Be Toy Smart This Christmas
How smart are the smart toys you’ll be buying for your children this holiday season? They’ll likely be smarter than you think — and you have no idea what information they’re passing back and forth on the Internet.
The situation has prompted privacy and crime prevention specialists to issue a warning that some of these toys may be recording and collecting conversations, which could lead to personal information falling into the wrong hands, resulting in child identity theft.
Toy makers are supposed to make clear in any documentation what happens to information they collect and store but that’s not always the case, especially with products made abroad.
Crime prevention specialists are advising parents to take all possible steps to ensure info about their kids remains secure.
Steps you can take include:
- Searching online for information about smart toys you’re thinking of buying to see if there have been any issues or concerns. Find out exactly what these products do and how they store and use the information they collect.
- Switching off or disconnecting a toy from the Internet when not in use. This is important because some toys are capable of eavesdropping on any conversation, including adults’, while they’re standing by.
- If the toy needs you to sign on to the maker’s or another website, don’t provide personal information that could be used in ID theft, and use strong passwords to protect your child’s play talk.
In the US, the FBI has issued guidance for parents on what to look for and how to play it safe. Check out their advice here.
How To Cut Blood Pressure Risks
Most people know that a good blood pressure reading is a big part of being healthy. But how many know how to regulate their BP or avoid hypertension, apart from taking medications?
With a New Year on the horizon, now might be a good time to think about improving your lifestyle to improve your blood pressure.
In fact, latest studies have confirmed what we already suspected: a healthy weight can help preserve low blood pressure. It’s the number one way to protect your BP. Research shows that people with a healthy body weight are 41 percent less likely to see their BP rise in later years.
“When you gain weight, your heart has to work harder because the weight has a compressive effect on the blood vessels,” explains family medicine specialist Dr Howard Sellinger. “Over decades, that can produce cardiac problems.”
In addition to weight control, researchers considered four other factors associated with a healthy lifestyle:
- Not smoking (preferably never having smoked).
- Controlling alcohol consumption — 7 drinks a week or fewer for women, 14 or fewer for men.
- Following a diet specifically aimed at avoiding hypertension. The best-known one is called the DASH diet.
- Following a regular exercise regime — 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity is the recommended weekly amount of exercise.
They couldn’t find a direct, obvious link with diet and exercise, but never smoking and low alcohol consumption definitely were linked.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about exercise and diet because all of these aspects interact with each other and all ultimately affect a person’s weight.
So, what’s a good blood pressure target? There’s been a major debate about this during the past couple of years. Officially, recommended maximum systolic blood pressure (the higher of the two numbers in your BP reading) is 140. But a major study in 2015 found that reducing the figure to 120 could cut by a quarter the risk, at any age, of death, heart attack, failure and stroke. This may be something to talk about with your family physician.
One final point: It’s common knowledge, as we reported a few months back, that consuming too much sodium by using too much salt can negatively affect your blood pressure.
New research published last month in China found that people who eat spicy food are less likely to be heavy-handed with the salt-shaker. Eating foods like chili seems to switch off the demand for salt in the brain!
Latest Podcasts To Aid Personal Safety
Are you tuned in to podcasts – Internet-based radio-style shows that deliver all types of info and entertainment? According to latest research, 40 percent of us have listened to a podcast – 25 percent (that’s one in four) during the past month.
But there are literally tens of thousands of podcasts available online. We’re spoilt for choice!
If you value personal safety, here’s a list of some of the better podcasts to listen to or download:
- Safety at Work: Health and Safety to Go from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety and the US National Safety Council’s All About You provide some great tips for personal and business safety.
- Food Safety: Try Food Safety Talk with Don Schaffner and Ben Chapman.
- Surviving a Violent Encounter: Tune in to The Safety Solutions Academy Podcast
- Road Safety: Highway to Safety by David Wallace, ‘The Traffic Safety Guy’, covers everything from car seats to drowsy driving.
- Disaster Survival: For when times get tough, Jack Spirko’s The Survival Podcast has plenty of useful tips – but it’s also a good general lifestyle guide.
Most of these podcasts are available on iTunes but you can also find and download them online by searching on the names we’ve given above.
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