Thursday, June 15, 2006
National Safety Month time to prepare for entire year

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital,
Medical director

I received an e-mail today telling me that June is National Safety Month. I found it kind of interesting that we had declared a "safety month." It suggests that we should only be safe during the month of June. We clearly need to be safe every day. What organizers really mean is that June should be a reminder month about safety. It should tell us about the safety we should practice every day. The topics for the month are broken down by week. They are:
June 5-9: Driving
June 12-16: Workplace
June 19-23: Emergency Preparedness
June 26-30: Home and Community
Over the years I have written about each of these. Driving topics include things like aggressive driving. There are many ways that drivers do things that help cause accidents. This might include tailgating. It might include speeding. It might include changing lanes without signaling. All increase the chance of hurting the driver or those around him/her. Driving topics also include distracted driving. The best example of this is cell phone use. Some one driving too slowly is probably on the cell phone. Someone speeding up and slowing down is probably on a cell phone. Other distractions include eating while driving. They include fixing hair while driving. The list goes on and on. Drinking and driving clearly do not mix. Most people tend to forget that the average person is clearly impaired after two drinks. Someone my weight would get their alcohol level to 0.033 with two drinks. The legal limit may be 0.08. Impairment occurs at 0.03. Seat belts are the fourth major topic to go along with driving safety. We need to wear seat belts. Our passengers need to wear them. Our children need to be in safety seats. Workplace safety needs to be addressed on every job. It is different for each job. However, workman's compensation claims show that there are a lot of injuries in almost every profession. The time to prepare for emergencies is before they happen. Every member of your family should know what to do in case of a fire. You should have preparations for hurricanes well in advance of the hurricane season. The same kind of thing is true for power outages. Losing power and heat in the winter can be deadly. The kind of things we do at home can be as dangerous as those we do at work. There is no workman's compensation for these. If you stop and think about it, most of your injuries occur at home. Most of the time, they are related to trying to take short cuts. We stand on chairs instead of using ladders. We use the wrong tool for the job because it is quicker. We try to fix things that we are not familiar with. The list goes on and on. The same thing is true outdoors. We do not always provide fences around pools. When we do, they do not always have self-latching gates. We often have dangerous things like trampolines available. Unfortunately all these things are not just problems in the month of June. The National Safety Month does give us a chance to look at how we do things all year round. There is always room for improvement.

Nemours doctor contributes to book about childhood obesity
Are you concerned about your child's extra weight? You're not alone. Obesity among children has reached epidemic levels in the United States, affecting more than 9 million children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a new obesity parent manual, "A Parent's Guide to Childhood Obesity: A Road Map to Health," which provides solutions and resources for parents and other caregivers who are concerned about childhood obesity and overweight children. Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, director, Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management Clinic at the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, is the book's editor-in-chief. Hassink has been involved with the AAP for almost 25 years and is currently a member of its national Task Force on Obesity. The book, which available for order on the AAP Web site, covers all aspects of sound weight management and contains information on things such as balanced meals, strategies for dealing effectively with parenting challenges and approaches for encouraging increased physical activity. "Obesity is one of the single biggest health risks facing our children," says Hassink. "Parents and families are faced with an environment that promotes increased sedentary behavior and increased calorie consumption." Hassink hopes this book will help parents and families help their children to find their way back to healthy nutrition and activity. "As pediatricians, we partner our families on this journey and the material in this book will help foster interactions between families and their health care providers to achieve a healthy lifestyle," she says.

College offering Spanish to health-care workers
To meet the community's increasing need for Spanish-speaking health care workers, Delaware Tech is offering two targeted Spanish courses this summer. Students can practice Spanish words and phrases commonly used in a variety of health care settings to improve their customer service skills. The easy-to-learn class format focuses on dialogue and provides health care workers with the confidence to use their new language skills almost immediately. "Customer Service Spanish for the Health Care Industry" is a short course for workers who provide non-medical customer support. Vocabulary includes greetings, personal information including insurance terms, numbers and money, directions, and helpful service questions and phrases. The four-session class meets Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 6-9 p.m., June 20-29; the fee is $132. "Survival Spanish for Health Care Technicians" is a focused course for technicians who have regular, brief interaction with Spanish-speaking clients. Vocabulary includes greetings, personal information, numbers, body parts, medical histories, commands, symptoms, and terms to explain various tests and procedures. Class meets for 8 sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 6-8 p.m., July 11-20, for a fee of $264. For more information, or to register, call corporate and community programs at 854-6966.

In summer, healthy diets for teens should not go on vacation
Summer vacation may mean teens and tweens are left on their own during the day while mom and dad work. Since parents cannot be there to monitor food choices, kids may opt for snacks such as potato chips and soda. But these salty and sugary treats should not replace the healthy foods they require for good health. "Fast-growing teens need at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and many don't get even one serving a day," says Dr. Sue Snider, Cooperative Extension food and nutrition specialist at the University of Delaware. "Fruits and vegetables are nature's perfect snack. Not only are they fast and easy to prepare, fruits and vegetables are low in fat and calories. In addition, they provide fiber and certain nutrients, such as carotenes, that may reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease." To encourage your stay-at-home teen to choose a healthy snack over greasy, salt-laden fast foods, make fruits and vegetables readily available. Snider offers these suggestions:

  • Provide easy-to-wash and eat fruits, such as bananas, apples and grapes.
  • Plate cut-up carrots, celery, sliced green or red pepper, raw broccoli or make a fruit salad with in-season fruits, then prominently display them in the refrigerator, where they can be grabbed by your on-the-go teen.
  • Buy juice in individual boxes and canned fruit such as peaches and applesauce in individual serving containers.
  • Keep on hand small bags of dried fruit (raisins, apricots, cherries, cranberries or blueberries) for a quick energy supply during the day's activities.
"Make sure your teen has a good breakfast," advises Snider. "Breakfast can provide two servings of fruit in the form of juice and fresh fruit topping on whole-grain cereal or low-fat yogurt." She suggests preparing your teen a fruit smoothie by blending 6 ounces orange juice (or cranberry juice cocktail), 6 ounces of plain yogurt and a banana. Finally, says Snider, appeal to teenagers' vanity. Remind them that eating healthy foods will help them look good, grow strong and give them energy they need for their busy schedules.