Monthly Archives: June 2015

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.

Think Safety First on the Water

By Mary-Kathryn Craft

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With temperatures breaking the century mark across South Carolina this week, taking a dip in a cool lake, river, ocean or pool might be high on your list.

Before you and your family spend time in the water or on a boat this summer, put safety first. Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In South Carolina, accidental drowning is the third leading cause of death for children under 14.

Water safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Always supervise children around bodies of water.
  • It’s a good idea to appoint an adult to be the “water watcher” and take turns to give children in the water your undivided attention.
  • Enroll children and adults in swimming lessons.
  • Swim only in designated areas that are watched by a lifeguard.
  • Don’t swim alone even if an area is staffed with lifeguards. Always use the buddy system.
  • Do not dive into oceans, lakes or rivers. You never know how deep the water is or what might be below the surface.

When boating, follow these guidelines:

  • Always have children wear a life jacket that is U.S. Coast Guard-approved. Don’t rely on swimming aids like water wings or noodles. Learn more about life jackets from Safe Kids Worldwide.
  • Never drink alcohol.
  • Get a free safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
  • Develop basic rules for your boat and explain to passengers. Children should know to keep hands and feet inside the vessel and not to run on the boat.

Learn more about safe swimming from the American Red Cross and the Children’s Trust of South Carolina. Find more details on boating safety and life jackets here.

Beat the Heat!

By Betsy Crick


People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough. In such cases, a person’s body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.

Several factors affect the body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Other conditions related to risk include age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use.

Who’s at Greatest Risk?

Because heat-related deaths are preventable, people need to be aware of who is at greatest risk and what actions can be taken to prevent a heat-related illness or death. The elderly, the very young, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk. However, even young and healthy individuals can succumb to heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.

Prevention Guide

To protect your health when temperatures are extremely high, remember to keep cool and use common sense:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Replace salt and minerals
  • Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully
  • Pace yourself
  • Stay cool indoors
  • Use a buddy system
  • Do not leave children in cars
  • Use common sense

For more information on how heat impacts health, please visit the DHEC website.

Rabies Testing Prevents Medical Treatment for Exposed Individuals

By Betsy Crick


Rabies is a deadly animal virus that attacks the nervous system of mammals. Any animal that has either hair or fur, and gives birth to live young is a mammal, which includes humans. The virus can be passed to a healthy animal or a person by bite, scratch, or fresh, wet saliva from a rabid animal that comes in contact with an open wound or mucous membranes, such as eyes, nose, and mouth.

In South Carolina, rabies is most often found in raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats.  About 275 South Carolinians must undergo preventive treatment for rabies every year, with most exposures coming from bites or scratches by a rabid or suspected rabid animal. Wild animals contract the disease most often, but domestic pets can become infected with the rabies virus as well. Wild animals don’t make suitable pets due to the lack of approved rabies vaccines to protect these animals and the people who keep them.

There was a recent case in which a caged raccoon had bitten two people.  Sometimes, getting individuals to release their animals for testing can become difficult, because the animal must be euthanized in order to be tested. But thanks to the great work from environmental staff in DHEC’s Lowcountry Region who worked closely with the raccoon’s owner, this particular raccoon was tested for rabies – and was negative – thus saving two individuals from receiving post-exposure prophylaxis, a preventive medical treatment started immediately after exposure.

DHEC is proud to promote and protect the health of the public and the environment.  For more information on rabies, please visit DHEC’s website.

How to Avoid and Survive Rip Currents

By Betsy Crick


Rip currents are powerful, fast-moving channels of water – up to 8 feet per second – that typically flow from the shoreline to beyond the area where waves break. They can form on any beach or lake shore where waves are breaking, often near sandbars, jetties and piers.

Rip currents are capable of dragging even the strongest of swimmers far away from the shore, causing distress and panic.

Where should I look for rip currents?

Rip currents most typically form at low spots or breaks in sandbars, and also near structures such as groins, jetties and piers. Rip currents can occur at any beach with breaking waves, and can be difficult for the average beachgoer to identify. Look for any of these clues:

  • Channel of churning, choppy water
  • Area having a notable difference in water color
  • Line of foam, seaweed, or debris moving steadily seaward
  • Break in the incoming wave pattern

How to survive a rip current?

Never swim alone.  If in doubt, don’t go out!  If you get caught in a rip current, try to stay calm and:

  • Don’t fight the current
  • Relax and float to conserve energy
  • Do NOT try to swim directly to shore. Swim parallel to the shoreline until you escape the current’s pull.  When free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
  • If you feel you can’t reach shore, relax, face the shore, and call or wave for help.

For more information, please visit the National Weather Service.