Gunning Daily News

June Home Safety Tips

May 27, 2011 11:49 am

As the weather heats up, the risk for fire or electrical related injuries around the house increases with more people grilling outside and trying to stay cool inside.

As the month of June marks Home Safety Month, McDaniel—a leader in full-service fire suppression, fire alarm and security systems for over 75 years—reminds everyone to be conscious of potential hazards around the home, especially considering these sobering statistics from the National Fire Protection Association: 

• Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths in 2003-2006 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
• In 2004-2008, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 7,700 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues per year, which caused an annual average of 13 deaths, 120 injuries and $70 million in direct property damage.
• During 2004-2008, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 24,600 fires started by lightning. These fires caused annual averages of 12 civilian deaths, 47 civilian injuries, and $407 million in direct property damage.
"Summer is just around the corner and with warmer weather on the way many people will be firing up their grills outside and cranking up the air-conditioning inside," says Steve Hubick, operations manager for McDaniel. "It's important to always keep safety in mind to avoid accidents or injuries. By following these basic safety tips, you can enjoy a safe summer."
McDaniel offers the following home safety tips to help ensure a safe summer season:
• Be responsible when firing up the grill: First and foremost, propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors and should be placed at least 10 feet away from the home, deck railings and out from under leaves and overhanging branches. Never grill indoors or in a garage. Keep children and pets away from the grill area and never leave your grill unattended. It's also a good idea to keep a spray bottle with water nearby to help keep any flare ups under control.
• Turkey Fryers: When using a turkey fryer, make sure it is only used outdoors, a safe distance (at least 10 feet) from buildings and any other flammable materials. Never use turkey fryers in a garage, on a wooden deck, or under a tree. Additionally, never leave the turkey fryer unattended—if you do not watch the fryer carefully, the cooking oil will continue to heat until it catches fire. Never let children or pets near the fryer even if it is not in use. The oil inside the cooking pot can remain dangerously hot hours after use. Keep an ABC type fire extinguisher nearby and never use water to extinguish a grease fire.
• Air conditioners and fans: Be sure to check the equipment for frayed wires and keep all cooling equipment clean. Fans can accumulate dust and dirt around the motor, which can cause a fire. Vacuum the fan to keep the motor clean. Air conditioning units should be maintained by a qualified technician. If an extension cord must be used, be sure to use an approved and correctly rated extension cord for use with the particular appliance and location.
• Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors: Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. A carbon monoxide detector should be placed on every level of the home. Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button and be sure the alarm has the label of a recognized testing laboratory such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). If you follow daylight savings time in your area, when changing the time, it is also a good reminder to install new batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
• Storm Safety: Lightning associated with thunderstorms generates a variety of fire hazards. The power of lightning's electrical charge and intense heat can electrocute on contact, splitting trees and causing fires. Before a storm, its best to unplug electrical appliances to help prevent power surges. During a storm, stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity and stay away from windows, doors, and stay off porches. Also be sure to have a flashlight on hand with extra batteries in case the power goes out. After a storm, check the home for damage and stay clear of downed wires and power lines.
• Flood or water damage: If your home has sustained flood or water damage and you can safely get to the main breaker or fuse box without coming in contact with water, turn off the power. It is also important to remember to never stand in water without wearing protective clothing, such as rubber boots. Remove standing water, wet carpets and furnishings and air dry your home with good ventilation before restoring power. Don't attempt to remove any electrical equipment yourself—it is best to bring in a licensed professional to check your home for damage and make any necessary repairs. Assume all wires on the ground are electrically charged including cable TV feeds. Appliances that have been exposed to water can short and become a fire hazard. Don't operate any electrical equipment that has been exposed to water.

For additional information on home safety tips, please visit the Home Safety Council Web site at: www.homesafetycouncil.org

Alleviating Texting while Driving Is Instrumental for Preventing the Nearly 5,000 Annual Deaths Due to Mobile Phone Use

May 27, 2011 11:49 am

tXtBlocker, rated by Consumer Reports as the most effective cell phone service for Smartphones, announced recently their top ten tips to keep drivers safe. A 2009 Pew Research survey revealed 75 percent of teenagers admitted to texting while driving—a frightening statistic considering The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration concluded in a September 2010 report that nearly 6,000 people were killed and 448,000 injured in 2009 (latest statistics available) as a result of getting distracted while operating a motor vehicle. 

"We live in an age where people are constantly trying to contact us and when that call or text is sent to someone operating a vehicle it can have devastating consequences," says Stan Van Meter, CEO of tXtBlocker. "With 70 percent of teens admitting to cell phone use while driving, TXtBlocker is one of the top solutions to prevent cell phone distractions. We encourage all drivers, and especially young drivers, to practice these tips.”

tXtBlocker's Top Ten Driving Tips:

1. Set your phone on vibrate and place in the back seat, glove compartment, or trunk to keep out of reach.
2. While driving in stop-and-go traffic, toll booth lines, and the like, don't use your phone.
3. Select your playlist on your Mp3 player before you start to travel, or while the car is parked.
4. Limit or block other passengers from using their cell phones if it shifts your focus in any way.
5. Be alert and sharp while driving. Avoid driving while eating, combing your hair, etc.
6. Let someone else take the wheel when over-tired, emotional or under the influence of drugs, alcohol or certain medications (read the label).
7. Drive the speed limit.. Even at a speed of 25 mph, the force of a collision is the same as diving off a three-story building.
8. Keep your irritation in check. Drive defensively, not with an attitude.
Leave plenty of space between you and all other vehicles.
9. Stop cell phone distractions with tXtBlocker to keep you and others safe on the road.

TXtBlocker ends dangerous cell phone use on the road by engaging a Smartphone's GPS to determine when you are driving and automatically limits phone calls and texts to "Safe List" contacts and 911. It responds to incoming text and calls, like your personal secretary, politely letting callers know you are driving and you will reply when available later. The service allows customer and administrators to locate phones anytime, create their No-Cell Zones wherever it is important, such as around schools or offices, and more.
For more information visit www.txtblocker.com.

National Campaigns Advise Disease Testing during Month-long Safety Promotion

May 27, 2011 11:49 am

Greater Than AIDS and GYT: Get Yourself Tested, two leading national campaigns committed to reducing the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, are teaming up for a second year to encourage Americans to get tested and know their status. In the lead up to National HIV Testing Day (June 27), the scaled-up, month-long cross-promotion brings together major media and leading corporate brands with community organizations and state and local health departments to carry the message on air and on the ground across the nation.

"As we mark 30 years of AIDS, it's worth noting the tremendous progress made in terms of the life-saving treatments now available, but to benefit from these advances one must first know their status," says Tina Hoff, Senior Vice President & Director, Health Communication & Media Partnerships, Kaiser Family Foundation, a partner on both campaigns. "Be Greater Than AIDS: Get Yourself Tested is an empowering, uplifting message that makes getting tested an act of pride, not shame."

"Our audience has never known a time without HIV, but through efforts like GYT, we're committed to empowering them to forge a world where HIV doesn't exist," says Jason Rzepka, Vice President of Public Affairs, MTV. "We're proud to join with this remarkable coalition and reinforce regular testing as one way America's youth can be greater than AIDS."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the more than one million Americans living with HIV today, one in five of those infected don't know their status. The CDC encourages all Americans between the ages of 13-64 to get tested on a routine basis as part of their overall health and well-being similar to cholesterol, blood pressure, and other screens.

Elements of the Be Greater Than AIDS: Get Yourself Tested Month promotion include:
• Five-City Summer Concert Tour, in partnership with EMMIS Communications and Radio One, that integrates HIV/AIDS information and testing resources into some of this summer's biggest concerts, including those sponsored by EMMIS and supported by Gilead Sciences in Chicago (Jamboree, 6/4), New York (Summer Jam, 6/5), Los Angeles (Powerhouse, 6/25), and sponsored by Radio One in Miami (SpringFest, 5/28) and Atlanta (Birthday Bash, 6/18). On air promotions in the lead up to the concerts, including DJ call outs and targeted public service ads, will promote testing. Giveaways and other special promotions will support listeners who get tested. An on-site information booth will offer more resources. Additionally, the "Road to the Chicago's Jamboree Concert Testing Tour," conducted in partnership with GYT, is providing free testing at six Chicago-area college campuses throughout May.

• Mo'Nique hosts AIDS radio special and other special programming to promote testing as a routine part of health care. Academy Award winning actress, Mo'Nique, guest hosts a half-hour long radio show about AIDS in America that is being distributed to more than 90 Clear Channel Radio stations throughout the month as part of the company's partnership with Greater Than AIDS. Additionally, MTV, a founding partner of GYT, and other media partners will air targeted public service messages to encourage testing.

• Road to ESSENCE Music Festival: Testing Tour, coordinated by the Black AIDS Institute and Louisiana Department of Health will provide free testing at stops in six cities across the state culminating with three-days of testing at the ESSENCE Music Festival in New Orleans (July 1-3). The cities providing free testing on the Testing Tour include Shreveport (June 25th), Alexandria (June 26th), Lake Charles (June 27th), Lafayette (June 28th), Baton Rouge (June 29th), and New Orleans (June 30th).

• Community resources and informational content distributed in coordination with the National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NAPWA), Gilead Sciences, Orasure and others. Greater Than AIDS and GYT promote local HIV testing resources, information about HIV/AIDS and provide informational materials for health centers and organizations to help promote HIV testing via their online stores/toolkits through extensive web and social media platforms.

• "NAPWA founded National HIV Testing Day in 1995," says National Association of People with AIDS President Frank Oldham, Jr., "because we were already seeing that people with HIV who know their status sooner and start treatment with antiviral drugs sooner live longer, healthier lives. Today, 30 years into the HIV epidemic, there is more and more evidence that people with HIV who get tested every year and start treatment as soon as they know their status are also significantly less likely to infect others. It's a tremendous win-win: when we know our status and get into treatment, we protect our own health and we protect the ones we love!"

For more information visit www.greaterthan.org.

Are Families Ill-Prepared to Respond to Seniors’ Medical Emergencies?

May 27, 2011 11:49 am

Seniors who are on multiple prescriptions can easily encounter problems if they are not taking medicine correctly or if changes in their medical condition require a different dosage or medicine. “One thing to look for is a sudden change in condition,” says Thomas Clark, RPh, MHS, CGP, director of clinical affairs for the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists and the ASCP Foundation. “That can indicate an older adult is not getting the proper dose of a medication. Many symptoms may be considered drug side effects unless proven otherwise,” he notes. 

Many family caregivers don’t know all they need to know about their loved ones’ medications and doctors. That’s what the Home Instead Senior Care® network found when the organization surveyed future family caregivers about their knowledge and awareness of their parents’ important information.
Less than half (47 percent) say they are knowledgeable about their parents’ medical histories in case of an emergency. And, approximately half (49 percent) are unable to name any of the medications taken by their parents each day. Furthermore, 36 percent of those future caregivers don’t know where their seniors’ financial information is located. 

“This survey was no surprise to us, since we often are called to assist when families are in crisis,” says Jeff Huber, president and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Home Instead Senior Care network. “We’ve seen the turmoil that such a situation creates and we’ve also witnessed how much smoother it can go when families are prepared.” 

That’s why the Home Instead Senior Care network has worked with Humana Points of Caregiving® to develop an information management tool that is described in more detail on the Senior Emergency Kit(SM) website. Part of the Answering the Call(SM) program, the toolkit is designed to help family caregivers keep important information at their fingertips and know who to call in the event of a medical emergency. The program and website include additional resources and links to help family caregivers learn more about how to manage their senior’s medical and financial information. 

Medication-related problems can cause, aggravate or contribute to common and costly geriatric problems including: confusion, delirium/hallucinations, depression, dizziness, falls, incontinence, insomnia, loss of coordination, malnutrition/dehydration, memory loss and psychiatric problems. They also can send seniors to the hospital. Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) or noncompliance are responsible for 28 percent of hospitalizations of the elderly, the ASCP reports. 

In the lives of seniors, these issues also can then lead to decreased quality of life, hip fractures, loss of independence and even death. The issues reinforce the need for seniors and family caregivers to be educated about the safe use of prescription and over-the-counter medications. 

A root of the problem with seniors and their medications is the sheer volume of prescription drugs that most older adults are taking. “Medication issues are big topics for seniors,” says Clark of the ASCP, who served as an expert source for the Answering the Call program. “According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 80 percent of Americans over the age of 60 use two or more prescription drugs, while 37 percent take five or more,” he explains. 

“It’s so important that seniors are monitored and their medications regularly reviewed,” Clark says. “One of our ASCP members analyzed the drug regimen of a man who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and recommended changes to his medication schedule. As a result, his Alzheimer’s symptoms went away, he’s driving again and he’s started dating. These issues can be very serious.”

Word of the Day

May 27, 2011 11:49 am

Warranty deed. A deed in which the grantor guarantees that he or she is giving the grantee good title free of encumbrances. Considered to be the best deed a grantee can receive.

Question of the Day

May 27, 2011 11:49 am

Q: What does homeowners’ insurance cover?

A: It protects against disasters—whether natural, manmade or mechanical. A standard policy insures the home, as well as your possessions. Because this insurance is packaged, it covers liability for any harm, loss, and property damage that you or your family members cause others. And it includes additional living expenses in case you are temporarily displaced because of damage from a fire or other insured disaster.

Top Pocketbook Environmentalist Picks

May 27, 2011 11:19 am

Today's consumers are smart: they know they shouldn't have to pay more for something just because it's labeled "green." SunRun applauds these smart shoppers and calls them “Pocketbook Environmentalists”: people who make smart, financial decisions that are also good for the planet. And now a growing class of smart companies out there makes it possible to save money and the planet at the same time. Here are some of the top Pocketbook Environmentalist companies on our list:

1. Paperless Post: This email stationery looks like hand-crafted cards and provides a more formal way to send an invitation than Evite or Facebook. It's saving cash and a lot of trees, particularly for those "high-maintenance" weddings with 300+ guests. One user paid $25 for 150 save-the-date cards with Paperless Post instead of $1,400 for the paper version. Plus, no more paper cuts from sealing those envelopes!
2. Zipcar: This car sharing service lets you avoid the upfront cost of buying a car, not to mention gas, insurance, and repairs. Plus, you reduce the number of polluting vehicles on the road.
3. SodaStream: Forget bulk packs of soda that tack expenses onto your grocery bill and waste resources through manufacturing, transport, and all those bottles and cans (yes they are recyclable, but that uses tons of energy). SodaStream lets families make their own carbonated beverages so you save money while reducing your carbon footprint. After the kids have enjoyed their homemade root beer, you can make yourself a gin and SodaSteam tonic to celebrate all the money you're saving as a Pocketbook Environmentalist.
4. KleanKanteen: Believe it or not, bottled water can cost more per gallon than gasoline. Spend a few bucks on a KleanKanteen and a Brita filter, or other reusable water bottles and filter systems. This thrifty combo will give you the taste without the waste—and you'll save a bundle, too.
5. SunRun: SunRun offers home solar power for as little as $0 upfront. Since SunRun owns and monitors the panels, families don't have to worry about maintenance and high upfront costs.
6. YouRenew: Use this site to make money from old electronics while recycling them. Just find your device, generate an instant quote and place your device in the mail with a YouRenew pre-paid shipping label. YouRenew will reuse or recycle the item and send you a check.

For more information visit http://www.sunrunhome.com/blog/.

Top Consumer Sweets and Snacks Trends 2011

May 27, 2011 11:19 am

From unique flavor blends like chili and mint to more cost conscious bites, new sweets and snacks hitting the store shelves in 2011 aim to satisfy ever-evolving consumer appetites. Smart, simple, flavor-packed, good value and nutrient-enhanced products led the more than 2,000 new confectionery and snack foods revealed May 24-26 at the 2011 SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO® in Chicago. The SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO® showcased the hottest new products from more than 550 companies leading the industry in developing new flavors for consumers to savor a taste of happiness.

“Trends in confectionery and snacks for 2011 reflect the larger patterns seen across the food industry—Americans are more interested in what they are eating, and are looking for new flavors to satisfy increasingly complex palates,” says Larry Graham, president of the National Confectioners Association. “Consumers look for value, exciting flavors and nutrition when seeking new sweets and snacks.”

Top Consumer Snack Trends 2011:
• Good Value: Candy and snacks continue to represent an affordable indulgence for consumers in a slow economy, demonstrated by industry sales growth over the past two years. Non-chocolate chewy items saw additional gains in 2010 and chocolate consumption also remained on the rise, while channel growth for the category in discounters, club and drug stores reflects consumers’ focus on value.
• Surprising Flavor Combinations: Candy and snacks with dual-layers and multiple flavor profiles in one bite top the tasty trends for 2011, with new combinations including unique blends of fruits and the addition of ingredients like chili and mint.
• Natural and Added Nutrients: Whether simple and all-natural or fortified with vitamins and a nutrition boost, “smart” snacks and sweets are here to stay, including chocolate, and products with added Vitamin C, fiber and other healthful ingredients.

Despite a lagging economy, the snacking industry posted significant gains in 2010.

The confectionery industry posted a 3.6 percent gain in 2010—outpacing overall growth of food sales in leading channels. Meanwhile, salty snacks experienced steady growth with a 2 percent gain over previous year sales. Confectionery and salty snacks rank as the fourth and sixth largest product categories in overall food sales, respectively, and first and second among snack foods. The cookie category (ranked third largest among snack foods) also held strong, experiencing half a percent growth last year.

Consumers enjoy a taste of happiness in their lives:
According to brand-new research from NCA expected to debut later this summer, consumers appreciate the unique role chocolate, candy, gum and other snacks play in their lives:
• Older Americans have a higher preference for dark chocolate; research indicates that people over 45 consume more dark chocolate because it’s perceived as healthier.
• Daily gum chewers are 34 percent more likely to view sports activity as a major motivator in maintaining or improving their health.
• The average American consumes chocolate confectionery about 107 times per year.
• Parents claim children who consume chocolate daily exercise nearly twice as often as children who eat chocolate weekly.
• Gummy candy, driven by Halloween sales, is 23 percent more likely to be consumed in the fall than licorice or other chewy candies. Licorice consumption increases in the warmer, summer months based on its portability.

American Heart Association Says Graphic Warning Labels Are Critical to Reducing Global Tobacco Epidemic

May 27, 2011 11:19 am

As federal regulators finalize pending rules for cigarette warning labels in the U.S., it's important to note the tremendous impact of graphic labels and statements in countries where tobacco use is deeply embedded in the culture.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, "Cigarette Package Health Warnings and Interest in Quitting Smoking," states prominent warnings on cigarette packages in countries with high adult smoking rates have been most effective in encouraging smokers to quit. The findings demonstrate the undeniable influence of large, graphic warning labels on individuals who smoke manufactured cigarettes.

Specific messages and graphic depictions of smoking-related diseases have great potential to curb a global tobacco epidemic. They can make individuals think twice about starting a deadly habit and encourage smokers to quit and improve their cardiovascular and overall health. Tobacco-related illnesses kill more than five million people worldwide each year. In the U.S. alone, about one-third of smoking-related deaths are linked to heart disease and stroke. We strongly believe that graphic warnings labels that convey information about the health risks of smoking can also discourage smoking initiation among youth and former smokers.

The American Heart Association recommends expanding the label statement and warning requirement to include information on smoking cessation resources. The Food and Drug Administration should require manufacturers to include referrals to government-run smoking cessation resources such as 1-800-quit-now and www.smokefree.gov on tobacco product packages and advertising. By including these resources along with the required label statements and graphic warnings, tobacco users would not only be told how bad tobacco use is, but also how to quit.

The online version of the journal can be found at www.cdc.gov/mmwr.

Study Links Job Stress in Teachers to Student Achievement

May 27, 2011 11:19 am

After 17 years of researching traumatic stress with war-afflicted populations (veterans and civilians) and job stress in the medical profession, Teresa McIntyre, a research professor in the department of psychology and the Texas Institute for Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics (TIMES), at the University of Houston (UH), decided to study another high risk occupation, middle school teachers in seventh and eighth grade.

"Teaching is a highly stressful occupation," McIntyre says. "Teacher stress affects various aspects of teacher health and may influence how effective teachers are in the classroom, with potential consequences for their students' behavior and learning.

"I started to research the literature on stress and teachers in the U.S. and found very little information. There was no comprehensive study of teachers' stress or even an audit of the percentage of teachers who are stressed. I saw a void here and a need to study."

McIntyre serves as primary investigator for a $1.6 million grant funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Education, titled, "Using Longitudinal and Momentary Analysis to Study the Impact of Middle School Teachers' Stress on Teacher Effectiveness, Student Behavior and Achievement."

The research study starts at the beginning of this coming school year and follows 200 seventh-and eighth-grade social studies, science or math teachers in 20 middle schools in H.I.S.D. and thousands of students over a three-year period.

The research team intends to identify predictors and outcomes of job stress in middle school teachers, linking teacher stress to student behavior and achievement via teacher effectiveness. The results of the data can be used to guide further development of interventions to mitigate teacher stress and, consequently, improve teacher effectiveness and student behavior and learning.

"Middle school is probably the most difficult level to teach because student-teacher interactions are more difficult during this time, and this kind of difficulty in teacher-student interactions is a major source of stress for teachers at this level," McIntyre notes. "For students it's a time of adolescence and many changes developmentally, and that is going to affect the dynamics of learning, as well as the social relationships and climate in the classroom. It's going to affect the teachers as well. Our premise is that if the teacher is stressed, their behavior will be different with students, and they will perform differently with students."

McIntyre conducted a pilot study in the Greater Houston area in 2010 that indicated that at least one third of middle school teachers may be significantly stressed.

The UH research team will combine an innovative multi-method approach to assessing stress and teacher effectiveness, which involves ecological momentary assessment or real-time assessment, concurrent physiological measurements that will monitor blood pressure and heart rate, and in-classroom observational ratings. The researchers will use the most current technology to assess stress, which includes self-report on a Teacher Stress Diary using an iPod Touch platform, and teacher effectiveness ratings on an iPad. Data will be collected on students in the teachers' classroom using teacher stress diaries, archival school records and observational ratings. The innovative software programs are being developed by Sean Woodward at TIMES and the novel statistical methodologies required to analyze the intensive longitudinal data generated by real time assessment will be provided by TIMES and the UH department of psychology faculty Paras Mehta. The methodological and technical support provided by the UH's TIMES, directed by David Francis, as well as its expertise in education research, are key to the implementation of this type of study.

"With this study we will be able to get a more dynamic picture of how teachers respond to stress in real time," McIntyre says. "And that's what this ecological momentary assessment does—it assesses stress through the person's diary report of stress when things are happening, very close to the event. Teachers will be able to report their emotions both positive and negative; how their cognitive functions are affected by stress; and what's happening at the moment in terms of social interactions, social conflict, demands on the job, the time pressure and whether they feel they are in control of their situation. They also report on effectiveness in instruction and classroom management, an on their student's behavior in the classroom"

McIntyre notes the larger contribution of the study is to take the pulse of the educational system and see what's happening in challenging economic times and to evaluate what impact this has on teachers and students, "The study addresses a key issue in contemporary education: how to improve teacher quality in the face of increasing demands in the education system; it is all about supporting teachers, students and school administrators at a time of depleted resources."