The independent. (Vernonia, Or.) 1986-current, December 03, 2009, Page Page 14, Image 14

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    Page 14
The INDEPENDENT, December 3, 2009
How to protect yourself and others from flu during holiday travel
As the holiday travel season
begins, avoiding the flu in
crowded terminals, stuffy
planes and trains can be a
“Airplanes, trains and cars
are close quarters, but you can
make travel safer with a few
simple steps,” said Mel Kohn,
MD, MPH, director of Oregon
Public Health. “There are ways
to protect yourself.”
Influenza virus is spread by
droplets from coughs and
sneezes. Studies have shown
that flu viruses can survive on
hard surfaces and can infect a
person from two to eight hours
after being left on items like
cafeteria tables, door handles
and airplane trays.
Several things people can
do to ensure safe and healthy
travel throughout the busy sea-
• Travel only when you are
feeling well so you don’t spread
the flu to others.
• Get vaccinated with a sea-
sonal flu shot and, if you are in
a target group, an H1N1 vac-
• Cover your coughs and
sneezes with something other
than your hand – like your el-
bow or a clean tissue.
• Avoid introducing germs
into your body by not touching
your face.
• Wash your hands frequent-
• Carry alcohol-based hand
sanitizer; if you're flying, re-
member that hand sanitizer,
like all liquids, must be in a 3
oz. or smaller container, placed
in a quart-sized clear plastic
zip-top bag, and placed sepa-
rately in a security bin for X-ray.
• Consider carrying sanitiz-
ing wipes to clean armrests and
trays on public transportation.
• If you’re traveling outside of
the U.S., prepare for the possi-
bility of health screening. China
and Japan have screened pas-
sengers in the past and other
countries may do the same if
the pandemic becomes more
concentrated. To avoid being
detained abroad, don’t travel
while sick.
• Stay healthy by being
physically active, eating a
healthy diet and not smoking.
• Pack the toll-free Oregon
Public Health Flu Hotline num-
ber (1-800-978-3040); Oregoni-
ans can talk to a nurse about
the flu from anywhere in the
• Bookmark the Web site for the
most current flu information.
Reduce your holiday financial stress
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With the holidays approach-
ing, many people begin to feel
the financial stress of the sea-
son. You can lessen your anxi-
ety by planning purchases in
advance. Consider the follow-
ing tips for a more enjoyable
holiday season:
• Make a list of the people
you will need to buy for and
how much you plan to spend
on each person.
• Determine how much in to-
tal you plan to spend, and if this
figure seems too high, make
adjustments in your planned
• Try to avoid the tempta-
tions of paying for all of your
purchases with a credit card
when you do not have the mon-
ey to pay it in total. Avoid think-
ing that you’ll “pay it off later.”
• If you cannot afford a par-
ticular item, look for something
similar but less expensive, or
search for a different gift. Set a
limit and stick to it.
• Be wary of department
store promotions. Offers of
“buy now and pay later” some-
times have hidden clauses that
allow interest to accrue until
your first payment. Read
through all the paperwork be-
fore signing it, and do not be
afraid to ask the store clerk
questions regarding the promo-
tion. Remember, if it sounds too
good to be true, it probably is.
• Be creative with your gifts.
Make homemade items or per-
sonalized gifts that offer your
services for things such as an
evening of free babysitting.
• A donation to a local chari-
ty may make more of a lasting
impression than a store-bought
gift. Use money that you would
spend on friends and family to
make one larger donation to
one specific charity or give
small donations to each family
member’s favorite charity.
• If you’re hosting a family
dinner, ask others to bring a
• Pay attention to return poli-
cies for items you purchased.
Keep your receipts. If you need
to return something later, hav-
ing your receipt will speed up
the process and you will have a
better chance of getting your
money back.
• Shop alone. A tired spouse
or child may encourage you to
impulsively buy some items so
they can get home sooner.
• Avoid high-pressure sales
tactics. Know what you’re look-
ing for before you enter a store
or tell the sales clerk that you
are looking and will let them
know if you need help with
• Search through clearance
racks for sale items. Shop at
discount stores for gifts for chil-
dren, neighbors, and co-work-
• Don’t wait for the last
minute to do your shopping.
You may be more tempted to
purchase higher priced items if
you are in a hurry or don’t have
time to comparison shop. If you
spread your shopping out over
time, you won’t have to come
up with so much money at
• After the holiday season,
start saving for the next one.
Put aside a little each month or
look for sale items throughout
the year that could be saved for
the holiday season.
Source: Suzi McGarvey, Extension
Associate, University of Missouri
How to assure your food gifts are safe
Safety is an important ingre-
dient in holiday food gifts.
Home-preserved foods can be
inexpensive gifts, but make
sure your products are safe.
Check out the U.S.D.A. “Com-
plete Guide to Home Canning”
Dried fruits and jams or jel-
lies are usually safe options.
Dried fruit should be pliable like
leather, without pockets of
moisture that promote growth
of microorganisms. Package
them in freezer containers. In-
clude instructions to freeze the
fruit for long-term safety and
If you didn’t dry fruit this
summer, you can still make fruit
leather. Make a puree of
canned fruit and dry it in an
oven or dehydrator. For instruc-
tions refer to: http://extension.
Berries and other frozen fruit
can be thawed and made into
jam or jelly. Follow the pectin
package instructions. Special
pectins are available for prod-
ucts lower in sugar. Fill steril-
ized jars with hot jam, adjust
lids, and process for five min-
utes in a boiling water canner
to seal and prevent mold
growth. Consider putting home-
preserved and home-baked
foods in a decorated box or gift
basket for an inexpensive gift.
A loaf of fruit bread, a jar of jel-
ly, and a roll of fruit leather
would be welcomed.
Don’t seal breads (such as
See Assure on page 21