Keeping S.C. Beachgoers Informed: Monitoring Ocean Water Quality

By Cassandra Harris
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South Carolina’s coastal shores represent an important part of our state’s landscape, serving as a place of recreation for residents and visitors alike, as well as a home to our ocean wildlife and vegetation. To help advise you about bacteria levels in the water, DHEC regularly monitors ocean water quality–providing information to help you make informed decisions about recreational activities.

As part of these efforts, routine monitoring along South Carolina’s shoreline has been performed since 2002.  Advisories are issued, when needed, from May 1 through Oct. 1.

Before heading to the beach this summer, S.C. beachgoers can stay informed by following the swimming advice found on the DHEC website, is provided in DHEC news releases and is displayed on swimming advisory signs. For the latest information on South Carolina beach advisories and alerts, visit our beach access and water quality guide online at http://gis.dhec.sc.gov/beachaccess/.

Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite!

By Cassandra Harris9822_lores

Causing property damage, skin irritation, and increased expenses, bed bugs are a nuisance worldwide. The good news is that these creepy crawlers are not considered carriers of disease and are, therefore, not a public health threat! Commonly treated by insecticide spraying, there are several steps you can take to help protect your family from bed bugs:

  1. Know how to identify a bed bug and understand where they’re found
  2. Conduct regular inspections for signs of an infestation
  3. If you believe you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company to have your home or business properly treated.

DHEC does not have regulatory authority to intervene or respond to bed bug-related issues at hotels, homes, apartments, thrift stores, etc. Bed bugs at state-licensed, healthcare facilities, however, should be reported to us at bhfl@dhec.sc.gov. For more information about filing a complaint about bed bugs at a regulated healthcare facility, please click here.

Even though we do not inspect, treat or conduct site visits in response to bed bug complaints in homes or hotels, we want to make sure that everyone has access to the information they need to help prevent a bed bug infestation in their home.

Like mosquito bites, bed bug bites typically result in a minor skin irritation. Some people may experience a more severe allergic reaction. If you believe that you are experiencing an adverse reaction to a bed bug bite, please seek medical attention from your healthcare provider.

For more information about bed bugs, click on the following: CDCEPA, or Clemson University.

Free Health Screenings Available for DHEC Employees

By Betsy Crick

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As part of our A Healthier State Initiative, DHEC is offering FREE health screenings to employees through Prevention Partners.  This is open to all DHEC employees, retirees, spouses and dependents who have the State Health Standard Plan, State Health Savings Plan, or Blue Choice HMO as their primary insurance.  The cost is $55 for those who are covered under Medicare or Tricare.

Screenings include:

  • Confidential health risk appraisal with family history, lifestyle information, medical history, BMI, blood pressure and weight
  • Comprehensive lab tests
  • Free prostate screening for men over 40

Additional testing for Hgb A1C, Vitamin D, Testosterone, and the Hepatitis C antibody is available for an extra fee.

Dates & Locations:

  • August 18 & August 26 – Mills/Jarrett Building
  • August 20 & August 25 – Sims/Aycock Building
  • September 1 – Hayne Building
  • September 3 – Columbia Mills Building

To register, please contact Dianne Suber.

Richland County Chosen as One of Two Counties Nationwide for Million Hearts Initiative

By Jamie Shuster

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Richland County was chosen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation to serve as one of two pilot counties for the Million Hearts “Healthy is Strong” initiative. Million Hearts is a national initiative from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.  The initiative targets African-American men ages 40-65 in Richland County, as well as Clayton County, Georgia.  We’re excited to have been selected as one of two counties nationwide for this initiative.

African-Americans face higher risks than Caucasians of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. African-Americans also suffer more stroke deaths, which is the third leading cause of death in South Carolina, resulting in 729 deaths in 2013. These higher illness rates result in ten years of lost life for African-Americans in our state.

Heart attacks and stroke are largely avoidable by managing medical conditions and making lifestyle changes.  This initiative reinforces strong men to put their health first. Simple changes such as taking medication as prescribed, healthy eating, getting regular exercise, and quitting smoking can make a big difference in improving health. Talk to a health care professional about the “ABCS” of heart health:

  • Aspirin use when appropriate
  • Blood pressure control
  • Cholesterol management
  • Smoking cessation

The focus of Million Hearts aligns with the dedicated work and commitment of DHEC’s Bureau of Community Health and Chronic Disease Prevention.

For more information about this initiative, please visit the Million Hearts website.

Reduce the risk of child heatstroke, check the back seat

By Cassandra HarrisiStock_000038565776_XXXLarge

Summer is here, and so is the heat. With temperatures reaching over 100 degrees this week, it’s a good time to remind ourselves about heatstroke prevention for children in cars.

In just 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can raise over 20 degrees. The leading cause of non-crash-related fatalities for children 14 and younger, heatstroke can occur when children are left alone in a car. That’s why it’s important for parents and caregivers to take careful precautions to reduce the risk of child heatstroke.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Don’t leave your child alone in the car, even for a minute.
  • Remember to ACTAvoid heatstroke. Create reminders. Take action.
  • If you see a child left alone in a hot car, call 911 immediately.

For more information, click here.