Two aspects of safety awareness for older citizens were explained by Sta-Home Health Care Physical Therapist Jennifer Sparks at the May meeting of the Center Hill Community Development Club.
Sparks began her presentation by asking, "What is the number one thing that causes falls in the home?"
A throw rug is the correct answer. She advised removing them from the home. Or, use double-sided tape or a non-slip backing to prevent rugs from slipping.
According to a pamphlet distributed by Sparks, thousands of older Americans fall at home each year. Many are seriously injured, some permanently disabled.
"Most falls are caused by hazards that are easy to fix but often overlooked, such as throw rugs. Others by the person doing everyday tasks that they should delegate to others such as using ladders or chairs to reach out of reach items."
Other safety checklist items:
• When you walk through a room, do you have to walk around furniture?
• Do you have throw rugs on the floor?
• Are there papers, books, towels, shoes, magazines, boxes, blankets, or other objects on the floor?
• Do you have to walk over or around wires or cords?
The complete checklist can be found at www.cdc.gov and is the Check for Safety: A Home Fall prevention Checklist for Older Adults.
The second aspect of Sparks' presentation was about heat awareness.
"Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States," she said. "Being from the Southern part of the United States, we are all aware of just how hot and dry it can be. It is very important to take precautions."
There are three main heat advisories issued by emergency medical and weather officials :
• Excessive heat outlooks are issued when the potential exists for excessive heat in the next 3-7 days. These outlooks provide information to those who need lead time to prepare for the event such as public utility staff, emergency managers and public health officials.
• Excessive heat watches are issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 24 to 72 hours. The risk has increased, but timing is uncertain.
• Excessive heat warning/advisories are issued when an excessive heat event is expected in the next 36 hours.
Sparks provided the following heat safety tips for adults:
• Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day
• Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
• Put less fuel on your inner fires. Foods like meat and other proteins that increase metabolic heat production also increase water loss.
• Drink plenty of water, non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids.
• During excessive heat periods, spend more time in air-conditioned places.
• Don't get too much sun. Sunburn reduces the body's ability to dissipate heat.
• Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
"Be aware of what your body is telling you," Sparks said. "Do not hesitate seeking treatment."
Following are symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
• Heat cramps: Painful muscle cramps and spasms, usually in legs and abdomen; heavy sweating. First aid: Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gentle massage to relieve spasm. Give sips of water; if nausea occurs, discontinue water.
• Heat Exhaustion: Heavy sweating, weakness, cool, pale or clammy skin, weak pulse, possible muscle cramps, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, fainting, normal temperature (even with symptoms). First aid: Move person to a cooler environment and remove or loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths. Fan or move victim to air-conditioned room. Offer sips of water; if nausea occurs, discontinue water. If vomiting continues, seek immediate medical attention.
• Heat stroke (Sunstroke): Altered mental state, throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, shallow breathing, high body temperature (106 degrees F. and higher), skin may be hot and dry, or there may be sweating, rapid pulse and possible unconsciousness. First aid: Summon emergency medical assistance or get the victim to a hospital immediately; delay can be fatal. Move the victim to a cooler, preferable air-conditioned environment. Reduce body temperature with a water mister and fan or sponging. Use extreme caution; repeat process if temperature rises again. DO NOT give fluids.
Club president Robin Doerner opened the meeting, welcoming members and guests. Her quotation for the evening was:
"One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a cat in a tree. 'Which road to I take?' she asked. His response was a question: Where do you want to go?' 'I don't know,' Alice answered. 'Then,' said the cat, 'It doesn't matter.'"
Wallace Terry provided the devotion reading "Heart Matters" from the Our Daily Bread booklet. In comparing our physical heart to our spiritual heart, both – when healthy – can do amazing things, Terry said. However, when our physical heart malfunctions, our whole body shuts down.
The same is true of our spiritual heart. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep your heart with all diligence."
"We might not notice the results of neglect right away," Terry said, "but over time, not listening to God's Word, it may give way to s spiritual heart attack."
Stanley Lucky showed members one of the thermal imaging cameras purchased with grant money received by the Bailey Volunteer Fire Department. He also referred to Spark's program on safety, reminding members to be aware of their surroundings in reference to recent events within the city.
Yard of the Month was awarded to Patsy and Harris Wilder of Center Hill Road.
Kudos were given to Robin Doerner and Chuck and Coleen Willis for their efforts in reworking and replanting the two flower beds in front of the clubhouse. The next project is to clean up and paint the ballfield concession stand.
The meeting closed with the Pledge of Allegiance led by Chuck Willis.
• Submitted by Cathy Clearman, reporter.