Monthly Archives: May 2015

The calm before the storm: Are you prepared?

By Cassandra Harris


If a hurricane occurred today, would you be ready? Governor Nikki Haley has proclaimed May 31 to June 6, 2015 as Hurricane Awareness Week throughout the State of South Carolina—encouraging South Carolinians to get prepared.

A key component of being prepared is having a plan. With the start of hurricane season quickly approaching, DHEC is encouraging all South Carolina visitors and residents to build an emergency kit and have a family disaster plan in place. Also, in the case of evacuation don’t forget to “Know Your Zone.”

In addition, anyone with special medical needs should consult a physician regarding the best place to be during the storm, and make sure that you have adequate access to proper medications, medical supplies and equipment.  American Red Cross shelters and DHEC Special Medical Needs Shelters (SMNS) should be your last resort and used only when no other option is available.

Remember, the actions you take today can help protect you and your loved ones tomorrow. Stay informed, stay prepared!

For additional resources, please visit:

Water Quality Improvement in the Enoree Watershed

By Elizabeth Dieck

enoree river basin (1)

Success! Thanks to the collaborative efforts of federal, state and local partners, South Carolina was recently recognized by the EPA for its water quality improvements to portions of the Enoree River.

Located in South Carolina’s Upstate region, the Enoree River flows by Spartanburg, ending at the Broad River near Blair.  Mostly forested, but with significant farming and developed land use, DHEC’s previous monitoring data indicated that several sites on the river and its tributaries were impaired due to fecal coliform bacteria. Among the sources cited as contributing to the impairment were cattle access to waterways and septic system failures.

Using funds received from U.S. EPA, DHEC awarded a grant to Clemson University Extension to reduce the amount of bacteria reaching the river. In turn, Clemson University Extension worked in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture -Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS); the Spartanburg, Laurens and Union soil and water conservation districts; and the Spartanburg, Laurens and Union Cattlemen’s Associations to implement a plan focused on reducing fecal coliform bacteria from animal waste and failing septic system. And it worked!

In 2014, we assessed water quality data in the Enoree River watershed at six different locations. All monitoring stations along this stretch of river have seen water quality improvements, including two that meet standards for bacteria.

This success was only possible due to the partnership between DHEC and local conservation organizations and landowners. They, and all who strive for clean water, should be commended for the hard work that goes toward meeting the Clean Water Act’s mission of “fishable, swimmable” water resources each and every day. Thanks for helping make South Carolina a healthier and cleaner place to live.

For more information on South Carolina’s Nonpoint Source program, click here.

How is Your Mental Health?

By Betsy Crick


Image from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

May is Mental Health Month, and according to NAMI, we all experience emotional ups and downs from time to time caused by events in our lives.  Mental health conditions go beyond these emotional reactions and become something longer lasting. They are medical conditions that cause changes in how we think and feel and in our mood. They are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing.

With proper treatment, people can realize their full potential, cope with the stresses of life, work productively and make meaningful contributions to the world. Without mental health, we cannot be fully healthy.

Each illness has its own set of symptoms, but some common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following, among others:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger

For more information, please talk to your doctor or visit the S.C. Department of Mental Health or the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

DHEC employees – be on the lookout for posters in our buildings throughout the state with more information about the Right Direction for Me resources!

Preventing Dog Bites

By Jim Beasley
Each year in the U.S., about 885,000 people require immediate medical attention for dog bites. Half of them are children, with seniors following close behind. This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, as established by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Dog bites can be costly and dangerous. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that in 2014, insurers across the country paid more than $530 million in dog bite claims. The trauma of a dog bite — or any animal bite, for that matter — can be compounded by the risk of exposure to the deadly rabies virus.

Dog bites occur regularly in South Carolina, too. Last year, more than 8,300 dog bites were reported across the state. Sometimes, those attacks require medical attention for possible exposure to rabies.

Vaccinating your pets serves as a strong buffer between humans and rabies. Dog, cat and ferret owners in this state are required to have their pets vaccinated. It’s the law.

But the law can’t prevent dog bites. It’s estimated there are 83 million dogs living in U.S. households. According to the AVMA, most of the dog bites affecting young children occur while the children are performing everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs. It’s not just the wandering stray that bites.

To learn more about the AVMA’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week, go to And to learn more about preventing the spread of rabies in S.C., visit our page at

You Can Control Your Asthma

By Betsy Crick










May is Asthma Awareness Month – one of the most common lifelong chronic diseases. One in 14 Americans lives with asthma, a disease affecting the lungs, causing repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing.  Asthma costs the United States about $56 billion each year.

Asthma in South Carolina

Children, young adults and older adults suffer from asthma.  South Carolina 2013 data shows that:

  • About 311,539 adults and 102,440 children suffer from asthma
  • 5,219 hospitalizations were for asthma – and children accounted for 28% of those hospitalizations
  • 61 South Carolinians died from asthma

Learn How to Control your Asthma

Although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to manage asthma successfully to reduce and prevent asthma attacks. Successful asthma management includes knowing the warning signs of an attack, avoiding things that may trigger an attack, and following the advice of your healthcare provider.

Use your asthma medicine as prescribed and be aware of common triggers in the environment known to bring on asthma symptoms, including smoke (including second-hand and third-hand cigarette smoke), household pets, dust mites, and pollen. According to the Surgeon General, children with asthma exposed to tobacco smoke experience more frequent and severe asthma attacks.

For more information on asthma, please visit our website.