Firework Safety Tips for Fourth of July

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Fourth of July is just around the corner and already next week which means fireworks and family fun! Although fireworks are fun, they can be very dangerous causing fires and deadly injuries. According to the National Safety Council, due to fireworks an average of 18,500 fires happen each year and about 200 people in the month of July go the emergency room everyday due to firework- related injuries. These injuries range from head, face, ear, arm, leg, hand, or finger and 34% occur to people between ages 24-44. Although, children aged 5-9 are more than twice as likely as other age groups to be injured by fireworks.

To keep yourself, friends and loved ones safe this holiday continue reading for some firework safety tips.

Tips to Celebrate Safely

  • Make sure to purchase legal fireworks from your area and labeled for consumer use.
  • Never leave young children alone with fireworks or to handle on their own, this includes sparklers.
  • Safer options for children are glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers.
  • Always keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby, in case of a fire.
  • Never light them indoors.
  • Do not use fireworks while being impaired by drugs or on alcohol.
  • If using fireworks or nearby, consider using protective eye wear.
  • Light fireworks one at a time and make sure to move as quickly as possible after lighting.
  • Do not relight or use a malfunctioning firework. To discard, soak them in water and throw them away.
  • Never point or throw fireworks including sparklers towards no one.  

For more resources visit:

Fireworks | CPSC.gov

Fireworks Safety Tips – National Safety Council (nsc.org)

Summer fire safety outreach materials (fema.gov)


Are you Wildfire Smoke ready!

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Yesterday was officially the first day of summer! This means nice warm weather, but also possible wildfires. Wildfires are unplanned fires that burn in natural areas like forests, grasslands, or prairies. These dangerous fires spread quickly and devastate not only wildlife and natural areas, but also communities.

Wildfire smoke is a major threat to public health. Smoke from wildfires can cause wheezing, coughing, heart and lung disease, and even death. Wildfire smoke is also the largest source of particle pollution in Washington.

Here are some ways that you and your family can prepare for and stay safe during a wildfire. Below you will also find information about what to do following the aftermath of a wildfire in your community.

Prepare for Wildfires

  • Have several ways to receive alerts so you don’t miss anything important. Sign up for community alerts in your area and be aware of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alert. Also sign up for CodeRED or download the FEMA app and receive alerts from the National Weather Service.
  • Look out for air quality alerts. To check your air quality visit AirNow.gov
  • Make an emergency plan. Make sure everyone in the household knows what to do if you need to evacuate quickly.
  • Know your evacuation zone.
  • Have a communications plan, and make sure everyone in your household knows it.
  • Have an emergency go bag ready for you, household members and pets. For a checklist visit Build A Kit | Ready.gov
  • Review important documents. Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents  are up to date. Create copies and keep them in your go bag!

Stay Safe During a Wildfire

  • Evacuate as soon as authorities tell you to.
  • Pay attention to emergency alerts for information.
  • Call 911 if you’re trapped and give your location.
  • Use an N95 mask to protect you from smoke inhalation.

Returning Home After a Wildfire

  • Do not return home until authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Look out for hot ash, charred trees, smoldering debris, and live embers.
  • Wear protective clothing when doing any cleaning.
  • Document property damage with photographs.
  • Reach out to family to check if they are OK or to let them know you are.

Helpful Resources:

The Northwest Clean Air Agency (NWCAA) offers resources on how to protect yourself and others during wildfire smoke events. See their website’s Wildfire Smoke Information page: https://bit.ly/3wgdcEM. For NWCAA monitors and related air quality information: https://bit.ly/3lXahMq.

For information on low-cost air sensors and a map showing local sensors: https://bit.ly/3iWcwxM.

Wildfires | Ready.gov

May 2 2022: Wildfires and Smoke | AirNow.gov

Wildfire smoke – Washington State Department of Ecology

Smoke From Wildfires – Toolkit | Washington State Department of Health



10 Tips on how to keep your home cool this summer!

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In the summer, we all know how uncomfortable a hot home can be. With summer being right around the corner, it is a good idea to prepare your home for the heat. Continue reading for 10 ways to keep your home cool this summer.

Tips

  1. Switch to LED light bulbs. LED bulbs produce less heat and use up to 75% less energy than incandescent light bulbs, saving you money at the same time.
  2. Use ceiling, portable desk, and floor fans to circulate air, making your home feel cooler.
  3. Light bulbs give off heat when they’re being used. Add light dimmers and occupancy sensors so your light bulbs turn off when you’re not in the room.
  4. Block the sun’s heat from your home by installing solar screens, window tinting, or shutters.
  5. Buy an air conditioner ahead of time. If you buy a window AC unit, make sure to insulate around it.
  6. Plant trees and bushes outside your home to create shade.
  7. Reduce the use of appliances, and unplug the ones you are not using.
  8. Minimalize your kitchen use throughout the day. A helpful tip is to meal prep in the morning or night when temperatures are cooler.
  9. Wet your patio floor. Evaporation naturally cools the air.
  10. Weather strip doors and windows to keep outside heat from coming in, and keep your cool air from your AC from seeping out.
https://blog.constellation.com/2020/06/25/how-to-keep-your-house-cool-without-raising-your-energy-bill/

Helpful resources:

Home Cooling | Department of Energy

Heat Safety Tips and Resources (weather.gov)


Are you prepared for this summer’s heat?

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Summer is right around the corner which means sunshine and heat! While Pacific Northwesterners anxiously await these warmer months, we also need to be conscious of potential risks associated with extreme heat. For those who may be heat sensitive or who do not have adequate access to cooling systems or water, extreme temperatures can be life threatening. And with extreme heat events predicted to now be more common due to our changing climate, it is a good time to look at ways to prepare.

As you may recall, last summer we experienced a record-breaking heat wave that lasted 7 days—from June 26th to July 2nd. According to the Washington State Department of Health, there were 100 heat related deaths reported throughout the state. In Skagit County, we sadly lost 6 individuals to heat related complications during this time.

It is crucial that during these times we are ready and prepared. Being ready can help to prevent heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and—most importantly—death. Do you know the signs of heat-related illnesses and ways to respond? Keep reading for some helpful information.

Prepare for Extreme Heat

  • Weather strip doors and windows.
  • Cover windows with drapes or shades.
  • Have at least 2 fans to create air flow in home. Remember fans create air flow and a false sense of comfort but will not reduce your body temperature or prevent heat-related illnesses.
  • Install a window air conditioner and insulate around it.
  • Add insulation to keep the heat out.
  • Know of cooling places like stores or libraries near you! Contact Skagit County Public Health to find a cooling shelter near you—(360) 416-1500.

Be Safe During

  • Stay hydrated and drink lots of fluids.
  • Take cold showers or baths.
  • Go to a cooling center if air conditioning is not available in your home.
  • Never leave people or pets in a closed vehicle on a hot or warm day.
  • Wear loose, light colored clothing, and lightweight clothes.
  • Use your oven less to help reduce heat in your home.
  • Avoid being outside.
  • Check in with family members to let them know you’re okay or to check if they’re okay. As well with neighbors, and friends.
  • Consider pet safety.
  • Watch for signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

What is heat illness?

Some common heat illnesses are heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. Here are some signs to look out for.

Signs of Heat Stroke:

If you suspect a heat stroke, immediately call 9-1-1 or get the person to a hospital as soon as possible.

  • Rapid, strong pulse.
  • Red, hot, and dry skin with no sweat.
  • Dizziness, confusion, or unconsciousness.
  • Extremely high body temperature.

Signs Heat Cramps:

  • Muscle pains.
  • Spasms in the stomach, arms, or legs.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Fast or weak pulse
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you have signs of heat cramps or heat exhaustion, go to the closest cooling center/location near you. Try to cool down by removing excess clothing and drink water or sports drinks. Call your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.

Helpful Resources:

Extreme Heat | Ready.gov

Summer Safety (weather.gov)

Heat Wave 2021 | Washington State Department of Health


Don’t Fry Day: Sun Safety!

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Imagine yourself in ten years from now. How do you look? How’s your skin? What if you were told that you had skin cancer? Most of us do not think about how important our skin is and how crucial it is for us to take care of it every day.  

Although we have not had much sunshine this spring, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has designated the Friday before Memorial Day as “Don’t Fry Day” to share awareness and remind everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors as the summer gets closer.  

Keep reading for some tips on how you and your family can prevent skin cancer and long-term skin damage.  

Sun Safety Tips:  

  1. Do not burn or tan 
  • Avoid intentional tanning and tanning beds. 
  1. Seek Shade 
  • When it’s very hot out, sit under a tree or other shade structure. Use an umbrella when at the beach. 
  • Sun rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. 
  1. Wear protective clothing  
  • Use long sleeve shirts and pants 
  • Wide brimmed hat and sunglasses 
  1. Apply Sunscreen throughout your day 
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or higher for protection from harmful ultraviolet A and B radiation.  
  • Budget friendly and clean sunscreens: CeraVe sunscreen, Neutrogena sunscreens, Derma e sunscreen, etc. To check if your sunscreen contains any harmful ingredients visit: Best Recreational Sunscreens | EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens 
  • Apply 15 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours.  
  1. Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand 
  • These surfaces can be very harmful and reflect the damaging rays of the sun leaving you with a possible sunburn.  
  1. Get vitamin D safely 
  • Take vitamin supplements 
  • Incorporate in your healthy diet.  

What is Melanoma? 

Melanoma is a skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body and causes over 9,000 deaths every year. People who die of melanoma lose an average of 20 years of life expectancy. Melanoma can be caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from sun or sources such as indoor tanning.  

Why Is it important? 

Skin Cancer is one of the most common diagnosed cancers in the United States. Too much sun exposure can age your skin, lead to skin cancer, weaken, or suppress your immune system.  

According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, more than 1 million Americans are living with melanoma. Early detection of melanoma can save your life. Without additional prevention efforts, cases of melanoma will continue to increase in the next 15 years.  

You can detect it early by carefully examining all your skin once a month and visit your doctor if you notice a new or changing spot on your skin. For more helpful tips, visit How to Spot Skin Cancer

Please visit the sources for more information:  

Don’t Fry Day : National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention 

Healthy Skin  |  American Skin Association 

Best Recreational Sunscreens | EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens 

How to Spot Skin Cancer 

Preventing Melanoma | VitalSigns | CDC 


The importance of HPV Vaccination

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Did you know HPV is a common virus that can cause certain cancers later in life? According to CDC, more than 42 million American are currently infected with HPV types that cause disease and about 13 million Americans, including teens, become infected each year.  

What is HPV?  

HPV, also known as Human Papillomavirus, is a common virus that can cause cancers later in life. It is one of the most common sexual transmitted infections (STIs). HPV is spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact. You can get HPV by sexual contact with someone who has the virus, even if they do not have signs or symptoms.  

Who should get vaccinated? 

Children ages 11-12 years should get two doses of HPV vaccine, given 6 to 12 months apart, but HPV vaccines can be given as early as age 9 years. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about getting the HPV vaccine to prevent HPV infections. The vaccine is available for all people—male or female.  

It is recommended that everyone through age 26 should get the HPV vaccine. Adults between ages 27 and 45 years old who were not already vaccinated might still be able to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their medical provider about their risks for new HPV infections. The HPV vaccine for adults provides less benefit because most people in this age range have already been exposed to HPV at some point.  

Why is vaccination important?  

You can protect your child from certain cancers later in life with the HPV vaccine. The earlier the better! It can protect your child long before they ever have contact with the virus. 

HPV infections can cause certain cancers in both men and women. Some of those are cervix, vagina and vulva cancer in women and penis cancer in men. Both men and women can also get anus and back-of-the-throat cancer. Cancer usually takes years, even decades, to be detected after a person is infected with HPV.  

Are HPV vaccines safe and effective? 

The HPV vaccine can prevent over 90% of cancers caused by this virus and work best when given at age 11-12 years, before contact with the HPV virus.  

HPV vaccination is safe! More than 135 million doses of HPV vaccines have been distributed throughout the states since they were licensed. Also, 15 years of monitoring have shown that HPV vaccines are very safe and effective in protecting against the HPV types targeted by the vaccine. For more information about HPV vaccination please visit, HPV Vaccine Safety | CDC.  

For more resources please visit: 

https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/index.html

HPV Resources, Education, and References | CDC 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine Information (immunize.org) 


Building Safety Month: Evacuation Planning!

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Were you and your family woken up by the earthquake that happened on May 1, 2022 here in Mount Vernon? Some described feeling a shake and hearing a loud explosion-like noise.  

If you felt the earthquake, what was the first thought that came to mind? Did you know what you and your family would do in case an evacuation was needed?  

This May, join Public Health and the International Code Council in commemorating Building Safety Month. This year, Building Safety Month is focusing on safety for all building codes in action. Help us educate and spread awareness about how to properly evacuate a building or home in case of an emergency.  

Preparing an effective evacuation plan is important. The worst mistake that you can make is waiting until the last minute to get prepared. Here are some helpful preparedness tips for you and your family on how to evacuate a building, including your home, in case of an emergency.  

At your home: 

  • Arrange your evacuation plan ahead of time. For tips on creating a plan, go to: Five Steps to preparing an effective evacuation plan | III.   
  • Sit down with your household and discuss clear exit points located in your home.  
  • Come up with a meeting point outside of your home in case you must evacuate.   
  • Remove any objects or furniture that are blocking exit ways. 
  • Make clear pathways to all exits. 
  • Make sure family members know how to unlock and open windows and doors. 
  • Have a plan for evacuating your pets, as well!  

In a building:  

  • Learn about your emergency exit routes and know where a building map is located. Talk with your employer about their approved evacuation/safety plan.  
  • If working in the building, safely stop your work. 
  • Leave the building through the nearest door with an exit. 
  • Wait for instructions from emergency responders.  

Why is it important? 

Being prepared and planning ahead can save lives during an emergency. Not only that, but it can also prevent you from feeling overwhelmed or scared. After all, having a plan will give you the confidence you need in order to activate during an emergency situation.  

Support Building Safety Month  

  • Educate Your Community  
  • Visit buildingsafetymonth.org to find the online campaign toolkit, safety tip sheets and kids’ corner materials.  
  • Issue a Proclamation  
  • Ask your city official to sign a proclamation.  
  • Promote  
  • Hand out Building Safety Month materials to your community, family, and friends. For print copies of brochures, pencils and more, you can visit the Code Council store

For more resources please visit: 

Evacuation | Ready.gov 

Five Steps to preparing an effective evacuation plan | III 

Building Evacuation Procedures (ucsd.edu) 

BUILDING SAFETY MONTH -May 2022 – National Today 

2022 Building Safety Month – ICC (iccsafe.org) 

Magnitude 3.6 earthquake shakes Mount Vernon | king5.com 


Connecting the Dots: Youth Alcohol Awareness!

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Did you know, April is Alcohol Awareness Month? If you haven’t already, now may be a good time to reflect on your drinking patterns and the role that alcohol plays in your life.

This year’s theme is “Connecting the Dots: Opportunity for Recovery, which focuses primarily on youth education and prevention. This specific group of individuals can be easily influenced by alcohol and other substances if not educated or informed about risks. For this reason, we are asking you to join us this month to help raise awareness in our communities, schools, and homes on alcohol use. 

Our youth in Skagit County

According to the 2021 Healthy Youth Survey, Alcohol use has been reported by youth as young as 6th grade, and prevalence of regular use increases each year. By 12th grade, approximately 1 in 5 12th graders reported drinking in the past month. This can be for many reasons, perhaps one being that children in these grades are not getting enough information about alcohol.

Why is it important?

Research shows that heavy alcohol use during teen years can permanently damage the still developing brain. Alcohol use at a young age is also associated with violence, poor school performance, suicide, and risky sexual behavior. The use of alcohol at this early age can lead to possible substance abuse later in life and Alcohol use disorder (AUD), which affects about 15 million adults in the United States. There are more than 380 deaths each day in the U.S. due to excessive alcohol use, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the nation.

Looking for something positive? Research also shows that about 50% of children who have conversations with parents about risks are less likely to use drugs and alcohol, than those who do not. That’s why “connecting the dots” with your child, sibling, cousin, niece, or nephew is so important.

What can we do to help spread awareness?

Although one month out of the year is not enough time to help educate and help everyone recover, continue to spread the word about the importance of alcohol awareness to friends and family.

Get creative and make informational flyers about the topic with resources and distribute them around your neighborhood town, local stores etc. Host a fundraiser to donate money to local non-profit treatment facilities.

For more information please visit:

Alcohol Awareness Month | AlcoholAwareness.org

Alcohol Awareness Month: Learn About Alcohol Use Disorder and Ways to Get Help | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (nih.gov)

Skagit County | Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute (uw.edu)

HYS Fact Sheets (askhys.net)

Alcohol and Public Health | CDC


April is National Minority Health Month!

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April is National Minority Health Month (#NMHM2022)! This year’s theme is Give Your Community a Boost, focusing on the importance of COVID-19 vaccination. CDC data show that some racial and ethnic minority groups have been impacted differently by Covid, showing how these communities have experienced higher rates of infection, hospitalization, and death.

Together let’s debunk misinformation and encourage our communities to get fully vaccinated. Join us and @MinorityHealth to learn how to #BoostYourCommunity or visit www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/nmhm/.

Here in Skagit County

According to our 2020-21 Skagit Community Health Assessment when COVID hit, the Hispanic/ Latino community, along with other communities of color were disproportionately harmed by COVID. Why? Hispanics / Latinos are disproportionally represented in essential workforces and consequently, overexposed to the virus.

COVID-19 cases and rates in Skagit per 100,000 population, by race and ethnic origin show how 2,025 cases were made up by Indigenous Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander, Hispanic (all races), American Indian/Alaska Native, people of color and Asian.

Why is it important?

Reducing health disparities and improving health equity for our racial and ethnic minority groups will help save lives, reduce the risk of getting sick and having severe illnesses.

Ways we can help increase vaccine confidence

Presenting several strategies to our communities can help increase COVID-19 vaccine trust and help advance vaccine equity within the community. Here are some ways we could help do that. For more strategies visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/health-equity/race-ethnicity.html

Develop culturally relevant materials

  • Provide messaging and tone that is culturally relevant and predominant languages spoken in the community.
  • For an example, at our mass COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine site we had all materials in both Spanish and English. Also provided patients with Spanish and Mixtec Interpreters at our site.

Partner with trusted messengers within the community

  • Collaborated with community partners like Community-to-Community development (C2C), Skagit County YMCA, Skagit Valley College, Chinook Enterprises, Boys and Girls Club, churches etc.

Address any community concerns or questions

  • Skagit County Public Health nurses, CHWs and Promotoras conducted a Q&A session for Spanish speaking women at the Methodist church. At our mass vaccination site staff created a safe observation area for those who had gotten vaccinated or had any questions or concerns about COVID-19.                                                   

                                                                                         

For more resources please visit:

Disparities in COVID-19-Associated Hospitalizations | CDC

National Minority Health Month 2022 (hhs.gov)

COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities (cdc.gov)

Health Equity Considerations and Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups | CDC

Skagit County Population Health Trust Advisory Committee

SCPH_CHA_2021_FINAL.pdf (skagitcounty.net)


April is STD Awareness Month: Say Yes to Test!

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Did you know in 2020 Washington State reported 613 Sexually Transmitted Infections cases in Skagit County? This month is Sexually Transmitted Infection Awareness Month. Join us by sharing information about STIs to friends and family on how to stay safe and stop the spread!

What is a STI?

A STI is an infection that is passed from one individual to another through sexual contact. STIs are also known as a sexually transmitted disease or STDs.  According to American Sexual Health Association ASHA, Americans contract around 20 million STDs every year, with young people (aged 15-24) making up half of the cases.

Most Common STIs

https://www.cdc.gov/std/statistics/2020/images/infographic-SM-1.png

Current trending STIs are Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis. Chlamydia is the most reported STI in the U.S., with 15 – 24-year-olds making up nearly 2/3 of all cases. This STI is known as the silent STI due to it rarely having symptoms, therefore people often spread it before even realizing they have it.

Another prominent STI is Gonorrhea which has seen a 75.2% case increase since 2009. If caught early, it can most likely be cured early with a single dose of antibiotics.

Syphilis can cause serious health problems if not cured with treatment. This infection develops in three stages and has different signs and symptoms. It can also be spread from mother to her unborn child. In 2020 144,000 cases of syphilis were spotted in the country, which has been the highest in 30 years.

Why is it important to seek medical care and get tested?

Some STIs, like Chlamydia, if undiagnosed and untreated, can lead to a serious condition called pelvic Inflammatory disease (PID) that can cause infertility and increase the chances of transmitting or getting HIV.

Say Yes to Test every year and with every new partner! A way to reduce your risk of getting an STI is by practicing safe sex and using condoms every time you engage in sexual activity. Ask your health care provider at your annual check up to do a screening for STDs. For a list of providers near you visit https://gettested.cdc.gov/search_results?location=98273.

What can Skagit County Public Health do for STI prevention and treatment?

Skagit County Public Health (SCPH) does not offer any testing or treatment services to the general public but will test and treat as part of contact investigation for someone who has already been identified by a provider as STI positive. SCPH also provides free testing (via blood sample) and antibiotic treatment for the sex partner of positive cases, through a program called Expedited Partner Treatment (EPT). The patient must live in Skagit County to receive this. If a sex partner lives outside of Skagit County, they will be referred to their local county health department and be provided with adequate care. Our office also offers free condoms for anyone, located in the restrooms!  For questions or concerns feel free to contact us at (360) 416-1500 or visit our website for more info.

For more information please visit:

https://gettested.cdc.gov/

STI Awareness Week — April 11-17 – HIV (va.gov)

STI Awareness Week | Knowtify (nd.gov)

STI Awareness Month (ashasexualhealth.org)