Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Don't Taste the Rainbow

No, we are not talking about Skittles! Our own homes are filled with numerous poisonous items that may look fun, but can be dangerous. It is important to be mindful of how we use and store these products.

Bath bombs, bath fizzies and other household products can sometimes look good enough to eat. With their variety of sizes, shapes and colors they can resemble candy, Kool-Aid or other sweet treats; so it should be no surprise when young children try to take a bite.

Laundry Pods are the latest craze. With their colorful swirls in a thin, squishy pillow small hands find these playful and enticing. In January 2020, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPC) managed 461 cases related to laundry detergent pod exposure in children 5 years and younger. 461 cases in ONE month!

To prevent a dangerous event from happening, the AAPC urges parents and      caregivers to:
  • Save the Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222, in your phone. You can also text POISON to 797979 to save the number in your phone.
  • Practice safe storage habits by keeping these types of items up, away and out of sight of children:
    • All medicines and pharmaceuticals
    • Tobacco and e-cigarette products
    • Alcohol
    • Laundry and cleaning supplies
    • Pesticides and insect repellents
    • Batteries
    • Any type of oil or lubricant
    • Personal care products
    • Other chemicals
  • Read and follow labels and directions of any potentially hazardous product, especially medicines.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas.
  • Practice safe food preparation and handling.

Call the Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 immediately if you suspect a child has come in contact with any harmful substance.

If you have questions about the safety of your home you can request a visit from our Healthy Neighborhoods Program. This program is FREE to all Clinton County residents regardless of age or income.

Heather Alden
Public Health Educator
Healthy Neighborhoods Program
Environmental Health and Safety Division

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Happenings at CCHD: Public Health Educator

Typically, you wouldn’t think of someone with a Public Relations Degree and a Journalism Minor as a Public Health Educator at a local health department, but during college I completed health communication courses that kick started my passion for public health. Later, interning at Joint Council for Economic Opportunity the passion grew while working on the Backpack Program, which provided children in need with healthy food on the weekend.  When an opportunity opened up to work with schools and townships to improve the health of the community I was excited to apply. Here I am almost three years later at the Clinton County Health Department (CCHD) working to create a healthier community!

Since starting at CCHD I have worked in multiple grants funded by the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Health Foundation. Currently, I coordinate the Creating Healthy School and Communities (CHSC) grant. CHSC is a public health initiative to reduce major risk factors of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. I work with schools, communities, retailers, and worksites to increase opportunities for nutrition and physical activity. 

Archery program at Northern Adirondack Central School.
I meet with school wellness committees to discuss wellness goals and improvements to their school to create a healthier environment for students and staff. These committees are key to school wellness, focusing on physical activity and healthy eating throughout the school day. The committees have had many successes including:

  • Reviewing, revising, and passing Board of Education approved wellness policies.
  • Increasing physical activity opportunities in the classroom and adding new and exciting physical education curriculum components like mountain biking, archery, and rock climbing.
  • Increasing healthier options with fundraising, vending machines and classroom celebrations. 

I work with town representatives to pass Complete Streets Resolutions, making the streets safer and convenient for all ages and abilities to walk, bike and roll. One example is the addition of a crosswalk with signage on a street in Altona, to enable residents to easily and safely walk to the town office, church hall, food pantry, and park. 

Better Choice Retailer shelf tag.
Better Choice Retailer (BCR) Program works with local store owners to make it easier for customers to identify and choose healthier options within the store. We strive to make the healthy choice the easy choice.  If you walk into a local BCR you will find colorful shelf tags placed throughout the store identifying healthier options. We encourage store owners to carry fresh grab-n-go produce options and have produce displays. To find a BCR near you or for information on how your store can apply visit: clintonhealth.org/bc.

I connect with area worksites to develop Healthy Food, Beverage, and Wellness Policies. These policies encourage employees to eat healthier, have healthy options available at meetings, and engage in physical activity during the workday.

I use my background every day providing clear, concise health messages to our partners.  Some of the best parts of my day are hearing the excitement from students and faculty of the changes in the school districts; having town supervisors express gratitude for the Complete Streets transformations; and working with a great team at CCHD that does meaningful work on a daily basis.  What I like most about my job is being part of something that can impact so many lives.  For more information about Creating Healthy Schools and Communities, visit clintonhealth.com/chsc.

Amanda Prenoveau
Public Health Educator
Health Planning and Promotion Division

Monday, January 13, 2020

Ice, Ice, Baby!

Whoa. Mother Nature showed us some fury this weekend…wind, rain, freezing temperatures, ice, more wind, a little snow and oh, an earthquake too. Winter weather is in full swing and so are weather related injuries. 

All right stop. 

Collaborate and listen. 

First off, if you’re planning on doing any break-dancing I would suggest staying inside or it may end up more like a slip-n-slide. Once you’re done dancing I want to share with you some fool proof ways to keep both feet firmly on the ground.
  1. Keep your hands free, not in your pockets. This will allow you to brace yourself should you slip and fall.

  2. Wear proper shoes. I know heels and leather-soled shoes are more fashionable, but boots with rubber soles will help keep you upright. If it is really icy use ice cleats or creepers for added traction.
  3. Check before you step. Ice and slippery surfaces are not always easy to see. If you think an area may be slippery test the area without using the full weight of your body.
  4. Avoid carrying heavy loads when walking over areas packed with snow or ice.
  5. Don’t run across wet, icy or snow-filled surface. That is just asking for trouble.
  6. Use handrails, walls, door handles and other secure objects to brace yourself when stepping onto icy or snowy surfaces.
  7. Take short steps, with your feet pointed out slightly, like a penguin.
  8. Stay on cleared sidewalks or paths and keep your own driveway and sidewalk clear of snow and ice.
  9. Dress warm. When your body is cold your muscles are tense and that can affect your balance.
  10. Ask for help if you need it.
Remember, if the weather is bad and you don’t have to leave the house, stay put. Warm up a nice cup of tea and finish off the book that’s been sitting half-finished on your nightstand. Your errands will still be there tomorrow.

For more winter safety tips head on over to our 2019-2020 Winter Safety Guide.

Molly Flynn, Senior Public Health Educator 
KayLeigh Raville, Public Health Nutritionist 
Health Planning and Promotion Division 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Nourish a Neighbor in Need

Add healthy food donations to your holiday list this year. 
One of the things I like best about this time of year is the spirit of giving that fills the air. Thinking about gifts to purchase or make for family and friends, makes me happy. The idea of giving to those in our community who may not have anyone to make their holidays brighter also fills me with a sense of well-being.

Since a large part of my work focuses on increasing the availability of healthy and affordable foods for Clinton County residents, healthy food pantry donations are at the top of my giving list. This time of year, the need is high as families struggle to put together a Thanksgiving meal, buy gifts or spend a few spare dollars on a Christmas tree. Providing foods that positively impact someone’s overall health is a goal of mine.

Of course, we want our donation dollars to go as far as possible, so donating bulk items with a long shelf life makes sense. But during the holiday season especially, I try to re-frame my thinking. What better time than now to give something extra special, something a family in need may not be able to purchase on their own. Nuts and dried fruits are traditional and healthy holiday fare that fit the bill. Even canned and packaged foods can offer healthier options. Think about choosing canned vegetables with no added salt, canned fruits packed in their own juices with no added sugars, and shelf stable milk products.

Examples of healthy food donations. 
Did you know that most of our area pantries can accept perishable food items? Consider taking your healthy perishable donations directly to the pantry, just call ahead to make sure the pantry you choose can accept these items and ask them when they will have staff available to accept them.

Healthy Donation Food Drive Kit
Healthy giving is important all year round. A healthy diet reduces risk for chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Children who eat healthy foods do better in school and wholesome foods provide seniors with nutrients needed for healthy aging.  

So this holiday season (and throughout the year), nourish a neighbor in need. Make healthy donations to food drives and pantries. Spread the message to others too. If you are a food drive organizer, contact CCHD at 518-565-4993 to receive a free Healthy Donation Food Drive Kit or find suggestions for other healthy donation items at www.clintonhealth.org/healthygiving.

Karen Derusha
Supervising Public Health Educator
Health Planning and Promotion Division   

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

"Just" Baby Teeth?

“They’re just baby teeth and will eventually fall out. Why do we even have to worry about them?” I often get asked this question at check-ups and never feel like I can stress enough how important it is to take good care of those baby teeth.

Did you know that tooth decay in young children is THE most common chronic disease of early childhood? If left untreated tooth decay in children can lead to:
·         Pain,
·         Life threatening infections,
·         Difficulty chewing,
·         Malnutrition,
·         Trouble focusing in school,
·         Crooked adult teeth, and
·         Low self-esteem.
The good news is that most tooth decay and cavities are preventable!

What are cavities?

Cavities are holes in our teeth. They occur when three things mix together: bacteria, sugar (from the food that we eat) and teeth. If we don’t brush and floss regularly the bacteria and sugar build up and form a sticky substance called plaque. The bacteria gets nice and comfy in that plaque and turns the food that we eat into acid. Over time this acid wears down our teeth and a cavity (a hole!) grows.

Source: American Dental Association

Yikes! How can we prevent cavities?
Brush, floss, brush, floss, brush…you get the idea J Brushing your child’s teeth (and yours!) twice each day using a toothpaste with fluoride is the best way to prevent cavities.

When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?

As soon as the first baby tooth erupts! Fluoride is important for baby teeth because it makes the enamel stronger and more resistant to decay. For children younger than three years old you will want to start out using a smear of fluoridated toothpaste, no bigger than a grain of rice. This small amount has been shown to be safe for children. Once your child can spit the toothpaste out, usually around age three, you can start using a pea-sized amount.

Source: American Dental Association

My child grazes on snacks all day, how can I keep his chompers clean?

Offer your child meals and snacks that are low in sugar (carbohydrates). The bacteria in our mouths love sugar and turn it into acid that eats holes in our teeth. The more time sugar is on your child’s teeth, the more likely they are to get a cavity. This is good to know because HOW children eat can be just as important to their teeth as WHAT they eat. Children who graze on snacks throughout the day, or fall asleep with a cup of juice or milk at night, have their teeth swimming in sugars all the time. Here are some tips to curb the carbs: 

·         Opt for protein rich snacks like cheese, nuts and fresh vegetables.
·         Don’t offer snacks after brushing at night.
·         If your child is thirsty in between meals or during the night give them plain water.

What else can I do to protect my child’s pearly whites?

Visit a pediatric dentist! It is recommended to see a pediatric dentist within six months of the first tooth coming in, and no later than age one. Just as you would take your child to well child check-ups, it is important to take him or her to the dentist before a problem develops. This will create positive experiences at the dentist and a foundation of good oral health. Remember, they are not “just baby teeth” they are the building blocks for a lifetime of healthy teeth.

Dr. Christopher Goodell
Lakeshore Pediatric Dentistry  

Sunday, October 6, 2019

What's all the Tizzy about Tummy Time?

You’ve just come home from the hospital with your brand new baby and there are a million and one things to remember and figure out.  Your mother tells you to warm a bottle a certain way, your pediatrician reminds you to call the office to make your first appointment, your sister informs you the brand of diapers you are using aren’t the ‘right ones’…your mind is spinning and all you want to do is sit in peace, snuggle your newborn and take a snooze!  And then your best friend texts to say, ‘Don’t forget about Tummy Time’! Tummy what!?

So…what is ‘Tummy Time’?
o   It’s the time during the day your baby spends on their tummy while they are awake.
o   The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing babies on their backs to sleep and on their tummies to play.

Why is it so important?
o   Tummy Time helps your baby develop their neck, back and shoulder muscles that are needed to meet developmental milestones.
o    It can also help prevent conditions like flat head syndrome and twisted neck (positional torticollis).
o   Your baby needs Tummy Time, gentle touching, holding and eye contact, just as much as they need nutrients to grow and develop!

When can I start Tummy Time with my baby?
o   As soon as your baby comes home from the hospital!

How much Tummy Time does my baby need?
o   Aim for a few minutes at a time, several times a day.
o   Try putting your baby on their tummy for a few minutes after each diaper change.
o   Work up to an hour per day by the time they are 3 months old.

My baby hates Tummy Time, how do I make it fun?
o   Find your baby’s happiest times of day and try it then.
o   Avoid Tummy Time right after a feeding.
o   Sing songs or play music to calm and soothe baby.
o   Use rattles, toys, and mirrors to get their attention.
o   Get down on the floor with them so you are at eye level. Let older siblings in on the fun too! Your baby loves to see your faces and have you on their level to play! J
For more tips and tricks click here. If you are concerned about your child’s development give our Early Intervention Program a call at 518-565-4848.

Have fun and good luck!

Jessica Mathews
Children’s Services Program Specialist
Health Care Services Division 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

How to Nourish Your Way to Victory!

Cooler weather, new school schedules, and back-to-school shopping. Aside from buying the coolest new clothes and shoes, have you thought about what you’ll buy to nourish your children’s bodies every day? Proper  nutrition is essential for all students, especially athletes. Pop quiz! What are the 5 food groups that everyone should include in their diets? If you answered protein, fruit, vegetable, dairy, and grains- you are right! Over the years I have learned how to change my diet so that I can perform at my absolute best in the gym. Here are a few tips on how you can help your kids do the same this year.

They say it’s the “most important meal of the day.” As it turns out, there is some truth behind this old saying and here are a few reasons why.

·         After a full night of rest and no eating, it’s important to refuel your empty tank to kick-start your day.

·         The brain uses 20% of the body’s total energy (or glucose, if we are getting technical). Just like an empty stomach early in the morning, the brain needs to be fed and recharged in order to prepare for the day ahead. If I miss breakfast, I feel foggy and find it hard to concentrate.

·         Starting the day with all 5 food groups puts you one step closer to reaching your MyPlate Plan.


Pre-workout or pre-game snacks should focus mainly on carbohydrates. That’s because they can be easily turned into energy (glucose) during exercise. Adding in some protein is also a good idea. Some of my favorite snacks are:

  •  Banana and a PB&J;
  • Yogurt with granola;
  • Apple with peanut (or any nut) butter.
Lunch and Dinner:

Lunch time is when energy (or, you guessed it, glucose) is put into storage to be used later. Dinner is the time to re-fuel after a hard practice or game. Eating right after exercising is the perfect way to help rebuild and recover muscles. For strong and lean muscles try these recipes:
  •         Turkey pinwheels (on whole wheat wraps) for a great game-day lunch;
  •      Tuna wraps to spice up your lunch and keep you full and focused;
  •      Mediterranean Orzo for a quick and satisfying post-game dinner.

Don’t forget about hydration!

The human body’s thirst reflex is 2 cups behind. This means that when someone feels thirsty, they are already dehydrated. It is important to drink water all day long. Follow these hydration tips on the day of a big game or practice:

·         Drink at least 1-2 cups of water every hour, 2-3 hours leading up to an event;
·         Drink 1 of water cup 15 minutes before the start of the event;
·         Drink ½ cup of water every 15 minutes during the event.
TRUE OR FALSE: The number one reason athletes underperform is because they don’t drink
enough water….TRUE! Our bodies can’t absorb more than 4 cups of water per hour but during intense exercise we can sweat out 4 or more cups per hour! Have your kids stay ahead of the game by keeping them hydrated all day long.

What about sports drinks?

You know, those brightly colored drinks full of carbohydrates, protein, electrolytes, and sugar? They are all the rage recently. You can find them in school vending machines, in coolers at sporting events, and in our refrigerators at home. But are sports drinks really needed? Probably not, except when exercising hard for over an hour. If this is the case, choose a sports drink with no more than 80 calories, minimal added sugar, and drink it in combination with water.
Most importantly:

Have fun! Staying involved in sports is a great way for kids to stay active and build valuable life skills like leadership, confidence, and teamwork. Staying properly nourished and hydrated will make getting through practices and games all the more

Emily Hutchins
Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
Division of Health Planning & Promotion