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Health Briefs

Keeping Homes Kid-Safe

The leading cause of injury-related deaths in the home for children under the age of five are drowning, fire and suffocation, according to the Virginia Department of Health's Center for Injury and Violence Prevention.

The center conducted a study from 1999 to 2003 that found 71 percent of injury-related deaths to Virginian's under five years old occurred in the home. The leading causes of hospitalizations for the same age group are falls, poisoning and burns, according to the center.

To help parents make homes safe for children, the department of health's Home Safety Council has offered some guidelines.

* Know the poison control number: 1-800-222-1222.

* Reduce the water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

* Brighten or add lights at the top and bottom of stairs and make sure hallways and dark areas in the home are well lit to prevent falls.

* Install smoke alarms on every level of the home.

* Develop a fire escape plan.

* Stay in the kitchen while food is cooking on the stove.

* Install grab bars in the bath and shower.

* Install child locks on all cabinets used to store potentially dangerous items.

* Isolate your pool from your house with five-foot high fencing.

* Supervise children constantly when they are around water including pools, ponds, bathtubs and buckets.

For an unabridged list of tips and to learn more ways to make a home safe visit www.vahealth.org/civp or call 1-800-732-8333. Other information can be found at www.homesafetycouncil.org.

Pesticide Disposal Program

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Virginia Pesticide Control Board are asking farmers, pesticide dealers and pest control firms to participate in the 2005 pesticide disposal program.

The program removes unwanted, outdated or banned pesticides from their storage sites and disposes of them in a safe manner.

This program is offered at no cost through the Office of Pesticide Services.

As the 14th program, this year's focus will be on 18 counties including Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun and the cities of Alexandria and Fairfax.

Farmers or pesticide users in these areas can bring unwanted agricultural and commercial pesticides for packaging and transport to a disposal facility.

Drop-offs can be made Aug. 9 from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Merrifield Garden Center, 121011 Lee Hwy in Fairfax. On Aug. 10 residents can drop-off from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Loudoun County Landfill, 20939 Evergreen Mills Road in Leesburg.

Registration must be done at least 30 days before the drop off date. Online registration is available at www.vdacs.virginia.gov/pesticides/forms. Call 804-371-8598 for more information.

Keep E. Coli At Bay

Because summer season leads to more barbecued meals containing meat, the Virginia State Department of Health reminds residents to thoroughly cook hamburgers and other meats to prevent illness from E. coli.

This year 11 cases of illness caused by certain E. coli-related bacteria have been reported, according to the department of health.

Because looks can be deceiving when cooking meat, the department of health recommends using a grill thermometer. Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Because outdoor grills may not distribute heat evenly, extra precautions should be taken to ensure that hamburgers, especially previously frozen patties, are well done before serving.

Symptoms of E. coli infection usually appear two to four days after exposure. The illness often causes bloody diarrhea and stomach cramps, according to the department of health. Other symptoms may include vomiting, fever, and chills. In a small percentage of cases, the infection can cause the kidneys to stop functioning, particularly in young children. An ill person can spread the disease to others for three weeks or more, so good hygiene is also important to prevent this disease.

For tips to avoid E. coli this summer, visit the department of health's Web site at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epi/ecolifi.htm.