This Week's Facts:
LOC, ReadingRockets Offer
Are you hungry for a festive tale of the season? Never fear – Dickens is here – courtesy of the Library of Congress! Use the library’s Read.gov tool to access A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and other tales like A Visit From Saint Nicholas (a retelling of "The Night Before Christmas") and the seasonal short Wonders of a Toy Shop. ReadingRockets.org suggests Ten Books for the Holiday Season for all levels of reader. You can also visit the Indiana Historical Bureau gift shop, which now accepts credit cards, where all regularly-priced items are 20% off and clearance books are 40% off during their Holiday Sale.
State Health Department Offers Tips on Staying Healthy During Flu Season
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, parties, fun, and chaos, there’s an element of danger lurking in the shadows: Influenza! Influenza (flu) is a contagious illness that infects the respiratory tract. The elderly, young children, and anyone with health problems are at greater risk from developing more severe illness or suffer from the complications of the flu, such as pneumonia. Every year 3,000-49,000 people die of influenza and the complications of the disease. The Indiana State Department of Health has an Influenza page with resources specific to certain audiences to help combat the Flu bug.
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With extremely mild temperatures lately, it’s hard to think about preparing for winter weather. Dangers of winter weather can vary across the country. Nearly all Americans & Hoosiers alike are likely to face some type of severe weather at some point in their lives. Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding snow that lasts for days. Many winter storms are paired with dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet, and freezing rain. One of the most important concerns is winter weather’s ability to knock out heat, power, and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can put an entire region out of commission. Ready.gov has tips and resources to keep you and your family safe before, during, and after winter storms and extreme cold. You can also make a pledge to prepare and become part of the National Preparedness Coalition. Remember, you can keep yourself, your community, and your loved ones safe when you prepare, plan, and stay informed.
Whether the holiday season is your favorite time of year or gives you stress-induced nightmares, USA.gov can help you make the most of it. These ten tips from across the government highlight ways you can celebrate on a budget, secure seasonal employment, sign up for local volunteer opportunities and more.
1. Buy Safe Toys: If you plan to buy toys for the kids in your life, choose age-appropriate toys and look for labels with safety advice. For young children, avoid toys with small parts, sharp edges, and electric toys that can heat up. Always purchase safety gear in addition to sports-related gifts or ride-on toys, such as bicycles or skateboards. Get additional toy safety tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
2: Celebrate on a Budget: The holidays can be expensive, but you don’t have to break the bank to celebrate. Take a few minutes to decide how much you can afford to spend on gifts, travel, parties, decorations, and other holiday expenses. Once you’ve created a spending plan, keep track of your purchases. Shopping online can help you stick to a budget as you’ll avoid the temptation of store displays and may be able to use coupons and promotion codes. Before you buy, look for free shipping offers; check ordering deadlines to ensure that your gifts will arrive on time; and read the return policy.
3. Give the Gift of Service: Sometimes the greatest gift you can give to others is service. Studies show that reading to a child just three hours a week significantly improves his or her reading skills. If you help out at a local soup kitchen or food bank, you are directly providing meals to hungry individuals.
Find volunteer opportunities in your area or create your own and recruit others.
4. Find Seasonal Employment: Even in a tough economy, businesses need extra help around the holidays. Seasonal employment can help supplement your income and potentially lead to a permanent position. If you need to update your resume, check out resume and interview tips to help you stand out in the job market. Get online tools and resources to help with your job search.
5. Get Through the Holiday Blues: The holidays aren’t a joyous time of year for everyone. They can bring stress and feelings of loneliness. Exercise, focusing on positive relationships, and doing things that you find rewarding can help with depression. Get tips on what to do if you feel depressed. Keep in mind that winter depression could be a sign of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is caused by the lack of sunlight. Treatment for SAD is much like other forms of depression, but may also involve light therapy.
6. Be Safe and Save Money with LED Lights: Electricity bills can grow during the holidays if you decorate with strings of lights. Consider switching to LED (light-emitting diode) holiday lights to save energy and money and provide a safer home environment. In addition to the cost savings, LED lights are much cooler than incandescent bulbs. Every holiday season, fires claim lives and cost millions in damage. To prevent holiday fires in your home: use nonflammable decorations; do not overload electrical sockets; regularly water live Christmas trees; and avoid the use of lit candles. As you should do year-round, ensure that your smoke alarms are working.
7. Pay Attention to Food Portions and Physical Activity: The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends, but celebrations sometimes involve over-indulging in sweet treats and heavy foods. Even if you only gain one or two pounds during the holidays, these gains can add up over the years. The holidays are probably not the ideal time to try to lose weight, but you can take steps to maintain your weight.
Read 10 tips on how to enjoy your food, but eat less of it and learn how to make physical activity a regular part of your day.
8. Pack for Hassle-Free Air Travel: You can get through the airport security line faster by traveling with unwrapped gifts and following the 3-1-1 rule when carrying on liquids, including liquid food items like cranberry sauce and gravy. You can also use the My TSA app or mobile website if you’re at the airport and need last-minute information about what you can and can’t bring through security. Learn more about flying with food or gifts.
9. Reduce Holiday Waste: The holiday season includes many opportunities to reduce waste, recycle, and reuse items. Did you know that about 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season? Consider buying rechargeable batteries (and a charger) for electronic gifts to help reduce the amount of harmful materials thrown away. After the holidays, look for ways to recycle your tree instead of sending it to a landfill. If you plan to send greeting cards, consider purchasing ones that are made of recycled paper, or save postage costs and reduce waste by sending electronic greetings.
10. Keep Food Safe: Holiday buffets are convenient ways to entertain a crowd, but leaving food out for long periods of time can invite bacteria that cause foodborne illness. To keep your holiday foods safe, cook them thoroughly, use shallow containers, never leave them sitting out for more than two hours, and keep them at the appropriate temperature. Get more food safety tips to help keep your guests healthy.
For additional information on safely preparing a variety of meats and side dishes, get an online kit of Holiday Food Safety publications and order a free print kit of Top Food Safety Tips.
This information is brought to you as a courtesy of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) via the USA.gov blog.
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