Prevention is the best defense against heat-related illnesses

The National Weather Service forecast projects the next several days to be scorchers, hitting or coming close to 100 degrees or more in various parts of South Carolina.

Be careful and take steps to avoid heat-related health problems.

Prevention: The best defense

Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help you beat the heat:

  • Drink more fluids. Whether you’re active or not, it’s important to stay hydrated. Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar because they cause you to lose more body fluid. Avoid very cold drinks as well; they can cause stomach cramps.
  • If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask your physician how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
  • If possible, stay indoors in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the mall or public library for a break from the heat. Just a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature soars into the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Take a cool shower or bath, or go into an air-conditioned place.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.

While anyone can suffer from heat-related illness, it’s particularly important to keep a close watch on infants and young children, people aged 65 and older, people with mental illness and those who are physically ill. Visit older adults at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. And it goes without saying that infants and young children need more frequent monitoring.

For more information on heat-related illnesses, visit


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Learn to Cook Healthy Recipes While You Shop

Kristin Ross and Kayla Lyles at Sandhills Farmers MarketAdding fresh fruits and vegetables to your grocery list is a first step in eating healthier. But, what if you aren’t sure how to prepare them?

S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control SNAP-Education nutrionists are  solving that problem by traveling to farmers markets and roadside stands across the state and conducting healthy cooking demonstrations.

See the schedule below and stop by and see us! 

July 5,  3-6 p.m.
Ringo’s Produce – Roadside Stand / Farmer’s Market
10545 Garners Ferry Rd, Eastover, SC 29044

July 7, 1-4 p.m.
Lake City Farmers Market
117 Henry Street, Lake City, SC 29560

July 8, 1-4 p.m.
Cayce Farmers Market
2329 Charleston Hwy, Cayce, SC 29033

July 11, 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Pee Dee Farmers Market
2513 W. Lucas St.,  Florence, SC 2950

July 13, 3-6 p.m.
Forest Acres Farmers Market
3400 Forest Drive, Columbia, SC 29206

July 14, 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Peaches N Such produce stand
2120 Pond Branch Road, Gilbert , SC

July 15, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.      
Right Choice Farmers Market, Orangeburg
3310 Magnolia Street, Orangeburg, SC 2911

July 16,   8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Lee County Farmers Market
220 E Church Street, Bishopville, SC

July 16, 8 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Summerville  Farmers Market
200 South Main Street, Summerville, SC

July 20, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Lourie Center (Seeds of Hope)
1650 Park Cir, Columbia, SC 29201

July 21, 8:00 a.m. – Noon
Tree of Life  (Seeds of Hope)
6719 N Trenholm Road, Columbia, SC 29206

July 26, 1:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Sandhills Farmers Market
900 Clemson Road, Columbia, SC 29229

July 27, 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Peaches N Such II
3771 HWY 23, Monetta, SC 29105

July 28, Noon – 4:00 p.m.
Carolina Apts (Seeds of Hope)
3201 Meadowlard Dr., Columbia, SC 2920

July 29,  9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Dixon Produce  roadside stand
448 West Bobo Newsome Hwy, Hartsville, SC 29550

August 5, 9:00 – Noon
Right Choice Fresh State Farmers Market
3310 Magnolia St, Orangeburg, SC 29115

August 11, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Lake City Farmers Market
117 Henry Street, Lake City, SC 29560

August 12,  9:00 – Noon
Right Choice Fresh State Farmers Market
3310 Magnolia St, Orangeburg, SC 29115

August 20, 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Summerville Farmers Market
200 S. Main St.  Summerville, SC  29483

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Get Recipes

Download a copy of the Farmers Market Nutrition Program Recipe Book.

S.C. Farmers and Roadside Market App

To find a farmers market or roadside stand near you and see when they’re open and what payment types they accept (including WIC, SNAP and Senior vouchers) visit



Tips for a Healthy and Safe 4th of July


S.C. Department of Health and Environmental wishes everyone a happy and healthy 4th of July. Here are a few tips to keep the festivities fun.

Packing the perfect cooler

  • Everyone gets thirsty on hot days. Use a separate cooler for drinks so the one containing food isn’t opened as much and can keep food at the perfect temperature.
  • When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter.
  • Avoid opening the lid too often, which lets cold air out and warm air in.
  • Pack raw meats, poultry, or seafood on the bottom of the cooler and wrap them in plastic. This will reduce the risk of bacteria from raw juices dripping on other foods.
  • Pack coolers until they are full. A full cooler will stay cold longer than one that is partially full.
  • Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40 °F or below.
  • Pack food right from the refrigerator into the cooler immediately before leaving home.
  • Only take out the meat and poultry that will immediately be placed on the grill.


Travel like a backyard bbq pro

  • When transporting food to another location, keep it cold to minimize bacterial growth.
  • Put the cooler in an air-conditioned car not a hot trunk.
  • Bring extra plates, grilling utensils and napkins and use different platters and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry.
  • Keep raw meats seperate from fresh produce and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Wash hands, work area, and all utensils before, during, and after preparing food.
  • If you’re eating away from home, find out if there’s a source of clean water. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning. Or pack clean cloths, and moist towelettes for cleaning surfaces and hands.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than 2 hours (1 hour if temperatures are above 90 °F).

Firework Safety Tips

  • Leave it to the professionals. There are many great displays across state, so just sit back and enjoy the oohs and ahhs. 
  • Adults only. Never let children play with fireworks. Even sparklers, a firework often considered by many to be the ideal “safe” device for the young children, burn at very high temperatures.
  • Take a seat. If you’re setting of fireworks, don’t allow running or horseplay while lighting them.Be sure other people are standing at a safe range before lighting fireworks.
  • Set off fireworks outdoors in a clear area on a flat, solid surface so that fireworks don’t tip over or shoot into areas where there are houses, dry leaves, grass and other flammable materials.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting. Don’t look over/into a “dud.”
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby.
  • Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • Never light fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.Check instructions for special storage directions.
  • Keep our beaches and neighborhoods clean. Fireworks produce debris and litter. Be sure to clean up your litter by the next morning and dispose of it in a trash can.







Birth Outcomes Initiative ​Team Honored

Pictured above from left: Lucy Gibson, Vinita Leedom, Katy Wynne, Lisa Hobbs, Blosmeli Leon, Beth De Santis, Jade Durham, and Berry Kelly. DHEC’s Birth Outcomes Initiative group includes representatives from Maternal and Child Health, Community Health and Chronic Disease Prevention, Disease Control and Public Health Statistics and Information Services. 

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently recognized South Carolina’s dedication to improving the health of moms and babies through the S.C. Birth Outcomes Initiative (BOI).

Led by S.C. Department of Health and Human Services, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the S.C. Hospital Association, BOI is a multi-stakeholder collaborative aimed at improving birth outcomes. The group also includes representatives from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of S.C. and the S.C. Chapter of the March of Dimes.

Since 2011, the BOI has helped lower the state’s infant mortality rate to a record low of 6.5 out of every 1,000 births as of 2014.

“The BOI has been the kind of collaborative environment that has brought together every entity in the state that can improve the health of our moms and babies,” said Beth De Santis, director of DHEC’s Bureau of Maternal and Child Health. “With this level of cooperation, success happens. The health of our citizens is the goal, and we are definitely reaching those goals!”

Monthly meetings draw a diverse group of health care professionals, including obstetricians, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, pediatricians, nurses, midwives, non-profit statewide and community-based organizations, insurance companies, university faculty and behavioral health experts. The group strives to improve the health of the mother and baby during pregnancy, as well as during early infancy.

DHEC staff involved in BOI include: Beth De Santis (Vision Team), Lisa Hobbs (primary DHEC liaison, Quality and Patient Safety work group), Stephanie Derr (Care Coordination work group), Blosmeli Leon (Health Disparities work group), Katy Wynne (Behavioral Health work group), Daniela Nitcheva (Data and Research work group), WIC staff (Baby-Friendly work group), Mike Smith (Data and Research work group), Lucy Gibson (Care Coordination work group), DHEC’s Office of Minority Health (Disparities work group), and Dr. Teresa Foo and Immunization nurse consultants (Quality/Safety work group).

For more information, visit

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National Mosquito Control Awareness Week

There’s no overstating the role local governments play — or should play — in protecting citizens from mosquito-borne illnesses: They provide the first line of defense.

All communities need mosquito control programs

It’s National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, and it’s a good time to remind local officials of the need to be vigilant in protecting citizens amid continuing concern over the potential spread of Zika virus as well as other mosquito-borne illnesses.

It’s important for local officials to have mosquito control plans in place. No, every jurisdiction won’t be able to afford to provide the highest level of service, but they all can and should have some level of program. In areas where funding is a challenge, the key is to focus on public education and eliminating water-filled containers where mosquitoes breed.

While larger, more costly programs tend to have the elements in place to effectively combat mosquitoes, smaller programs also can do a credible job of protecting their citizens.

That was on display at the April 19 South Carolina Zika Forum where DHEC and its partners convened state and local officials to discuss Zika virus and resources available to local governments in recognition of their role as the front-line defense against the spread of any mosquito-borne viruses. Two very different yet effective mosquito control programs made presentations — a large one operated by Beaufort County and a smaller one operated by the city of Hartsville.

Different communities, same mosquito-prevention mission

In some ways, Beaufort County and Hartsville couldn’t be more different. Beaufort is an affluent, sizeable coastal county that covers nearly 600 square miles and is home to 180,000 residents. Hartsville is a small town in the Pee Dee with a population of roughly 7,900.

While they are of a different size, scope and region, the two communities have something in common when it comes to mosquito control. Both are being proactive in developing and implementing mosquito control programs that focus on citizen education, community outreach, mosquito surveillance, habitat elimination and integrating use of Environmental Protection Agency-regulated insecticides where appropriate. Both have developed Zika response plans.

Beaufort County’s program has a staff commensurate to meeting the needs of a large county that includes four municipalities as well. Beaufort is more aggressive about spraying to control mosquitoes. Its certified personnel employ state-of-the-art ground and aerial application equipment. The aircraft includes a plan — an OV-10 D Bronco — and a helicopter – an MD-500 D. In addition, it has seven spray trucks. The county also has a Mosquito Control Mobile Reporting App that allows citizens and visitors to report mosquito problems as well as dead birds for testing of possible West Nile Virus infections.

See Beaufort County’s mosquito control presentation from the SC Zika Forum.

Hartsville’s program, which is significantly smaller, focuses on controlling with mosquitoes within the city. The program is just a few years old and all the duties of mosquito control are handled by a two-man crew.

Hartsville puts heavy emphasis on education, outreach and source reduction. It also emphasizes that for mosquito control to be effective, the program must communicate with all city departments, including codes enforcement, utilities and environmental services.

While Hartsville doesn’t have a large, well-funded program, its staff is resourceful. For example, they instituted a bike program to conduct larviciding — the process of using biological agents to kill larvae — around storm drains and open ditches. Mounting bikes not only gets the job done, but it draws attention from the public and emphasizes the need for mosquito control.

See Hartsville’s mosquito control presentation from the SC Zika Forum.

Take time to learn more