Saturday, October 08, 2005

Top story

Controlling Mosquitoes in Your Backyard

(MF) - With summer quickly approaching, people everywhere are looking for ways to control the mosquito population in their backyards. While folks fire up their barbeques and prepare for a season of outdoor parties, mosquitoes loom as a source of much annoyance. But more importantly, these pests can pose a serious health threat to families and pets. Homeowners need to develop a plan for controlling these potentially dangerous insects in their backyard.

Time is of the essence, since mosquitoes can develop from egg to adult in as little as four to seven days.

Larviciding offers consumers a proactive option for controlling mosquitoes. The process involves killing mosquitoes during their formative stages before they become breeding, biting adults. One new solution, PreStrike Mosquito Torpedo, contains methoprene, an insect growth regulator that prevents larvae from maturing.

Mosquito Torpedo provides 60 days of protection and will not harm humans, animals, fish or vegetation when used as directed. Convenient and ready to use, the tablets are ideal for treating standing water in ornamental ponds, water gardens, birdbaths, water troughs, gutters, pool covers and fountains.

In addition to larviciding, minimizing the amount of standing water can significantly reduce mosquitoes around the home. Homeowners should:

- Destroy or dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets and similar water-holding containers.
- Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outside and cover trash containers to keep out rainwater.
- Clean clogged roof gutters on an annual basis.
- Change water every week in birdbaths and wading pools.
- Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used.
- Check for trapped water in plastic or canvas tarps and arrange them so they drain properly.
- Clean animal troughs weekly.
- Irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing for several days.

Since mosquitoes are known to carry diseases such as West Nile virus, canine heartworm and viral encephalitis, every preventative measure is important. With a little extra effort, summertime in the backyard can be an even more enjoyable experience.


On the Net:
PreStrike Mosquito Torpedo site:


Making the Most of Online Communities

(MF) -- Online communities like Friendster and MySpace aren't just about finding a date or meeting new friends anymore. More and more technophiles are finding new ways to take advantage of these online social networking sites - making them a hub for everything from finding jobs and concerts to playing games and selling cars.

"I first used these sites so I could keep in touch with my friends," said Rosanne Raposo, a Friendster and MySpace user for the last two years. "Now, there are so many more uses for it. I discover new bands, buy things I can use around my house and I've even found concert tickets through it."

These sites work by allowing users to create their own web pages and inviting others to create web pages as well. As more and more people create pages, a growing network of mutual acquaintances develops, making users more comfortable contacting a stranger for a date. Now, users are finding even more creative ways to use their connections.

"I organize music festivals every month and post ads on these sites' bulletin boards," said Melissa Cruz, organizer of the CNBCN festival. "These sites let me reach thousands of people instantly - and because they know I'm connected to their friends, a lot more people are comfortable coming since they know other people there."

Web surfers aren't just using online communities for play either. Some have even found work on the sites.

"I was looking on all the job sites such as HotJobs and Monster, but had little luck," said Vanessa Quintana, an aspiring music promoter.

Through her online network, a friend of a friend posted a bulletin about a music label looking for interns. She replied and was hired after being interviewed.

"Without the online connection, I would never have had this opportunity" she said.

While it seems these online communities are the new classified ads for this generation, some people still don't see the point of logging online to meet others.

"It just further depersonalizes our society," said Sean Bergin, an actor. "Who are you interacting with? I think you're interacting with a machine, not a person and I think its left a lot of people very isolated."

On the Net:
MySpace site:
Friendster site:
CNBCN site:

Low-Dose Aspirin Aids in Stroke Survival

(MF) - Each year, about 700,000 Americans experience a new or recurrent stroke. Although survival rates of stroke victims have increased in recent years, stroke is the leading cause of long-term adult disability and remains the third-leading cause of death in the United States. People can combat these statistics by speaking with their doctors about appropriate lifestyle measures, such as daily low-dose aspirin therapy, to help prevent the occurrence of a cardiac event.

While results from the Antiplatelet Trialists' Collaboration indicated that 14 percent of people who survive a first stroke would have another within one year, findings from the same study also suggested that long-term aspirin therapy, such as with St. Joseph 81 milligram aspirin, greatly reduces recurrent strokes by 25 percent. In the Second International Study of Infarct Survival involving more than 17,000 men and women, findings suggested that low-dose aspirin specifically reduced patients’ risk of experiencing a non-fatal stroke by 46 percent.

“Research continually supports the use of low-dose aspirin in the prevention of stroke without the increased side effect of stomach bleeding associated with higher doses of aspirin, such as 325 milligrams,” says Dr. Jayne Middlebrooks, non-invasive cardiologist and director of HealthScreen America in Atlanta, Ga. “An aspirin a day keeps the doctor away, and this adage is particularly true for adults at an increased risk of a first or recurrent stroke.”

A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel or artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. At the onset of a stroke, people may experience numbness or weakness on one side of their body, possibly accompanied by blurred vision, slurred speech or a sudden, severe headache. It’s crucial to call 911 as soon as symptoms arise as it could mean the difference between life and death.

Typically, stroke survivors’ control of such functions as speech, movement and memory may be lost. Specific abilities lost or affected depend on the size, severity and location in the brain of the stroke.

Men and women, especially those diagnosed with high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, are encouraged to discuss with their doctors whether a daily low-dose aspirin regimen with St. Joseph 81 milligram is right for them.


On the Net:

St. Joseph site:


Rack 'em Up: Hot Tips for Learning How to Play Cool Pool

(MF) - Forget the stuffy images of cognac-drinking and cigar smoking Englishmen playing in the billiards room, or the young, down-and-out hustler trying to make a fast buck in seedy pool halls of cinema lore. The game of pool was popular long before Paul Newman in "The Hustler," or Tom Cruise in "The Color of Money." These days, people of all ages find the game approachable, affordable, and highly entertaining.

Billiards refers to all cue sports - including pool, snooker, and carom. While shooting pool is traditionally seen as a male pastime, whoever considers it a "guy thing" today should think again. In fact, some of the best professional pool players in the world are women. It's a truly unisex game, with no strength requirements. Male or female, making a difficult shot under pressure is the essence of cool - be it in a televised world championship tournament or a noisy bar.

Besides its high coolness quotient, the game teaches superior hand-eye coordination, strategy and tactics - as well as the more obvious principles of motion physics. To shoot winning pool in any situation you need good technique, a gentle finesse, grace under pressure, and of course, lots of practice! With a little time and effort, you can become enough of a player to beat most of your average opponents-while calling every shot.

Next to learning the lingo, rules, and practicing and playing as often as possible, the quickest route to shooting winning pool is taking private lessons from a professional. Your game will improve dramatically. If you are new to the game, consider getting some friends together to practice or play by yourself once a week for an hour. You might want to join a team that competes in a league against other bars or pool halls. A handicapping system helps to even out disparities between players' skill levels.

Always try to avoid playing on tables near television sets-they can break concentration, mood, and interrupt the natural flow of a game. If possible, try not to shoot pool in a crowded, boisterous bar, or anywhere the focus is more on socializing and alcohol. Bar pool equipment is notoriously poor and the disorganized chalkboard list or long "quarters-on-the-table" waits are frustrating. When you finally do get to play, you'll often be accidentally jostled during your shot. Also, remember to steer clear of pool scenes centered on gambling.

There are a myriad of resources online, such as the Billiard Congress of America, if you are interested in learning the game or getting better if you already play. Before long, your confidence, concentration and practice will have you experiencing "dead stroke" - the feeling a pool player has when in the zone and on top of their game. Rack 'em up!


On the Net: Billiard Congress of America:

Proper Tire Care Helps Keep Your Vehicle Rolling

(MF) - Experts say poor maintenance of a vehicle's tires is a risk no motorist can afford. GM Goodwrench is reminding drivers of the importance of maintaining their tires to help avoid uneven wear, poor performance - or even blowouts, which may result in loss of control of the vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates tire failures or blowouts contribute to more than 400 deaths and 10,000 injuries in the U.S. each year. Yet, statistics show that some drivers don't follow the basic tire maintenance guidelines that can help prevent tire failures. According to the Car Care Council, 26 percent of the vehicles inspected at checkpoints during Car Care Month 2004 had low air pressure in one or more tires.

"Although today's tires are more technologically advanced than ever before, regular visual inspections and maintenance are critical to enabling tires to perform at their best," said Doug Herberger, GM North America vice president and general manager of service and parts operations.

Underinflation is the leading cause of tire failure, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association. Underinflation or overloading creates excessive stresses and heat, and can lead to tire failure and a crash.

Changes in outdoor temperature can affect the rate at which a tire loses air. Typically, a tire loses one to two pounds of pressure per month, and even more in warm weather.

To help avoid underinflation, the Rubber Manufacturers Association recommends checking the air pressure in your tires at least once a month and before every long trip. Tires must be checked when they are cold - that is, before they have run for one mile. Experts also say you should never "bleed" or reduce air pressure when tires are hot - it's normal for pressure to build up as a result of driving.

If your tire sustains a blowout while you are driving, don't slam on your brakes - that can cause your car to swerve in the direction of the blowout. Instead, gently apply the brakes to regain control and slowly guide the vehicle to a safe area away from the road.

Drivers can help prevent potential tire failures with expert advice and service from their dealership. GM Goodwrench encourages consumers to visit their local dealership for an inspection to ensure that their vehicle is up-to-date on its maintenance needs. The inspections can point out items needing service to help a vehicle run better, last longer, retain its value and provide optimal safety and security.

Driving Responsibly in the Outdoors

(MF) - Exploring the great outdoors is a year-round pastime, from hiking and biking to off-roading and extreme sports. The popularity of sport utility vehicles, all-terrain vehicles and trucks shows how much consumers crave an adventurous lifestyle. But unless it's done responsibly, four-wheeling could have a damaging effect on the environment.

When driving off the highways and main roads, it's important to take extra precautions. Remembering a few practical tips can help make the trip enjoyable, while minimizing any impact on surrounding areas.

- Plan and prepare a route that is safe, legal and within the limitations of your vehicle. Local agencies like the Forest Service, National Park Service, or Bureau of Land Management should have information on off-highway vehicle trails near you.

- Stay on designated roads and trails. Drivers should only use trails designated for off-highway vehicle use, and should never make their own shortcuts or trails. Private land should only be crossed with the owner's permission.

- Make sure to drive in the middle when on the trail. You'll avoid widening the lane and destroying vegetation along the roadside. If possible, also avoid driving through mud or soft soil.

- Drive over fallen trees or other obstacles at an angle, one wheel at a time. Driving around them can destroy vegetation surrounding the trail, so sometimes it's best to either move the object or drive over it.

- If you must cross a stream, do so slowly at a 90-degree angle, and only at trail fording points - where the trail usually crosses the water.

The national nonprofit organization Tread Lightly! has developed a variety of educational materials to encourage responsible four-wheeling, mountain biking, ATV riding, sand duning, personal watercraft use, snowmobiling and off-highway motorcycling.

Outdoor enthusiasts, educators, and other interested people can also sign up for the Tread Trainer program, a short training course sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund and the Federal Highway Administration, that prepares volunteers to spread the message of responsible recreation.

Spending time outdoors offers a great escape from the daily grind. When you're ready to head back to the everyday world, remember to pick up any trash you see. By leaving an area better than you found it, you help ensure other adventurers enjoy a similar oasis.

On the Net:
Tread Lightly! site:

More Options, More Hope for Blood Cancer Patients

(MF) – After 25 years working with cancer patients, 63-year-old oncology nurse Barbara Stevens knew how scary a diagnosis could be. The grandmother of 10 underwent back surgery to stabilize a fracture, but was still experiencing painful muscle spasms after the operation. When x-rays showed additional fractures in her spine, doctors ordered additional blood tests. Stevens was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, the second most common cancer of the blood.

Multiple myeloma affects an estimated 50,000 Americans, with approximately 15,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The cancer attacks plasma cells, or white blood cells, primarily in bone marrow - which can damage the immune system’s ability to fight against infection and disease. Myeloma tumors can also spread to multiple sites, causing bone destruction and fractures. Like Stevens’ case, the disease is often discovered by chance and is not noticed until it has reached an advanced stage.

“Despite advances in treatment, only 30 percent of patients with advanced multiple myeloma typically live for more than five years after diagnosis,” said Dr. Paul Richardson of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “So it’s important for patients to have access to new medicines.”

Richardson is a leading investigator for new multiple myeloma treatment options. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, led by Richardson, shows multiple myeloma patients treated with Velcade had a better chance at survival compared to patients who used the standard treatment.

“Velcade has been shown to significantly increase chances for survival when compared to standard therapy, showing great promise for improving patient outcomes,” Richardson said.

The study also shows that Velcade slowed the progress of the disease longer than the standard treatment and more patients responded better. Some patients whose cancer still progressed with radiation and chemotherapy saw their conditions improve after treatment. Clinical trials are underway to further evaluate the medicine’s potential with multiple myeloma and other cancers.

Now on Velcade, with her multiple myeloma in remission, Stevens fights against cancer as a mentor for newly diagnosed patients.

“I am doing well and I want to give hope to others when the initial diagnosis is scary,” she said.


On the Net:
Velcade site:


Why Invest in International Funds Now?

(MF) -- Though the U.S. economy led the world in the 1990s, the global economy has expanded with more regional balance since the 2001 recession. Today, financial experts say international markets remain full of potential, offering opportunity and protection for investors.

Developing economies like Brazil and China are growing faster than the U.S., while older economies like Japan and Germany are restructuring to become more productive.

"We think non-U.S. markets can outpace U.S. stocks in coming years," said Jerome Jacobs, managing director at Putnam Investments, which manages about $40 billion in international assets, as of May 31, 2005.

By investing some of your money abroad, you may benefit from diversification across markets. That’s a reason most company retirement plans include international mutual fund options, giving employees diverse choices for growth and managing risk.

Though U.S. stocks should form the core of your portfolio, experts say international stocks have a role to play because of attractive price and international markets’ lower interest rates, which help business growth and typically boost stock prices. Short-term interest rates in European Union countries like France and Germany are around 2 percent, and in Japan, around 0.1 percent. By contrast, U.S. rates reached 3.25 percent in June and appear to be headed higher.

"Looking outside the United States, stocks remain cheaper and earnings growth rates more impressive in many areas," Jacobs said.

Jacobs also sounds a cautionary note that international investing does involve certain risks, including currency fluctuations, economic instability and political developments.

Once you decide to add international investments to your portfolio, think about strategy. A financial advisor who understands the principles of investment diversification and has experience picking international mutual funds can be helpful in devising your plan.

Typically, advisors recommend putting a small portion of your portfolio abroad, usually 10 to 15 percent. Similar allocations are recommended when investing through a retirement plan such as a 401(k) plan or IRA.

Check to see whether your plan offers actively managed mutual funds that invest a portion of their money in international markets, while keeping most in the United States. Even a small percentage can add diversification and growth potential, whatever type of international fund you choose.

On the Net:
Putnam Investments site:

Mosquitoes Don't Take Summer Vacations

(MF) - The lazy days of summer should mean rest and relaxation. However, for millions of families and their pets, longer days and hotter weather mean one thing - dealing with mosquitoes. Since these annoying pests can potentially transmit West Nile virus, viral encephalitis, canine heartworm and other serious conditions, finding a way to cope with the problem is a priority for homeowners.

Mosquitoes typically fly less than a mile from their breeding ground, which makes the backyard the first place to take action. Ornamental ponds, birdbaths and gutter run-off are common sources of the standing water environment where mosquito populations originate. By short-circuiting those breeding zones, homeowners can positively affect the number of mosquitoes in their backyards.

"Change the water every week in birdbaths and wading pools," said Doug VanGundy, an entomologist for Wellmark International. "Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with fish, which will eat the mosquitoes."

VanGundy also advises consumers to battle mosquitoes by seeking out and draining any unnecessary sources of standing water. Clogged roof gutters, recycling bins, tarps or pool covers are primary targets. For water sources that can't be drained, a simple maintenance
program will help.

VanGundy recommends a process called larviciding to help control and reduce mosquito populations in standing water. Larviciding kills mosquitoes where they breed, before they have a chance to grow into biting adults. One new larvicide, the PreStrike Mosquito Torpedo, provides 60 days of protection without harming humans, animals, fish or vegetation, when used as directed.

Remembering a few basic mosquito prevention tactics can go a long way toward ensuring that summertime living is easy and disease-free.

Survey: Moms and Kids Want More Outdoor Play

(MF) - Think children enjoy staying inside with their television, computer and video games? Think again.

A recent survey shows that parents and kids alike feel that children should play outside more often, but most youngsters spend more time indoors than outdoors.

The "Neosporin 50 Years of Healing" survey found that 50 percent of moms say their children typically play outside fewer than five hours a week. The nationwide survey of moms also reveals that over half would prefer that their kids play outside the majority of the time and more than half of the respondents said their kids would also prefer to do the same—though less than one-quarter do.

So what is preventing outside playtime? One reason may be that kids are overscheduled in structured activities. Only 34 percent of mothers report that the activities most often engaged in by their child include unstructured outdoor play like bike riding or rollerblading. Another barrier to outdoor play is that moms worry their kids will get hurt.

"I want my kids to enjoy the outdoors more, but they usually want to climb trees or play roughly and I'm often afraid they'll get cuts or scrapes," said Melanie Tolan, a mother of three.

Moms can protect their kids by learning the "3 Cs of Wound Care" to treat minor injuries - Clean the wound with lukewarm water to remove germs and dirt; Coat the area with an antibiotic like Neosporin Antibiotic Ointment to prevent infection; and Cover the wound with a sterile bandage.

To help increase "fresh air time" for families, the makers of Neosporin products have developed "50 Ways to Play," a list of fun, safe outdoor activities that both moms and kids can enjoy.

Among the ideas are:
- Introduce kids to outdoor games you played as a child, such as Red Light Green Light or Kick the Can.
- Play dodgeball with a wet twist - instead of using balls, use water balloons. For an especially splashy game, be sure to fill the balloons up to the max!
- Invite neighborhood kids to compete in track and field events like relay races, sprints and long jumps. Try to race on grass if possible to avoid serious injury. More fun outdoor ideas can be found at

First Stop: Community College

(MF) - When Rhoda Alfeche was looking at colleges to attend, she didn’t want to use her parents’ retirement savings on her education. She also didn’t know what to major in, which could’ve meant spending money on the wrong classes. Instead of passing on school altogether, she chose another alternative.

"Since I was undecided, I thought it best to earn my liberal arts credits from a community college," Alfeche said. "I could easily get the same classes at less than half the price at a community college compared with a private university."

Alfeche isn’t alone. Students who are tight on funds, undecided about their majors or unsure if college is right for them are turning to two-year colleges and technical institutes. In fact, 45 percent of all U.S. undergraduates attend community colleges, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

"Community colleges serve students from all backgrounds," said Stephen J. Handel of the College Board, which administers programs to help students prepare for college. "Community colleges are a great stepping stone towards earning a bachelor’s degree and meeting your career goals."

Students can choose from a wide range of vocational, technical and liberal arts programs, including fashion design or engineering technology. Those who decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree can transfer their credits to a four-year school, while others opt to test their new skills in the workforce.

"The quality of the facilities and instruction at community colleges is usually very high, and often faculty have jobs in the fields that they teach, giving students a leg up in their job search," Handel said.

An associate’s degree can be earned in about two years, while a certificate program takes six months to a year to complete.

How can students find the right community college for them? Books like the College Board College Handbook 2006 and many online sources offer information on schools across the nation, including what majors they offer, tuition costs and class sizes.

"I went to school alongside a majority of nontraditional students - single mothers, people going through career transitions and immigrants," Alfeche said. "If you want an education on the world beyond the classroom, go to community college."

On the Net:
College Board site:

Friday, October 07, 2005

Students Harness Solar Power to Run Homes

Solar Decathlon Features The Latest In Energy Efficiency And Renewable Energy Technologies

October 2005 (Medialink) -- As fuel prices rise and smarter energy choices become a hot topic, solar energy is emerging as an attractive energy option. Now, imagine living in a home where everything from the lights to the hot water and air conditioning is powered by the sun. College teams from around the world are making that a reality - transforming the National Mall in Washington D.C. today into a village of solar-powered homes.

Eighteen collegiate teams from the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and Spain are participating in the 2005 Solar Decathlon. During the past two years, each team has designed and built its own zero-energy, solar-powered home. These fully-functional houses showcase the latest in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.

The opening ceremony for the competition is October 6, and the solar village will be open to the public Oct. 7 until Oct. 16. The Solar Decathlon winner - based on the team that best blends aesthetics and modern conveniences with maximum energy production and optimal efficiency - will be announced on Oct. 14.

The 2005 Solar Decathlon is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in partnership with its National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the American Institute of Architects, the National Association of Homebuilders, BP, the DIY Network, and Sprint Nextel. For more information, visit to see images of the houses and learn more about the event.

Listen to comments from Doug Faulkner, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy.

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Contact: Allison Langfelder 202-628-3800

Copyright© 2005

Teens And Cell Phones: Attached At The Hip

Many teenagers feel attached to their cell phone according to one new study that finds America’s youth is the fastest growing group of wireless users. For today's teens the Internet was really never new to them, and so to them text messaging has always around, just like bubble gum. So how does a parent know if their teen is ready for a cell phone? Parents should ask whether their child has really demonstrated personal responsibility in other ways at home, at school and with their friends.? And also parents should ask whether or not their children understand the dangers of communicating with strangers using text messaging and instant messaging. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a list of text messaging short-hand to help parents decode what their teen's text messages actually say.
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Produced for Verizon Wireless
For more information on this story, contact Marci Dobrow 323.465.0428


Copyright© 2005

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Low-Dose Aspirin Aids in Stroke Survival

(MF) - Each year, about 700,000 Americans experience a new or recurrent stroke. Although survival rates of stroke victims have increased in recent years, stroke is the leading cause of long-term adult disability and remains the third-leading cause of death in the United States. People can combat these statistics by speaking with their doctors about appropriate lifestyle measures, such as daily low-dose aspirin therapy, to help prevent the occurrence of a cardiac event.

While results from the Antiplatelet Trialists' Collaboration indicated that 14 percent of people who survive a first stroke would have another within one year, findings from the same study also suggested that long-term aspirin therapy, such as with St. Joseph 81 milligram aspirin, greatly reduces recurrent strokes by 25 percent. In the Second International Study of Infarct Survival involving more than 17,000 men and women, findings suggested that low-dose aspirin specifically reduced patients’ risk of experiencing a non-fatal stroke by 46 percent.

“Research continually supports the use of low-dose aspirin in the prevention of stroke without the increased side effect of stomach bleeding associated with higher doses of aspirin, such as 325 milligrams,” says Dr. Jayne Middlebrooks, non-invasive cardiologist and director of HealthScreen America in Atlanta, Ga. “An aspirin a day keeps the doctor away, and this adage is particularly true for adults at an increased risk of a first or recurrent stroke.”

A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel or artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. At the onset of a stroke, people may experience numbness or weakness on one side of their body, possibly accompanied by blurred vision, slurred speech or a sudden, severe headache. It’s crucial to call 911 as soon as symptoms arise as it could mean the difference between life and death.

Typically, stroke survivors’ control of such functions as speech, movement and memory may be lost. Specific abilities lost or affected depend on the size, severity and location in the brain of the stroke.

Men and women, especially those diagnosed with high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, are encouraged to discuss with their doctors whether a daily low-dose aspirin regimen with St. Joseph 81 milligram is right for them.


On the Net:

St. Joseph site:


Man's Best Friend Can Help You Fight Arthritis

(MF) - Did you know that the family dog could be the best thing to happen to your health? A brisk walk with your canine companion can help keep you and your dog fit and can relieve some of the aches, pains and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis.

More than 20 million Americans have osteoarthritis, also known as OA. OA is a degenerative joint disease that is characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage, with bone eventually meeting bone. Many of the disease signs, symptoms and treatments are similar in both pets and people.

"With proper diet, exercise and medical treatment, mobility can be maintained and arthritis pain reduced," said Dr. John H. Klippel, president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation. "This means that your twice-daily walks can help to keep both you and your pet fit while alleviating pain and reducing swelling."

Early morning stiffness is a common sign of arthritis. While the temptation to rest in order to avoid aggravating the condition is strong, exercise actually helps - keeping joints lubricated and strengthening muscles and cartilage. The stronger the muscles and tissue are around joints, the better they will be able to support and protect those joints – even those weak and damaged by arthritis.

Exercise will help you and your pet:

- Keep your joints flexible.
- Keep muscles around the joints strong.
- Prevent further deterioration of bone and cartilage.
- Improve your ability to perform daily activities.
- Improve your overall health and fitness by giving you more energy, helping you sleep better, making your heart stronger and controlling your weight.

The Arthritis Foundation hosts nearly 300 Arthritis Walks around the country each May to raise awareness and funds to fight arthritis, the nation's number one cause of disability. A complete schedule can be found at

"We invite everyone to participate in our Arthritis Walks," added Klippel. "We know people and their pets who enjoy regular walks will have healthier joints, brighter spirits and a closer bond."

New Study Shows Talking Smoke Alarm More Effective for Children

October 2005 (Newstream) -- When it comes to fire safety, children do listen to their parents. According to a new study conducted by Ohio State, 96 percent of children wake up to their parents voice versus less than 50 percent to a conventional beeping smoke alarm. The quick response by children has proven to cut the escape time from 5 minutes to 38 seconds. It's an alarming number experts are focusing on during the month of October, Fire Safety Month.

Every year more than 40,000 American children are injured or die in house fires. Experts say when children awake to the sound of a normal smoke alarm, they are typically disoriented or frightened whereas hearing a familiar voice can help a child in traumatic situations. Now, a new smoke alarm allows parents to record their own voice and personal message sure to wake children from a deep sleep and instruct them to safety.

Fire Safety officials say having a family fire escape plan and effective smoke alarm should be a priority for families, especially those with young children or elderly who need extra care to move to safety. During Fire Safety Month, SignalONE will donate vocal smoke alarms to state fire marshal offices to help families make fire safety a priority. Additionally, consumers can visit and download a 5-step Fire Escape Plan that families can simply fill-in-the-blanks to help prepare for a fire emergency.

George Burke, former director of the IAFF Burn Foundation, comments on childrens' responses to traditional smoke alarms. Video available.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Getting Garbage Off America’s Beaches

(MF) - This summer, millions of Americans will head to the beach for fun in the sun. While many will find rest and relaxation, others may also notice a not-so-welcome scene: beachside litter.

In many areas, food wrappers, bottles, plastic bags and cigarette butts discarded by beachgoers dot the landscape. Derelict fishing gear and commercial fishing nets also contribute to the problem, along with debris washed downstream from nearby cities and towns. The Ocean Conservancy, a group that promotes the health of our ocean ecosystems, says recreational and shoreline activities account for more than 50 percent of trash strewn on beaches nationwide.

“Marine debris poses a serious threat to marine wildlife and ecosystems,” said Seba Sheavly, director of The Ocean Conservancy’s cleanup efforts. “Thousands of turtles, fish, and seabirds can be killed globally every year by ingesting or becoming entangled in marine debris.”

In September 2004, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy issued a report finding that drifting gear poses “a serious threat to fishery resources, wildlife and habitat, as well as human health and safety.”

Protecting our waters starts with cleanup efforts where anyone can participate. The Ocean Conservancy has been coordinating the International Coastal Cleanup for nearly two-decades. The annual event, the largest single-day volunteer effort of its kind, attracts over 300,000 volunteers and takes place in 49 states and territories and in almost 100 countries around the globe. The cleanup celebrates its 20th anniversary on September 17.

Coordinators document what is found and record the number of participants and distance covered. The conservancy compiles this information and uses it to paint a better picture of the sources of marine debris. This comprehensive look at how humans contribute to refuse problems helps educate government, scientists and the public.

“We couldn’t do it without the thousands of volunteers around the world,” Sheavly said. “They understand that stewardship of our ocean is a shared responsibility.”

Responsible actions are the first steps to keeping our beaches clean, making the lazy days of summer a bit more fun for everyone, and a lot better for the environment.


On the Net:

International Coastal Cleanup site:


Athletes Turn to Natural Therapies to Relieve Pain and Avoid Steroid Use

Steroids aren't just used to pump up athletes into muscle-bound record-breakers, they are also used to help reduce inflammation and recuperate from painful injuries. But while these steroids - known as corticosteroids - can be used legally by professional athletes such as baseball and football players, they can also have dangerous side effects such as easy bruising, weight gain and osteoporosis. That is why more American athletes are moving away from any kind of steroid use and turning to a natural therapy popular in other countries to relieve pain and treat injuries.

Homeopathy is a therapeutic system that uses micro doses of natural substances to relieve symptoms. Unlike corticosteroids used in cortisone shots to accelerate the healing process, homeopathic medicines heal without side effects and are non-doping.

Popular sports doctors have found that they have restrictions when helping athletes recover from bruising, swelling, and trauma from impact, but homeopathic medicines have given them a safer option.

"The greatest value in sports? It's speed of action," said Dr. Jean-Marcel Ferret, doctor to the French soccer team from 1993 to 2004, including the World Cup championship team in 1998. "I can use homeopathic medicines like Arnica directly on the soccer field.

Marie-Hélène Prémont won the silver medal in mountain biking in the 2004 Olympic games and credits homeopathic medicines with helping in her victory.

"Homeopathic medicines are safe and work naturally to relieve aches and pains so I can work hard one day and continue what I need to do the next day," Prémont said.

Prémont trains six days a week, sprinting and climbing on her bike in preparation for this year's World Cup and World Championships of mountain biking and the 2008 Olympic games. While training and during competitions, Premont will take an occasional fall and uses Arnica cream by French homeopathic producer Boiron to reduce pain, swelling and bruising. Arnica is made from the mountain daisy plant and has been used for centuries as a natural pain reliever.

Homeopathic medicine like Arnica isn't only popular with athletes - it is also gaining popularity with consumers for its many uses. Arnica can also be used for stiffness after a long flight, for the bruises toddlers may receive while learning to walk or the regular aches and pains that come from home improvements.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Style and Substance

Fashion and good causes often go hand-in-hand, from red ribbons symbolizing AIDS awareness to the enormously popular charity wristband campaigns. Shoppers are finding even more ways to boost awareness for their most cherished causes through their purchases.

At Web sites like and, you can shop at a variety of stores, with a portion of the sale going to a charity of your choice. These sites feature special sales and promotions at stores like J.C. Penney, the GAP, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, or on individual brands like Kenneth Cole, ESPRIT, Rampage and Fossil. Greater Good also has individual sites dedicated to hunger relief, saving endangered rainforests, and health and literacy programs.

MAC Cosmetics has been at the forefront of the effort to raise awareness and funds for people living with HIV/AIDS. Their Viva Glam campaign features celebrities like Pamela Anderson, Christina Aguilera, Missy Elliott and Boy George, who dedicate their time on behalf of the cause. All proceeds from the sale of Viva Glam cosmetics will benefit the MAC AIDS Fund.

Breast cancer awareness has grown in recent years, due in part to the pink ribbon campaign that made pink symbolic of efforts to fight the disease. Designer Cynthia Rowley has designed a pink canvas tote bag available through Quilted Northern products, with net proceeds going to The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Shoppers can also purchase an Ann Taylor-designed T-shirt and watch through the Komen Foundation's Web site. Retailers like eBags also announced they will donate 10 percent of the retail sale price of every pink bag purchased on their Web site to the Komen Foundation.

DKNY, Liz Claiborne and Nine West are among the brands contributing to the "Hope Catalog" at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The special "hope." collection was created to help spread the message of hope for children battling cancer and other catastrophic diseases. The collection features DKNY-designed T-shirts, neckties and a variety of jewelry. Nine West and Liz Claiborne products in the collection include wristlet purses, tote bags, brag books and key fobs. Money from catalog sales will go to the research hospital.

Many charities offer their own branded merchandise to raise funds, and make them available on their Web sites. The American Heart Association's "Go Red For Women" campaign features T-shirts, jewelry and other accessories with the signature red dress logo to raise awareness of women and heart disease.

If you're not sure whether a site or charity is legitimate, or you just want to see how it compares to others, be sure to check out a charity rating guide or Web sites like Check the organizations to see where proceeds go - whether it directly benefits the cause, or goes mostly to administrative costs. When shopping online, some brands offer a higher percentage donation than others, so your purchase may go just a little bit further towards something that matters to you.

High Profile Cases Highlight Need for Better Child Safety Measures

Joseph Edward Duncan III was convicted in 1980 of raping and torturing a 14-year-old Washington boy and served 14 years in prison. After his release, he traveled undetected throughout the United States.

Now, Duncan is suspected of killings, kidnappings and sexual assaults in several states.

Duncan’s case is one example of why lawmakers are mulling tougher sex offender laws. Out of over 550,000 U.S. sex offenders who are supposed to be registered, it is believed 100,000 are ‘lost’ in the system, according to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, or NCMEC.

“There are too many loopholes in existing registry laws which allow convicted sexual predators to elude law enforcement and kill our children,” said John Walsh, host of “America’s Most Wanted” and co-founder of the NCMEC. “I know the horror parents can face ever since my beautiful son Adam was abducted and murdered. Tougher laws can help parents avoid a similar tragedy.”

One bill, called “Dru’s Law,” would create a national sex offender registry, give stiffer penalties to those who don’t register and mandate lifetime registration for perpetrators with felony convictions.

Besides supporting legislation, Walsh encourages parents to educate their children about dangerous situations, like grownups asking for help.

“So many kids are uninformed about what to do when approached by people they don’t know. They need to know not to listen to people asking for directions, seeking help finding a pet or who say that their parents are in trouble,” Walsh said. “They should talk to someone older for help.”

Parents and guardians may have difficulty discussing this topic, which is why Walsh and Julie Clark, creator of Baby Einstein, have produced a new DVD series called The Safe Side.

The videos teach kids about safety in a fun, engaging way. Ten percent of gross proceeds go to the NCMEC, a nonprofit organization that works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Serious topics can be very hard for adults to discuss with their kids and get the right message across,” Clark said. “My hope is by making these DVDs informative and entertaining, children can learn important lessons that protect them from dangerous people.”

Parents can visit for more on the pending bill and child safety tips.

Online Trade Savings for the Average Investor

Discounted commissions aren’t just for investors with million-dollar brokerage accounts anymore. Over the past year, many brokerage firms reduced the costs of investing, but the richest clients usually saw the biggest benefits. Thanks to a new relationship pricing approach, average investors are getting a chance to save money on trading costs as well.

Wells Fargo Investments, through its WellsTrade brokerage account for self-directed investors, now offers discounted trading commissions based on a customer’s combined brokerage and banking balance. The new commission schedule is made available to WellsTrade accounts that are linked to a portfolio management account, or PMA – which provides reduced fees and other benefits based on combined balances in checking and savings accounts, investments, IRAs, loans, credit cards and even mortgages.

“Currently, brokerage firms are focusing primarily on price reductions for high-asset clients and frequent traders of individual stocks,” said Rachel Perkel, senior vice president at Wells Fargo Investments. “The industry, for the most part, has shied away from providing great value to the long-term investor, particularly those interested in mutual funds. Wells Fargo Investments now offers customers the opportunity to qualify for some of the lowest commissions in the industry – regardless of brokerage assets and number of trades.”

By looking at a customer’s combined relationship, Wells Fargo Investments can provide lower commissions for those with smaller brokerage balances. Customers with a PMA will now be able to trade online for a flat per trade commission rate of $9.95, $2.95 or even commission free. For example, customers with PMA balances of $250,000 or more will receive 50 commission-free trades each year. These new low rates apply not only to online stock trades, but also to online mutual fund trades. Other brokers usually reserve their lowest commission rates for customers with brokerage assets of at least $500,000 or $1 million - not counting other assets and loans - or to very active traders.

Besides saving customers money, the PMA account can also be more convenient. A customer can view all their checking, savings, brokerage, credit card, loans, and mortgage information in one consolidated account summary. It’s easy to transfer funds online between linked banking and brokerage accounts.

As brokerage firms continue to make online trading easier, innovative accounts like these should help investors get treated like a millionaire – even if they aren’t.


On the Net:
Wells Fargo site:


Saving Endangered Sea Turtles

The beaches of La Pesca, Tepehuajes and Rancho Nuevo in northeastern Mexico are the sole nesting ground of the world's most endangered sea turtle, the Kemp's Ridley. For millions of years, female Kemp's Ridleys have returned here to lay their eggs. However, only one of every thousand hatchlings survives to adulthood according to the National Wildlife Federation.

Today, these creatures are enjoying a resurgence, thanks to a unique joint effort by the U.S., Mexico, biologists and an unexpected partner, the shrimping industry. No longer are the turtles and eggs harvested as a food source. Workers from the Kemp's Ridley Recovery Project are patrolling the beaches for nesting females. They dig up their eggs and transport them to nearby corrals for safekeeping until they hatch.

The project has already surpassed expectations, seeing more than 10,000 nests. With an average of 100 eggs per nest, that means about one million hatchlings for the year. This success could serve as a model for endangered species programs around the world.

"We're starting to see the population increase instead of going down or being flat," said Dr. Patrick Burchfield, who coordinates the U.S. portion of the project for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "But it's only because we have state government, federal government, local government, the fishing industry from two countries - all of these partners that we've been able to survive the crises that inevitably happen in most conservation programs."

The partnership is also trying to help Mexican communities affected by the end of turtle harvesting. The American shrimping industry helped build a ceramics workshop and community center in Tepehuajes, where people create hand-crafted, turtle-related pottery. Money earned there helps offset income lost when turtle harvesting ended.

"We make our living out of the shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico and if things get too out of whack, we suffer for it," said Les Hodgson, a shrimp processor from Brownsville, Texas. "And if we can bring back the turtle, we would be more than happy to give it everything we've got to be able to do that."

Securing funding for the coming years will be critical to the success of the project.

On the Net:
Wild American Shrimp site:

National Grange Offers a Prescription for Good Health: Help for the Uninsured

All of us want to be healthy, but anyone who does not have health insurance can tell you the road to good health isn’t easy.

There are about 45 million people in America who do not have health insurance. It can be hard for them to get good medical care and medicines. They often go without care, such as doctor visits and prescription medicines, that can prevent future health problems.

The Grange, one of America's oldest public interest organizations, is committed to creating programs that enrich the lives of its members. Helping Grange members get the medicines they need is only one way in which that vision becomes a reality.

The good news? If you do not have health insurance, there are a lot of programs out there that can help you get the medicines you need.
Where can you start to look? Here are some new resources that can point you in the right direction.

- You may be able to get your medicines for free or almost free. The Web site has more than 275 programs that can help people who qualify get medicines for free or at a very low cost. You can also look for health clinics or hospitals that may provide free medicines.

- You can get help to pay for your Pfizer medicines. If you are uninsured, Pfizer Helpful Answers makes it simple and easy to get Pfizer medicines. Call this toll-free number - 866-706-2400 or you can go to this Web site

- If you are uninsured and low-income, you can get help from some of the world’s largest drug companies. The Together Rx Access Card is an easy way to get savings on a wide range of prescription products. This includes Pfizer drugs. Find out if you qualify. Call 800-444-4106 or go to

- Discounts on prescriptions for seniors. Some drug companies offer discounts on their medicines for people on Medicare. If you are on Medicare, you may be able to get a Medicare-approved drug discount card. Find out which card is right for you. Call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit

- If you have limited income, then you may be eligible to enroll in programs such as Medicaid or your state children's health insurance program.

The Grange will be distributing enrollment packets to the presidents of 3,000 Granges in 38 states. The packets will include an enrollment form, which can be completed and mailed back to the Grange office. This form is a request for 50 fact sheets, which include information on a variety of prescription assistance programs and an 800 number that individuals can call to obtain more information about which national and state-offered programs are available to them.

On the Net:
National Grange site:

Choosing Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Wisely

For the first time ever, prescription drug coverage will be available to everyone eligible for Medicare. Since enrollment in the program is not automatic, consumers will need to sign up between November 15, 2005 and May 15, 2006 or risk paying more for coverage later on.

Medicare beneficiaries can choose between two ways of receiving prescription drugs. The first is signing up for a prescription drug-only plan, or PDP; the second is choosing a Medicare Advantage plan. Those with limited incomes will pay no premium or deductible, or a reduced cost with no gap in coverage.

What are the differences between these alternatives? A PDP plan lets people with Medicare add private drug coverage to their existing benefits. Those who opt for Medicare Advantage select one health plan in their area that will cover all aspects of care – including traditional benefits like hospital and doctor’s office visits, as well as the new drug benefit and others.

Private companies sponsoring PDP and Medicare Advantage coverage will be marketing many different plans, so consumers should weigh their options carefully before making a decision. Medicare recipients can identify programs in their area and compare offerings online at or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE. This will allow them to examine monthly premiums for each plan. Then, they should consider the prescriptions they take as well as other health care needs and determine which option provides the right level of coverage at the best cost.

Beneficiaries should analyze their current coverage versus that offered under the new plan to see if enrolling is the right choice for them. Those with retiree health benefits should consult their former employer or union to address any questions they have. People with Medicaid will receive targeted information about their options.

Consumers should also consider the quality of care offered by the plans in their area. The National Committee for Quality Assurance and Medicare offer online resources that allow people to compare plans for themselves.

“It’s important for people with Medicare to get prescription drugs,” said Jack Ebeler, president and CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, whose members participate in Medicare Advantage. “The best coverage options offer comprehensive benefits, high-quality, well-coordinated care and lots of experience in Medicare in their communities.”

On the Net:
Alliance of Community Health Plans site:

National Committee for Quality Assurance site:

Earn an A-Plus for College Savings With a 529 Plan

With school in full swing, your children are taking another step on the road to a successful future. If you want that road to lead to college, you should consider 529 accounts, the tax-advantaged savings program designed to ease the burden of big tuition bills.

“A college education is an expensive investment,” said Elaine Sullivan, director of retirement marketing and educational savings at Putnam Investments. “While a four-year degree can add more than $1 million to your child’s lifelong earnings, it comes with a cost that’s constantly increasing.” By 2021, the price of a bachelor’s degree at a public college is expected to be close to $100,000, Sullivan said, while a private school’s tab will be more than twice that.

Offered by all states and many financial institutions, 529 plans are named for the section of the tax code that created them. Funds in the accounts can be used tax-free for qualified college expenses and grow faster than they would in fully taxable accounts. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and other family benefactors may also contribute to the accounts and possibly earn gift and estate tax benefits.

Unlike other accounts you might establish for your children, 529 plans leave you in control of the assets even after your child reaches legal age. In most cases, if the original account beneficiary decides not to go to college, you can change the beneficiary to another family member - including yourself - without penalty. Any withdrawals that are not used for qualified educational expenses - defined as tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies - are subject to federal income tax and an additional 10 percent tax on earnings from the account.

529 programs may offer additional tax advantages depending on where you live. For example, 28 states and the District of Columbia offer tax deductions for contributions to the accounts as well as tax-free growth.

States offer their 529 programs directly or through advisors, and every program includes different professionally managed investment choices. The CollegeAdvantage 529 college savings plan managed by Putnam Investments, for example, is sponsored by the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority and offers different investment choices based on the beneficiary’s age or a defined investment objective. Investors also have the option to mix-and-match among any investment choice in the plan.

If you haven’t made a 529 part of your college savings plan, enroll in a crash course on the topic with your financial advisor today.

The Early Bird Gets Financial Aid

College costs are rising but higher education can still be affordable, thanks to more financial aid than ever before.

Last year, nearly 70 percent of students attending four-year colleges paid less than $9,000 in tuition and fees, according to the College Board. Many received financial aid, so they didn't pay the full "sticker price." Applying for aid early is important.

“Often, students wait too long to worry about financial aid and scholarships,” said Linda Peckham of the College Board’s financial aid department. “Many scholarships are available on a limited basis and if you wait too long, you may find yourself competing for money that’s already been awarded.”

Two kinds of scholarships are available: institutional grants awarded by colleges and universities; and outside grants awarded by other organizations. Institutional scholarships are usually based on merit, financial need or both.

To be considered for most student aid, applicants should use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Forms like the FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, which certain private colleges also require, can be filed online.

“The information you submit on the FAFSA is based on your tax information for the year ending on December 31. Many people do not file their taxes until April,” Peckham said. “You should submit the FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible using estimated figures because if you wait until April, colleges probably won’t have any grant money left.”

For outside grants, students should research their eligibility. In certain cases, a student’s location or a family member’s job can qualify them for scholarships.

Most outside scholarship programs have application deadlines in February or earlier. Some, like the National Merit Scholarship, require applicants to take the PSAT/NMSQT in October of their junior year.

“Start early, try everything you can,” said John Curtin, an incoming college freshman at Knox College who looked into financial aid sooner than many of his peers. “You never know what schools are looking for that would qualify you for financial aid.”

More information about financial aid and scholarships are available in books like the College Board College Cost & Financial Aid Handbook 2006 and the College Board Scholarship Handbook 2006. Scholarship information can also be found online and with high school guidance counselors, who may know local organizations that offer scholarships.

On the Net:
FAFSA site:

Study Shows Women Prefer Once-Monthly Osteoporosis Medicine Over a Once-Weekly

A new study shows the majority of women with postmenopausal osteoporosis prefer a once-monthly dosing regimen compared to a once-weekly.

“In my practice, active women look for an osteoporosis medication that disrupts their routine less often – one that fits their busy lifestyle,” said Ronald Emkey, M.D., lead investigator of the study and medical director of Radiant Research in Reading, Pa. “This makes a once-monthly regimen an important dosing option.”

The study was presented at the 27th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research and included 342 women with postmenopausal osteoporosis who took once-monthly oral Boniva® (ibandronate sodium) and once-weekly oral alendronate (70 mg) each for three consecutive months. The efficacy of the two treatments was not assessed in the study.

In March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Boniva 150 mg as the first and only once-a-month prescription treatment for postmenopausal osteoporosis. Boniva is co-promoted by Roche and GlaxoSmithKline.

Osteoporosis and low bone mass (osteopenia) are becoming more prevalent in the U.S. today, as the number of postmenopausal women continues to rise. In the U.S. today, 10 million individuals, eight million of whom are women, are estimated to already have osteoporosis, and almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for the disease. By 2010, osteoporosis and low bone mass are expected to affect an estimated 52 million Americans age 50 and older.

Osteoporosis treatments won’t work if patients don’t stay on therapy – a serious problem since more than half of patients stop taking their medication within a year.

Patients who take Boniva are eligible to sign up for MyBONIVA, a support program designed to help patients maintain the unique monthly regimen.

- - -

Important Safety Information

Boniva is contraindicated in patients unable to stand or sit upright for at least 60 minutes, with uncorrected hypocalcemia, or with known hypersensitivity to any component of Boniva. Boniva, like other bisphosphonates administered orally, may cause upper gastrointestinal disorders such as dysphagia, esophagitis, and esophageal or gastric ulcer. Boniva is not recommended in patients with severe renal impairment. Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D is important in all patients.

Rarely, patients have reported severe bone, joint and/or muscle pain after taking bisphosphonate therapy for osteoporosis. Additionally, osteonecrosis of the jaw has rarely been reported in patients treated with bisphosphonates; most cases have been in cancer patients undergoing dental procedures.

The most commonly reported adverse events with once-monthly Boniva regardless of causality were abdominal pain (Boniva 150 mg 7.8 percent vs. Boniva 2.5 mg 5.3 percent), hypertension (6.3 percent vs. 7.3 percent), dyspepsia (5.6 percent vs. 7.1 percent), arthralgia (5.6 percent vs. 3.5 percent), nausea (5.1 percent vs. 4.8 percent) and diarrhea (5.1 percent vs. 4.1 percent).

For complete prescribing information for Boniva, go to

Common Sense Is Key to Preventing Bedroom Fires

Every bedroom should be a sanctuary from the outside world, where people feel safe and secure. However, research shows half of home fire fatalities occur between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., with most victims asleep at the time of the fire.

While no one wants to think about hidden dangers lurking around the house, many potential fire hazards go undetected because people simply do not take steps to fire proof their home.

“Most home fires, especially bedroom fires, can be prevented,” said Pat Martin of the Sleep Products Safety Council, or SPSC. “Many bedroom fires are caused by child play, misuse or poor maintenance of electrical devices, careless use of candles, and smoking in bed.”

Most potential hazards can be addressed with a little common sense. For example, be sure to keep flammable items like bedding, clothes and curtains at least three feet away from portable heaters or lit candles, and never smoke in bed. Also, items like appliances or electric blankets should not be operated if they have frayed power cords, and electrical outlets should never be overloaded.

While these measures are easy for adults to address, curious children need to be educated about the dangers associated with fire.

“Fires and burns are leading causes of injury and death to children,” said Chief Mike Love, a fire marshal with the Montgomery County, Md. Fire and Rescue Service. “Unfortunately, many of these fires are started by children themselves. Two-thirds of bedroom fires are started by children playing with matches or lighters.”

Parents and caregivers can take the mystery out of fire by teaching that matches, lighters and candles are tools, not toys. If they suspect that a child is playing with fire, parents should check under beds and in closets for telltale signs like burned matches. Matches and lighters should be stored in a secure drawer or cabinet.

Adults should also remember to:

- Install and maintain a working smoke alarm outside of every sleep area and remember to change the battery at least once a year.
- Designate two escape routes from each bedroom and practice them regularly.
- Teach everyone the “Stop, Drop, and Roll” technique in case clothing catches on fire.
- Avoid storing old mattresses in the home or garage.

Parents can find free fire safety educational games along with other interactive resources on