Champions of the Environment: Northwest Middle School

We live in a society that is focused on growth and development. As we continue to do this, we must encourage our children to protect the beauty of their communities. Northwest Middle School is located along side the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains in Greenville County. Our goal was to get our students to encourage beauty while protecting the many species of birds in our area and protecting their homes.

As a school we recognize that we are lucky to live in a beautiful part of Greenville County. We know that as populations grow so too does the amount of waste products. As part of the grant, we were able to enhance a basic recycling program from just paper to now including plastic, glass, and cardboard. Our students are recycling hundreds of pounds of waste each year that won’t end of up in landfills or on the side of the road. Our major goal of the grant was to provide beautiful bird houses around our campus. We now have installed 16 birdhouses for various types of birds in our area. We can bird watch and identify different species living in our houses. Students constructed and installed the birdhouses. They made signs for each birdhouse with information about native South Carolina birds.

The best part of this project was that it helped the entire school get involved. Some of our students built the houses while others painted and stained them while others worked on the signs for them. It truly became a school wide project. The houses were installed by parents and community members. In the spring we have been able to see many birds taking advantage of these new houses. Students get to enjoy seeing them fly around our campus and enjoy these houses. Parents and visitors are enjoying seeing the great work of the students and the beautiful birds.

These projects will be long lasting. The bird houses will continue to provide beauty to our campus while the recycling program will benefit our environment as we continue to support recycling efforts. Our students are learning more each day about protecting the environment for all people and creatures as part of their science classes and by watching the great things happening on our campus.

Be on the look out for ticks; they can spread diseases

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that tick-borne diseases are on the rise. Everyone should take steps to prevent the diseases, particularly during the spring, summer and early-fall, when ticks are most active.

May through July is when people get more tick bites and tick-borne diseases than any other time of year in the United States, the CDC says on its website. During this season, it’s important to protect yourself, your loved ones and your pets from ticks.

Ticks cause Lyme disease, other illnesses

Ticks could be in the areas where we live, work and play; infected ticks can carry diseases, such as Lyme disease.

Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. While the CDC says more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported nationwide, it notes that studies suggest the actual number of people diagnosed with Lyme disease is more likely about 300,000. Typical symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and a skin rash. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system. Patients treated with appropriate antibiotics, such as doxycycline or amoxicillin, in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover rapidly and completely.

The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tick-borne diseases as well.
Concern has been raised about a potentially deadly tick-borne illness spreading across the country called the Powassan virus. It’s carried by the same tick that carries Lyme disease. Most cases have occurred in the Northeast and Great Lakes region.

Take steps to protect against ticks

Taking steps to protect yourself and your family from getting a tick bite is the best defense against Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. The CDC recommends that people:

  • Avoid areas with high grass and leaf litter; walk in the center of trails when hiking.
  • Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin.
  • Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents or look for clothing pre-treated with permethrin.
  • Treat dogs for ticks, using tick collars, sprays, shampoos, etc. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and accompanying diseases, and could bring ticks inside.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming inside to wash off and find ticks before they bite.

It is getting hotter; take steps to avoid heatstroke

As the weather gets warmer, DHEC warns you to take precautions to avoid heatstroke.

While going about your daily activities — whether exercising or simply traveling to the grocery store to shop — be sure to protect yourself and others from possible heatstroke. It’s not safe to leave a person in a parked car in warm or hot weather, even if the windows are cracked or the car is in shade. It is important to note that children’s body temperatures warm at a rate three to five times faster than an adult’s.

Heatstroke requires emergency treatment

Untreated heatstroke 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.

If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number. Take steps cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment.

  • Get the person into shade or indoors.
  • Remove excess clothing.
  • Cool the person with whatever means available — put them in a cool tub of water or a cool shower, spray them with a garden hose, sponge them with cool water, fan them while misting them with cool water, or place ice packs or cold, wet towels on their head, neck, armpits and groin.

Heatstroke symptoms include:

  • High body temperature: 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main sign of heatstroke.
  • Altered mental state or behavior: Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, etc.
  • Alteration in sweating: Heatstroke brought on by hot weather can cause skin to feel hot and dry to the touch. Heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise causes skin may feel moist.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Flushed skin.
  • Rapid breathing.
  •  Racing heart rate.
  •  Headache.

Heatstroke is predictable and preventable

Take these steps to prevent heatstroke:

  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.
  • Protect against sunburn: Protect yourself outdoors with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Take extra precautions with certain medications. Be on the lookout for heat-related problems if you take medications that can affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated.
  • Never leave anyone in a parked car. This is a common cause of heat-related deaths in children. When parked in the sun, the temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees F (more than 6.7 C) in 10 minutes.
  • Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Get acclimated. Limit the amount of time spent working or exercising in heat until you’re conditioned to it. It can take several weeks for your body to adjust.
  • Be cautious if you’re at increased risk. If you take medications or have a condition that increases your risk of heat-related problems, avoid the heat and act quickly if you notice symptoms of overheating. If you participate in a strenuous sporting event or activity in hot weather, make sure there are medical services available in case of a heat emergency.

Take action now to control mosquitoes and avoid illnesses they might spread

Mosquito season isn’t in full swing, but we don’t have to wait until the pesky insects that can spread diseases such as Zika have us surrounded before taking action.

Now is the time to take precautions to limit the mosquito population and the possible spread of mosquito-borne diseases. It begins by cleaning up around your own home and yard. It’s especially important to get rid of and prevent standing water. Here are some suggestions:

  • Get rid of places where adult mosquitoes can find cool, dark and damp areas to rest by mowing the lawn, trimming shrubbery and cutting down weeds and vines, such as ivy, in the yard and next to the house.
  • Clear out weeds, leaves, dirt and other debris from pipes, especially those under a driveway. Make sure water does not stand inside or near the ends of the pipe.
  • Clean out rain gutters and downspouts regularly.
  • Empty and turn over containers that hold water such as cans, jars, drums, bottles, flower pots, buckets, children’s toys, wheel barrows, old appliances, plastic sheeting or tarps used to cover objects like grills or swimming pools, etc.
  • Drain or fill any low places, such as potholes, on your property where water collects and stands for more than five to seven days.
  • Make sure that all permanent water containers such as wells, septic tanks, cisterns, water tanks and cesspools are tightly covered and insect-proof.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outdoor faucets.
  • Cover trash containers/garbage cans to keep rainwater from accumulating.
  • Keep boats and canoes drained and covered/overturned. Make sure tarps or other covers do not hold water.
  • Drain or get rid of old tires by recycling them.
  • Pack tree holes and hollow stumps with sand or cement.

There are a number of other steps you can take to defend yourselves against mosquitoes. To learn about treating standing water that can’t be drained and preventing mosquito bites, visit scdhec.gov/mosquitoes/eliminatebreedingareas.

DHEC Celebrates S.C. Palmetto Gold Recipients During National Nurses Week

During this National Nurses Week, it is only fitting that we highlight the eight DHEC public health nurses who were recognized Saturday, April 22, as being in the elite group of 100 called Palmetto Gold. Palmetto Gold, a program that began 16 years ago, recognizes registered nurses in our state who exemplify excellence in nursing practice and commitment to the profession.

The recipients were selected through a formal nomination process. Each year, nurses from across the state and from different practice settings are nominated for this honor. One hundred nurses are selected annually for this prestigious award and honored at the Palmetto Gold Gala.PalmettGoldRecipients (2)

DHEC’s eight Palmetto Gold recipients are:

Lowcountry: 

Gemma Grady, RN, BSN-Preventive Health Program Manager

Pee Dee:

Dara Johnson, RN, BSN-Tuberculosis RN

Darla Lee, RN, BSN-Preventive Health RN

Jeannie Smith, APRN, BSN, MSN, FNP-BC-Lead Advanced Practice Registered Nurse

Ashley Tallon RN, BSN, MPH-Immunization Program Manager

Mikki Cooper Williams, RN BSN, MSN-Maternal Child Health Program Manager

Upstate:

Shenicka McCray, RN, BSN, MSN-Epidemiology Program Manager

Roslyn McReynolds, RN, BSN-Tuberculosis RN

Congratulations to these outstanding DHEC public health nurses!

In honor of National Nurses Week, we salute these eight dedicated nurses along with all of our public health nurses who work diligently every day to improve the health of South Carol​inians.

Check out our Flickr al​bums to meet more of our hard-working nurses.  ​