Cool tips for hot summer fun

Learn to swim and swim well. Contact the chapter for information on learning how to swim.

Never leave small children unattended near water | not even the bathtub, not even for a moment! Adults should practice "reach supervision," which means to always be within arm's length when a child is near water in case of emergency.

Keep lifesaving gear handy. Always have on hand a lifejacket, rope, pole or other object that can be thrown to a person in trouble. Remember to have a first aid kit, cordless phone and emergency contact information by the pool.

Know when it's too dangerous. If you, or someone you are swimming with, appear to be too cold, to be too far from safety, to have been exposed to too much sun or to have had too much strenuous activity, it is time to head for shore or signal for help.

Eliminate temptation. Backyard pools should have self-closing, self-latching gates that remain locked when the pool is not being used. Kiddie pools should be emptied and toys removed immediately after use. Empty water pails and buckets so small children cannot fall in and drown.

Know what you're getting into. Check local tides, currents and other conditions which could be dangerous before entering open bodies of water.

Alcohol and water don't mix. Never drink alcohol while swimming or boating.

For more information on summer safety tips or Learn to Swim classes, call the Merrimack Valley chapter at 978-372-6871 or visit

Information courtesy of The American Red Cross of Merrimack Valley

The MRI Center of New England, located in Haverhill, was awarded a three-year term of accreditation in magnetic resonance imaging as the result of a recent survey by the American College of Radiology. The ACR awards accreditation to facilities for the achievement of high practice standards after a peer review evaluation of its practice. Evaluations are conducted by board-certified physicians and medical physicists who are experts in the field. They assess image quality, personnel qualifications, adequacy of facility equipment, quality control procedures and quality assurance programs.

Cancer Retreat: The American Cancer Society offers a weekend retreat for cancer patients and their families Aug. 10 to 12 at Rivier College in Nashua, N.H. This event offers family members of all ages activities both serious and fun. Workshops address communication, stress management, nutrition, cancer facts and fallacies and living with recurrence. Family members eligible to attend include spouses, children, parents, grandparents, significant others, close friends and caregivers. The event is facilitated by American Cancer Society volunteers and area health care professionals. The cost is $35 per family for the whole weekend and scholarships are available. For more information, call 800-227-2345 or visit

Free reproductive health testing: HealthQuarters, 215 Main St., Suite 16, offers free, rapid HIV testing and counseling and free pregnancy tests. Benefits of rapid HIV testing are: results within an hour, which eliminates return visits for test results; availability of post-test counseling during the same visit; and the ability to start medical care more quickly for those who test positive. Results are anonymous and confidential. HealthQuarters also offers low-cost birth control and over-the-counter Plan B, gynecological exams, cancer screening and a sexually transmitted disease clinic. For an appointment, call Kelly at 978-521-4444.

Volunteers needed: The SHINE Program at Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley is looking for volunteers to become certified SHINE counselors. Counselors provide no-cost health care information, assistance and counseling to Medicare beneficiaries of all ages. Individuals are required to complete the 50-hour certification program that prepares them to communicate accurate, up-to-date information during counseling sessions. Volunteers must be willing to make a three- to four-hour-a-week commitment to the program. For more information, call 800-892-0890.

Red Cross training: The American Red Cross has newly revised training programs and materials for all first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, automated external defibrillation and emergency cardiovascular care courses. Simplified and flexible courses with stimulating teaching techniques like "practice-while-you-watch" instruction. Participants utilizing the First Aid/CPR/AED for the workplace and the First Aid/CPR/AED for schools and communities will learn CPR skills while practicing along with a video. The Red Cross encourages everyone to be trained and certified in first aid and CPR/AED. Receiving training through a certified instructor helps to ensure proper knowledge and skills in an emergency. For more information or to contact your local Red Cross chapter, visit

Breast cancer assistance: VNA Care Network provides help to women with breast cancer who need financial assistance for medications, co-payments, transportation to treatment and other things that increase access to treatment and support recovery. Women must be residents of eastern or central Massachusetts to qualify. The program is funded by the Massachusetts Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. For information, call 888-663-3688, ext. 1264.

Panic disorder help: A program to help anyone with panic disorders, anxiety or agoraphobia is offered by Panic Relief Inc. The sessions will be in Haverhill on Mondays, noon to 1 p.m., and Wednesdays, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. For information, call 732-940-9658.

Merrimack Valley Hospital: WE CARE cancer support group meets the third Tuesday of every month, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the hospital atrium. This group supports cancer patients and their family and friends. For information, call 978-521-3651. Blood pressure clinics are the first and third Friday of every month, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the hospital auditorium. Blood pressure clinics are open to adults of all ages. For information, call 978-521-8550.

Safe haven kits: Trinity EMS, Merrimack Valley Hospital and other local hospitals offer safe haven kits and medical training. Haverhill police and firefighters will be outfitted with life-saving equipment and training to care for "safe haven" newborns. Under the safe haven law, a parent can legally surrender a 7-day-old or younger infant at a hospital, police station or fire station without criminal prosecution. For information, call Marianne Bitner at Trinity EMS at 978-556-9715.

WIC program: Women, Infants and Children is a nutritional education program that provides nutrition and health education, healthy food and other services free to Massachusetts families who qualify. For information, call 978-374-2191.

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