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Millions of us will shift our focus from Mars to the stars in a few days as the Perseid meteor showers build toward a grand finale Saturday night, August 12-13, 2012.
The crescent moon will not interfere the last few hours before dawn Sunday morning, when there could be up to 100 “shooting stars” per hour.
Try to orient yourself toward the Northeast, where meteoroids will appear to “rain” down from the inverted “Y” of the constellation Perseus as it rises around midnight.
All you need to enjoy this awesome spectacle are warm clothes, blankets, comfortable chairs, and some favorite snacks. Oh, and someone to snuggle and ooh-and-ahh with!
Our fingers are crossed in hopes of good weather and cloudless skies in your neck of the woods.
Will you watch the Perseid meteor showers this weekend?
Do you have a viewing tip to share?
Are you one of those perky morning people who wakes up alarm-free, ready to take on the day? I have a friend who insists, “If you’re standing still, you’re waiting to die.” Harsh—makes me feel like a total slacker.
I relate more to cartoonist Nicole Hollander’s alter-ego, Sylvia, who writes: “I will try to be understanding of others….I will try to be more patient when dealing with the incompetent people around me….I will not slap anyone first thing in the morning.” At the office, I am known as the “Coffee Zombie.” Enough said?
According to 2012 research reported by the National Sleep Foundation, I am one of about 20% of the American population who needs to sleep nine hours or more on the weekends. 24% of us Baby Boomers average under seven hours of sleep on weekdays, spending much of our lives longing for the weekend so we can sleep in.
Generations X, Y, and Z (there’s a “Z” already?) have a tendency to sleep less because they are often texting on their phones before they go to sleep. They may sleep in on the weekends, but that’s because they’re up late having fun, which is insult to injury for Boomers.
Which group are you in? Do you love your mattress?
Thanks to Sandow Media LLC, for poll statistics
The grainy cell phone video clip was enhanced with a circular highlight on a small child in a crowded public swimming pool. No one, including the on-duty lifeguard, noticed the child slip off his raft, fall into the water, and disappear. By the time the child was discovered at the bottom of the pool, it was too late to revive him.
Some variation on this nightmare scenario plays out on average ten times a day each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control website. “Fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes” for children between the ages of 1 and 14.” An astounding, heartbreaking statistic, isn’t it?
People have flocked to beaches and public pools to escape the intense heat of this record-breaking summer. Sadly, accidental drownings have spiked in 2012, too. Let’s pause to remember the main factors that the CDC says affect drowning risk:
- Lack of Swimming Ability: Get swimming lessons for all family members, but especially children
- Lack of Close Supervision: Drowning can happen quickly and quietly anywhere there is water, even with lifeguards nearby
- Lack of Barriers: Childproofed pools reduce a child’s risk of drowning by 83%
- Location: Most children ages 1-4 drown in home swimming pools; the percentage of drownings in natural water settings, including lakes, rivers and oceans, increases with age
- Alcohol Use: Alcohol influences balance, coordination, and judgment, and its effects are heightened by sun exposure and heat; among adolescents and adults, alcohol is involved in up to 70% of water recreation deaths
What can you do to reduce drowning risk while still having fun?
- Supervise when in or around water & use the buddy system
- Learn to swim & learn CPR – Get your kids started on swimming lessons as early as possible
- Air-filled or foam toys are not safety devices – Don’t use them instead of life jackets
- Avoid alcohol, especially when supervising children
- Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating
- If you have a swimming pool at home, install four-sided fencing at least four feet high, with self-closing safety latches; clear the deck of toys and floats after use
This is just a short list of reminders. There are many more things you should know when boating or swimming in natural water settings like lakes, rivers, and oceans. Check out the CDC Factlist.
Is safety at the top of your summer fun list?
Although much of the U.S. will experience some relief from recordbreaking heat soon, Summer 2012 is really just getting cranked up. Here are some reminders about coping with extreme heat and how to avoid heat illness.
- Drink a lot more (non-alcoholic, non-sugary) fluids, especially water. Don’t wait until you are thirsty; keep sipping throughout the day. (Do check with your doctor if you take water pills or are supposed to limit intake.)
- Avoid very cold drinks – they can cause stomach cramps.
- Stay indoors, preferably with air conditioning on. If you don’t have AC, look for a public space like a shopping mall or public library that is air conditioned. There also may be heat-relief centers in your area.
- Fans may help, but won’t prevent heat illness; take a cool shower or bath instead.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen (“broad spectrum” SPF 15 or higher)
- NEVER leave anyone – including pets – in a closed, parked vehicle!
- Limit outdoor activities to morning and evening hours
- Slow down on exercise; drink even more fluids; sports drinks can replace salt and minerals you lose in sweat (On a low-salt diet? Talk to your doctor.)
- Rest often in shady areas.
- Beware of spoiled food, particularly after power outages
- Stay tuned to local news and weather reports
- Know the symptoms of heat illness and basic first aid. Find detailed info at the CDC website: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heattips.asp
- Check in regularly (at least every few hours) on high-risk folks:
- People 65 and older
- Infants and young children
- People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure
- People who have a mental illness
Did we leave anything important off our list? Please add your own tips in a comment!