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Yavapai County Healthy Concerns
By David McAtee, Prescott, AZ
Upcoming events and health concerns for Yavapai County.
Thursday, December 15, 2011

Give the Gift of Health this Holiday Season

 By David McAtee

Be aware of what plants your kids have access to. Many of the popular “Christmas” plants are poisonous, including Poinsettia and Holly.

Picture this: it's Christmas day and all the family is on their way to your house, the food has been prepared and gifts have been wrapped. What could possibly go wrong?

Among the many family members coming to dinner are your Uncle Bert, the chronic smoker, and Aunt Pearl, the walking pharmacy. The Christmas tree may have a few more decorations than your Aunt Pearl but frankly, is looking just as old.

The man of the house has decided that this year, in order to relieve his wife of the backbreaking task of cooking a 20 pound turkey, he will flash cook the bird with his brand new state of the art turkey fryer.

Bert and Pearl didn't bring many gifts but they did bring a bright red poinsettia and some holly for decoration. Luckily you invited your great grandfather, Saint Nick, who is known for his obsessive use of lists and his super hero like ability to accomplish more in one night than anyone else.

Like a flash, Nick takes the 3 month old baby from the arms of smoking Uncle Bert, just before he trips over a loose electrical cord, and tackles the nearly dead Christmas tree to the ground. He then notices his seven year-old niece, who has found Aunt Pearl's purse and her pretty orange bottles full of colorful "candies." He escorts her to the couch where she can show how grown up she is, by holding the 3 month old baby in her arms.

When Nick's 5 year-old nephew can't wait any longer for dinner he decides to eat the pretty red Christmas plant that was placed conveniently on the floor near them. Just as the feast is about to begin, Nick puts the poisonous plant up on a high shelf.

While checking to see if the turkey is done, Dad drops the barely thawed turkey back into the boiling oil, catching the patio cover on fire. Nick arrives on the scene with fire extinguisher and baking thermometer in hand. After putting the fire out, he checks the Turkey and discovers the internal temperature of the bird is a mere 100 degrees, a life threatening 65 degrees short of being safely cooked.

This may seem extreme but all of these dangers are very real, especially around the holidays. If you don't have an Uncle Nick to invite to this year's dinner, be your family's very own Saint and give the gift of health and safety.

Here are some gifts ideas that will not be returned:

• Offer to purchase your parents their Shingles shot (Zoster Vaccine). You may be saving them from the most painful thing they have ever gone through.

• If you are around young children, get yourself and a loved one their Pertussis shots (Whooping Cough). When children are too young to get the shot themselves they rely on you to keep them healthy.

• Purchase a car seat for a soon-to-be mom in your neighborhood or donate a new one to Health Start.

• Purchase a membership to a local gym for a family member.

• Donate Blood.

• Sign an organ donor card.

• Refer a loved one who has expressed a desire to quit smoking to the Arizona Smokers Helpline (Ash Line).

Things to avoid this Holiday Season:

• Smoking around others, especially young children. Secondhand and thirdhand smoke can be just as harmful to adult nonsmokers and even worse for children still in the developing stages of life.

• Poisonous plants. Be aware of what plants your kids have access to. Many of the popular "Christmas" plants are poisonous, including Poinsettia and Holly.

• Drugs accessible to children. Make sure you keep purses and hand bags out of the reach of children. Some of those pills look just like candy but can kill a small child.

• Fire hazards. Keep your tree well hydrated by making sure the base of the tree is continuously submerged in water.

• Tripping and electrical hazards. Keep electrical cords tucked safely away from walking paths and do not overload your outlets. Cover unused outlets with plug protectors when small children are in the house.

• When it comes to deep frying turkeys, all I can say is read the instructions, be aware of your surroundings and make sure the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees.

Here are some useful phone numbers and web addresses if you don't have a Saint Nick coming to dinner.

Poison Hotline: 1-800-222-1222

Arizona Smokers Helpline (Ash Line): 1-800-55-66-222.

Health Start: 928-442-5478

Red Cross: RedCrossBlood.org

Organ Donor: organdonor.gov

Related Links:
• CDC- Many young children overdosing from medicines at home
• Thirdhand Smoke

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