The 7 Most Dangerous Things in Your Backyard


Trampoline-kids-360x240The sun is shining, and school is almost out. That probably means your kids will be spending more time playing in the great outdoors. Unfortunately, your backyard or the local park could provide some hidden dangers. Read on about the hazards that lurk close to home.

1. Trampoline

According to a new study in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics, more than one million people went to the ER for trampoline-related injuries between 2002 and 2011. Of those one million people, 92.7 percent were 16 and younger, which means these popular backyard toys are particularly dangerous for your kids. If you own a trampoline, be sure to pad the bars framing the trampoline, institute a one-at-a-time rule, and always supervise your kids when they're on it.

2. Pool

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death in children ages 1-4, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. If you have pool, and its deepest point is more than five feet, build a fence with a lock around it. Wading pools can cause problems, too, so empty them immediately after use.

3. Swing Set

Though this common playground toy is popular, and seemingly harmless, it can cause big injuries. According to recent data, about two-thirds of the nearly 47,000 injuries on home playground equipment occurred on swings. If you have children who are less than three years of age, be sure to buy a toddler swing, and provide a soft landing area at the base of the swings.

4. Standing Water

Puddles, birdbaths or water sitting in buckets in your backyard can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Because these little blood-suckers can carry a variety of diseases, including West Nile virus, it's best not to give them any excuse to live in your backyard.

5. Ticks

Beware of these arachnids, as they can cause some serious, debilitating problems like Lyme disease.  Most common in the warmer months, aka April-September, they are often found in wooded areas. If your kids plan on playing in the woods, use a repellant that uses 20 to 30 percent DEET for protection. As soon as they come inside, inspect their arms, ears, belly button, knees and scalp and try to get them to shower within two hours. If you see a tick, use tweezers to pull it off, then thoroughly clean the area. Caught early, ticks can wreak less havoc.

6. The Sun

Every sunburn your child gets increases his or her risk of getting skin cancer later in life. Even on overcast days, it's important to slather on broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Don't forget the tops of hands and feet and scalps – places that get a lot of exposure to the sun. Apply it 30 minutes before heading outside to make sure it works properly.

7. Picnic Tables

Pressure-treated wood, used to build decks and picnic tables, can contain arsenic. If kids often play and eat on these surfaces, it can increase kids' risk of cancer. Though this type of wood isn't as common anymore, older homes may still have it. To protect your kids, seal the wood annually with deck and wood treatments, and use a tablecloth whenever taking your meals outside.

-- Mara Betsch

More Parenting Tips:

Michelle Duggar's Life Tips

Great Advice from Great Families

Jo Frost Answers Your Parenting Quesitons


Rest in Peace, 'Man with the 132-Pound Scrotum'


Wesley Warren Jr., the inspiring subject of TLC's show Man with the 132-Pound Scrotum, died on Friday at a Las Vegas hospital.

The 49-year-old's cause of death was not released by University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, but he had a history of high blood pressure and asthma. Some believe that heart troubles may have been the issue.

Friend and roommate Joey Hurtado told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “He was in the hospital for five and a half weeks. He had infections that I think were brought on by his diabetes and then he had those heart attacks.”

Warren was known for having a rare condition called scrotal lymphedema, which causes the scrotum to swell and enlarge due to a thickening tissue and excess fluid. He first noticed problems in 2008, and the tissue began to grow at a rate of approximately 3 pounds per month until it reached 132 pounds.

Lacking health insurance, Warren tried to deal with the problem himself for four years. Finally, last April, Dr. Joel Gelman offered to perform the difficult surgery to remove the swollen tissue for free. Warren was estimated to have weighed more than 500 pounds before the surgery, and lost 200 of those pounds in the 13 hours he was in the operating room.

With his newfound freedom, Warren was finally able to take road trips and do things that were difficult for the past four years. Hurtado told the Review-Journal that he didn't believe this surgery had anything to do with Warren's untimely death.

TLC is saddened to hear about the sudden loss of Wesley. He was a lovely man who bravely told his story, and we share our condolences with his family and friends.

If you'd like to know about Warren's life, The Man with the 132-Pound Scrotum will air on TLC Wednesday, March 19 @ 10 PM.

-- Mara Betsch

More on Health Issues:

Strange, Yet Fascinating Addictions

My 600-Pound Life

ER Stories So Crazy You Can't Believe They're Real

TLC's Jen Arnold of 'The Little Couple' Diagnosed With Cancer


Little-couple-604-300x300It is with a heavy heart that TLC shares news that our beloved friend Jen Arnold, of The Little Couple, has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She released a statement announcing the news on People.com, which reads:

"I have recently been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer and am currently undergoing treatment, including surgery and chemotherapy. I am very fortunate as the prognosis is very good."

She adds:  "While there is never a good time to get news like this, getting it just as we are building our new family is tough in many ways...but being surrounded by the love of my husband and our two beautiful children is actually in many ways giving me the strength to fight it even stronger."    

Through their TLC show, Jen and her husband, Bill Klein, have shared their lives with millions of fans around the world since 2009. This year the couple welcomed not one, but two children into their home with the love and support of their family, friends and fans: a boy named William and a girl named Zoey. At the family’s request, TLC will be following them through this difficult time.

Arnold is undergoing treatment, including surgery and chemotherapy at this time. We invite you to leave well wishes for Jen on Twitter and in the space below.

Little Couple airs Tuesdays at 10|9c on TLC.

Source: People.com

-- Alex Zuckerman



Revealed! The Secret To Towels That Really Dry




A frequent traveler wrote into the website Metafilter with a pretty smart question: What is it about hotel towels that makes them work so well? 

Hotel towels look like the ones I have at home and that are in everyone's bathrooms - terrycloth, etc. - but most of the time they are much more effective at drying. They practically suck the wetness off my skin! Typical bathroom towels, even plush/fancy ones, suck at drying by comparison. So this is really strange: the technology exists for towels to do their job very well, and presumably at relatively low cost (there's no way these hotels are shelling out big bucks for their towels); but as far as I can tell ALL of the commercially-available towels are mediocre at best at doing their job. What is that all about? Why are hotel towels so good at drying? Why are other towels not? Are there commercially-available towels that dry as well as hotel towels? If so, where can I find them?

It got us wondering. We'd noticed that hotel towels worked much better — and dried much quicker on the rack — than our towels at home. Our home towels, we're sad to admit, tended to develop a terrible musty odor after just a couple of uses. What's that about?

Metafilter's expert towel users weighed in and here's what they figured out. To get a towel that really dries, you've got to play rough with it. Wash your towels in hot water, with just detergent and no fabric softener. Towels become less absorbent when they're washed in fabric softener. 

Other quick tips to get the most effective towel experience: 

• Make sure your towels are made from 100 percent natural fibers

• Go for non-fluffy towels and realize that the things that make towels soft are the same things that make them difficult to dry.  

• Go for a harsh washing experience: Very hot water and bleach, only, to wash your towels. 

• Remember that towels are often sold to you treated, and it may take a few washings before the chemicals your towels are treated with are completely removed from the fabric. 

• Hotel towels are washed frequently, so wash yours frequently, too. 

What are your tips to make your towels as effective as possible?


Are You A Soap & Water––Or Water-Only––Washer?



Be honest: What do you really do when you're in the bathroom? If you're like one-third of the people polled in a recent study at Michigan State University, you are a water-only washer. Meaning: You forgo the soap after a bathroom stop.

If you are, don't feel singled out. According to the same study, only around 5 percent of people wash their hands well enough to actually kill germs. Which means that a good 95 percent of us who do soap and lather aren't doing it the right way.

Who knew there was a right and wrong way to do something as simple as wash your hands? And yet!

Continue reading >

So ... Is Drinking Blood Actually Dangerous?


On tonight's episode of My Strange Addiction we meet Michelle, a 29-year-old woman who's been drinking blood -- human and pig -- for more than 15 years. Michelle drinks up to seven liters a week, and enjoys drinking, cooking and even, you know, Bloody Marys.

She prefers pig's blood to cow's blood, but won't shy away from even drinking human blood. "I feel it going down my throat. It's like having a cold and drinking a Hot Toddy." She says she can't go without it, and feels irritable and angry if she doesn't get enough. While Michelle's revelation is more than a little squirm-inducing, we wondered: Is it actually physically unsafe?

According to Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, it's not totally unheard of. Blood is considered a perfectly acceptable delicacy in many countries, and can be found in recipes as varied as blood sausages, blood soup and blood soup. While Islam and Judaism both prohibit blood consumption, it's a staple item in a lot of cultures.

Does it matter if you're drinking blood that's not the same type as your blood type? Not really, says Sepkowitz. "We ... have digestive systems accustomed to processing foods far more elaborate than blood."

But what blood drinkers do have to watch out for is infections. While most infections don't travel through the bloodstream, three do: HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, though it's unclear if ingesting infected blood would result in transmission of infection. Drinkers can also suffer from an iron overdose and Toxic Porphyria.

So the short answer is: it's unlikely to cause major health problems. But that doesn't mean that it still doesn't give us the heebie jeebies.

Check out My Strange Addiction, Wednesdays at 10/9 c.

"My Giant Face Tumor" Makes Neurofibromatosis Personal


Face-tumorIn My Giant Face Tumor, TLC follows the stories of Ed and Aum, two people who live 8,000 miles apart but share a rare condition.

Neurofibromatosis causes tumors to grow uncontrollably along nerve shafts. Ed and Aum both have giant tumors taking over their faces. The tumors are so big, they're causing them to lose their eyesight, and they're eroding their skulls (see photo at right). What's more, functioning in society with their giant tumors is nearly impossible for Ed and Aum.

Dr. McKay McKinnon thinks their cases are treatable, even after Ed and Aum have been turned away by other doctors. The renowned cranio-facial surgeon prepares to operate on Ed and Aum as they struggle with other uncontrollable factors: medical insurance, weather and emotional upheaval.

Hear their harrowing stories as they seek life-changing surgeries. My Giant Face Tumor premieres Wednesday, Oct. 17 @ 9|8c.

Study: More Time With Dad Leads To Higher Self-Esteem



Here's a heartening bit of information -- teens who spend more time with their fathers have better self-esteem. A new study from Penn State University tracked 200 families for more than seven years, and found that kids who spent more time with their dads felt better about themselves than kids who didn't. And kids who spent time fathers in a group setting reported improved social skills.


Dads play a critical role in teen's development, it turns out. "The stereotype that teenagers spend all their time holed up in their rooms or hanging out with friends is, indeed, just a stereotype," said Susan McHale, director of the Social Science Research Institute at Penn State and a lead on the study. "Our research shows that, well into the adolescent years, teens continue to spend time with their parents and that this shared time, especially shared time with fathers, has important implications for adolescents' psychological and social adjustment."

One-on-one time with mom failed to show the same benefits as one-on-one time with dad, which may partly be because, generally, men spend less time with their families overall. It also may contribute to teens' self worth because dads who lavish attention on their kids are skirting stereotypical parenting norms. Because fathers often (again, stereotypically) engage in more "leisure activities," kids feel they can create a stronger bond with their paternal figures. So being the fun parent really does pay off.

The Penn State study is just one of several that shows the benefits of kids spending increased time with their parents. Kids with stronger family ties exhibit less delinquency and a stronger resistance to peer pressure. And the good news for everyone: according to a study Families and Work Institute, dads are spending more time with their kids than ever before.


--Julie Gerstein

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