Follow these tips for a fun and safe Fourth of July!

 

What do you have planned for the Fourth of July? From taking a mini vacation or hosting a cookout for family and friends to watching your local fireworks display, there are so many ways to enjoy this extended weekend. However, don’t let an injury or legal trouble ruin it for you or your family. Follow our tips for safe and fun Independence Day celebrations.

3 Tips for a Fun and Safe Fourth of July:

1. Be prepared for record-level traffic.

AAA recently estimated 43 million Americans will be hitting the road between June 30 and July 4. If the organization’s predictions hold true, it will be the highest travel volume ever recorded for this holiday period. Unfortunately, the National Safety Council also believes it could be the most deadly since 2008. Follow our tips for safe travel in heavy holiday traffic.

Most importantly, don’t forget to designate a sober driver or arrange for alternate transportation for your Independence Day festivities. According to NCS, almost 40 percent of fatal crashes during the holiday period each year involve alcohol.

2. Prevent fires at your cookout.

Firing up the grill over the long weekend? Keep your family, guests and home safe by taking simple precautions to prevent fires and injuries at your cookout. Be sure your grill is at least 10 feet away from your home, deck railings and other flammable surfaces. Your grill should never be left unattended, and children and pets should not be allowed to wander around the area while you’re cooking.

More grilling safety tips: Prevent Fires at Your Summer Cookouts

3. Be cautious about using fireworks.

First and foremost, check the laws in fourth of julyyour area regarding consumer firework use before making a purchase. In Ohio, it is legal to purchase many types of fireworks, but only a handful are legal to set off within the state. Even if you’re not at risk of legal consequences, all types of fireworks come with serious safety risks. Safe Kids Worldwide recommends giving children glow sticks to play with instead or sparklers or poppers, and it’s safer for everyone if you leave the real fireworks to the professionals.

Don’t forget your pets. Fourth of July can be a particularly stressful holiday for animals, so keep your pets inside during the fireworks display. Even if your pet is used to being outside or around people, the exceptionally loud noises and large crowds could cause them to panic or run.

However you choose to spend your holiday weekend, we hope your festivities are a blast. Happy Independence Day from all of us at Elk & Elk!

Staying Healthy at Work: 4 Steps to Improve Your Health & Wellness

Many businesses have health and wellness programs in place to encourage their employees to lead healthy lifestyles. However, even those who eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly can be at risk of developing health issues related to the workplace. Below are habits you should break and suggestions for staying healthy at work.

Tips for Staying Healthy at Work

1. Get moving.

Sitting for extended periods of time, as most do in office settings, can result in a number of serious health consequences. Consider switching to a standing desk or stability ball chair. Incorporate a few “deskercises” into your daily routine, or block off time during your lunch hour for a walk or quick work out. Most importantly, be sure you’re getting the recommended amount of physical activity each week outside of work hours.

2. Relax and recharge.Staying Healthy at Work

Chronic stress is linked to mental health issues (such as anxiety and depression), digestive problems, headaches, weight gain and many other negative effects on an individual’s health and wellness. Meditation, exercise and listening to music are a few quick fixes. Also, don’t be afraid to use your vacation time. Taking a few days off is a great way to recharge, and can actually make you more productive.

If you feel overwhelmed by your stress or believe you may be suffering from depression, seek assistance from a qualified mental health professional.

3. Eat smart.

Break the habit of heading for the office vending machine every time hunger strikes. Reduce the temptation by storing a few healthier snack options at your desk, and replace your regular pop, juice or sugary coffee drink with water. Keep in mind that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Be aware of your portions even when snacking on nutritious foods. Packing a balanced lunch each day is another great way to improve your eating habits, and may even help you save money.

4. Keep it clean.

Wash your hands often and try not to make contact with surfaces and items frequently touched by other employees. Disinfect all of your work surfaces on a regular basis, including your cell phone. In the event that you become ill despite these efforts stay home until your symptoms subside. If you don’t have any available sick time, do your best to prevent the spread of germs by covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Have a coworker who chooses to ignore this advice? It’s probably best to avoid them while they’re exhibiting symptoms.

Following these tips and taking advantage of any programs offered by your employer can improve your well-being and even increase your job satisfaction. What are your best tips for staying healthy at work? Tell us in the comments!

Grilling Safety Tips: Prevent Fires at Your Summer Cookouts

As the weather warms up in Ohio, many of us are looking forward to firing up the grill for a backyard barbecue. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this fun summer tradition is accompanied by many serious hazards. Read on for grilling safety tips to help protect your family, guests and home.

According to the National Fire Protection Association’s 2016 Home Grill Fires Report, grill-related incidents were the cause of nearly 9,000 home fires per year between 2009 and 2013. On average, these fires resulted in 160 injuries, 10 deaths and over $100 million in property damage annually.

More than 80 percent of the grills involved in the reported fires were fueled by gas, and the leading causes include unattended grills, failure to clean the grill and grills placed too close to flammable structures or objects.

Prevent fires by following these grilling safety tips:

  • Never grill indoors, including inside your garage. When choosing a location for your grill, select a spot at least 10 feet away from your home, deck railings and other structures. Check for overhanging branches and other plants or bushes that may catch fire if exposed to heat.
  • Before using your propane grill for the first time of the year, check the tank hose for gas leaks. The National Fire Protection Association recommends brushing or spraying soapy water on the hose. Turn on the tank and watch for bubbles, which signify a leak. If bubbles appear, turn off the tank and check the connections. If the leak is still present after you’ve resolved any potential connection issues, do not use your grill until it has been given the OK by a professional.

  • Never leave your grill unattended. A fire could occur even if you’ve taken all of the necessary precautions, and wandering children or pets could suffer serious burns and injuries in an instant. Always keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • If you begin to smell gas while you’re grilling, turn off the burners and tank. Clear any family members or guests from the area and contact your local fire department immediately if the smell continues after the grill has been turned off. Have your grill looked at by a professional before using it again.

Fire isn’t the only hazard associated with grilling. Follow these tips to keep foodborne illnesses from ruining your summer cookouts.

Do You Know the Nine Types of Depression?

Though depression is commonly mistaken for sadness, it is much more than a state of mind. According to the National InstituteTypes of Depression of Mental Illness, depression is classified as an illness that interferes with daily life or functioning.

According to the Kim Foundation on Mental Health Resources, 26.2 percent of individuals over the age of 18 suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Anyone can be affected, and each person experiences it differently. Though many subsets of the disorder exist, there are nine more general classifications.

9 Types of Depression:

1. Major Depression

Also known as clinical depression, individuals suffering from this form of the disorder endure a depressed mood most of the day. It typically causes a loss of interest in normal activities and can affect sleep, appetite and social routines. These symptoms are often experienced for a couple of months at a time.

2. Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder is a sense of hopelessness and despair lasting for a period of at least two years. This form was previously referred to as dysthymia or chronic depression. According to WebMD, the symptoms may be less severe at different points, but last for two years or more.

3. Psychotic Depression

This form can be quite difficult, as it includes some form of psychosis (delusions or hallucinations) along with the typical symptoms. A false sense of reality on top of feeling depressed is a combination of illnesses often treated with medication. The U.S. National Library of medicine explains that the cause of this subset is unknown, but it commonly runs in families.

4. Postpartum Depression

Often written off as “baby blues,” this form of the disorder is a result of hormonal and physical changes to the body after giving birth. Ten to 15 percent of women suffer from postpartum depression, and can experience the symptoms within a year of giving birth. Treatment is available from any of your medical doctors, including your OBGYN.

5. Seasonal Affective Disorder

During winter months, less natural light is produced. The human body reacts accordingly, causing people to feel the need to hibernate. In these circumstances seasonal affective disorder can set in, resulting in oversleeping, daytime fatigue, overeating and loss of interest in daily activities. An interesting form of treatment, light therapy, involves the use of a device that imitates natural light.

6. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder was formerly referred to as manic depression, but was changed because those suffering from bipolar disorder can experience extreme low moods (depression), as well as high moods (mania). These highs and lows fluctuate, out of the control of the person with bipolar disorder.

7. Atypical Depression

Atypical depression is considered one of the most underdiagnosed and most common forms of the disorder. It can be more easily diagnosed because of its physical side effects on the person suffering, which include a sense of heaviness of the arms and legs. Often, the physician may not link the physical symptoms to depression right away. Other symptoms include oversleeping, overeating and increased relationship problems.

8. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

This form is often mistaken for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but is much more severe. This occurs during the second half of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Only 5 percent of women experience PMDD, while 85 percent of women experience PMS. Symptoms include severe depressed moods and anxiety.

9. Situational Depression

Situational depression usually stems from a catastrophic event, or a series of unpleasant events strung together. Individuals suffering from this form often feel excessively sad, worried and nervous. These situations can often trigger more serious forms of the disorder if they aren’t addressed promptly.

 

Though many people face a form of this disorder, it is possible to overcome the symptoms and get back to a state of good mental health. Any individual suffering from a mental illness of any kind is encouraged to seek assistance from a physician, counselor or other mental health professional. No matter who you inform, it is important to let someone you trust know your struggle with depression. Each day in treatment is a day closer to becoming healthy, just like the healing process from any illness.

If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance, 1-800-273-TALK is a free, 24-hour call center that is willing to listen.

You can learn more about many of these disorders on the NIMH website.

5 Things You Should Know About The Gathering Place

The Gathering Place - Race for the Place 2015
The Elk & Elk team at Race for the Place 2015 in support of The Gathering Place.

Since opening its doors 16 years ago, The Gathering Place has provided Northeast Ohio with a much-needed support system for those whose lives have been touched by cancer. More than 35,000 people have received emotional, physical, spiritual and social empowerment through the wide variety of programs and services.

Each year, Elk & Elk joins The Gathering Place in celebrating National Cancer Survivors Day at Race for the Place. The annual 5K race and 1 Mile walk is one of the organization’s biggest fundraisers, attracting thousands of participants each year.

Whether you’re a long-time supporter of The Gathering Place or learning about the organization for the first time, here are five things you should know:

1. All resources offered by The Gathering Place are free.

A cancer diagnosis often creates a huge financial burden for individuals and families. To help those affected focus on their battle, The Gathering Place offers all programs and services free of charge. The organization supports these efforts with the help of generous donations from the community, The Cleveland Foundation, local businesses and fundraisers like Race for the Place and Warehouse Sales.

2. It’s not just for those who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The Gathering Place recognizes that children, family members and friends of those battling the disease are also in need of support and empowerment during the difficult journey toward recovery or after the loss of a loved one. Learn about the variety of programs and services offered by The Gathering Place.

3. The Gathering Place is easily accessible for both East and West siders.

Locations in Beachwood and Westlake make it convenient for anyone in the Cleveland area to take advantage of programs and services:

TGP East

The Arnold & Sydell Miller Family Campus

23300 Commerce Park

Beachwood, OH 44122

TGP West

800 Sharon Drive

Westlake, OH 44145

4. A full-time professional medical librarian is on staff.

Medical librarian Eileen Coan is on hand to explain pathology reports, locate clinical trials, make sense of alternative treatment options and much more. Eileen splits her time between the organization’s two locations, and is available to meet in person or by phone. She can also be reached with questions by email at coan@touchedbycancer.org. Learn more about the resources available in The Gathering Place libraries.

5. The Gathering Place has its own wig salons.

Hair loss is a difficult aspect of cancer treatment for many women, but medical bills and other expenses take priority over the purchase of a wig when budgets become tight. Any woman experiencing cancer-related hair loss has the opportunity to receive a free synthetic wig at the Regina Brett Wig Salons.