Happy, Healthy Well-Being! This week is all about shifting our thoughts on Wellness from what goes IN to our bodies to what is ON or AROUND them. There are the obvious priorities when it comes to staying safe, like having proper shelter, disaster preparedness plans, and even personal protection measures. But what about those hidden dangers, like the chemicals contaminating our homes, our health, and our planet? Even if you are not swallowing lethal poisons, you still may be absorbing, inhaling, and exposing yourself to many harmful toxins. Here are our top 10 important tips about your Safety: 1. The #1 most toxic thing in your home could be your cleaning products. In 2000, cleaning products were responsible for nearly 10% of all toxic exposures reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers, accounting for 206,636 calls. Of these, 120,434 exposures involved children under 6, who can swallow or spill cleaners stored or left open inside the home. Some cleaner ingredients cause acute, or immediate, hazards such as skin or respiratory irritation from inhalation, watery eyes, or chemical burns, while others are associated with chronic, or long-term, effects such as cancer. After bubbly cleaning liquids disappear down our drains, they are treated along with sewage and other waste water at municipal treatment plants, then discharged into nearby waterways. Most ingredients in chemical cleaners break down into harmless substances during treatment or soon afterward. Others, however, do not, threatening water quality or fish and other wildlife. Another famous water pollutant is phosphates, water-softening mineral additives that were once widely used in laundry detergents and other cleaners. When phosphates enter waterways, they act as a fertilizer, spawning overgrowth of algae. This overabundance of aquatic plant life eventually depletes the water’s oxygen supply, killing off fish and other organisms. Another environmental concern with cleaning products is that many use chemicals that are petroleum-based, contributing to the depletion of this non-renewable resource and increasing our nation’s dependence on imported oil. We use the all-natural “Get Clean” kitchen, bathroom, and laundry household products. They are biodegradable and super concentrated with less packaging waste. 2. The skin is the largest organ of the body and therefore most susceptible. When it comes to cosmetics, there are only 10 banned ingredients in the U.S., but more than 1,400 in the EU. Find a list here of what’s really going on: http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/. From make-up to hair to the nail care industry, there is potential to absorb massive amounts of toxins. It is truly critical that the beauty and personal care products you use everyday are free of questionable ingredients. We trust the cruelty-free Shaklee “Enfuselle” skin care line, which is not only safe but nutrition therapy from the outside in. And while we all need sunshine, we don’t want skin cancer. Have a safe sun practice! http://www.cancer.org/healthy/besafeinthesun/index 3. Use natural materials whenever possible. Most clothing and linens have been treated with flame-retardant chemicals. Organic natural fabrics like cotton, bamboo, and hemp are best for a variety of reasons. For some parents, flame-retardant pajamas are really an issue as it may be the cause of their kids’ allergies. Most mattresses are made from plastic foam products and polyesters, with a mix of flame-retardant chemicals added. The Green Guide recommends not purchasing mattresses treated with the fire-retardant polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which accumulate in the human body, and can potentially harm fetuses and infants in particular. It suggests buying beds with hardwood foundations, not plywood or particleboard, and an untreated, organic cotton mattress with a natural latex core. http://www.thegreenguide.com/ 4. Don’t be one of the 48 million Americans sickened by food handling each year. Ironically, sponges, dishrags and items used to clean are some of the dirtiest tools in your kitchen. Sponges and dishrags can hold on to serious foodborn pathogens. Always sanitize your sponges at least every other day and replace when necessary. Wash dishrags often. Use glass, stainless steel, or ceramic for drinking or food storage. Don’t ever use plastic for heating or covering when microwaving. Phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA) are estrogen-like substances that can leach from certain plastics. In fact, all plastics have chemicals in them. 5. Reduce Your exposure to pesticides. In the U.S., over 4.5 billion pounds of pesticides are used each year, with 75% used in agriculture and 25% in homes and gardens. When visitors to your home walk across a lawn that has been treated with chemical fertilizers and herbicides, residue from these chemicals may be tracked into your home. In some instances, these residues may last for years in carpeting and on floor surfaces. The simple practice of leaving shoes at the door will minimize this risk and reduce your home cleaning chores. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating. Or grow your own produce! Insect pests are an intimate part of our lives, but deal with them naturally. We share resources with these tiny, often unseen invaders. Insecticides are available for most insect pests, but these potent chemical compounds are more harmful to you and the environment than the pests themselves. Avoid toxic repellents and check out all these better techniques: http://eartheasy.com/live_natpest_control.htm. 6. Being alone can make you more of a target. There are so many excellent tips for feeling more confident about your personal safety and not becoming a victim. It goes beyond carrying Mace in your purse, using safety gear/reflective lighting on bicycles, or while walking, or jogging at night, and learning self-defense techniques. Here are some other options to review: http://www.thenonprofits.com/safety.htm. 7. ID theft is on the rise. In 2012, there were 12.6 million cases of identity theft in the U.S. alone, an increase of over 1 million people since 2009. To strengthen your digital security, choose good passwords and PINs, protect your computers with regularly updated firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware programs, beware phishing scams, wipe out all of your information and restore any electronic devices to the factory settings before replacing them, and take care when shopping online. Here are some more valuable tips: http://oag.ca.gov/idtheft/facts/top-ten. When traveling, take additional precautions. Secure things at home, empty your wallet and choose your cards wisely, avoid unfamiliar public wi-fi spots, be on guard against scam artists, and be vigilant when you return for any suspicious activity. 8. Fire is maybe the mostly likely threat to your home safety. In 2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 369,500 home structure fires. These fires caused 2,755 deaths, 12,200 civilian injuries, and $7.0 billion in direct damage. Choose a meeting place outside your home in case everyone needs to escape a fire. Find two ways out of every room in case one way is blocked by fire or smoke. Know your local emergency numbers. Put stickers and magnets with emergency numbers on your refrigerator and every telephone in the house. In case of fire: DON’T HIDE, GO OUTSIDE! Fall and Crawl. It is easier to breath in a fire if you stay low while getting out. Use the back of your hand to test if a door is hot before you open it. If it is hot, try to use another way out. If your clothes are on fire, Stop, Drop, and Roll until the fire is out. Shout for help, but don’t run. Running makes fire burn faster. Put a removable cling on your front and back door or windows to alert first responders to how many human and animal members could be inside your house and need assistance. Maintain smoke (and carbon monoxide) detectors, monitor space heaters and keep heating system filters clear, be cautious when using candles, know how to effectively treat burns, place at least 1 fire extinguisher in your home (like in the kitchen), be aware of unsafe cooking maneuvers, and teach kids not to play with matches or lighters. You should also keep essential paperwork like birth certificates, wills, and passports in a fire-proof safe inside the house. 9. Get CPR, AED, and First Aid certified for some peace of mind. It’s a skill set that may come in handy someday, you just never know. With a class or course you can learn when – and how – to use an automated external defibrillator (AED), to administer Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and other basic and specific first aid. The American Red Cross even offers training for babysitting or child care, swimming and water safety, and Basic Life Support (BLS) for health care providers, which covers obstructed airway procedures like the Heimlich Maneuver. Check it out here: http://www.redcross.org/ux/take-a-class. You might want to consider keeping first aid kits in your car (and roadside emergency supplies), in your boats or RVs, with your camping gear (and supplies in a separate backpack specific to hiking in the wilderness), and at home in multiple places. 10. And then there could always be an epic emergency. Most people take some serious risks just in assuming the worst won’t or can’t possibly happen to them. But then a natural disaster hits. Or just a technical hazard like a power outage. Set aside the time to it takes to prepare once and know you’ll be ready and don’t have to think about it again unless something happens. Make an emergency plan with and for all the members of your household, including your pets. Everyone should know a safe place to meet if there is an evacuation. Have a friend or family member keep a spare set of keys to all of your cars and home offsite but nearby enough. Build a comprehensive emergency supply kit. Keep it all together in your garage, basement, or a specific closet. Use a rainwater collection container in your outdoor space so you have extra water. Use this government Ready resource to get started: http://www.ready.gov/. Next week will be Week 7 of our new Team RLEI Reset Program to Live Amazing and we’ll explore more issues related to safety and air. For now, let’s clean house and get as many potentially dangerous, hazardous, and damaging things away from us as possible, step by step, yikes!