Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Snowball - A Celebration of Winter in the North Country

As we settle into winter in the North Country, below zero temperatures and heavy snowfalls may cause the dreaded cabin fever. Are you finding your once cozy walls are closing in? Never fear, dear North Country families…for the SNOWBALL is HERE! 
Snowball is a collection of free or low cost family friendly activities that area agencies, wellness centers, museums, and towns offer to families throughout the month of February. Take a peek at the calendar and find all of the fun events along with the dates, times and details. Here are some highlights that I am sure you and your family will enjoy:
·         Point Au Roche State Park’s Family Nature Program, Little Explorer’s Program, and their Nature Center Open House will open your eyes to the beauty of the North Country. 
·         No plans to travel but longing for the beach?  Check out Friday night swimming at the CVPH Wellness Center
·         Do your youngsters need to get the winter wiggles out? The Child Care Council and Plattsburgh City Rec Department’s weekly Wee Family Gym Time should do the trick!
·          For 4- 8 year olds, Mountain Lake PBS is introducing the new children’s show, Let’s Go Luna, with crafts and activities. 
·         Turn off the electronics and get brains active with Science Tuesday at Kid’s Station Children's Museum, or choose a free book at a special edition of Journey Into Reading, Snowballs & Reading, at the Champlain Centre Mall
·         Hit the links at the Plattsburgh Public Library for some Winter Wonderland Mini Golf! 
·         Enjoy some culture by attending a performance from The Champlain Valley Irish Dancers, or partake in an art program at the Strand Theatre
·         Get ready to howl at the moon when the Town of Plattsburgh and Clinton County Youth Bureau team up to offer a Full Moon Snowshoe and Cross Country Ski. Can’t make it to the Full Moon Party? No problem, there are two more dates to Snowshoe and Ski with the whole family!
·         Is tubing more your style? The Child Care Coordinating Council and Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan are hosting a family tubing night at Beartown Ski Area, complete with hot cocoa and snacks. 
·         Drumroll please…for the Snowball 2019 finale please join us for a hilarious, interactive Completely Stranded Family Comedy Event, sponsored by the Clinton County District Attorney’s Child Advocacy Center & Berkshire Farms
With generous support from Plattsburgh Pediatrics, we were able to print and provide North Country schoolchildren with a Snowball Calendar of their very own, so look for those in your child’s back pack soon. 
See you at SNOWBALL 2019!
Juliette Lynch,
Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Seconds Count: Home Heating Tips from your Local Fire Departments

Volunteers from the West Chazy Fire Department work on extinguishing a house fire.
The holiday rush is over and we are settling into the New Year, full of resolutions and ambitions. Along with my health related resolutions (come on, we all have them…don’t we?), I am adding a few home safety improvements to my list. After hearing of multiple home fires over the past few weeks I decided to reach out to our local fire departments to answer some of my burning questions (see what I did there?) and get expert advice to share with you. 

I found out that residential fires tend to peak in January according to the U.S. Fire Administration. When asked what causes most of these fires in the North Country our local fire departments overwhelmingly responded with improperly maintained heating systems.  Jason Goodspeed, Volunteer Firefighter with the West Chazy Volunteer Fire Department explains “The chimney and flue’s function is to carry dangerous gasses from your fireplace, woodstove or furnace safely out of your home. When the gases exit the fireplace or wood stove creosote can stick to and build up in your chimney. If the chimney doesn’t get inspected and cleaned each year a buildup of creosote will cause fire combustion inside the chimney which can spread into your home.” Ryan Sponable, Firefighter and Paramedic at the City of Plattsburgh Fire Department says that furnaces should be treated like chimneys – regularly maintained and inspected. 
 Creosote build up.

I have a woodstove at home, to extinguish my fears (sorry, I can't help myself) of a chimney fire, I make sure to schedule a yearly inspection and cleaning with a certified chimney sweep professional. I also have a small space heater that I use occasionally but have heard some scary stories about those so I asked the professionals their thoughts on firing up space heaters. Dereck Fleming, Lieutenant of Cumberland Head Volunteer Fire Department, says that “Space heaters can be useful, but make sure the heater is at least 3 feet away from anything flammable, like curtains or bedding. Make sure they are shut off when leaving the room and that they cannot be easily tipped over. Roughly two thirds of all heating related fires are caused by space heaters.” One big problem that the City of Plattsburgh Fire Department sees is people overloading power strips. Both Ryan and Dan Dumas, Fire Chief at the Mooers Volunteer Fire Department, echo that if you are using a space heater it should be plugged directly into a properly sized outlet, without the use of extension cords or power strips.

Overloaded power strip resulting in an electrical fire.

Just like we focus on prevention here at the Health Department, our local fire departments want you to practice fire prevention at home. The number one way to do this is to have a fire escape plan and practice it! Fire Chief Dumas reminds us that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are proven life savers and should be tested each and every month. Batteries should be replaced 1-2 times each year, or as needed. When I asked where these life saving devices should be installed Firefighter Goodspeed responded “According to the National Fire Protection Association, smoke alarms need to be installed inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Remember, seconds count.”  

Another topic of discussion was fire extinguishers. It turns out the most common type of fire extinguisher in homes is a multipurpose extinguisher labeled as ABC but Firefighter Goodspeed reminds us to take into account the type of materials in the immediate area and select the appropriate extinguisher for your needs. Firefighter/Paramedic Sponable said it is recommended to have at least 2 fire extinguishers on the first floor and at least 1 on the second floor. He adds that the kitchen, laundry room and garage tend to be where fire extinguishers are needed the most and that there is a push to start having them located in bedrooms and patios as well. Fire Chief Dumas says “Remember, fires spread very quickly and a call to 911 should always be placed so the fire department can be sure the fire is extinguished and has not spread. When in doubt, get out and call 911!”

The Clinton County Health Department’s Healthy Neighborhoods Program can help keep your home and family fire safe by providing education and safety products. The best news – it’s FREE for anyone in Clinton County. Give us a call to set up a visit: 518-565-4870.

Let’s recap, that was a lot of (awesome) information to digest. Here’s the cliff notes version:  

  • Have a fire escape plan and practice it!
  • Properly maintain your heating system and schedule regular cleanings and inspections with certified companies. 
  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet from flammable materials, do not leave them unattended and plug them directly into an outlet. Do not use with extension cords or power strips.
  • Make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are installed in appropriate locations, test them each month and replace batteries at least 1-2 times a year. 
  • Taking into account the type of materials in the immediate area, purchase and install appropriate fire extinguishers on every level of your home. Generally, the first floor should have at least 2 extinguishers. 

Some other safety tips generously provided by The City of Plattsburgh Fire Department: 
  • NEVER run a generator inside. 
  • It is recommended to sleep with your bedroom door shut. This allows extra time to escape and prevents harmful gases and heat from entering your bedroom. 
  • Never open a door if the knob is hot to touch. If you are unable to escape put clothing or towels at the bottom of the door to prevent gases and heat from entering. Call 911 and open windos to alert first responders of your location. 
  • Always clean lint from your dryer.
Special thanks to:
  • Dan Dumas, Fire Chief, Mooers Volunteer Fire Department
  • Dereck Fleming, Lieutenant of Cumberland Head Volunteer Fire Department
  • Ryan Sponable, Firefighter/Paramedic, City of Plattsburgh Fire Department
  • Jason Goodspeed, Firefighter, West Chazy Volunteer Fire Department
Here’s to a happy and safe New Year!

KayLeigh Raville
Public Health Nutritionist
Health Planning and Promotion Division