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Cyber Safety Is Important for Every Grade

People rely on the internet every day. In recent months, reliance on digital technology was pushed even further as social distancing measures had the world going online for school and work and to maintain relationships with friends and family.

A 2018 report from Pew Research Center indicated that nearly 25 percent of young adults in America reported being online almost constantly. Common Sense Media says teens spend an average of nine hours a day online, compared to roughly six hours for those between the ages eight and 12 and 50 minutes for kids younger than eight.

Students must exercise caution when spending time online. Connectivity can be empowering, but it also puts students at risk from others and even their own, sometimes irresponsible behaviors. Staying safe online should remain a priority for students who must spend more time on the internet and using digital education tools. These are some tips for maintaining cyber safety.

• Exercise caution when sharing information like your name, address, phone number, and other personal data online. Check with a trusted parent or teacher before sharing private data.

• Report any online activity that makes you feel uncomfortable, scared or confused, whether it is directed at you or a classmate.

• Think carefully before you post comments online. Data remains online indefinitely, and your words and actions today can greatly affect your future.

• Respect others online by refraining from demeaning or bullying comments.

• Do not try to get around firewalls and blocked websites set up by school administrators. These limitations are there for your protection.

• Stick to school-sanctioned assignments and internet browsing when using school-issued devices. Administrators may have the right to monitor student activity without students’ knowledge and you can easily get yourself in trouble.

• It is easy to hide or fake one’s identity on the internet, so never take someone you meet or speak with online at face value. Never meet up with someone you do not know or only met online.

• Talk to your parents or educators about extortion and ransomware that tries to trick you into providing payment in some shape or form to prevent a perpetrator from releasing private information about you, advises the Readiness and Emergency for Schools Technical Assistance Center.

Various steps can be taken to promote cyber safety among students, parents and administrators.

The Differences Between Weather Warnings and Watches

Weather is hard to predict. Meteorologists have many tools at their disposal to help forecast storms and other phenomena, but it is impossible to predict the weather with 100 percent accuracy.

When the weather takes a turn for the worse, the National Weather Service may issue certain notices to prepare the public. Understanding the level of threat a notice carries can help people take appropriate action and avoid serious consequences.

The NWS uses a four-tier system to alert the public of hazards. Here’s a closer look at what each tier constitutes.

Outlook

This is the least serious weather alert. It usually means that hazardous weather may approach in the next three to seven days. The public should monitor the situation and stay tuned for further updates.

Advisory

With an advisory, weather conditions are not overly serious but could prove inconvenient. Individuals should be cautious and prudent when preparing supplies or traveling.

Watch

During a weather watch, there is an increased risk of a hazardous weather occurrence, though the timing or location is still uncertain. This is when it is essential to practice an evacuation or preparedness plan and stock up on any last-minute supplies.

Warning

The most serious of the weather impact notifications, a warning constitutes an imminent or likely event. The weather may cause a threat to property or life. Immediate action to stay safe is necessary.

While these alerts are based on the severity of impending weather, it is important to note that the NWS will not necessarily follow the same timeline with issuing alerts. That depends on how fast a weather situation develops. If there is time, an advisory, then a watch and then a warning may be issued. However, if a storm moves in rapidly, only a warning may be issued. People always should pay attention to weather notices so they can be prepared should severe weather be in the forecast.

How to Honor First Responders

This fall marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The attacks on September 11, 2001 remain the deadliest terror attacks in world history, claiming more than 2,900 lives and causing countless injuries and long-term health problems for tens of thousands of civilians and first responders.

The 20th anniversary of 9/11 will no doubt evoke responses that span the emotional spectrum. Sadness may dominate such responses, but the anniversary of 9/11 also is a great time to reflect on the efforts of first responders. First responders played a vital role on 9/11, and many lost their lives and/or suffered long-term health consequences resulting from their selfless efforts to save innocent victims of the attacks.

In the two decades since the 9/11 attacks, first responders have continued to make countless sacrifices to ensure their communities are safe and peaceful places to call home. The 20th anniversary of 9/11 is a great time to recognize the efforts of first responders and honor them for all they do.

• Donate to local fire departments. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 54 percent of active firefighting personnel are volunteers. Many of those volunteer firefighters work for underfunded departments that are in need of financial support. Donating to such departments is a great way to show first responders how much their efforts are appreciated. Donations may be used to purchase new equipment, upgrade existing facilities, provide vital training, and/or improve response times, the latter of which can increase the likelihood that firefighters make it through calls safe and sound.

• Back legislation to support wounded first responders. Many first responders suffer significant mental and physical injuries while on the job. Various nonprofit organizations help wounded first responders who may need to make modifications to their homes or purchase costly equipment to get through their daily lives. But nonprofit organizations cannot go it alone in support of wounded first responders. Citizens can do their part by promoting and voting for local, state and national legislation that makes it easy for wounded first responders to get the help they need, when they need it. In addition to urging local politicians to support such legislation, private citizens can utilize social media to promote proposals and other efforts to support wounded first responders. Many 9/11 first responders are still fighting for government-backed support to treat injuries suffered 20 years ago, and a vocal citizenry can be a strong asset in their fight and the fight of countless others in need of help.

• Commit to supporting first responders year-round. The 20th anniversary of 9/11 will call attention to the efforts of first responders on that day 20 years ago as well as the countless times since then that these brave men and women have served their communities. But first responders deserve vocal, year-round support. Make a concerted effort to thank policemen, firefighters, EMTs, nurses, and doctors in your community whenever you interact with them, and urge others to follow suit.

First responders play a vital role in communities across the globe. The 20th anniversary of 9/11 can serve as a catalyst for communities to express their support for first responders.

Travel Safely This Labor Day

Labor Day is a celebration of workers and the labor movements in the United States and Canada. Often considered the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day prompts many people to travel for one last getaway prior to the arrival of fall.

Labor Day get-togethers with family and friends typically include barbecues and other outdoor activities, and these gatherings may attract loved ones from various areas of the country. The National Safety Council warns that thousands of people will be injured in traffic accidents during the upcoming Labor Day weekend. In recent years, traffic fatalities over Labor Day weekend have averaged around 15 percent higher than in similar, non-holiday periods, says the NSC. In addition, the COVID-19 virus, although diminished, is still at large. Travelers are urged to remain diligent in regard to hygiene and other safety practices. The following tips can help Labor Day travelers stay as safe as possible.

• Call ahead and inquire about any travel restrictions. Many areas of the country have reopened, but it is important to find out if there are restrictions on crowd limits or if certain facilities are closed.

• Book early and leave time for travel. People are increasingly anxious to travel once again, and may wait until the Labor Day holiday to do so. Hotels and other amenities may fill up fast, so book travel plans well in advance and leave ample time for traveling to account for large crowds and busy roadways.

• Enforce a zero tolerance policy for intoxicated driving. Those who are planning to drink should never get behind the wheel. Also, young drivers are at particular risk to be involved in alcohol-related crashes, so teens and underage young adults should not be allowed to drink at parties.

• Limit distractions behind the wheel. Make a policy that the vehicle is a distraction-free zone. This includes keeping the radio low, stowing the driver’s cell phone out of reach so texts or other notifications do not become distractions and helping to keep children occupied so they’re not making a ruckus.

• Exercise caution in inclement weather. Late-summer storms can roll in and cause downpours. Drive slowly and cautiously, pulling over until visibility and conditions improve, if necessary.

These are some ways travelers can emphasize safety as they enjoy Labor Day weekend away from home.

How to Get Kids Interested in Cooking

Parents introduce their children to all types of new hobbies and skills. There are plenty of opportunities to open kids’ eyes to the world around them. One of the more useful lessons parents can teach their children is how to cook.

Knowing how to cook is a vital skill that can help children become more independent and ensure they know how to survive later in life on their own. So many young adults go off to college without the ability to do more than power up a microwave or boil noodles. Ordering takeout all the time is expensive, and frozen dinners often lack the nutrition of homemade dishes. Learning how to cook a variety of foods at an early age can lay the foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating and fun in the kitchen.

Parents can encourage children who show early inclinations in the kitchen, but also help reluctant learners to develop some basic cooking skills. Here are some ways to make cooking something kids can look forward to.

• Involve children in meal planning. Get input from your children about what they might like to see on the menu. While there may be some items that are expected, including comfort foods like mac-and-cheese, parents may be surprised at how mature their children’s palates can be. Maybe they’ve heard about a dish on television or learned about a specific ethnic cuisine at school and want to give it a try.

• Watch cooking shows together. How-to cooking shows and competitions appear on both cable and network television. Kids may enjoy watching Gordon Ramsay mentor young chefs; Robert Irvine help to renovate a failing restaurant; or Ann Burrell assist self-proclaimed “worst chefs” shed those monikers. Cooking shows can introduce kids to food-related terminology and get them heated up about cooking their own meals.

• Ask for help in the kitchen. Tailor cooking activities to youngsters’ ages. Little ones can begin by adding and stirring ingredients. As they get older, children can segue into chopping or even mixing foods on the stove. Many kids like being taste testers and offering advice on whether a food needs more spices. By middle school, many kids have the wherewithal to plan meals themselves and cook them from start to finish.

• Be adventurous. Introduce kids to various flavors by not only cooking various dishes at home, but by dining out at different restaurants. This can encourage kids to appreciate different cultures and cuisines.

Learning to cook is a vital skill. Lessons can begin early in childhood and become more extensive as children age.

How to Help Students Improve Their Focus on Their Studies

Teachers strive to create supportive and challenging classroom environments for their students. Such settings can bring out the best in students and help them overcome obstacles, including an inability to focus.

The struggles students can have with focusing on their studies was apparent during the pandemic. A 2020 survey of more than 400 college students found that 64 percent were concerned about their ability to maintain their focus and discipline in remote instructional environments. Though educators, students and parents are hopeful that remote learning will soon be a thing of the past, no one is certain about what lies ahead in regard to the 2021-22 school year. Ideally, students will be back in school time full-time five days per week by the start of the new academic year. However, there’s no guarantee that will be the case, and students may need help focusing on their studies.

• Emphasize one activity at a time. Various studies have shown that multitasking adversely affects performance and makes it hard to concentrate. A recent study from researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that performing two or three activities simultaneously puts significantly more demand on the brain than simply doing those tasks one after another. All students, and especially those who are struggling with focus, should be encouraged to take on one task at a time.

• Take breaks. The Cleveland Clinic notes that various studies have found that periodic breaks improve mood, boost performance and increase a person’s ability to concentrate and pay attention. Many students are well acquainted with lengthy cramming sessions on the eve of a big exam, which can feel like a rite of passage for high schoolers and college students. Parents and educators can emphasize the importance of taking breaks during such sessions and how periodic rest can help improve performance.

• Take a piecemeal approach to big tasks. The Child Mind Institute notes that breaking big tasks down into smaller, more manageable pieces can help kids effectively tackle more challenging tasks. The piecemeal approach can make big tasks seem less daunting, and the success kids have at each smaller task can provide some needed momentum as they draw closer to solving the problem.

Many students struggle to focus on their studies. Some simple strategies can help students overcome such challenges and fulfill their academic potential.

Essential Summer Skin Care Tips

Protecting and caring for skin should be part of people’s year-round health care regimens. Such an approach can help people look their best and also uncover any minor issues before they escalate into something more significant.

National Geographic says adults can carry eight pounds and 22 square feet of skin on their bodies. Skin guards a person from harmful chemicals, protects the body against extremes in temperature and prevents internal organs and other components from evaporating. The skin also guards against harmful sunlight.

Skin care is not seasonal, though efforts to protect the skin may need to be stepped up during the summer. The American Academy of Dermatology says one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetimes. In the summer, ultraviolet radiation levels are elevated and people often wear less clothing that exposes more of their skin. According to Dr. Ron Shelton, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, the bulk of sun damage to the skin happens in the summer. These skin wellness tips can help protect the skin and keep it looking its best when the mercury rises.

Lighten Up

Choose lightweight products for summer usage. This includes cleansers, makeup and oil cleansers. For instance, rather than an oil cleanser, choose a gentle, foaming option. Thicker products mixed with increased perspiration and humidity may lead to clogged pores and inflammation.

Lather On Sunscreen

Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more is recommended to protect the skin from UV damage. But it’s easy to forget to apply sunscreen. However, using a lightweight moisturizer with SPF built in reduces product usage and time spent caring for skin.

Utilize Vitamin C Serums

Hyperpigmentation can occur in summer. According to Omer Ibrahim, a board-certified dermatologist and co-director of clinical research at Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology, vitamin C serum can improve the appearance of fine lines, help with collagen production and also prevent hyperpigmentation.

Drink More Water

Higher temperatures and increased perspiration can lead to dehydration. That may cause headaches, dry skin and even lightheadedness. Drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water every day.

Stay in the Shade

In addition to using sunscreen daily, try to stay out of the sun as much as possible when UV rays are at their strongest, which is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. In addition, wear clothing that offers sunscreen protection.

It’s important to care for the skin daily, but especially so during the summer.

How Consumers Can Show Their Support for Local Businesses

The road back to normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic figures to have some twists and turns. Even after the rollout of vaccines began in late 2020, public health agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization emphasized the importance of people keeping their collective guard up, as previously unseen variants of the virus were still being discovered.

A slow march toward recovery has begun, but the uphill nature of that march underscores how important it is that communities continue to come together to support each other as well as the locally owned businesses that make towns and cities so unique. Consumers who want to help the local businesses in their community rebound and thrive in the months and years ahead can show their support in various ways.

• Take charge of your to-go order. Convenience became the name of the game when ordering food during the pandemic. Curbside pickup service was offered as a safety measure, and many restaurants that never previously offered delivery or takeout started to do so to generate revenue at a time when in-person dining was limited if not disallowed. Some restaurants began offering delivery through apps like Grubhub or Uber Eats, and though that may be convenient for diners, restaurants must pay a fee to utilize those apps. In lieu of ordering through a third party delivery service, consumers can take charge of their to-go orders and pick up the food themselves. That saves restaurants the delivery app surcharge, allowing them to increase net profits on the meals they sell.

• Continue to be loyal. A recent study from researchers at the Harvard Business School found that a customer’s eighth purchase was an average of 80 percent higher than his or her first purchase. That highlights just how valuable repeat customers are to small businesses. Consumers who have had positive experiences with small businesses in their communities in the past can continue to support those companies by looking to them first when they need new products or services. Doing so not only helps small businesses retain more customers, but it increases the likelihood that consumers will again have positive buying experiences.

• Share experiences via social media. Small businesses recognize the value of social media. A 2021 survey from Visual Objects found that 74 percent of small businesses in the United States are active on their social media accounts at least once each week. Social media can become even more valuable to small businesses when their customers utilize such platforms to share positive experiences and encourage their friends and neighbors to patronize local businesses.

Consumers can take various steps to support small businesses in their communities as such establishments look to regroup and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scenic Campgrounds Across North America

Thousands of campsites litter the North American landscape, providing an opportunity for campers of all ages and interests to find a place to call home for a few days. Many campsites feature some spectacular scenery and other attractions that make them coveted spots to pitch a tent. Here’s a look at a few camping locations that boast incredible views.

• Bartlett Clove Campground, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska: This remote and stunning campground offers views of crystal blue glacial water with a thick forest that surrounds the shoreline. Visit in the summer when the days are long and warm.

• Hanakoa Campsite, Napali Coast State Wilderness Park, Kauai, Hawaii: The Napali Coast is recognized as one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, and camping here can feel like you’re camping in paradise. Cliffs, waterfalls and streams make this location picturesque.

• Garden Key, Tortugas National Park, Florida: Tortugas National Park is a remote series of islands which are accessible after a two-hour ferry ride from Key West. It offers a tropical camping experience under mangrove trees, sitting on the edge of beautiful blue waters. Lighthouses and historic forts are adjacent, while one of the world’s largest barrier reef systems can be steps from your tent.

• Jedediah Smith Campground, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, California: If you’re intrigued by the opportunity to camp beneath towering, ancient redwoods, look no further than this campground. Camp among the natural beauty with plenty of solitude and space. It’s possible to spot black bear, river otters, bobcats, and other indigenous animals while traversing 20 miles of hiking trails.

• Buttle Lake and Ralph River Campgrounds, Strathcona Park, Canada: Visitors can behold the view from Golden Hinde, the highest peak on Vancouver Island, which towers at 7,210 feet. Also worth checking out is Della Falls, the highest cascade in Canada, which requires a multi-day excursion by boat and foot. Soaring mountain peaks, waterfalls and rivers also are accessible within these campgrounds.

• Assateague Island, Maryland National Seashore: The scarcity of tree cover on the island offers nearly unblemished views of miles of ocean. Campers can enjoy herds of wild horses and the siren’s call of the beach and ocean. While open year-round, late summer and early fall are the most comfortable time for camping.

• Watchman Campground, Zion National Park, Utah: This campground is surrounded by rocky peaks, juniper woodlands and massive sandstone cliffs. Bike trails along the Virgin River and other hiking opportunities help set this campground apart. Breathtaking sunsets also attract thousands of visitors to this area of the country.

Camping is made even more special when visitors spend time at a stunning campsite with awe-inspiring views.

The Importance of Safety When Swimming in Backyard Pools

Backyard pools provide families with ample opportunities for recreation. It’s easy to be distracted by all the fun when swimming in a backyard pool, but it is crucial that homeowners take steps to ensure everyone is safe when spending time in the pool.

Establish a barrier

The Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children between the ages of one and four in the United States. Pools attract curious children, so maintaining a barrier between the home and the pool is essential. Many municipalities require some sort of fencing around pools or ladders that self-latch or can be closed off to climbing.

Locks and alarms on windows and doors that face or provide access to the backyard also can serve as barriers.

Keep play under control

Children and even adults may be swept up in the fun and engage in potentially dangerous behaviors. Pool users should not be allowed to run around the perimeter of an inground pool, as the cement can get slippery when wet and lead to falls that can cause injuries.

Exercise caution when using diving boards or diving into pools. It’s easy for divers to hit their heads when diving off a board into a pool due to close proximity of the transition wall in the deep end of the pool or by diving into shallow water. The Red Cross recommends a water depth of 11.5 feet for safe diving and the transition wall should be at least 16.5 feet from the tip of the diving board. However, the standard depth for many pools is 7.5 feet of water and a slope beginning seven feet from the board.

Exercise caution with inflatables

The Good Housekeeping Research Institute found that inflatable pool toys are especially dangerous. Such toys can flip easily, putting children at risk for injury (from striking the sides of the pool) or drowning (especially if the children were ejected into deep water). Inflatables also can prevent access to the surface of the water for submerged swimmers.

Choose a backyard lifeguard

At least one person should be designated as backyard lifeguard when the pool is in use. This person should always direct his or her focus on the pool, counting swimmers and keeping track of who enters and leaves the pool. Safe Kids Worldwide suggests rotating water watchers every 15 minutes.

Pools are fun places to spend summer afternoons, especially when every step is taken to ensure the safety of swimmers.