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Holiday Decorating Safety Tips


Millions of American families will enjoy the beauty and fun of decorating a Christmas tree and hanging lights this Holiday season.  Whether you choose an artificial tree or a fresh tree, there are steps you can follow to make sure that your tree and decoration space are safe.

Many house fires occur during November and December when Christmas lights and candles are pulled out and used. Not only are fires a hazard, but plenty of people end up in an emergency room due to injuries from falls, lacerations, back strains and children ingesting foreign objects.

The Consumer Protection Safety Commission has a great list of tips to help you make safety a priority.

1. Take special care with sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Lacerations were among the top reported decoration–related injuries last year.

2. Avoid trimmings that resemble food or candy that may tempt a child to mouth or swallow them.

3. Place decorations with small removable parts that can pose a choking hazard to young children out of reach.

4. Purchase only holiday light sets that bear the marking of a safety-testing laboratory. Fires sparked by holiday lights caused 10 deaths last year.

5. Examine new and old light sets for damage. Discard sets with cracked or broken sockets, frayed or exposed wires, and loose connections.

6. Keep burning candles in sight and away from places where kids and pets can knock them over. Between 2010 and 2012, candles were the source of an estimated 6,500 residential fires annually, causing 80 deaths, 650 injuries, and $237 million in property loss per year.

7. Place lighted candles away from items that can catch fire, such as trees, other evergreens, decorations, curtains and furniture.

8. Look for a label that reads “fire resistant” when purchasing an artificial tree. Check live trees for freshness. If the tree is fresh, the needles should stay in place and not break. It should be hard to pull them off the branches. Check the trunk to see if it is sticky. If so, it's definitely fresh. Check for loose needles by banging the tree up and down on the ground. Expect some needles to fall off but if a lot fall off, move to another tree. One that loses a lot of needles is no longer fresh and could be dry enough to be a fire hazard.

9. Place live Christmas trees away from heat sources, and keep trees well watered.

10. Read “Ladder Safety 101” for tips to prevent ladder falls this season. You may think you know everything there is to know about using a ladder, but even the “experts” can make mistakes and wind up in the ER.

It’s easy to get complacent when decorating for the holidays; it’s something a lot of families do year after year often using the same decorations. After a certain amount of time, these decorations can become worn and damaged. Make sure your holiday doesn’t turn into a visit to the emergency room or worse by brushing up on some simple safety tips.



Your Child

Is Childhood Obesity Linked to Late Dinners?


For years, health experts have suggested that eating dinner later at night may contribute to weight gain. With so many families struggling with varied work schedules and after-school activities, researchers in London wanted to know if late dinners might be a contributing factor in childhood obesity.

Much to their surprise, they discovered no link between later supper times and children’s weight gain.

British researchers looked at data from more than 1,600 children, aged 4 to 18. They found that the risk of overweight or obesity was no higher among those who had meals between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. than among those who ate between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

"The findings of our study are surprising. We expected to find an association between eating later and being more likely to be overweight, but actually found that this was not the case. This may be due to the limited number of children consuming their evening meal after 8 p.m.," said study author Gerda Pot, visiting lecturer in the diabetes and nutritional sciences division at King's College London.

"'Alongside changes in dietary quality and levels of physical activity, meal timing is one of many possible factors that has been suggested as influencing the trends in weight gain seen in children in the U.K.," Pot said in a school news release.

"However, the significance of its role is under-researched. As this is one of the first studies investigating this link, it would be useful to repeat the analysis in other studies," she added.

Pol said that she and her team would continue researching other factors that may contribute to childhood obesity such as eating breakfast and different sleep habits.

Others have suggested that the most important factor in childhood obesity is not when a child eats, but what they eat and if they have gotten a sufficient amount of exercise during the day.

This study was recently published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Story source: Robert Preidt,

Your Child

Childhood Obesity; It’s a Family Affair

2.00 to read

Although there seems to be non-stop discussion about the influence modern day society has on our children, one fact remains the same. Parents and caregivers have the biggest impact on a child’s life. When it comes to helping obese children lose weight and lead healthier lives, it’s parents who decide what food is purchased, and how much activity a child gets. If parents are not available, then a caregiver makes those importance decisions.

For an obese child to have a real chance at losing weight and living a healthier life, parents, caregivers and other family members should be involved in treatment programs designed to help their children.

The American Heart Association released a scientific statement today on the role of parents, families and caregivers in the treatment of obese kids.

"In many cases, the adults in a family may be the most effective change agents to help obese children attain and maintain a healthier weight," Myles Faith, an associate professor of nutrition at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in an American Heart Association (AHA) news release.

"To do so, the adults may need to modify their own behavior and try some research-based strategies," added Faith, who is the chair of the writing group that published an AHA scientific statement in the Jan. 23 issue of Circulation.

But let’s be honest…. old habits are hard to break. That’s why the more people you have working together the more likely you’ll be successful in making the changes you want.  Most families dealing with obesity really want to help family members lose weight  – they often just need a better game plan to help guide them.

One of the most important messages to parents is that they need to lead by example. It is entirely unrealistic for children to change their food and physical activity behaviors on their own. Too often, during the week, family meals consist of high calorie-high / high-fat fast foods. Then the weekend is an all-you-can-eat buffet style breakfast and dinner.

Lack of exercise only adds to the difficulty in dropping unhealthy pounds.

Technology has gotten a lot of the blame for keeping kids in chairs or on couches, but it can also be beneficial. Computers and smart phones may be beneficial in self-monitoring and goal setting for children and their parents. Games such as “Dance Dance Revolution” along with “Wii Fit” and a host of others get kids and even adults up and moving.  In lieu of blaming technology for being a culprit, perhaps viewing it as an opportunity to reach children and teens in the medium they understand may be the best way to communicate healthful behaviors.

Faith adds “Teaching families to identify how many calories they take in from food, and burn during exercise, is a core component to most family treatment programs that have been studied.  Parents and children become more ‘calorie-literate’ in a sense, so they better understand how many calories are in a burger vs. apple vs. water bottle. This knowledge sets the stage for behavior change, and can be an eye opener for many parents.”

Faith and his colleagues identified a number of strategies that have been linked to better outcomes, including:

  • Working together as a family to identify specific behaviors that need to be changed.
  •  Setting clearly defined goals -- such as limiting TV viewing to no more than two hours per day -- and monitoring progress.
  •  Creating a home environment that encourages healthier choices, such as having fruit in the house instead of high-calorie desserts or snacks.
  •  Making sure parents commend children when they make progress, and don't criticize them if they do backslide. Instead, helping children identify ways to make different decisions if they're faced with the same kind of situation again.
  •  Never using food as a punishment or reward.
  •  Keeping track of progress toward goals.

"While these strategies were implemented by health care professionals in a treatment program, the psychological principles on which they are based provide sound guidance for families of obese children as well," Faith said.

A healthy life starts in infancy. For too many years, people just didn’t know much about the nutritional aspect of eating. You’re hungry-you eat. But now, there is an abundance of information, millions of studies that have been conducted, and a food’s calorie, fat, carbohydrate and sodium count is on every label or at your fingertips on the computer. The result of not paying attention to what we put in our mouths is having a devastating impact on families’ lives.

There are many ways to get up-to-date on your child's health. Pediatricians can be critical in the education of parents and caregivers in the optimum feeding and physical activity behaviors for raising healthy children.  Daycare centers, WIC and even grandparents can play a positive role in influencing health outcomes in children.

Denial and ignorance will not make obesity go away. Overweight and obese children seldom outgrow it and they carry that weight-and all its health consequences-into adulthood. Make health a priority for the entire family, and with education, support and good planning everyone will benefit now and for generations to come.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about childhood obesity and treatment at


Your Child

Trying to Guilt Kids into Exercising Doesn’t Work



Experts often discuss how kids aren't getting the proper amount of exercise they need to be healthy. But, trying to guilt children into exercising often results in the opposite desired effect according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Georgia found that middle school students were less likely to be physically active if they didn't feel in control of their exercise choices or if they felt pressured by adults to get more exercise.

Kids who felt that whether they exercised or not was their own choice were much more likely to choose to exercise, the researchers said.

"Can we put these children in situations where they come to value and enjoy the act of being physically active?" lead author Rod Dishman, a professor of kinesiology, said in a university news release.

Dishman and his colleagues said they are looking for ways to help more children identify themselves as someone who likes to exercise.

"Just like there are kids who are drawn to music and art, there are kids who are drawn to physical activity. But what you want is to draw those kids who otherwise might not be drawn to an activity," Dishman said.

So how do you get your child to exercise? Make it about fun, not exercise says Dishman..

“The best thing is to do it because it's fun. It's the kids who say they are intrinsically motivated who are more active than the kids who aren't," Dishman concluded.

Children's activity levels typically fall 50 percent between fifth and sixth grades, the authors noted in the September issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Using guilt as a motivator seldom achieves the desired result, no matter whether it’s exercising or any other choice. Playing the guilt card with kids only makes them resent what you are trying to get them to do and more often than not, they will do the opposite.

Building a lifetime of healthy choices never began with a guilt trip. Being creative and adding an element of fun and challenge will achieve more than coercion through guilt. 

Children need to identify themselves as someone who wants to exercise instead of someone forced to exercise. The best results have been achieved when families make exercise a part of their daily routine and treat it like anything else they enjoy doing together.

Source: Robert Preidt,


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Struggling with feeding your kids healthy (er) meals. Rule of thumb: don't stress over it!


Struggling with feeding your kids healthy (er) meals. Rule of thumb: don't stress over it!

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