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December 8, 2012

There are more than 14,000 candle-related fires each year that result in about 170 deaths and $350 million in property damage.

Take these precautions to survive early arrival of flu season The flu season has arrived early in Georgia with significant increases in cases statewide, and public health officials are urging everyone over 6 months of age to get a flu shot. While the level is still considered moderate, the Georgia Department of Public Health says the H3N2 flu is hitting the state earlier and harder this year than in previous years, indicating a potentially severe flu season. Peak flu season is usually the end of January through early March, but already some school systems are reporting high absenteeism due to flu-like illnesses. Symptoms include cough, runny nose, sore throat and fever. One of the most pronounced symptoms is an overall feeling of achiness and malaise that comes on quickly. Public health officials said single most effective way to prevent the virus is the flu vaccine. This year’s flu vaccine closely matches the strains of flu circulating in Georgia, making it effective in preventing the flu or minimizing its symptoms. Dr. J. Patrick O’Neal, the Georgia Depart-

Frequent hand washing and coughing and sneezing in the crook of an elbow or arm can help lower the risk of getting or spreading the flu, health officials say.

ment of Public Health’s director of health, says it just makes good common sense to get the vaccine. “The holidays bring gatherings with family and friends and increase the likelihood of spreading the flu,” he

said in a Dec. 4 statement. “Now is the time to get vaccinated.” Adults and children can lower their risk of getting the flu by taking these preventive measures: n Frequent and thorough hand washing helps guard J. Patrick O’Neal against the flu.  Alcoholbased gels are the next best thing if there is no access to soap and water. n Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing or cough and sneeze into the crook of an elbow or arm. n Avoid touching your face because flu germs can get into the body through mucus membranes of the nose, mouth and eyes. n If you are sick, stay home from school or work. Flu sufferers should be free of a fever without the use of a fever reducer like Tylenol for at least 24 hours before returning to work or school. For more information, visit

Think safety when decorating Christmas tree, home and grounds As families deck the halls, house and yard for the holiday season, safety issues might be far from their minds. That would be a mistake. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that each year, about 10,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms as a result of injuries related to decorating for the holidays. There are more than 14,000 candle-related fires each year that result in about 170 deaths and $350 million in property damage. Christmas trees also are involved in about 200 fires each year, resulting in 10 deaths and $10 million in property loss. A few standard precautions can reduce the risk of injuries and fires related to holiday decorating and traditions. Beverly Losman of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Safe Kids Georgia offers parents and caregivers the following tips for safeguarding their families from preventable holiday injuries: n 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 of a tree where small children can reach them.  Trim protruding branches at or below a child’s eye level, and keep lights out of reach. n Never leave a decorative light 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.  n Natural Christmas trees always involve some risk of fire. To Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires and broken sockets. minimize the risk, get a fresh tree and keep it watered at all Don’t leave a decorative light display unattended.

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times. Do not put the tree near heat sources, such as candles, fireplaces or heat vents.  n Keep decorations and other items with sharp edges out of reach.  n Turn off decorative light displays and extinguish candles when you leave the room.  n Make sure all smoke alarms have batteries and are working. Develop a home fire escape plan for your family with two ways out of each room.  n Never allow infants and toddlers to use toys with small parts that could be choking hazards. If a toy part fits in a standard cardboard toilet paper tube, it is small enough to pose a choking risk to a child.  n Keep alcohol, including baking extracts, out of reach and do not leave alcoholic drinks unattended.  n Do not burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.  n Holly berries, mistletoe berries, poinsettias, amaryllis, boxwood, Christmas rose, Crown of Thorns, English ivy and Jerusalem cherry are all potentially harmful if eaten. Keep the Georgia Poison Center number, 1-800-222-1222, with other emergency numbers.  n During holiday travel, make sure everyone in the vehicle uses his or her safety belt or child safety seat. Make sure child safety seats are appropriate for the child’s height and weight and are used properly. The not-for-profit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is one of the leading pediatric health care systems in the country. For more information, visit or call 404250-KIDS (5437).

Grant to help reduce traffic injuries A $67,800 Safe Communities grant will be used to help reduce injuries and deaths from motor vehicle and pedestrian crashes in DeKalb County. The grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety was awarded to the DeKalb Board of Health to implement traffic and safety programs that use outreach and education, policy, systems and environmental recommendations. It will focus on teens and young adult drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the leading cause of death nationwide for people ages 15 to 20 is motor vehicle crashes. Between 2002 and 2006, the 2010 Status of Health in DeKalb report shows that motor vehicle crashes were responsible for 37,038 emergency room visits, 2,577 hospitalizations and 418 deaths. These crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 1 to 34. Denika Lomax, DeKalb Board of Health injury prevention coordinator, says education plays an important role. “Helping teens and young people to adopt safe driving behaviors and habits early, through prevention education, helps to save lives,” Lomax said.

Safe Communities conducted seat belt surveys at five DeKalb high schools and found that only 13 percent of teen drivers were not buckled up. The county’s 2012 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that nine percent of the teens rarely use a seat belt when riding in a car driven by someone else. With the grant, Safe Communities will: n Educate teen drivers, parents and pedestrians about the importance of always using a seat belt and not texting or talking on a cell phone while driving. n Offer the Parents Reducing Injuries and Driver Error program, which addresses driver attitude, knowledge and behavior, rather than technical, hands-on skills, to youth and parents. n Engage community stakeholders along the Buford Highway corridor to promote pedestrian safety education and strategies on how to implement traffic calming activities. n Conduct booster seat education programs to teach parents about the changes in Georgia’s seat belt laws and on how to properly install booster seats. The program also provides free booster seats to eligible parents. For more information, contact Lomax at or 404-508-7884.

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CrossRoadsNews, December 8, 2012  

CrossRoadsNews, December 8, 2012

CrossRoadsNews, December 8, 2012  

CrossRoadsNews, December 8, 2012