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(NewsUSA) - The holidays are here, and while you're admiring all of the beautiful presents wrapped and sitting under your tree, or getting excited about travel plans, it's also the perfect time for burglars and muggers to steal some seasonal cheer. (Remember the movie Home Alone?) It's enough to cast a Scrooge-like pall over what is traditionally "the most wonderful time of the year."
Still don't believe it? According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, nearly 400,000 home break-ins occur in the U.S. from November through December each year, so it is essential to secure your home as you bring in expensive items and gifts.
"Most homes are extremely vulnerable to burglaries during the December holidays," said Bob Beach, chief of Longwood University's police force in Farmville, Virginia. "Keeping your home safe from thieves during the holidays requires following just a few basic safety measures."
The following travel and home security tips will help you put a wrench in Mr. Grinch's plans and keep you and your belongings safe:
* Take trusted transportation. Avoid unmarked (or unknown) vehicles. Taxi lines at the airport and hotel are your best options.
* Ask for help. It's always best to ask someone for directions rather than wait for someone to approach you. This way you are in control of the situation at all times.
* Keep your wallet and purse close. It's best if women carry small purses and keep them close, while men should keep their wallets (or preferably, money clips) in their front pockets.
* Protect yourself and your home. There are a number of small key chain alarms or pepper sprays that will give you a sense of security. The SABRE personal alarm keychain, for instance, fastens to your keys and is an option for those planning to explore the city away from the comfort of the hotel. And for those times that you are away from home, consider installing SABRE's wireless home security or standalone alarms. The standalone alarms are easy to install and can be purchased for as little as $20 to $50.
* Watch what you throw away. Potential intruders often rummage through trash to see what might be in your home. Boxes from new, expensive gifts, or receipts for big purchases alert criminals that these big-ticket items can be found inside.
For more safety information, visit www.sabrered.com.
(NewsUSA) - The recent Ebola outbreak in the U.S. has, if nothing else, highlighted how ill-equipped some U.S. hospitals are in their readiness to battle an infectious disease outbreak.
While the risk of contracting the Ebola virus is low, there is a considerably higher risk for patients to catch other deadly superbugs that are prevalent in hospitals right now, such as Clostridium difficile, MRSA and VRE.
Underscoring this point is that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 99,000 people die every year from an infection they get during their hospital stay, and one in 20 pick up infections that they didn't have when they arrived. This equates to as much as $30 billion a year in medical costs.
"Eliminating pathogens from patient rooms is the quickest and easiest way to lower the risk of additional infections," said Mark Stibich, Ph.D., co-founder and chief scientific officer of Xenex, a San Antonio-based company that has created a robot that emits xenon ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy potentially fatal bacteria and viruses.
Kelly Mather, CEO of Sonoma Valley Hospital, agrees.
"This is an example of our commitment to patient safety," said Mather. "We add another layer of protection for our patients with this UV disinfection technology, which has been shown to be 20 times more effective than manual cleaning with chemicals." Earlier this year, the hospital was named one of the 15 safest hospitals in the U.S. by Consumer Reports.
If you will be going to the hospital, here are three tips to give you the best chance at avoiding infection:
1. Do your research. Hospital infection rates are now posted online at www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov. Check out the hospital where you plan to be treated to ensure that its infection rate is at or below national averages. If it isn't, tell your doctor that you want to go somewhere else.
2. Ask questions. Question the hospital's disinfection protocol. Are they aware of or using new technologies to disinfect their rooms to get the superbugs out? Hospitals using full-spectrum UV light "germ-zapping robots" are seeing dramatic reductions in their infection rates.
3. Wash your hands. It sounds simple, but request that everyone (including your doctor) wash their hands before touching you. Germs reside on high-touch surfaces like door handles and bedrails and can be easily transmitted from healthcare workers to you.
For more information, visit www.xenex.com.