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MissouriFamilies eNewsletter
October 7


“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”
~William S. Burroughs



Test your smoke alarms – It could save your life

Be aware of breast cancer

Smart food choices to make every day



October 6-12, 2013 is National Fire Prevention Week

Test your smoke alarms – It could save your life

Sherry F. Nelson, LCSW, human development specialist, Marion County, University of Missouri Extension


Each year more than 4,000 Americans lose their life to fire and approximately 25,000 are injured. At least 80 percent of fires in the U.S. occur in the home; however, there are many things we can do to prevent these fire tragedies and injuries. Testing our smoke alarms is one of the most critical things we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones. All homes should have smoke alarms, an escape route and fire extinguishers on hand.


Smoke alarms: There should be a smoke alarm in every bedroom. Additionally having a smoke alarm on every level of your home is a must and you should test your smoke alarms monthly. Experts recommend that you change your batteries twice a year, in the fall and spring when we change our clocks for daylight saving time.


Escape plans: Having an escape plan and practicing the plan has been shown to save lives because you and your family will know exactly what to do in the event of an emergency. Practice the plan twice a year with the whole family. Be sure to know two ways out of your home and have a designated meeting place outside. Remember that once you are out of the home, have a neighbor call 911, and DO NOT go back inside. Be sure to educate babysitters/caregivers of your escape plan so they are familiar with it as well.


Fire extinguishers: Having fire extinguishers on each level of the home is a must for every homeowner or renter. An ABC type extinguisher is best because it can be used on most types of fires:


"A" type fires are common combustibles such as trash, wood and paper fire
"B" is a grease or liquid fire and
"C" is an electrical equipment blaze


The extinguisher needs to be maintained regularly and should not be so heavy that you cannot pick it up and use it. It is a good idea to get training on use of an extinguisher before you need to use one. The procedure is PASS:


P – Pull the pin
A – Aim the nozzle
S – Squeeze the handle and
S – Sweep at the base of the fire


Other general fire safety tips include the following:


  • Check for frayed or broken electrical cords. Eliminate extension cord use by purchasing a power strip.
  • Don’t overload electrical circuits and inspect your electrical panel annually.
  • Pay attention when cooking. Avoid leaving the room or use a timer to remind yourself that something is on the stove.
  • Keep children and pets away from the stove.
  • Keep your cooking area clean, including keeping combustibles away from the stove.
  • Turn pot and pan handles to the inside rather than having them sticking out from the front or sides of the stove top.
  • Keep your oven and stove top free of grease to avoid grease fires.


If you would like to learn more about fire safety, visit the National Fire Protection Association website or call your local fire department. For more general information about safety and emergency preparedness, check out


To view this article online, go to



October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Be aware of breast cancer

Janet Hackert, Regional Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension


Breast cancer is so prevalent that most people know someone who has had it. In fact, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so here are a few facts, some of which may be surprising.


A family history of breast cancer is considered a risk factor, so if a woman’s mother, sister, aunt or grandmother has had it, she should be more careful about looking for it. However, having this risk factor does not mean that you will get breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, “only 20-30 percent of women with breast cancer have a family member with this disease.” This means that 7 or 8 out of every 10 women who have breast cancer are NOT related to someone who has had it.


As a woman ages, her risk of developing breast cancer increases. “Nearly 8 out of 10 breast cancers occur in women over age 50,” says the American Cancer Society. The risk for a woman over 70 developing the disease in the next year is almost double that for a 50-year-old.


Some risk factors are out of your control, but there are some changes you can make to lower your risk of breast cancer, including maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise and avoiding or limiting alcohol intake. Not using hormone therapy after menopause may also help lower your risk.


Regardless of risk factors, early detection is important! All women, starting in their 20’s, should perform a monthly breast self exam to help detect changes in the tissue of the breast that may indicate cancer. For instructions on a thorough method for self examination, a woman can ask her doctor or go to the American Cancer Society’s website at Any changes should be reported promptly to your physician.


Also, for younger women ages 20-39, a breast exam should be done every three years as part of the well-woman medical check-up. For women 40 years old and older, this exam by a doctor or nurse should be completed at least annually.


After age 40, women should also have a yearly mammogram. These should continue, “for as long as they are in good health,” recommends the American Cancer Society.


If a tumor is detected when it is just under one inch in size, there is a 94 percent 5-year survival rate. For a tumor larger than two inches, the rate goes down to 66 percent. Breast cancer doesn’t have to be fatal, and early detection can mean avoiding an extremely difficult medical situation.


To view this article online, go to



Smart food choices to make every day

Melissa Bess, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Camden County; Edited by Jessica Kovarik, RD, LD, former Extension Associate, University of Missouri Extension


The basis for a healthy eating plan should be fruits and vegetables; whole grains; low-fat or fat free milk products; lean meats, poultry, fish; and beans, lentils and other legumes. Some foods stand out as superstars with many nutrients to enhance health and prevent disease. Here are some smart food choices to make every day.


  • Spinach. We all know that spinach makes Popeye stronger, probably because this dark green veggie is full of vital nutrients. Spinach provides us with vitamin K to help with blood clotting. It also contains vitamin A for healthy skin and vision, folate for red blood cell formation and proper cell division, and iron for oxygen transport within the body. Spinach also contains some calcium, potassium (which can help lower blood pressure) and fiber. Add spinach to casseroles or lasagna, or make a side salad with spinach to enjoy with your meal.
  • Blueberries. This tasty fruit contains fiber and vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that aids in disease prevention, helps maintain bones and teeth, and helps the body absorb iron. Blueberries contain antioxidants called anthocyanidins, which give them their blue-red color. These antioxidants appear to help neutralize damage to cells that can lead to many negative health conditions and diseases. Blueberries may also play a role in brain health. Buy frozen blueberries when they are not in season and add them to cereal, desserts or oatmeal.
  • Black beans. All beans can promote health but black beans contain anthocyanidins, the same antioxidant in blueberries. Black beans contain soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. Beans contain protein as well, making them a good substitution for other protein foods that may be high in fat. Beans are also low in calories, low in fat and inexpensive. Mix black beans with corn and salsa for an easy side dish that is delicious and nutritious.
  • Walnuts. These nuts contain the most omega-3 fatty acids of all the tree nuts and peanuts. Omega-3 fatty acids help boost cardiovascular health, help decrease inflammation related to diseases, and may improve cognitive function. Walnuts also have monounsaturated fat, a heart-healthy fat that can help lower blood cholesterol. Sprinkle on a salad or enjoy a handful as a snack.
  • Oats. A bowl of oatmeal is a great start to the day. Oatmeal provides soluble fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol. This whole grain provides protein for muscle recovery and repair and contains some antioxidants, which may have cardiovascular benefits. Try adding oats to some of your recipes including casseroles, meatloaf, muffins, breads and cookies.
  • Yogurt. Low-fat or fat-free yogurt can serve as a snack or even as part of dessert. Yogurt has live cultures and good bacteria that may promote health, boost immunity and increase bone health. Some of the nutrients in yogurt include calcium and potassium, which are important for good bone health. Plus, yogurt contains protein, which helps you stay full longer. Top yogurt with blueberries and walnuts for a nutritious snack or breakfast. Yogurt can also serve as the base for creamy dips or dressings.
  • Tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes may not be available year-round, but processed tomato products such as stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato juice can be found any time of year. The red color of tomatoes comes from lycopene, a phytochemical the body absorbs better from processed tomato products. Lycopene can help prevent prostate cancer and may improve bone health. Tomatoes also contain vitamins A and C, both of which are antioxidants. Add cherry tomatoes to a salad or eat them as a snack or add a can of stewed tomatoes to chili.
  • Carrots. Bugs Bunny probably has great eyesight, thanks to the beta carotene that gives carrots their orange color. Beta carotene helps protect against some cancers and cardiovascular (heart) disease. This compound can also help protect your lungs, especially if you smoke. In addition, carrots contain vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber and potassium. Add carrots to soups and salads or enjoy as a side dish.


Try to add one or more of these foods to your healthy eating habits and enjoy the many health benefits from these nutritional all-stars!


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Last update: Thursday, October 10, 2013