Monthly Archives: December 2017

Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Handwashing In Fighting Germs

When it comes to protecting yourself and others and putting a stop to the spread of germs, don’t underestimate the power of handwashing.

Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and keep from spreading germs to others. It is particularly important to wash your hands at appropriate times when engaged in certain activities, such as before, during and after preparing food, after using the toilet and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. So, how should you wash your hands to make sure they are clean? Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you need a timer, hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

If clean, running water is not accessible, use soap and available water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol to clean your hands.

Visit the CDC’s website for more information on handwashing. Also, view the video below for instructions on how to effectively wash your hands.

From Other Blogs: Holiday leftovers, winter safety, food labels & more

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

Holiday Leftovers? We’ve Got You Covered!

All good things must come to an end, including the holidays. But leftovers from your holiday celebrations can help stretch out y our holiday cheer. —  From the EPA Blog

Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter

Winter storms and cold temperatures can be hazardous. Stay safe and healthy by planning ahead. Prepare your home and cars. Prepare for power outages and outdoor activity. Check on older adults. — From the CDC’s Your Health – Your Environment Blog

NCEH/ATSDR – Top 10 “Your Health, Your Environment” Blog Posts of 2017

As another year draws to a close, perhaps you’ve realized that you didn’t get a chance to read all of the “Your Health, Your Environment” blog posts. To help you get caught up, here are the ten most popular posts of 2017.  — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Your Health – Your Environment blog

Both Government and Private Company Food Labels Have Tradeoffs

For more than a century, American families have used government-regulated food labels, such as “USDA prime beef,” to help them decide what food products to buy. Today, consumers also look to food labels for information about how their food was grown and how healthy it is. — From the U.S. Department of Agriculture blog

When the holidays aren’t so happy

Gifts and celebrations, parties and lights, what’s not to like? Right?

But for some, the holiday season does not always feel festive and bright.

Here are five factors that can make maintaining the holiday spirit a struggle. — From Flourish, Palmetto Health’s blog

Is it the flu or the common cold?

You’re coughing and sneezing, among other things. Do you have the flu or a cold?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes on its website that the flu and common cold have different signs and symptoms. For example, while the flu can come with a fever that lasts three or four days, a fever rarely accompanies the common cold. Chills are common with the flu but uncommon with a cold. You can view a side-by-side comparison of the signs and symptoms of the flu and the common cold on the CDC’s website.

Below are the symptoms of the flu and common cold, according to the CDC.

Flu Symptoms

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. Those who have the flu often experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills. (Not everyone with flu will have a fever.)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

For more information on the flu, including preventive steps you can take, visit

Common cold

Each year in the United States, there are millions of cases of the common cold. Adults have an average of two to three colds per year, and children have even more. Most people recover in about seven to 10 days.

Most people get colds in the winter and spring, but it is possible to get a cold any time of the year. Symptoms usually include:

  • sore throat
  • runny nose
  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • headaches
  • body aches

For more information on the common cold, including preventive steps you can take, visit

DHEC offers New Year’s Fireworks Safety Tips

By Adrianna Bradley

This New Year’s Eve, many Americans and South Carolinians will continue the long tradition of lighting up the sky with fireworks at midnight. While the displays are visually compelling, DHEC is urging everyone to put safety first if they are participating in any firework activities.

“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 can be serious but 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.

“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.

Protect Your Pets

Aside from making sure your family and friends stay safe, it’s also important to protect our furry friends. Pets should be kept safely inside the house to avoid additional stress and the possibility of lost pets (who escape fencing to run from fireworks).

Dogs who are fearful of fireworks should be isolated in rooms that provide the most soundproofing from the loud noises of fireworks going off. You can also play the radio to further muffle the noises.

Make sure that your pets have proper, current, visible identification in case they escape during the fireworks.

Also, never take your pets to firework shows.

For more information on firework safety, visit and search for keyword “fireworks.”

DHEC in the News: ‘Widespread’ flu activity, opioid addiction

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

‘Widespread’ Flu Activity Reported Across SC

COLUMBIA, SC (WTAT-TV) — New health data in from the state health department reveals widespread flu activity in South Carolina.

The report is from December 10th through the 16th and the most recent data DHEC is providing.

They say those numbers present a 56% spike from the previous week.

Painkiller addictions often start in the doctor’s office, but prescribers are rarely punished

To hear Dr. Charles Bruyere tell it, his problem was he had too much empathy. That’s why he doled out painkillers at such a high rate, why he landed in jail and why he was stripped of his medical license, he said.

The former physician, who operated a cash-only pain management clinic in Greenwood, said he didn’t know he was breaking the law by writing prescriptions for future dates when he would be out of the country. And anyway, he doesn’t believe in opioid addiction, or doesn’t believe doctors should have to take responsibility. The blame, he said, lies with the American people.