Campfire Safety

campfire

Most camping brochures feature a picture of adults and kids sitting around a campfire toasting marshmallows and telling stories. But a campfire requires following safety guidelines if campers are to be safe and the campground protected against fire.

The following campfire safety tips are from Idaho Firewise.

Most campgrounds already have preexisting fire rings to use. Unless the fire ring is in a dangerous spot, you should build your fire there. The campground owners have likely already deemed this as a safe location to build a campfire. The fire ring will help contain sparks and prevent your fire from spreading.

If your campsite does not have a fire ring, you will need to create one. First find a spot that meets these criteria:

  • Downwind at least 15 feet away from your tent and firewood
  • Away from trees, bushes, logs, stumps and overhanging branches
  • Away from dry grass and forest debris
  • Away from any other flammable items

If your campsite does have a fire ring already, check if it meets the above criteria too. The landscape around your campsite could have changed since the fire ring was initially built. There might now be a branch that overhangs the current fire ring. For example, now there might be branches overhanging the old fire ring.

Once you have chosen where to build your campfire, you need to ensure the area is completely clear of any combustible material that could possibly ignite. It is best to clear the ground right down to the soil, and out five (5) feet from the fire pit. Fires can spread underground through root systems or decaying material. Surrounding twigs and dry leaves can easily catch fire from a wayward spark.

After the ground has been cleared, dig a shallow pit about two (2) feet across and encircle this pit with a ring of medium-sized rocks. These rocks should be tightly placed together, without any gaps where sparks could fly through. Remove any small, loose stones from the pit that could potentially explode from the fire’s heat.

Before you begin building the campfire, make sure you have equipment on hand to extinguish a fire. A responsible camper will not light the first match until he or she is sure there is a bucket of water or sand nearby to douse unruly flames in the event of an emergency. You will need a large bucket of water and a shovel. Keep these things close enough to the fire pit that they are quickly accessible in an emergency.

Avoid using lighter fluid, or any other chemicals, to start your fire. These fuels are dangerous to use in the wilderness. They can unexpectedly flare-up and catch your clothing on fire. Always use a lighter or match to ignite the kindling. Do not discard any used matches until they are cool to the touch.

While your campfire is burning, never leave it unattended. Despite safety precautions, the campfire could spread from your fire pit. You need to remain in the area to ensure your campfire doesn’t spread.

Be careful what you burn in a campfire. Try to stick to manageable pieces of firewood that easily fit within your fire pit. It is not a good idea to burn large logs that stick out past the fire pit. Also, avoid burning fresh branches that give off excess sparks.

Before you go to sleep, or when you leave the campsite, you must fully extinguish your campfire. First, douse the flames by pouring water on the fire. However, you are not done yet. Just because you can’t see flames, does not mean the fire cannot re-ignite. Hot embers will continue smoldering for hours. To deal with the embers, stir the coals and add more water. Then cover the coals with dirt or sand. Feel the ashes with your hand to make sure there are no hot coals left.

It is far too easy for a campfire to spread and become a forest fire. When you are camping, it is your responsibility to protect the forest from your campfire. Follow these simple campfire safety rules and use common sense. Sometimes, it simply is not safe to have a campfire at all.

Balance Food and Activity

The following message on maintaining a healthy weight by creating a balance of foods consumed and  food calories burned through activity comes from the National Institutes of Health.

balance

What is Energy Balance?

Energy is another word for “calories.” Your energy balance is the balance of calories consumed through eating and drinking compared to calories burned through physical activity. What you eat and drink is ENERGY IN. What you burn through physical activity is ENERGY OUT.

Your ENERGY IN and OUT doesn’t have to balance every day. It’s having a balance over time that will help you stay at a healthy weight for the long term. Children need to balance their energy, too, but they’re also growing and that should be considered as well. Energy balance in children happens when the amount of ENERGY IN and ENERGY OUT supports natural growth without promoting excess weight gain.

That’s why you should take a look at the Estimated Calorie Requirement chart, to get a sense of how many calories (ENERGY IN) you and your family need on a daily basis.

Estimated Calorie Requirements

This calorie requirement chart presents estimated amounts of calories needed to maintain energy balance (and a healthy body weight) for various gender and age groups at three different levels of physical activity. The estimates are rounded to the nearest 200 calories and were determined using an equation from the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Estimated Calorie Requirements (in kilocalories) for Each Gender and Age Group at Three Levels of Physical Activity.

Gender

Age (years)

Activity Level

Sedentary

Moderately Active

Active

Child

2-3

1,000

1,000 – 1,400

1,000 – 1,400

Female

4 – 8

1,200

1,400 – 1,600

1,400 – 1,800

Female

9-13

1,600

1,600 – 2,000

1,800 – 2,000

Female

14-18

1,800

2,000

2,400

Female

19-30

2,000

2,000 – 2,200

2,400

Female

31-50

1,800

2,000

2,200

Female

51+

1,600

1,800

2,000 – 2,200

Male

4-8

1,400

1,400 – 1,600

1,600 – 2,000

Male

9-13

1,800

1,800 – 2,200

2,000 – 2,600

Male

14-18

2,200

2,400 – 2,800

2,800 – 3,200

Male

19-30

2,400

2,600 – 2,800

3,000

Male

31-50

2,200

2,400 – 2,600

2,800 – 3,000

Male

51+

2,000

2,200 – 2,400

2,400 – 2,800

Source: HHS/USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans: 2005

  • These levels are based on Estimated Energy Requirements (EER) from the IOM Dietary Reference Intakes macronutrients report, 2002, calculated by gender, age, and activity level for reference-sized individuals. “Reference size,” as determined by IOM, is based on median height and weight for ages up to age 18 years of age and median height and weight for that height to give a BMI of 21.5 for adult females and 22.5 for adult males.
  • Sedentary means a lifestyle that includes only the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
  • Moderately active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
  • Active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.
  • The calorie ranges shown are to accommodate needs of different ages within the group. For children and adolescents, more calories are needed at older ages. For adults, fewer calories are needed at older ages.

Energy Balance in Real Life

Think of it as balancing your “lifestyle budget.” For example, if you know you and your family will be going to a party and may eat more high-calorie foods than normal, then you may wish to eat fewer calories for a few days before so that it balances out. Or, you can increase your physical activity level for the few days before or after the party, so that you can burn off the extra energy.

The same applies to your kids. If they’ll be going to a birthday party and eating cake and ice cream—or other foods high in fat and added sugar—help them balance their calories the day before and/or after by providing ways for them to be more physically active.

Here’s another way of looking at energy balance in real life.

Eating just 150 calories more a day than you burn can lead to an extra 5 pounds over 6 months. That’s a gain of 10 pounds a year. If you don’t want this weight gain to happen, or you want to lose the extra weight, you can either reduce your ENERGY IN or increase your ENERGY OUT. Doing both is the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

  • Here are some ways to cut 150 calories (ENERGY IN):
    • Drink water instead of a 12-ounce regular soda
    • Order a small serving of French fries instead of a medium , or order a salad with dressing on the side instead
    • Eat an egg-white omelet (with three eggs), instead of whole eggs
    •  Use tuna canned in water (6-ounce can), instead of oil
  • Here are some ways to burn 150 calories (ENERGY OUT), in just 30 minutes (for a 150 pound person):
    • Shoot hoops
    • Walk two miles
    • Do yard work (gardening, raking leaves, etc.)
    • Go for a bike ride
    • Dance with your family or friends

Is Your Home Poison Proof?

poison

March 16 through 22nd  was National Poison Prevention week.

Did you know that roughly 2.4 million Americans are poisoned every year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, with more than half under the age of six years? In fact, 9 out of 10 poison episodes occur at home.

Safe Kids Worldwide shares the following tips on keeping your home poison proof:

  • Keep Cleaners and other toxic products out of reach. Store all household products out of children’s sight and reach. Young kids are often eye-level with items under the kitchen and bathroom sinks. So any bleach, detergents, dishwasher liquid or cleaning solutions that are kept there should find a new storage location.
  • Install child safety locks on cabinets where you have stored poisonous items. It only takes a few minutes, and it gives you one less thing to worry about.
  • Read product labels to find out what can be hazardous to kids. Dangerous household items include makeup, personal care products, plants, pesticides, lead, art supplies, alcohol and carbon monoxide.
  • Don’t leave poisonous products unattended while in use. Many incidents happen when adults are distracted for a moment on the phone or at the door.
  • Keep cleaning products in their original containers. Never put a potentially poisonous product in something other than its original container (such as a plastic soda bottle) where it could be mistaken for something else
  •  Throw away old medicines and other potential poisons. Check your garage, basement and other storage areas for cleaning and work supplies you no longer need and can discard.
  • Check your purse for potential hazards. Be aware of any medications or makeup that may be in your handbag. Store handbags out of the reach of young children. Use original, child-resistant packaging
  • Buy child-resistant packages when available.
  • Keep medicines up and away. Make sure that all medications, including vitamins, are stored out of reach and out of sight or children. Even if you are tempted to keep the medicine handy because you have to give another dose in a few hours, don’t leave it on the counter between dosing. Always put medicines and vitamins away after every use.
  • Have Poison Control on Speed Dial!Program the toll-free number for the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222poison800-222-1222) into your home and cell phone and post it near your phone or on your refrigerator for the babysitter. Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but it’s nice to have just in case. Poison control centers offer fast, free, confidential help in English and Spanish. Most poisonings are resolved over the phone. The number works from anywhere in the United States 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  •  If you suspect your child has been poisoned, call poison control. If your child has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911.  Do not make the child vomit or give him anything unless directed by a professional.
  • Check for Lead. Check homes built before 1978 for lead-based paint. If lead hazards are identified, test your child for lead exposure and hire a professional to control and remove lead sources safely. Remove any peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
  •  Regularly wash your child’s toys and pacifiers to reduce the risk of your child coming into contact with lead or lead-contaminated dust.  Check www.recalls.gov for more info on product recalls involving lead-based products. Follow the recommendations to eliminate any products such as toys or cookware that contain lead.
  • Install a Carbon Monoxide Alarm and Identify Signs of Poisoning ! Install a carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home, especially near sleeping areas, and keep them at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances.

For more information go to www.safekids.org

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What Chemicals are in Your Makeup?

chemicals

Before you apply your makeup or use that personal care item, ask yourself what you know about it. What chemicals are in what you are using on your face and how safe are they?

You are doing so much to safeguard your health …eating well and getting regular exercise, but are you unknowingly adding chemicals to your body through your makeup and personal care items?

According to the Environmental Work Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization that uses public information to protect public health and the environment, the US government has no authority to require companies to test personal care products for safety before they reach the store shelf.

EWG’s research documents that 22 percent of all personal care products may contain the cancer-causing contaminant 1,4-Dioxane, and more than half of all sunscreens contain oxybenzone, a potential hormone disruptor. Other studies raise serious concerns about makeup such as lead in lipsticks and chemicals in fragrance and artificial preservatives in personal care products.

Fragrance, in particular, has become a source of concern due to the unlisted ingredients behind the scents. A study of 17 popular fragrances by the Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, advocacy groups focused on exposing products they deem hazardous to health, found 14 undisclosed chemicals, on average. Among them were phthalates, which are used to soften plastic and have been linked to various ailments.

The following groups of chemicals are currently being studied for links to breast cancer:

  • Parabens – chemicals commonly used as preservatives in many cosmetic products, including makeup, moisturizers, hair care products, and gels.
  • Phthalates – used to hold color and reduce brittleness in nail polish and hair spray. They’re also found in many personal care items.

Before you use your current makeup again, or buy a new makeup, visit the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep site and  check your makeup and personal care items scores.  EWG lists a product’s hazard score based on the chemicals’ links to cancer, allergies, and other issues.

Source: Environmental Work Group

It’s Time to get Physical…Outdoors!

timeIt’s time to put the shovels away. It’s time to check and see if you light-weight clothes still fit, and what clothes need to be replaced.

Finally, after a long, hard winter, it is time to get outside and get physical !

Whatever you are planning to do, be it running, walking, playing tennis, biking, gardening or home repairs you’ll need some fuel to keep you going!

Take the time to review some great snacks suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control, CDC:

  • Fresh veggies like carrots and celery sticks
  • Snack-sized boxes of raisins
  • Pretzels
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Crackers — try graham crackers, animal crackers, or saltines
  • Bagels
  • Fig bars
  • Fruit juice boxes (make sure you choose 100% pure fruit juice, or for an added boost, try orange juice with added calcium)
  • Small packages of trail mix
  • Fresh fruits such as bananas, oranges, grapes (try freezing your grapes for a new taste sensation!), and berries

No matter what type of physical activity you do, you should always be sure to drink plenty of water — before you start, during the activity, and after you’re done, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

What you are eating and drinking will be a great example for your children. When it is time for them to grab a snack, they will be less likely to want sugary drinks, candy and cookies as snacks following a physical activity.