Stephanie J. Santos
Magrath Gym was transformed into an educational arena Thursday as hundreds of Soldiers and civilians came out to visit stations on prevention and participate in interactive exhibits at the 11th annual Safety Awareness Fair.
There was something for everyone as participants received information on everything from tactical gear accessories, water and boating safety, drug and alcohol awareness, highway safety and nutrition guidelines.
Chaya Mono, a dietitian with Carthage Area Hospital dispelled some myths associated with healthy eating.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that you can never have too much protein, but it’s easy to take in double of the amount you really need on a daily basis,” Mono said. She advised consumers to read food labels and be aware of what they are putting into their bodies.
Mono added that many people also lack fiber in their diet, which can often lead to gastrointestinal discomfort or chronic health conditions. To combat this problem, she advised drinking plenty of fluids and eating fruits, vegetables and nuts to increase fiber intake.
In regard to fitness, representatives from U.S. Army Medical Department Activity Preventive Medicine Service, invited brave volunteers to hop on the scale and find out their percentage of actual body fat versus their ideal measurement based on height, weight and lifestyle. MEDDAC representatives gave tips for eating smaller portions and increasing fluid intake.
“For active-duty Soldiers, it’s hard to say ‘eat several small meals a day,’ because a lot of them must rely on the dining facility schedule,” said Capt. Juli Hess, a registered dietician with MEDDAC. “A lot of overweight problems can stem from deployment stress, childbirth or even stationary labor.”
She said Fort Drum sponsors a six-week Climb to Fitness program, which offers classes in low-fat cooking, plate analysis, personalized fitness and stress eating.
“Good nutrition isn’t rocket science,” Hess said. “I always remind my patients that moderation is key and eating a good breakfast is essential for any type of health program.”
For Soldiers who need tips on fitting and packing a rucksack, Capt. Colleen Daniels, an occupational therapist with Guthrie Ambulatory Health Care Clinic, answered questions about the best way to organize a rucksack.
“We see a lot of lower back injuries after a road march, but a lot of them can be avoided if heavier, mission-essential items are packed on the top, and lightweight, noncritical items are placed on the bottom,” Daniels said.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much you weigh,” she added. “If you pack your rucksack improperly, you can still increase your risk for back injuries.”
Daniels advised all Soldiers to wear the rucksack chest and waist straps to evenly distribute weight on the hips and shoulders.
Physical therapist Brian Sweeney said a majority of back problems also can be attributed to poor posture, and that slouching can lead to spinal pain.
“Just taking a small, rolled-up towel and placing in behind your lower back will help you to sit better and improve your posture,” Sweeney said. He advised motorists to keep a rolled towel in their vehicles and use it for extended road trips.
Road safety rules also were emphasized during the fair. Motorists were given handouts about buckling up children 12 and younger in the back seat and the importance of using safety seats appropriate for a child’s age, weight and height.
State Department of Transportation representative Martin C. Percy spoke on the importance of observing work zone speed limits.
“Motorists need to observe speed limits. Not just for the benefit of the workers, but for themselves as well,” he said.
Percy stressed that speeding fines are now doubled in construction work zones, and there is a $50 surcharge. Speeding motorists also could have their driver’s license suspended for 60 days if convicted of two or more work-zone speeding violations.
Fair attendees also could receive information on organ donation, domestic abuse prevention, stress management, chapel assistance and Fort Drum Youth Services programs.
For some participants, the day offered a lot more than they had expected, as they carried around shopping bags filled with brochures and handouts.
“I thought today was just awesome,” said Master Sgt. Clorine Findley, from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 10th Sustainment Brigade Troop Battalion.
“I really liked the way all of the agencies came together and presented their material. It made it more of an interactive event that everyone (both Soldiers and civilians) could relate to,” she said.