Santa Cruz County
Don't Miss Out Local Resources Parent to Parent Get in Touch Get in Touch

Prevention and Care Tips

Parent Tips > Health Care & Wellness > Prevention and Care Tips

10 Tips to Avoid Tick Bites

Submitted By: Debbie Hadley, Guide

How to Keep Ticks from Making You Their Next Meal


Finding an engorged tick on your body is never fun. Ticks do carry diseases, which might make you think twice about your next hike into the woods. You don't have to avoid the outdoors, though. Your first line of defense is avoiding their bites. Follow these 10 tips to avoid ticks, and more importantly, tick bites, when you head outdoors.


1. Use a product with 20% DEET or higher on both skin and clothing. Carefully apply the repellent by hand to your face, neck, and ears - you don't want DEET in your eyes or mouth! Adults should apply DEET products to young children. You may need to reapply DEET products after several hours.


2. Apply permethrin to clothing, hiking boots, tents, and camp chairs. Permethrin products should never be used on skin. It remains effective on clothing through several washings. Permethrin is sold under the names Permanone and Duranon.


3. Wear light-colored clothing. You'll have a better chance of seeing a dark tick crawling on you before it makes its way to your skin.


4. Wear long pants with sneakers or hiking boots. Tuck your pant legs into your socks, and keep your shirt tucked into your waistband. In areas where ticks are abundant, you might even want to wrap some duct tape around your ankles, over the top of your socks. You'll look ridiculous, but it works.


5. Outfit yourself in bug repellent apparel. Want a sporty, outdoor look with built-in tick protection? Ex-Officio sells a line of clothing that is pretreated with permethrin. The treatment lasts through up to 70 washings.


6. Stay on the trail. Ticks hang out in high vegetation, waiting for a passing host. When your leg brushes through the vegetation, the tick transfers to your body. Walk on designated trails, and avoid blazing your own through meadows or other high vegetation areas. You'll avoid ticks and leave a minimal impact on the wild places we love.


7. Avoid tick-infested places. In some places, ticks may be too abundant to avoid, even with the best repellents and long pants. If you venture a few feet into a wooded area or field and find your legs covered with ticks, turn around.

8. Be vigilant - do a daily tick check. Strip down and search all those places that ticks love to hide: in your hair, under your arms, between your legs, behind the knees, and even in your belly button.


9. Put your clothes in the dryer, and tumble them on high heat. Research shows many ticks can make it through the washing machine, even when you wash in hot water. Most ticks will die during a cycle in the hot, dry air of your clothes dryer, though.


10. Check your pets and your kids before letting them loose in the house. Ticks can easily drop off on carpets or furniture, where they will wait for a bloodmeal to come along. Give Fido's fur a check, and make Junior remove clothing and do a tick check.

Homeowners can keep a blaze at bay even as wildfire rages

Submitted By: Stephen Quarles

After serious wildfires, it can seem like flames leapfrogged through neighborhoods, leaving some homes unscathed alongside others that have been reduced to rubble. University of California scientists have found that this familiar site is not entirely random.


"You can do a lot to protect your house from a wildfire," said Stephen Quarles, the UC Cooperative Extension wood durability advisor.


With the right information, some advance planning and maintenance, homeowners can increase the chances their houses will be left standing after a wildfire.


"During a wildfire, hot embers can rain down on the neighborhood for hours before the relatively short time - sometimes no more than a few minutes - it takes for the blaze to blow by the home," Quarles said. "From years of observing the aftermath of fires and testing fire-resistant building materials, we have developed a much better understanding about what happens."


New construction will be required to have increased fire safety measures built in beginning in 2008. New guidelines for construction in areas under state jurisdiction go into effect on Jan. 1; they go into effect in fire hazard zones under local jurisdiction on July 1.


These laws govern only new construction, and presumably many of the homes that will be rebuilt after the devastating Southern California fires of fall 2007 will include the provisions, but Quarles said owners of existing homes may also wish to consider making changes to improve their homes' resistance to wildfire.


Six priority areas for protecting existing homes

Quarles has identified six priority areas for making changes to existing homes in fire hazard zones. He suggests homeowners start with the roof, the most vulnerable part of the house in a fire, and then continue in order with vents, vegetation, windows, decking and siding.

Ignition-resistant "Class A" and non-combustible roofs - such as concrete tile and asphalt composition shingles - have become the norm in California due to laws passed in the late 1990s that required all new homes and all roof replacements in very high fire hazard severity zones to be Class A. Nevertheless, there are still many older homes that do not have Class A roofs.


"The importance of the roof covering cannot be overstated," Quarles said. "If you haven't already, you should make an upgrade to a Class A roof your first priority."

However, he says, don't stop there. Because the roof and siding are dominant features on houses, many homeowners get a false sense of security when they install non-combustible roofs and siding.


"When I've looked at post-fire home losses, the thing that strikes me is the vast amount of non-combustible material on the ground," Quarles said. "That clearly illustrates that the fire-protection efforts some people may not think are as important as roofs and siding really are quite important. There's much more to do."

Keep fire from entering the home through vents

The second item on Quarles' priority list is vents. Vents for crawl spaces under homes or for attics are required by most building codes to prevent a build up of moisture, which can lead to mold growth and decay in building materials.


"We know that vents offer an easy entry point for burning embers and flames," Quarles said. "Embers that slip through attic vents can ignite debris and items stored there, and subsequently construction materials, setting the home ablaze from within."


Most building codes require vents be covered with a minimum ¼-inch mesh to minimize plugging and reduction in air movement.


"Quarter-inch mesh cannot stop embers and flames during wildfires," Quarles said. "This is an example of conflict in code preferences between building and fire officials. Smaller mesh screens would do a better job of keeping out fire and embers, but these same screens plug up more easily."


The importance of vents in wildfire resistance is leading to such innovations as the development of vents specially designed to limit ember intrusion while still allowing sufficient air flow for ventilation and construction designs and procedures that permit unvented attics to avoid moisture-related problems.


Quarles suggests homeowners frequently check their vents to make sure there is no buildup of debris, such as highly combustible dry leaves and pine needles. For added protection, they can make vent covers out of plywood or another solid material that can be quickly installed over vents when wildfire approaches.

Vegetation can work in your favor and against it

Next, look at vegetation, which can be both harmful and helpful in home fire protection. Plants close to the home, under eaves, in inside corners and near windows can be major fire hazards, but trees and shrubs farther away can serve as buffers against radiation, convective heat and flying embers.


"Trees might have a bad reputation because of the potential to spread fire in the crown, but that is seldom a hazard to structures," Quarles said.


In addition to where plants are located, Quarles suggests careful attention be given to plants' innate fire resistance. Bushy junipers and cedars, for example, can be a poor choice. Look for leggy plants with succulent leaves to landscape close to the house.

The smaller the plants the better, Quarles said, especially near windows and in the parts of the home designed to give the house architectural interest, such as inside corners, where heat builds up much faster than on open, flat sides. He stresses that plants should always be well maintained.


"Any plants near a house should be pruned, regularly watered and kept free of dead material within the branches and on the ground," Quarles said.

Attention to landscape and native vegetation is also an important component in creating defensible space around the home. Experts suggest the area 30 to 50 feet all around the home contain little or no combustible vegetation, no dead vegetation or flammable debris.


Windows are a vulnerable part of the home in fire hazard zones

The next priority should be windows. Research has shown that by far the most important factor in determining the vulnerability of windows in a wildfire is the glass, not the frame.

"It's a good idea to install dual-pane windows with tempered glass," Quarles said. "With dual pane windows, the outer pane protects the inner pane. The inner pane heats up more slowly and uniformly, and therefore may not break even though the outer pane does."


Tempered glass is much stronger than regular glass, so it provides more protection from breaking. The new chapter in the building code going into effect in 2008 requires at least one-pane to be tempered glass. Since the type of frame doesn't make much difference in a fire, it can be selected based on cost, aesthetics, energy efficiency or other factors.


As is the case for vents, homeowners can fabricate window covers out of ¾-inch plywood or another fire-resistant material. Cut them to size and mark them clearly so they can be installed quickly over windows before evacuating the home when a fire breaks out.

Decks and siding round out the top six priority areas for wildfire-resistance

Decks also deserve attention for reducing the fire hazards. An ignited deck endangers many portions of a structure and is often adjacent to large windows or sliding glass doors. The heat from a burning deck can cause the glass to break and permit the fire to enter the house, which means likely destruction.


"In general, the thicker the deck boards the better. Boards that are an inch thick or less release heat much faster and are a higher hazard," Quarles said. "Be mindful of the gaps between the boards and between the house and the decking. Combustible debris can build up in the gaps and corners, and flying embers can get lodged there and begin smoldering."


Quarles acknowledges that replacing deck boards can be expensive, but, he says, "It may be one of the best investments you can make."


For replacement, consider any material - plastic, plastic composite lumber, fire-retardant treated lumber for exterior use, or lumber - that passes the state test procedure approved by the California State Fire Marshal's office.


"There are a lot of composite decking products on the market. In fire tests conducted a few years ago, some resisted fire as well as solid wood, but none were better," Quarles said.


He said he expects new decking products to come on the market when the 2008 building code goes into effect. Currently, decking materials that meet the specifications of the new code are not commercially available, though they will be soon.

The sixth priority is siding. In research trials, good quality sheathing - which is installed underneath the siding - was a key to protecting the home's studs. A wide array of non-combustible siding can be installed over the sheathing - such as stucco or fiber-cement siding. Combustible siding - such as wood panels and clapboard - should be carefully inspected annually for gaps, making sure that they are filled with a high-quality caulk to prevent hot embers from taking up residence and beginning to burn.


Even beyond these six priority areas, there are other areas where measures may be taken to keep the house safer in a fire, such as fences, garages and gutters. For detailed information from the University of California Cooperative Extension on the fire protection priority areas and many other issues, see Quarles' Homeowners Wildfire Mitigation Guide. See also the UC Center for Fire Research and Outreach and an interactive Web site with information about actions to take before, during and after fires at


ANR fire map shows where fires are currently burning in California.

Neighborhood Safety

Emergency/Suspicious Activity 911
Anonymous Crime Tip Line 420.5595
Women's Crisis Support 650.3737
Graffiti Free Santa Cruz 420.5303
Street Light Out 420.5303
Abandoned Vehicles (over 72 hours) 420.5683
Public Works - transportation, potholes, flooding 420.5160
P G & E 1.800.743.5000
Garbage Problems 420.6266
Weeds 420.6266
Animal Complaints 454.7303
Shopping Carts Call Store

Choosing A Dentist

Submitted By: Cory Kemp

How to Find a Dentist

Choosing the right dentist for you and your family should involve careful consideration. As with anything, do your homework before jumping into the dentist's chair. You wouldn't select your family doctor without proper research, and the dentist should be no different. To make the process of finding and selecting the right dentist a little easier for you, the American Dental Association(ADA) has offered the following suggestions:

* Ask family, friends, neighbors or co-workers for recommendations.
* Ask your family physician or local pharmacist.
* If you're moving, your current dentist may be able to make a recommendation.
* Call or write your local or state dental society. Your local and state dental societies also may be listed in the telephone directory under "dentists" or "associations."
* Use's ADA Member Directory to search for dentists in your area.

Questions to Ask Prospective Dentist
Once you have found a dentist you believe you can trust and develop a good relationship with, ask yourself the following questions:

* Is the appointment schedule convenient for you?
* Is the office easy to get to from your home or job?
* Does the office appear to be clean, neat and orderly?
* Does the dentist explain techniques that will help you prevent dental health problems? Is dental health instruction provided?

For the remainder of the list please visit the ADA Website.

Some of these questions can't be answered before visiting the prospective dentist for a check-up, Consider it a trial run, then answer the questions. If your answers are not satisfactory to you, keep looking for another dentist until they are satisfactory. Remember that your dentist is your partner in helping to maintain great oral health, so choose wisely.


How to Ensure You Found a Good Dentist

In this post, I'll reference tips provided by the guys over at Quack Watch for evaluating your dentist - to ensure that you have found a good one.

Those of you who selected a dentist based solely on your proximity to them, or based on who sent you the prettiest postcard in the mail can especially benefit from this post.

Positive Signs

The following are signs that the dentist you chose is a good one. Please note that these are generalizations, no a litmus test for determining the quality of a particular dentist.

* They are prevention-oriented
* Chart their findings in detail
* Clearly outlines maintenance and recall schedule
* Takes their time - paying close attention to detail - as opposed to a Henry Ford-style assembly line approach
* Clearly outlines treatment options and risks and benefits associated with each

Negative Signs

The following are signs that you may want to find another dentist - or forever hold your peace.

* Distributes flashy or flamboyant advertising
* Routinely use risky intravenous sedation
* Sell vitamins or other dietary supplements
* Automatically recommend replacement of amalgam fillings or removal of teeth that have root canals
* "Specialize" in treating headaches, backaches, myofascial pain, or TMJ problems
* Practice "holistic" or "biological" dentistry
* Attempt to diagnose diseases other than those of the mouth, gums, teeth, and associated tissues

Additional Selection Criteria

The Consumers Research Council of America has listed a number of tips for choosing the right dentist. Their first recommendation is ensuring that your dentist is properly qualified to be practicing dentistry:

...Make sure your new family dentist has completed the necessary requirements to be a dentist. For instance, dentists must be state licensed and recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). Also, their training must include three or more years of undergraduate school and an additional four years of dental training at a dental school.

These are the minimum requirements needed to obtain a dental degree. Make sure your dentist has completed these requirements, or begin looking elsewhere.

Ask Yourself These Questions

The Consumers Research Council of America has also assembled a series of questions to ask yourself after being treated by a dentist to judge their quality level.

* How does your bite feel?
* Is any of the dental work irritating your gum?
* Does the treated tooth look like a tooth?
* Does dental floss or your tongue catch on the tooth?
* Did the dentist take time to polish your fillings?
* Do you feel pain when drinking hot or cold liquids?
* Was any debris left in your mouth after treatment?
* Does the dentist use a water spray to cool your teeth while drilling?

Sources: Quack Watch

Hi, I'm Cory - the guy behind Dental Heroes. I'm not a dentist, but I do love everything dental care(call me crazy). I strive to provide oral health information and news in a way that lay people, such as myself can understand.


Submitted By:

In our community, head lice infestations are a continuing problem and are highly communicable. Head lice infestation can be a frustrating problem, but this information will help you identify head lice and treat your child safely.


Head lice have been a parasite of humans since recorded time. Many people associate lice with unclean people or homes; this is not true. Frequent bathing or shampooing will not prevent lice nor eliminate them once they are established. Lice cannot jump or fly, and are usually transmitted by contact with infested persons, their clothing, or their comb or brush. Warn children against sharing hats, clothing, or grooming aides with others. Household pets do not transmit lice.


Lice are small insects about the size of a sesame seed. They are usually light brown but can vary in color. They move quickly and shy away from the light, making them difficult to see. A more obvious sign of infestation is nits (eggs). Nits are tiny, yellowish-white oval eggs attached to the hair shafts. As she deposits her eggs, the female louse cements them to the hairs. Unlike lint or dandruff, they will not wash off or blow away. Nits may be deposited throughout the hair, but are more commonly found at the nape of the neck and behind the ears. Use bright, natural lighting or a lamp without a shade when looking for them.


The itching that occurs when the lice bite and suck blood from the scalp is a primary symptom of infestation, although not everyone will experience itching. Children seen scratching their heads should be examined.


No treatment is 100% guaranteed effective. A variety of strategies may be necessary to eliminate lice. You may choose to use a chemical pesticide. Please note that pesticides are not 100% effective or 100% safe. Safety must come first when using pesticides. Before treating one family member, all should be examined. Only those showing evidence of infestation should be treated. Treat them at the same time to prevent re-infestation from one family member to another.


1. INNOMED Nit Comb. Do not use the nit combs that come with the Nix treatment kits. You need a hard metal comb with very fine teeth to remove the nits from the hair shaft. All the nits must be removed! Manual removal is the most critical strategy in eliminating lice.

2. PRELL SHAMPOO (Original Formula or Normal to Oily Formula). Do not use Prell shampoo that has conditioner added to it!!

3. If you choose to use a pesticide, you should use NIX, a cream rinse available in most pharmacies. You do not need a prescription. It is currently the best product on the market because it contains Permethrin. Consult your physician if you are pregnant or nursing, have an infant, have allergies, asthma or other medical conditions, or if you see lice/nits in the eyebrows or eyelashes.



1. Shampoo the hair first. Use a stripping type of shampoo like Prell. A shampoo with conditioner will actually coat the louse and nit, and protect them from the Nix treatment. After shampooing, towel dry the hair so that it is damp, but not wet. If the hair is dripping wet, you will dilute the Nix - thus making it less effective.

2. Use the Nix cream rinse. Skip this step if you chose not to use a pesticide and go to step 4. [Avoid applying pesticides when there are open wounds on the scalp of the person being treated or on the hands of the person who will apply the product.] Have the child lean over the sink, working it in thoroughly with the head held forward and a towel to protect the eyes. Do not treat in the bathtub or shower (in order to confine the lice product to the scalp/neck). Leave it on only for the prescribed 10 minutes. Then rinse the hair well with water. Do not use vinegar or any nit loosening product.

3. Towel dry the hair, but do not use a hair dryer. The heat from a hair dryer may affect the residual properties of Nix.

4. Comb out nits with the Innomed comb. Combing out nits works best when the hair is damp. Nit picking can be done with the fingernails or they can be cut out with small safety scissors. Methodically go through every section of the hair, and rinse the Innomed comb periodically with soapy water. After combing, let the hair air dry. Do not blow dry the hair for the next 7 - 10 days! During this time period, do not use conditioners or conditioning shampoo, mousse or hair sprays. Following nit removal, have child/adult put on clean clothing. After treatment and nit removal, children can safely return to school. School districts have adopted a "no nit" policy.

5. A daily nit check is advisable for at least 10 days following treatment and then checking should become part of routine hygiene. You may have to retreat in 7-10 days if there is evidence of new nits or newly hatched lice. Treatment itself can cause itching; do not retreat on the basis of itchiness alone. If you continually see live lice after pesticide treatment do not continue to treat. The lice may be resistant.



1. Remove any bedding, infested clothing, and launder on hot cycle and hot dry cycle. This kills lice and nits. Vacuum daily all possibly infested areas, cars and car seats, bed areas, sofas, chairs, any stuffed animals or toys, or any other item to which hair or lice may cling.

2. One of the old environmental solutions was to bag (plastic) toys or other possibly infested items for a few weeks. This works, but may pose a safety risk of suffocation to young children who want their Teddy Bear back.

3. Do not use surface sprays (insecticides sold to spray on furniture and rugs). They pose a risk of their own. You do not need them if you vacuum carefully.


Notify your child's school, camp or child care provider, as soon as possible, so they can alert other parents. Also notify your child's playmate's parents.


Safe Sleep for all Babies

Submitted By: Nancy Diehl, PHN SIDS Coordinator

Safe Sleep for all Babies ~ October is National Infant Mortality and SIDS Awareness Month


I am the Santa Cruz County SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) Coordinator and every October I look forward to keeping our community up to date about how to reduce the risk of SIDS and how every baby can sleep safely.

I am happy to share that this past fiscal year (7/10- 6/11), we had no baby die from SIDS in Santa Cruz County. Though our county has not experienced a SIDS death, rates of SIDS deaths continue to increase in California. In 2008, 201 babies died from SIDS, a 12.7% increase from 2007 when 183 babies died from SIDS, so the work of getting the safe sleep message out to all new parents is not finished. The focus of our work, like that of the state's SIDS program needs to embrace the work of those in the infant mortality community and reduce the risk of all preventable infant deaths, not just those from SIDS, but from suffocation and strangulation as well. Every baby sleeping safely continues to be the goal all of us need to embrace.


To support achieving the goal of every baby in Santa Cruz County having a safe sleep environment, I'd like to share information about a new law regarding crib safety. The Consumer Products Safety Commission has enacted new standards for cribs, banning drop side cribs from sale, as of June 2011. It is now illegal to sell a drop side crib. Also, by December 28, 2012, all licensed child care homes, hotels and crib rental companies will have to comply with this law. More information can be found at
Safe sleep recommendations continue to strongly advise parents to avoid the use of all "after-market" products including positioners and firm or soft bumpers as both place the baby at risk of suffocation.


To ensure safe sleep for all babies, professionals remain in agreement that parents should follow the American Academy of Pediatrics reduce the risk recommendations:
1. Always place a baby on his or her Back to Sleep, for every nap and at night.
2. Place a baby on a firm sleep surface, such as on a safety-approved crib mattress, covered by a fitted sheet.
3. Keep soft objects, toys, and loose bedding out of a baby's sleep area.
4. Do not allow smoking around a baby or a pregnant woman.
5. Keep the baby's sleep area close to, but separate from, where you and others sleep.
6. Think about using a clean, dry pacifier when placing an infant down to sleep. Do not force the baby to take it. When a baby breastfeeds, wait until he or she is one month old or until after breastfeeding has been established to use a pacifier.
7. Do not let a baby overheat during sleep.
8. Avoid products that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS including infant positions.
9. Do not use home monitors to reduce the risk of SIDS.
10. Reduce the chance that flat spots will develop on a baby's head by placing a baby on their tummy when he/she is awake and someone is watching.


If you have additional questions please do not hesitate to contact me at 831-454-4331. All babies deserve to sleep safely every time they sleep.

22 Things Happy People Do Differently

By Chiara Fucarino

Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions. - Dalai Lama

Happy people have good habits that enhance their lives. They do things differently. Ask any happy person, and they will tell you that they ...

1. Don't hold grudges. Happy people understand that it's better to forgive and forget than to let their negative feelings crowd out their positive feelings. Holding a grudge has a lot of detrimental effects on your wellbeing, including increased depression, anxiety, and stress. Why let anyone who has wronged you have power over you? If you let go of all your grudges, you'll gain a clear conscience and enough energy to enjoy the good things in life.

2. Treat everyone with kindness. Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that being kind makes you happier? Every time you perform a selfless act, your brain produces serotonin, a hormone that eases tension and lifts your spirits. Not only that, but treating people with love, dignity, and respect also allows you to build stronger relationships.

3. See problems as challenges. The word "problem" is never part of a happy person's vocabulary. A problem is viewed as a drawback, a struggle, or an unstable situation while a challenge is viewed as something positive like an opportunity, a task, or a dare. Whenever you face an obstacle, try looking at it as a challenge.

4. Express gratitude for what they already have. There's a popular saying that goes something like this: "The happiest people don't have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have." You will have a deeper sense of contentment if you count your blessings instead of yearning for what you don't have.

5. Dream big. People who get into the habit of dreaming big are more likely to accomplish their goals than those who don't. If you dare to dream big, your mind will put itself in a focused and positive state.

6. Don't sweat the small stuff. Happy people ask themselves, "Will this problem matter a year from now?" They understand that life's too short to get worked up over trivial situations. Letting things roll off your back will definitely put you at ease to enjoy the more important things in life.

7. Speak well of others. Being nice feels better than being mean. As fun as gossiping is, it usually leaves you feeling guilty and resentful. Saying nice things about other people encourages you to think positive, non-judgmental thoughts.

8. Never make excuses. Benjamin Franklin once said, "He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else." Happy people don't make excuses or blame others for their own failures in life. Instead, they own up to their mistakes and, by doing so, they proactively try to change for the better.

9. Get absorbed into the present. Happy people don't dwell on the past or worry about the future. They savor the present. They let themselves get immersed in whatever they're doing at the moment. Stop and smell the roses.

10. Wake up at the same time every morning. Have you noticed that a lot of successful people tend to be early risers? Waking up at the same time every morning stabilizes your circadian rhythm, increases productivity, and puts you in a calm and centered state.

11. Avoid social comparison. Everyone works at his own pace, so why compare yourself to others? If you think you're better than someone else, you gain an unhealthy sense of superiority. If you think someone else is better than you, you end up feeling bad about yourself. You'll be happier if you focus on your own progress and praise others on theirs.

12. Choose friends wisely. Misery loves company. That's why it's important to surround yourself with optimistic people who will encourage you to achieve your goals. The more positive energy you have around you, the better you will feel about yourself.

13. Never seek approval from others. Happy people don't care what others think of them. They follow their own hearts without letting naysayers discourage them. They understand that it's impossible to please everyone. Listen to what people have to say, but never seek anyone's approval but your own.

14. Take the time to listen. Talk less; listen more. Listening keeps your mind open to others' wisdoms and outlooks on the world. The more intensely you listen, the quieter your mind gets, and the more content you feel.

15. Nurture social relationships. A lonely person is a miserable person. Happy people understand how important it is to have strong, healthy relationships. Always take the time to see and talk to your family, friends, or significant other.

16. Meditate. Meditating silences your mind and helps you find inner peace. You don't have to be a zen master to pull it off. Happy people know how to silence their minds anywhere and anytime they need to calm their nerves.

17. Eat well. Junk food makes you sluggish, and it's difficult to be happy when you're in that kind of state. Everything you eat directly affects your body's ability to produce hormones, which will dictate your moods, energy, and mental focus. Be sure to eat foods that will keep your mind and body in good shape.

18. Exercise.  Studies have shown that exercise raises happiness levels just as much as Zoloft does. Exercising also boosts your self-esteem and gives you a higher sense of self-accomplishment.

19. Live minimally. Happy people rarely keep clutter around the house because they know that extra belongings weigh them down and make them feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Some studies have concluded that Europeans are a lot happier than Americans are, which is interesting because they live in smaller homes, drive simpler cars, and own fewer items.

20. Tell the truth. Lying stresses you out, corrodes your self-esteem, and makes you unlikeable. The truth will set you free. Being honest improves your mental health and builds others' trust in you. Always be truthful, and never apologize for it.

21. Establish personal control. Happy people have the ability to choose their own destinies. They don't let others tell them how they should live their lives. Being in complete control of one's own life brings positive feelings and a great sense of self-worth.

22. Accept what cannot be changed. Once you accept the fact that life is not fair, you'll be more at peace with yourself. Instead of obsessing over how unfair life is, just focus on what you can control and change it for the better.


Submitted By: Center for Disease Control

Gardening, camping, hiking, just playing outdoors - These are all great spring and summertime activities, but don't forget about the ticks that may be in the same environment. Fortunately there are several tactics you can use to prevent tick bites and reduce your risk of tick-borne disease.


Some of the more common diseases that you can get from a tick bite include (listed alphabetically):

* Babesiosis  * Ehrlichiosis  * Lyme disease  * Rocky Mountain spotted fever   *Southern tick-associated rash illness  * Tick-borne relapsing fever  * Tularemia

Other diseases that you can get from a tick in the United States include anaplasmosis, Colorado tick fever, and Powassan encephalitis.


Some species and some life stages of ticks are so small that they can be difficult to see, but all hungrily look for animals and people to bite. Depending on the species, you can find ticks in various environments, often in or near wooded areas. You may come into contact with ticks when walking through infested areas or by brushing up against infested vegetation (such as leaf litter or shrubs). Ticks also feed on mammals and birds, which play a role in maintaining ticks and the pathogens they carry.


Tick-borne diseases can occur worldwide. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

Protect Yourself from Tick Bites

* Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas. You may come into contact with ticks during outdoor activities around your home or when walking through vegetation such as leaf litter or shrubs. Always walk in the center of trails, in order to avoid ticks.
* Use a repellent with DEET (on skin or clothing) or permethrin (on clothing) and wear long sleeves, long pants and socks. Products containing permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear which can remain protective through several washings. Repellents containing 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) can be applied to the skin, and they can protect up to several hours. Always follow product instructions! Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding the hands, eyes, and mouth.
* Wear light-colored clothing, which allows you to see ticks crawling on your clothing.
* Tuck your pant legs into your socks so that ticks cannot crawl up inside of your pant legs. Some ticks can crawl down into shoes and are small enough to crawl through most socks. When traveling in areas with lone star ticks (which are associated with Southern tick-associated rash illness, ehrlichiosis, and possibly Rocky Mountain spotted fever) you should examine your feet and ankles to ensure that ticks are not attached.


Perform Daily Tick Checks

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors, even in your own yard. Conduct a body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas by searching your entire body for ticks. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find. Check these parts of your body and your child's body for ticks:

* Under the arms * In and around the ears * Inside belly button * Back of the knees
* Under the arms * In and around the hair * Between the legs * Around the waist


Check your children for ticks, especially in the hair, when returning from potentially tick-infested areas. See the list above for the places on your child's body to check for ticks. Remove any tick you find on your child's body.


Check your clothing and pets for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing and pets. Both should be examined carefully, and any ticks that are found should be removed. Placing clothes into a dryer on high heat effectively kills ticks.

What to Do If You Are Bitten by a Tick

Remove an attached tick as soon as you notice it. Watch for signs of illness such as rash or fever, and see a health care provider if these develop. For fully detailed information about tick removal, see the Rocky Mountain spotted fever Web site.

Your risk of acquiring a tick-borne illness depends on many factors, including where you live, what type of tick bit you, and how long the tick was attached. If you become ill after a tick bite, see a health care provider.

Reduce Ticks in Your Yard


* Modify your landscape to create Tick-Safe Zones. To do this, keep play areas and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation. Also, regularly remove leaf litter and clear tall grasses and brush around homes, and place wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to keep ticks away from recreational areas.
* Provide a vegetation-free play area. Keep play areas and playground equipment away from  shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation.
* Use a chemical control agent. Effective tick control chemicals are available for use by the homeowner, or they can be applied by a professional pest control expert, and even limited applications can greatly reduce the number of ticks. A single springtime application of acaricide can reduce the population of ticks that cause Lyme disease by 68-100%.
* Discourage deer. Removing plants that attract deer and constructing physical barriers may help discourage deer from entering your yard and bringing ticks with them.


Prevent Ticks on Animals

Prevent family pets from bringing ticks into the home. Maintain your family pet under a veterinarian's care. Two of the ways to get rid of ticks on dogs and cats are putting on tick medicine or using a tick collar. Be sure to use these products according to the package instructions.

Brown Bag Success

Submitted By: Leah Diamond

Leah Diamond,


Ideas for nutritious lunches your child will eat


Perhaps one of the most challenging tasks for today's parents is the simple act of preparing and packing your child's school lunch. As parents, we want to prepare a lunch that is tasty, nutritious, and filling. A child's diet can have an incredible impact on their ability to focus and perform well in school. Yet as parents we are faced with the pressures of today's fast paced lifestyle. Face it-most parents are extremely busy, and despite our best intentions, we cannot escape the prepackaged chips, cookies, and other refined and processed foods that are on grocery shelves everywhere. Add to this mix the outside influences of peer pressure and junk food marketing, and it becomes clear why parents everywhere have thrown up their hands in frustration. The battle is far from over however, and the small steps and tips that follow in this article are excellent stepping stones to help you, your family, and your children make a transition towards a healthier "brown bagged" tomorrow.


Based on my experiences as a mom and as a teacher of kids cooking classes for the past 15 years, I have learned that it is very important to include your child in both the lunch-planning and lunch-making processes. Once a child is in the third or fourth grade, they can help to make at least part of their lunch. For instance, the night before they can help measure the ingredients for a recipe, mix something together, or even simply place their snacks into Ziploc bags or tupperware containers. I have seen many "picky eaters" eat more of their lunches when they were involved in the planning and the making of the meal. Including your child will allow them to feel important and valued, which can improve their self-esteem and confidence. Additionally, school lunch planning and making doubles as a fun bonding time for the whole family.


Organization and planning are crucial to making "brown bagging" a success for you and your family. Set aside a weekly time (Sundays work well) to sit down with your child before you do the week's grocery shopping. Together you can plan the upcoming week's lunch menus. As a parent, you can offer guidance about your child's suggestions, ensuring that the result is agreed-upon, nutritious menu options. If your child is younger and does not have concrete menu ideas, you can offer them three (or so) options and ask them what they would prefer.


Good communication is also essential to making "brown bagging" as success. How often have you opened your child's lunch box after school to find that they did not eat most of what you had packed? It is important to clarify what your child likes to eat, but also when they like to eat, and what portion sizes they prefer. For example, some children (especially five and six year olds) prefer to eat several snacks at school and have their lunch when they get home. In a case like this, leftovers from the previous night's dinner could be the next day's lunch. If your child does prefer multiple snacks instead of a full meal, just be sure that the snacks are nutritious (i.e. cut vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, tortilla chips, etc) and that they do not fall into the "junk food" category (i.e. greasy chips, sugary cookies, etc).


The loving effort you put into preparing your child's lunch today will continue to reap benefits far into the future. The tastes we develop for certain foods as a child stay with us into adulthood and influence our dietary choices. That is why it makes sense to prepare tasty and healthful foods and let your child help in the planning and preparation as much as possible.


Here are a few creative, fun, and new lunch ideas to help make "brown bagging" a reality:


1. Younger kids love fun and creative things, such as food in unusual shapes. Use cookie cutters to cut their sandwiches in different shapes. There are tools to cut fruit and vegetables in unusual shapes, too.

2. Include a love note in your child's lunch to remind him or her that you are thinking of them.

3. If your child will only eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, try using a spread of equal parts peanut butter and almond butter (or another nut butter) to create variety. Try using new jams or add banana to the sandwich. Or top the nut butter with grated carrots and raisins.

4. Sandwich fillings can include: Almond butter with honey and banana, egg salad, cream cheese with strawberry jam (low in sugar), meatloaf, sliced turkey, cheese, etc.

5. Non-sandwich items can include: Quesadillas, burritos, potato salad, spaghetti with red/white sauce, pasta salad, rice salad, chili, baked chicken, egg rolls, last night's casserole, etc.

6. Snack ideas include: Trail mix (mixed nuts and raisins), granola with yogurt, raw vegetable slices with humus or dip, pancakes or waffles with nut butter, string cheese, fresh fruit cut up in interesting shapes, healthy pudding, homemade dessert, etc.


I wish you the best in creating healthy lunches with your children. Enjoy!


For more information, call Leah @ 805-683-2525 or email her at

About the Flu by A Pediatrician, 2009

Submitted By: William Hitchcock, MD, La Jolla Pediatrics, La Costa Pediatrics

Brace yourselves, the "flu season" is just around the corner, and with the possibility of both "seasonal" and "swine" flu arriving together, it could be a major challenge. Influenza, "the flu", is a highly-contagious viral infection that presents with a combination of symptoms including; fever, cough, sore throat, headaches, fatigue, and muscle aches. Symptoms can last several days and the incubation period is up to a week. Those most at risk for severe complications include young children, the elderly (over 65 years) and people with chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, emphysema and immune disorders. Each year, influenza infects millions of Americans causing missed work and school days. Influenza is responsible for over 30,000 deaths each year in our country alone, especially in those over 65 years and chronically ill. This is nothing to take lightly. Seasonal flu can involve one or more types including Influenza A and Influenza B.

This past spring we were inundated with news about a new strain of the influenza virus called the "Swine Flu" (H1N1), which was first identified in the San Diego area and quickly spread around the world. The swine flu is not a more dangerous strain of influenza, but because it is a new strain to humans, past infections do not provide us with protection. The symptoms are similar to those of seasonal flu. The swine flu has a high attack rate in young people with the highest incidence in those 5 -24 years of age. Hospitalization is highest in children under four years. Pregnant women are especially susceptible. The treatment for both the seasonal flu and the swine flu are the same - rest, fever control and hydration. Antiviral medications have a limited role. People with symptoms of flu should stay at home and avoid contact with others. Returning to work or school should only occur when the fever has been gone for 24 hours. Hand washing is a must!


The only way to prevent and control both seasonal and swine flu is through immunization. Traditionally seasonal flu occurs in the winter months and vaccination is recommended in the fall. This year the CDC is recommending individuals get vaccinated for the flu as soon as possible to lessen the burden of a potentially devastating flu season. The seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for children 6 months to 18 years, individuals who live with, or provide care for infants under six months of age, pregnant women, adults 65 years or older, and adults who have health conditions that put them at risk for flu complications. Seasonal flu vaccines are available in two forms: "inactivated" (injection) licensed for 6 months of age and older, "live" (nasal spray) licensed for healthy patients 2-49 years of age. These vaccines do NOT protect against the swine flu. These vaccines also do NOT give you the flu.


Swine flu vaccines are under development and should be available by October. The CDC recommends that these vaccines by prioritized to five target groups: pregnant women, persons 6 months to 24 years, persons living with or providing care to infants under 6 months, healthcare and emergency care providers, and persons 35 - 64 years with medical conditions that put them at risk for flu-related complications. Swine flu vaccines will be available in both the "inactive" and "live" forms. For up-to-date information on both types of influenza, go to



Flu Prevention

Submitted By: Pam Nagata, San Diego Parent


The Facts About The Flu
What should I do if I get sick?

While sick, stay home and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
You may be asked a series of questions to determine the severity of your illness.

When should I seek medical care if I get sick?

Most cases of seasonal flu or H1N1 will resolve on their own without treatment. However, if you experience any of the following warning signs, seek medical care right away:

* Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
* Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
* Sudden dizziness or confusion
* Severe or persistent vomiting
* Persistent fever


In children, emergency warning signs include:

* Fast breathing or difficulty breathing
* Bluish skin color
* Not drinking enough fluids
* Not waking up or not interacting
* Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
* Fever with a rash

What are some non-vaccine infection control strategies?


Stop the spread of germs and protect yourself by following these simple steps:
* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
* If you don't have a tissue, cough into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
* Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based gel to clean hands.
* Get immunized. It's the single best way to protect yourself against the flu.


Click here to read the article by Dr. William Hitchcock, pediatrician, about the flu season.


local sponsors
• Look for these same great services in other cities under ParentClick •