Health and Safety Guidelines For Workers Responding to the Haitian Disaster

With the mounds of rubble and the climbing death toll in Haiti, a massive worldwide relief effort is on. The tragedy is urging compassionate people everywhere to give to relief efforts and go as helpers themselves. But all workers in Haiti need to consider their own health and safety first. And no traveler is more at risk than an international relief worker. So here are some things you should consider before leaving for Haiti.

1. Protect your own health first. A healthy relief worker is a helpful relief worker, so do whatever you can to ensure your own health. This includes talking to your doctor about the immunizations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These are:

measles/mumps/rubella (MMR),
diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT),
seasonal and H1N1 flu, varicella,
Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG) (even if only one dose is possible at this time),
Typhoid (injectable preferred),
Hepatitis B (one dose may provide some protection, an accelerated schedule of 21 days is recommended),
Tetanus shots are of great importance.

If you plan to go to Haiti but your travel time is some time in the future, now is the time to talk to your doctor. Immunizations require a schedule, and knowing when to get them is as important as knowing what to get.

There are also diseases in Haiti for which there is no immunization. Learn how to avoid these. Pack long sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed-toed shoes. Secure insect repellent that contains one of the following ingredients: DEET, picaridin (KBR 3023), Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus/PMD or IR3535. Consider these measures part of your health routine because of the danger of contracting malaria and dengue fever. Also take personal medical supplies for minor injuries like band-aids and disinfectant ointment. Infection sets in more rapidly in Haiti’s hot climate.

2. Check on secure accommodations. There is also danger of contracting malaria and dengue fever if you do not sleep in screened accommodations or a mosquito net. These are serious diseases not to be taken lightly. Also, thieves would think nothing of injuring a foreigner, which can cause international issues for the Haitian government. The best way for relief workers to help the Haitian people is to see to their own safety first.

3. Bring food, water and sanitation supplies. The NGO you are going to Haiti with should help with this, but ask about their arrangements. With so few supplies on hand, bringing your own supplies is important. Hand sanitizer gel and toilet paper should also be on the list. Make sure you eat well-cooked or pre-packaged food while in Haiti. Fruits and vegetables should be peeled by you or skipped altogether. Water should be bottled with no broken seal or boiled for 20 minutes. This also applies to water used for shaving, teeth brushing, ice cubes and washing dishes. These safety precautions can not be over emphasized.

Health and Fitness Jobs You Can Try

The health care industry is a multi million dollar industry that has a very wide coverage, ranging from nursing to care, and from nutrition to medical. It is not just all about doctors and nurses who have the great jobs to help people stay healthy. There are other health and fitness jobs that cater to all walks of life for their every health related needs. Some of these jobs require a degree specifically for that profession while others will only require some certification or formal training.

So if your heart is focused on caring for the welfare and health of other people, why not consider some of these jobs? You will never know if your through calling lies on one of them.

1. Nutritionist
It is not only in hospitals and clinics where you can find a nutritionist nowadays. Some people actually hire a nutritionist for their own well being, especially if they have serious medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and other serious illnesses. These people will naturally need carefully prepared meals that contain all the nutrition that they need to help them with their condition. It is the nutritionist who makes sure that the patient eats only the food that is good for them to ultimately help them on the road to recovery.

2. Fitness or gym instructor
One of the most common and exciting health and fitness jobs around is that of a fitness or gym instructor. But do not let stereotyped notions of a fitness instructor fool you. The job is not all about helping a guy build muscles to help him compete in bodybuilding competitions. There is more to it than that, although it does involve that sort of training. Some are aerobic exercise trainers that help their clients get their feet moving to help burn the unwanted fat and keep them in good shape. There are also those who just help a client build muscle to help their body tone up to look and feel good.

3. Massage therapist
Your body can only take so much beating from all the pressure that we expose it to, so it comes naturally that we need to relax and calm down every once in a while. A good massage will usually do the job and an equally well trained massage therapist will help us in relieving stress from our mind and body. Most of the time all we need is good relaxation to help us get started for another day or week of hard work.

There are many other health and fitness jobs that you might find interesting. If you are very serious about it and have the time and resources, you can pursue a career as a sports physician and help athletes stay in perfect form. Or better yet, you can always start your own gym or your own spa and invite people to come in, either to help build a healthy body or to relax a tired one. While there are many reasons to get into one of these jobs, you will find that it is very rewarding both financially and in the satisfaction that you will get for helping others stay healthy.

For Improved Health and Increased Longevity – Let’s Get Back to Nature

Everyone wants to live a long and healthy life. And although no one can guarantee how long we will live, there are a number of nutritional choices that can dramatically increase our chances of living into our eighties, nineties, or even longer.

For instance, did you know that six of the ten leading causes of death in the United States (coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and liver disease) are associated with poor nutritional choices and overeating? This sobering information underscores the fact that good nutrition is one of the greatest weapons that we possess against disease.

So what are some steps that we can all take to improve our health and increase our longevity?

Well, for starters, keep unhealthy fats below 30% of the total calories you consume and your cholesterol intake below 200mg. These two steps can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.

Also, eating five servings per day of fruits and vegetables lowers your chances of getting cancer. You might be surprised to learn that studies indicate that simply increasing the number of those servings to between nine and ten each day can be as effective as prescription medication in lowering high blood pressure-without the dangerous side effects. Plus, this kind of super-powered natural nutrition can significantly reduce your risk of stroke.

Next, add a high-quality, nutrient-dense dietary supplement to your daily regimen. Research scientists and even the American Medical Association all agree that nutritional supplements are absolutely essential to our health and well being. Nowhere is this truer than when we consider our long-term health.

Remember, while our bodies are capable of healing themselves and keeping us healthy, they require a wide spectrum of nutrients to function properly and to remain healthy over a long life span. For complete nutrition, our bodies require vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, trace minerals, enzymes, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and fiber.

It is extremely difficult for us to relate what we eat-or don’t eat-today to what our health may be in five, ten, or even twenty years. You might even believe that aging and sickness are a natural part of life. However, the truth is that with the right nutritional choices-including anti-aging vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants-it is more than possible to maintain vibrant good health while also noticeably slowing down the aging process.

Lifestyle Design – Celebrate Your Health and Well Being

So often we get caught up in our daily routines only to forget the most important element in our lives, our health and well being. We are so busy taking care of everyone and everything else that we ignore ourselves until we either get sick or end up at the doctor with an injury. While none of us will ever admit to having the time to be ill or injured, we often don’t allow the critical time for health and well being. When we honor ourselves and our bodies we will have a greater opportunity to experience the wellness necessary to keep up with and care for our families, enjoy time with our friends, succeed in our work, make a positive difference to ourselves and others.

*I am not a medical professional and all recommendations here are based on extensive personal experience and that of family and friends. I would encourage you to speak with a trained medical professional regarding your own physical limitations and challenges before following any advice.

Here are some great ways to celebrate your health and fitness:

Daily Exercise

Make a point of establishing a routine that works for you. If you are a morning person and can add in even 30 minutes a day at the front end for a brisk walk, a spin on a bike (stationary or otherwise), yoga stretches, Pilates, or whatever makes you feel good, do it. I have found that I literally block my fitness time on my calendar and won’t schedule anything over it. It is my time to feel good, get my heart rate up, and break a sweat! So many of us spend so much of everyday sitting in a car, in an office, on the sofa, at a table, we really do need to make an effort to keep our body active and in tune.

If you are a night owl and prefer to schedule your routine later in the day, make that commitment and create it to work for you. Usually doing exercise right before bed is not recommended as it tends to generate more energy than rest, but perhaps after work or before dinner you can salvage 30 minutes for fitness.

Often we get trapped in the thinking that if we can’t devote at least an hour, it isn’t worth it. This is inaccurate thinking and creates an excuse for not stepping up to take care of ourselves. I have found as have many others that a short regular routine that I do literally every day energizes me and renews my commitment to myself.

Meditation or Prayer

I like to add this on to my exercise routine as this is exercise for the mind and heart. While I know you can go to classes on meditation and that most programs demand 20 minutes to over an hour, I find that even 10 minutes at the opening of my day and 10 minutes at the close of my day can give me greater peace of mind and quiet any anxiety and concerns I may have.

This is an invaluable opportunity to clear your mind of all the priorities, obligations, challenges and more that we each experience daily and just tap into that inner quiet place we each have. (Yes, you do have it too!) This may seem almost impossible first as few of us are accustomed to sitting completely still and quietly for any length of time at all. We always have something distracting us whether it is a computer, television, phone, or someone else in the room. This is time free of distractions and interference, time with just you.

If you have time, do explore the meditation and prayer classes offered at local centers and churches. You may find your own road to peace of mind that much faster.


While I do have friends that swear by a regular colon cleanse, this can be time consuming, not always comfortable, and costly. You don’t have to go to extremes to get valued results. Cleansing can be as simple as taking one day a week or month to rid your body of the accumulated toxins by drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of purified water only, (if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 oz. of water, a good daily practice as well), no soda, no coffee or tea, no juice, no alcohol, and consuming nothing more than raw fresh fruits and vegetables.

If you prefer you can find any number of prescribed cleanses both online and in health food stores that will allow you the chance to get your body back in balance and give it a break from all the junk we so often consume. This is also a chance to become alcohol and caffeine free. Giving up white sugar and flour products can also be very freeing. Many of us have accumulated allergies to foods we eat regularly and just ignore the uncomfortable side effects. When we cleanse and allow our bodies the opportunity to rebalance, we will notice an increase in our energy levels, we often need less sleep, and we will enjoy sharper mental clarity.

Healthy Eating

IBS, otherwise known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Acid Reflux are all new diseases caused by reactions to foods we have been eating for a long time and the fact that our lives are usually overloaded with stress and anxiety. Rather than add a lot of pills to conquer the symptoms of these illnesses, it makes more sense to find out the root cause and deal with it directly. Often the medications only mask a larger problem and don’t address something as simple as lactose intolerance or an allergy to gluten (yes this does knock out a lot of foods, but there are just as many that are still available and delicious and won’t cause painful side effects when eaten.)

One of the keys to getting back our balance is to reevaluate our diets and pay more attention. This is not about going on a permanent diet unless you want to. I hate the word diet; it implies limitations and inability to enjoy what I want. I prefer instead to eat consciously and pay attention to what my body is asking for. Rarely is it screaming for the cookies, muffins, and desserts I think I want, or that are fast and easy. Instead it is wanting a balance of protein, carbs and fats that will leave me with energy and vitality. We all know how when we indulge in a large lunch loaded with carbs like that Mexican taco special or the pasta buffet that we are ready for a major nap by mid afternoon. We also know that if we indulge less and instead reach for a salad with chicken or tuna and skip the bread and pasta we’ll be more productive, less forgetful, and stay better on track through the remainder of the day. It is easy to get lazy, but the only one we hurt is truly ourselves when we don’t honor our bodies with healthy eating. Are you listening to your body?

Believe me, I have tried just about every diet on the market at one time or another with very little success or success that lasted a week to a month and no more. From Atkins and South Beach to Optifast and just plain old fasting, I’ve done the ketosis diet, the cabbage and orange juice cleanse diet, Weight Watchers and more. I’ve battled weight almost my entire life, but I have found that what works the best is listening to your body and knowing the consequences of ignoring it. Even 10 extra pounds will leave you feeling lethargic, uncomfortable, and uninterested in activities you might usually enjoy. We all make excuses, we are short for our weight, we are fluffy (my favorite!), we are overweight not fat (what is the difference?), we are bloated (everyday?), it’s hormones, it’s PMS, it’s our job, it isn’t. It is simply we are out of control and not honoring our bodies and celebrating the health we deserve.

Please know that I am not suggesting that you replace all your favorite foods with organic substitutes as often you will be dissatisfied with the lack of flavor and cardboard consistency! I know, I have tried this. I have also learned that attempting to find an energy bar that tastes as good as a balanced meal is virtually impossible. They should be used sparingly and as a meal on the go. Too often I know folks that have substituted these for candy bars, or added them to their diet multiple times a day as a snack, not realizing that while the calories may be better allotted to protein instead of carbs, it is still extra calories that will add up at the end of the day, and show up on the scales at the end of the week and month.

Regular Check Ups

How often do we make sure that our kids are well cared for by the pediatrician and that our aging parents get to the doctor regularly but we ignore our own needs for regular checkups. Our bodies are like cars and need to go in for periodic checkups and sometimes tune ups. We are far more likely to avoid significant illness if we stay on top of our health. I am not suggesting going in for every ache or pain, but regular preventive maintenance can be far more time and cost effective than periodic major overhauls and breakdowns.

Women don’t enjoy mammograms anymore than men look forward to prostate exams, but they are necessary to ensure our continued good health and to head off any possible challenges as early as possible. When you are scheduling the kids and your Mom and Dad, take time to schedule yourself.