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19Apr 2018

Fad diets have been around for decades. New ones surface regularly while some older weight-loss solutions fall in and out of popularity. Popularized by the promise of quick and dramatic weight-loss results, fad diets need to be fully researched before trying. Generally, diets or diet products can be considered a fad if they fit any of the following criteria:

  • Claiming to help you lose weight very quickly, more than 1-2 pounds per week.
  • Promising you will lose weight and keep it off without giving up fatty foods or starting an exercise program.
  • Basing their claims only on “before and after” photos.
  • Offering testimonies from clients or “experts” in weight loss, science or nutrition who are usually being paid to promote the diet plan.
  • Drawing simple solutions from complex medical research.
  • Limiting food choices and not encouraging you to get balanced nutrition by eating a variety of foods.
  • Requiring you to spend a lot of money on things such as seminars, pills or prepackaged meals in order for the plan to work.

Instead of turning to a fad diet to achieve weight-loss results, try implementing lasting lifestyle changes. Contact a health care professional to get started.

17Apr 2018

Facebook recently announced that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained information from up to 87 million accounts without their users’ consent. Experts believe that collected data could include locations, interests, photos, status updates and more.

Facebook applications and third-party services can normally request access to an account’s information in order to add functionality or advertise products. However, experts allege that Cambridge Analytica violated Facebook’s terms of service by using the data to direct political campaigns and influence voters.

These allegations have highlighted concerns about data security, social media privacy and Facebook’s data protection practices. In order to keep your personal information safe, it’s important for you to be aware of how it can be exposed and what steps you can take to ensure you control access to your data.

Timeline of Events

In 2014, University of Cambridge researcher Aleksandr Kogan created a Facebook personality quiz that gave him data on approximately 270,000 Facebook users. At the time, Facebook’s terms of service also allowed Kogan to access data on these users’ friends—a total of 87 million accounts.

Although Kogan told users that their information would only be used for research, he later worked with Cambridge Analytica to market the data to political groups. While many experts speculate that Cambridge Analytica’s clients used this data to direct political messages and influence voters, investigators have yet to confirm if or how the data was used.

Facebook learned that Cambridge Analytica possessed the data in 2015 and requested that all copies be deleted. However, in March 2018, a number of news sources reported that the consulting firm kept and continued to use at least a portion of the data for its business practices. As a result, Facebook’s data protection practices are now under investigation by regulators.

Protecting Your Data

Many social media users assume that their personal information is safe, but this scandal has shown the importance of re-evaluating online security. Hackers can use data posted on social media to engage in identity fraud, social engineering schemes and more. Here are some tips you can use to secure your data on social media platforms:

  • Check Facebook’s webpage about the exposed data to see if Cambridge Analytica obtained any of your personal information.
  • Go through all of the privacy settings on each of your social media accounts to see if the security features or terms of service have changed.
  • Always assume that any information you post online can be shared with the public.
  • Enable two-factor authentication on all devices and services that offer it.
  • Create strong passwords and update them regularly.
12Apr 2018

CHILDREN’S HEALTH: SPORTS SAFETY

Each year, nearly 4 million children ages 14 and under suffer from sports-related injuries. It is estimated that as many as 20 percent of children participating in sports are injured each year.

Every day, from soccer fields to ice rinks, millions of youths participate in sporting activities. Participating in sports builds the body and mind, but can also result in injury if the proper safety precautions are ignored. Young athletes are at an increased risk for injury because their bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments are still growing.

Safety Tips

The risk of injury should not keep a child from participating in sports. Instead, parents and coaches need to take the proper precautions by following safety guidelines and providing the proper protective equipment to keep young athletes safe during play. Parents, coaches and children are encouraged to follow these safety precautions:

  • Know and follow the rules of the sport.
  • Be in good physical condition before beginning any sport.
  • Wear proper apparel and protective gear.
  • Know how to use athletic equipment.
  • Be sure to warm up before playing.
  • Drink plenty of liquids before playing to prevent dehydration.
  • Do not play when tired or in pain.

 

 

If Injury Occurs

Prompt treatment can often prevent a minor injury from turning into something worse. The first step is to use RICE therapy (rest, ice, compress and elevate). If a child displays any of the following signs, he or she may need to visit the doctor:

  • Inability or decreased ability to play
  • Visible deformity
  • Severe pain that prevents the use of an arm or leg
  • Symptoms which persist or affect athletic performance

Prevention

Most sports-related injuries are preventable. The following are steps coaches and parents can take to help reduce the chances of an injury occurring:

  • Enroll your child in programs where you know an adult will be monitoring the event.
  • Be sure your child uses the proper safety equipment.
  • Teach your child to start by warming up and stretching.
  • Remind your child to cool down afterwards.

 

10Apr 2018

INTERNET PRIVACY

 

With more electronic gadgets able to connect to the internet, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself from phishers, spyware and other things that can compromise your privacy.

Phishing

Internet phishing utilizes phony email or pop-up messages as bait to hook unsuspecting Internet users into divulging personal information, such as credit card numbers and account passwords, to be used for identity theft. Phishers’ phony emails can be very persuasive and believable. To help you avoid getting reeled in by a phishing scam:

  • Be extremely wary of urgent email requests for your personal or financial information; if you suspect the message is fake, don’t use the links included in the email.
  • Email personal or financial information only if the site is secure (sites that start with https://).
  • Use anti-virus software and keep it up to date.

Spyware

Are you downloading free media files or other shareware from popular websites? If so, you may want to think twice before clicking the download button. Freeware actually comes at a price—it often includes software (adware) that tracks your internet activity. While legitimate adware companies disclose the data collected, some adware also identifies your personal information, which is sold to a third party without your knowledge. If you are concerned about protecting your online privacy, look for anti-spyware software.

Cookies

When you visit a web page, a “cookie” is placed on your computer as a unique identifier. Cookies allow a web server to store information on your computer and later retrieve it. If this information is personalized, your surfing is no longer private. To combat cookies, you can reconfigure your browser to accept, block or individually approve cookies. You can also use cookie management software.

Spam

Most people consider spam, or electronic junk mail, to be annoying but harmless. But remember that most computer viruses are caught via email. To reduce the amount of spam finding its way to your inbox, consider using one of the commercial anti-spam products on the market. Some products filter unwanted spam, and often come with added features such as parental control and firewall protection.

 

 

05Apr 2018

Teen Operation of Power Lawn and Yard Equipment

When operating power lawn mowers and other powered yard-care equipment, you must be aware of the safety practices you need to follow. It is important to be informed and use extreme caution.

 

Laws

  • You must be at least 16 years old to operate lawn mowers and other powered lawn-care equipment, such as leaf blowers and nylon string-style weed whackers. Both push and riding lawn mowers are allowed.
  • Nobody under the age of 18 can legally operate commercial-grade powered equipment. This includes trimmers with blades or shears, chainsaws, powered thatchers, aerators, rototillers and chippers, and mowers pulled with a tractor.
  • Minors are also prohibited from performing work where the noise exposure requires hearing protection.

Hazards

Operating this equipment can be hazardous under certain conditions. You need to especially watch out for:

  • Sharp blades
  • Rocks and sticks thrown from the equipment
  • Heat illness – Drink plenty of fluids; don’t wait to drink until you are thirsty. Wear cool, comfortable clothing, a hat and sunscreen.
  • Foreign objects or debris on the ground

Safety Practices

Keep the following in mind for safe operation at your worksite:

  • Read the operator’s manual and get proper instruction before operating any equipment.
  • Be sure you know how to stop the mower or motor at a moment’s notice.
  • Give complete and undivided attention to the job. No horseplay is allowed at any time.
  • Never disable or bypass safety devices.
  • Wear close-fitting clothes and closed-toe shoes with traction soles. Never operate equipment while barefoot or when wearing thongs or sandals.
  • Never leave a running mower unattended.
  • Keep the area of operation clear of all persons, especially small children.
  • Mow in a forward direction whenever possible.
  • Wear gloves to service or adjust equipment, especially when working with blades. If you do not have the proper training or authority to repair equipment, report the malfunction to your supervisor.
  • Handle fuel safely. Before refueling, stop the engine and allow it to cool. Wipe up spilled fuel or allow it to evaporate before starting an engine. Always fill gas-powered machines outdoors.

The use of safety glasses and hearing protection is highly recommended

29Mar 2018

Cyber Criminals Stole Almost $20 Billion from U.S. Consumers in 2017

According to Symantec’s 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report, more than one-half of the adult internet population in the United States was affected by some form of virus, malware, spyware or phishing scam in 2017. That accounts for roughly 143 million Americans. From those attacks, consumers lost $19.4 billion, and the average cyber crime victim spent 23.6 hours dealing with the aftermath.

Many of the crimes resulted from consumers making basic security mistakes. For example, 60 percent of victims made the mistake of sharing at least one of their passwords for their online accounts or devices with another person. Another cyber mistake was using a single password across multiple online accounts, which is something 24 percent of U.S. consumers made the mistake of doing, according to the survey.

The group of U.S. consumers with the best password management was the baby-boomer generation, with 69 percent ensuring they used a different password for each online account. However, 24 percent of them made the mistake of writing down their passwords on a piece of paper.

Prevention is Key

Symantec recommends following these basic cyber security best practices to ensure safety online:

  • Change your passwords every few months.
  • Don’t use the same passwords for multiple accounts.
  • Don’t share your passwords.
  • Use an anti-virus program.
  • Use due diligence when opening emails, clicking on links or downloading attachments online.

6 Cyber Security Topics to Watch in 2018

Business and government leaders need to be on constant alert for cyber attacks of all types. With the evolution of cyber threats each year, there are specific threats to focus on for 2018. Here are six cyber security trends to watch in 2018:

  1. Cryptocurrency—This is a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank. With many people interested in ways to capitalize on cryptocurrency, it is important to realize that the market is very volatile and highly susceptible to fraud and cyber attacks. Some experts feel the cryptocurrency market needs better security and a way to guarantee losses from theft.
  2. Artificial intelligence (AI)—Approximately 87 percent of U.S. cyber security professionals use AI software to identify and predict cyber threats. However, AI can also be used by cyber criminals against the same organizations that use it for protection.
  3. More multifactor authentication—Even though many companies fear that implementing multifactor authentication would negatively affect user experience, the growing concern about stolen passwords might convince them to implement it.
  4. Increased regulation—Businesses could face increased regulation as governments try to compete with the growing risk of data breaches and attacks on infrastructure. One example of such government efforts is the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe.
  5. Increase in state-sponsored attacks—Such attacks tend to be politically motivated. Instead of focusing on financial gain, the intent of these attacks is to acquire intelligence that can be used to obstruct the objectives of a political entity. Appropriate efforts to deter and respond to these attacks will be a key topic for policymakers and businesses over the next decade.
  6. Increasing demand for a chief information security officer (CISO)—Due to the shortage of skilled cyber security professionals, many companies hire external cyber security services and virtual CISOs. This outsourcing is expected to continue until employers find ways to fill the skills gap.
27Mar 2018

Health Tips for Shift Workers

Workers on a shift schedule tend to have poor eating habits and lack regular exercise, which can contribute to sleep problems, fatigue and stress. Read this article to learn how shift workers can fight fatigue.

 

Minding Your Mental Health

For some, work can be a major source of stress due to heavy workloads, pressure to perform at a high level, job insecurity, long work hours, excessive travel and conflicts with co-workers. Read on to learn when you should consider speaking to your manager about your mental health.

 

For shift workers, unconventional schedules can take a toll on health and safety. In fact, research shows that people who sleep during the day often struggle with getting an adequate amount of rest.

What’s more, workers on a shift schedule tend to have poor eating habits and lack regular exercise, which can contribute to fatigue and stress. To combat these adverse health factors, shift workers should consider doing the following:

  • Get enough rest before your shift begins. Eating well and getting plenty of exercise can help you sleep. If you are experiencing insomnia or other sleep issues, speak with your doctor.
  • Take frequent breaks. If you begin to feel drowsy during the workday, consider going for a short walk or eating a healthy snack to re-energize.
  • Hold your employer accountable when it comes to rotating schedules. Working one shift over and over can take a toll, and it’s important to have occasional variety.

It’s important to be mindful about your scheduling, and avoid permanent or consecutive night shifts whenever possible. In addition, employees should be allowed to gradually change from night shifts to normal shifts, as this gives the body time to recover and adapt to a new schedule.

Fatigue due to poor quality or lack of sleep can affect every aspect of an individual’s life, and can severely hamper one’s ability to perform at work. Speak to a doctor if you are concerned about the quality of your sleep or want more general health tips.

22Mar 2018

Save Lives: Don’t Be A Distracted Driver


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine people are killed and over 1,000 others are injured every day in accidents that involve a distracted driver in the United States. The National Safety Council observes April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month to draw attention to this epidemic.

Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from the road, and can greatly increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash. While there is little you can do to control other people’s driving, there is plenty you can do to reduce your own distractions.

There are three main types of distractions:

  1. Visual: taking your eyes off the road
  2. Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
  3. Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving

By practicing safe driving techniques, you can significantly reduce your chances of being involved in an auto accident. In addition to avoiding distractions, it’s important to be aware of other drivers around you and make adjustments to your driving accordingly.

 

 

 

20Mar 2018

5 Healthy Snacks to Satisfy Your Workday Hunger

Snacking can be an important part of a healthy diet. Healthy snacks can provide midday energy boosts and fuel for exercising, and can help decrease your hunger and the odds of overeating at mealtime. Try incorporating these five simple snacks into your meal plan.

  1. Almonds—1.5 ounces of almonds (about 35 nuts) provides enough fiber, protein and good fats to keep you feeling full until your next meal.
  2. Greek yogurt parfait—1 cup of Greek yogurt with berries is a great way to get protein, calcium, fiber and antioxidants.
  3. Blueberries and mini Babybel cheese—1 cup of fresh blueberries has only 80 calories. When paired with two mini Babybel cheeses, you get a high dose of fiber, antioxidants, protein and calcium.
  4. Apple and ½ cup roasted chickpeas—Apples are fat-, sodium- and cholesterol-free. What’s more? One medium-sized apple has less than 100 calories. When paired with ½ cup roasted chickpeas, you get a snack that provides protein, and good fats and carbs.
  5. Veggies with hummus—Snacking on raw, fiber-rich vegetables during the day can help keep you full between meals. For extra protein, eat your veggies with hummus. Be sure to check the serving size on your hummus container to keep your portion size in check.
15Mar 2018

As the seasons change, so will your allergy symptoms. You can combat your allergic reactions with these seasonal tips.

Winter

The winter months often provide some relief for allergy sufferers, as the outdoor air is cool and free of pollen. However, if you have allergies, you need to make sure that the air inside your house is clean as well. Be sure to:

  • Store firewood outside.
  • Clean heating ducts and air conditioning filters.
  • Bathe house pets regularly if dander is a problem.
  • Keep your face covered when out in the cold. Going from cold outside air to warm indoor air can trigger asthma.

Spring

Mold growth blooms indoors and outdoors with spring rains. As flowers, trees, weeds and grasses begin to blossom, allergies will follow. Spring-cleaning activities can stir up dust mites, so be sure to:

  • Wash your bedding every week in hot water to help keep pollen under control.
  • Wash your hair before going to bed, since pollen can accumulate in your hair.
  • Wear an inexpensive painter’s mask and gloves when cleaning, vacuuming or painting to limit dust and chemical inhalation and skin exposure.
  • Vacuum twice a week.
  • Limit the number of throw rugs in your home to reduce dust and mold.
  • Make sure the rugs you do have are washable.
  • Change air conditioning and heating air filters often.

Summer

Warm temperatures and high humidity can put a strain on seasonal allergy and asthma sufferers. Summer is the peak time for some types of pollen, smog and even mold:

  • Stay indoors between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., when outdoor pollen counts tend to be highest.
  • Be careful when going from extreme outdoor heat to air conditioning. The temperature change can trigger an asthma attack.
  • Wear a mask when you mow the lawn or when around freshly cut grass. Afterward, take a shower, wash your hair and change clothes.
  • Dry laundry inside instead of on an outside clothesline.
  • Check your yard for allergens, as well as other irritants such as oak, birch, cedar and cottonwood trees; weeds such as nettle or ragweed can also trigger allergies.
  • Wear shoes, long pants and long sleeves if allergic to bee stings.
  • Do not wear scented deodorants, hair products or perfumes when outdoors.

Fall

Cooler temperatures are ideal for planting flowers and trees, but be sure to plant those that produce less pollen, such as fir, pine, dogwood, azaleas, tulips, irises and pansies.

  • Wear a mask while raking leaves or when working with mulch or hay.
  • Use a dehumidifier in your basement to deter mold.
  • Clean your dehumidifier frequently.
  • Wash bathroom tiles and shower curtains with mold-killing products.