to instill a sense of routine as well as the importance of doing schoolwork.

Hopefully, after reading these tips, getting your kids ready doesn’t seem so daunting. Remembering these basics will aid you in getting this school year going strong! Do you have more back-to-school tips? Please share in the comments below.

Giving Thanks for Good Health

Amid the holiday hustle and bustle, I often find myself reflecting on my life—feeling thankful for everything I have and wanting to give to others less fortunate. There can be a lot of pressure this time of year: shopping, baking, cooking and party planning. However, much of the meaning behind the holiday season has been diluted.

Expressing gratitude can improve your mood and, on a long-term basis, even has health benefits. Here are three positive benefits from expressing gratitude:

  1. Bolsters our feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. Recognizing how much we have— loved ones in our lives, living in a free country, access to clean water—somehow makes our life feel more significant and improve self-esteem.
  2. Helps build social bonds. Thanksgiving, and the season in general, brings families and friends together from across the nation. We get so caught up in our busy lives, we lose touch with one another. Thanksgiving reminds us why our loved ones are so important, and how lucky we are to have them. Improved social bonds has been linked to increasing overall happiness and health.
  3. Strengthens relationships. There’s nothing more endearing than a heart felt expression of gratitude. Certainly you have done something, at work or home, and felt you weren’t being recognized or appreciated. A simple “thank you” improves mood and makes others feel valued.

Gratitude shouldn’t disappear as the holidays pass, try to make this a daily occurrence. Here are a few ideas to practice gratitude beyond Thanksgiving into the New Year:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal. Write down something you are thankful for every day. Over time, you will develop greater mindfulness as you notice more and more things you appreciate in your life. In fact, studies show this actually helps treat or prevent depression. Simple things you may have taken for granted will gain greater meaning; a bird singing outside your window, the sound of children playing in your front yard, the warmth of a winter fire.
  2. Imagine yourself in another’s shoes. Sometimes taking a moment to appreciate another’s perspective and experiences not only helps us understand who they are, but also makes us thankful for our own background.
  3. Give back. Nothing says thank you more than giving to others. Whether delivering food to the needy, spending time volunteering or just buying another’s drink at Starbucks, paying it forward is a great way to express gratitude.

Tomorrow as you’re carving the turkey or slicing into that pumpkin pie, take a moment to really appreciate all the good around. Make gratitude an integral part of your day, and you can be on your way to a happier, healthier, and more gratuitous life. How else do you show what you’re thankful for?

November is Diabetes Awareness Month

Diabetes is on the rise. By 2050, the American Diabetes Association (www.diabetes.org) estimates one in three Americans will have the disease. This month is an opportunity to focus attention on the many health problems diabetes causes and what you can do to keep yourself and your family healthy.

Here are some of the most recent statistics on diabetes:
• Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.
• Another 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes (95% of people with diabetes have type 2).
• One in four people living with the disease don’t know they have it.
• The total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is estimated at $245 billion.
Find more statistics at http://www.cdc.gov/features/livingwithdiabetes/.

Diabetes occurs when your body cannot produce enough insulin, leading to elevated levels of glucose in your blood. This puts you at risk for many other health complications, including:
• People with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized for a heart attack or stroke.
• Diabetes causes nearly 50% of all cases of kidney failure.
• More than half of all amputations in adults occur in people with diabetes.
• More than half a million American adults have advanced diabetic retinopathy, greatly increasing their risk for severe vision loss.
• About 60-70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nerve damage that could result in pain in the feet or hands, slowed digestion, sexual dysfunction and other nerve problems.
Certain factors put you at higher risk for developing diabetes, learn more here.

With these sobering numbers, prevention is more important than ever. Here are five tips to take control of your health:
Exercise – regular physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight, lower your blood sugar levels and boost your sensitivity to insulin to keep your blood sugar in a normal range. Both aerobic and resistance training are effective to help reduce your risk for diabetes, but the greatest benefit comes from a program that includes both. Aim to get sweaty at least three times each week.

Maintain a Healthy Weight – Studies show that just a modest amount of weight loss (5% to 7%) can significantly reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes. This equals 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Increased physical activity, portion control and limiting processed foods will jumpstart your weight loss.

Eat Fiber – Fiber does more than just keep you, er, regular. It can lower your risk for heart disease and control blood sugar, plus it helps you feel full for longer which can promote weight loss. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Choose Whole Grains – Although still unclear why, whole grains can reduce your risk for diabetes and help maintain blood sugar levels. Substitute whole grain varieties for bread, pasta and cereals.

Stop Smoking – Smokers are about 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes than nonsmokers. There is a large selection of aids to help you quit available today so there is no excuse!

As part of their program to raise awareness this month, the American Diabetes Association has launched America Gets Cooking to Stop Diabetes. This initiative helps encourage people to live a healthier lifestyle by cooking nutritious food and being active. Visit online each week at http://www.diabetesforecast.org/adm to learn more and get daily tips, delicious recipes and strategies for staying healthy during the holidays. You can also connect via social media (@AmDiabetesAssn) for updates all month long.

Diabetes is largely preventable, but you need to take control of your health. Tell us what you do to help your family stay active and eat healthy.

Our Favorite Fall Superfoods

Last week, we focused on different ways you can enjoy this beautiful fall season. At the top of the list was pumpkin’s power as an ingredient for seasonal favorites, like pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin pie. This superfood is more than just a delicious addition to recipes; pumpkin is rich in potassium and Vitamin B, plus one serving has about 20% of your daily-recommended intake of fiber. This is just one of the season’s superfoods, however, there are many other in-season fruits and vegetables that are both nutritious and delicious.

Check out our favorite fall superfoods and recipes below:

Apples: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” More important now during cold and flu season, this crisp fruit is full of antioxidants and four grams of dietary fiber per serving. Be sure to eat the skin to maximize the health benefits. Try this stuffed apple recipe from The Food Network for a sweet twist on traditional apple pie.

Brussels Sprouts: This vegetable has a mild, slightly bitter taste that makes it great combined with tangy and savory sauces like balsamic vinegar. Half a cup contains more than your daily dose of Vitamin K, plus these are a great source of folate and iron. Although I think they taste best by simply roasting with a little olive oil, garlic salt and pepper, this Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad is sure to please.

Cauliflower: The slightly nutty flavor of this veggie makes it perfect for fall side dishes, like a cauliflower mash. It has cancer fighting compounds and phytonutrients that may help lower cholesterol, plus it’s an excellent source of Vitamin C.

Parsnips: For a vegetable that’s not as well-known, parsnips resemble a white carrot and have a sweet, almost nutty flavor. They are great pureed in soups and sauces and are a good source of fiber and potassium. Try this Gingered Pear and Parsnip recipe for a delicious mix of tangy and sweet.

Squash: From butternut to acorn, winter squash has a finer texture and slightly sweeter flavor compared to its summer counterparts. Its think skin allows it to be stored for months and contains omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin A. There is no shortage of recipes for these versatile gourds, but they pair fantastically with other fall flavors like cinnamon and ginger. This hearty Beef and Butternut Squash stew is perfect for chilly nights, and this Squash Gratin or Roasted Squash with Brown Butter and Cinnamon both make delectable sides.

Sweet Potatoes: More nutritionally dense than white potatoes, sweet potatoes have lots of Vitamin A, iron and anti-inflammatory properties. This Thanksgiving favorite is also delicious roasted, or try them as a Sweet Potato Mash or in this Curried Sweet Potato Apple Soup.

Dates: This middle eastern fruit is sweet and can be braised for stews, chopped for desserts or stuffed with almonds and cream cheese. Low in fat, they have high amounts of fiber and potassium. Impress guests at your next get-together with this bacon and date appetizer.

To find out more about these superfoods and many more, visit http://bit.ly/1tykOjO.

Cooler temperatures and falling leaves make this time of year perfect to cozy up to a fire with family and friends. Impress loved ones with scrumptious seasonal offerings, and the health benefits are just a bonus. We won’t tell if you don’t.