Friday, September 6, 2013

Lifeline Awareness Week September 9-15, 2013

In honor of Lifeline Awareness Week which starts on Monday, I wanted to make sure you know about the Lifeline Telephone Assistance Program. Lifeline is a national government subsidy program that helps people living in poverty stay connected with phone service.

You may be eligible for a FREE cell phone that comes loaded with 250 minutes that are renewed every month for free. You might have heard of this program but were not sure how to get one of the free phones.

First you need to determine if you are eligible. Eligibility requirements vary by state, but for most states you typically qualify if you are receiving public assistance which includes being enrolled in programs like Food Stamps, SSI, Medicaid, TANF, Section 8 Housing, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance, and National School Free Lunch Program. If you are not in any of these programs you may still be eligible based on you household income.

If you feel that you are eligible and are interested in applying, there are two major telephone companies that cover most of the United States. Check both if the first one you call doesn’t cover your state. To apply over the phone, you can call Assurance Wireless at 1-888-898-4888. Or, you can call Safelink Wireless at 1-800-723-3546. You can also go online to or and search for either of those companies to apply directly online.

If you don’t get your phone within 4 weeks, you should call them back to see if there was a problem with your application.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Don't Pay for Benefits - The Government Won’t Call to Ask for Money

USA.Gov recently received a comment on Facebook from a woman who said the U.S. Federal Government Grants Department called and claimed she needed to pay more than $600 in order to receive federal benefits totaling $8,000. She paid the money, never got the $8,000 and asked us how to get a refund of her money.

The phone call was a scam. The Federal Government Grants Department doesn't exist. More importantly, the government will never call or text you to ask for money!

Even though the woman wrote down the phone number of the caller, it can be hard to trace it back to a real person because of tricks like caller ID spoofing. This means that she probably won't be able to get her money back.

Be suspicious of any call, text, or e-mail that claims to be from the government. Scammers often use names that sound like real government agencies but aren't. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, has more tips on spotting fake callers who pretend to be the government.

You can find the official names and contact information for federal government agencies in our A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies. Don't hesitate to contact the agency that claims you owe them money. Be sure to use the contact information listed in the A-Z Index and not the contact information the caller or e-mail provides.

If you do get scammed, then you should file a complaint with the FTC and your state's consumer agency.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Subject: Cooling Station

Many states are experiencing record high temperatures increasing the likelihood of heat exhaustion which can lead to heat stroke. There are organizations around the country that provide temporary air-conditioned public spaces to help deal with the health effects of a heat wave. They are known as, “cooling stations.” To find a cooling station in your area, call 2-1-1. If your city does not have a designated cooling station set up, try spending as much time as possible in public air conditioned places such as libraries, malls, community centers, and other public locations.

During this hot time it is important to pay attention to how your body is feeling. Signs and symptoms for a heat related illness can include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and fainting. During heat waves it is important to try and keep your body temperature low. One way to do that is to make sure you are getting plenty of water. Taking sips throughout the day and drinking before you become thirsty will help regulate your body temperature. Some drinks, such as coffee or other caffeinated beverages, and alcohol, actually cause dehydration, so you may want to limit or avoid those during times of extreme heat.

Stay cool and have a great 4th of July!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


The signs of drowning may not be what you think
Parents who want to keep their kids safe in pools, lakes and rivers this summer should heed this warning from the U.S. Coast Guard: If your child looks like they are quietly treading water, they may actually be drowning.

An article in the Journal of U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue titled “It Doesn’t Look Like They’re Drowning” breaks down the signs of what is called Instinctive Drowning Response. The article was written in 2006, but it received new life this week in a post on – written by one of the original authors – which has spread quickly across social media.

Most people would assume that a drowning person would be splashing, waving and yelling for help. Aviation Survival Technician First Class Mario Vittone and Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D say that’s not possible during Instinctive Drowning Response.
Bottom line: The quiet person who looks like they are simply treading water, with their head back and mouth open, is more likely to be drowning. It’s something to think about when normally loud children are playing in the water.

This list is an excerpt from the original 2006 Coast Guard article.
  1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary, or overlaid, function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response, people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.
Vittone says the best test is to ask a person in the water if they are OK. If all you get back is a blank stare, you may only have seconds to rescue them.
A person splashing around and calling for help could still be in trouble, but Vittone and Pia say those people are in aquatic distress, which means they can still assist themselves. However, that phase doesn’t last long.

Summer sun protection: the new rules you need to know
Exposure to excessive sunshine increases exposure to UV radiation. UVA and UVB radiation increase risk for skin cancer, increases skin aging (WRINKLES!), can cause eye damage and can decrease our skin’s natural immunity.

The best way to decrease risk is to play safely in the sun by using shade, staying out of sun during peak hours (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) and using sunscreen on areas you can’t cover up. Choose whatever texture of sunscreen you like (cream, lotion, gel, stick, wipes or spray) as you’ll likely use it more if you love it.

More important than any brand, ingredient or sunscreen claim is how you use sunscreen. Use it early (15 - 20 minutes before outside) and often (every 2 hours).

Health effects of sun:
  • Melanoma rates are rising in children, teens and adults
  • One severe sunburn during childhood doubles the risk of melanoma
  • UVA causes skin Aging
  • UVB causes skin to Burn
  • Any tan or burn is evidence of damage to the skin
New rules for sunscreen:
  • FDA has required new rules for sunscreen labels
  • You need broad spectrum SPF over 30. Broad-spectrum sunscreen covers UVA and UVB rays. (SPF only covers UVB)
  • Apply 20 minutes before going out in sun; re-apply every 2 hours in sun
What parents need to know:
  • Buy whatever texture you like. You’ll use it more
  • Don't use sprays near children’s face
  • Need SPF over 30
  • No sunscreen is waterproof or “play-proof” -- Reapply!
  • Use sun-protective clothing whenever you can

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Subject: Summer Meals for Kids and Teens

Summer is almost upon us which means that many kids and teens will be finishing up with school for the year.  For many families, this time of year can be problematic for meals because many students have been receiving 1 or 2 free meals a day which helps out with a family’s food budget.  During the summer there are similar programs across the country that will provide snacks, lunch, and in some places, breakfast to children and teens 18 years and younger.  To find a Summer Meal site in your area call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-348-6479.  For Spanish speakers please call 1-877-842-6273.

If you’re looking for ideas to keep your kids entertained this summer, check out your local library or museum for free story times and arts and craft projects.  Also, some movie theaters offer free movie days or outside movies in parks that anyone can attend.

This Sunday, June 16th is Father’s Day, a great day to celebrate all the father figures in our lives that can include more than one father, uncles, stepfathers, grandfathers, godfathers, in-laws, or close friends.  You may want to take a moment to say thanks to the “father-figures” in your life and I want to say Happy Father’s Day to all you paternal people out there!

Lastly, here is a great Father’s Day quote by the comedian Bill Cosby, “If the new American father feels bewildered and even defeated, let him take comfort from the fact that whatever he does in any fathering situation has a fifty percent chance of being right.”

Take good care!