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Are you not always sure if your child's cough and sniffles warrant keeping him or her home from school? You're not alone.

The National Association of School Nurses and Triaminic developed "Sick Day Guidelines" to provide parents with the key signs that they should consider keeping their children home from school, including:

- A fever of 100.4 degrees or higher.

- Vomiting.

- Symptoms that prevent him or her from participating in school, such as excessive tiredness or lack of appetite; productive coughing or sneezing; headache, body aches or earache and a sore throat.

- ARA

Stay safe when using space heaters

According to a report from the National Fire Protection Association, nearly three in four people killed in home-heating fires in 2006 died in fires that involved space heaters. The association offers the following heating safety tips:

- Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from heaters.

- Turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.

- For fuel-burning space heaters, always use the proper fuel as specified by the manufacturer.

- Test smoke alarms at least monthly.

Did You Know?

A new study shows that average life expectancy in 51 U.S. cities increased nearly three years over recent decades, and approximately five months of that increase came thanks to cleaner air. -- Brigham Young University and Harvard School of Public Health

Health Tip

It’s a challenge to keep active when the days are cold and daylight is short. Here are some tips for exercising in cold weather from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association.

- Warm up and cool down: Allow enough time for proper stretching to warm up muscles before you exercise, and cool down with stretches to maintain flexibility. Leg, arm and calf stretches should be held for 30 seconds each for best results.

- Dress in layers: Wear layers to keep warm, and take them off as needed. Make sure that the layer closest to your skin is a “wicking” material that will wick moisture from your skin. Your outer layer should be windproof and water-resistant. A hat or headband and gloves will keep you well-insulated.

- Proper footwear: Wear shoes or boots that fit properly and will keep your feet dry.

- Smart snacks: Pick foods and drinks that will help fuel your body. Eat fruit, whole-grain breads and nuts, and drink water and sports drinks.

- Try a new sport: Try something new this winter, such as snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing. Even ice skating and sledding can get your heart pumping and tone your arms and legs.

- Embrace winter activities: Pick up a snowball and have some fun – it’s a great upper-body exercise. Shoveling is another workout, but start slowly to build endurance and avoid back, neck and shoulder strain.

- Don’t ignore indoors: If the winter weather is just too terrible, consider joining a gym. Many health clubs offer incentives during the winter months. If your regular exercise includes a brisk walk, head to the mall – many open early for walkers.

Number to Know: 40,000

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention receives about 40,000 reports of salmonella illness every year.

Children’s Health

Keeping young children warm is an important consideration for parents during cold winter weather. Here are some tips for doing it safely, from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

- Dress infants warmly for outdoor activities. Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm.

- The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.

- If a blanket must be used to keep a sleeping infant warm, it should be tucked in around the crib mattress, reaching only as far as your baby’s chest, so the infant's face is less likely to become covered by bedding.

Senior Health

Almost one in 10 Americans older than 60 suffer from an anxiety disorder that causes them to worry excessively about normal things like health, finances, disability and family.

In a large study of antidepressant drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in older people with anxiety disorders, a team of psychiatric researchers found the drug escitalopram (Lexapro) improved anxiety symptoms and quality of life.

According to the study, older adults with anxiety disorders are typically either not treated or prescribed sedative drugs. Sedatives can relieve anxiety, but their long-term use in older adults is linked to falls and cognitive impairment. SSRI drugs are thought to be a safer alternative, and this study showed they could reduce anxiety in this age group.

-- Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

GateHouse News Service