Tips to stay healthy and safe during the winter months
Thanks to Yuma's agreeable temperatures, most children in the local area do not have as many health issues during the winter as they do in other parts of the country - but there are still things that parents should be watching out for.
Wendy Puga, Health Promotions Division Program Manager at the Yuma County Public Health District, said that during the fall and winter months it is recommended that all - including children - receive their annual flu shot to prevent from getting the virus.
In addition to the flu shot, she advised that hand-washing, while important during the entire year, is especially important during flu season to prevent infections.
“Frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness,” said Puga. “Hand-washing requires only soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer... As you touch surfaces, objects and people throughout the day, you accumulate germs on your hands. In turn, you can infect yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth.”
“Help children stay healthy by encouraging them to wash their hands properly and frequently especially after: they arrive home from school, daycare or being out; using the toilet; touching animals or animal toys, leashes, or waste; blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands. It is recommended to place hand-washing reminders at children's eye level.”
She also explained that while allergies can flare up in the spring, they can be just as bad or worse in the winter as people tend to spend more time indoors.
“It is recommended for those who suffer from seasonal allergies, to take their medication as prescribed by their doctor,” she said.
During the Thanksgiving holiday, Puga said that while it is a time to give thanks and enjoy a meal with family and friends, it is also a time where there are almost three times the daily average number of cooking fires.
“Cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and injuries in the United States,” she said. “Unattended cooking is the leading cause of kitchen fires. Each year, there are approximately 102,408 emergency room visits due to a fire/burn related injury for children ages 0-14. Contact with a hot surface or flame cause the greatest number of burns in children.”
She added that when decorating for Christmas, parents should decorate with children in mind.
“Do not put ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or look like food or candy, on the lower branches where small children can reach them.”
Visit www.usa.safekids.org or www.cdc.gov/family/holiday/ for more information.
Additional tips to keep children safe during the holidays:
• Use the stove's back burner and/or turn pot handles away from stove's edge to prevent hot food or liquid spills
• Keep appliances cords coiled, away from the counter edges and out of children's reach, especially if the appliances contain hot foods or liquids.
• Use oven mitts or potholders when carrying hot food. Never use a wet oven mitt, as it presents a scald danger if the moisture in the mitt is heated. Open hot containers from the microwave slowly and away from your face.
• Create a 3-foot kid free zone around the stove. Young children should be more than 3-feet from any place where there is hot food, drinks, pans or trays.
• Never hold a child while cooking, carrying or drinking hot foods or liquids. Hot foods and items should be kept from the edge of counters and tables. Do not use a tablecloth or place mat if very young children are in the home. When children are old enough, teach them to cook safely and always with help from adults.
• Keep alcohol, including baking extracts, out of reach and don't leave alcoholic drinks unattended.
• Color additives used in fireplace fires are a toxic product and should be stored out of reach.
• Artificial snow can be harmful if inhaled, so use it in a well-vented space.
• Mistletoe berries, Holly Beery and Jerusalem cherry can be poisonous. If they are used in decorating, make sure children and pets cannot reach it. In a poison emergency, call the national Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.
• Trim protruding branches at or below a child's eye level, and keep lights out of reach.
• To minimize the risk of natural trees catching on fire, keep it watered at all times.
• Do not put the tree within three feet of a fireplace, space heater, radiator or heat vent. Never leave a lit Christmas tree or other decorative lighting display unattended. Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections and broken sockets. Do not overload extension cords or outlets and do not run an electrical cord under a rug. â€¨• Do not burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in a home fireplace. â€¨• Many home fires occur in the winter when we are using woodstoves, fireplaces or kerosene heaters. A home with an appliance that produces a flame should have a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm. Taking a moment to read the direction for electric space heaters and electric blankets can stop a fire before it begins.
* Information provided by Wendy Puga, Health Promotions Division Program Manager at the Yuma County Public Health District.
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.