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Making sense of nutrition labels

(BPT) – You can find them on the side of most every product at your local grocery store. They are plain and kind of boring but nutrition labels were designed to contain vitally important information for good health and wise food choices. These labels tell you the number of servings in a container, how many calories per serving, and what amounts of vitamins and essential nutrients (like sodium) they contain.

However, they don’t just give you the raw data, they also tell you what percentage of your daily allowance of needed nutrients you are getting. When it comes to sodium, however, that may be a problem. The daily allowances are based on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, with guidance from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), now known as the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies).

The current FDA Dietary Guidelines call for a maximum daily sodium allowance of 2,300 mg, well below what the average American eats, which is about 3,400 mg per day of sodium. But, when the IOM studied this issue and released their report in 2013, “Sodium Intake in Populations: Assessment of Evidence,” they found no evidence to lower the daily allowance below 2,300 mg per day and some indication that doing so would be harmful. The level set by the FDA not only represents a significant population-wide sodium reduction effort, it also ignores the latest evidence.

An increasing amount of research is contradicting the FDA’s sodium guidelines. A 2014 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the healthy range for sodium consumption was between 3,000 and 6,000 mg per day and eating less than 3,000 mg per day may increase the risk of death or cardiovascular incidents. And a 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that low-sodium diets were more likely to result in death from cardiovascular disease.

Low-salt diets can lead to insulin resistance, congestive heart failure, cardiovascular events, iodine deficiency, loss of cognition, low birth weights, and higher rates of death. Dr. Michael Alderman, editor of the American Journal of Hypertension and former president of the American Society of Hypertension, has repeatedly cited his concern that a population-wide sodium reduction campaign could have unintended consequences.

Very few countries in the world meet the government recommendations. A study of almost 20,000 people in 33 countries shows the normal range of consumption around the world is 2,800 to 4,800 mg/day. This is consistent regardless of where people get their food, either from home-cooked meals, prepackaged meals or restaurants.

The new nutrition labels were supposed to go into place this year, but now the FDA has indefinitely delayed their implementation. Hopefully this will allow them time to adjust the sodium limits to more accurately reflect the evidence as well as how real people eat and the safe range of sodium consumption.

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Sports nutritionals 101: What you should know about supplementing your workout

(BPT) – Whether you’re an athlete looking for an extra competitive edge or would just like to increase the effectiveness of your daily workout, you have most likely considered adding nutritional supplements to your fitness routine. Diet, exercise and everyday lifestyle are all factors that can help determine the right supplements for you.

“It’s not uncommon for people who’ve never tried nutritional supplements to have some misconceptions about them,” says Don Saladino, a fitness and nutrition expert who trains celebrities and is a brand advocate for Garden of Life(R) SPORT. “People may think supplementation is only for die-hard athletes, but every human being is an athlete. We do things each day like move, carry items and change direction. Carrying a baby, hauling groceries or running across the street — these are the exact same patterns an athlete needs to perform, which is why it’s important to learn about all the options available and how they can help.”

As you’re considering nutritional supplements, keep these important points in mind:

* Power up with protein — Adding a protein-rich sports supplement to your diet provides many benefits. Protein fuels workouts, aids in muscle recovery after exercise and extends energy throughout the day. Supplements can provide needed nutrients that are difficult to get through diet alone. Adding protein powder into a smoothie or snacking on a protein bar can help incorporate necessary nutrients like antioxidants into your daily diet.

* Match your supplement to your objective — An exercise regimen can greatly benefit from a system of supplementation. Various nutrient-rich supplements are designed to be taken before you exercise, and others following exercise. For example, pre-workout supplements such as Garden of Life SPORT ENERGY + Focus incorporate ingredients intended to improve focus, such as organic coffeeberry, and optimize energy production, such as B12. Post-exercise supplements such as SPORT Organic Plant-Based Recovery can help your body recover faster from the rigors of vigorous exercise.

* Pick your best protein — Protein is a key component of sports nutrition, since it helps build muscle mass and supports muscle recovery post-workout. When a supplement contains all nine of the essential amino acids that the body can’t produce on its own, it contains “complete proteins.” You can get these essential amino acids from different protein sources, such as plant-based protein or whey protein. Plant-based proteins are great for people following a vegetarian or vegan diet, and they are especially effective at enhancing post-workout recovery. Whey protein is designed to refuel and repair muscles and can help maximize muscle growth when supplementing with regular exercise.

* Keep it clean — It’s important to be aware of what’s in your supplement. Just as you choose organic foods and beverages for their ingredient transparency, you wouldn’t want a nutritional supplement that’s made up of chemicals. Look for a truly clean sports nutrition system that’s designated with the Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified seals, as well as by Informed-Choice for Sport and NSF(R) Certified For Sport.

“Working out is good for you — whether you choose to supplement or not. But the right nutritional supplement can help maximize the benefits of your exercise regimen and improve how you feel during everyday life activities,” Saladino says.

Nutritional supplements may be the fuel your body needs to reach the next level of performance, whether it’s putting that extra weight into your workout or lifting an extra child at home.

To learn more about clean sport supplements, visit www.gardenoflife.com/sport.

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4 steps to safely recycle your household batteries

(BPT) – Do you have a pile of used household batteries hidden in your junk drawer or in a coffee can in the garage? You know you should be environmentally responsible and recycle them, but you aren’t sure where to start. So the pile grows larger.

But did you also know that extra precautions are required when storing and recycling them? Some batteries retain a residual charge even after they can no longer properly power a device. These batteries may appear dead but they can be a safety risk because their power has not been completely used up. Some batteries can combust or spark, causing a fire or other safety incident.

That’s why it’s important for anyone with used batteries to embrace some simple safety tips when storing them. Call2Recycle, the leading consumer battery recycling program in North America, offers these recommendations for safely protecting your batteries to avoid any issues:

1. Bag each battery in its own clear plastic bag before placing it in a storage container. If a bag isn’t available, you can tape the terminals with these tape types: clear packing, non-conductive electrical and duct. Avoid masking, painter and Scotch tape; opaque bags or any wax products. Make sure the label is visible.

2. Store the batteries in a cool, dry place. Incidents can occur when batteries (or the devices they power such as a cellphone or tablet) are exposed to inclement or excessively hot weather. Store them in a plastic container; avoid metal or cardboard.

3. Keep an eye out for damaged batteries. If you see a swollen or bulging battery, immediately put it in a non-flammable material such as sand or kitty litter in a cool, dry place. Do not dispose of it in the trash. Contact Call2Recycle, the manufacturer or retailer immediately for instructions, especially if the label says it is Lithium or Lithium-Ion.

4. Drop them off within six months. Call2Recycle recommends storing old batteries no longer than six months. Make sure they are bagged or taped before dropping them off for recycling.

You can drop off rechargeable batteries for free at a Call2Recycle public drop-off site anywhere in the U.S. The online locator can help you find a nearby site; its Recycle on the Way feature helps you add a recycling stop on your errand run. Retailers such as The Home Depot, Lowe’s and Staples also accept them for recycling.

For single-use batteries, you can drop them off at select Call2Recycle participating locations, purchase your own Call2Recycle recycling box or contact your local community recycling center for other options.

All household batteries can be recycled. In particular, metals in rechargeable batteries can be repurposed into other products such as new batteries, stainless steel pans and golf clubs. By dropping them at a Call2Recycle drop-off site, you can be assured that your used batteries will be kept out of the landfill and recycled in the most sustainable way possible.

Start your commitment to safe battery recycling today. For more information, visit www.Call2Recycle.org.

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6 simple steps to avoid distracted driving

(BPT) – Mobile phones have become an essential part of life for most people, helping them stay connected and increase productivity. However, this technology can also be a distraction when driving, which puts everyone on the road at risk.

More than one-quarter of all car crashes involve phone use, both with handsets and hands-free, the National Safety Council reports. Considering many states and countries don’t yet compile and report data on cellphone use following a crash, this number is likely much higher.

Distracted driving isn’t just an issue for young adults. High technology use means this is a problem across generations. For professionals in particular, the expectation to stay productive and reachable means a constant temptation to use cellphones when driving.

Recognizing the ethical and liability issues that arise when employees drive while distracted, employers across the country have begun implementing distracted-driving policies. Typically, these policies prohibit employees from using mobile phones while driving on company time.

In January 2017, the NSC reported that Cargill was the largest privately held company to prohibit the use of mobile devices, including hands-free technology, while an employee is driving on behalf of the company. Cargill’s Chairman and CEO David MacLennan just marked the one-year anniversary of following the policy.

“I had to try the policy myself first,” says MacLennan. “Once I knew what it would take to go completely cellphone free in my car, I could then make it work for our entire company.”

Based on his experience, MacLennan offers these six simple steps for anyone looking to eliminate distracted driving yet stay productive and responsive to your job.

1. Auto response
Use a free automated response app to let callers know that you’re driving and can’t take the call. You can personalize the response so incoming calls or texts receive a text message saying you’re on the road.

2. DND
If you’re driving a vehicle outfitted with communication technology, use its “do not disturb” feature to unplug from calls and texts while behind the wheel.

3. Block drive times
Just as you schedule meetings, use shared calendars to block times you’ll be driving. This alerts anyone else connected to your calendar when you’ll be out of touch.

4. Out of sight, out of mind
A study by AT&T found that 62 percent of drivers keep their phones within reach in the car. Put yours where you can’t see or reach it, such as in the back seat.

5. Pull over
If you must take a call while on the road, let it go to voicemail and pull over in a safe location to return the call. Plan pull-over “cellphone stops” along your route if needed.

6. Avoid all distractions
Cellphones aren’t the only cause of distracted driving. Eating, grooming and reading are activities people try to tackle while driving. Be smart and simply stay focused on the road.

Driving safely should be everyone’s top concern when behind the wheel. These simple steps can make it easier to resist the temptation to pick up the phone or do another activity that can wait until you’ve arrived, safely, at your destination.

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Is your hearing loss a barrier to a happy life?

(BPT) – Sheliadawn Fitch would wonder if it really was possible for her to hear again. But she would shove aside those thoughts, overcome by fear and uncertainty, telling herself she was doing okay.

Not that you could blame her. The vivacious Texan had been through a lot, having lost much of her ability to hear speech when she was around 40 years old. Following an air bag injury, she suffered from an ear infection that led to her profound hearing loss. Fitch’s hearing aids didn’t go far enough to restore quality hearing, so they were useless.

She suspected she was a good candidate for cochlear implants, but the idea of going through with the procedure struck her with fear.

“I really thought that since I was an excellent lip reader that I could get by just fine,” says Fitch, who is now 54.

Eventually, things got worse. She faced missing out on fully participating in her daughter’s wedding and she was stricken when she realized people were actually avoiding her.

“Not only did that hurt my feelings, I was always the type who was overly involved in school, community and church events,” Fitch says. “Things just weren’t working out for me or my lifestyle.”

The silent affliction

Fitch is far from alone. Hearing loss is one of those silent afflictions that impacts millions. In addition, it tends to cut people off from the world so the general population may not realize just how widespread it is.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 36 million Americans have hearing loss, affecting 17 percent of our adult population. When you look at the older adult population, the rate of hearing loss is even more startling. It affects one third of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74, and nearly half of those over the age of 75, the NIDCD further states.

What’s more, a high percentage of people with hearing loss, like Fitch, find ways to cope with it rather than pursue treatments. Only 30 percent of adults ages 70 and older who can benefit from hearing aids try them, according to the NIDCD. Others with more severe hearing loss, like Fitch, may be reluctant to pursue other solutions such as cochlear implants.

This exile from the world can be lonely as well as debilitating. In several studies cited by the NIDCD, researchers have found the isolation imposed by hearing loss is one underlying cause of depression and decreased cognitive function found in adults who become prisoners in their muted world.

Is it time to look for a different solution?

If you’ve tried hearing aids but wondered if you were a candidate for cochlear implants, here are three signs that confirm you may be suffering from the effects of severe or profound hearing loss.

1. You avoid your hearing aids.

Fitch was outfitted with hearing aids. At first she was overjoyed she could hear sounds again, but it eventually dawned on her that something critical was missing from the quality of those sounds.

“I was hearing, but not really understanding,” says Fitch. “Everything was louder. I needed clarity, not just volume.”

In fact, Fitch got headaches from straining to sift through the din of background noise to understand what people were saying to her. Eventually, she had to abandon them and rely on her lip-reading skills.

2. Family dynamics are becoming strained.

With more severe hearing loss that’s not helped by hearing aids, you may notice changes in how your friends and family interact. Family members may frequently comment on the too-loud television or radio, or note the noise is interfering with their sleep. Perhaps they’re showing more frustration and impatience because they’re frequently misunderstood or asked to repeat themselves.

3. You dread rather than look forward to special occasions.

When there’s ongoing hearing loss, family milestones and special occasions may come with a special sense of dread and sadness, driving painful choices. Do you suffer through an unpleasant event or do you stay home and disappoint your family? Perhaps a family member who serves as your “human hearing aid” can’t attend and you can’t face the idea of attending alone without your “ears.”

Finding courage to take the next step

After seven-and-a-half years of living with hearing loss, it was the upcoming wedding of her daughter and the arrival of her future grandchildren that brought Fitch to the tipping point. She realized she “might miss all of it.” That startling idea finally gave her enough courage to ask a doctor for help.

One option for Fitch and others who suffer from profound hearing loss is a Cochlear Nucleus Implant System (www.cochlear.com). While hearing aids only amplify sounds, cochlear implants help make them louder and clearer. Improving the clarity of hearing may help someone better understand speech in both quiet and noisy situations. There are two primary components of the Cochlear Nucleus System: the implant that is surgically placed underneath the skin and the external sound processor. To receive the implant, Fitch needed a CAT scan and clearance from her doctor. Several weeks after the surgery, her new Cochlear system was activated.

“And I heard and understood from that day on,” she says.

“I didn’t miss those wedding vows, or the dance music afterwards, and most importantly, I heard my grandbabies cry their first cries.”

Views expressed herein are those of the individual. Consult your hearing health provider to determine if you are a candidate for cochlear implant technology. Outcomes and results may vary.

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5 tips to make family mealtimes more mindful

(BPT) – The hectic workday is over. As you pull into your driveway, you feel relief because you’ve finally escaped the cranky co-workers, the deadlines and traffic jams. Now you can spend the next few hours relaxing at home with your family. What better way to enjoy this time than with a delicious meal together?

Sometimes, the lingering stress can be hard to shake, especially if you’re in a rush to get dinner on the table. You can shed your stress and make this time together more meaningful. Consciously ease into the transition from work mode to family mode, and use these tips to make your evening meal more relaxing and mindful.

1. Take a breath.

As soon as you get home, just take a few minutes and chill out. What you’ll want to do is shake off any lingering “fight or flight” stress response that’s making you feel tense and on edge. With deep breathing techniques — the kind that get your belly moving — you’ll lower your heart rate and feel much calmer. Sit in your favorite chair, soften your gaze and start those long, drawn-out inhales and exhales, counting your breath if needed. Just by transitioning into this calmer state, you’ll set the right mood and standard for the rest of the evening.

2. Give the devices a timeout.

Being mindful is all about staying in the present and following each action with intention and awareness. But when your mobile device is pinging from the latest Facebook update, text message or news alert, that can distract us from this calm and aware state of mind. For now, while you’re preparing and eating the meal, put the devices out of reach — or in another room, if that’s practical.

3. Include the kids.

With devices out of the way, it’s also much easier and more pleasant to focus on the people in the room. If your kids are hanging around the kitchen, take it as a sign they want to be with you, so use this time to connect. A great way to do this is to include kids with the meal preparation. The youngest ones can rinse fruits and vegetables, cut soft foods with a butter knife and tear lettuce. Older kids can help measure ingredients, stir and whisk, and eventually peel foods with a paring knife.

4. Simplify your menu.

Eliminate the stress of getting weeknight meals on the table, and build a list of delicious go-to meals that you can prepare with ease. For example, this recipe for Easy Shrimp Kabobs will allow you to get the entrée ready in minutes, plus the skewers and easy dips will make this a fun favorite with the kids. For more ideas and inspiration to make the weeknight meals more mindful and relaxing, visit seapak.com/recipes.

5. Slow down and savor the food.

Give yourself a few moments for mindful eating. Before earnest conversation begins, put your focus on the food you’ve taken the time to prepare. Put down your fork, and pay attention to the flavors, the textures and how you respond to them. No matter how hungry you are, don’t rush. Mindful eating is all about pacing yourself and staying in the moment to experience the delicious meal you are eating.

After a long day, you can make the evening meal more relaxing and enjoyable by bringing a mindful approach to dinnertime. When it’s time to eat, you’ll be in the right state of mind to enjoy your food, as will the people around you.

Easy Shrimp Kabobs

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 12-ounce package SeaPack Popcorn Shrimp

Wooden skewers

Dipping sauces, such as tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, barbecue sauce and ranch dressing

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450 Fahrenheit.

Place shrimp on baking sheet in a single layer so shrimp are not touching.

Bake 5 minutes on the middle oven rack, then turn shrimp over.

Bake another 5-6 minutes until shrimp are hot and crispy.

Using a fork to hold the hot shrimp in place, slide shrimp onto wooden skewers.

Serve with small sides of sauces for each person. For example, use tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, barbecue sauce and ranch dressing.

Source: The blog A Helicopter Mom via SeaPak.com.

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Want to lose weight? Research proves a big breakfast is the first step

(BPT) – If you want to lose weight, you’re not alone. More than half of Americans desire to shed pounds, according to Gallup. This goal inspires people to take action in many ways, from increasing exercise to modifying meals.

One thing many people do is skip breakfast in order to lower calorie intake. While this may seem like a good idea to lose weight, research proves otherwise. In fact, eating a big breakfast followed by smaller meals throughout the day is the best method for weight loss.

A new study in The Journal of Nutrition investigated the relation between meal frequency and timing and changes in body mass index (BMI). The study found that “eating less frequently, no snacking, consuming breakfast and eating the largest meal in the morning may be effective methods for preventing long-term weight gain.”

“When you eat your meal matters,” says Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner. “The best way to eat for energy and weight is to eat a big breakfast, smaller lunch and light dinner because it mimics our days’ activities.”

Blatner explains that people are typically most active in the beginning of the day and so need the most fuel then. They slow down as the day progresses, and by dinnertime they need less fuel.

“But it’s not just about eating anything in the morning,” she cautions. “It’s important to pick nutrient-dense foods to fuel your day right.”

Blatner provides three tips for creating a wholesome breakfast that will give you energy and support your weight-loss goals:

1. Fruits and veggies

Wake up your taste buds and give your body important vitamins by eating a rainbow of colorful fruits and veggies. Try shopping the farmers market for locally sourced in-season produce. A quick frittata with egg and chopped veggies or a smoothie bowl topped with fresh fruit will satisfy. If fresh produce isn’t available, frozen has optimum nutrients so it is a smart alternative.

2. Whole grains

Make whole grains part of your breakfast and you’ll feel fuller for longer. Oatmeal is a classic whole-grain breakfast option. Use whole-grain pancake mix to whip up some flapjacks. Bake muffins with whole-grain flour. Make cornbread with whole cornmeal. When shopping for cereal or other breakfast products, look at the label to ensure it’s made with whole grains.

3. Proteins

Eggs are a great source of protein and nutrients for breakfast, but not all eggs are created equal. Swap out ordinary eggs for Eggland’s Best eggs, and you’ll get great taste and superior nutritional benefits with 10 times more vitamin E, six times more vitamin D, more than double the omega-3s, more than double vitamin B12 and 25 percent less saturated fat.

Short on time in the morning? Try Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls that can be frozen and microwaved in minutes for a satisfying start to your day.

Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls

Ingredients:

12 Eggland’s Best eggs (large)
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 green pepper, seeded then chopped into 1-inch chunks
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions, chopped
toppings: tortilla chips, salsa, avocado
6 individual-sized containers with lids

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

On a large baking sheet, place potatoes, peppers and onions in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt and ground black pepper. Toss until evenly coated.

Roast for about 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and tender, stirring and rotating pan halfway through cooking.

Meanwhile, crack Eggland’s Best eggs into a large bowl, then season with salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat then spray with nonstick spray and add eggs.

Scramble until the eggs are just barely cooked through and still slightly glossy, then scoop onto a plate and set aside.

Divide the potatoes and scrambled eggs evenly between the containers then set aside to cool.

Once cool, sprinkle with cheese and green onions, then cover and refrigerate. Freeze any portions that aren’t eaten within three days.

To reheat from frozen: microwave for 1 1/2 minutes then stir and continue microwaving until food is reheated, stirring between intervals. Top with optional toppings, then serve.

Tip: Store in individualized microwave-safe containers with lids to make these bowls ready to reheat and go.

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Fire away: Enhancing your home’s safety with fire extinguishers

(BPT) – You check your alarms regularly and practice your family escape plan — but are you overlooking an essential component of home safety? Having fire extinguishers — and knowing how to use them — is an important part of maintaining a safe home for you and your family.

“In America, a fire starts in a residential home every 86 seconds — and the rapid protection offered by fire extinguishers can make the difference between minor or insignificant damage and greater tragedy,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert, the most trusted brand in home safety. “However, because many Americans have never activated a traditional fire extinguisher before, many do not understand the essential role that fire extinguishers play in a home safety plan, and lack the confidence and know-how to use them properly.”

To help overcome this, follow these tips on fire extinguisher placement and usage to help ensure you and your family are properly prepared in case of emergency:

Compare features: When selecting a fire extinguisher, two of the most important features are size and intended use. Larger commercial fire extinguishers meant for public spaces may be too heavy or unwieldy for some family members. Select a home fire extinguisher that weighs 3 lbs. or less for easy handling. For home fire extinguishers, other features to look for include a metal valve and trigger, which offer the durability of a commercial grade extinguisher, as well as an easy-to-read color-coded gauge for accurate measurement. Spray times also vary by make and manufacturer, so select extinguishers that perform above the standard and feature longer spray times. Remember, a fire extinguisher that has been discharged is no longer effective, so consider rechargeable extinguishers which can be recharged by a certified professional if the unit is used.

Keep it in reach: If a fire breaks out in the living room but the extinguisher is elsewhere, you may not be able to access it before the fire grows beyond control. When seconds count, having an extinguisher nearby is crucial for rapid response. For this reason, place an extinguisher in each area of the home where a fire could potentially occur, including the kitchen, living room, each bedroom and the garage. In most cases, one extinguisher is likely not enough protection for an entire household. In addition, make sure that every responsible member of your household (including house sitters and babysitters) knows where each fire extinguisher is placed. The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing fire extinguishers close to room exits so that you are able to discharge it and quickly escape if the fire cannot be controlled.

Know your ABCs: While they may all look similar, fire extinguishers have very specific ratings that indicate what kind of fire they are designed to extinguish. Extinguishers with a Class A rating are able to put out fires caused by wood, paper, trash and other common materials, while Class B rated extinguishers are intended for gasoline and flammable liquids. Class C rated extinguishers are meant for fires caused by electrical equipment, such as frayed cords. For general protection, it’s best to select a multirated extinguisher, such as the First Alert Rechargeable Home Fire Extinguisher, that’s capable of handling most types of household fires. Beyond the Rechargeable Home Fire Extinguisher, First Alert offers an entire range of extinguishers for home and commercial use.

Know how to use it: Every First Alert fire extinguisher includes instructions on proper usage, but a simple way to remember is with the acronym PASS:

* Pull the pin on the extinguisher

* Aim the nozzle low toward the base of the fire

* Squeeze the trigger

* Sweep the nozzle from side to side

Frequently repeat the acronym when practicing your family escape plan so that if a fire occurs, the response will be automatic.

Know when to go: Combating small fires with an extinguisher is one component of a fire response plan, but the primary goal should be safe escape. The first step in any scenario should be to call 911. In addition, a fire extinguisher is no substitute for having — and regularly practicing — a home fire escape plan, and ensuring that proper functioning smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed throughout the home — one on each level and in every bedroom — to provide early detection. Keep in mind that alarms and fire extinguishers aren’t designed to last forever, and must be replaced at least every 10 years.

To learn more about fire safety, visit FirstAlert.com.

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Organic produce becomes mainstream

(BPT) – The organics category is becoming mainstream, as it is purchased by shoppers across all demographics. Recently, the category grew in just about every measurable way: in volume, dollars spent, and even in conversations in the media.

When consumers dabble in organic produce, they are more likely to purchase organic goods throughout the entire store and outside the store—like organic snacks or organic cotton sheets. This means it is important for retailers that sell organic products across departments to pay attention to trends in organic produce.

The organic shopper

Casual shoppers are the segment adding growth to the organic category, meaning that sometimes they purchase organic produce, and sometimes they purchase conventional.

“Organics are becoming mainstream, and shoppers are beginning to choose organic items over conventional items,” says Michael Castagnetto, vice president of sourcing for Robinson Fresh. “In our survey with U.S. consumers who buy produce, we found that 51 percent of respondents purchased organic produce and of those, 73 percent purchased both conventional and organic produce during the same trip.”

Research indicated that the organic shopper of today is most likely under the age of 35 or has young children living at home. Organic purchases are also highly correlated to household income.

When it comes to tailoring a shopping experience, it’s important to target Millennials because of their enormous commercial force, but consider the preferences of all generations. Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers all show a preference for organic produce as a destination within the store.

Why organic is becoming mainstream

“In the past, purchasing anything organic was an emotional-based purchase,” continues Castagnetto. “However, for today’s casual shopper, organic purchases are increasingly becoming more of an impulse purchase. The way that produce is merchandised makes a difference in how consumers make purchasing decisions.”

How organic produce is purchased

Organic items are an impulse purchase more than 30 percent of the time. Within the organics category, impulse purchases are two times more likely on items that index higher as healthy snacking options—such as berries and grapes. Here are the top 4 factors driving impulse organic purchases:

* The freshness and quality of the produce: 73 percent of respondents ranked this as a top driving factor

* The price of the produce: 61 percent of respondents rank this as a top driving factor

* The packaging the produce comes in

* Whether the organic produce is locally grown

To learn about who is buying organic produce and gain insight into the reasons why those consumers are choosing organic, Robinson Fresh(R) conducted a survey with U.S. consumers who buy produce—both conventional and organic. The full survey results can be found at www.robinsonfresh.com.

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How to build healthy habits for the school year and beyond

(BPT) – Bells are ringing across the country as kids settle into classrooms for a year full of fun, friendship and plenty of learning.

While exciting, adjusting to new school schedules is a hectic time. Healthy habits are often forgotten as the focus shifts to studies, assignments and extracurriculars.

“Parents and caregivers can make a big difference in helping kids lead a healthy lifestyle during the back-to-school season and beyond,” says Deanna Segrave-Daly, a mom and registered dietitian. “A few proactive steps can set kids up for success in and out of the classroom.”

Segrave-Daly offers six easy ideas you can try to help encourage your kids to build healthy habits that last a lifetime:

Prioritize sleep

Sleep is something families often sacrifice due to busy schedules. Remember, kids need significantly more sleep than adults to support their rapid mental and physical development, according to the National Sleep Foundation. School-age children should strive for nine to 11 hours of sleep each night. Establish a nighttime routine and prioritize sleep every night.

Eat breakfast

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day — especially for our kids. Help them jump-start their day with a quick breakfast of healthy foods like fruit, eggs and whole-grain cereal. For those busy mornings, grab fridge-free, GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ, made with real low-fat yogurt and fruit, for a wholesome option they can easily eat in the car or bus with a banana, toaster waffle or whole-wheat toast.

Encourage exercise

Kids should do at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hopefully some of this physical activity can take place during the school day, but there are lots of easy ways to build healthy activity into daily life at home. Make a habit of going on a family walk after dinner (a great chance to unwind and reconnect) or challenge kids to bring their books up the stairs or to another room one at a time. Take 10-minute “dance party” breaks during homework or see who can jump rope the longest.

Manage screen time

It’s important for families to be mindful of screen time for kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids ages 2-5 limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programs. For children 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media and monitor the types of media used.

Snack well

Kids love to snack, and it’s important to keep nutritious options on hand for when hunger strikes — it helps them avoid emergency vending machine stops. Stock your pantry with healthier snacks like GoGo squeeZ applesauce pouches. These fridge-free pouches, made from natural ingredients, are easy to grab on the way to soccer practice, music lessons or the playground. They’re also an easy lunchbox addition!

Adjust the attitude

Mental wellness is part of overall wellness. Keep in mind the power of a positive attitude toward education. Encourage kids to look at issues from different angles, appreciate diversity and be resilient. Have conversations with children and truly listen to their concerns to build trust and solve problems.

Finally, it’s the adult role models in a child’s life that really set them up for success.

“If you model healthy habits, your child is likely to follow your lead,” says Segrave-Daly. “Try to routinely eat well, sleep well, exercise and have conversations about the good and bad parts of your day. Your kids are paying attention even when it seems like they aren’t!”

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