Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Meredith Maxwell, M.D.

Sleep is a key part of physical and mental health. People experiencing sleep insufficiency are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as some form of cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity. In a recent study, people who had trouble getting enough sleep had trouble doing tasks involving memory and learning.

How much sleep do we need?

The quality of your sleep is also equally as important as the amount of sleep. Adults who habitually sleep less than 7 to 8 hours have an increased risk of developing obesity, diabetes, heart and blood vessel disease, stroke, and mood disorders. In a National Health Interview Survey, nearly 30% of adults reported an average of less than 6 hours of sleep per day, and only 31% of high school students reported getting at least 8 hours of sleep on an average school night. How much sleep we need generally changes with age.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends:

  • School-age children need at least 10 hours of sleep daily.
  • Teens need 9-10 hour
  • Adults need 7-8 hours.
  • Older adults need 7 – 9 hours of sleep.

Dealing with sleep-related problems

Insomnia is the most common sleep problem. The signs of insomnia are difficulty falling asleep, constant sleep disruptions, waking up early and not being able to fall back asleep, and feeling fatigue throughout the day. Most of us have experienced this temporarily “sleeplessness” at one time or another. In fact, 63% of women report experiencing insomnia at least a few nights a week.

Another common sleep disorder is sleep apnea in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. It may occur 30 times or more an hour. You should see your doctor if you suffer from these chronic sleep problems. A thorough evaluation can help determine the causes and identify solutions for you.

Healthy sleep habits

Your behavior throughout the day can greatly impact your sleep. By practicing healthy sleep habits, you can improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Do not nap in the afternoon, as it may keep you up at night.
  • Exercising can promote good sleep. But do not exercise within 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime because it can disrupt your sleep.
  • Do not “watch the clock”.
  • Establish a “winding down” period. In the evenings, before bedtime, read a book, meditate or listen to music. Also, try to make a list of any worries along with a plan. This can bring closure to your day.
  • Exercise caution with sleeping pills as some can be habit forming. They are usually a temporary solution to more long-term changes in behavior.

Optimal sleep environment

It is important that you create an optimal sleep environment in your bedroom. The bedroom should be a place for rest and relaxation. Your bed should only be used for sleep and sex. Do not balance your checkbook, talk on the phone or watch TV in your bedroom.

  • Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and at the right temperature.
  • The best sleep temperature for most people is between 68-72 degrees.
  • Have a comfortable mattress, pillows and plenty of blankets.
  • Eliminate dust and allergens by sleeping in clean bedding.

If problems still persist, speak with your doctor about medications or other underlying causes such as stress or depression.

Living Well Seminar: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Join Meredith Maxwell, M.D. for a discussion on sleep problems, insomnia, and disorders or medical conditions that may affect your sleep. Plus, learn tips on how to improve your sleep and to sleep safely.

Tuesday, August 8
12 to 1pm
Foucher Room, 2nd Floor
1401 Foucher St. New Orleans, LA 70115

Click here to register or call (504) 897 -8500.

Meredith Maxwell, M.D., M.H.A., attended the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, where she completed her family medicine residency, before joining the Touro Infirmary Health System. She is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine Diplomate. Dr. Maxwell chose family medicine because she gets to see patients of all ages and the whole family.

Tips to Beat the Summer Heat

Andrew J. Siegel, M.D.

Research shows the number of heat-related illnesses increases over the summer. Heat fatigue, heat-related dizziness, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat strokes are all forms of hyperthermia. The condition occurs when the body is overwhelmed by heat and is unable to control its temperature.

Who is at risk for a heat-related illness?

Children, teens and the elderly have a hard time adjusting to changes in environmental heat. They also produce more heat with activity than adults and sweat less.

Your health and lifestyle may raise the threat of a heat-related illness, which includes:

  • Poor circulation, inefficient sweat glands, and changes in the skin caused by normal aging
  • Heart, lung, kidney disease and any illness that causes weakness or fever
  • High blood pressure
  • Inability to sweat caused by drugs, such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers, and certain heart and blood pressure medicines
  • Being substantially overweight or underweight
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages

What are the warning signs?

Heat-related illnesses require immediate medical attention. The warning signs include:

  • Fever (generally above 104 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Confusion or combativeness
  • Strong, rapid pulse
  • Dry, flushed skin
  • Lack of sweating
  • Feeling faint
  • Staggering
  • Coma

What are ways to keep cool?

When temperatures spike, older adults with chronic health issues like heart disease and diabetes should stay indoors. If they do not have air conditioning, they should visit cool locations such as the library.

For adults and kids, here are other ways to stay cool without air conditioning:

  • Open your windows at night.
  • Create a cross breeze by opening windows on opposite sides of the room or house.
  • Cover windows when they’re in direct sunlight.
  • Keep curtains, shades, or blinds drawn during the hottest part of the day.
  • Dampen your clothing with water and sit in the breeze from a fan
  • Take cool baths or showers
  • Spend at least 2 hours a day (the hottest part, if possible) in an air-conditioned place like the movies or mall.

Treatment options for heat-related illnesses

If a person is experiencing a heat stroke, it is important to call 911 immediately. A heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness and is a life-threatening emergency. It is the result of long, extreme exposure to the sun. It is important for the person to be treated immediately as heat stroke can cause permanent damage or death.

Here are a few things you can do while waiting for help to arrive:

  • Get the person to a shaded area.
  • Remove clothing and gently apply cool water to the skin followed by fanning to stimulate sweating
  • Apply ice packs to the groin and armpits
  • Have the person lie down in a cool area with their feet slightly elevated
  • Cool the person rapidly however you can

If you live in a hot climate and have a chronic condition, talk to your healthcare provider about extra precautions you can take to protect yourself against heat stroke.

Click here to visit Touro’s Health Library to learn more about heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

How to Ease a Gout Attack

Vernilyn Juan, M.D.

Gout is a joint disease that causes extreme pain and swelling. It used to be associated with kings who overindulged in rich food and wine. However, anyone can get gout. It is often linked with obesity, high blood pressure, high levels of lipids in the blood (hyperlipidemia) and diabetes. But avoiding gout can be as easy as changing your diet.

What causes gout?

Gout is caused by monosodium urate crystal deposits in the joints. This is due to an excess of uric acid in the body. Excess uric acid can be caused by multiple things such as the body making too much uric acid or eating food high in purines. Purine is a specific chemical compound found in food that breaks down into uric acid.

Foods high in purines:

  • Alcohol
  • High fructose drinks
  • Red and processed meats, such as game meats, kidney, brains and liver
  • Dried beans and dried peas
  • Seafood, such as anchovies, herring, scallops, sardines and mackerel

Gout attacks can also be triggered by:

  • Emotional stress
  • Fatigue
  • Illness
  • Minor surgery

How can you reduce your risk of gout?

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Consume high amounts of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, low-dairy products and whole grains, such as cherries. Cherries are proven to lower uric acid for people with gout.
  • Eat food low in salt and fat
  • Lose excess weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Make sure any health conditions, diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, are under control.
  • Take all medications recommended by your physician
  • Discuss with your physician the risks of taking aspirin, which may interfere with your medications.

How do you manage a gout attack?

There are a few things you can do to ease the pain of the attack:

  • Take any anti-inflammatory medicine on hand, such as ibuprofen
  • Apply an ice pack to your painful joint up to 30 minutes several times of day
  • Drink plenty of fluids to flush out the uric acid
  • Elevate your foot to reduce the swelling
  • Try de-stressing; stress can worsen a gout attack
  • Walk with a cane to keep pressure of your joints

Most importantly, call your doctor immediately if you experience a gout attack.

Treatment Options

Medication can be used to treat an acute attack and prevent future attacks:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce gout inflammation.
  • Colchicine is a type of pain reliever.
  • Corticosteroids can also reduce gout inflammation.
  • Xanthine Oxidase Inhibitors blocks uric acid production
  • Probenecid can improve your kidneys ability to remove uric acid

Making lifestyle changes can also treat your gout attack:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and limit alcohol consumption
  • Limit intake of food high in purines
  • Eat less protein-rich food and more fiber

You can also receive surgery to remove extremely large tophi. Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks, benefits and possible side effects of any of these medications and lifestyle changes.

Vernilyn Juan, M.D. is a Family Medicine physician with Crescent City Physicians, Inc., a subsidiary of Touro. Dr. Juan is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.

>> Click here for details on Dr. Juan’s practice.

Understanding Migraines and Headaches

Aarti Pais, MD

Almost everyone has experienced a headache. It is the most common type of pain. It is usually described as a pain or discomfort anywhere in the head, scalp or neck. Headaches vary greatly in terms of location, intensity, frequency and duration.

What are the symptoms of a headache?

Headache symptoms depend on the type of headache. The frequency of headaches and the intensity of the symptoms may vary. Typical headache symptoms include:

  • Slow onset of the headache
  • Head hurts on both sides
  • Pain is dull or feels like a band around the head
  • Pain may involve the back part of the head or neck
  • Pain is mild to moderate but not severe

Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. Stress and tight muscles are often triggers in tension-type headaches. Cluster headaches are usually limited to one side of the head, typically around the eye accompanied by other symptoms such as nasal congestion and eye watering. They come in repeated episodes and can last for weeks to months.

Tension and cluster headaches typically do not cause nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light (photophobia) or sensitivity to sound (phonophobia).

What is a migraine?

The most severe type of headache is a migraine. This throbbing type of headache is different from other types of headaches because in addition to pain you may have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, sensitivity to light and sound, and other visual disturbances. A migraine headache may last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. These headaches may occur as often as several times a week to only once a year.

The cause of a migraine headache is uncertain. Many experts think an imbalance in brain chemicals, such as serotonin, and changes in nerve pathways are involved. Migraines may also run in families suggesting a genetic link.

What are the symptoms of a migraine?

To get an accurate diagnosis, it is important to describe your migraine symptoms to your doctor. Also, it is helpful to track when migraines occur (such as dates and times) and the details associated with migraine headaches. The most common symptoms of migraine headaches include:

  • Throbbing, severe pain with a specific location on either side of the head
  • Nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness, sensitivity to light and sound
  • Visual disturbances such as flashing or shimmering lights, zigzagging lines, stars, colored lights or psychedelic images and sometimes even lack of sight for a short period of time preceding a migraine headache, this is called an aura.
  • A change in mood or behavior for hours or days before the headache
  • Depression or anxiety symptoms
  • Fatigue, irritability and trouble concentrating once the headache resolves

The symptoms of migraine headache may look like other conditions or medical problems. It is important to speak to your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis.

What triggers a migraine?

People who get migraines may be able to identify triggers that seem to kick off the symptoms. Possible triggers include:

  • Stress at home or work
  • Changes in sleep-wake cycle, getting too much or too little sleep and also jet lag
  • Sensory stimuli such as loud sounds, bright lights, sun glare, strong smells like perfume, paint thinner or second hand smoke.
  • Weather changes or change in barometric pressure
  • Physical exertion, including sexual activity
  • Hormonal changes during menstruation, pregnancy or menopause
  • Certain foods such as aged cheeses, salty foods, processed foods and chocolate
  • Food additives like the sweetener aspartame and the preservative monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Certain drinks like alcohol, especially wine
  • Skipping meals
  • Medications such as birth control pills and vasodilators like nitroglycerin

The American Headache Society suggests documenting triggers in a headache diary. Sometimes, your efforts to control your migraines may cause more problems such as abdominal problems from side effects of pain relievers as well as medication over-use headaches.

It is important to talk to your physician about your symptoms, take your diary to your visit and avoid overuse of over the counter medications. This will help your physician identify the cause of your headache and formulate a treatment plan that will help you prevent and treat your headaches.

Click here to visit our health library to learn more about headaches and migraines.

Dr. Aarti Pais is a Family Medicine Physician at Crescent City Physicians, Inc., a subsidiary of Touro Infirmary. She completed her internship at Tulane University and her residency at East Jefferson General Hospital. Dr. Pais is Board Certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and treats patients at her uptown clinic located on the campus of Touro Infirmary.

Staying Healthy during Carnival Season

Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN

Mardi Gras season is a time for celebration and certainly a little indulgence, but a long carnival season can certainly take a toll on our health and waist lines. The concern is that Mardi Gras is not just one day in this city- it’s 6 weeks. So the result of celebrating anything for this long is usually weight gain. The key is planning ahead for a healthy Mardi Gras party, and pre or post parade snacks.

People parade differently – some show up on the route with a tailgating/buffet style with coolers, tables and BBQ pits while others bring what they can fit in their pockets.

Which ever your style, here are some tips:

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Keep it lean

If you do have a heat source such as a grill or warmer, throw some leaner meats and veggies on the grill such as chicken and shrimp kabobs. If you have access to a warming source like a crockpot, keep it full of filling foods such as a healthier chili (made with lean ground beef and beans) or a healthier red bean and brown rice.

Cut it up

If you plan to bring a cooler, make healthy sandwiches in advance, cut fresh fruit and vegetables that are easy to grab or pick up ready-made fruit and veggie trays. Fried chicken is popular at parades. Most people tell me it’s the only time of year they eat it. If that’s the case, enjoy a breast without guilt but if you want a healthier selection, try a Rotisserie chicken.

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It’s a marathon, not a sprint

It’s a long day so plan to bring family-friendly snacks.  Eating healthy snacks such as nuts, cheese cubes, or fruit throughout the day can help keep your hunger under control and avoid over-eating during meal time.

Portion, Portion, Portion

One of the most important keys to remember with all of this is portion control. Eat slowly and enjoy your food, but take time to listen to your body and recognize when you are full.

Don’t forget about dinner

Also plan ahead for after the parade. Have a healthy meal prepped and ready to eat once you return home from a long day. Crockpot or leftovers. This will keep you from overindulging on foods when you are tired.

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Alcohol: the key here is pacing yourself. Parade days can be long and this means plenty of alcohol calories could be consumed. A good rule of thumb is to have one drink, then one water, one drink, one water. This keeps you in the atmosphere yet really cuts back the calories. It is also important to be aware of the high-calorie offenders like daiquiris and mixed drinks with juices and sodas.

Rule of thumb

Let’s talk about king cake- it’s hard to say no especially when it’s only one time a year. If you choose, enjoy a slice but be aware of portions. Your slice of King cake should be the width of YOUR thumb.

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Simple changes can make a big difference this Carnival season. But remember if you were not your best, tomorrow is a new day. Commit to starting fresh no matter what happened yesterday.

Fortenberry, JulieJulie Fortenberry is a registered dietitian at Touro Infirmary. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Southern Mississippi. Julie believes that lifestyle changes and wholesome nutrition are obtainable, and brings real-life understanding to wellness and nutritional counseling. 

Surprising Health Benefits of Drinking Wine

Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN

Wine is an alcoholic beverage that’s easy for many of us to love. The thought of wine having some health benefits makes that glass of vino more enjoyable. Below are a few possible health benefits associated with moderate wine consumption:

Happy friends making a toast

Supports=heart health – It is no secret that wine may provide some heart health benefits. One of the antioxidants found in wine is Resveratrol, which is the one thought to have the beneficial effects. It is found in the dark skin of grapes, and this is why red wine is thought to have more heart benefits that white.
Lowers blood sugars- Red wine is abundant in polyphenols. The polyphenols in wine interact with cells involved with the regulation of blood sugar. Enjoying a small glass of wine with your largest meal may help lower your blood glucose levels.

Reduces stress – Moderate wine drinkers tend to have less stress in their lives. Studies have found there is an association between moderate alcohol intake and lower levels of depression and anxiety.

Improves sleep– While most research proves that drinking alcohol can interfere with sleep, some personalities may find a small glass of wine relaxing. Clearing your anxious mind before sleep may help you drift into a deeper sleep pattern leading to better quality nightly sleep.

wake up

However, there is a disclaimer. Drinking every day can be a slippery slope that a lot of people can’t safely navigate. While the news about red wine might sound great, doctors are cautious about encouraging anyone to start drinking alcohol especially if you have a family history of alcohol abuse. Too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body.

The health benefits of drinking wine come from moderate consumption, defined by the American Heart Association as one to two four-ounce glasses a day. Be sure to drink in moderation to avoid turning these benefits into dangers. One daily glass of wine is recommended for women and one to two for men. Keep in mind, the sweeter the wine, the more sugar. It is important to remind you (sorry to be a party pooper) that sugar is our enemy when it comes to weight gain. So if you do choose to drink wine, make sure it fits safely into your calorie budget for weight maintenance.

Fortenberry, JulieJulie Fortenberry is a registered dietitian at Touro Infirmary. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Southern Mississippi. Julie believes that lifestyle changes and wholesome nutrition are obtainable, and brings real-life understanding to wellness and nutritional counseling. 

Tips for Weight Loss Success

Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN

Was your New Year’s resolution to lose weight in 2017? Research shows that most resolutions go down the drain within the first month or two after January 1st. Staying on track is tough, but it’s not impossible. To reach your goal, you have to actively set yourself up for success. Here are a few tips to lose weight in 2017:

Slow progress is better than no progress

Set Realistic Goals

Remember it did not take you two weeks to gain those extra 35 pounds and it will definitely not take you two weeks to lose it! You gradually gained this weight over several months or even years. Remember that weight loss and maintaining healthy weight is a commitment for the long haul. It takes time to create new, healthy habits, which will eventually turn your “diet” into a healthy lifestyle! Keep in mind, healthy fat loss is 1-2 pounds per week.

Set Mini-Goals

Make small changes every week, and they will add up over time. Commit to making weekly changes that will help you down the road. Here are some examples of weekly changes you can incorporate into mini-goals:

  • Week One: Drink 8 glasses of water per day.
  • Week Two: Walk 30 minutes twice this week.
  • Week Three: Replace one processed food with one fresh item (swap chips for fruit).
  • Week Four: Eliminate fried foods

Be Consistent

One bad meal won’t torch your efforts but habitual poor choices will. The best way to look at food is as a “sometimes food” and not a “never food”. Choose healthy options the majority of the time with a few indulgences here and there and it’s more sustainable than an “all or nothing” mentality.

Friends enjoying lunch

Don’t Cut Out Entire Food Groups

Another way to sabotage your weight loss efforts is by cutting out an entire food group. Many times when people are trying to lose weight, they cut too much out that they can’t sustain for any length of time. The point of making a resolution is to implement healthier habits that will stick in the long term. Remember to consume everything in moderation for healthier and more sustainable results.

Document Everything

Keep a detailed record of your weight loss, dietary intake and how you are feeling. By keeping a wellness journal, you will be able to see what you’re consuming, where your problem areas are, and how your emotional state is. Paying attention to this will help you maintain your weight this year.

Planning new day.

Decide what is best for YOU and YOUR body

It is tempting to fall into the trap of doing what is popular. Your best friends may eliminate gluten, sugar, dairy or processed foods in order to reach their goals. However, these may not be problem areas for you and eliminating these foods may not be your magic solution. Your best bet is to determine what will work for you now and continue five years down the road. By doing so, you will find the “magic” that works best for you.

Click here for a library of healthy recipes.

Fortenberry, JulieJulie Fortenberry is a registered dietitian at Touro Infirmary. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Southern Mississippi. Julie believes that lifestyle changes and wholesome nutrition are obtainable, and brings real-life understanding to wellness and nutritional counseling. 

Know Your Numbers

Take Control of Your Health

Liz Cabrera, RD, CSO, LDN, CNSC

This is my year for making my health a priority

New Year’s resolutions are great ways to jump start your health. But why do losing weight, getting fit and improving our health seem so elusive? It’s essential to first develop critical awareness because living without self-awareness is like driving a car at night without headlights. You can still drive but will eventually have a collision.

The American Heart Association developed the slogan “Know your Numbers” to increase public awareness of heart health and the preventive actions that one can take to decrease risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Some risk factors such as genetics, family history and age are beyond our control. However, the vast majority of risk factors are modifiable by lifestyle changes.

Some of the most important numbers to know include your blood pressure, lipid profile, blood sugar and BMI. You may be feeling healthy and going to the doctor might not have crossed your mind, but there are usually no signs of pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol without being tested. This is why it’s important to have regular visits with your primary care doctor. Keeping tabs on your numbers can spot early signs of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

What do these numbers mean?

Man having measured blood pressure

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure shows how hard your heart is working to pump blood throughout your body. There are 2 numbers involved in your blood pressure. The top number (systolic pressure) indicates the force in your arteries when the heart beats; the bottom number (diastolic pressure) indicates when the heart is at rest.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fat like substance found in the blood stream. A total cholesterol value measures all types of cholesterol. There are different subtypes of cholesterol. LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, can narrow or block arteries. HDL, also known as “good cholesterol”, helps to remove cholesterol deposits from your arteries.

Blood Sugar or Glucose

Blood glucose is the body’s primary source of energy. The body regulates blood glucose levels by producing insulin. Fasting high blood sugar levels indicate that the body is not regulating blood glucose. This is usually a sign of pre-diabetes or diabetes.

BMI-Body Mass Index

BMI index is a measure of height to weight ratio used to diagnose obesity. BMI 30 or greater increases your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers.

Knowing your numbers is a starting point to better health. Start the New Year by:

  1. Increase your intake of fruit, veggies, whole grains and decrease your intake of processed foods and added sugars.
  2. Drink alcohol in moderation (if at all)
  3. Quit smoking
  4. Increase physical activity
  5. Follow up with your doctor

father and daughter chatting to pharmacist

Know Your Numbers: Free Health Screening

You’re invited to…
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

Cholesterol • Glucose • Blood Pressure • BMI/Body Fat % Screenings

FREE Health Screening
Thursday, January 12 • 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Touro Imaging Center
2929 Napoleon Ave.

Join Touro and Crescent City Physicians, Inc. for an evening of wellness that’s all about YOU! Take advantage of FREE health screenings including weight, BMI, cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure. Receive a physician consultation and visit with some of our favorite physicians.

>> CLICK HERE to register or call (504) 897-8500. 

Free parking is available in the Imaging Center parking lot. Space is limited.

Cabrera, LizLiz Cabrera, RD, CSO, LDN, CNSC, is the Lead Clinical Dietician for Touro Infirmary with over 25 years experience. Liz has advanced education and extensive experience in nutrition for a broad range of health conditions for which she provides nutrition support. Liz provides comprehensive nutrition care for inpatient and outpatient departments at Touro. In addition, Liz leads monthly healthy lifestyles community seminars and a nutrition after cancer cooking class.

Holiday Survival Guide

Dr. Andrew Siegel, MD

The holidays are here! It’s time to string the lights, light the candles and hang the holly. However, there are risks when we begin to climb ladders, use the kitchen more and burn candles. More than 13,000 patients are treated each year in the emergency room due to holiday related accidents. Touro wants families to be aware of the safety risks that can come with decorating, cooking and holiday parties.

What are some of the high-risk threats?

About 33 percent of holiday decorating injuries are caused by falls from ladders.

  • Check the ladder’s label to make sure you don’t exceed the weight limit
    • This includes your body weight and the weight of the decoration you are holding
  • Inspect the steps before you climb to be sure they are solid and dry, and make sure the ladder is on even, solid footing before you climb
  • Always face the ladder when moving up and down
  • It’s also safer to use ladders with someone there to help you, supporting the ladder while you climb

Christmas Lights Hanging from Ladder Outside, Copy Space

On average, 260 home fires begin with Christmas trees each year.

  • Choose fresh over cheap and dry
    • The fresher the tree, the less likely it will pose a fire hazard.
    • Look for flexible needles that don’t break, and a trunk with sap.
  • Keep the water coming
    • The tree stand should contain a constant source of water and be sturdy enough to resist toppling by kids or pets.
  • If you opt for a synthetic tree it should be flame resistant and have a seal for an approved safety testing laboratory if the tree contains a built-in lighting set.
    • Never leave lights on overnight and be sure to shut the light off when you leave the house.

Fire Hazard - Christmas Light Smoking

What are some ways to practice cooking safety?

Home cooking fires peak on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Christmas Eve. We are typically cooking for more mouths and have more distractions than usual

  • 83 percent of people admitted to engaging in dangerous cooking behaviors, like watching TV or disabling the smoke alarm — dangers that are only intensified by a house full of guests and packed holiday schedules.
    • Make dishes a head of time to lighten the load
    • Never leave your cooking unattended
    • Use crowd control. Friends and family tend to gravitate towards the kitchen, but limit your distractions and send them into the family room with a snack.

Click here to watch Dr. Siegel share other tips on surviving this holiday season.

Andrew SiegelAndrew Siegel, MD is a Primary Care Physician for Crescent City Physicians. He was born and raised in California and spent his undergrad years at the University of California, Davis. He originally was interested in bench research and spent a couple of years juggling pipettes. While earning his Master’s Degree, he refocused his career path onto medicine and went on to earn his medical degree at Tulane University. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and child, being outdoors, cooking, or eating at one of the city’s many tasty restaurants.