Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Summer bike riding; how to be wheelie careful.

I can still remember my first bicycle; it was a hand-me-down from my older brother. It had a blue frame, white handlebar grips and a multi-color banana seat. It didn’t matter to me that it was an older used bicycle, all I cared about was that it was all mine.

A bicycle is the first form of transportation most of us use, but typically once the training wheels are gone so is the education. However, each year 100 children die and 245,000 are injured as a result of a bicycle-related accident.

Not all of these accidents are caused by lack of skill or education of the rider; often a poorly maintained bicycle is to blame. The ABC quick check (detailed below) takes less than five minutes and can help to prevent injuries and inconveniences (like a broken chain far from home).

A is for Air: Check the air pressure in your tires. Similar to a car, the recommended air pressure (or PSI) is written on the sidewall of your tire. Use a pressure gauge to reduce the risk of injuries caused by over or under inflation.

B is for Brakes: Pay attention to the wear on your brake pads. Most brake pads have grooves cut in them to help clear debris. When any part of those grooves disappear it’s time for new pads. Also, hold down your brake lever and check to see that your brake pads only make contact with the rim and not the rubber of the tire.

C is for Chain and Cranks: Be sure your chain is rust and gunk free. Pull on your cranks (what attaches your pedal to your bike) to see that they are not loose.

Quick Release: Many bikes have quick release tires and seats. Make sure your quick releases are tightened and secured in a way that won’t catch clothing on the release. If your bicycle does not have quick releases, it is still a good idea to check that your tires, seat, and handlebars are all properly tightened and secured.

CheckTake a slow, short ride to check that your bike is working properly.

After your bike has been checked, looking at your helmet should be your next step. Wearing a properly fitted helmet is crucial to bike safety. Be sure to check your helmet before each ride for cracks or dents that may make it less effective in the event of a crash.

Once you are cruising through the neighborhood the keys to safe cycling are visibility and predictability. In most riding situations you’ll need to know how to ride safely around cars, other cyclists, and pedestrians. The best way you can stay safe around such a wide variety of road users is to be seen and predictable with your actions.

  • Ride where people can see you. Many children and new cyclists tend to ride only on the sidewalk. While it can be safer to travel on the sidewalk in busy areas, it is actually safer to travel in the same direction as traffic on the road.
  • Wear bright clothing. It is important to be as visible as possible. Wear colors like yellow, orange, and red to increase your visibility. Keep a yellow reflective vest handy in case you are wearing darker clothing or are riding at night.
  • Use a front white light, rear red light and reflectors at dusk and in bad weather. Just like a car has front headlights and rear red running lights, a bicycle should too. Many cyclists turn on their lights no matter what time of day or weather conditions to increase visibility.
  • Make eye contact. Eye contact can communicate our intentions. When at a four-way stop, take a moment to make eye contact with other drivers before proceeding through the intersection. This ensures that other drivers see you and do not try to use the intersection at the same time.
Bicycle hand signals
  • Scan, signal, scan before you turn. Scanning the area around you ensures the lane is free and also alerts motorists in the lane that you are about to change your position. You should then signal your turn, and then scan again before turning. 
  • Signal your turns. After you scan to check if the lane you want to use is free, you must signal your intentions. Signaling on a bicycle is just like signaling a turn in a motor vehicle. You should signal for 4-6 second before returning your hand to the handlebars.

Can’t get enough bike safety?  Join us for the Bike Block Party on May 18, 2019 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Plattsburgh Farmer’s Market. The first 125 participants will receive free safety gear and a new, properly fitted helmet!

Be Seen, Be Predictable, Stay Safe

Kim Cummins
Bike Block Party Planning Committee

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