Weekly Health Watch with items on national costs for excessive alcohol consumption, a possible malaria vaccine, how to craft a fire safety plan and more.

According to a new nationwide survey, a majority of Americans don’t practice what they plan when it comes to fire safety. The survey of 1,000 Americans revealed a surprising good news-bad news scenario related to fire escape planning.


Conducted by First Alert as part of a consumer education campaign, the survey showed that a majority (79 percent) of Americans reported having a home escape plan in place in case of fire or other emergencies. However, more than half (51 percent) have never practiced it, and 29 percent have only practiced it once.


The National Fire Protection Association recommends planning an emergency escape route and practicing it twice annually, while other fire safety organizations promote monthly drills to improve reaction time in case of an emergency.


To develop an effective fire escape plan, First Alert and the NFPA offer the following tips:


- Involve everyone in your household in developing a plan. Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Identify two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. Make sure everyone in the home understands the plan.


- Install smoke alarms throughout the home and test them monthly. Change batteries every six months to ensure proper function.


- Choose an outside meeting place –– like a neighbor’s house, a light post, a mailbox or a stop sign –– a safe distance in front of your home where everyone can meet after they’ve escaped.


- Have everyone memorize the emergency phone number of the fire department.  


- Once you’re out, stay out! Under no circumstances should you ever go back into a burning building.


-- First Alert/ NFPA


New Research: Life expectancy gaps


At present, the life expectancy gap between countries is 36 years, and there is ample evidence that in all countries of the world –– whether low-, middle- or high-income –– an individual's health status is largely determined by his socio-economic position. With the right mix of government policies, and through coordinated action on the local, national and international levels, the existing gaps could be narrowed.


-- World Health Organization


Did You Know?


Results from a clinical trial in Africa of a malaria vaccine candidate show it prevented about half of malaria cases, including the most severe, in young children. -- CDC


Health Tip: Treadmill vs. elliptical


While many exercisers think of the treadmill as high-impact and the elliptical as low-impact, it's important to understand that low impact doesn't mean low intensity. Using the cross-trainer handlebars and increasing the resistance on an elliptical trainer can be equally as intense as a run on the treadmill. You can determine your exact intensity levels by using a heart rate monitor. 


-- Life Fitness


Number to Know


$1.90: The cost of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States in 2006 reached $223.5 billion, or about $1.90 per drink, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers found the costs largely resulted from losses in workplace productivity (72 percent of the total cost), health care expenses for problems caused by excessive drinking (11 percent), law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses related to excessive alcohol consumption (9 percent) and motor-vehicle crash costs from impaired driving (6 percent).


Children’s Health: TV profanity linked to aggression


Teens exposed to profanity in television and video games are more likely to use profanity themselves, a known risk factor for increased physical and relational aggression, according to a November 2011 Pediatrics study. The results showed a direct link in the viewing of media with high profanity, profanity use and subsequent aggression. According to the study authors, the findings provide continued support for ratings and content warnings surrounding profanity use in the media.


-- American Academy of Pediatrics


Boomer Health: Go4Life campaign


Being physically active is vital to maintaining health and independence as we age, and a new federal campaign for people 50 and older will help them to get active and keep going. Introduced by the National Institutes of Health, the Go4Life campaign encourages sedentary older adults to reap health benefits by making physical activity part of their daily lives.


GateHouse News Service