The weather is great! Let’s go outside?

Can I go outside during the Coronavirus Pandemic? Is it a smart idea? As we are instructed by the CDC to isolate ourselves and embrace social distancing, we may start to feel a little restless or stir crazy after staying inside for a long period of time. Spring weather is great, especially in the mornings and evenings, here in Florida. Normally we would be entering a time when people are the most active outdoors. This year we must be a little more creative when deciding what we can do to enjoy daily activities outside of our home.

Family playing outside with bubbles

Family playing outside
Photo Source: UF/IFAS

Children usually need no encouragement to go outside. Youth that spend more time outside have positive outcomes with their health by interacting with their natural environments. They are curious about the world around them and their experiences outside will benefit them in regard to a positive attitude toward their environment. Adults have those same benefits but tend to forget or not have time in everyday life as it gets busy.

Therefore, the question is, what can we do that will keep us at a distance and be educational and productive? If you live in less populated areas, you might plant a garden, build an outside project that you have been putting off, enjoy a picnic, or hike and sight-see through the woods. If in the city and able, go for a walk or jog with your dog, take a bike ride or do some yoga especially if you are missing the gym. Your medical professionals will be glad you are participating in some physical activity and breathing in some fresh air. You might want to get in a lawn chair and just relax and soak up some vitamin D from a few minutes in the sun.

If you have recently become your child’s teacher, you can have learning activities outside. Science and math can be integrated by building a house out of natural resources, allowing students to collect materials and build while fostering creativity. Talk about ecosystems of trees and plants and how they might provide a home for insects or animals. Students could take a piece of paper outside and define what they see in their yard, integrating spelling and vocabulary, or write a short story based on what they hear and observe.

We are living and facing challenges today that we probably have not encountered before, so it is a good time to find an outlet to relieve stress and detour the onset of depression. The web is full of ideas for all ages if you run out of inspiration and some days we do. Remember to keep a safe distance from others, wash your hands frequently and follow your local guidelines but don’t be afraid to try something new that may be out of your ordinary routine. It might turn out to be your favorite hobby.

For more information on healthy living or other extension related topics, contact your local UF IFAS county extension office.
Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS Extension EDIS publications:

Kids in the Woods

Why is Exposure to Nature Important in Early Childhood

COVID-19 Preventative Measures

UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.

National Healthcare Decision Day is April 16th

National Healthcare Decision Day is April 16th

 

National Healthcare Decision Day logo

The goal of National Healthcare Decision Day is to inspire Americans to communicate their end-of-life wishes about healthcare with their families and healthcare providers.

Although making healthcare decisions is often a difficult process, making decisions for others is even more complicated.

According to the 2018 Conversation Project national survey, Americans are becoming more comfortable talking to their loved ones about their end of life wishes. Over half (53%) of Americans say they would feel relieved if a loved one started “the Conversation.”

multi family member photo

Start the family “conversation”
Photo Source: Laurie Osgood

Once you have initiated the conversation, experts recommend creating an advance care directive. Advance care directives are legal documents that are used to secure your decisions about end-of-life care, to avoid confusion and uncertainty later on.  These legal documents can include a living will, health care proxy, health care power of attorney or instruction directive. Having an advance care directive in place will help make sure that your wishes about your health care are fulfilled, even if you are no longer able to communicate your wishes.

Don’t wait for “the right time” to talk with your family, everyone should plan for their future, before a crisis arises.

There are many tools and online resources that can help you and your family begin this important conversation.

To learn more about National Healthcare Decision Day and advance care directives. Visit NHDD.org.  

 

Best Practices to Prevent COVID-19

Best Practices to Prevent COVID-19

doctor speaking with a patient

Speak openly with your doctor about any concerns you may have regarding your health. (Photo source: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS)

We are in the depths of flu season and now the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Although we need to proceed with caution, we also want to avoid causing a panic. Both viruses are very concerning, but with good hand washing skills and a few other daily steps you can do your best to prevent you and your family from becoming sick.

Hand washing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick.  You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

Follow these Five Steps Every Time You Wash Your Hands:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

 Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water

You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.

  • Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations.
  • Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
  • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
  • Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.

How to Properly Use Hand Sanitizer:

  1. Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  2. Rub your hands together.
  3. Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

Caution! Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed. Keep it out of reach of young children and supervise their use.

Conclusion – Other Basic Tips to Prevent Spread of Illness:

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  3. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  4. Stay home when you are sick.
  5. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Be sure to utilize credible sources to find your information.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health are excellent resources.

CDC page Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html

CDC frequently asked questions (FAQs)                                                                                                                      https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf

Florida Department of Health frequently asked questions (FAQ)                                                                                  http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/faq.html

If you have further questions or concerns, please contact your local Department of Health for assistance.

Sources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention – https://www.cdc.gov/

Florida Department of Health – http://www.floridahealth.gov/

 

Team Sports Can Yield Life-long Friendships for Youth and Their Parents

Team Sports Can Yield Life-long Friendships for Youth and Their Parents

Friendships are an important part of life, and friendships can have a tremendous impact on our personal well-being and overall mental and physical health.  Social isolation can lead to depression and loneliness. The relationships that we build with our family and friends can affect the quality of the friendships that we develop over our lifetimes. Some people thrive socially and develop deep, meaningful connections with others, while others only maintain distant friendships. However, it is important for us to help our children learn to develop these important social skills. Researchers have long documented links between the quality of relationships between family members and their relationships with their peers. Participation in team sports can have lasting benefits, including responsible social behaviors, good sportsmanship, strong leadership skills, academic success, and self-confidence.

a group of soccer moms

Parents can form lasting friendships while supporting their kids in youth sports. (Photo source: Laurie Osgood, UF/IFAS Extension)

When It Comes to Youth Sports, Parents Don’t Always Behave Themselves.

As team sports become more competitive, there is increased attention placed on the negative aspects of team sports, mainly parental expectations and behavior. Having spent a large part of my life sitting in the stands watching my children play team sports,  I have developed deep, long-lasting friendships with the parents of my children’s friends. These friendships are often maintained between parents long after our children put away their soccer cleats. Of course, overbearing parents can take the fun out of sports for our children. Many children drop out of team sports because they are no longer having fun and participation becomes too stressful.

What Can Parents Do to Help Their Kids Develop Positive, Warm Friendships?

  • Continue to nurture and support the friendships that you have established throughout your lifetime.
  • Be a good sports parent by showing support to your child.
  • Model good friendship skills. This will help youth understand social competence.
  • Be happy and have fun at your child’s competitions.
  • Minimize pressure & don’t coach your child from the sidelines.
  • Nurture the youth’s ambitions, but don’t let them get too wrapped up in the competitiveness.
  • Be respectful of your child’s teammates, coach, opponents, and the game’s rules and traditions.

It is our job as parents to teach our children social skills to help them grow as individuals, not just athletes. As parents it is our job to nurture their emotional and physical development. Even as adults we must continue to stay connected with our friends and families.  As we grow older, good friendships can prevent loneliness, improve our health, boost our well-being, and even add years to our lives.

Don’t Let the Flu Blow Your Fun Away

Don’t Let the Flu Blow Your Fun Away

vaccination

One of the best ways to help prevent the flu this season is to get vaccinated. Even if you still get the flu, the severity and length of illness may be diminished. (Photo source: UF/IFAS file photo)

The holiday season has passed and now we are well on our way into 2020 with a very severe flu season. You are the best person at making sure you do not get the flu.  Here are a few tips that you should consider as this flu season continues and still has not reached its peak.

  1. GET VACCINATED. It takes, on average, two weeks for the flu vaccine to reach its full potential, so if you have not gotten the flu shot, get it NOW. Even if you still get the flu, it will likely be shortened in time and strength if you are vaccinated.
  2. WASH YOUR HANDS. Washing your hands frequently will help protect you from the flu. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  3. AVOID CLOSE CONTACT WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE SICK. Be sure to avoid direct contact with anyone that is sick.  If you must come in contact with them be sure to wash your hands once you leave. If you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  4. AVOID TOUCHING YOUR FACE. Germs are spread quickly when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.  So make a conscious effort to keep your hands away from your face.
  5. COVER YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE WHEN YOU COUGH AND SNEEZE. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or sneeze/cough into your closed elbow. These steps may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  6. STAY HOME WHEN YOU ARE SICK. If possible, stay home from work and school when you are sick. This is the best way to avoid spreading your germs to other people. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. They also recommend that your fever should be gone for 24 hours (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine) for you to no longer be considered contagious.
  7. PRACTICE GENERAL GOOD HEALTH HABITS. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, and school, especially when someone is sick. Wash backpacks, coats, and other items regularly. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Follow the tips above and maintain the best health practices possible and hopefully you will be one of the lucky people that avoids the dreaded flu this year.  Wishing you all a healthy and happy 2020!

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/prevention.htm