Monthly Archives: June 2017

Stay Safe this Independence Day

By Adrianna Bradley

It’s time for Fourth of July celebrations — the night when skyrockets, missiles, and Roman candles illuminate our skies with crackling noises and whistling sounds. While the displays are visually compelling, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the Columbia Fire Department is urging everyone to stay safe if they are participating in any firework activities this Independence Day holiday.

“Thousands of people are treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained from fireworks,” said Neal Martin, program coordinator of DHEC’s Division of Injury, and Violence Prevention. “You cannot take safety for granted when it comes to fireworks.”

Fireworks can be harmful

Fireworks-related injuries are preventable. They range from minor and major burns to fractures and amputations. In South Carolina, the most common fireworks-related injuries are burns and open wounds to the hands, legs, head, and eyes.  About 53 percent of firework-related injuries occur in July, with an average of 80 hospitalizations and ER visits in the state.

“Fireworks are exciting to see this time of year, but they are dangerous when misused not only for the operator but also for bystanders and nearby structures,” said Bengie Leverett, Public Fire Education Officer at the Columbia Fire Department. “Everyone is urged to use extreme precaution when using the devices.”

Put safety first 

The best way to prevent fireworks injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals. However, if you still want to light up fireworks at home, DHEC and the Columbia Fire Department want you to keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Observe local laws. If you’re unsure whether it is legal to use fireworks, check with local officials.
  • Monitor local weather conditions. Dry weather can make it easier for fireworks to start a fire.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Always read and follow directions on each firework.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors, away from homes, dry grass, and trees.
  • Always have an adult present when shooting fireworks.
  • Ensure everyone is out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, and keep a safe distance.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse them with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.


  • Point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks.
  • Give fireworks to small children.
  • Carry fireworks in your pocket.

DHEC in the News: Spare the Air award, new hospice house, swim advisory

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

Clemson Parking and Transportation receives Spare the Air award from DHEC

CLEMSON — Clemson University Parking and Transportation Services was named as a 2017 recipient of the Spare the Air award (by the) South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

Under the category of “Outstanding College or University,” Clemson was recognized as part of DHEC’s ongoing efforts to promote a healthier environment through air quality initiatives that are sustainable and replicable.

This could be the first hospice house in Horry County

The first hospice house in Horry County could be open to patients within a month.

Hospices are open to terminally ill patients at the end of their life. …

There are three other hospice services in Horry County, according to South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control spokesman Robert Yanity. But they’re all outpatient facilities that offer care for patients in their homes, hospitals or nursing homes while a hospice house offers hospice services in a dedicated facility.

Swim advisory issued for high bacteria reading in area of North Myrtle Beach

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WBTW) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says a section of beach along the Grand Strand has been placed under a temporary swimming advisory for high bacteria levels on Thursday.

“The area affected is at 16th Avenue North in North Myrtle Beach,” said Sean Torrens of DHEC’s Pee Dee Environmental Affairs office in Myrtle Beach. “High bacteria levels have been detected in this section of beach, and swimming is not advised until bacteria levels return to normal.”

CDC’s Top 5 Things To Know About Zika

DHEC joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in encouraging you to learn about the top five things people need know about Zika virus:

  1. Zika primarily spreads through infected mosquitoes. You can also get Zika through sex.
  2. The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites.
  3. Zika is linked to birth defects.
  4. Pregnant women should not travel to areas with risk of Zika.
  5. Returning travelers infected with Zika can spread the virus through mosquito bites.


DHEC in the News: Older residents and heat, ticks, demolition of dilapidated apartments

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

Stay cool: SCDHEC warns of dangers of rising temperatures to older residents

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Heat-related deaths and illnesses can affect anyone, but people over 65 are especially at risk, unless they take steps to protect themselves.

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, heatstroke is the most serious heat-related illness and can damage the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. If not treated quickly, it can cause serious complications or death.

Check for ticks: CDC warns of rise in tick-borne diseases

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) — Tick season is in and there’s been a rise in the amount of tick-borne diseases. The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning this spring that people are more prone to tick bites and tick-borne diseases this year, than any other year in the United States. …

Common symptoms of Lyme include fever, aches and a bulls-eye rash. See symptoms of other tick-borne illnesses here.

“It’s important to examine your skin and properly remove it with tweezers,” Dr. Linda Bell of DHEC says.

Hartsville begins demolition of dilapidated apartments

HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) – The city of Hartsville is knocking down the Lincoln Village Apartments, eight dilapidated buildings that have sat empty for more than 20 years.

Demolition began Wednesday afternoon on the eyesore that has been plaguing the Hartsville community. …

The city of Hartsville did asbestos studies with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control first before a bid went out for demolition, along with the grant application process, to the Department of Commerce.

DHEC in the News: HIV Testing, Hydrant Testing, West Nile virus

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

HIV testing is key to early diagnosis and prevention.

National HIV Testing Day was Tuesday, with the goal of promoting HIV testing and early diagnosis. Through DHEC clinics and partnering community providers, testing services in 2016 helped diagnose and link more than 230 people to HIV medical care who otherwise might have not known their status until much later.

Emphasis must not end with the annual observance. While treatment is vital, the adage about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure applies.

Hydrant testing in Abbeville could cause temporarily discolored water.

Abbeville Public Utilities will be flushing and testing all of the fire hydrants in the city’s system starting Monday and continuing for about two weeks.

There is a chance the work will cause discoloration in the tap water of the areas around hydrants being tested. Mark Hall, director of Abbeville Public Utilities, said it is unlikely tap water would become unsafe to drink, but if the possibility arises, people in the area will be alerted immediately.

West Nile Detected In Lowcountry; DHEC Wants Public’s Help.

West Nile has been detected in South Carolina for the first time this year.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control and Beaufort County officials confirm mosquitoes in the Lowcountry have tested positive for West Nile virus. …

 “Prevention is really the best way to avoid West Nile virus. Preventing those mosquito bites. Wearing insect repellent, you know, long pants, long shirts, long sleeved shirts if you can. Making sure you’re using screens to make sure mosquitoes aren’t getting into your home… and clearing any standing water on your property,” Teresa Foo said, a medical consultant with DHEC.