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Health & Wellness

Fire safety alliance: leave fireworks to professionals

in Health & Wellness by
Art Fireworks

MOUNT PROSPECT, ILL.—As Independence Day celebrations near, the nonprofit Illinois Fire Safety Alliance (IFSA) warns Illinois residents of the dangers of fireworks and sparklers and advises them to leave fireworks to the professionals.

Consumer fireworks are illegal in Illinois, but each year tens of thousands of residents are found testing the law, sometimes leading to severe burns and injuries and costly fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association:
• In 2013, 11,400 fireworks-related injuries were treated in emergency rooms in the United States, an increase of 31 percent from 2012.
• Forty percent of those injuries occurred to children under the age of 15.
• In 2011, fireworks caused an estimated 17,800 reported fires, including 1,200 structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires
• On Independence Day in a typical year, fireworks account for two out of five of all reported fires, more than any other cause of fire.
• The risk of fire death relative to hours of usage is higher for fireworks than for cigarettes, making fireworks the riskiest consumer product

Although sparklers are legal for consumer use in Illinois, they too should be a major cause for concern because they burn at up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Each year, they cause burn injuries to more than 3,500 children and adults in the U.S.

“Sparklers are often viewed by the public as a ‘safe’ alternative to fireworks, so many adults place sparklers in the hands of children and are unaware of the dangers. The heat is enough to melt glass or even aluminum and easily causes third-degree burns to humans,” said IFSA Executive Director Philip Zaleski. “Independence Day should be a cause for celebration, but it should be celebrated in a safe manner that does not put people’s health and lives at risk. If you want to see fireworks, go to a public show that is operated by professionals.”

To read more about the dangers of fireworks and sparklers, visit www.IFSA.org/education-prevention/fireworks.

Fireworks pose safety hazard

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

SPRINGFIELD—With the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, the Office of the State Fire Marshal reminds Illinois residents to leave fireworks to the experts. Many injuries and fires occur each year from these devices and therefore should be used only by trained professionals.

Fireworks pose a danger to users and bystanders of all ages. As the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) explains, fireworks were responsible for an estimated 11,400 injuries and eight deaths in 2013. Injuries typically result from the user playing with lit fireworks or igniting fireworks while holding the device. Injuries can also be sustained from device malfunctions, such as errant flight paths, devices that tip over and blowouts.

Those at the greatest risk of injury are young children under the age of 9. Children often come in contact with devices that are perceived to be less powerful, such as sparklers and bottle rockets. However, all fireworks have the potential for causing damage and injury. Sparklers, for instance, burn at temperatures of above 1,200 degrees—temperatures hot enough to melt glass.

Fireworks are also responsible for extensive property damage every year due to inexperienced handlers and a lack of safety precautions. They are volatile devices that are hard to predict before, during and after use. Illegal and homemade fireworks meet no safety standards and extreme caution should be taken if these items are found.

Under the Illinois Fireworks Act (425ILCS 35/1), it is illegal to possess, purchase or use consumer fireworks without a consumer display permit obtained from local authorities. Help prevent accidents for you and your family by avoiding explosives and leaving fireworks to trained professionals.

For more information about fireworks safety, visit www.sfm.illinois.gov.

NWS, emergency management seek to save lives

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

SPRINGFIELD—Recent thunderstorms have produced spectacular lightning shows, but the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the National Weather Service (NWS) and local emergency management agencies urge people to stay safe by heading indoors during storms as part of Lightning Safety Awareness Week this week.

“There’s no safe place outdoors when lightning is in the area,” IEMA Director James K. Joseph said. “If you’re close enough to hear thunder, you’re close enough to be struck by lightning. That first clap of thunder is your cue to get into a substantial building or hard-topped vehicle.”

Joseph said remembering the phrase, “When thunder roars, go indoors,” can help you stay safe this summer while you’re enjoying outdoor activities. The phrase is intended to remind people that hearing thunder means you’re close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Once inside a structure or hard-topped vehicle, stay there until 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.

According to the NWS, there were no lightning-related fatalities in Illinois in 2014. Nationwide, 26 people were killed by lightning. Most of those fatalities occurred outdoors, including people in open areas, under trees, working, in water or participating in other outdoor activities.

“While lightning fatalities have decreased significantly nationwide over the past two decades, far too many people still take unnecessary risks when thunderstorms are in the area,” said Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS in Lincoln. “Every year, hundreds of people survive lightning strikes. However, many of these people are forced to cope with life-long neurological problems from their injuries.

While less than 10 percent of people who are struck by lightning are killed, many lightning strike survivors suffer various degrees of disability. Only a few lightning strike victims actually suffer burns, and these are usually minor. However, many lightning strike survivors are left with debilitating life-long effects, including memory loss, personality changes, fatigue, irreparable nerve damage, chronic pain and/or headaches, difficulty sleeping and dizziness.

IEMA and the NWS offer the following tips for staying safe when thunderstorms approach.

Outdoor lightning safety tips
• No place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area
• If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you
• When you hear thunder, immediately move to a safe shelter
• Safe shelter is a substantial building or inside an enclosed, hard-topped vehicle
• Stay in the safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder

If there is no safe shelter
anywhere nearby
• Seek lower elevation areas
• Never use a tree for shelter
• Immediately get out and away from pools, lakes and other bodies of water
• Stay away from all metallic objects (fences, power lines, poles, etc.)
• Do not raise umbrellas or golf clubs above you.

People shouldn’t hesitate to help someone who has been struck by lightning since victims do not carry an electrical charge. The surge of electricity through a lightning victim’s body causes cardiac arrest in most fatalities, so immediate medical attention is critical. If the victim doesn’t have a pulse and isn’t breathing, CPR should be administered immediately.

For additional tips on lightning safety, visit the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov or contact IEMA at (217) 785-9925.

Hearts for Sasha fundraiser nets over $11,000

in Health & Wellness/Regional/Sugar Grove by

Photo: Robert Rediger, grandfather of Sasha Bamforth, cooks sausages during Hearts for Sasha, a fundraiser for Bamforth, who was diagnosed with stage 4 Myopeithelioma. To learn more or how to donate, visit Facebook.com/hereforsasha. Photo submitted by Kristie White to DBehrends@elburnherald.com

SUGAR GROVE—Sunday’s snow blizzard wasn’t enough to derail a pancake breakfast fundraiser that raised more than $11,000.

The breakfast, dubbed Hearts for Sasha, was served at the Sugar Grove Community Center to benefit Aurora resident Sasha Bamforth. The 37-year-old, who grew up in Oswego, Ill., is battling stage 4 myoepithelial carcinoma, a soft-tissue cancer that started in her leg and has metastasized into her lungs.

“I had a lump in my leg, numbness and a little pain, and I was misdiagnosed four times,” Bamforth said. “Only after our persistence that a biopsy was done was I properly diagnosed.”

Want to donate?
After a motorcycle accident in 2014, doctors saw a shadow on Bamforth’s lung. That’s when she and her family pressed this issue.

Sasha said hers is roughly the 50th documented case of this type of cancer in the United States, and that lung cancer typically is associated with smoking. She said she has never smoked.

“I was amazed to see all the decorations; the baskets they made up. So many places donated so much; I just couldn't believe it. It's pretty amazing to see how much people care.” — Sasha Bamforth, Aurora resident
“I was amazed to see all the decorations; the baskets they made up. So many places donated so much; I just couldn’t believe it. It’s pretty amazing to see how much people care.”
— Sasha Bamforth, Aurora resident
Doctors told her she is not a good candidate for chemotherapy; they say there is no record indicating it would be beneficial. So Bamforth’s husband, Brett, has done extensive research of holistic treatments.

“Mostly it entails my diet, which is pretty much raw vegan, natural supplements to boost my immune system, and exercise to stay healthy in hopes my body can fight off the cancer as long as possible,” Sasha said. “I’m doing pretty good so far. The doctors gave me six months to live, and I’m going into my fourth month and feeling pretty good.”

Because of all he’s done, Sasha credits her husband with being her biggest advocate. However, even holistic treatments come with a price tag.

“We’re fighting for her,” said Sasha’s aunt, Tammy Kling. “This is the only thing we can do. If you have the pressure of money taken off your shoulders, you can concentrate on your health.”

Kling said Sunday’s snow blizzard brought worries—would people attend the breakfast, and would they be safe traveling?

“Everybody made it there and home safely, and it turned out wonderfully,” Kling said. “I was out-of-my-mind happy.”

Kling said businesses were generous in providing donations for raffles.

“I went to pick up a certificate for a massage from a woman in Batavia who didn’t even know Sasha,” Kling said. “But Sasha and her husband are bikers, and the woman said, ‘When one of our buddies needs help, we’re there.’ I was in tears.”

Kling said about 150 people enjoyed the pancake breakfast at $5 per person. The rest of the proceeds came from raffle ticket sales and donations. Kling’s daughter, Kristie White, said a Go Fund Me account is open to accept donations, as well. The account can be found at www.gofundme.com/kjdjw0.

Sasha attended the breakfast with the help of her husband.

“He plows snow,” Kling said. “So he went home from plowing to bring Sasha to the breakfast. He ate and went back out to plow some more before coming back to pick her up.”

“I was able to stay for the whole thing,” Sasha said. “My family put so much work into it. I was amazed to see all the decorations; the baskets they made up. So many places donated so much; I just couldn’t believe it.

“It’s pretty amazing to see how much people care.”

Self-defense class at Kaneland High School

in Health & Wellness/Kaneland by

KANELAND—A self-defense class for females ages 12 and older will take place Saturdays, Jan. 10, Jan. 17 and Jan. 24, noon to 4 p.m. at Kaneland High School.

The class will teach participants how to protect themselves, and also offer invaluable safety information.

The cost of the class is $10 per person. For more information, call instructor Junelle Bennet at (815) 753-1212. To sign up for the class, contact Judy Fabrizius at (630) 365-5100, ext. 340.

Cold weather, extended electric use increase utility bills

in Health & Wellness by

ILLINOIS—January brings some of the coldest weather of the winter season. The last couple of months leading into spring can cause home utility and electric bills to skyrocket. Mr. Electric has reasons why home electrical bills increase over winter.

Significant swings in temperature
Drastic temperature swings, like a polar vortex, make furnaces run longer using more electricity. During extreme drops in temperature, systems work much harder to attain the set temperature. If the outside temperature is extremely cold, the desired temperature may never be reached.

Heavy appliances
In general, appliances see more use in the wintertime. An increase in oven use for baking leads to higher utility bills. In addition to heavy kitchen appliances, homeowners running hot tubs can expect an increase in the utility bill. Hot tubs draw more electricity in winter because they have to run more frequently to maintain their desired temperature.

End of daylight savings time
One thing that affects the electric bill during the winter months is the end of day light savings. Because the clocks get moved back, it gets darker outside earlier in the day. Because it can be dark so early, homeowners tend to use more electricity due to having lights on for longer periods of time.
Space heaters and electric blankets

With a drop in temperature, especially if it is a polar vortex, heating systems may have a hard time reaching the desired home temperature, so homeowners use space heaters and electric blankets to compensate for the cold weather. Using these additional heat sources increases the amount of electricity consumed, raising the electric bill.

By recognizing what causes an increase in wintertime utility bills, homeowners will be able to adjust how they consume electricity in the home during these cold days. To learn more about reducing the utility bill in winter, visit mrelectric.com.

Year 2014 fourth-coldest on record in Illinois

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

CHAMPAIGN, ILL.—The statewide average temperature for 2014 was 49.4 degrees F, which is 2.9 degrees below average. The year was tied with 1912 and 1979 for fourth place, according to Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel, Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois.

The coldest year on record since 1895 was 1917 with an average of 48.3 degrees F.

“Although 2014 was a cold year for Illinois, the effect was largely confined to the Midwest and was not global, and it does not reflect the long-term temperature trend in Illinois,” Angel said.

In December, the statewide average temperature in Illinois was 33.4 degrees, 3.5 degrees above average and the 29th warmest December on record. This follows a very cold November that was 8.2 degrees below average.

Snowfall was especially light in December and was absent in much of the state. The only snow of significance was in western Illinois, where 1 to 2 inches fell. This is in stark contrast to December 2013, when many parts of the state received 10 to 15 inches of snow.

The statewide average precipitation for December was 1.9 inches, 0.8 inches below average. The heaviest precipitation (rainfall plus the water content of snow) was in southern Illinois, which is typical for December. Precipitation amounts there were 3 to 5 inches. Much of the rest of the state north of Interstate 70 received 1 to 3 inches of precipitation during the month.

Stay safe during bitterly cold temperatures, dangerous snow conditions

in Health & Wellness by

CHICAGO—Dangerously low temperatures and accumulating snow are in the forecast for much of the Midwest, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants individuals and families to be safe when faced with the hazards of cold temperatures and winter weather.

“Subfreezing temperatures and wind chills can be dangerous and even life-threatening for people who don’t take the proper precautions,” said Andrew Velasquez III, FEMA Regional Administrator. “It is important for everyone to monitor their local weather reports and take steps now to stay safe, whether traveling or at home, during times of extreme cold temperatures.”

During cold weather, you should take the following precautions:
• Stay indoors as much as possible and limit your exposure to the cold.
• Dress in layers and keep dry.
• Check on family, friends and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance.
• Know the symptoms of cold-related health issues such as frostbite and hypothermia, and seek medical attention if health conditions are severe.
• Bring your pets indoors or ensure they have a warm shelter area with unfrozen water.
• Make sure your vehicle has an emergency kit that includes an ice scraper, blanket and flashlight, and keep the fuel tank above half full.
• If you are told to stay off the roads, stay home; if you must drive, don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule and stay on main roads.

You can find more information and tips on being ready for winter weather and extreme cold temperatures www.ready.gov/winter-weather.

Remember pet safety this winter

in Health & Wellness by

As the temperatures begin to drop, many pet owners worry about their pets spending time outdoors. Here are some tips for keeping the four-legged members of your family warm and safe during the winter months.

For smaller pets, keeping them inside as much as possible during the colder weather can be the most beneficial. If your pet is primarily an indoor pet, this shouldn’t be much of a change. Nonetheless, short exposure to the outside cold can be fine and is usually not detrimental to the pet’s health.

“Dogs and cats shiver a lot like people. This action is used to help generate body heat in cold climates,” said Dr. Alison Diesel, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “If your pet shivers while outside, shorten the length of your trips together to help reduce this trembling. Providing extra bedding like blankets and towels will also keep your pets warm and cozy.”

Signs that your pet is uncomfortably cold may include excessive whining, shivering, appearing anxious, slowing down or stopping, and looking for a warm place to burrow. If they begin to exhibit any of these behaviors, you should bring them inside (if outside), or wrap them in a blanket in a warm room.

For larger pets that cannot come inside, making sure they have an adequate outdoor shelter is important for their comfort and safety. Shelters such as doghouses and stables can be very helpful during cold winds, and should have extra bedding (such as blankets, towels, hay, etc.) for added for additional warmth.

“An important thing to remember for outdoor pets is to make sure they always have a fresh supply of water,” Diesel said. “If it gets cold enough to freeze, this water source should be checked regularly to make sure the water doesn’t freeze over. Moving water sources like fountains are less likely to do this.”

You should also be extra cautious with your senior, arthritic or frail pet during the winter. Cold weather can be especially difficult for senior pets and those with degenerative joint disease or another chronic, debilitating condition. Make sure that this pet has soft, warm bedding that they can rest in, and since arthritis worsens during cold and damp weather, take special care to handle them gently.

Finally, cats that are left outdoors during a cold night may seek warmth by crawling up under the hoods of cars or into the wheel wells. Starting or moving the vehicle can hurt or even kill a cat taking shelter inside you car. During the winter months, it’s a good idea to bang loudly on your car hood before starting the engine as a warning to a cat that might be in or around your vehicle.

Just like people, some pets do better with colder temperatures than others. It is important to take into consideration your pet’s size, as well as age and health condition, when preparing for the winter months ahead.

Tips to prepare now for severe winter weather ahead

in Health & Wellness/Sugar Grove by

CHICAGO—Cold temperatures, heavy snow, and treacherous ice storms are all risks of the impending winter season.

“Severe winter weather can be dangerous and even life-threatening for people who don’t take the proper precautions,” said FEMA Region V acting administrator Janet Odeshoo. “Preparedness begins with knowing your risks, making a communications plan with your family and having an emergency supply kit with essentials such as water, food, flashlights and medications.”

Once you’ve taken these steps, consider going beyond the basics of disaster preparedness with the following tips to stay safe this cold season.

Before winter approaches, add the following items to your supply kit:
Winterize your winter supply kit
• Rock salt or other environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways
• Sand to improve traction
• Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment
• Sufficient heating fuel and/or a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove
• Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.

Stay fire safe
Keep flammable items at least 3 feet from heat sources like radiators, space heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves. Plug only one heat-producing appliance (such as a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.

Ensure you have a working smoke alarm on every level of your home. Check it on a monthly basis. Keep warm, even when it’s cold outside:
If you have a furnace, have it inspected now to ensure it’s in good working condition.

If your home heating requires propane gas, stock up on your propane supply and ensure you have enough to last an entire winter. Many homeowners faced shortages due to the record freezing winter weather last year, and this season there’s the possibility of lower than normal temperatures again. Don’t be caught unprepared.

Avoid the dangers of carbon monoxide by installing battery-powered or battery back-up carbon monoxide detectors.

Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.

Prevent frozen pipes
If your pipes are vulnerable to freezing, i.e., they run through an unheated or unprotected space, consider keeping your faucet at a slow drip when extremely cold temperatures are predicted.

If you’re planning a trip this winter, avoid setting your heat too low. If temperatures dip dangerously low while you’re away, that could cause pipes to freeze. Consider draining your home’s water system before leaving as another way to avoid frozen pipes.

You can always find valuable information to help you prepare for winter emergencies at www.ready.gov/winter-weather. Bookmark FEMA’s mobile site, http://m.fema.gov, or download the FEMA app today to have vital information just one click away.

Let’s talk turkey Balancing family traditions and food safety

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

ST. CHARLES—As the holidays approach, special family meals take center stage, and with them come many family traditions of how to prepare and present those meals. However, some customs may contradict today’s food safety recommendations.

“Our food system, and what we know about food safety, has changed drastically in the last few decades, and that can contradict some more traditional methods of cooking the holiday feast,” said Laura Barr, Nutrition and Wellness educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties. “We hear much debate this time of year about how to thaw, prep and stuff a turkey. Too often, misconceptions of recommended practices can lead to people getting sick.”

The truth about thawing
Thawing a turkey is done in many ways, but not all methods are safe. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirms that a package of frozen meat or poultry left thawing on the counter for more than two hours is not ever at a safe temperature.

“There is no bacterial growth in a frozen turkey, and the danger zone for food is between 41 degrees F to 135 degrees F,” Barr said. “A product starts thawing from the outer layer first at room temperature. Therefore, the outer layer is in the danger zone for an unacceptable amount of time. It is unsafe to thaw any meat at room temperature, especially a large bird.”

Barr said there are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave oven.

The USDA advises to allow approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds in a refrigerator set at 40 degrees F or below, and a fully thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator one to two days before cooking it. Be careful to contain juices from the thawing turkey so as not to cross-contaminate other foods and surfaces.

“It may seem simple, but this will take some planning,” Barr said. “For example, it will take at least three days for a 15-pound turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. Be sure to accurately schedule when to take out a frozen bird based on the cooking day.”

If thawing in cold tap water, water must be changed every 30 minutes until the product is completely thawed. Additionally, the product needs to be packaged in a waterproof container to prevent cross-contamination and an undesirable texture change in the meat, Barr said.

“The same 15-pound turkey would thaw in seven hours in cold water, versus three to four days in a refrigerator,” she said. “But the cold water method is more labor intensive, and you must always cook a cold-water-thawed turkey immediately.”

When using a microwave, the USDA advises to “follow microwave oven manufacturer’s instructions for defrosting a turkey.” It also recommends cooking the thawed product immediately because some areas of the food may be warm and susceptible to bacteria growth.

“However you choose to thaw, consider it a critical control point to ensure safety, taste and texture of your holiday meal,” Barr said.

The proper prep
In the past, families would start preparing their holiday birds much earlier in the food process. The bird was butchered, plucked, washed and cooked in the home, Barr said.

“Some consumers today wash poultry because the practice has been passed down through the generations,” she said. “However, running water in and over a turkey, or other poultry, is a waste of time, as it is cleaned in the packaging process.

“In fact, washing the bird at home actually increases the potential for food-borne illness, as it spreads salmonella and other pathogens in the sink and around the food preparation area. By cooking poultry thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, and maintaining that temperature for 15 seconds, you will destroy any bacteria.”

Stuffing safety
There still remains the controversy about cooking holiday birds with or without stuffing.

“In support of optimal safety and consistent doneness, cooking the stuffing separately is the recommendation,” Barr said. “Following tradition, some cook the stuffing and turkey together. However, the turkey will reach doneness before the stuffing inside the bird. In this case, a probe food thermometer is essential to ensure stuffing has reached the proper internal temperature.”

If it has not maintained that internal temperature of 165 degrees F for 15 seconds, Barr said to keep cooking the turkey together with the stuffing until it does. Otherwise, the undercooked stuffing may likely contaminate the cooked meat, she said.

Critical cooling
It also is critical to refrigerate Time and Temperature Control foods (TCS) quickly after serving the meal. This includes meats, stuffing, casseroles, cooked grains and vegetables and sliced fruit. The fastest bacterial growth occurs between 70 degrees F and 125 degrees F, which is close to room temperature, Barr said.

“So, if a TCS food sits out for two hours, it is best to toss it,” she explained. “As the saying goes, ‘When in doubt, throw it out.’ As bacteria multiply, so does the risk of food-borne illness. The less time TCS foods are in the danger zone, the safer the food for consumption.

“A good rule of thumb is to monitor time and temperature carefully to ensure food safety with each and every step.”

For more information on the University of Illinois Extension programs in your county, visit web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk/. University of Illinois Extension provides educational programs and research-based information to help Illinois residents improve their quality of life, develop skills and solve problems.

Caregivers support group at Community Congregational Church

in Faith/Health & Wellness by

ELBURN—Are you or someone you know caring for a family member or friend who can no longer take care of themselves—perhaps someone with physical or mental impairment?

While such caregiving is a labor of love, it can result in enormous physical, emotional and financial impact. Caregivers can find themselves feeling alone and not knowing where to turn for support.

A caregiver support group meets at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month at Community Congregational Church, 100 E. Shannon St., Elburn, to provide emotional, educational and social support for caregivers. The group will be led by staff from Rachel’s Place, which is part of Fox Valley Older Adult Services, a licensed adult day care service provider.

There is no fee to attend the group, but registration is requested. For more information or to register, call Andrea McNeal at (708) 363-5425 or Pastor Ben at (630) 360-0040.

Program employs horses to treat PTSD

in Health & Wellness/Maple Park by

Photo: Veteran Jack Erwin of St. Charles says hello to Honey Nut Cheerio during a program on Boots and Hooves, soon to be known as Hope and Promise. The program employs equine-assisted psychotherapy to treat veterans with PTSD and other mental-health issues relating to their military service. Photo by Debbie Behrends

MAPLE PARK—Jack Erwin compares the equine-assisted psychotherapy program, Boots and Hooves, to some aspects of military life.

The St. Charles Army veteran participated in the first session of the program in March, and returns to volunteer when his teaching schedule allows.

Hosted by Promise Equestrian Center in Maple Park, the program is the first in the area to assist veterans—and caregivers—dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental-health issues related to their military service. Volunteer Sue Koestler, with the help of Kelly McCaughey and her horse Honey Nut Cheerio, demonstrated a relay exercise at Tuesday’s community spaghetti dinner, sponsored monthly by the Elburn Lions Club.

“There’s not a lot of riding,” Erwin said of the program. “There are team-building exercises, discussions and group therapy sessions.”

The groups are small—no more than 10 people during each session—which Erwin said helps to create a feeling of closeness and camaraderie.

“You can connect with the other people there because they’ve faced similar experiences in the military,” he said. “I made friends in the program that I am still in contact with.”

Koestler said many of the people who participate in the program have never been around horses.

“Overcoming the initial fear of being around the big animals is a lot like the fears one faces in the military,” she said.

The five-day program is offered to veterans free of charge. Elburn Lion Chris Halsey said he invited the volunteers to talk about the program to get the word out.

Koestler stressed that the program is confidential and does not affect veteran benefits. All meals are provided, and anyone traveling from a distance is provided with lodging for the week.

Everyone involved in providing the program, from the horse owners to the cooks to the therapist, is a volunteer. Koestler said participants are expected to work at the riding center each day they are there as a way to take ownership of the program. That work might include mucking stalls or mending fences.

Modeled on the equine assisted psychotherapy philosophies developed by Greg Kersten, the program is one of hundreds worldwide that honors and integrates natural horse and herd behavior for the treatment of stress and PTSD.

To learn more about participating or becoming a volunteer, find Boots and Hooves on Facebook. Koestler said the name of the program is changing to Hope and Promise, and she hopes the website, www.hopeandpromise.org, will be online soon.

Hope and Promise Board members anticipate holding its next five-day program in April 2015. For more information, contact Sue Koestler at (815) 587-4952 or Gary Kempiak at (815) 764-5081.

Bird tests positive for West Nile

in Health & Wellness by

KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department recently found a bird in Batavia that tested positive for West Nile Virus. This is the second bird found in Kane County that has tested positive. The first one was found in Campton Township in June.

The Health Department monitors for WNV activity in this area. You can visit www.kanehealth.com/wnv_surveillance.htm to view a map of the Health Department’s trap locations throughout the county. Also, as part of its West Nile program, the Health Department is collecting dead birds to be sent to the state lab for testing. Call (630) 444-3040 to report the presence of freshly dead birds (such as crows or blue jays) to determine if WNV testing is recommended. The birds must not show any signs of decay, trauma, maggot or insect activity.

You can view more detailed monitoring results from previous years by visiting www.kanehealth.com/west_nile.htm.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Only about two persons out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis, meningitis and death are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Precautions include the following:
• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn; use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present
• When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions; consult a physician before using repellents on infants
• Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens; repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night
• Change water in birdbaths weekly. Properly maintain wading pools and stock ornamental ponds with fish; cover rain barrels with 16-mesh wire screen; in communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Kane County Health Department’s website, www.kanehealth.com/west_nile.htm. You can also visit the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) website, www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/wnv.htm. People also can call the IDPH West Nile Virus Hotline at (866) 369-9710, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Dental visits a good habit to start

in Health & Wellness/Local News/Regional by

NAPERVILLE, Ill.—While two-thirds of Illinoisans visit the dentist at least once a year, nearly half of them have gone three years or more without seeing the dentist.

“According to the Delta Dental of Illinois Oral Health and Well-Being Survey, most Illinoisans visit the dentist at least once a year, and those who do are more likely to report their oral health as good or better versus those who are in a dentist’s chair less frequently,” said Dr. Katina Spadoni, dental director for Delta Dental of Illinois. “Still, a lot of people take a break from routine dentist visits at some point in their lives.”

More than half of Illinoisans say they have felt fear or reluctance regarding a dental visit. Most said they had a bad past experience or were afraid to find out what care they needed. Younger Illinoisans ages 18 to 44 have felt more apprehension than those 45 years and older.

“Regular dental visits are part of important preventive care,” Spadoni said. “It’s good to stay in—or get back into—the habit of visiting a dentist. Your dentist can help you determine how often you need to visit, and preventive care is key to help avoid more comprehensive and costly treatment.”

For people with existing oral health problems, such as gum disease, or medical problems like diabetes or dry mouth, one dental visit a year may not be enough, according to Spadoni. For those at higher risk of developing oral problems, three or four visits a year may be best.

“On the other hand, if you have low risks, you will not need the same level of preventive treatments or exams,” Spaldoni said.

One way to stay in the habit is to find a regular dentist. One in five Illinoisans do not have a regular dentist, while nearly half say they’ve beenusing the same dentist for three years or more.

It’s more refreshing than a relief

Despite the fear and reluctance many Illinoisans feel in going to the dentist, most say they feel refreshed after doing so.

“More often than not, you feel good walking out of a dentist’s office,” Spadoni said.

For more information about how you can improve your oral health, visit deltadentalilblog.com.

Every arm is needed this summer

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

AURORA—Heartland Blood Centers, an independent medical organization serving 57 hospitals in a 12-county region in Illinois and Indiana, asks all healthy individuals to “roll up their sleeves” and give blood in August. The need for blood is constant, especially in the summer months, when eligible donors have even less time in their busy schedules to give. If you have not yet made your summertime blood donation, you are urged to do so this month.

“Summertime is historically the time of year when blood centers across the country struggle with their blood inventory levels. We are no exception,” said Dennis Mestrich, CEO and president with Heartland Blood Centers. “Holidays, vacations, weddings, and other celebrations keep many regular donors from giving blood in the summer months. This compounds our challenge to collect the blood needed to maintain safe and adequate blood inventories.”

In the United States alone, someone needs blood every two seconds. This could be a family member, friend, neighbor, co-worker or person you may never know. They all have one thing in common—the need for a lifesaving blood donation. Each and every day there are patients who depend on the transfusions of red blood cells, platelets and plasma to stay alive—including those with cancer, leukemia, and victims of accidents and other traumas. Blood and blood products cannot be manufactured. They can only come from volunteer blood donors who take an hour to attend a blood drive or visit a donor center.

“We not only need our loyal blood donors to continue to donate in the summer, but we need new blood donors every day to help replace those donors who are no longer eligible to donate,” Mestrich said. “We ask that all healthy community members visit a mobile blood drive or center location this summer to share their good health with others by donating blood. If you are unable to donate blood, please consider sponsoring a blood drive with us. We provide all the tools you will need to host a successful event.”

As a “thank-you” gift, blood donors will receive a $5 Subway gift card when they donate at any Heartland Blood Centers mobile or center location in August. Some blood drive or center locations may have an alternative “thank-you” gift to give.

For a list of convenient donation locations, visit www.heartlandbc.org for a Heartland center or community blood drive near you.

Blood donors receive free mini-medical exams on site including information about their temperature, pulse rate, blood pressure and hemoglobin level.

To be a blood donor, individuals must be at least 17 years old, or 16 with written parental permission; weigh at least 110 pounds; be symptom free of cold, flu and allergies; and be in general good health. Donors who have traveled outside the United States within the past 12 months should contact Heartland at 1-800-7TO-GIVE to determine eligibility.

Chiropractic office hosts ADHD natural remedies workshop

in Health & Wellness by

ELBURN—Vital Wellness Center will host a free workshop on ADHD entitled “Focus!” on Wednesday, July 30, at 6:15 p.m. The workshop will delve into natural ways to help eliminate the symptoms of ADHD, as well as the truth behind ADHD medications.

There are millions of people who have been diagnosed with ADHD, and that number continues to rise each year. With this continual increase of diagnosed cases, more people than ever before are prescribed medication to treat the symptoms. There is hot debate as to whether or not these methods are safe and effective, and symptoms return as soon as medication ceases.

The natural remedies discussed in this workshop aim to treat the cause of the problems at their core and actually prevent ADHD symptoms from arising. Even those who do not have ADHD can see improvements in their mental clarity and overall health with these solutions, which have absolutely no side effects.

“After bringing my son for regular chiropractic care and following the advice my chiropractor gave, my son’s ADHD symptoms have improved immensely,” said Jane Halloway, a regular chiropractic patient.“ His grades have improved, and he’s in a much better mood day-to-day.”

The workshop will be hosted by Dr. David Foss. Dr. Foss has been helping local children with ADHD for over 12 years.

The workshop can benefit both those who have ADHD, as well as those who are the parent of a child who does. For more information about the free event, and to register, visit www.VitalWellnessCenter.net/Focus.

HorsePower seeks hands-on volunteers

in Health & Wellness/Maple Park by

MAPLE PARK—Looking for something fun and meaningful to do this summer? HorsePower Therapeutic Riding, located at Fox Chase Farm in Maple Park, is seeking responsible and dedicated volunteers 14 years of age or older for its growing program.

The organization teaches creative and challenging horseback riding lessons to children and adults with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities. Approximately one-third of its riders receive scholarship support; therefore, to keep costs down, hands-on program volunteers are needed for grooming, tacking, training, leading and side-walking assignments, which support HorsePower’s lesson program.

Applicants must have at least two years of horse experience and pass a horse-handling skills assessment. Shifts are available on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Daytime hours are especially needed. Support volunteers are also needed for marketing, cleaning, fundraising, childcare and office tasks—no horse experience necessary.

All volunteers must have their own health insurance and consent to a background check.

An orientation will take place Tuesday, June 17, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Attendance at orientation is mandatory for all who wish to volunteer. Come dressed to participate in hands-on skills activities with horses. If it is hot, shorts are fine, but boots are a must.

All orientation attendees must submit a written application and participate in a brief phone interview prior to attending the orientation. To receive a volunteer application, contact Carrie Capes at info@HorsePower.com or call (815) 508-0804.

For more information on HorsePower’s therapeutic riding program, visit www.horsepowertr.com.

Elburn Blood drive June 26

in Elburn/Health & Wellness by

ELBURN—A blood drive will take place from 2 to 6:30 p.m.
on Thursday, June 26, at the Elburn American Legion Hall.

Call Kay Swift at (630) 365-6088 to set up an appointment. Walk-ins are welcome.
A photo ID is required.

Rivals come together in Cougar-land

in Baseball/Health & Wellness/Kaneland/Regional by

Photo: KHS softball coach Brian Willis, who is battling colon cancer, will be honored at Monday’s Pack the Park event at Fifth Third Bank Park in Geneva. Photo by Patti Wilk

Kaneland-Batavia clash to benefit great causes
KANELAND—Area baseball teams aren’t only mindful of the postseason task ahead. They’re also willing and able to help out their fellow man.

“This annual tradition has given us an avenue to do something bigger than baseball and has allowed each of the programs involved to give back to the community,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said.

On Monday, May 19, at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva, home of the Midwest League’s Kane County Cougars, Kaneland and Batavia will do battle for a Senior Night game that will benefit three honorees.

The honorees are Harter Middle School student Drew Hahn, son of Geneva baseball coach Matt Hahn, and dealing with Anaplastic Large-Cell non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma; Phil Kassinger, father of Knight baseball player Kevin Kassinger, who is battling Stage 4 lung cancer; and KHS softball coach Brian Willis, battling colon cancer.

“This year, we’ve found multiple needs in our community, and it is unfortunate that we can’t reach all the families that have been touched by this dreaded disease,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said.

Willis, who is scheduled for his last chemotherapy treatment the day of the game, is thankful of the proceedings.

“Thankfully I am almost done and hope I am cleared of any cancer cells left in my body,” Willis said. “Every day a new struggle starts or continues and that is who we fight for.”

Admission is $5 for adults and students, with kids under 6 able to be admitted for free. All proceeds collected will be donated to the honorees and their families.

The game is also slated to be broadcast on BATV, highschoolcube.com and the radio. Shirts will be available for purchase and multiple silent auctions will be going toward the benefit of the families, as well.

“This will be a very special night for the seniors, their parents, both baseball programs, and the people that we will be honoring,” Aversa said.

First pitch for the sophomore game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m., while the varsity is slated to begin at 7 p.m. under the lights.

Visit khs.kaneland.org/content/pack-park for more details.

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