Tuesday, May 31, 2011

National Aphasia Awareness Month 2011

By Diane Forrest, RN

Aphasia is an impairment of language ability ranging from having difficulty remembering words to being completely unable to speak, read, or write. It can occur suddenly as with a head injury or stroke, or develop over time with dementia, infection or brain tumor.

Signs and symptoms

People with aphasia may experience any of the following behaviors:

  • inability to comprehend language ;
  • inability to pronounce, not due to muscle paralysis or weakness;
  • inability to speak spontaneously;
  • inability to form words;
  • inability to name objects;
  • poor enunciation;
  • inability to repeat a phrase;
  • persistent repetition of phrases;
  • uncompleted sentences;
  • inability to read;
  • inability to write;
  • limited verbal output; and
  • difficulty in naming.
In November of 2009, my husband became septic from a kidney infection. His temperature rose to 106 degrees, and remained that high for about a week. He was awake and alert, but began speaking in a "foreign language". Once his fever started going down, he was visited by a speech therapist. Of course never seeing him before, she assumed he had this problem for a while. Once I informed her that it only started when the fever went up, and his speech should return to normal once the infection was gone, she decided to wait it out. Sure enough, his speach returned to normal in a few days and all was right with the world.


Treatment is according to the cause of aphasia, but the main course of treatment involves working with a speech therapist.


For more information see: http://www.aphasia.org/

Save Your Hearing Day 2011

Save Your Hearing Day is always observed on May 31st and reminds us that our hearing is vital, and needs to be protected.

Many hearing loss problems are avoidable. Hearing loss can result from a variety of reasons, including: health, genetic and environmental causes. On the environmental side, repeated long term exposure to loud, high decibel noises can overtime cause hearing loss. This cause, in particular, is often avoidable.

Use Save Your Hearing Day as an opportunity to learn what you can do to avoid hearing loss to yourself, and your family. Then, practice it.

Turn Down the volume already – I’m the fella two cars behind you and you’re hurting my ears!

Now for some facts from our friendly folks at Better Hearing (www.betterhearing.org)


Noise is one of the most common causes of hearing loss, and one of the most common occupational illnesses in the United States. A single shot from a shotgun, experienced at close range, may permanently damage your hearing in an instant. Repeated exposures to loud machinery may, over an extended period of time, present serious risks to human hearing.

  • 10 million Americans have already suffered irreversible hearing damage from noise;
  • 30 million are exposed to dangerous noise levels each day.
  • The effects of noise on hearing are often underestimated because the damage takes place so gradually.

Excessive noise damages the delicate hair cells in the inner ear. This damage results in sensorineural hearing loss and often tinnitus (ringing of the ears). Dangerous levels of noise can come from working in noisy occupations or in engaging in dangerous recreational activities:

  • Beware of dangerous recreational activities: video arcades, fire crackers, discos, music concerts, shooting a gun, movie theatres, sporting events, motor boards, motorcycles, snowmobiles, “boom cars”.
  • Occupations particularly under risk for hearing loss due to exposure to noise are as follows: firefighters, police officers, factory workers, farmers, construction workers, military personnel, heavy industry workers, musicians, entertainment industry professionals.
If you have to raise your voice to shout over the noise to be heard by someone within an arm’s length away, the noise is probably in the dangerous range. Some of the warning signs of the presence of or exposure to hazardous noise are as follows:

  • You can’t hear someone three feet away
  • You have pain in your ears after leaving a noisy area
  • You hear ringing or buzzing (tinnitus) in your ears immediately after exposure to noise
  • You suddenly have difficulty understanding speech after exposure to noise; you can hear people talking but you cannot understand them.
 What You Can Do to Protect Your Hearing

  • If you work in an at-risk occupation, check with your employer to make sure you have adequately protected your hearing according to OSHA regulations.
  • Limit exposure time to noisy activities.
  • Wear hearing protection, such as foam or silicone plugs or muffs. Foam plugs are available at your pharmacy while muffs and specialized ear protection can be purchased at sporting good stores or safety equipment stores.
  • At home, turn down the volume on the television, radio, stereos and Walkman’s.
  • Wear ear plugs or muffs when using loud equipment (i.e. lawn mowers, power saw, leaf blower).
  • Buy quieter products (compare dB ratings – the smaller the better).
  • Reduce the number of noisy appliances running at the same time in your personal environment.
  • Avoid medications that can be dangerous to your hearing. Be sure to ask your physician about possible effects on your hearing.

An Ounce of Prevention

Be alert to hazardous noise. Since prevention is so critical, make sure that your family (especially children), friends, and colleagues are aware of the hazards of noise. Remember: One-third of hearing loss is preventable with proper hearing protection.


Monday, May 30, 2011

A Salute ...

To The Pioneer Woman and her post for this Memorial Day.

Once again Ree has captured the true essence of Memorial Day in photographs and very few words, as they are really not needed. A lump in your throat...heart aches, emotionally taken away from where you are sitting ...knowing what the reunion is like ..yet also aware that so many came home in a box.

Thank you Ree for once again for doing a wonderful job.

Stroke Awareness 2011!!


Remember the '3' steps, STR. Read and Learn!

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S  *Ask the individual to SMILE.

T  *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE  (Coherently)

(i.e. It is sunny out today.)

R  *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue

NOTE:  Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.

Stroke Awareness - Know the Facts

Each year nearly 800,000 Americans experience a new or recurrent stroke, which is the nation’s third leading cause of death. Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, with about 6.5 million stroke survivors alive today.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain becomes blocked or bursts. There are two types of stroke - hemorrhagic and ischemic. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when brain arteries rupture and an ischemic stroke occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.

Are you or a loved one at risk?

Many warning signs indicate you may be suffering a stroke. Depending on the function of the part of the brain affected.

Many factors increase the risk for stroke. Some factors can be controlled, while others cannot.

  • Strokes are four to six times more likely in people with high blood pressure.
  • People with high cholesterol are at double the risk of having a stroke.
  • Strokes are six times more likely to occur in people with heart disease.
  • Excess weight can lead to heart disease and high cholesterol, which can lead to a stroke.
  • Heavy drinking increases the risk for stroke.
  • Smokers have double the risk for stroke as nonsmokers.

If you experience any of the major stroke warning signs listed below, call 911. It is important to get to a hospital immediately.
  • Sudden loss of speech
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Sudden paralysis
  • Sudden weakness
  • Sudden dizziness
Healthy diet, exercise, controlling blood pressure and not smoking are cornerstones of stroke prevention.
  • Control your blood pressure;
  • Find out if you have heart disease, especially an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation;
  • Don’t smoke;
  • Find out if you have a diseased carotid artery;
  • Lower your cholesterol;
  • Limit your alcohol intake;
  • Control your weight; and
  • If you have diabetes, manage the disease.
It's not just adults who have strokes, children and even infants – can suffer strokes. Stroke is one of the top 10 causes of death in children, and the majority of pediatric stroke survivors can have residual neurological or cognitive impairment. However, children generally tend to recover from stroke better than adults. The warning signs for pediatric stroke can include:
  • Severe headache – often the first complaint;
  • Eye movement problems;
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg;
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding words or simple sentences;
  • Sudden blurred vision or decreased vision in one or both eyes; and
  • Dizziness, loss of balance or lack of coordination.

Click here, http://www.strokeawareness.com/media/Raising-Stroke-Awareness-Tips.pdf  download, print and keep it handy – yeah never know, the life you save may be your own! 

Memorial Day 2011

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. Service Members who died while in the military service. First enacted by formerly enslaved African-Americans to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War – it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars.

It also became a long weekend increasingly devoted to shopping, family get-togethers, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events such as the Indianapolis 500 auto race, held since 1911 on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.  Memorial Day often marks the start of the summer vacation season, and Labor Day its end.

Today in our Nation’s Capital, we honor those who make the ultimate sacrifice for their country with over 400,000 members of Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally to call for the government's recognition and protection of Prisoners of War (POWs) and those Missing in Action (MIAs).

While researching information for this article, I found this truly remarkable post that I want to share with you.  Thank you Mellissa Walker for your wonderful words!

Memorial Day 2011: Celebrating true strength By Melissa Walker/Parental Guidance
What defines strength? Who do you picture when you think of a strong person? Is it the professional athlete, the bodybuilders, Arnold Schwarzenegger (maybe not so much, these days)? As a fitness professional, I’m often trying to help my clients of all ages, including myself, “get stronger.” I’m even in my 3rd week of Kettlebell Muscle, a 12 week program designed to make me stronger. I see my colleagues’ posts on facebook or youtube of their new accomplishments and feats of strength, and they are usually quite impressive.

Then a tornado rips through the middle of our country and it becomes quite obvious to me that how much weight I can press over my head really doesn’t matter too much. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great for us to push ourselves to reach new goals. I’m well aware that it takes heart and dedication to reach optimal performance. However, in the grand scheme of things, lifting something heavy is really not how I want to define strength.

With the devastating tornado as well as Memorial Day coming up, the following people come to mind when I think of strength.

1.            Our soldiers being sent off to fight in a desert, many for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th times to protect our freedom.

2.            Those affected by the tornado in Missouri as well as Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas. People who have lost everything, but are just grateful to be alive. I am always amazed by the strength and courage that is exemplified after a disaster. 9-11, Katrina, Japan, all devastating tragedies, yet time and time again, we hear stories of extreme bravery. What does it take to rise above acts of terrorism and catastrophic natural disasters? It takes hope, of course, but it also takes a tremendous amount of strength.

3.            The moms, dads, wives, and husbands of the soldiers. Undoubtedly, they are immensely proud of their loved ones, but scared for their safe return. As a mom, I can’t imagine living everyday worried about my child on the other side of the world. Each day must seem like an eternity until they are home safe. Strength? Doesn’t get any stronger than that.

4.            My Grandpa who just celebrated his 85th birthday yesterday. A veteran of World War II, he enlisted in the Navy at the age of 16, after his father signed his enlistment papers. Can you imagine a 16-year-old today wanting to get on a ship to Japan in order to protect his country? Like many veterans, my grandpa enlisted because he loved his country and wanted to protect his loved ones. Thank you Grandpa, and all of our veterans, for your strength.

So, I’ll continue to challenge myself and accomplish new goals. But, all the while, I’ll be sending my strength in the form of thoughts and prayers to those affected by tragedy. I send my gratitude to those who have fought and continue to fight to protect our country. Thank you moms and dads for raising brave sons and daughters. Wishing everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mint Julep

Tara! Home. I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all... tomorrow is another day.

Of course when you read these words you immediately think of Scarlett, Rhett and Gone with the Wind. Visions of the old South, Mississippi River, Steamboats and Plantation homes come to mind. I am fortunate to live in a small southern town in Mississippi. It is a very unique place, home to about 1000 Antebellum homes and historical buildings. People travel here from all over the world to capture a glimpse of the past.

Each spring, 4 weeks during the year, we host a Pilgrimage. During this time the ladies dress in hoop skirts and give tours of the Antebellum homes, horse and carriages transport people through town, and guests sit on sprawling porches watching the lazy river roll by and sip on Mint Juleps.
Many people from the South are steep in tradition. The traditional way to prepare a Mint Julep is to first obtain a silver julep cup. During our Pilgrimage a pageant is performed on the weekends depicting scenes from our past. A popular gift for the participants to receive is silver julep cups, so they aren't very hard to find in these parts.
  • 3 ounces bourbon whiskey
  • 4 -5 mint leaves (spearmint is the mint of choice)
  • Granulated sugar to taste
  • Crushed ice
Place a couple of mint sprigs, sugar and ice in the bottom of the cup and "muddle" together. Let it stand for a bit to allow the oils of the mint to be released. Pour whiskey then fill with crushed ice. Stir well to allow to get cold. Handle the cup by the rim or on the bottom, allowing the frost to form on the sides. This reduces the transfer of heat to the drink.

Find a breezy porch with a comfortable rocking chair, sit back, relax and sip!


This week on Keeping it Simple

Wishing all a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend

On our agenda we have been working wrapping up May (a terrific month for as at KISBYTO – thanks to all our wonderful readers) - we salute those who have given so much for our great country with an article on Memorial Day and how we celebrate it here in America. Our dear southern gal Diane has got a nice article on Mint Juleps, and will close the month with two important topics: Stroke Awareness and how to Save Your Hearing.

June will start with three health-related articles: National Aphasia Awareness Month; National Scleroderma Awareness Month; and Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month. Other hot topics will be Clean Air Month and World Environment Day. We will also lighten things up with National Go Barefoot Day, National Rocky Road Day, Repeat Day, National Hug Your Cat Day (that is 365 days a year in our home), Hot Air Balloons, and perhaps a couple others if time permits.

Please be safe and enjoy your weekend.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Revive the Romance

by Diane Forrest

May has been designated at Date your Mate Month.  While it is late in the month, you still have plenty of time to whisk your mate off to a wonderful evening or afternoon, or even morning date.  While it may not be a holiday officially passed by Congress, it is a time for you to rekindle the passion and joy you experienced while you were dating and renew the feelings you had when you fell in love.  Some activities you can do are:

Let food help you revive the romance:

  • An elegant dinner at a romantic restaurant 
  • A candlelight dinner at home
  • A return to "your special place"  for an memory meal
  • Visit an ice cream parlor, enjoy a banana split together
  • Enjoy a picnic in the park
  • Whisk your mate away from the office for a midday meal  together, maybe at a park

Do something fun:
  • Go to the zoo
  • Go to a carnival, ride the rides, eat as if you were a teenager, take a chance on winning a prize, hold hands while walking around
  • There are numerous Spring festivals to take your mate to
  • Spend a day in the park, throw a Frisbee, play horseshoes, spin your mate on the merry-go-round, enjoys swinging side by side
  • Play a game of miniature golf
  • Take a scenic drive, enjoy the beauty of your surroundings and the pleasure of being  together
  • Visit a museum, art gallery, public garden, or some place of mutual interest
  • Enjoy movie night, either at home alone or at a theater

Revive the romance:

  • Take your mate to what used to be "your special place"
  • Send a romantic card
  • Give her flowers 
  • Leave a love note or note of gratitude for your mate to find each day of the month
  • Escape the daily routine for an afternoon rendezvous
  • Spend a night away from home and make romance the

Main thing is, enjoy the time with your mate, and let them know how special they are to you, and that you would marry them all over again!

National Hamburger Month 2011

By Diane Forrest

Is it a coincidence that hamburger month coincides with barbeque month?  I think not!  I can't think of anything better on summertime Saturday night than grilling some burgers and spending time with friends and family. 
A few years ago when I was a young girl (insert wink here) We would go to my grandmother's house on the coast, grill burgers on a charcoal grill, crunchy Cheetos on the side and  drink ice cold orange crush in bottles.  We would hand crank vanilla ice cream and show family slides from the projector on the side of the house.  The whole family was there...it was such a treat.  My great grandmother would eat as many hamburgers and someone would bring her.  So...to get her to stop eating they fixed her a burger with a slice of onion instead of meat topped it with hot peppers and tobacco sauce.  That little old lady ate every bite of that "burger" and would not give them the satisfaction of putting one over on her!

Everyone has their own secret recipe for grilling the perfect burger.  I like to keep it simple.  I just make the patties; put them on the gas grill, pre heated.  Then splash a little Worcestershire sauce, and then sprinkle a little McCormick grilling mate Montreal Steak seasoning.  I just put this on one side, and then cook on low heat for about 15 minutes.  Then turn and pour a little BBQ sauce on them.  I like Kraft hickory smoke or mesquite smoke.  Then let cook for another 5 minutes. 
I also have a special way of fixing my burger.  I use Mayo and mustard, cheese and tomato.  But....you have to put the mustard on the cheese side, and mayo on the tomato side.  Then slide the burger in the middle.  Yummy!!!  Now, I’m not opposed to other items on my burger, like onions, pickles, ketchup or lettuce.  I just normally don’t keep those things here. But If I go out to eat a burger, I will eat whatever they put on it....but I like it my way the best.
This weekend, fire up the grill, toss on some burgers and make some memories with your family.  Please share your favorite burger stories or recipes with us too.

Not too bad for a southern girl… but my daddy make a mean hamburger that still makes my mouth water just thinking about it. 
We would drive down to the country store where Dad would get about five or ten pounds of fresh ground hamburger for the butcher, potatoes, pickles, onions, fresh heads of lettuce, tomatoes (fresh from the garden), buns and other good things.
Once home, the wax paper came out, he would roll up balls of hamburger about the size of a baseball – lay another sheet of wax paper and use the roller to flatten out the patties.  Making sure they were about quarter inch thick.
While that was going on, one of us kids would be getting the potatoes cleaned, onions and pickles ready.  Now Dad’s favorite product he bought from a TV commercial was the ‘chopper’ and it did a great job.  Put some potato, pickle and onion on the cutting board and chop away.  Being sure to make enough for all the burgers and a little extra that he would cook in aluminum foil for the breakfast the next day.

Next came putting the mixture of potato, pickle and onion on the bottom patty, add a little salt and pepper, and then placing the second patty on top, pitching the two patties together.  Place them on a hot grill just long enough to brown the sides and set on the opposite side off the hot coals, cover and let it cook for about 30 minutes.  Season to your own taste and enjoy!  Breakfast the next morning was pretty special as well.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Correct Posture 2011

We all know better, but how often do you find yourself hunched over your computer keyboard, typing away, moving that mouse, and jotting down notes. Most of us are guilty – our backs send those little messages to the brain, 'hey dummy, listen up…". And that is just one example.

Tips to Maintain Good Posture

We often hear that good posture is essential for good health. We recognize poor posture when we see it formed as a result of bad habits carried out over years and evident in many adults. But only few people have a real grasp of the importance and necessity of good posture.

What is posture?

  • Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down. Good posture is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity. Without posture and the muscles that control it, we would simply fall to the ground.
  • Normally, we do not consciously maintain normal posture. Instead, certain muscles do it for us, and we don't even have to think about it. Several muscle groups, including the hamstrings and large back muscles, are critically important in maintaining good posture. While the ligaments help to hold the skeleton together, these postural muscles, when functioning properly, prevent the forces of gravity from pushing us over forward. Postural muscles also maintain our posture and balance during movement.
Why is good posture important?

Good posture helps us stand, walk, sit, and lie in positions that place the least strain on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement and weight-bearing activities. Correct posture:

  • Helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain.
  • Reduces the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury.
  • Allows muscles to work more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy and, therefore, preventing muscle fatigue.
  • Helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and even back and muscular pain.
  • To maintain proper posture, you need to have adequate muscle flexibility and strength, normal joint motion in the spine and other body regions, as well as efficient postural muscles that are balanced on both sides of the spine. In addition, you must recognize your postural habits at home and in the workplace and work to correct them, if necessary.

Consequences of poor posture

  • Poor posture can lead to excessive strain on our postural muscles and may even cause them to relax, when held in certain positions for long periods of time. For example, you can typically see this in people who bend forward at the waist for a prolonged time in the workplace. Their postural muscles are more prone to injury and back pain.
  • Several factors contribute to poor posture-most commonly, stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak postural muscles, abnormally tight muscles, and high-heeled shoes. In addition, decreased flexibility, a poor work environment, incorrect working posture, and unhealthy sitting and standing habits can also contribute to poor body positioning.
How do I sit properly?

  • Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don't reach the floor.
  • Don't cross your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees.
  • Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.
  • Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips.
  • Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid-back or use a back support.
  • Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.
  • Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.
How do I stand properly?

  • Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of the body.
  • Stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled backward.
  • Tuck your stomach in.
  • Keep your head level-your earlobes should be in line with your shoulders. Do not push your head forward, backward, or to the side.
  • Shift your weight from your toes to your heels, or one foot to the other, if you have to stand for a long time.
What is the proper lying position?

  • Find the mattress that is right for you. While a firm mattress is generally recommended, some people find that softer mattresses reduce their back pain. Your comfort is important.
  • Sleep with a pillow. Special pillows are available to help with postural problems resulting from a poor sleeping position.
  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
  • Sleeping on your side or back is more often helpful for back pain.
  • If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs.
  • If you sleep on your back, keep a pillow under your knees.
Can I correct my poor posture?

In a word, yes. Remember, however, that long-standing postural problems will typically take longer to address than short-lived ones, as often the joints have adapted to your long-standing poor posture.

Anyone with current or previous back, neck, knee or pelvic injuries should not attempt to correct their posture themselves. This could further damage the body. Contact your doctor or other movement education professional before trying to tamper with your alignment.

Conscious awareness of your own posture and knowing what posture is correct will help you consciously correct yourself. With much practice, the correct posture for standing, sitting, and lying down will gradually replace your old posture. This, in turn, will help you move toward a better and healthier body position.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

This is Hurricane Preparedness Week

By Diane Forrest

Are you prepared? 

A hurricane is a tropical cyclone. It occurs over water and usually causes thunder storms and water surges and tornados. All Atlantic and Gulf of Mexican coastal areas are subjected to hurricanes. The season begins in June and lasts until November with the peak beginning in mid-August to October. There are 5 levels of hurricanes, much like the tornado grading system. Winds can exceed 155 miles per hour and can cause catastrophic damage.

Each storm system is named from 1 of 6 lists that are rotated every year. The names start with A, and then go down the alphabet. Until 1979 it was only female names, and then male names were included in the list. If there is a catastrophic storm, the name is removed and replaced with another name. I remember one year the whole list had been used, and they had to start over just using initials.
2011 Tropical Cyclone (Hurricane) Names:

  • Arlene
  • Bret
  • Cindy
  • Don
  • Emily
  • Franklin
  • Gert
  • Harvey
  • Irene
  • Jose
  • Katia
  • Lee
  • Maria
  • Nate
  • Ophelia
  • Philippe
  • Rina
  • Sean
  • Tammy
  • Vince
  • Whitney

How to prepare for a hurricane
There is not much to do in preparation but here are a few suggestions:
1. Have permanent shutters installed for all windows, or keep plywood on hand to cover windows in the event of a storm.
2. If you have a boat, make sure it is secure.
3. Keep your home's gutters cleaned out to prevent water damage
4. Secure any outside fixtures such as lawn furniture, garbage cans, bikes or children's toys as these can be used as missiles and cause damage or injury.
5. Make sure all trees are trimmed and there are no dead limbs hanging loose.
6. Consider building a safe room.
7. Have plenty of flashlights and batteries on hand as well as a transistor radio.
8. Have a well-stocked first aid kit
9. Keep plenty of bottled water on hand as well as canned goods.

While there are many hurricanes each season, not all of them reach land. Everyone remembers Hurricane Katrina, the most damaging and deadliest hurricane most of us have experienced in our lifetime. 

 My family, being from Gulfport, Mississippi, have lived through many hurricanes. The worst at that time being Hurricane Camille. My grandparent's home being not too far from the beach, luckily only sustained minor damage. Others were not as fortunate. I remember riding down the streets months later and seeing clothes handing on the trees, and large boats blown across the road. I have included some of the pictures that were taken at that time by my father.

I also remember when I was in school being shown those Civil Defense film strips about emergency preparedness. They showed groups of people having "hurricane parties". They did not take the warnings seriously, didn't evacuate, and paid for it with their lives. Even today, with the advances in storm warnings and tracking's, some people refuse to take appropriate measures. As in Katrina, people didn't listen, or waited to long before taking action. Thousands of homes were destroyed and lives were lost.

During this hurricane season, remain alert and follow safety instructions and warnings, make sure your home and property are secured and if told to evacuate, then leave. Items can be replaced, but people can't!



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blood Pressure Awareness

by Diane Forrest
Understanding Blood Pressure Readings

The top number, which is also the higher of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).


The bottom number, which is also the lower of the two numbers, measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).

Blood Pressure
mm Hg (upper #)
mm Hg (lower #)
less than 120
less than 80
120 – 139
80 – 89
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 1
140 – 159
90 – 99
High Blood Pressure
(Hypertension) Stage 2
160 or higher
100 or higher
Hypertensive Crisis
(Emergency care needed)
Higher than 180
Higher than 110
* Your doctor should evaluate unusually low blood pressure readings.

Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by the circulating blood against the blood vessels. It is measured with a sphygmomanometer, blood pressure cuff and stethoscope.

The cuff is placed on the upper arm, above the elbow and fastened securely. The stethoscope is placed on the inside bend of the arm on the brachial artery. The cuff is then pumped up until the sphygmomanometer reaches about 200 mmhg (lower for younger people). The air from the pump is then slowly released until a pulse is heard. This is your first reading and is called the Systolic blood pressure. While continuing to release the air until no more pulse is heard, the number at the last sound of the pulse beat is called the Diastolic Pressure. 

Signs and Symptoms of Hypertension:
Hypertension can go undetected for years. It may not be discovered until you have it checked on a routine exam.

Some signs you may have include:

  • Headaches
  • Vision changes
  • Nose bleeds
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  Causes and Risk Factors
  • Family history of hypertension
  • Overweight
  • Smoking
  • African American
  • Diabetes
  • Increased salt in diet
  • Certain medications
  • Pregnancy (This is called PreEclampsia and will normally go away after the birth of the child)

To determine if you have hypertension have your blood pressure checked more than once. There can be many factors that can cause an abnormal reading. Things such as stress, excitement, fear, injury can all raise your blood pressure reading.

My husband was afraid to go to the doctor, so every time he had to go his blood pressure reading was high. However, once we got home I would check it again and it would be normal. To confirm your diagnosis, it is recommended you check it for several times in a week, usually at the same time. For example, if your first check is at 11:00 in the morning on a Monday, have it checked again on Wednesday and Friday at 11:00 in the morning. You can have this done at your doctor's office or hospital. There is normally no charge for blood pressure checks. I would not recommend using a drug store machine for the purpose of diagnosing hypertension as these machines may not be accurate.


  • If it is determined that you do in fact have hypertension, it may first be treated with simply lowering your salt intake and watching your diet.
  • Exercise and increasing water intake may also be prescribed.
  • If these measures do not help in lowering your blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe antihypertensive medications.
  • All adults over the age of 18 should have their blood pressure checked routinely.
  • Early detection can prevent developing major problems later.
  • For more information see the American Heart Association.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

National Missing Children Day

Can you imagine having one of your children missing? It is every parent's nightmare, yet every day, more children disappear without a trace.

May 25 is National Missing Children's Day

It's a reminder for all parents, guardians, teachers and other role models to make child safety a priority.

In honor of National Missing Children's Day, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children encourages you to take 25 minutes to help make children safer.


  25 ways to make kids safer
At Home

  1. Teach your children their full names, address, and home telephone number. Make sure they know your full name.
  2. Make sure your children know how to reach you at work or on your cell phone.
  3. Teach your children how and when to use 911 and make sure your children have a trusted adult to call if they're scared or have an emergency.
  4. Instruct children to keep the door locked and not to open the door to talk to anyone when they are home alone. Set rules with your children about having visitors over when you're not home and how to answer the telephone.
  5. Choose babysitters with care. Obtain references from family, friends, and neighbors. Once you have chosen the caregiver, drop in unexpectedly to see how your children are doing. Ask children how the experience with the caregiver was and listen carefully to their responses.
On the Net

  1. Learn about the Internet. The more you know about how the Web works, the better prepared you are to teach your children about potential risks. Visit www.NetSmartz.org for more information about Internet safety.
  2. Place the family computer in a common area, rather than a child's bedroom. Also, monitor their time spent online and the websites they've visited and establish rules for Internet use.
  3. Know what other access your child may have to the Internet at school, libraries, or friends' homes.
  4. Use privacy settings on social networking sites to limit contact with unknown users and make sure screen names don't reveal too much about your children.
  5. Encourage your children to tell you if anything they encounter online makes them feel sad, scared, or confused.
  6. Caution children not to post revealing information or inappropriate photos of themselves or their friends online.
At School

  1. Walk the route to and from school with your children, pointing out landmarks and safe places to go if they're being followed or need help. If your children ride a bus, visit the bus stop with them to make sure they know which bus to take.
  2. Remind kids to take a friend whenever they walk or bike to school. Remind them to stay with a group if they're waiting at the bus stop.
  3. Caution children never to accept a ride from anyone unless you have told them it is OK to do so in each instance.
Out and About

  1. Take your children on a walking tour of the neighborhood and tell them whose homes they may visit without you.
  2. Remind your children it's OK to say NO to anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused and teach your children to tell you if anything or anyone makes them feel this way.
  3. Teach your children to ask permission before leaving home.
  4. Remind your children not to walk or play alone outside.
  5. Teach your children to never approach a vehicle, occupied or not, unless they know the owner and are accompanied by a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult.
  6. Practice "what if" situations and ask your children how they would respond. "What if you fell off your bike and you needed help? Who would you ask?"
  7. Teach your children to check in with you if there is a change of plans.
  8. During family outings, establish a central, easy-to-locate spot to meet for check-ins or should you get separated.
  9. Teach your children how to locate help at theme parks, sports stadiums, shopping malls, and other public places. Also, identify those people who they can ask for help, such as uniformed law enforcement, security guards and store clerks with nametags.
  10. Help your children learn to recognize and avoid potential risks, so that they can deal with them if they happen.
  11. Teach your children that if anyone tries to grab them, they should make a scene and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming, and resisting.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) is a private, non-profit organization established in 1984 by the United States Congress.

Primarily funded by the Justice Department, the NCMEC acts as an information clearinghouse and resource for parents, children, law enforcement agencies, schools, and communities to assist in locating missing children and to raise public awareness about ways to prevent child abduction, child sexual abuse and child pornography. John Walsh, Noreen Gosch, and others advocated establishing the center as a result of frustration stemming from a lack of resources and coordination between law enforcement and other government agencies.

The Center provides information to help locate children reported missing (by parental abduction, child abduction, or running away from home) and to assist physically and sexually abused children. In this resource capacity, the NCMEC distributes photographs of missing children and accepts tips and information from the public. It also coordinates these activities with numerous state and federal law enforcement agencies.

http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/216857.pdf Federal Resources on

Missing and Exploited Children - A Directory for Law Enforcement and Other Public and Private Agencies


Tornado Update

Last night Diane and I were chatting about the most recent outbreak of tornados across the country and felt that an update to our two earlier articles (April 16 and 30) was needed. During my research this morning I found this information on Wikipedia which provided a nice recap of the past two months. In addition, located a good preparedness article:

April 2011 was the most active month on record, capped by an extreme tornado outbreak that killed over 340 people in the final week. By contrast, the first three weeks of May were remarkably quiet with no major outbreaks and only isolated tornadoes. However, that pattern abruptly changed as a strong low pressure area and associated dry line and cold front tracked eastward.

EF3 tornado that struck Reading, Kansas

On May 21, a small system of thunderstorms began to develop in Brown County, Kansas. At the same time, another system formed to the southeast of Emporia, Kansas. The Brown county system developed into a tornado over Shawnee County, Kansas, and touched down over Topeka, Kansas, for several seconds causing minor damage nearby. Meanwhile the Emporia system continued to move to the northeast, where an EF3 (Enhanced Fujita Scale) tornado heavily damaged the town of Reading, Kansas. One person was killed there, several others were injured and at least 20 houses were destroyed. After hitting Topeka it hit several towns including Oskaloosa, Kansas, doing extensive damage to that community. Several other tornadoes touched down in the region that evening.

A moderate risk of severe weather was issued for much of the Midwest south to Oklahoma for May 22. The first tornadic supercell that day developed in the mid-afternoon hours over the western Twin Cities with a swath of damage, especially in and around Minneapolis, Minnesota. An intense tornado also tracked towards Harmony, Minnesota, that afternoon and a tornado emergency was issued. Late that afternoon, a very large and intense multiple-vortex tornado resulted in catastrophic damage in Joplin, Missouri EF-4). It was the deadliest single tornado in the U.S. since at least 1953.

Once again, a moderate risk of severe weather was issued for two regions on May 23 - the southern Plains and the lower Great Lakes - although the tornado threat was lower with the main threats being damaging wind and large hail. Such was also issued for May 24 across the southern Plains, centered around eastern Oklahoma, with strong to violent tornadoes considered to be a major threat.

Please join us in keeping these folks in our thoughts and prayers and give generously, if you can, to the American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/).

We will continue to monitor this year's tornado season and provide updates as needed. With regard to preparedness, this week in Hurricane Preparedness Week and we will post an article this week.

Almost a post script...the weather folks are predicting more severe storms today and tomorrow in many of the same areas hit since this past weekend.