Tag: advice

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.

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.

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.

Enjoy a Safe and Happy Independence Day

Independence Day is a celebration of the United States of America. The holiday is marked by fanfare and large parties, complete with barbecues, fireworks and parades.

As fun as July 4th festivities typically are, injuries, particularly those involving fireworks, are a concern that celebrants should not take lightly. An estimated 11,000 people visited the emergency room for fireworks-related injuries in 2016, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, fireworks aren’t the only danger this time of year. In order to remain safe, individuals can heed these tips.

• Do not drink and drive. Alcohol consumption may accompany Independence Day festivities. For those planning on using a car to get to and from parties, it is essential to designate a driver who will not imbibe. Otherwise, utilize any number of ridesharing services or available taxis.

• Swim smartly. Always swim with a buddy, and consider hiring a lifeguard if you’ll be hosting a pool party and cannot keep a watchful eye on guests in the pool. Adults also should not swim intoxicated, as it can impede the ability to stay afloat and may lead to risky behaviors.

• Leave fireworks to the professionals. Watch a public fireworks display instead of lighting fireworks on the street or in the backyard.

• Exercise caution with sparklers. Kids running around with sparklers in hand could be a recipe for disaster, as sparklers burn extremely hot. Make sure children do not wave them around or others can get burned. Keep a bucket of water handy to properly extinguish the sparklers.

• Review safe boating practices. If July 4th festivities find you out on the water, be sure that life jackets are worn and set boating and water safety rules for the family.

• Check in with a vet. The Fourth of July can be traumatic for pets not accustomed to fireworks and other loud noises or crowds. Behavior therapy, medication and ensuring that pets do not run away from home and get lost may be necessary.

• Watch food temperatures. Do not leave food out in the hot sun for too long; otherwise, harmful bacteria can grow and potentially cause foodborne illnesses. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service says to never leave food out of refrigeration for more than two hours. If the temperature is above 90 F, food should not be left out for more than one hour.

These are some of the safety strategies that can keep Independence Day celebrations both safe and enjoyable.

How to Save More for Retirement After Age 50

Whether it’s advice from their parents, a response to television ads urging viewers to save for retirement, or their own financial savvy, many of today’s young professionals recognize the importance of saving for retirement from the moment they receive their first paychecks. But men and women over 50 may not have been so practical, and many such professionals may feel a need to save more as their retirements draw ever closer. Saving for retirement might seem like a no-brainer, but the National Institute on Retirement Security notes that, in 2017, almost 40 million households in the United States had no retirement savings at all. In addition, the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that Americans have a retirement savings deficit of $4.3 trillion, meaning they have $4.3 trillion less in retirement savings than they should. Men and women over 50 who have retirement savings deficits may need to go beyond depositing more money in their retirement accounts in order to live comfortably and pay their bills in retirement. The following are a few simple ways to start saving more for retirement.

• Redirect nonessential expenses into savings. Some retirement accounts, such as IRAs, are governed by deposit limits. But others, such as 401(k) retirement plans, have no such limits. Men and women can examine their spending habits in an effort to find areas where they can cut back on nonessential expenses, such as cable television subscriptions and dining out. Any money saved each month can then be redirected into savings and/or retirement accounts.

• Reconsider your retirement date. Deciding to work past the age of 65 is another way men and women over 50 can save more for retirement. Many professionals now continue working past the age of 65 for a variety of reasons. Some may suspect they’ll grow bored in retirement, while others may keep working out of financial need. Others may simply love their jobs and want to keep going until their passion runs out. Regardless of the reason, working past the age of 65 allows men and women to keep earning and saving for retirement, while also delaying the first withdrawal from their retirement savings accounts.

• Reconsider your current and future living situation. Housing costs are many people’s most considerable expense, and that won’t necessarily change in retirement. Even men and women who have paid off their mortgages may benefit by moving to a region with lower taxes or staying in the same area but downsizing to a smaller home where their taxes and utility bills will be lower. Adults who decide to move to more affordable areas or into smaller, less expensive homes can then redirect the money they are saving into interest-bearing retirement or savings accounts.

Many people begin saving for retirement the moment they cash their first professional paycheck. But even adults over the age of 50 sometimes feel a need to save more as their retirement dates draw closer, and there are many ways to do just that.

How to Approach “What can I bring?”

When hosting a party, hosts are often asked, “What can I bring?” Those four words can spark as much thought in hosts as they do in guests, who want to show their appreciation for gracious hosts by bringing something to the party and hopefully taking some of the load off their hosts’ shoulders.

Veteran hosts know that answering, “What can I bring?” is not always so easy. But there are a few guidelines hosts can follow to ensure both they and their guests feel good about what is brought to the festivities.

Consider the type of party

The type of gathering you’re hosting may dictate which gifts are acceptable and which are best left at home. For example, what works for a football party likely will not suffice at a formal affair. Casual affairs tend to be more loose and not as planned, whereas hosts throwing a formal dinner party likely have a set menu and schedule in mind. Guests can bring appetizers or snacks like potato chips and pretzels to backyard barbecues or parties geared around televised sporting events, but asking guests to bring appetizers to formal affairs may throw your entire schedule out of whack if guests are late.

Consider the guests

Some guests may specialize in a particular item or be especially knowledgeable in a certain area, and hosts can put such skills and knowledge to good use when guests ask what to bring to the party. Guests whose baked goods have achieved legendary status within your social circle can be tasked with bringing dessert, while those with an extensive knowledge of wines can bring the libations for the night. In the latter case, let the party’s wine enthusiast know the menu in advance so he or she can bring appropriate pairings.

Avoid asking guests to bring side dishes

Some guests may offer to bring side dishes, but this once again may leave hosts vulnerable to guests who may not arrive on time. In addition, guests may have their own favorite side dishes, which may or may not go well with your entree. When hosting a dinner party, it’s best to prepare the whole dinner on your own. If guests offer to bring sides, thank them before you politely explain how excited you are to host and prepare the entire meal on your own.

Don’t overlook decorative items

If the food and beverages are already taken care of but guests still want to contribute, don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring decorative items like a bouquet of fresh flowers or candles for the dinner table. Such items add to the ambiance of a dinner party, and picking them up does not require much effort on the part of guests.

Have a backup plan in place

Guests sometimes forget to bring something, even if they promised they would. So hosts should have a backup plan in place just in case guests prove forgetful. If one guest is tasked with bringing dessert, pick up some ice cream anyway just so you’re covered if that guest forgets to bring some dessert.

“What can I bring?” is a question party hosts can expect to hear. How hosts answer that question can impact how much they and their guests enjoy the festivities.

5 Ways to Make Homes Safer

Injuries that occur around the home contribute to millions of medical visits and tens of thousands of fatalities each year. Falls account for the largest percentage of home accidents, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that around 30,000 fall-related fatalities occur each year in the United States.

Many home accidents are entirely preventable when proper caution is exercised. As homeowners prepare for home-improvement projects, improving safety inside and outside the home should be a priority.

1. Improve lighting

One of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of falls is to improve lighting around the home. The National Institutes of Health state that adequate lighting is important at entrances to the home, stairways, hallways, and other frequently traversed areas. Make sure lighting fixtures are using the highest wattage light bulb allowed. Artificial lighting sources become even more vital in fall and autumn, when natural light is less abundant in a home. In addition, install lighting outdoors by the front door, over the garage and where garbage pails are stored to facilitate safe passage.

2. Eliminate slick surfaces

Improving traction around the house also can minimize falls. Throw rugs and runners can be made more secure with nonslip rubber backings. Bath rugs can reduce slipping on wet surfaces in the bathroom. Also, nonslip mats can be used inside of showers and bathtubs.

Use shoe trays to reduce puddling from melting snow or rain runoff in entryways. Mop up spills quickly, and consider the use of matte- or textured-finished flooring to improve stability underfoot. Promptly remove snow and ice from driveways and walkways. For those who live in cold climates, heated concrete can help melt precipitation before it accumulates.

3. Make needed repairs

Repair loose floorboards and pull carpet taut if it has started to stretch out. Address cracks outdoors and ensure that patio stones, bricks and pavers are secure and level to reduce tripping hazards. Fix areas of the landscape where water may pool and freeze, creating potential hazards.

4. Declutter all spaces

Remove unnecessary items and furniture from rooms to free up more space to get around. Be sure there are no obstructions in walkways, entryways and near doors. Keep staircases clear at all times. 5. Invest in assistive devices Handrails, grab bars, nonslip stair treads, and many other devices can make homes safer for people of all ages and abilities. Outfit cabinets and closets with organizers that put frequently used items within easy reach. A sturdy step stool can reduce the risk of injury while reaching for items stored on high shelves.

Taking measures to reduce the risk of falling around the home is a worthwhile home improvement project.