Tom Kirsch, MD, a member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is an emergency medicine expert who has been part of disaster relief efforts for 25 years. He’s weathered plenty of storms — including Hurricane Katrina — rescued civilians during wildfires, and provided emergency care during 9/11.
In general, Dr. Kirsch advises anyone in late-term pregnancy or with a serious, chronic condition – such as diabetes or cancer – to consider staying temporarily where there is sufficient access to medical care.
Frequently, he says, ambulances are unable to get where they need to when heavy rain and wind pick up during a hurricane. While it’s always best to call 911 if you are experiencing a medical emergency, Kirsch stresses that there is absolutely no guarantee emergency care can be provided. “If you have a significant medical condition, you need to leave” – meaning evacuate to a location where you can get care if needed.
However, Kirsch recognizes that not everyone is able or willing to evacuate their
According to the most recent government statistics available, there are more than 150,000 kitchen fires in the United States yearly, with hundreds of people killed and thousands more injured. Cooking mishaps cause up to 90 percent of kitchen fires, and most of those are grease fires. Those frightening statistics lead up to one big question: Do you know what to do when a kitchen fire flares? Should you first reach for the fire extinguisher or for the phone to call the fire department?
Grease Fires in the Kitchen
Grease fires belong in a class by themselves and should not be handled like any other kitchen fire. Rule No. 1: Never pour water on a grease fire. The best way to handle a grease fire is to smother it, if possible, and let it die out. Follow these specifics:
- Whenever you’re cooking, have an oven mitt, a potholder, and a lid that fits your pan all on hand and ready to grab in case fire sparks.
- If grease catches on fire in your cooking pan, quickly put on the oven mitt,
If home is where the heart is, where does the soul live? Xorin Balbes, author of SoulSpace: Transform Your Home, Transform Your Life — Creating a Home That Is Free of Clutter, Full of Beauty, and Inspired by You says, there are ways to make our homes more enriching environments for our inner selves.
The process can be an emotional one. We ascribe meaning to the objects we keep around, and letting go of certain memories can be painful. On the flip side, there are items we should surround ourselves with for inspiration. While material things don’t define who we are, they can, as Balbles put it, “support our spiritual evolution.”
The report finds a large majority of these incidents occur when a child climbs on furniture to reach a toy, remote, or video game remote control, or to turn on a television set.
Nearly half of these accidents occur in bedrooms. The report suggests many of the televisions involved in these injuries are older, clunky CRT sets that have been moved to another room and placed on a bureau or dresser, once a family upgrades to a flat screen television.
The majority of
Imagine a marketplace where retailers and manufacturers are compelled to make only safe, environmentally sustainable products from ethically sourced raw materials, produced by a fairly treated workforce. For Dara O’Rourke, it’s not an abstract idea; it’s his vision for the future. As associate professor of environmental and labor policy at the University of California at Berkeley, O’Rourke is a co-founder of GoodGuide.com, an online consumer resource that uses scientific calculations to create sophisticated ratings and assign “health” scores to thousands of products and companies.
Sound complicated? It’s actually quite the opposite. It’s O’Rourke’s way of giving consumers the information they need to understand the personal and social health costs that may go in to producing that household cleaner they’re using, the baby’s diaper, the jeans they’re wearing — the list includes more than 115,000 products so far.
“The idea for GoodGuide came about while I was putting sunscreen on my then 3-year-old daughter’s face. I started wondering about the ingredients in her sunscreen, so I went back to campus at UC Berkeley, where I teach, did some research, and found out that the sunscreen contained traces of potentially toxic chemicals. I then researched the rest of
In the case of a hurricane or tropical storm, your family’s physical safety is your first concern, so it’s important for you to prepare an emergency plan in advance. But even if your home is not directly hit by a storm, your neighborhood or community could be affected for several days or longer by power outages, blocked roads, and damage to grocery stores, gas stations, and other businesses.
Hurricane disaster experts with the National Hurricane Center, the Red Cross, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency advise each household to put together a preparedness kit that includes such basics as a flashlight, a radio, batteries, maps, a first-aid kit, a manual can opener, medications — and, of course, food and water. But exactly what foods should be included?
Healthy Meal Plans
Every household should stock up on healthy, easy-to-store food items, but it’s especially important to include diet-specific foods for any family members who have high blood pressure, diabetes, gluten allergy (celiac disease), or another health condition that requires a special menu.
Read the shopping lists and sample menus below for choices that can help your family eat healthfully
Flash flooding can literally happen in an instant, and even nonviolent, slow-moving thunderstorms can overwhelm creeks and rivers, leading to serious flooding. Regardless of the cause, flooding can jeopardize your family’s safety and well-being.
Flood Control Measures to Consider
It may be impossible to prevent flooding, but flood control is possible. Follow these practical flood control tips to limit potential damage inside and outside your home:
- Keep gutters clean and make sure downspouts drain water away from your house.
- Maintain clear paths for storm water to travel, ensuring that storm drainage ditches are free of sticks, rocks, and other debris and can alleviate overflow that damages homes and surrounding property.
- If you can, install a small floodwall or use sandbags to regrade your yard.
- As a flood control precaution, install check valves and backup sewer valves to prevent water from backing up in your home’s drains.
Planning and Preparation Help Reduce Losses
Considering flood control as you perform routine maintenance on your home is the first step in safeguarding your family and property in the event of a flood. Being prepared for flooding if or when it occurs is just as important.
The Federal Emergency
By the time flames are roaring through a house, it may be too late to stop the fire. Even worse, it may be too late to safely get your family out of your burning home. Fires can start and spread quickly, often while you’re asleep. So to protect yourself and your family from fires, install a smoke alarm in every crucial area of your home.
Buying a Smoke Alarm
A smoke alarm, also called a smoke detector, can sense a fire early on and warn a family of impending danger before tragedy strikes.
Smoke alarms are sold at hardware and home improvement stores, and even some supermarkets. You might even be able to get a free smoke alarm from your local fire department.
You can buy a smoke alarm that runs only on battery power or one that is wired into the electrical system of your house and runs on electricity with a battery backup. Above all, each smoke alarm you buy must carry the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label on it.
There are three types of smoke alarms on the market:
- Ionization smoke alarm. This alarm detects big, open flames.
- Photoelectric smoke alarm.
Keeping Your Home Safe From Fire
Many house fires start because of carelessness and can be prevented by taking simple fire safety measures to protect your home. Follow these fire safety tips to reduce the risk of house fires:
- Be careful in the kitchen. Fire safety and prevention is especially important in the kitchen, so keep kitchen appliances unplugged when you’re not using them (of course, that goes for appliances elsewhere in the house, too). Never leave the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop, and keep flammable items away from the stovetop.
- Use heaters wisely. Have your furnace or heating system inspected annually, and avoid potentially dangerous causes of fire like kerosene heaters. Always use a screen in front of an indoor fireplace to keep flames away from furniture and drapes, and be cautious when using space heaters — follow all directions to the letter.
- Be vigilant about cigarettes. If you or a guest in your home is a smoker, watch those butts. Always use a deep, sturdy ashtray. For fire safety, never smoke cigarettes in bed. And before bed or heading out the door, do a quick scan around and under the furniture and linens to
When you hear about areas of the country ravaged by disaster, do you stop to wonder if your family would be prepared in such an emergency? If a flood, earthquake, tornado, or other disaster strikes your home and family, would you know what to do? Any number of natural disasters can strike, but your risk for certain disasters will depend on where you live. An emergency preparedness plan can protect your family and prevent panic and potential tragedy.
Can Your Family Handle a Disaster?
Answering these four questions will quickly tell you if your family is prepared to handle an emergency situation:
- Do you have a family emergency plan for bad weather, fire, and other emergency situations?
- Do you have emergency supplies on hand, including flashlights, batteries, a radio, water, and non-perishable foods?
- Do you have a designated safe area in your home to go to during an emergency?
- Does each member of your family know what to do in case of an emergency?
If you can’t answer yes to all of these questions, it’s time to sit down with the whole family and map out a preparedness plan.
Emergency Supplies You Need
Homes built today must adhere to strict safety codes. Older homes, while offering plenty of charm and character, are more likely to have safety issues — potential problems can range from lead paint and asbestos to faulty wiring and wobbly stairs.
But you can make an older home a safe home. Educate yourself about some of the dangers associated with old homes and take any necessary action to transform your older house into one that’s as safe as possible.
The Dangers of Lead Paint and Asbestos in Older Homes
Certain materials used to build and remodel older homes are no longer used today because of safety concerns associated with them. These materials include:
- Asbestos.Asbestos was used in insulation, shingling, millboard, textured paints, and floor tiles in older homes to make them resistant to fire. But when asbestos becomes airborne, it can be inhaled and can accumulate in your lungs, potentially leading to lung cancer, mesothelioma, and fatal scarring of the lungs. Since asbestos-containing materials are usually not dangerous when they are in good condition, it is usually best to leave these materials alone. But if you’re planning on remodeling your home and removing them,