Couponing 101: Learning How to Use Coupons

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Couponing isn’t just for stay-at-home moms with a minivan full of little ones. Anyone can save money by using coupons. If you want to stretch your retirement dollars even further, couponing can help you do that.

Coupons can get you a great deal, and when used most effectively, they may even allow you to pay virtually nothing for some of your favorite products. But clipping coupons can also be a hassle and take some work. Use these tips to help you get the most out of your coupons.

  1. Keep coupons handy. Clipping coupons does you no good if you can’t find a particular coupon when you need it. Keep coupons paper-clipped to your shopping list so you’ll know exactly where they are when you get to the register.
  2. Only clip coupons for products you normally buy. You don’t have to clip every coupon in the newspaper. Pick and choose your coupons for the products you buy normally. The exception to this rule is when it comes to specific brands of the same product. If there’s no coupon for your favorite brand of toilet paper, but there is a coupon for a comparable alternative, clip away.
  3. Maximize your savings with store specials. Many stores will double and triple coupons on certain days. Find out what those days are and plan your shopping trip accordingly. When planned just right, you can even stack manufacturer’s coupons on top of a store discount or store coupon to save even more cash, so watch the store ads for what’s on sale this week.
  4. Read the fine print. There are some stipulations to using coupons, so be sure you know exactly when and how to use a particular coupon so you won’t be surprised when it comes time to pay.
  5. Price-match. Many retailers, such as Walmart, will honor a competitor’s store ads and coupons. It’s not worth it to spend your day shopping at multiple stores, so take advantage of price-matching opportunities so you can get all your shopping done at one store. At Walmart, you can show competitor ads and coupons to the cashier at checkout to receive the discount. At other stores, like Target, you may have to stop by customer service on your way out to get a refund for the difference.
  6. Get a raincheck. Many stores will offer a raincheck option if they run out of a particular item that is on sale one week. If the store is out of an item you want that is on sale, ask the manager for a raincheck.
  7. Plan ahead. This is the most important trick to successful couponing. Go through store ads before you go to the store. These can be found in the newspaper or online. Make your shopping list and then sort through your coupons and only take the ones you plan to use that day.

You don’t have to be an “Extreme Couponer” to save money. If you use these tips, you’ll will be surprised just how much the savings will add up. There are even online resources you can use to simplify your couponing experience and help you save more money. Click here to check out one of these resources.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Senior Adults

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Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? If not, it’s not too late! The new year is an opportunity to turn over a new leaf and set new goals.

Keeping these resolutions can be challenging, but not impossible. The key is to set realistic measureable goals, to celebrate the small achievements on the way and to avoid beating yourself up when you have a bad day.

The type of resolution or goal you might set depends on your stage of life and what you want to accomplish in the coming year. An adult in the midst of his or her career might set goals related to work. Many people make resolutions to get more fit or lose weight (in fact, this is one of the top five resolutions people make each year), while others may be more focused on improving a certain characteristic or quality to become a better person.

Senior adults are in a different stage of life: retired from work and focused simply on living the best life possible. Here are some of the top New Year’s resolutions for seniors.

  1. Spend more time with family. Time spent with loved ones is precious and should be cherished at any given opportunity. Invite your family to share a meal with you, or have the grandchildren over to work a puzzle or play games. If you and your family are separated by distance, take advantage of technology and plan regular phone calls or video chats. If you don’t know how to use the internet or the computer, don’t hesitate to ask someone to help you.
  2. Participate in more group activities. Whether it’s enjoying a movie night with other residents in your community, challenging your neighbor to a game of cards or simply taking a walk with a friend, make 2015 the year you really live life to the fullest.
  3. Exercise regularly. No matter your age, exercise is key for a healthy mind and body. Walking, swimming and water aerobics classes are just a few great forms of exercise for senior adults. Pick a physical activity you enjoy and plan to do that activity two to three times each week. Finding a friend to exercise with you can help keep you accountable and make your exercise more enjoyable!
  4. Learn something new. You’re never too old to keep learning. What is one thing you’ve always wanted to learn? Maybe you’d like to learn how to use Facebook so you can keep up with your grandkids, or perhaps learning to knit interests you. Whatever it may be, keep your mind sharp in 2015 by increasing your knowledge.
  5. Write letters to loved ones. Handwritten letters are nearly extinct in our society, but there’s something nostalgic and charming about receiving a piece of real mail. Take some time each week to write a letter to a friend or family member. Share stories, offer encouragement, and most of all, let them know just how loved they are.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be January 1 to start a new resolution or begin working toward a new goal. Set your mind to achieve something new this year and get started!

 

 

The Origin of the World’s Most Popular Drink

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Are you a tea drinker? Hot tea, in particular? As you sip your cuppa, have you ever pondered the origin of drinking tea or how “tea time” got its start?

Grab a hot cup of your favorite brew and sit down for a little history lesson, courtesy of tea.

The History of Tea

Tea was first discovered in China potentially as early as 2737 BC, according to one legend. At that time, tea was known for its medicinal qualities, but through the years it also became used for religious offerings. During the Han Dynasty, in the years 202 BC to 220 AD, tea plants were limited, so only the royals and the wealthy had access to tea. During the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 AD), more tea plants were discovered, and even the lower classes could drink tea and reap its benefits.

Around this same time, Japanese priests studying in China brought tea to Japan. At first, as in China, only royalty and the rich drank tea. Buddhist priests also drank it to help keep them awake during meditation, eventually spawning the Japanese tea ceremony, during which tea was shared as part of a sacred and spiritual ritual. The Emperor of Japan imported tea seeds from China and planted them in Japan so more people could partake in tea.

It wasn’t until the 17th century that tea arrived in England, after King Charles II married Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese princess. As in other cultures, tea in England was initially consumed by royals, and afternoon tea or tea parties became common in aristocratic society.

Tea was imported to Britain via the East India Company, and the taxes were so high that commoners couldn’t afford it, so smugglers acquired and sold tea illegally to those who couldn’t pay the tax. It was during this time that the East India Company began its exportation to America—again, heavily taxed—leading to what we know today as the Boston Tea Party.

Types of Tea

Tea is the most popular beverage in the world—even more popular than water. Each year, more than six billion pounds of tea are harvested. All “true” teas come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis. “Herbal” teas are derived from the leaf, root, fruit or flower of another plant.

True teas can be divided into four categories: white, green, oolong and black. The color depends on how the leaves are processed and oxidized. Generally, the less a tea is oxidized (white tea is least oxidized), the lighter it will be in taste and smell.

Herbal teas are naturally 100 percent caffeine free. There are a number of different flavors and types of herbal tea, and the health benefits vary from one to the next. Some of the most popular herbal teas are red tea, originating in South Africa and known for its high levels of antioxidants and anti-aging properties; yerba maté, an energizing tea from the rainforests of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil boasting a high dose of antioxidants; and chamomile, from Egypt, known for its therapeutic and mild sedative effects.

Now that you know a little bit more about tea, enjoy your favorite hot brew and allow yourself feel a bit regal as you do. Cheers!

 

10 Ideas to Ring in the New Year

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Celebrating the New Year isn’t only about the party. It’s about taking time to cherish the memories made in the past year and look forward to the year ahead.

If you need a few ideas for how to ring in 2015, here are 10 suggestions:

Scrapbook. Feeling nostalgic? What better way to reflect on 2014 than to create a few scrapbook pages of your favorite memories from the year? If you aren’t particularly crafty, you can always create an online album using your Facebook page or a tool like Snapfish, which allows you to create and print photo albums.

Make a resolution. About 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions every year. The key to keeping your New Year’s resolution is to set a specific yet realistic goal. For example, make a resolution to call a friend once a week or to spend 30 minutes exercising three days a week. When you’re specific and realistic, you are more likely to keep your resolution throughout the year.

Relax. Set aside some time for yourself this New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day to relax and reflect on the past year and plan for the coming year. Book an appointment for a manicure, pedicure or massage. Go for a walk in your favorite park. Sip a cup of hot tea or coffee on your front porch. Do what is most relaxing to you.

Reflect. As you take some quiet time for yourself, stop to think about the year you are leaving behind. What are some of your favorite memories? Do you have any regrets or anyone you need to apologize to? Did you experience personal tragedy this year? In what ways can you move forward in 2015?

Get organized. Start off the New Year on the right foot by organizing your workspace at home or in the office. Clutter can be depressing and hold you back from achieving our goals. So clear out the mental and physical clutter around you and ready yourself for your best year yet.

Seek out new experiences. What is one thing you wanted to do in 2014 that you never made time for? Maybe you wanted to give yoga a try or join a book club. Perhaps you hoped to take a cooking class or start walking every day. Choose one new activity or experience you’d like to have in 2015 and spend New Year’s Day participating in that activity (or planning how you’re going to make it happen in the coming year).

Write letters to people you love. The handwritten letter is all but lost in our high-tech society. Choose three people you love and write them a handwritten note letting them know how much they mean to you.

Find a volunteer opportunity. Serving those around you will lead to a more joyful 2015. Find an organization you’d like to volunteer with near you and do your research on how to get involved. From mentoring underprivileged children to volunteering at a local soup kitchen, the opportunities are endless—and there’s something to suit any schedule and skillset. If you need help getting started, visit volunteerguide.org.

Rid yourself of negativity. Perhaps it’s a person in your life who constantly drags you down, or you let negative thoughts about yourself hold you back. 2015 is your chance for a clean slate, so get rid of the negative influences in your life and focus on the positive.

Be thankful. Look around you. If you have clothes to wear, food on the table and a roof over your head, you are among one of the most fortunate people in the world. Count your blessings and be thankful for the provisions you have in your life and the friends and family who surround you. How can you share these blessings with others in 2015?

However you choose to ring in the New Year, we wish you a happy and fruitful year in 2015!

6 Last-Minute Christmas Decorating Ideas

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Christmas is only a few days away, but there’s still time to add a few finishing touches to your Christmas décor. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite easy, last-minute holiday decorating ideas. Pick one or two (or a few) and get to crafting!

  1. The Glass Jar: Fill a glass vase or jar with Christmas ornaments, cinnamon-scented pine cones and beads. This is a simple and inexpensive, yet elegant way to dress up a table or add a little something to your centerpiece.
  2. Tiny Winter Wonderland: Similarly, you can use a glass vase to create a tiny winter wonderland. Fill the bottom of the vase with moss and bottle brush trees. Dust with fake snow, and you get a beautiful, tiny winter wonderland right in your home. Add a little sparkle and color by adding a few small Christmas ornaments.
  3. Jingle Bell Wreath: A foam wreath ring and a collection of jingle bells—all one size or a variety of sizes—is all you need to create a festive jingle bell wreath to hang on your front door. The best part about this wreath is you can buy everything you need at Dollar Tree! Get directions here
  4. Candy Cane Centerpiece: What’s not to love about a gorgeous bouquet of red roses sitting inside a ribbon-tied candy cane vase? This last-minute holiday décor idea is perfect for your holiday party or Christmas gathering in your home. For photos and instructions, click here.
  5. Button Wreath Ornament: All you’ll need for this is an assortment of buttons in varying shades of green or in a variety of Christmas colors, some thin wire, decorative ribbon, needle nose pliers and scissors. Get directions here.
  6. Sparkling Wine Bottle Display: These take a bit more time, but they certainly make for a stunning table display. To give the bottles a fresh coating of “snow,” use Epsom salt. For a little more glitz and glam, choose gold or silver glitter. Spray a coat of white primer paint on the wine bottles. Then, using Craft Bond spray glue, spray the bottles with adhesive. Next, roll the bottles in the Epsom salt (or glitter). For ideas on creating a whole centerpiece look with these bottles, click here.

A little creativity can go a long way when it comes to decorating for any holiday, especially Christmas. Even with only a few days to go until Christmas, the right decorations can bring a big dose of Christmas cheer into your home.

Understanding the Meaning of Christmas

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Christmastime is the most wonderful time of the year—and one of the busiest. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the season and forget why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. So take a moment today to pause and remember the real reason for the season.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, the Son of God, who was born of the Virgin Mary. He became man for one purpose: to ultimately become the Lamb of God who was crucified as a sacrifice for the sins and the salvation of mankind. We give gifts at Christmas as a reminder of the ultimate Gift God gave to us—His Son, Jesus.

Why Christmas?

The name “Christmas” comes from the Mass of Christ. A Mass service is a time when Christians remember that Jesus died for us, was buried and was resurrected three days later. (It’s His resurrection we celebrate on Easter.) The name Christmas is simply a shortening of Christ-Mass, referring to the Mass that takes place to remember the birth of Christ.

Why December 25?

It is unknown exactly when Christ was born. December 25 is one date that some scholars speculate may be the date of His birth, while others believe He may have actually been born in spring or fall. One early Christian tradition says that on March 25 (called the Annunciation), Mary was told she would give birth to God’s Son. December 25 is nine months from that day. March 25 is also the day some believe God created the earth, and that this day was also the day that Christ died.

People in the East and West celebrated Christmas on different days, as they followed different calendars. In some cultures, Christmas was actually celebrated on January 6 or 7 (and some still celebrate on this day. The first recorded year that Christmas was celebrated on December 25 is 336AD, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years after that, Pope Julius I declared December 25 as the official day the birth of Christ would be celebrated.

We may never know the exact date of Christ’s birth, but that is not what is important about this holiday. What’s most important is taking time out of this busy season to remember Jesus as the ultimate Gift.

How to Enjoy Christmas On Your Own

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Are you celebrating Christmas alone this year? There are a lot of reasons people celebrate the holidays alone, from long-distance relatives to the death of a loved one. But even if you feel alone this Christmas, there are many ways to make this Christmas memorable.

Here are a few ideas:

Look for opportunities around you. Residents of CHRISTUS St. Joseph are invited to various Christmas activities, including watching Christmas movies in the Parlor, enjoying the Christmas Eve luncheon, attending the Christmas Eve Mass, Christmas morning mass and Christmas Day breakfast. Check your social calendar for opportunities to celebrate this Christmas with your friends and neighbors.

Accept invitations from others. If you’ve turned down invitations to spend Christmas with others, call them back and accept. Even if this Christmas looks different than what you are used to, if someone has extended an invitation for you to celebrate the holiday in their home, take it.

Connect with loved ones. Even if you are separated by distance, technology makes it easy to connect with those we love. Plan some time to make phone calls or spend some time video chatting with those you are missing this Christmas.

Don’t forget your neighbors. Remember there may be others around you who are also spending this Christmas alone. Reach out to other residents of CHRISTUS St. Joseph and plan to spend the day together. Play games, watch a Christmas movie together or bake cookies. Make new memories with those nearby.

Plan a “you” day. Sometimes solitude can be refreshing, even on the holidays. Spend some time reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas and plan the day for yourself. Prepare one of your favorite holiday snacks, meals, or treats; read your Bible or favorite Christmas book; watch a marathon of Christmas movies; or take some time to write handwritten notes to loved ones.

Be thankful. Most importantly, no matter how you spend your day, be sure to take time to reflect on all the blessings you’ve been given throughout your life. Christmas is the perfect day to express gratitude to the Giver of all good gifts, and when we count our blessings and allow gratitude to overflow in our hearts, it’s difficult to feel unhappy or lonely.

It can be difficult to be alone at Christmas, but these ideas can add some cheer to your holiday and make your Christmas a bit brighter.

 

10 Best Holiday Movies to Get You In the Christmas Spirit

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Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without a favorite Christmas film or two. While you’ve got some downtime this Christmas, take some time to enjoy one of these favorite Christmas movies. Whether you’re looking for romance, Christmas magic or comedy, our list of top Christmas movies has a little something for everyone.

  1. “It’s a Wonderful Life” The classic of classic Christmas films that reminds us what life is really all about. (And it’s not the gifts under the tree or the money in your bank account.) No matter how many times you’ve seen “It’s a Wonderful Life,” it’s worth another watch this Christmas.
  2. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” We’ve all had that neighbor—the one who goes above and beyond to make his house an utterly obnoxious mess of Christmas lights and decorations. In this story, Clark Griswold plans a big family Christmas despite his family’s attempts at thwarting his plans.
  3. “Elf” What happens when a human baby sneaks into Santa’s bag and ends up at the North Pole? You’ll find out in this film, which chronicles the journey of the ever-so-charming Buddy the Elf as he travels back to the Big Apple to find his real family after being raised by elves. Chances are that you’ll feel a little more Christmas spirit after watching this film.
  4. “Miracle on 34th Street” Originally filmed as a love story more than a Christmas story, “Miracle on 34th Street” has become a classic Christmas film. When a young girl loses her sense of wonder and belief, Santa shows up in a way that will reignite the magic of Christmas magic for people of all ages.
  5. “A Christmas Story” Another classic Christmas comedy, “A Christmas Story” is the oddly delightful tale of Ralphie, a young boy who gets the BB gun he always wanted for Christmas, and his eccentric parents. Ever wondered what’s with the leg lamps that seem to appear this time of year? You’ll find out in “A Christmas Story.”
  6. “A Christmas Carol” The 1951 version of the Charles Dickens classic is the truest adaptation of the book to film. In the story, Ebenezer Scrooge—a wealthy, selfish old man—is visited by the spirits of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come. Scrooge comes to realize what he could have had in life had be been a bit more generous, and what his future could hold if only he could let go of the greed that turned him into a Christmas ogre.
  7. “Holiday Inn” A musical doesn’t get much better than the one that features Irving Berlin, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. This delightful 1942 film covers all the holidays, but at its heart, it’s about Christmas. It also happens to be the musical that launched the hit Christmas film “White Christmas.”
  8. “White Christmas” After returning from World War II, two men team up to form a song and dance act. After meeting another song and dance duo—two sisters—who travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, the two groups team up to help the men’s former commander, General Waverly, who happens to be the lodge owner. A delightful mix of romance, comedy and music (also featuring Bing Crosby), White Christmas is another classic film you just can’t miss.
  9. “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” In the whimsical land of Whoville live the Christmas-loving Whos. Just outside Whoville lives the Grinch, who, by contrast, does not love Christmas, and who plans to steal the Christmas joy from Whoville. Young Cindy Lou Who intervenes with a plan to befriend the Grinch and teach him an important lesson: that it’s worth believing in the magic of Christmas.
  10. “Home Alone” It’s every parent’s nightmare: somehow leaving your child at home in the rush to get to the airport in time to make your Christmas flight. That nightmare becomes reality for the McAllister family, which boards a flight to France for Christmas only to realize that their 8-year-old son Kevin has been left behind. As his parents struggle to find the fastest way home as possible, Kevin must defend the family’s home against a pair of idiotic burglars.

4 Tips for Decorating a Small Space for Christmas

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Are your trees trimmed, stockings hung and halls decked for Christmas? Or are you still trying to figure out just how to decorate for most wonderful time of the year when you’re short on space? Don’t fret! There is still time to get your home decorated in time for Christmas.

Although you may think that a bigger home may be easier to decorate for the holidays, that’s not always the case. Think about it: the more space you have, the more decorations you need to fill that space. On the other hand, decorating a small space is simply about finding ways to creatively use the open areas and surfaces you do have. Here are four tips to help decorate your apartment or other small space for Christmas.

1. Look up. Utilize wall space for decorations, rather than taking up floor space. For example, hang your Christmas cards on the wall, and spice up the look with a few pieces of fresh greenery. Another way to use your vertical wall space is to hang a Christmas tree wall decal instead of filling floor space with an artificial or live Christmas tree. Hang ornaments, family pictures or Christmas cards on the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree, topped with a star. You can even hang a strand of Christmas lights on your wall in the shape of a tree.

2. Think in fractions. Did you know you can buy half of a Christmas tree? Many stores selling artificial trees have half trees, where one side is flat so the tree takes up less space when set up against a wall. You can even purchase a quarter of a tree to tuck into a corner. If you prefer live trees, but don’t know where to put one, collect branches from a live Christmas tree, place them in a vase on a table and decorate the branches, instead of the whole tree. Just because you live in a small space doesn’t mean you need to miss out on having a Christmas tree!

3. Use unexpected surfaces. If you don’t have a mantle to hang your stockings, hang them from a bookshelf, or cabinet instead. Decorate the tops of your kitchen cabinets (if there is space between the ceiling and the top of the cabinet) with your favorite Christmas collectables. Create a centerpiece on your table using your Nativity.

4. Layer it on. It is possible to place more than one of your favorite Christmas decorations in one space or on one surface, without creating clutter. It’s called layering, and it’s a trick used in interior design to create depth in one area. Start by choosing a few of your favorite Christmas pieces. Varying sizes is best. For example, if you have a large piece of Christmas art, place it against the wall in the back. In front of the art, add a tall vase with greenery, finally position your snowmen figurines or Christmas angles as the final layer in front.

Decorating a small space isn’t impossible, but it does take some creativity — especially if you are used to decorating a larger home. While you may not be able to find a place for all of your Christmas decorations, with these tips, you can decorate with your favorite pieces in an elegant and unexpected way.

How to Prevent Slips and Falls This Winter

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Slips and falls are the most common cause of injuries among people older than 65. According to the CDC, more than two million older adults are treated for fall injuries each year, and more than half a million of those are hospitalized.

Slipping and falling can result in hip fractures, head lacerations and head trauma. In some cases, a fall can trigger a fatal spiral of health-related events.

There are likely fall hazards lurking around every corner in your home, and with winter on the way, the risk of falls outside the home will only get higher. Whether you are a senior adult yourself or you’re caring for a senior, there are safety measures you can take to help prevent falls outside your home this winter.

Preventing Falls Outside and On Ice

  • Recognize the potential hazards for a fall. If there is ice or snow outside, first decide how necessary it is to check the mail or run that errand. Can it wait until the ice is melted?
  • Keep your porch, steps, sidewalk and driveway clear. Sprinkle these areas with salt or sand when you know a winter storm is headed your way to prevent ice buildup. If you are physically unable to do this yourself—or to shovel snow or scrape ice from these surfaces—consider finding a family member, friend or hired help to keep the areas outside your home as safe as possible.
  • Wear boots or shoes with tread on the soles. Shoes with a smooth bottom surface only increase your risk of slipping.
  • Walk cautiously. Know the risks, and take it slow. The more rushed you are, the more likely you are to fall. Avoid carrying heavy loads when walking outside on an icy or wet surface, as that load may cause you to become unbalanced.
  • When walking on icy surfaces, take small, shuffled steps. Keep your toes curled under and walk flatfooted, rather than landing on your toes or heels first.
  • Use handrails, or walk closely to a building or another stable object to give you more stability. Keeping your hands on another object (or a friend) will give you more balance and help reduce your risk of falling.

Preventing Injuries from Falls

Even if you practice these safety tips, you may still find yourself in a situation where you slip and fall. There are a few things you can do to help prevent serious injury.

First, when you begin to feel yourself fall, buckle your knees. This will lower the distance that your upper body falls, reducing the impact when you hit the ground. If you are falling backward, buckle your knees and tuck your head to your chest—try to turn yourself into a ball.

Avoid trying to catch yourself with your hands—doing so will most likely result in a broken wrist or arm. Instead, throw one arm across your chest with enough force that your body turns to one side. Then rotate the rest of your body in that same direction. With enough rotation, you will land on your backside, rather than on a hip.

Most importantly, keep your head forward or up to avoid hitting it on the ground when you land. Head injuries from falls can be very serious, so protect your head as much as possible.

Sometimes slipping and falling simply cannot be avoided. Think twice before stepping outside onto an icy or wet surface this winter—you may be saving yourself a trip to the hospital and preventing a serious injury.