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Friday, August 7, 2009

Safety Starts At Home

With all of the world events going on right now, it is easy to lose focus of what is most important and what order of things in the world take priority.

I have had a few thoughts on this subject lately as I get daily bombarded with what seems to be one catastrophe after another both in the World and here at home in the United States and more directly our homes here in Washington State.

Priority Number One - Taking care of your health must come first. Without your health, you can not be much help to your family and friends. This is not ignoring the fact that many of us do have some stage of a health issue in our life, be it our own personal health issues or a member of our family’s. But we must treat the walking wounded and do all in our power to stay healthy. Diet, and exercise and possibly continued medical treatment for issues must take precedence. If you are on medications, take them religiously. Be careful if you self medicate that you do not get too much of a good thing. Also, question your prescriptions and which might be in conflict, with your pharmacist.

Recently, I had a family member that was prescribed a medication by one name, while already being on the same medication under a different generic pharmaceutical name. Fortunately a friend of the family visited her three days after her surgery and recognized that something wasn’t quite right; investigated and had enough medical background knowledge to know to check with poison control who immediately wanted 911 called and a trip to the emergency room. This medicine conflict placed her in the hospital while her liver function and kidney functions were monitored for several days. There was concern that her kidneys might stop functioning and dialysis was being considered. After several days of flushing out her system, her health was restored and she rejoined her family at home. Had the neighbor not dropped by and questioned the situation, it could have proved fatal.

Always challenge your medications and scheduled surgeries to determine if they are correct and necessary and are not in conflict to your good health. You must look out for your health; no one else has as vested an interest in you as much as you do. Your friends may not notice something is wrong.

Priority Number Two - Take care of your family by being knowledgeable of their health needs and safety. Maintain a health history and list of medications for all members of the family and have written instructions for specific needs and contacts in an emergency, including insurance coverage, doctors names and hospitals.

Priority Number Three - Stay involved with your neighbors, immediate community and schools. Getting to know your neighbors and getting them to know you and your family is very important. There are several programs already established that are available to help you in your neighborhood.

1. Neighborhood Watch – If you do not already have a neighborhood watch program, contact your local police department and get information to start one in your neighborhood. Staying active in your community and knowing your neighbors provides peace of mind and a certain amount of security and safety is established.

2. Map Your Neighborhood – This program helps blocks of neighbors to get to know each other and to find out resources that can be shared to help out each other in case of a disaster or in time of need. Contact the Washington Department of Defense, Emergency Preparedness Program at Camp Murray in Lakewood for more information.

3. CERT (Community Emergency Response Training) – Get certified in disaster training incase of the worst-case scenario. This is most excellent training and I highly recommend it for everyone in your neighborhood. Of course these numbers will never happen, but it is really good to get as many people trained as possible. Information about CERT can also be obtained from the Department of Defense at Camp Murray in Lakewood.

4. Red Cross (or equivalent) First Aid Training – One cannot have too much training in first aid. All of my family members have had years of first aid classes and have all used it at different times at car accidents, home injuries, and a few in actual life saving situations. First aid gives you confidence in yourself and a feeling of security. It isn’t being perfect or knowledgeable like a doctor might be, but a degree of self help is always a comfort.

5. Learning to Swim – If you are a noon-swimmer, stop right now and make contact with a pool and take lessons to be able to swim. It is a confidence builder and it also will save a life. In a weird twist of fate, a young man I taught how to swim in the Boy Scouts, was able to save the life of my youngest son several years later when my youngest son who had dove into Lawrence Lake off the dock and had become entangled in the mil foil water plants at the bottom of the lake. This boy recognized the danger, ran down the dock and jumped in and pulled my son to the surface and got him breathing again. This is a debt I will always owe to this young man who is now our family’s hero.

Priority Number Four – Stay abreast of the politics and government decisions being made around you and do your part by voting and making contact with your legislators when you agree and disagree. It is important that we know what is happening. We can only be prepared if we know what to prepare for. This is not a time in history for apathy. Make your voice heard.

These do not cover everything that the world may throw at us, but they will give you a great start on protecting yourself, your family and friends and neighbors, and make a great start in being prepared.

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