Sunday, April 7, 2019

Surfing Challenge

How often do you pick up your cellphone or other electronic device to look up just one thing and before you know it you are surfing the internet browsing through YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Twitter and Netflix? Have you ever surfed through so much information that you were too tired to finish a homework assignment, forgot about the boiling water on the stove or lost track of time and were late for a commitment? I know it has happened to me probably more times than I would like to admit and it has even resulted in one less pan in my kitchen!

I challenge you to click on the links below and surf some information that may give you the knowledge and the power to make a difference in the life of a friend, a family member or even yourself. If you’re like me you may enjoy true stories, so let’s start with Ashley’s Journey. Ashley started tanning as a teenager to get a “base tan” for her prom and before vacations and she didn’t take the risks of tanning seriously. Like most of us she thought she was invincible. Do you know someone that denies the risks of tanning? Is that someone you? 

Skin cancer, specifically melanoma, has become a public health concern for federal, state and local
1 of the 15 sunscreen dispensers available in Clinton County
agencies due to the
increasing number of cases. In fact, on August 16, 2018 legislation was signed into law prohibiting individuals younger than 18 years of age from using indoor tanning facilities in New York State.  So what are we doing locally to protect our residents? In 2016 the Clinton County Sun Safety Initiative was established and sunscreen dispenser sites were setup at 15 locations within Clinton County. These dispensers allow residents to lather up with sunscreen while out and about. The Clinton County Health Department (CCHD) also permits and inspects the 11 tanning facilities in Clinton County. 

During a tanning facility inspection Public Health Sanitarians, like me, inspect for:

  • Public health hazards

  • Records and signs

  • Equipment operation and maintenance

  • Protective eye wear

  • Sanitation

To learn more about tanning and sun safety click here. Thanks for surfing with me and remember, tanned skin is not healthy skin. 

Karen Noonan
Public Health Sanitarian
Environmental Health and Safety Division

Friday, March 22, 2019

Spring…is that you?

Spring showers bring May flowers, but, combined with run-off from melting snow, they can also leave your private well water at risk for contamination. If you get your drinking water from a private well, here’s what you need to know.

In Clinton County, 28% of residents get their drinking water from private sources, such as wells, which we (the Health Department) do not oversee. To assist these residents, we began offering water testing to homeowners in 2017. With funding from the Clinton County Soil & Water Conservation District, this program was able to continue in 2018. Of the 109 samples collected from private wells in 2018, one-third (36%) tested positive for total coliform bacteria.

Why does it matter? Even if your water looks, smells and tastes fine, the only way to know if the water in your home is safe to drink is by testing it. Contaminants, such as bacteria, viruses or other pollutants, may be getting into your water. Coliform bacteria are found in the soil, in water that has been contaminated by surface water, and in human and animal wastes. If coliform bacteria are found in water, it means that the water system is not properly sealed, and may be unsafe. In other words, if total coliform bacteria can get into your water, then other bacteria that can make you ill may also be able to get into, or already be in, your water.

When should you test your drinking water? If you are not on public water and get your water from a private source, such as a well, we (the Clinton County Health Department) recommend testing your drinking water:
  • Yearly for bacteria and nitrates. 
  • At least every three years for other water contaminants to make sure nothing has changed. Long-term exposure to even low levels of contaminants can effect your health.
  • When you are expecting a baby.
  • When your water changes in smell, taste, or color. If this happens, drink bottled water and call us at 518-565-4870 to find out which tests you should do. 
  • If you perform any maintenance on your water system, like install a new pump, new water softener or make other repairs. Test for bacteria after disinfecting and flushing. 
  • If you put in a water treatment system to fix a problem. Test the treated water each year for that problem (contaminant) to ensure treatment is working properly.
    Drilled Well with a sanitary cap.

What else? Spring is also a good time to assess the condition of your private well. Start by checking the area around your well—keep it clean and free of animal waste and other pollution. Check your well’s cap—it should have a tight fitting sanitary (waterproof) cap in place. Make sure the well casing extends above ground level to prevent flooding of the well head. Lastly, keep possible sources of contamination, such as septic systems, manure storage piles, and fuel oil tanks, as far away from your well as possible.

If you are a homeowner and would like to have your well water sampled by CCHD, click here to sign up. We also created videos to help homeowners understand their wells, which are now available on our YouTube channel here.

Stay “well”!

Tim Simonette
Senior Public Health Sanitarian
Environmental Health & Safety Division

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Breaking Down the Amazing Stages & Ages of Infant/Toddler Development

Have you ever thought about all the amazing things you discovered to do in your first three years of life?  As an infant or toddler, we learned how to roll over, sit up independently, crawl, stand, cruise, walk and use language to communicate. We all learned and developed at different points in those first 36 months. You may have figured out how to walk first, while your older sister may have learned to talk first. The same thing is happening right now with our own little ones…no two are exactly alike in terms of meeting those developmental milestones! Want to learn more?

Monthly Screenings:
The Children’s Developmental Services Office at the Health Department offers FREE developmental screenings for children under 3 years old. A simple screening gives you an opportunity to find out if your child is on the right developmental track.
An example of a free developmental screening
The Early Intervention Program:
Sometimes a child’s developmental progress doesn’t go as expected and they might need some extra help in the form of early intervention to help them meet their milestones. The Early Intervention Program (EIP) assists parents in making the most of their child’s development by offering free services and easy strategies to use at home.

Is My Child Eligible?
If you have an infant or toddler who has not yet turned 3 years old and has one of the following, he or she is eligible!

  • A significant developmental delay or

  • A diagnosed condition likely to lead to a significant developmental delay

Does My Child’s Doctor Have to Refer Us?
No! Parents or guardians can make a referral directly by calling us at (518) 565-4848 and asking to speak with an Early Intervention Specialist. You do NOT need a doctor to refer you to the EIP. 

For more information on your children’s all important developmental ages and stages, please click here.  And don’t forget, you are your child’s first and best teacher!!

Melissa Fuller
Children’s Services Program Specialist
Health Care Services Division

Thursday, February 21, 2019

10 Tips to Stay Well

We asked Clinton County Health Department (CCHD) staff for their advice on staying well during this long winter stretch. They answered the call in droves and we have created our top 10 Tips to Stay Well. Follow all of the tips or focus on one; they are as unique as we are!

Wash your hands
Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry. Whether you are sick or not, wash your hands often, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Good hand hygiene can help protect you, your family and others against the spread of germs this flu season.
Get fresh air
We spend 90% of our life indoors but getting outside can have a positive effect on our physical and mental health. Sunshine boosts your vitamin D levels and the light can improve your mood. Spending time outdoors may also help to improve your concentration. And you can’t beat the view! Bundle up and explore the North Country this winter.

Stay physically active
“I don’t have time. It’s too expensive. I’m tired. It’s too cold” The excuses keep coming. Only half of adults are meeting the guidelines for physical activity. In addition to preventing chronic illnesses, exercise can improve your mental health and sleep patterns. This is especially important during the winter months, as we tend to be less active. Any amount of physical activity can benefit your health; move more, sit less. Drop your excuses – utilize breaks in your day, no matter how short, to get your body moving.

Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of water during the day whether at work or play. The amount of water you consume each day can play an important role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Being dehydrated can lead to fatigue, decrease alertness and concentration. Pick out a fun, reusable bottle and start hydrating today!

Stay curious
Lifelong learning is good for your health. You should exercise your brain just as you would exercise your muscles. Keeping your brain active may help reduce your risk of developing dementia. Feeling stuck inside this winter? Pick up a new hobby, learn a new language or take a class that interests you.

Get your flu shot
A yearly flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Everyone 6 months or older should get a flu shot each year. Not only can it reduce flu illnesses, it also reduces doctors’ visits, and missed work or school due to flu. If you haven’t gotten yours yet, it’s not too late! As long as the flu virus is still circulating, you can get yourself, or your family, vaccinated. Talk to your doctor today.
Eat your fruits and veggies
Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. People who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, stroke, obesity, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers. Make sure to eat a rainbow; different colored fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients important to your body’s overall health. These antioxidants, vitamins and minerals will help keep your immune system fine-tuned for fighting off all the germs circulating this time of year.

Laugh more
Laughter is the best medicine! It can brighten and lighten your day as well as relieve stress and soothe tension. Over time it can even improve your immune system and relieve pain. If life gets you down, try to find a bit of humor in it. Don’t let the winter blues get you down. Surround yourself with positive people and reminders to stay positive.

Cover your cough
Coughing and sneezing? Keep your germs to yourself by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue. If you don’t have a tissue handy, cough into your elbow. Always wash your hands immediately after. If you do get sick, stay home to prevent spreading your illness to others.

Wear sunscreen
Even during the winter, it takes only 15 minutes for the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays to damage your skin. Snow reflects the sun’s rays, which can increase your chance of getting burned. Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 before you go outside all year long.

Stay well this winter!

CCHD Staff