WVU Extension expert offers safety tips for large gatherings and parties

The West Virginia University Fire Service Extension reminds those attending house parties, concerts or other large gatherings that being aware is the best way to return home safely should an emergency occur.

According to Mark Lambert, program leader of the WVU Fire Service Extension, the most important thing to take to a party isn’t a potluck dish, beverage or present. It’s mindfulness.

“Getting in to a safety-first mindset isn’t hard — on the way in, take note of where multiple exits are,” he said. “People tend to move with the group in an emergency, and those brief mental notes can be a lifesaver in a situation such as an escalating fire.”

Being constantly aware of your surroundings is key when reacting to an emergency situation, Lambert added.

When entering a large gathering or party, be wary of obvious overcrowding, blocked or locked exits and situations that can lead to structural collapse, such as balconies or small porches with an excessive amount of people on them.

Disaster can strike at any time and not just in a fire-related emergency. When mass hysteria occurs, which is the imaginary fear of danger that can spread rapidly through large crowds, such as those at concerts, it can induce widespread panic and chaos.

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AmeriCorps now recruiting 510 members for summer reading and nutrition program to help West Virginia youths

West Virginians 18 years or older can now apply for paid positions as AmeriCorps members for the award-winning West Virginia University Extension Service Energy Express program.

The annual initiative is an eight-week reading and nutrition program offered in rural and low-income West Virginia communities.  Energy Express helps children entering kindergarten through sixth grade overcome the “summer slide” that occurs when youths fall behind academically during the summers in between school years.

According to John Lyonett, WVU Extension Service 4-H Energy Express interim director, volunteer assistance during the summer helps to make lifelong impacts on children who participate in Energy Express activities. In 2016 alone, participating children were served more than 122,500 meals, and 65.3 percent of participants maintained or increased reading achievement levels.

“This program has helped changed lives and provided support for thousands of children since its inception more than two decades ago,” said Lyonett. “By assisting us in the summer, applicants are helping to ensure our state’s youths are learning, eating well and having fun in a safe, secure environment during the summer.”

Applicants may serve through AmeriCorps as mentors or community coordinators and must be 18 years of age by June 9, 2017 to apply.

Energy Express mentors must be college, or college-bound, students who are willing to help enhance children’s interests and skills by developing and implementing reading-related activities based on weekly themes. Mentors are also tasked with promoting the children’s nutritional well-being.

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WVU course helps diabetics learn helpful lifestyle skills

Do you or someone you love have diabetes? It is a growing problem in the United States, but the good news is that complications can be avoided by careful management of the disease.

To help people with diabetes take charge of their health, WVU Continuing Professional Education and WVU Extension Service are once again offering the popular online course “Dining with Diabetes,” beginning March 6.

Diabetes, which involves blood sugar levels, can be confusing and challenging.

According to the course instructor, Cindy Fitch, who is associate dean of programming and research at WVU Extension Service, uncontrolled diabetes creates changes in the body that can lead to serious complications, including blindness, lower leg amputation, kidney failure, sexual dysfunction and heart attack or stroke.

“That is the bad news, but the good news is that by learning self-management skills, people with diabetes can completely avoid these problems,” she said.

“One important aspect of self-management that people often overlook is to see their healthcare provider on a regular basis. Also, if you have a prescription for medicine, be sure to take it every day according to the instructions.”

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