As National Public Health Week comes to a close, Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) provides some final tips on practical ways to protect your health:
* Remember the importance of adult and children being up-to-date with their vaccinations. Every dollar spent on childhood immunizations saves $18.40 and prevents disease.
* If an adult begins walking regularly, a 10 percent weight loss could reduce an overweight person's lifetime medical costs by up to $5,300, as it would lower costs linked to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and high cholesterol. Visit the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans at www.health.gov/paguidelines to learn how much physical activity you should be getting.
* Stop using tobacco, which causes cancers of the lung, lip, tongue, mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach and pancreas; cardiovascular diseases which can result in heart attacks and strokes; and respiratory illnesses such as emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. For help quitting, tobacco users younger than 18 years can contact the American Lung Association at ysmoke.org for the Not on Tobacco (N-O-T) program. Delaware tobacco users 18 years and older can call the Delaware Quitline at 1-866-409-1858. Visit dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/tobacco.html
* Prevent community violence and crime by forming Neighborhood Watch groups, organizing a domestic violence awareness campaign, and sprucing up community areas such as playgrounds and sidewalks.
* Coordinate with community and state groups to bring Farmer's Markets and neighborhood grocery stores within walking distance for many residents. This will encourage diets high in fruits and vegetables. Establish community gardens so residents can grow their own fruits and vegetables, with extras going to feed the hungry.
* Ask local restaurants to provide nutrition information on their menus so people are aware of the calories, fat and sugar they are consuming. Convince them with this menu labeling fact sheet: www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/menulabelpi.pdf .
* Become a local parks and recreation partner to increase physical activity opportunities. The community may benefit by extended school gym hours, walking or cycling clubs, or recreation classes or leagues. And on our neighborhood streets, roads and highways, remember to follow these tips from the Delaware Office of Highway Safety ( ohs.delaware.gov/ .
* Drivers and passengers should always wear a seatbelt. Delaware's 2012 Seat Belt Use rate is 87.86 percent compared to the national rate of 86 percent, according to the Delaware Office of Highway Safety.
* Wear a helmet when riding a bike or a motorcycle. Drivers should be aware of cyclists and share the road accordingly.
* Delaware law calls for infants and toddlers to ride in rear-facing child safety seats through age 3, until that seat's height and weight limit for rear-facing use is reached. Children ages 4 to 7 years should ride in a forward-facing seat with a harness to the maximum height and weight limit allowed by the seat; then transition them to a booster seat. Children ages 8 through 12 should ride in a booster seat until they either exceed the seat's height and weight requirement or until they are big enough to have a shoulder belt fit appropriately: across the shoulder and chest, not across the neck or face, and across the upper thighs, not the stomach. For car seat fitting stations, visit the Delaware Office of Highway Safety's website at ohs.delaware.gov/carseat
* Don't text while driving. Hand-held devices are banned while driving in Delaware. According to the Delaware Office of Highway Safety, police issued 13,142 cell phone tickets in 2012, compared to 9,866 issued in 2011. Before you get in the car, watch educational videos about distracted driving at this website: ohs.delaware.gov/CellPhone . The first offense is $106 with court and other costs. Subsequent offense fines are between $100 and $300.
* Never drive impaired or let family or friends drive impaired.
* Drive defensively and at posted speeds.
* Pedestrians should use crosswalks and wear reflective clothing at night.
* Become educated on how local transportation, infrastructure, and land use decisions affect your community's ability to safely choose walking, biking or public transit over driving. Biking and walking encourage physical activity, improve community cohesion, and reduce motor vehicle pollution. To start, visit the Delaware Office of State Planning Coordination's website: www.stateplanning.delaware.gov/ .
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
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