Older Residents Should Be Cautious As Temperatures Rise

We’re no strangers to hot weather here in South Carolina. It’s a fact of life.

It’s also a fact that when the temperatures and humidity reach extremes, it can make people ill or even cause death. But heat-related deaths and illness are preventable.

Heat can be deadly

DHEC encourages everyone to understand the dangers of extreme heat. Heatstroke, the most serious of all heat-related illnesses, can cause damage to your body, especially your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage gets worse the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.

It is particularly important to inform older people about the perils of heat and to keep careful watch over those who might be under your care. People aged 65 years or older are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature.

Protect yourself during hot weather

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people in this category heed the following guidance:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. Contact your local health department or locate an air-conditioned shelter in your area.
  • Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device during an extreme heat event.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor and have someone do the same for you.
  • Don’t use the stove or oven to cook—it will make you and your house hotter.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you have, or someone you know has, symptoms of heat-related illness like muscle cramps, headaches, nausea or vomiting.

Visit the CDC website for more information on extreme heat related your health. You also can find information there on how heat affects the elderly as well as other groups of people.

National Mosquito Control Awareness Week

For When it comes to protecting citizens from mosquitoes and the various illnesses the pesky insects can spread, local governments and residents themselves provide the first line of defense.

This is National Mosquito Control Awareness Week (June 25 – July 1), which is a good time to educate residents about mosquitoes and the diseases they carry and to urge everyone to do their part by protecting themselves and their homes from the potential spread of Zika virus as well as other mosquito-borne illnesses.

Be vigilant about protecting yourself from mosquito bites and ridding your homes and yards of containers where mosquitoes breed.

Learn more

Watch this short video for tips on protecting yourself and your home against mosquitoes:

Enhanced Water Monitoring on Lower Saluda River Has Begun

A variety of stakeholders have come together to start an enhanced water quality monitoring program for the Lower Saluda Scenic River during the peak recreational season. DHEC is a key stakeholder in the group, whose goal is to encourage safe recreational use of the river.

Weekly water quality testing has begun and data will be available at LowerSaluda3howsmyscriver.org/saluda in the near future. The enhanced monitoring will provide more timely interventions as well as ultimately better protection of the river.

The Lower Saluda River Coalition is made up of river-related businesses, environmental groups, local and state government, property owners, industry and other users of the river.

One of the main purposes of the coalition is to ensure the safety of individuals recreating on the rivers and to educate the public on issues related to natural waters.

The first objective is to make water quality information more frequently and readily available to river users so they can make informed decisions on when to recreate in the river.  This is the first program of its type for inland waters. DHEC also has a robust beach monitoring program.

The enhanced monitoring program for the Lower Saluda will run from June to September this year and May through September in future years.  It involves eight monitoring locations that will be sampled weekly.  The first sampling event was June 21. Results from the sampling will be on the website soon.

School Wellness Success at Bamberg One’s Richard Carroll Elementary School

By Erica Ayers, MPH, CHES
School Health Coordinator
Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

When was the last time you were in a school?  Has it been a few years or even a few decades?  If you visited a school today, like Richard Carroll Elementary School in Bamberg School District One, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find:  a culture of wellness.

Healthy choices offered to students and staff

Schools have responded to the obesity epidemic by making the healthy choice the easy choice for students and staff during the school day.  For its part, Richard Carroll Elementary has been participating in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program and the Boeing Center for Children’s Wellness (BCCW) School Wellness Checklist.  For three school years, Richard Carroll Elementary has received training and technical assistance from Erica Ayers, the School Health Coordinator with the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at DHEC, and Ellen Munson, the Program Coordinator at BCCW, to build healthy, sustainable, learning environments.

Karen Threatt, the Food Service Director in Bamberg School District One, has found value in participating in both programs.  “The Alliance for a Healthier Generation has helped us achieve our goals associated with Boeing’s School Wellness Checklist.  The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program Action Plan made it easier for us to grow our wellness culture,” she said.

 To promote healthy eating, Richard Carroll Elementary took an innovative route by combining lessons learned from its days as a SC Farm to School site with techniques to reduce food waste.  Students started composting foods left over from breakfast and lunch to fertilize their three school gardens where they grow herbs, pumpkins, cabbage, cucumbers, watermelons, and more.  This provides students a unique opportunity to taste foods that they have grown themselves.

Access to equipment supports physical activity

BambergWellnessBallTo promote active living, Richard Carroll Elementary outfitted an Action-Based Learning Lab where all students have access to specialized equipment that integrates physical activities into learning motor skills, spatial ability, coordination, and social interaction.  The school also coordinated a Raiderthon, a fun-run fundraiser where students ran and/or walked laps to raise money for future school wellness initiatives.

To promote staff wellness, an empty classroom was transformed into a yoga BambergWellnessMatsstudio/meditation space.  Staff get together usually once a week after school and use the Smartboard and DVDs to guide them through physically challenging, yet mindfully charged, yoga exercises.

This past school year, Richard Carroll held its first Wellness Week to “Celebrate Being Healthy.” Each day provided fun opportunities for students and staff to eat healthy and be physically active, including Drink Water Day on Monday, Try it (a new vegetable) Tuesday, Recess Rocks Wednesday with new portable play equipment, Bring a Fruit or Vegetable from Home Thursday, and Wellness Walk around campus Friday.

Focus on wellness will continue

These are only examples of what Richard Carroll Elementary is doing to promote health and wellness.  Principal Stacey Walter is very proud of what her staff and students have accomplished and ensures that wellness will remain embedded in the culture of the school by continuing to lead their School Wellness Committee and by participating in the district’s Coordinated School Health Advisory Committee.

DHEC in the News: National HIV Testing Day, Adopt-a-Stream, Murrells Inlet wetlands, Riverside Park

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

The [Minority AIDS Council] will be sponsoring a community forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, at New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Orangeburg. The program’s topic will be “Shining a Light on HIV/AIDS in the Tri-County.”

A discussion panel will include Shiheda Furse, community manager at HopeHealth, which provides outpatient treatment and care for people with HIV/AIDS living in the tri-county region; MAC member and HIV advocate Pat Kelly and the Rev. Todd A. Brown, pastor of New Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Wilhemina Dixon, a Barnwell County woman whose story of resilience after both her daughter and her granddaughter were diagnosed with AIDS became the subject of a PBS documentary, will also be a panelist.

Brown said he hopes the forum will bring about change, particularly within the African-American community, where HIV/AIDS infection rates are the highest.

Worried about the water in a nearby river? You can do something about it.

Adopt-A-Stream is looking for volunteers to document river conditions monthly and alert regulators of changing water quality or illegal discharges. Volunteers will be trained in classes and given a website to work from.

They will collect visual, chemical, bacteria and macroinvertebrate samples. Macroinvertebrates are creatures without backbones, including bugs, mollusks and crustaceans.

Some new wetlands should soon be taking root in Murrells Inlet.

The blankets of plants, including iris, sedge, spartina, black needlerush, soft-stem rush and yellow water canna, were installed at two sites June 14.

If things go according to plan, the plants will root in the pond soil and spread.

The manmade wetlands, both floating and nonfloating, are an outgrowth of the Murrells Inlet 2020 watershed plan, created to protect the inlet’s fragile marsh and shellfish beds.

  • DHEC is working with North Augusta city officials to dispose of contaminated soil found at Riverside Park.

About a month ago, construction workers came across contaminated soil when they were moving dirt around center field.

“When they started digging they could even smell the fumes from it,” said City Administrator Todd Glover.

The future home of the Augusta GreenJackets used to be what we’ve come to know as an industrial park.

For more health and environmental news, visit Live Healthy SC.