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This Week's Facts:

  1. Medline Plus Connects Users Important Health Info

  2. State Offers Relief to Eligible Soldiers' Families

  3. Census Discontinues Long Forms, Cites Response Rates

  4. More Reasons to Wash Hands Before Dinner Tonight Encourages Diligence During Holiday Season

USGS: 125th Anniversary of Topographical MappingDecember is a festive time of year, but with such festivities comes an increase of fire danger.  Candles play a large role in celebrations of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.  Colder temperatures mean that many people start using their fireplace or turn on space heaters to keep warm.  However, there are ways to safely use these potential fire hazards. is a great source for this type of information.  The site includes great general tips, including smoke detector maintenance, escape plans and even what to do after a fire.  They also have a special section dedicated to fire tips for the holidays.  The biggest recommendation they have for real Christmas trees is to make sure to get a fresh tree and to keep it watered.  The site includes a video clip on the side bar that shows the difference between a dry tree on fire and a properly watered tree that catches fire.  Seeing it in action inspires you to keep your tree watered!  There are also tips that relate to cooking, lights and other decorations and candles.

Another great feature is the Kids Section.  Here you can download coloring books and pictures to color.  They also have activity sheets to prepare kids for fires and classroom curricula for teachers.

Friday Facts is a production of the Indiana State Library

Friday Facts Editorial Team:

Katharine Springer
State Data Center Coordinator

Elisabeth O’Donnell
Documents Librarian
Kim Brown-Harden
Documents Coordinator

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MedlinePlus Connects Users to Important Health Info

MedlinePlusThe National Library of Medicine produces an information-rich health encyclopedia online called MedlinePlus, which is useful for looking up health news, medical dictionaries, medications, and more. MedlinePlus also issues its own magazine, available online or downloadable in PDF. View the Fall 2009 issue, and find a cover that shows The Faces of Diabetes, featuring color photos of individuals who have the disease. Also find articles this month on Avoiding the Flu, Dealing with Depression, and Curbing College Drinking. Past issues are available on the MedlinePlus Magazine website going back to 2006. Print subscriptions and email alerts are also available free on the website.

State Offers Relief to Eligible Soldiers' Families

Indiana Department of Veterans AffairsIn 2007, the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) began accepting grant applications from the families of deployed or recently deployed Indiana National Guard Members and members of the Selected Reserves.  The emergency grants may be used for essential items and services such as food, housing, utilities, medical service, transportation, and other vital family support expenses which have been difficult to afford. Families may be eligible if they satisfy the requirements.  Grants can be awarded for up to $5000 to alleviate these family needs and may be applied for up to one year after the period of active duty. Grants will be considered by the Military and Veterans’ Benefits Board (M&VBB) and the applicant will be notified of the status of the grant request.   To apply, Contact your local County Veterans' Service Officer or call toll free: 1-800-400-4520 to have an application mailed, or you can click here to download the application in MS Word version here for the PDF version.

Census Discontinues Long Form, Cites Response Rates

2010 US Census The Census Bureau will only send our short forms to the American public because the American Community Survey will begin to offer tract- and block-group level estimates in 2010. What follows is an explanation from the online handbook from the Census Bureau Compass series, A Compass for Understanding and Using American Community Survey Data: What the Media Need to Know (November 2008). Their reasoning can be summarized in this excerpt:

“After the 1990 census, Congress raised concerns about falling census response rates and rising costs. Congress also expressed an interest in having more timely long-form sample data for policy purposes, noting that decennial census long-form data were out of date not long after their release and became less useful as the years went by. Congress asked the Census Bureau to explore alternatives to the long form, with the goals of simplifying the census, containing costs, and producing more timely information to inform policy debates and legislative actions.”

The American Community Survey went through a decade of testing and development in a limited number of locations and 4 years of national implementation before it launched nationwide in January 2005 and began surveying monthly samples of about 250,000 housing units. In 2006, a monthly sample of about 20,000 people living in group quarters was added to the housing unit sample. Both samples were chosen based on carefully designed methods of selection to provide representation of the entire U.S. population. After 1 year of continuous data collection, the ACS amasses enough information to release single-year estimates of housing and population characteristics for all areas that have at least 65,000 residents. The 2005 ACS results were released in the summer of 2006, and new 1-year estimates have been released every year since then. After 3 years, the ACS amasses enough data to make estimates for any place with at least 20,000 residents. The Census Bureau will release the first of these 3-year period estimates in December 2008. The ACS will have collected enough data to release 5-year estimates in 2010 for areas down to the tract and block group level, as the decennial census long form has done in past censuses. All the estimates will be updated for all geographies every year thereafter."

For more information, view the American Community Survey Compass handbooks.

More Reasons to Wash Hands Before Dinner Tonight

December 6-12 marks National Hand washing Awareness Week.  The week is sponsored by the Henry the Hand Foundation.  Henry is designed to teach kids about the importance of washing their hands – proper hygiene goes a long way in preventing disease and infection.  This is particularly important as we enter flu season.  The Foundation has hand washing kits available for the home, school, workplace or hospitals.  You can also sign up for hand washing alerts that provide tips on infection protection, family health and much more.  The CDC is another great source for hand washing tips for kids.  They include a link to the School Network for Absenteeism Prevention, or SNAP, a program specifically designed to teach middle schoolers about proper hygiene.  The CDC also includes tips on when you should wash your hands and for how long.  Finally, special precautions may be needed after a disaster.  If you ever find yourself in such a situation, the CDC has advice on how to stay hygienic.