Health – Getting your flu shot: Fight back against influenza!

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Fall evokes memories of cool nights, pumpkin pie and family gatherings. It also signals the beginning of the influenza season in the United States. Influenza vaccines remain our greater defense for this serious and sometimes deadly illness.

Influenza vaccinations are provided annually usually starting in late August to early September. The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months obtain the vaccine each year. The vaccines are regarded as very safe and there are many benefits for obtaining the vaccine. Several forms of the vaccine are available and many different locations.

Influenza vaccines are very safe. Despite popular belief, you can not get influenza from the vaccine. The most common side effect associated with the vaccine is redness, discomfort and swelling at the site of the injection. This reaction is usually mild and lasts only a few days. Major side effects and reactions are very rare. Benefits from the vaccine greatly outweigh the risks. The influenza vaccine helps prevent you from contracting the illness by triggering your immune system to build antibodies as protection from the virus. This process generally takes up to two weeks before you develop full immunity. Some people can still contract influenza despite obtaining the vaccine, however, those who obtained the vaccine generally have a more mild case of the illness and are less likely to be hospitalized due to complications from influenza.

For the 2016-2017 influenza season, several different injectable vaccines are available including a high dose option for those over age 65 and a vaccine for those with severe egg allergies. The CDC does not recommend the use of nasal spray influenza vaccines this year due to concerns over their effectiveness. Vaccinations can be obtained from many sources including your primary care provider and pharmacy. Many community healthy organizations and state health departments also arrange vaccination drives at low or no cost to the community. The CDC also provides a Flu Vaccine Finder on their website to assist in locating the closest provider to your zip code.

Regardless of the vaccine, you chose the important thing is to simply be vaccinated. Vaccinations can protect those closest to you such as young children, elderly individuals and those with chronic medical conditions who are at greatest risk from this potentially deadly disease. Check here to learn other ways to protect you and your family. No matter where you go, or which vaccine you chose, simply chose to be vaccinated and fight back against influenza.

Check The Fireplace Before The Stockings Are Hung

Blog-Check-The-Fireplace-Before-The-Stockings-Are-Hung-picWhen leaves are falling, our thoughts drift towards the fireplace. But before you fire up the gas logs, schedule an annual house call with an HVAC professional. Annual inspections and cleaning will extend the life of your fireplace, minimizing costly repairs due to unseen problems. Here are some things to check before holiday decorating.

  • In order to confirm that all components are working safely, everything from the glass doors to the combustion chamber to the outside vent needs attention.
  • The vent kit may need replacing if there is damage from leaves, dirt or insects.
  • If the pilot light was turned off for the summer, do not attempt to re-light it yourself. Spider webs and cobwebs need to be cleaned out of the pilot tube before lighting by a professional.
  • The fireplace box, burners, and logs need to be thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed.
  • Evaporation of water vapor can erode gaskets, causing rust. This, combined with loose connections, will cause the gas logs to burn inefficiently and possibly dangerously.
  • If the fireplace is unsafe due to loose seals, carbon monoxide can leak into your home. A carbon monoxide alarm will monitor your home for leaks and is highly advised.
  • Gaskets, and nuts and bolts on the glass doors should be checked and cleaned. Between annual maintenance checks, use hearth appliance glass cleaner exclusively. Do not use a window cleaner with ammonia, which can cause toxic fumes when the gas is lit. Failing to clean the glass doors properly will cause the glass in the doors to become permanently cloudy.

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes of a gas fireplace to make it visually appealing, energy-efficient, and safe. For peace of mind this season, make sure your hearth and home are well maintained.

Top 10 Holiday Shopping Safety Tips [Time Sensitive-Holidays]

Blog-Top-10-Holiday-Shopping-Safety-Tips-[Time-Sensitive-Holidays]Holiday Shopping Safety

With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s easy to get too distracted to practice everyday safety measures. But it’s so important to do everything you can to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your belongings safe from harm. Here are our Top 10 Holiday Shopping Safety Tips.

  1. Be wary of strangers approaching you for no apparent reason. Thieves sometimes work in teams — one distracts you while the other steals your purse or packages.
  2. Ensure kids know what to do if they get separated from you, which includes knowing how to identify mall security guards. Never allow kids to visit the restroom alone or to make their own way back to the car.
  3. Have your keys out and ready before going to your car. Always look around the car and into your backseat before getting in. Never put your purse on the hood of the car while you load the car.
  4. Never leave your car running, no matter how short a stop is. Always roll up the car windows, lock the doors, and set your alarm.
  5. Shop with a buddy whenever possible. If you have to shop alone, try to walk close to a group or stay in sight of a large crowd.
  6. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially when walking to and from your car. Avoid texting or overloading yourself with bags so that you will not be distracted.
  7. Take small valuable items in with you at your next stop. Hide larger presents and bags under seats or in the trunk.
  8. The holidays are prime time for pickpockets and purse snatchers. Women should wear a cross-body purse. Men should put their wallets in a front pocket or an inside coat pocket (preferably one that zips or buttons).
  9. Try to shop only in the daytime if possible. If it’s dark, park in areas of the lot that are well-lit. Never park in an isolated area of the lot, whether it’s day or night.
  10. Watch out for distracted shoppers backing out of parking spaces whether you are driving or walking. Same goes for looking out for pedestrians — especially over-excited, darting children — when backing out of a spce or driving around looking for one.

4 Easy DIY Holiday Decorating Ideas

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Decorating your home for the holidays can take a toll on your energy, bank account, and time constraints. Many home owners don’t consider do-it-yourself tasks to be  cost-effective and time-saving solutions, but there are a wide variety of simple, quick, and inexpensive decorating projectsavailable to easily add some holiday cheer to your home.

1. Wreaths

This colorful candy cane wreath is a simple way to satisfy your holiday decor cravings for just pennies on the dollar. To achieve this look arrange 18 full-sized candy canes in a heart pattern and hot-glue a glittery snowflake ornament in the middle where they all intersect, then hang from a thick solid red ribbon.

2. Ornaments

Wooden sled ornaments are so easy, cheap, family-friendly, and infinitely customizable you will want to hang them on your tree from top to bottom. These little pieces of sweet holiday nostalgia are made with popsicle sticks, glue, paint, and twine.

3. Advent Calendars

Daily advent calendars work double-duty as both a charming piece of holiday decor, and a fun activity to count down the days until the happiest day of the year. They don’t have to be elaborate and costly to add character. Consider this little advent house constructed of toilet paper rolls and cardboard. Eco-friendly and whimsical, simply fill with tiny treasures and enjoy.

4. Luminaries

All you need for this 5 minute DIY are glass jars, cranberries, seasonal greenery, and votive candles. You can upcycle old jam or condiment jars, mason jars, or decorative jars for a little extra pizzaz. Put some winter greenery clippings from your yard in the jar with some cranberries, fill with water to submerge them, then pop a votive candle on top. These luminaries will look festive on any holiday tabletop or mantle.