It’s a new year and what could be more important than your health? Why not take a minute out of your day to make sure you’re taking good care of yourself and your family? Here are some easy simple steps:

Wash hands – Wash hands to lower the risk of spreading germs and getting sick. It is best to wash hands with soap and clean running water for 20 seconds.

Prevent poisonings – Whether they’re drugs, medications, or household chemicals, follow instructions, and keep products out of the reach of children. Put the poison control number (800-222-1222) on all phones, and make sure all family members know when to call it.

Protect your skin – Wear sunscreen, seek shade, and cover up to help lower your risk for sunburn and skin cancer. Wear insect repellent with DEET or Picaridin to protect yourself from mosquito and tick bites, which can cause disease. Set your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to help prevent burns.

Buckle up – Lower the risk for motor vehicle-related injuries. Make sure everyone is properly restrained in safety seats or safety belts. Children ages 12 and younger should always be buckled up and seated in the rear seat of vehicles. Placing children in age- and size-appropriate restraint systems lowers the risk of serious and fatal injuries by more than half.

Gear up – When playing active sports or riding a motorcycle or bike, make sure you and your family wear protective gear, such as helmets, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads.

Fight the urge to smoke or use tobacco – The urge will usually pass in 2-3 minutes. When you feel the urge, do something else. Take deep breaths and let them out slowly. Drink a glass of water. Carry things to put in your mouth, such as gum, hard candy, or toothpicks. Smoking even a few cigarettes a day and being around secondhand smoke (smoke from someone else smoking) can hurt you and your family’s health. The only safe choice is to quit completely.

Protect your hearing – Hearing loss can result from damage to structures and/or nerve fibers in the inner ear that respond to sound. This type of hearing loss, termed “noise-induced hearing loss,” is usually caused by exposure to excessively loud sounds and cannot be medically or surgically corrected. Use hearing protectors such as ear plugs and ear muffs when you can’t lower noise to a safe level.

Wear a life jacket – All boat occupants should wear a life jacket to lower the risk of drowning. U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets are now more attractive in appearance and comfortable to wear. When properly fitted, a life jacket can help prevent a tragedy.

Read food labels – See how much fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars, protein, and other ingredients are in the product. Note what the serving size is to make sure you don’t eat more calories than you think you’re getting.


Excerpts taken from Department for Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention article Five Minutes (or Less) for Health.