Archive for May, 2014

No one really wants to think about food poisoning when they’re enjoying the outdoors and grilling food. But food safety is just as important to keep in mind whether you’re in the kitchen, at your backyard barbecue or grilling food at the company picnic.

The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service offers great guidance in “Grilling Food Safety 101″ online at http://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/grillingsafety.html. And, Ohio State University Extension offers more tips in a new video online at http://go.osu.edu/grillsafe.

It is especially important to make sure meat is cooked thoroughly when grilling out. People used to think that if meat looks pink, it isn’t done, and if it looks brown, it’s fine to eat. But food safety researchers have found that that’s false. Meat can be pink and be cooked thoroughly; it can be brown and not cooked enough. The only way to tell is by using a meat thermometer.

Be sure to insert the thermometer so it gets to the thickest part of the meat, but doesn’t touch any bone, which can distort the temperature reading. For burgers, insert the thermometer sideways and be sure it’s testing the center portion of the patty.

Safe temperatures include:

  • Hot dogs: 165 degrees F or until steaming hot.
  • Poultry, including ground poultry: 165 degrees F.outdoor grilling
  • Ground beef and other ground meat (not poultry): 160 degrees F.
  • Whole cuts of pork, lamb, veal and beef, including steaks and chops: 145 degrees F (followed by a three-minute rest time).
  • Fish: 145 degrees F.

Other things to bear in mind:

  • Don’t take cooked food from the grill and put it on the same plate that held the raw food. After you place the food on the grill, either thoroughly wash the plate and the utensils you used to handle the raw food, or use a fresh plate and set of utensils for the cooked food. There’s just too great of a possibility that bacteria from the raw food — which is killed by thorough cooking — will recontaminate the food after it’s cooked.
  • Don’t let food stay out for too long. The general rule is to not let perishable food sit out without refrigeration or heating for longer than two hours. But if it’s a hot summer day above 90 degrees, the risk that foodborne pathogens can multiply to dangerous levels increases, and the time limit drops to one hour.

Source:  Ohio State University Extension, http://chowline.cfaes.ohio-state.edu/?p=335

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, goard.1@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu






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Girls Spraying Each Other While Washing Dog

We have officially started summer with the Memorial Day Weekend! The weather was beautiful in our part of Ohio and after weeks of cloudy, rainy cold weather, we were all ready to be outside and enjoy the warm sun. This is a good time to remind ourselves how to be safe while having fun in the sun!

We often think about the dangers from too much sun. Much is written about using sunscreen, limiting time out during the hottest part of the day, etc. We sometimes forget to also protect ourselves and our children from excessive heat.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has great advice for us:

  • Drink more fluids. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink. Keep a bottle of water close by at all times.
  • Don’t drink liquids with lots of sugar or alcohol – they can actually cause you to loose body fluid.
  • Some medications can cause dehydration, check with your doctor or pharmacist and follow advice about sun and heat exposure.
  • Infants, young children and the elderly are more sensitive to excessive heat and sun exposure. Be sure and limit their time spent outside on hot, sunny days.
  • If the heat is excessive, try to stay in an air-conditioned place. Electric fans can help but once the temperature reaches 90°, fans do not prevent heat-related illness.
  • Wear light weight, light colored clothing.
  • You might want to carry a water bottle mister or keep a wet washcloth in your cooler for instant relief from the heat!
  • Limit your outdoor activity to morning or evening hours if possible. Between 10 am and 4 pm the sun is its strongest.
  • Try to rest in shady areas.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

The American Cancer Society provides a sun-safety quiz (http://www.cancer.org/healthy/toolsandcalculators/quizzes/app/sun-safety-quiz)

Take a few minutes to take their quiz and see how sun smart you are!

So, enjoy being outside in the sun and heat, but be smart…protect yourself and those in your care so that everyone has a happy, healthy summer!


Writer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu






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What does it mean to be prepared? I recently attended a presentation on disaster preparedness sponsored by our local FEMA agency, learning there what I need to do for my household. The FEMA agent explained that their role in an emergency is to coordinate emergency response for larger scale disasters, but they are counting on individuals and families to be prepared ahead of time with enough food, water and supplies to last three days. Listed below are their recommendations.

Make a plan. There are many resources available online to help families make a communications plan and their own plan to survive a disaster. Operation Hope has made available a Personal Disaster Preparedness Guide to help families prepare. http://www.operationhope.org/images/uploads/Files/pdpg.pdf

Stay informed. Use your cell phone’s text messaging capability to receive text message updates from FEMA (standard message and data rates apply).

Here are basic commands to get started:

  • To sign up to receive monthly preparedness tips: text PREPARE to 43362 (4FEMA)
  • To unsubscribe (at any time): text STOP to 43362 (4FEMA)

Get a kit. Households should be stocked with enough food, water and supplies to support physical needs for at least three days following a disaster or storm. Depending on how severe the disaster is, you may need to be on your own longer. Rescue workers come to the scene quickly, but cannot reach everyone right away. Here’s what you’re going to need:

The Basic Supply Kit (from Ready.gov)

The list below is a basic list and may need to be adapted to suit your household. Think about the type of container you keep these supplies in if you need to evacuate your home. When preparing for a possible emergency situation, think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth. In addition, basic services and utilities (electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones) may be shut off for several days or longer.

supply kitAccording to Ready.gov, a basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation. If you can figure out how to drain your hot water tank into clean containers, you have a nice supply of fresh drinking water.
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

According to ready.gov, you may consider adding some of these items to your kit:

  • Prescription medications, hearing aid batteries and extra eye glasses. If you are responsible for providing care for someone who is disabled, review the medical supply checklist.
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveler’s checks and change
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

For more information, see Ready.gov, Be Red Cross Ready or the Extension Disaster Education Network Family Preparedness course.

Wouldn’t it lend a little peace of mind having such a kit prepared? I’m going to get my kit completed before summer. We can help our community weather a storm or disaster much more successfully if every household is prepared.


Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. www.ready.gov

Disaster Preparedness: Evacuating and Sheltering, Extension.org; http://www.extension.org/pages/9386/disaster-preparedness:-evacuating-and-sheltering#.U3pOlijyS-4


Writer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu


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Young woman at park

I’m a fresh air fanatic. My window at work is open pretty much all year long, even during the winter. I blame it on my Mom. When we were growing up, she was constantly telling us to “go outside and do…” something:

• Go outside and play.
• Go outside and rake the leaves.
• Go outside and mow the lawn.
• Go outside and pick up the apples (we had two trees in our backyard).
• Go outside and shovel the snow.
• Go outside and “blow the stink off you.”

It’s no wonder I still go outside at every opportunity to center myself. Mom, you were right. We should spend time out-of-doors every day. Every system in our body is dependent on oxygen, and fresh air is the best way to get it. Fresh air and sunshine are among the oldest, health-supporting concepts in medicine. They are essentially free antibiotics. During the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale slashed hospital death rates with a host of hygiene improvements – including throwing open the windows. Until she came along, soldiers were more likely to die from “hospital” than they were from their battle wounds.

Today, despite a greater emphasis on cleanliness and sterile environments, patients still catch dangerous infections in hospitals. In the USA alone, 100,000 people a year die from hospital infections. In the 1970s, when energy conservation became a big issue, open windows that circulated fresh air were scuttled in favor of economical heating and cooling. Everything was sealed up, and thus began the era of “sick building syndrome.” Unfortunately, filtered air is dangerous because it circulates pathogens to an unnatural, dangerous degree. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is twice as polluted as outdoor air. What’s even scarier? Americans from the age of 12 and up spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors.

What Does Science Say?
From Penn State: “The ultraviolet component of sunlight is the main reason microbes die in outdoor air. The die-off rate in the outdoors varies from one pathogen to another, but can be anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes for a 90-99% kill of viruses or contagious bacteria.”

Is There A Fresh Air and Sunlight Factor?
Scientists are now acknowledging a connection between light and health. They’ve found that natural light has a very significant effect on our immune system. Light is currently used to treat various diseases of the blood and skin, and also for curing certain kinds of depression and nervous disorders. When sunlight shines on skin, the nerve endings absorb energy and send it throughout the entire body. A sensible amount of sun exposure nourishes and energizes the human body.

The Future
It pays to learn from our heroes of the past. The World Health Organization recently published a report urging all healthcare settings to start using natural ventilation as much as possible, referencing Florence Nightingale. In Mumbai, India, an old-style sanatorium was refitted as a clinic with high ceilings and open porches for people with drug-resistant TB. Hospitals are finding a higher percentage of recovery rates of patients put in rooms that feature abundant sunlight; especially those that allow fresh air to circulate.

Motivation Invitation

It’s finally nice here, weather-wise, in Ohio! Take advantage of the warmer temperatures, abundant sunshine, and longer hours of daylight to get some fresh air and sunshine. Your body will thank you!

Written by:Donna Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by:Cheryl Barber Spires, NW Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, Ohio State University Extension, spires.53@osu.edu


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I just came in from my exercise walk and I am reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote, “The first wealth is health.”

Exercise is a health issue. Many of us don’t see it in this way and put other priorities ahead of it on our “list of things to do.” We don’t take the time or don’t feel we have the money to begin a fitness program. Other reasons for not exercising include difficulty finding childcare or reliable transportation.

However, exercising improves our health and helps us feel better about ourselves.Walking for Your Health
Exercise can help us:
• Control our weight
• Lower or control our blood pressure
• Tone and strengthen our muscles
• Increase bone density
• Control blood sugar
• Control cholesterol levels in the blood
• Relieve stress

It is always important to consult your physician before starting an exercise program. This is particularly true if any of the following apply to your current medical condition:
• Chest pain or pain in the neck and/or arm
• Shortness of breath
• A diagnosed heart condition
• Joint and/or bone problems
• Currently taking cardiac and/or blood pressure medications
• Have not previously been physically active
• Dizziness
If none of these apply to you, start gradually and sensibly. A friend shared this: My husband went in to the Dr. last week because he wanted to start exercising, now that his busy season is over at work, he wasn’t feeling bad or anything (but does have diabetes and high blood pressure). The Dr. did an EKG and it didn’t match his last one, so they sent him to the Emergency room. They now have scheduled a stress test for next week. They have likely caught something that wouldn’t have been caught without a heart attack or stroke.

Common-sense precautions are important for new exercisers:
• BE SMART. Check with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program.
• KEEP YOUR EXERCISE PROGRAM IN BALANCE. Aerobic exercise should be combined with a sound strength-training program to work the heart and muscles. If you are just getting started, begin with small goals like walking before or after work for 20 – 30 minutes, or work up to that point. Ask your health care provider or fitness professional about what your heart rate should be during exercise. If it’s too hot or cold outside, go to the mall and walk; be creative. Strength-training can be done at home, however, it’s best to consult with a fitness professional before getting started. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends working opposing muscle groups for the lower, upper, and core body at least twice a week (for 20 – 25 minutes per workout).
• TAKE CARE OF YOUR FEET. Make sure your shoes provide good support and cushioning. Respond quickly to any foot problem (for example, blisters, bone bruises, etc.).
• LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND KNOW YOUR LIMITS. Allow your body to adapt to relatively small increases in exercise intensity. The main cause of musculoskeletal injuries is overstress, especially from a sudden increase in how much exercise you do and how hard you train.
• RESPECT SIGNALS FROM YOUR BODY THAT SOMETHING MAY BE WRONG. Stop exercising if you experience any of the following signs , including abnormal heart beats, pain or pressure in your chest, dizziness, light-headedness, nausea during or after exercise, prolonged fatigue, or insomnia. Check with your health care provider if the symptoms persist.
• MINIMIZE THE CONSTANT STRESS ON YOUR JOINTS. If you prefer to engage in high impact exercise, try to also include low or non-impact forms of exercise in your program (preferably on an alternating basis).
• REMEMBER, EXERCISE IS ONLY ONE FACTOR IN AN OVERALL HEALTHY LIFESTYLE. As we age and our bodies change, so do our fitness and nutritional needs.

Source: The Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Center

Writer: Kathryn Dodrill, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

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USDA’s People’s Garden Initiative has some great gardening tips to help you get started. Learn how you can make having a garden a fun and positive family activity.

Visit their website http://go.osu.edu/PeoplesGarden for recipes, tips and ideas for starting a garden.

• Make It A Family Affair.
Enlist your family as you select seeds and plants. It is a fun way to spend time together. You’ll be physically active as you plant, weed and harvest your garden.
• Gardening To Fit Your Space.
A good gardening space receives at least six hours of sunlight every day. Consider container gardening on your porch or balcony if you’re low on outdoor space.
• Sowing Into Good Ground.
Mulch the soil around your plants to improve your soil quality, lock in moisture, and keep out weeds.
• Map it Out.
Start small when deciding what you would like to grow. Consider foods your family enjoys and the space you have available. If you buy starter plants (ready to put in the ground) and don’t need all of them, share with a friend. For example, you may not need six zucchini plants. Go together and buy the packets and split the costs.
• Plant Your Favorites.
Your local Cooperative Extension office is a great resource for finding out which crops are specific to your local growing region. Here are some easy-growing crops for your kitchen garden:

• Lettuce
• Onions
• Radishes
• Peppers
• Tomatoes
• Collards
• Peas
• Herbs
Herb Garden

Think Spring and Start a Garden!

Source: USDA, The People’s Garden Initiative retrieved from http://usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/?navid=PEOPLES_GARDEN
Top Photo from USDA The People’s Garden Initiative website

Additional Gardening Resources:
Ohio State University Ohio Line http://ohioline.osu.edu/ Use the search option to find helpful information.

Container Vegetable Gardening Fact Sheet http://go.osu.edu/containergarden

Growing Cucumbers, Peppers, Squash and Tomatoes in Containers http://go.osu.edu/cucumberstomatoes

Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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prom pic

It’s that time of year. Everyone is ready to celebrate. Proms, graduations, and other events mark the end of the school year. Memories of these wonderful occasions will be with our youth for the rest of their lives. These occasions are associated with a higher teen traffic death rate, often due to the increased temptations to participate in drinking activities. Be proactive with your child by having open conversations to increase their awareness to keep them SAFE!

Tips for Prom and Graduation Parties



• Make sure your son/daughter has a plan for the evening and that you know the plan.
• Contact the parents of your teen’s date. Discuss the plans for the evening and plan to meet each other.
• Know who is driving to and from – if it’s a limo know the alcohol policy.
• Talk to your son/daughter about the risks of alcohol and drug use.
• Take stock of your alcohol in your home prior to the beginning of the night.
• Talk to your son/daughter about the school’s prom rules and your prom rules and the consequences of violating them.
• Always let your son/daughter know that you will be available to pick them up if they feel unsafe regardless of the circumstance.
• Communicate with other parents of your teen’s friends. Discuss the plans for the night and the need for locking up and inventorying all alcohol and prescription medication in advance.
• Have an escape plan for a bad situation. Define a code word or text message they can send to alert you to help them out of this situation. Be sure to reinforce with them it is alright to call you anytime.
• Set up times they are to call and check in. These may include when the prom is over, when arriving to an after prom destination, or before heading home.
• Remind your teen to keep you notified of any changes in the plan.
• Limit the number of teens in the car. The risk of teens getting into a car crash increases as the number of passengers increase.
• Stay up until your prom-goer returns home for the night and let them know you will be waiting up for them.


• Keep yourself safe and remind your friends to keep safe.
• Have the number of trustworthy cabs programmed on your phone.
• Have emergency cash to pay for these rides.
• Be sure to have plenty of rest the night before the prom.
• Think through and talk with your friends about pressure situations. Have a plan to handle them ahead of time.
• Consider going for breakfast, bowling or seeing a midnight movie after your prom. These are fun activities and none of them involve alcohol or illegal substances.
• Have your cell phone charged and with you at all times.
• Eat a good breakfast and lunch the day of these activities to keep your energy level up.
• Never leave your drink unattended or accept a drink from someone else.
• Drive on well-lit roads and be sure the vehicle you are driving is well maintained and has a full tank of gas.
• Never ride with someone who is fatigued or impaired in any way.
• Wear your seat belt.
• Know the warning signs for alcohol or drug overdose and call 911 immediately is you see someone exhibiting them.
• At all times, know where you are and where you are going. Make sure your parents know also.
• Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable over any situation, something may not be right. Leave immediately.

Written by: Beth Stefura, Ohio State University, Extension Educator, stefura.2@osu.edu
Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Ohio State University, Extension Educator

Resource: Safety Awareness Officer, Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department

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