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!

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!

Avoid Colorado Tick Fever

Enjoyment of the outdoors is one of the many pleasures that come with living in Colorado. As any Coloradan will proudly boast, the summer months bring countless ways to appreciate the various wonders of nature. Such activities include hiking, biking, camping, fishing and boating. Unfortunately, all of this summer fun also comes with some hazards. One in particular is the presence of ticks. Due to Colorado’s high elevation, ticks are quite common.

Although Lyme disease – transmitted from ticks – is not a problem in the state, Colorado tick fever is a tick-borne illness that is very prevalent. The disease comes from the Rocky Mountain Wood tick and is most common between April and July. It is important to know what measures to take to safeguard your family from this viral infection. Knowing where to find Rocky Mountain Wood ticks, how to avoid being bitten by them and having the ability to spot the symptoms early can make a world of difference. Here are a few tips to remember when spending time outdoors this summer.

Know where to look. Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of animals. They can be found in areas where they are most likely to come across possible hosts. These are usually grassy, well-traveled spots near fields and wooded areas.

Get covered. When spending time camping, hiking and biking in wooded places, be sure to wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts. It is also recommended to wear shoes that completely cover your feet while minimizing any exposed skin around the ankles. In addition, wearing clothing that predominately features lighter colors will make ticks easier to locate and remove.

Use repellent. DEET and Permethrin are two popular tick repellents. Spraying either one of these on clothing has been known to be effective. Keep in mind that repellents should not be sprayed near the eyes and mouth. In particular, Permethrin should not be applied to the skin.

Remove ticks effectively. If a tick is found in the skin, be sure to use dull tweezers to gently remove it. It is important not to crush the tick while pulling it out. Crushing the tick could result in infection if parts of it are left in the skin.

Know the symptoms. Be able to spot the signs of Colorado tick fever. Symptoms that accompany a tick bite include sudden chills and high fever, aching muscles, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain and a faint rash. If these symptoms do not subside within a week, contact your physician.

With some preparation and diligence, the risk of contracting Colorado tick fever can be greatly lowered. By continuing to be aware of your surroundings, you can ensure your family’s enjoyment of the great Colorado outdoors without enduring such setbacks as Colorado tick fever.

Stay Active All Summer Long…Despite the Heat!

Colorado is a great place for outdoor exercise in the summer. From marathons to more casual activities, the local terrain and climate provide ideal excursions. However, whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting outdoor hobbies like running or hiking, the summer heat can make getting your miles in challenging. Here are some tips to help deal with the summer conditions so you can continue going at your full potential all summer long:

Wear the right clothes. Equip yourself with accessories and clothes that do the most to protect you from the sun and heat. Clothing that is light in color and loose is always your best bet. The light colors reflect the rays of the sun at the same time that the looseness helps you catch any breeze that comes your way. To guard your eyes and skin from the sun, wear a hat and sunglasses. Of course, sunscreen is always a must!

Know when and where to workout. Generally, the hottest part of the day is 12pm to 3pm. To avoid the most oppressive heat, try to be out in the morning or evening. Where possible, seek out shady areas. If the heat reaches dangerous levels, call off the day’s run, hike, game or workout.

Stay Hydrated. Maintain a regular intake of liquids throughout your activity. A combination of water and sports drink will give you optimal fuel and electrolyte levels. The recommended amount of fluid is no less than 8oz. every hour. For longer periods of time or to keep your hands free, use a CamelBak or hydration belt to carry the fluids you need. 

Don’t push too hard. As the summer gets into its hottest stretch, remember that your body needs about two weeks to adjust. Take it easy during this time. Let your body acclimate gradually. Pushing too hard will do more harm than good. When running, think about switching to power walking every 4 to 8 minutes. This will help to keep you from overheating as your body adapts.

As always make sure that you talk with your doctor before you begin in any intense physical regime. We all want get in shape, but there are plenty of alternatives if our body isn’t ready for the physical stress of running.

Even though it’s the end of July, we still have many weeks of heat left. Don’t let it do you in! Follow these tips and prove that you are up to the challenge!

Camping Tips To Improve Your Experience

For Colorado families, camping is a beloved way to enjoy the state’s many outdoor benefits. Like all outdoor activities, there are some safety precautions to keep in mind in order to stay safe while you’re having fun. Here are some important safety tips:

Safety supplies. While preparing for your camping trip, include the following items to help stay safe and comfortable:

  • Map of area
  • Compass or GPS
  • Cell phone
  • Whistle
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Sunscreen

Besides the above items, a first-aid kit is also good to have with you while camping. Your first-aid kit should include the following:

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Sterile gauze pads
  • A cold pack
  • Supplies for splinting
  • Dressings for large wounds
  • Band-Aids
  • Thermometer
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Neosporin
  • Benadryl
  • Ibuprofen
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Antiseptic soap

Finding and Setting Up Your campsite. Before deciding on a site, scan the area for any hints of use by wildlife. Some key signs to look for are animal tracks and droppings, wasp nests in the ground, and scratches on the trees. Also be wary of spots with abundant berry growth. These areas might attract bears.

Campfire Safety. When looking for places to build a campfire, fire safety must always be considered. Be sure to abide by the rules of your specific camping area. For instance, do not start a fire if your campground does not allow campfires. Also, be aware of hazardous conditions. If conditions in your area are extremely dry, do not attempt to start a fire.

When building a new fire pit or fire ring, place it at least fifteen feet away from flammable objects like bushes, trees and tents. Avoid branches that hang too low in the direct vicinity of the fire. The pit itself needs to be about a foot deep. Take out all grass, sticks and leaves within a 10-foot diameter area and construct a circle of rocks around the pit or ring.

Use small, dry pieces of wood for your fire and only use wood from dead trees. Place a shovel and a bucket of water close to the fire for emergencies. Ensure your fire remains at a controllable size and never leave it alone.

When you are ready to put your fire out, pour enough water on it to make sure every ember is drenched. Use dirt if water is not available. After stirring it all in, check to see that everything is cold before leaving or going to sleep.

Poisonous plants. When camping, it is a good idea to make sure your family members are familiar with which plants to stay away from. The most common are poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak. Unknown plants should be avoided. Remember to wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts. If contact with a poisonous plant is suspected, wash the area as soon as possible and apply hydrocortisone cream to suppress any itching.

Once safety is assured, the fun camping memories can be made. Remember these safety tips and have a great camping trip!

Stay safe during a thunderstorm

June in Colorado means beautiful sunny days spending time outdoors. But the beautiful weather also comes with a catch, and in the summer months that is the daily afternoon thunderstorm. Whether you’re on the course playing 18, hiking in the mountains, or at your child’s soccer match – thunderstorms can come out of nowhere and dampen your day. Living with this reality, we need to understand the risks associated with thunderstorms and how best to minimize them to maximize our time spent enjoying the outdoors.

Thunderstorms require three ingredients: moisture, unstable and rising air. In the Front Range, as dense cold air moving over the mountains descends and hot air from the plains rises – it creates convection. Convection occurs as warmer air rises and transfers heat to the upper levels of the atmosphere. The water vapor transported by this warmer air cools, and condenses into a cloud. As this process continues, the cloud grows bigger and higher – cumulonimbus clouds can reach up to 75,000 feet in the air. As the water droplets cool they turn into ice. As these ice particles collide they create an electrical charge, and when enough electrical charge forms we get a bolt of lightning.

Thunderstorms present many dangers:

  • Heavy rainfall can cause flash flooding.
  • Sparks from lightning strikes can start forest fires.
  • Hail and heavy wind can cause damage to trees, cars, and structures.
  • Under the right conditions, tornadoes can form and have been known to cause devastating damage.
  • Lightning strikes can kill people.

As Coloradans we spend a lot of time outdoors and we will inevitably be caught in a thunderstorm from time to time. Here are some tips to ensure that you stay safe from the many ways a thunderstorm and lightning can harm you:

Check the forecast. If you are spending anytime outdoors, make sure you check the forecast. If meteorologists are calling for severe weather change your plans. The last thing you want is be stuck on a mountaintop in a thunderstorm, so plan accordingly.

Find shelter. Unprotected and exposed in a thunderstorm is the worst place you can be. Try to take shelter in a building or vehicle. If you are in an open field, find a low-lying area, but be wary of flooding. Also, beware of small metal structures like dugouts and sheds. These structures offer relief from the rain, but are dangerous places to be if stuck by lightning.

If you can hear thunder, you are not safe. Lightning produced by a thunderstorm can reach you as far as 10 miles away. If you can hear thunder, you can be struck by lightning, so take necessary precautions to ensure safety.

Avoid lightning prone areas. Hilltops (summits) and ridge lines, open fields, tall isolated trees, and the beach or any body of water make for attractive targets for lightning strikes. Also avoid natural lighting rods like tall, isolated trees in open areas.

Avoid contact with convection items. Even if you’re indoors, lightning from a thunderstorm can still harm or even kill you. Avoid using indoor plumbing and running water. Also, stay away from electrical outlets and appliances connected to them. Don’t stand near walls, windows, or doors that border outside.

By taking the necessary precautions during a thunderstorm, you will keep yourself and your family safe. Don’t let a little foul weather ruin your outing by staying educated and proactive in your family’s safety.

New Study Supports Safety of HPV Vaccine

This week there is good news for all parents regarding the safety of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, as reported from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). This vaccine is given to girls between ages nine and 13 to prevent cancers of the cervix (a part of the uterus) caused by the virus.

A huge study was published that was done in two Scandinavian countries, and which followed almost 4 million females who received the vaccine between 2006 and 2013. The researchers were trying to determine if there was any change in the rate of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and other demyelinating nerve diseases in girls who received the vaccine compared to those who did not. The study results showed there was no increase in MS or other demyelinating diseases. This further establishes the safety of this widely used vaccine.

The HPV vaccine was developed after the rate of HPV infections skyrocketed in our population, and it was discovered that HPV infection caused almost all cancers of the cervix in women. Therefore, prevention of the infection is effective in preventing cancers of the cervix, vulva and mouth in girls who had receive the vaccine prior to being exposed to the virus.

However, HPV vaccination is not just for girls and women. In October of 2011, guidelines were released recommending HPV vaccination for boys in the age range of nine to 21. This has been shown effective in preventing penile, anal and oral cancers which were also found to be caused by HPV infection.

What does this mean to us as parents? We have the power to help our children avoid cancer later in life by getting them vaccinated against HPV.

If your child has not been immunized against HPV, you should discuss HPV vaccination for your child with their pediatrician or family physician. With this new study, we can be confident the vaccine is safe for your family.

For more information on HPV and the vaccine, here are some additional sources:

CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/risk_factors.htm

American College of Pediatricians: http://www2.aap.org/immunization/illnesses/hpv/hpv.html