First Responders – Be Kind to Your Heart

The men and women of public safety are tough, in control, and working to put others ahead of themselves. It takes a lot of “heart” to do the job. If you wear a uniform, be aware that your risk of heart disease might be higher than the general population.

First Responder Heart Health

February is Heart Month – a reminder that we all need to take care of our hearts so we will be around to celebrate many more Valentine’s Days with our loved ones.

The Risk  

Being a first responder is one of the most stressful jobs in the U.S. Long shifts, life and death situations, and strenuous physical exertion can take a toll on the heart. A number of studies involving law enforcement officers found sudden cardiac deaths accounted for 10 percent of all on-duty police deaths in the U.S.

Cardiovascular disease was found to be the primary on-duty and lifetime mortality risk for firefighters.

The danger increased for first responders who were diabetic, overweight, smoked, used excessive alcohol and didn’t exercise.

Female officers, firefighters and EMTs also need to pay attention. Their rates of heart disease and heart attack have increased, and the Centers for Disease Control lists heart disease as the leading cause of death for women in the U.S.

Recommendations

While we may not be able to reduce the stress involved with public safety, there are clear steps that can cut your risk of heart disease:

  1. If you smoke, quit
  2. Improve and control cholesterol levels
  3. Reduce high blood pressure
  4. Exercise
  5. Eat a heart-healthy diet
  6. Get to a healthy weight
  7. Get adequate sleep
  8. Reduce alcohol intake
  9. Begin aspirin therapy

Police and fire organizations are now calling for mandatory medical exams, wellness and fitness requirements and annual physical fitness performance evaluations. They also recommend that individuals buddy-up and create workout groups, walking clubs and other physical challenges in for their departments.

Law enforcement officers can find heart-healthy tips at https://www.officer.com/command-hq/supplies-services/healthcare/article/20998653/heart-disease-and-law-enforcement.

Firefighters can go to https://healthy-firefighter.org/.

 

5 Foolproof Ways to Stick to your New Year’s Resolution

New year, new you. Right? That’s what everyone says. Statistics say that 80% of resolutions fail by February. Start 2019 with a new goal and achieve what you put your mind to. Here are some simple steps to keep from feeling overwhelmed and stick to your new year resolution.

  1. Keep it simple. If your plan is to lose weight, figure out how much you want to shred and then divide that into twelve months. This helps breaking down a long term goal to small accomplishable goals.
  2. Accountability. You are more likely to keep at your resolution if your goal is reinforced and encouraged by others. Rely on your support system for the hard days when you’re tempted to give up.
  3. Track Progress. Include an easy way to track your success to match your goal. A vision board or journal are some great examples to use.
  4. Celebrate the wins. Make sure some sort of positive recognition is a part of the process. Praise can go a long way.
  5. Small stumbles will happen. It’s important to remember that bumps will come along the way. That doesn’t mean that you have failed. Write it down on your progress tracker and understand it as a learning lesson.

As we ring in the new year, just remember that you can accomplish what you set your mind to and you have support along the way. Change takes time and patience. Don’t forget about your support system along the way.

 

6 Tips to Keep Your Child Safe and Cool This Summer

 

Even the most attentive and caring parents make mistakes- including accidentally leaving or locking a child in a car. Sometimes, children climb into unlocked, parked cars in the driveway without parents realizing they have done so. Regardless of how it happens, children left in hot vehicles in the car are in grave danger within a matter of minutes.

 

Here are some tips for making double & triple sure that your child is safe and cool this summer:

 

  1. No exceptions: No matter how brief your errand or how quick your stop, NEVER leave a child in the car. Under any circumstances, even with the windows cracked or completely rolled down. There is no safe amount of time to leave a child in the car.
  2. Get involved if you are a bystander: If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately. If they are in distress due to heat, the National Highway Safety Administration recommends getting them out as soon as possible.
  3. Remind Yourself: Tell yourself out loud to remember the child; give yourself visual cues; place your purse or briefcase in back by the child- so when you go to get it when exiting the car, you are reminded; place the diaper bag in the seat next to you where you can see it; place a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat- move it the front seat next to you when the child is in the car. Oftentimes, child car seats are behind the parent’s seat, out of sight. If you are changing up routine (for example, if Parent 1 usually drives the child in the morning, but today Parent 2 is doing so), it is easy to forget. New parents have a lot on their minds. Remind, remind, remind.
  4. Prevent kids from wandering into the car: Don’t let children play in your car, lock your car doors and trunk, and keep keys out of any child’s reach. That way, you minimize the risk that they climb into your car without you knowing they have done so.
  5. Make it routine: Make it a habit to physically open the back car door and check for anyone left behind every single time you get out of the car.
  6. Have back up:  Make arrangements with your child’s day care center or babysitter that you will always call if your child will not be there on a particular day as scheduled. That way if you forget and they are absent, they will alert you.

4 Easy Ways to Stay Healthy After Retirement

Now that the day-to-day job is in the past, you can look forward to a life afterwards. So you maybe asking yourself, what to do now? It’s a new chapter in life and the opportunities are endless. Here are ideas to consider for your new life in retirement.

  • Staying Active. Gardening, playing tennis, taking walks, or even chasing grandkids are great ways to keep active throughout retirement. It also has health benefits such as reducing cholesterol, promotes stronger bones, helps improve strength and balance.
  • Find Your Creative Side. It’s important to also exercise your brain. Studies show that picking up a hobby has positive effects such as reducing your risk for Alzheimer’s. So pick up that paint brush and paint a masterpiece, or strum a new song on the guitar.
  • Get to Know Your Friends. Now that work doesn’t interfere with your social life, take time to spend more time with friends, or even family. It doesn’t just help bring everyone together, but it has cognitive benefits, such as happiness. Who doesn’t enjoy an afternoon with friends?
  • Spend Time Volunteering. Put it on your schedule to do volunteer work. Volunteering helps with your mental health bringing happiness and personal satisfaction.

Going into retirement doesn’t have to feel like the end of the world. Think of it as a new open door to life. Staying healthy and happy will lead to a longer enjoyable life.

5 Reasons Why It’s Healthy to have a Pet

 

If you have a dog or cat, you know what a joy they are. Their love and loyalty enriches our lives.

Now, many experts say there is proof that life with a pet may actually provide these health benefits:

  1. Reduced allergies – more and more studies suggest that infants and children that grow up in a house with furred animals have a reduced risk of allergies and asthma later in life
  2. Lower blood pressure – numerous studies find merely being around a pet can lower your blood pressure, with the greatest pressure drop coming when you pet them
  3. Better heart health – dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease and those suffering from heart disease had better recoveries and survived longer if they had a pet
  4. Increased companionship – pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression, Alzheimer patients were calmer when pets were present, and many elderly people reported a better quality of life because of their pets
  5. Decreased weight – those of us with pets tend to go to dog parks, take regular walks, hikes or runs with their dog, and were less likely to be overweight

Many families also have therapy and companion dogs to warn about food ingredients someone may be allergic to, while others can warn diabetes patients when they are suffering from low blood sugar.

And, knowing that your dog loves to take trips with you to dog parks, hiking trails and other dog-friendly areas, California Casualty now includes coverage with every auto policy* that pays for vet bills if Fido or Rover gets hurt in a covered auto accident.

However, these pet passenger safety tips can help you avoid the heartache of an injured loved one:

  • Keep them in the backseat away from airbags
  • Put them in a crash tested dog crate or safety harness
  • Lock power windows to prevent them from accidently from opening up or closing on them
  • Always have water on hand
  • Take breaks every two or three hours to let them stretch and take care of potty business
  • Never leave them unattended in the vehicle, especially on warm or hot days

5 Things to Know Before Buying Bagged Veggies

Time is of the essence for stressed out nurses, time crunched educators or first responders on the go. Now that school has begun and schedules are getting even tighter, meal planning can be a real chore. Picking up a bag of salad, prewashed carrots or other veggies can be a real timesaver, but are we making the healthiest choice for our families?

Here’s some good news from The Cleveland Clinic. They’ve found that pre-cut vegetables are just as nutritious as whole vegetables, and even offered tips on how to pick the best bagged varieties:

  1. Make sure to buy raw, not pre-cooked varieties for the most nutrition
  2. Check that they are refrigerated for freshness
  3. Inspect labels for use-by dates
  4. Consume within a few days before vitamins break down
  5. Watch for chemicals

The Clinic does warn pregnant women to be very careful with any fresh or pre-cut foods to avoid e-coli and other dangerous bacteria.

And speaking of food safety, Dr. Stephen Swanson of the Centers for Disease Control tells Eatingwell.com that most bagged vegetables and salads may actually be safer than their raw counterparts because they are washed multiple times in a solution of chlorinated water. It’s enough, he says, to kill pathogens, but in small enough levels as not to be a consumption concern.

Cooking for the family after a hectic day doesn’t have to eat up a lot of time. Realsimple.com has a list of 20 speedy recipes that take 15 minutes or less to prepare to accompany those bagged selections:

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