Thursday, July 30, 2020

Top Five Family Summer Safety Tips

While summer may look a little different this year with changes to vacation plans, camps and other family activities, one thing is for sure: it is hot! If your kids are like mine, they are begging you to go the beach, the playground and hiking. Maybe they are participating in outside youth camps, classes or sports. So how do we keep our kiddos safe this summer when all they want to do is be on the go outside and have fun?

Practice Safe Skin

It doesn’t matter if it is sunny or overcast, make sure to apply sunscreen to your children before they head out for the day. For the best protection, apply 20 minutes before they go outside to play or swim and re-apply every two hours (more so as needed if they are swimming or sweating).

Keep Your Cool

This summer has been especially hot. Keep your kids cool by offering lots of water, keep them in lightweight clothes and limit the amount of time they spend outside in extreme heat (90ยบF or over). Heat stroke and or dehydration is serious business, so find other ways to stay cool and beat the heat on the hottest of days.

Check for Ticks

You don’t have to be in the deep woods to get a tick. I make sure to check my girls for ticks daily, even if they have only been in our yard. Ticks can be in obvious spots or hidden behind knees or in the creases of ears. If you do find a tick, don’t panic, click here to learn how to safely remove it.

Watch the Water

I can’t stress this enough – keep a close eye on your children at all times when they are in a body of water. Even if they are the strongest of swimmers or they are in a shallow body of water. Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1-4 and second highest cause of accidental death among children 5-9 in the United States.

Follow the Rules of the Road

If your kiddo isn’t at the pool or beach, they may be hitting the road on their bikes, rollerblades or scooters. Always make sure that they are wearing a helmet and ensure that they know the ‘rules of the road’ (walkers facing traffic, bikers riding with traffic).  Accidents happen but helmets will protect against brain and head injuries.

Role modeling these safety behaviors as adults and parents will help our children grow up healthy and safe.

Happy Summer! J

Jessica Mathews,

Children’s Services Program Specialist

Division of Health Care Services 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Inside Scoop - the Clinton County Health Department’s Rabies program

First a little background, why do we even care about rabies?

Rabies is a deadly, but preventable disease.  Once symptoms appear, the disease is nearly always fatal.

OK, you’ve got my attention now...

Let’s throw out a few scenarios to give you an idea of what we do in the rabies program.

Scenario 1- You lose your frisbee in your neighbor’s yard so you jump the fence to get it and their dog gets startled and bites you. You go to an urgent care to get the wound looked at and they ask you about the dog and the dog owners so they can fill out a bite report to submit to us.

Now you may be saying to yourself “No, I don’t want to get my neighbor’s dog taken away from them, I’m not going to report it.”

We do not harm or take animals away from people.

Here is what we do when we receive a bite report:

·        Use the information you give us to contact the animal owner and make sure the animal is alive and able to be monitored for 10 days.

·        Verify the rabies vaccination status of the animal.

·        Track the animal’s health.  If it is alive and well 10 days after the day it bit you, it did not have rabies at the time of the bite and there is no risk of rabies to you.

Scenario 2- You wake up to a bat flying around your bedroom. Bats have very tiny mouths and you were sleeping so you are not completely sure you didn’t get bit. You caught the bat and have it in a container. You call us to report it and see what you should do next.

Here is what we do when we receive your call:

  •   Fill out a bite report.
  • Retrieve the bat from you and send it away to be tested to see if it had rabies.

The results come in and the bat does not have rabies. This is good news, even if you got bit and didn’t realize it there is no risk of rabies to you.

Wait, but what if I couldn’t catch the bat and it got away?

In this case, if you truly don’t know if you were bitten we are going to recommend you receive postexposure prophylaxis (PEP).

There is a risk for rabies to you and we don’t want to take any chances. Did you know rabies symptoms can show up in people in a few days or not for months?

Postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) - that sounds scary.

It’s not as bad as it sounds!

PEP is a series of shots spread out in 4 visits over 2 weeks. I had to get these shots and I assure you they are no different than your typical flu shot.

Please note these are just some examples, the possible scenarios are endless.  

Ok this is a lot of information at once, let’s wrap it up!

What should you do if you are bitten by a pet or wildlife?

1.     Get the animal owner’s (if there is one) name, address and phone number – this is important!

2.     Note where and when the bite happened and the animal’s color, condition, size and temperament.

3.     Thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately – animal bites can be infected with many diseases besides rabies.

4.     Report the incident to the Clinton County Health Department (CCHD) by calling 518-565-4870. (Keep in mind we do not take peoples animals from them!)

How can you prevent rabies?

·        Do not attempt to catch or pet strays or wildlife, call animal control if you find a stray animal.

·        Keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, ferrets, and dogs.

·        Always ask before approaching someone else’s animal and teach your kids when it is and is not okay to pet an animal.

All animal bites, no matter how minor must be reported to CCHD.

One last thing to mention before you go, another part of the rabies program is that CCHD offers FREE rabies clinics to Clinton County residents. Due to the restrictions in place for COVID-19 we don’t have the date of our first 2020 clinic yet but keep an eye on our Facebook page for an update.

For more information about rabies in Clinton County click here.

Karissa LaBonte

Public Health Sanitarian

Division of Environmental Health and Safety

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Food Waste Reduction, Who Has Time for That?

There are so many expectations in 2020 to be a functioning member of society. Eat local organic foods, use natural products, save the turtles, homeschool your kids, don’t get COVID-19, oh and raise kind humans who are also functioning members of society. I’m already exhausted and now I need to lower my carbon footprint by reducing our household food waste too? What does that even mean? I’m here to tell you, if I (wife, mom of 3, college student with a full-time job and homeschooling my children) can do it, so can you. Little things like changing shopping habits, reducing wasted food, and recycling food scraps don’t take that much extra time or effort but they can make a big impact at home, on the environment and your wallets.

Food waste doesn’t just happen at home, it happens all along the food chain, from the farm, to the store, to us, the consumer. By changing habits as a consumer, over time, we can make a much bigger impact on how our food system works. Keeping food scraps out of the landfill also helps reduce the impacts of climate change on another struggling mother, Earth.  

At my house we started simple by grocery shopping smarter. Making sure the refrigerator stays organized and having a good idea of what is on hand before a trip to the store is really helpful in not overbuying. Planning meals for the week is also beneficial to us and sticking to a list makes a huge difference in lowering our grocery bills each month. Getting creative with leftovers has always been a challenge for me, so to avoid throwing the leftovers in the trash, we stick to our planned meals, which are perfectly portioned for my family. We also created an “Eat Me First” section of the refrigerator so things don’t get pushed to the back and forgotten about (moldy).

Once we tackled shopping smarter, we could get to work staying organized. As soon as we get the groceries home any produce is immediately washed, cut and put away in clear storage containers so it is easily accessible and ready for meals or if the kids want a snack (seriously, when do they not want a snack?). We’re all more apt to grab something healthy like cut carrots or washed grapes if they are ready to eat. Preparing vegetables and fruits before they go into the fridge makes them last longer as well.  

Now for the fun part, composting! We took a few basic steps to eliminate wasted food, but let's be real, there is bound to be something that still goes uneaten. In researching what would work best for our family we decided we could benefit from turning the food scraps into compost and using it in our garden. You don’t always have to use the compost from your food scraps; solar digesters that break down the waste and allow it to seep into the soil are a good option or a neighbor with animals looking for food scraps could work too. We wanted this project to be as cost effective as possible so we opted for a homemade tumbler. Vegetable scraps, fruit peels, egg shells, coffee grounds and tea bags go right into our recycled canister on our kitchen counter. A lucky kid at my house wins the coveted award of taking it out to the tumbler when it’s full so not only are we helping the environment we are teaching responsibility too. Everyone wins.

If you’re still reading, I may have convinced you your family can do this too. Wanting to reduce food waste doesn’t have to be difficult and it definitely doesn’t have to cost anything. Whatever you’re doing at home now, keep up the good work, but know that we could all be doing a little more to reduce our food waste. Make small changes in your lifestyle over time. You will see a difference in the amount of trash you produce, and the amount of money you save. To answer the question, who has time for that?

The answer is, we all do!  

Thank you very “mulch”.

Carrie Healy

Program Assistant

Health Planning and Promotion Division

Friday, May 29, 2020

In the Major League – CCHD’s COVID-19 Emergency Response

About two years ago, I transferred to the Clinton County Health Department (CCHD) after 8 years as Clinton County’s Recreation Director. Functioning in an emergency response for the first time, and being a former collegiate softball player, I see lots of similarities between softball teams and public health response teams.

Any time you start with a new team there’s training. CCHD offers lots of training, including ICS, or Incident Command System. Every new employee starts with ICS 100 and ICS 200 level training along with NIMS (National Incident Management System). ICS/NIMS training ensures that CCHD staff can function effectively as a team in the event of an emergency – kind of like preseason training. It also ensures that we are able to speak the same emergency management language as other teams, like Law Enforcement and Emergency Services personnel. We complete drills (think scrimmages) frequently to practice these principles in simulated events.

As part of a Public Health team, I always understood the possibility of being called up to the big leagues (like a pandemic). Fast forward to the 2020 Spring Season where I’m playing in the championship game against COVID-19!

Behind every successful team is good coach. In a public health crisis such as this pandemic, our coach, aka Incident Commander, is Clinton County’s Director of Public Health. Several Section Chiefs act as assistant coaches responsible for certain aspects of the game/incident. Branch Leaders and Division Supervisors oversee the work assignments of players in their section. The Incident Commander and Section Chiefs, along with several liaisons and the incident’s public information staff work together to develop a strategy but it is the Incident Commander who approves the plan for each operational period (game). The team carries out the plan and the ICS team has a lot of different players, like a softball team.

Planning Section Chief
during pre-shift briefing.
There is a Safety Officer. For this incident, the safety officer is a member of CCHD’s Environmental Health and Safety Division. She assesses safety in all aspects of our response – from large population-based safety concerns to smaller internal safety issues, like the time our office was using several types of
disinfecting products that should not have been mixed. Thank-you safety officer!

Organization is key to a good emergency response. The incident’s Planning Section Chief facilitates weekly and daily briefings, as well as command and general staff, tactics, and planning meetings. Meetings stay on track under her guidance. A written plan with specific objectives is generated for each operational period.

Clinton County’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) has been handling logistics. They are connected to the NYS Office of Emergency Services and work to ensure that Clinton County has the supplies it needs. They’ve been thrown a few curveballs but have kept the flow of PPE (personal protective equipment), testing materials, etc. coming.

Public Information Officers (PIO) manage communications creating press releases, coordinating video events, and monitoring social media. I’ve been rotated into a PIO position several times during this COVID-19 pandemic as a member of the Public Information & Education Team. We have fielded more than 1700 phone calls from the public to date.

Several liaisons help us reach out to other teams. CCHD’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator acts as a liaison to UVHN-CVPH and the Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor is filling the role of Local Government Liaison in this incident.

I&Q Team getting ready
to deliver quarantine
Last but certainly not least is the I&Q Team (isolation and quarantine). They’re like outfielders. They cover a lot of ground, are extremely reliable, and are counted on to pull out the occasional diving catch. The I&Q Team are the folks who do the contact tracing required for a communicable illness like COVID-19. They determine who each positive case has been in contact with and issue
isolation and quarantine orders as needed. They communicate daily with those in isolation and quarantine. Not only do they check in on symptoms, they make sure these individuals have essentials (like food and safe housing), and check on their mental health, often with an assist from the Human Services Branch.

In addition to our starters, we also have a strong bench waiting to jump in when needed. Many CCHD staff members are functioning under a COOP (Continuation of Operations Plan), doing typical day-to-day work with some modifications, but constantly keeping up with new guidance and training so that they are ready to pitch in and help out at a moment’s notice.

As far as teams go, and I’ve been on a lot of them, this one is a World Series kind of team.

Molly Flynn
Senior Public Health Educator
Clinton County Health Department

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:

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

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