May 31 is National Dam Safety Awareness Day. This observance offers a chance to highlight DHEC’s Dam Safety Program, its growth, and a few of its members.Continue reading
Hurricane season officially begins on June 1st, but it is best to start early and get prepared! Established by the National Weather Service, Hurricane Preparedness Week educates about the impact of hurricanes and informs people about ways to protect their homes and businesses.
Hurricanes are inevitable in South Carolina. Follow these tips to prepare:
- Have an Emergency Kit: Your emergency kit should have equipment, such as flashlights, generators, batteries, and first aid, etc.
- Write or Review your Family Emergency Plan: Discuss means of contact, where you will go, and what you will do in an emergency. Prepare for health concerns for those with chronic illnesses.
- Review insurance policies: Understand your insurance coverage for your health, home and personal property.
- Get familiar with the National Weather Service (NWS) forecast language: Understand the meaning of NWS watches, warnings, advisories, and outlooks.
The CDC’s guide , Preparedness and Safety Messaging for Hurricanes, Flooding, and Similar Disasters, is a tool that discusses every potential issue when preparing for a water-related natural disaster. For more information about what to do before a tropical storm or hurricane, visit: https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane-plan
For local emergency preparedness updates, visit the South Carolina Emergency Management Division‘s website.
A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.
Suppose someone tells you there are quick, easy ways to help keep people from getting some kinds of cancer. Would you believe it?
Luckily, you can. You already know vaccines stop you from getting dangerous diseases from bacteria and viruses. You don’t even realize you have some viruses because they may not cause any symptoms. But a few of them can lead to cancer if left untreated. — From The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) The Topic Is Cancer blog
The National ALS Biorepository is a component of the National ALS Registry that will increase the number of biological samples from persons with ALS available for research. These samples, along with the extensive epidemiologic data collected by the National ALS Registry, are a valuable resource in the fight to identify the causes of ALS. — From the CDC’s Your Health — Your Environment blog
The Winter Olympics begin shortly in South Korea, bringing us two weeks of incredible athletic performances. While many of us will watch the games from our TVs, computers or phones, some lucky individuals will travel to witness the games in person. And when traveling, people often bring back items as souvenirs or as gifts for those of us at home. If you are traveling to the Olympics (or anywhere outside the country), keep in mind there are rules about agricultural products being brought into the U.S. — From the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) blog
Just as families, friends and communities came together to respond to damages that occurred during the hurricanes of 2017, so did government agencies.
When hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria made landfall, the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Risk Management Agency (RMA), Rural Development (RD), and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) worked together, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other intergovernmental groups, to provide information and recovery resources to agricultural producers who experienced losses. — From the USDA blog
We’re a month into the 2016 hurricane season. Are you prepared? While we all should have emergency kits and evacuation plans, that’s doubly true for those of us who depend on a regular regimen of medication, medical equipment or special diets.
If you have special medical needs and haven’t developed an evacuation plan in case the need arises, today is the day to do so.
Don’t wait until a storm is bearing down. Waiting until the last moment could lead to mistakes, such as critical medicine, medical equipment or other essentials being left behind in a rush. You can avoid that by planning ahead so that you’re ready to move out of harm’s way at a moment’s notice.
Think it all through — from what you would need to take with you to where you would go. Be sure to maintain a list of items you need during emergencies, including medications, medical supplies and other items.
Here are two lists to get you started:
What will you take?
- Ample medication and medical supplies for at least seven days
- Medical equipment used at home, such as oxygen concentrators, wheelchairs, canes, walkers, etc.
- Special dietary foods and items
- Health insurance cards
- Names and phone numbers for health care providers, pharmacies and medical equipment companies (such as your oxygen provider)
- Name of the utility service that provides power at you home
Where will you go?
Shelters should be the place of last resort. In the event that it is necessary, special medical needs shelters will be made available during storms.
- Before opting to go to a shelter, try staying with family or friends or in a motel out of the area.
- Shelters should be used only when no other options are available.
- If a special medical needs shelter is necessary and available, organize an adult caregiver who can go with you and care for you.
- Be sure to make arrangements for your pets; many shelters do not allow pets.
- Tell family members where you will be during the storm.
- Be sure any home health services you receive can be continued in the shelter.
Visit www.scdhec.gov/Hurricanes/ for additional information on preparing for and recovering from a storm.
Click below to download a comprehensive guide to hurricanes or visit www.scemd.org.
By Robin Mack, DHEC Asbestos Program Manager
When working on cleanup and rebuilding efforts after a natural disaster like the South Carolina floods of 2015, it is important to be aware of potential asbestos-containing materials that could pose a health risk if not handled properly. Disturbing materials made with asbestos during building repairs, renovations, or demolitions can release asbestos fibers or dust particles into the air allowing them to be ingested or inhaled.
Health Risks from Asbestos Exposure
People who are exposed to large amounts of asbestos over a time, such as contractors, and do not follow safety standards have an increased chance of experiencing harmful health effects. Asbestos can contribute to the development of lung cancer or other respiratory diseases. Disease symptoms may take many years to develop after being exposed to asbestos.
Asbestos in Homes
It is less common to find large quantities of asbestos in newer homes, but homes built before 1980 are the most likely to have asbestos containing materials. Asbestos has been used in a variety of building materials, such as: siding, ceiling and floor tiles, stucco, sheetrock, joint compound, ceiling texture (popcorn ceiling), caulking, construction mastic, insulation, and roofing materials.
If you think your home contains asbestos, it is best to call a licensed professional to remove it. To find a list of licensed contractors that can perform asbestos abatement and demolition activities in South Carolina, click here.
Minimizing Asbestos Exposure
If homeowners decide to do work on their homes themselves or hire a non-licensed asbestos contractor, the following work practices and procedures should be followed to minimize possible airborne asbestos fiber releases and exposure:
- Keep the material wet at all times to help keep asbestos fibers from becoming airborne. A low pressure garden sprayer adjusted to “mist” works well.
- Avoid tearing, ripping, chipping, cutting, or grinding materials that may contain asbestos, such as those listed above. These actions increase the potential for asbestos fibers to be released.
- Do not throw or drop materials that may contain asbestos to the ground. Instead, lower them carefully to prevent breakage and release of fibers to the air.
- Please sort flood debris into categories according to the graphic below to help speed up the collection process. For any questions about debris pick-up or drop-off, please contact your local waste management program.
For more information about asbestos, click here or call (803) 898-4289.