This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.
Text Size

Fire Safety in Hotels Abroad

Some tips on being aware while in foreign hotels, for your fire safety:

When you book lodging, ask if the residence has smoke detectors and sprinkler systems. More expensive lodgings usually have better fire protection devices.

Look for a low rise hotel, guest house, or a Bed & Breakfast.

Try to stay on a lower floor…less than six stories…as ladders cannot extend too high.  But, avoid the       first floor, as it may not be safe from burglars.

 * If there is a fire, close all doors behind you as you leave, to help delay the spread of fire and smoke.

 * Before opening, touch the door. If it feels warm, then don’t open it.

 * Try to remain calm. Keep the entrance door closed, and block any gaps with towels or sheet to stop    smoke from entering your room.

 * Get close to the floor…remember that smoke rises.

 * If you can’t get out, then go to a window where you may be able to attract some attention.

 * If your clothing catches fire, drop to the floor and roll over to smother the flames.




6 Travel Tips for Middle Aged (+) Travelers

Preparing for a trip was simple when you were in your twenties. Get a large backpack and fill it with personal items and clean underwear, a pair of jeans, shorts, and tops. By middle age, however, you may have a chronic illness, dietary and activity restrictions. So you need to think and plan your trips carefully. 

Carol A. Cassara ( offers the following, (adapted) six tips to help you make the most of your next big trip:

1. Pack as if your bags may get lost. Carry a change of clothes and several sets of underwear in your carry-on bag, in case your luggage is lost..

2. Bring the food you need. If you must limit your diet — or eat every few hours — it’s easy to pack food to supplement what’s available at your destination. Peanut butter, small applesauce cups, rice cakes, crackers and meal replacement bars are portable and may be life-savers on the road.

3. Shed clothing as you go. Pack lightly, lugging heavy bags up the stairs in European train stations is no fun. If you can, save undergarments, sneakers and clothing that are near the end of their life, and then you can pack, wear and then discard them on the trip.
4. Think beyond prescription medication. Besides bringing prescribed meds in their original containers, take along over-the-counter remedies, such as antacids, anti-diarrhea pills, pain relievers, Band-Aids, decongestants, etc., if you’re traveling overseas — don’t count on their availability in other countries. Also, begin taking probiotics a few months before your trip to help you adapt to new food.

5. Plan for poor sanitation. Travel in developing nations means sanitation issues. Make sure to travel with disposable face masks, latex gloves and antibacterial gel and wipes. They will definitely come in handy.

6. Get in shape. Many trips include activities that would be strenuous for those who have become sedentary. Three months before a trip, begin working out at a gym or take long walks to prepare.
You don’t have to prepare as if you were going to run a marathon, but you can significantly improve your functional fitness and flexibility and make certain you don’t miss out on any of the fun.



How to Differentiate between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Athritis

Johns Hopkins Health Alert

Joint pain and stiffness are the primary symptoms of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and many people confuse the two. But different processes are at work in each disease. Here's how to tell the difference, in brief.

Osteoarthritis is a local degenerative condition resulting from the breakdown of cartilage and bone in a joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is a generalized inflammatory disease that causes swelling around the joints and can damage other organs such as the heart and lungs. The list below outlines the main differences between the two conditions.

Age of onset:

  1. Osteoarthritis -- Usually begins after age 40
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis -- May begin at any age, but usually before age 50

Location of joint pain:       

  1. Osteoarthritis --Usually affects weight bearing joints, such as the knees and the hips. Also fingers are often affected. Frequently, only affects one side of the body. 
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis -- Usually affects small joints, such as the hand, foot, wrist, elbow, shoulder or ankle, usually on both sides of the body.

Joint appearance:

  1. Osteoarthritis -- Usually cool, not red or swollen.
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis -- Inflammation causes joints to be warm, red and swollen.

Morning joint stiffness:

  1. Osteoarthritis -- Lasts only a few minutes.
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis -- Lasts for at least 30 minutes and can persist for hours.

Symptoms besides joint pain and stiffness:

  1. Osteoarthritis -- Usually does not affect overall health.
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis -- May be accompanied by fatigue, weight loss and fever.

Disease progression:

  1. Osteoarthritis – Symptoms gradually worsen over a period of years.
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis -- Symptoms worsen over a period of weeks or months.

What eases pain or stiffness:

  1. Osteoarthritis -- Pain subsides with rest and worsens with activity.
  2. Rheumatoid arthritis -- Stiffness decreases with activity.

If you think you may have either type of arthritis, contact your doctor. She or he will ask about your medical history, perform a physical examination and carry out tests to identify the cause of your joint pain.


When is the Best Time of Year to Travel? 

Nancy Parode, of Senior Travel, tackles the question, "When is the best time to visit?" This entry is her answer, as she notes that the best time is different for every traveler. The easiest way to find your own best time to visit is to think carefully about why you want to go to a particular place, what you want to do once you are there and how much money you would like to spend. Here are some factors for you to consider.

Travel Budget

You can get more for your money if you travel during the shoulder season (i.e., April, May, September and October, or the off-season months. Typically, hotel prices drop during shoulder season, and rental car prices may, too. You'll have to deal with variable weather conditions and shortened museum hours, but, in return, you won't have to worry about enormous crowds at popular attractions.

Special Events

Festivals and special events are often organized around a particular holiday, such as Mardi Gras, or occurrence, such as the presidential inauguration in Washington, DC. You can also find events and festivals that are planned for a particular season or year, such as the wine grape harvest. If you want to attend a special event or festival, plan to secure accommodations as far in advance as possible. Be sure to find out about weather, parking, dining options and, if necessary, wheelchair or scooter accessibility before you book your trip.

Planned Activities

If you have your heart set on doing something special during your trip, such as climbing Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, you will need to organize your trip around that activity. Consider weather conditions, ticket or reservation availability, special equipment and transportation requirements. For example, Half Dome is only open for day hiking between late May and mid-October, and you need a permit to climb it. You can only get a permit via the National Park Service lottery, which is held in March, or via the daily lottery at the park, and you will need to bring proper hiking gear in order to ascend Half Dome safely


While weather might not be a make-or-break consideration for most vacationers, you should still look at the typical temperatures, rainfall, snowfall and severe weather threats for your destination. Just because Death Valley National Park is open during August does not mean that you, personally, will be comfortable visiting during that time, when average daytime temperatures can reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit. You could tour the park by car, but you might miss out on hiking or walking tour opportunities.


Crowds can be a problem if you want to see things up close or if you like to linger in museums. Visiting the Vatican Museum, for example, is very different in November than it is in July; during peak tourism months, you'll find yourself shuffling along in an enormous crowd. Stopping to look carefully at a painting or sculpture can be difficult. Plan your trip during shoulder season or look into special tour opportunities, such as an after-hours Vatican Museum visit to avoid crowds during your vacation.

 EF thanks Nancy Parode for this article.



Have a Healthy Trip to Brazil  

From June 12 until July 13, 2014, thousands of visitors will descent on 12 cities in Brazil to watch the FIFA Soccer World Cup. If you are lucky to have tickets, you want to remember to take steps to ensure a healthy trip.

Prepare yourself.

You know that you should visit your physician to discuss your trip and precautions that you need to take. At that time you can make sure that your routine immunizations are current. Measles, for example, spread easily during large populated events as soccer games.





Vaccines for Hepatitis A, Typhoid Fever, and Yellow Fever may be recommended. While there is
no vaccine available, you need to prevent Dengue Fever. Risk for this viral infection, transmitted by daytime biting mosquitoes, is present throughout Brazil. Therefore, you must take meticulous anti-mosquito bite measures like applying a DEET-containing repellent to exposed skin, wear long light-weight and loose-fitting clothing as much as possible, and ensure that door and window screens are in good working condition.  lists the following concerns to keep in mind during your trip

The fan cheering can get very loud and echo in a stadium. Make sure to bring along a good pair of ear plugs that allow you to hear the game and the voices around you, but protect your hearing.

Practice good hand hygiene to protect you and prevent the spread of illnesses to others. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer.

Use the mantra Boil It, Cook It, Peel It or Forget It! Drink boiled or secured bottled water. Eat well cooked foods while they're hot and eat fruit and vegetables that you can peel yourself. Be judicious when it comes to street food vendors. Only eat well cooked foods and make sure the vendors practice good food handling practices. Avoid foods that have been out for long periods of time.

Stay well hydrated and use sun protection measures like wearing a hat, UV-ray protecting sunglasses, and sunscreen.

Avoid animal and insect bites. Use meticulous anti-mosquito measures during the day and at night to protect against Dengue Fever and Malaria. Take along a repellent containing DEET, wear light-weight long sleeves and pants, and use a mosquito bed net if you're going to malaria areas in Brazil

Know your alcohol intake limit and avoid using illicit drugs – the penalties in Brazil can be very harsh.

Always practice safe sex to protect yourself and partners against sexually transmitted infections and diseases (STIs and STDs).

Wear seat belts in vehicles and a helmet when riding a moped, motorcycle, or bicycle. Traffic related accidents are very common in Brazil.

Pack a travel medical kit.

Get lots of sleep to stay healthy and enjoy the festivities!

When you're back home.

If you have persistent diarrhea, fever or flu-like symptoms, make sure to visit your healthcare provider. Post-trip follow-up may prevent future health complications and even save your life.