The World Health Organization reports that at any given time, approximately 1.4 million people worldwide are suffering from infections they received at a healthcare facility.  I personally know of one of those persons.  Following his second hip surgery, a family member got an infection, which required several days in the hospital, surgery to take care of the infection, and six weeks of home health care providers who administered large doses of penicillin through a portable IV.  The process was successful; however, it caused a lot of pain and discomfort, as well as mental anxiety, as to whether the treatment would work, or if another surgery would be needed.

Three types of infections that can be received in hospitals or healthcare settings are:

1.    Ventilator Associated Pneumonia.  VAP has the highest morbidity and mortality of Hospital Associated Infections.  This type of infection will increase patient time in the ICU by 4-6 days.  Estimated costs for each incident ranges from $20,000 to $40,000.

2.    Surgical Site Infections.  Costs from these types of infection from invasive procedures amounted to $10 billion in the United States alone annually.

3.    Cross Contamination.  Patients and healthcare workers are better protected from cross contamination by consistent hand hygiene.  Clean hands are the most important factor in preventing the spread of dangerous germs in healthcare settings.  Hand contamination is reduced by 70-80% when wearing gloves.  The importance of personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves, surgical gowns, and other medical clothing cannot be overstated.

Hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, dentist offices, and other healthcare industries work hard to provide excellent infection control.  However, due to growing public anxiety, more pressure is being put on state and local legislators in regard to hospitals’ responsibility of controlling, combating, and reporting hospital associated infections.  There are numerous types of infections that can occur, but patients deserve to have the peace of mind that their return home will be a healthy one.



We all know how busy Santa must be right now!  He’s probably checking that list for the last time!    If you know any of his helpers, these are a few tips they might consider:

  • Buy age-appropriate toys.  Even though some children are exceptionally bright, most toys’ designs are suited for their age.
  • Be aware of toys that may contain lead paint.  Federal limits for lead in paint dropped to 90 parts per million, the lowest in the world, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Check labels and do not assume that all toys are safe.  They must be properly labeled.
  • If you purchase toys online, be careful, as hazard warnings are not always given.
  • Avoid toys with cords or long strings, as they could cause strangulation in small children.
  • Toys for tots should not have sharp edges or points.
  • Be sure soft, plush animals are washable and have secure eyes and noses that won’t come off.
  • You can be assured that little ones are going to put anything they can in their mouths, so be careful in choosing the size of squeeze toys, rattles, etc.
  • Paints and crayons should have ASTM D4236 on the package (American Society for Testing and Materials).For grade school children, helmets should be given along with bikes, scooters, skateboards, or inline skates.
  • Purchase arrows or darts with soft tips.
  • BB or pellet guns should not be purchased for children under age 16.
  • Avoid balloons, magnets and toys with small parts when selecting gifts for children under age 6.
  • If you choose electric toys, be sure they have the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) seal, to ensure the parts have been tested for safety.
  • Grandparents and other relatives should confer with parents when selecting certain toys, especially if they require supervision.

In 2008, the Commission reported 19 toy-related deaths and approximately 172,700 hospital emergency room toy-related treatments to children under 15.  Nearly half of these injuries (82,300) involved children under 5 years of age.    In order to make this holiday a joyous one, take time to consider the safety factors in selecting just the right playthings for your youngsters.


There are various opinions about the origin of this holiday, which is celebrated by the United States and Canada.   Some facts we have found are that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in Texas, by the Spanish explorer, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1541.  Pilgrims gathered in 1621 to celebrate a successful harvest.  In the United States, in 1939, the fourth Thursday in November was named as the official holiday.  The second Monday in October is Canada’s national Thanksgiving holiday.  There are probably many other theories about when and how the holiday began, but the main theme of today’s article is to have a Happy and Safe one!

This is the time of year when folks become rushed, getting ready for the big day!  The most dangerous and deadly time of the year is from now through the end of the year, according to traffic statistics.  Drunk drivers, drivers and passengers who are not wearing seatbelts, and those simply in a big hurry, account for accidents that can cause not-so-happy memories for all involved.  Even if you are going to save lots of money getting to that “Black Friday” sale the day after Thanksgiving, consider the consequences and slow down!

Here’s a few basic, common sense hints to make your holiday feast successful:

  • In planning your meal, keep in mind those who might have food allergies.
  • Childproof your home.
  • Prepare the meal safely; use protective gloves when handling hot dishes.
  • If you choose a fresh turkey, do not purchase it until 1-2 days before you plan to cook it.
  • Thaw your frozen bird in the refrigerator 24 hrs per each 5 lbs.
  • Lest you forget to thaw the turkey, you may thaw it in the microwave if it isn’t too big; be sure to use the power level for thawing, and cook immediately once it is thawed.
  • Leftovers should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking.
  • Use the refrigerated leftovers within 3-4 days.
  • Keep Fido or Tabby safe this Thanksgiving; a little turkey meat won’t hurt, but don’t give them bones from the bird, as they can splinter and be dangerous.  Foods that are spiced with garlic, etc., are not meant for animals.  Your beloved pets will be just as happy with their regular diet.

We hope that each and every one will travel safely, not eat too much, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


This is the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s theme for Thanksgiving season, beginning November 16th and going through November 29th.   Law enforcement agencies will be cracking down, coast to coast, day or night, to enforce one of their main objectives: seat belt use.  During the 2008 Thanksgiving holiday period, (November 26 to December 1st) of the 231 passenger vehicle occupant deaths that occurred in crashes at night, two-thirds, or 67% did not have their seat belts fastened (where seat belt use was known).  Forty per cent of the 156 daytime fatalities during that period were not wearing their seat belts.  The NHTSA says that regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes.

Several states have passed laws requiring passengers in back seats to also buckle up.  Drivers and passengers should be aware when they head out for the holiday (or any other time), that “Click It or Ticket” is a certainty if they are caught unbuckled.  Statistics show that nighttime is the most dangerous time on the road because seat belt use is lower.  Chances of death to front-seat passenger car occupants is reduced by 45% and the risk of moderate to serious injury is lowered 50% when lap and shoulder belt are used correctly, so why take the chance?

Along with the NHTSA, we want to share our hopes that you always use caution and follow the law when driving, especially during the holiday season, which begins November 16 and concludes January 3rd.  Don’t drive impaired, don’t speed, use cell phones with care, and please don’t text while driving.  Keep those youngsters buckled up properly and see that you all arrive at your celebrations safely.

We especially liked a couple of many posters the NHTSA has as part of their campaign:
“Forty-five million turkeys will die for Thanksgiving Day – Don’t be one of them!”
and  “Make sure the only belt left unbuckled this Thanksgiving is the one at the dinner table, not the one in your vehicle.”


Before we let the month of November slip away, we want to remind you that for those who have some type of diabetes, every month is American Diabetes Month!  The American Diabetes Association works diligently to provide resources throughout the country to spread the word to help Stop Diabetes!  There are 24 million children in the United States that have diabetes; 57 million Americans are at risk for Type 2 diabetes.  If current trends continue, one out of every three children born today will face a future with diabetes.

Here are three types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 – Body does not produce insulin, which helps the body use glucose from food for energy.  This type is mainly developed during childhood or adolescence, but adults can also develop Type 1 and require insulin replacement therapy.
  • Type 2 – Body does not make or is resistant to insulin.  Often preventable, this type of diabetes can be handled with exercise, healthy diet, and overall lifestyle change.  Blood sugar levels must be checked regularly, with use of medicines if needed.  This type of diabetes is preventable in many cases.
  • Gestational Diabetes – Occurs in pregnant women who otherwise do not have diabetes.  This type usually goes away after pregnancy.  Mothers-to-be are monitored closely to be sure their blood glucose levels stay at a safe level.  Those who have experienced this type of diabetes usually need to watch their weight, exercise, and make healthy food choices before and after delivery.  They do have a higher chance of developing Type 2 diabetes later, so it is wise to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Diabetes can be a devastating illness.  Persons with diabetes are at greater risk of heart attack, stroke, amputation, and kidney failure.  Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults. Those with diabetes should not smoke.  Persons with diabetes need to keep blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol under control.  They should also wear a medical ID necklace or bracelet so medical personnel will know they have diabetes, in case of an emergency.  The average medical expenditure to those with diabetes is 2.3 times higher than those without it, with $1 out of every $5 they spend going toward healthcare.

We urge everyone to get the word out that we need to give money, share stories, and do whatever we can do to help stop this serious disease, and find ways to prevent it for future generations.  Check out the American Diabetes Association’s site to gather more good information on this serious disease.  Most of us either have family members or friends who have diabetes, and we need to be more involved in the challenge of stopping this disease.

Source: American Diabetes Association
National Diabetes Education Program


Because there are many hunters and other adventurers out in the forests at this time of year, we’d like to warn you about a certain little critter that just may not have hibernated yet – the copperhead snake.  Copperheads heavily occupy the eastern United States, but are in several southern states, as well. They also live in parts of Mexico, such as Coahuila and Chihuahua.   North Carolina has the distinction of the most venomous snakebites in the United States.

“Copperhead bites are typically not fatal,” says Dr. Peter Bromley, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Specialist in Zoology.  Most bites from copperheads are not as serious as from other venomous snakes, such as rattlesnakes and cottonmouth water moccasins because they do not inject as much venom in their bites.  However, bites from copperhead snakes are extremely painful and may cause extensive scarring and loss of use of limb where bitten.  Don’t take chances; avoid these snakes.  Seek prompt medical attention.  Bites may be fatal to small animals, so if you suspect that your pet has been bitten, get him/her to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Copperheads are distinctively marked with hourglass shaped bands on their bodies, and so-named because of the copper color of their heads.  Young copperheads have bright yellow tail tips.  These snakes normally hibernate in October, but in warmer climates, be sure to watch for them, as they are easily camouflaged by their markings, and may still be rustling around.  Take care when you are strolling through the leaves or forests!

If you live in one of the states where copperhead snakes (or any venomous snakes) reside, keep these tips in mind:

  • Keep your lawn cut low;
  • Remove rocks, limbs and other debris from the yard;
  • Wear shoes when you go outside;
  • Use extra care when you are around rocks, logs, creek banks, etc;
  • Watch for snakes to visit your garden, porches, and decks.  (They enjoy sunning, too!)
  • Keep a First Aid Kit handy  – you never know when you may need it!

Experts say that most times copperhead snakes will avoid humans; they usually freeze when they feel threatened.  Persons who try to catch or handle them risk being bitten.

It isn’t uncommon for those who live around copperheads to be bitten while doing some simple outside task.  I had a friend that got bitten when she reached into a bucket in her yard.  It took a long time for her hand to heal.

When in your yard, watch for uninvited guests; when it’s in the snake’s yard (forest, etc.), watch even closer!


Smokers will think “Bah, humbug” when they hear about the Great American Smokeout planned for Thursday, November 19.  This is a day sponsored by the American Cancer Society back in 1977, and since that time, has encouraged tobacco smokers and chewers to quit for the day, and hopefully, forever.  The Smokeout draws attention to deaths and health damage caused by smoking.  It has also contributed to bans on smoking in workplaces and restaurants, increased taxes on cigarettes, limitations on cigarette promotions in the media, attempts to discourage teen smoking, and other countless actions to reduce tobacco use.

There are approximately 46 million Americans that continue to smoke.  According to the CDC, 440,000 deaths and $193 billion in health care costs and lost production occur annually.

Here are some facts from the U.S. Surgeon General and American Cancer Society that point out the benefits of quitting:

  • Your heart rate and blood pressure drop 20 minutes after quitting.
  • Your circulation improves and your lung function increases within 2 weeks to 3 months after quitting.
  • The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal 12 hours after quitting.
  • One to nine months after quitting, coughing and shortness of breath decrease; normal function in the lungs is regained, which reduces the risk of infection.
  • One year after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.
  • Five years after quitting, the stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.
  • Ten years after quitting, the lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker’s.  The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease.
  • Fifteen years after quitting, risk of coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker’s.

It is a very hard habit to break, but consider the health benefits as listed above, not to mention creating a safer environment for those non-smokers who have to breathe secondhand smoke!

Workplaces that make the choice to become smoke-free would see increased productivity, fewer sick days and lower insurance claims by employees.  Employers could reward their workers that stop smoking by paying a membership fee to a health club, treat non-smokers to an occasional free breakfast or lunch, or come up with other ideas.

People have the right to choose what to do with their body; however, when facts prove that smoking damages almost every organ in the human body and is linked to at least fifteen different cancers, that should be reason enough for tobacco users to stop and think about it.  Besides that, look at all the money that could be saved!  So, Thursday, come on, we dare you!  You can do it for at least one day…then another….and another!


In our series about dangerous jobs in America, one particular job keeps popping up on several “top ten” lists: refuse collectors.  Also known as garbage collectors, these folks are waste management professionals.  Their job not only includes collecting refuse for disposal, but also for recycling, which has become a very important plan in keeping our planet green.

This occupation is probably one that we take for granted: we know they are going to make their stop by our house regularly.  One thing for sure – they face many hazards in their job performance.  Statistics from the Bureau of Labor show that for every 100,000 workers, 43 in this occupation die annually.

Some of the dangers they face are:

  • Getting hit by passing cars;
  • Falling off trucks;
  • Getting compressed in equipment;
  • Handling chemicals, toxic materials, or contaminated needles that haven’t been disposed of properly;
  • Working in all kinds of weather;
  • Getting cut by glass.
  • Experiencing strains and sprains, and overexertion from jumping off and on trucks.

Recycling is the secondary smelting and refining of nonferrous metals and used scrap.  Workers in recycling also risk being struck by objects, getting caught in equipment, and being exposed to hazardous materials.

When a little boy I knew was about 9 years old, we asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up.  His answer was very sincere: he either wanted to be an airplane pilot or a garbage man.  While being a garbage man or refuse collector may not be as glamorous as a pilot, the person doing the job is a very important part of the waste management community.


Everyone deserves a pat on the back at one time or another.  If you brag on a child for good behavior or good grades, chances are he will continue working hard for your praise, or even a little reward!  Many times a few kind words will go a long way.  When I worked for an oilfield construction company, our customers would let me know whether or not our crews had done a good job for them.  I always made it a point to pass that information on- first, to the boss, and then, to the workers.  They deserved to know each time they had pleased the customer.

Safety awards are excellent motivational tools that reward workers for consistently performing their jobs safely.  Companies should include their workers in the planning of their safety program. After all, they are the ones that know the hazards they encounter every day.

Frequent repetition of safety goals as outlined will bring good results.  Posters placed in common places also serve as great safety reminders.  Depending on the size of the company, it should be determined exactly what the choices of the awards will be, such as pizza parties, gift certificates, discounts for certain products, first aid kits, etc.

It’s been said that 93% of all accidents happen because people were not paying attention to what they were doing while they were doing it!  Workers must be trained to be constantly aware of risks they may experience, and focus on doing their job safely.  Proper training and accountability are important characteristics of a good safety plan.  Wellness initiatives could also be worked into a safety awards program.  Individual recognition plays a valuable roll, as well.  If your company has a newsletter, feature pictures of those who were shown appreciation; if not, put their picture in the newspaper.  This would be a way of acknowledging  that your company appreciates those employees who act responsibly.

Promoting daily safety goals will produce long-term safety awareness.  Work safely, and give your co-workers words of praise when they play by the rules.  That way, everyone’s a winner!


There’s nothing like the view of a beautiful farm that stretches out among rolling hills.  (I always think I’d hate to have to mow all that land!)  But there’s much more behind those peaceful scenes.  Farming and ranching are on the list of America’s most dangerous jobs.  The consensus is that farmers and ranchers perform their routines in the same way, every day, every year, they sometimes become complacent about hazards that exist.  Bureau of Labor statistics show that on a per capita basis, out of every 100,000 workers, 38 die annually.

The family farm/ranch offers the opportunity to work out in the fresh air, keep the hours you wish (usually sunup to sundown), and often involves the entire family doing their share of work.  Children may be vulnerable to certain risks on a farm, such as playing around unattended equipment, ponds or tanks, or handling tasks that are not age-appropriate.  It’s recommended that the farmer/rancher check out any hazards that exist around the farm that could cause injury to youngsters or themselves.

It’s hard to list every danger that farmers/ranchers face, but here are just a few:

  • Injuries from equipment: augers, mowers, tractors, combines, grinders, balers;
  • Chemicals;
  • Sun exposure;
  • Heat and cold stress;
  • Hearing loss from equipment noise;
  • Livestock;
  • Gun accidents;
  • Storage bin accidents.

Farm animals that produce wool, eggs, milk and meat are considered livestock; they are not pets.  Although farmers and ranchers work with livestock every day and understand their temperaments, visitors, especially those with children, should be aware that even baby animals can kick or bite, and watch out for Momma!  (I learned my lesson when I tried to hold a cute little baby pig – he squealed, and here she came, Hell Bent for Leather!)

There are eleven uniform hand signals that The American Society of Agricultural Engineers recommends that farm families, employees and visitors should know in order to better communicate with each other.  Many times workers are far apart or there’s so much noise, it’s hard to hear each other.  Workers should be educated in first aid and know what to do to respond to an accident.  It is very important that the correct safety equipment is used, according to the risks involved: weather, pesticides, drills, sharp objects, grinders, etc.

We salute our farmers and ranchers for their hard work and dedication to furnishing America’s food and much more.