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Old 03-25-2008, 06:48 AM
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Default April may be cruelest month, but March is busiest

From Tulsa World
by: JANET PEARSON Associate Editor


We've sprung our clocks forward and checked our smoke alarms.

Next up is assembling an emergency kit, accident-proofing the home, cleaning out the medicine cabinet, revamping our diets and organizing our health records.

If we conscientious citizens do everything experts and advocates have piggybacked on the change to Daylight Saving Time, March is going to be a busy month indeed.

Lots of recommendations, public awareness alerts and other newsy tidbits regularly make it across a newspaper writer's desk. We thought some might be of interest. Below is a sampling; be prepared to make a list.

Springtime is the perfect time to make sure the homefront is equipped to deal with a public health emergency such as a tornado, flood or ice storm (like we needed to be told that).


Anyway, the Public Health Association is encouraging us to "check your stocks" after re-setting your clocks.

"It is important to refresh your emergency supplies before a disease outbreak or disaster occurs. And if you haven't created a stockpile yet, now is the time to create one," said Mendy Spohn, OPHA president.

The organization calls for having on hand at least a three-day supply of bottled water (which amounts to one gallon per person per day), nonperishable foods and essential medications. Also include important documents and equipment such as flashlights, radios, batteries and a manual can opener (beer apparently is optional). Don't depend on candles during power outages, because they are culprits in home fires.

It's also a good idea to learn more about emergency evacuation routes and shelters.

Do you know what's in your medicine cabinet? That was among questions raised during National Patient Safety Awareness Week sponsored earlier this month by the American Medical Association.

The AMA wants Americans to check their medicine cabinets (after the clocks, smoke alarms, and emergency kits) during March to look for expired medicines, unused prescription drugs and dangerous supplements.

Get rid of anything that's expired or no longer used, and make a list of medicines that are needed -- including pertinent details such as dosage and the doctor who prescribed them.

The doctors' group recommends discussing medications annually with family doctors to determine if changes should be made.

Needless to say, make sure medications are out of reach of young children.

Springtime heralds the beginning of increased outdoor activity, the reason March is Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness month.

Such injuries, which usually result from falls, car crashes, gunshots, assaults and sports, account for about 3,800 hospitalizations and 850 deaths each year in Oklahoma, according to the state Department of Health.

These injuries resulted in about $768 million in medical care costs and indirect costs in the state in 2005.

Teens, young adults and the elderly are most often the victims of TBI.

The state Health Department is focusing on how such injuries occur and the long-term consequences in hopes of increasing public awareness. "We also want to stress the importance of prevention by using seat belts, car seats for children, helmets, obeying traffic rules and signals and keeping a safe home environment," said Dr. Ruth Azeredo, TBI project director for the health department.

If a brain injury is suspected, health officials urge immediate medical attention. Watch for loss of consciousness, bleeding from ears or nose, seizures, unequal pupils and dazed or incoherent behavior.

March also is National Nutrition Month, an observance that has attracted more interest over the years as Americans focus more on the subject.

The state Health Department and the American Dietetic Association offer numerous nutrition and fitness tips and emphasize obtaining factual information from qualified sources, such as registered dietitians.

Among the tips: Seek nutrient-rich foods packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber; read food labels to get the facts; choose foods with healthy fats, avoiding saturated and trans fats; balance physical activity with a healthy diet, and look at the big picture -- the total food intake, not just a single food or meal.

This month, Consumer Reports Health News offers consumers tips on how to prevent medical identity theft, a problem that about 250,000 Americans experience each year.

Perpetrators steal other people's personal health information to get medical care, or to obtain cash through false health insurance claims or by selling the information on the black market.

To guard against such theft: Share health information only with trusted providers; keep copies of your health-care records, and check your credit history for medical liens.

Now, once you get all that done, there are the closets, the ductwork, the carpets, the windows. . . .
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