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Tips to Keep your Family Safe and Healthy this Holiday Season

More than 46 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving Day. Combine the turkey with a number of side dishes and desserts, and it is by far the largest and most stressful meal many people make all year.  This can leave room for mistakes that can make family and guests sick.

Turkey, other meat and poultry may contain bacteria, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter, which can lead to serious foodborne illness. Properly handlle and cook the turkey and other dishes to make sure your family has a safe and healthy holiday season.   

Follow these five steps:

Wash your hands, but not your poultry.  The simplest way to stop the spread of bacteria is to wash your hands before cooking.  The simplest way to spread bacteria all over the kitchen is to wash the turkey, chicken, or goose.  Studies show that washing meat or poultry can splash bacteria around your kitchen by up to 3 feet, contaminating countertops, towels and other food. Washing doesn’t get rid of bacteria from the bird. Only cooking the meat to the correct inner temperature will kill bacteria.  The exception to this rule is brining. When rinsing brine off of a turkey, be sure to remove all other food or objects from the sink. Layer the area with paper towels and allow a slow stream of water to avoid splashing.

To stuff or not to stuff. For ideal safety, do not stuff the turkey. Even if the turkey is cooked to the correct inner temperature, the stuffing inside may not have reached a temperature high enough to kill the bacteria. It is best to cook the stuffing in a separate dish.

Take the temperature of the bird.  The only way to make sure your turkey is cooked to the correct inner temperature is to use a food thermometer. Take the bird’s temperature in three areas: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing and the innermost part of the thigh, to make sure all three areas are at 165ºF.  Cook the turkey as long as needed until ALL three areas reach 165ºF.

Follow the two-hour rule.  Do not leave foods that spoil easily on the table or countertops for more than two hours. After two hours, food falls into temperatures between 40-140ºF.  This is called the Danger Zone.  This is where bacteria can quickly grow.  If that food is then eaten, people could get sick. Cut turkey into smaller slices and refrigerate along with other foods, such as potatoes, gravy and vegetables. Leftovers should stay safe in the refrigerator for four days.

If you have questions about your Thanksgiving dinner, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert. You can also visit FoodSafety.gov to learn more about how to safely pick, thaw and prepare a turkey.

 

Protect your family from carbon monoxide this winter!

Winter is here. Vilas County Public Health Department wants to remind everyone of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, especially those who will be headed to the hunting cabin or to another location where there may not be carbon monoxide detectors.

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is the most common cause of deadly poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 450 people die each year and 20,000 experience other injuries because of CO poisoning. Carbon monoxide is often called the “invisible killer” because it is odorless and some of the symptoms are similar to the flu. People can be exposed to CO when charcoal, gas, oil or wood are burned in poorly ventilated areas.

About 50% of all CO Poisonings occur in the home. Other places include cars, cabins, and tents. No matter where you live, prevent exposure and know the symptoms. Common signs of CO poisoning might include headaches, dizziness, and weakness. CO may also cause sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and disorientation. At very high levels, it causes loss of consciousness and death. If you think you may be experiencing CO poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

Following these tips can help you and your family avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. CO alarms are not replacements for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and the sound of CO alarms.
  • Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure it is working properly and vents outside of the home.
  • Never run an engine in an enclosed space. If a car, snowmobile, generator or lawn mower is running, you must have a door open to the outside.
  • Generators should be run a safe distance from the home. Never run a generator in the home, garage, or right next to windows or doors.
  • Put a carbon monoxide detector in your camper, cabin or tent. With hunting season almost here hunters and other campers are encouraged to put a battery powered CO detector in their cabin, tent, RV or wherever they may be sleeping.
  • Do not use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal burning device inside your home.

For more information about carbon monoxide, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/air/co.htm

 

It's Winter!

Some cold weather dangers are easier to see than others.  Sometimes, you might not even think it's very cold, but a cold-related illness or injury can still harm you.  So when you are outside this winter, be prepared and be aware.

Hypothermia

One of the biggest dangers from working in the cold can be the hardest to recognize. Hypothermia happens when your body temperature drops below 95° F. Mild hypothermia can make you feel confused. Being too cold can also cloud your judgment.

Early symptoms (or signs) of hypothermia include:

  • Shivering,
  • Feeling tired,
  • Loss of coordination, and
  • Confusion.

As your body loses more heat, the shivering will stop, your skin may turn blue, the pupils of your eye will dilate, your pulse and breathing will slow, and you will lose consciousness.

Frostbite

Many parts of the body are prone to frostbite, including your fingers, toes, nose, and ears. Frostbite happens when a part of the body freezes, damaging the tissue. If the tissue can't be saved, the body part may need to be removed to prevent even worse health problems.

Warning signs of frostbite include:

  • Numbness or tingling,
  • Stinging, or pain on or near the affected body part.

If the temperature and or the wind shield are at dangerous levels, do not go outside if you do not have to. 

Avoid hyperthermia and frostbite by being aware of the weather and wear the right clothing for the weather, such as:

  • Several layers of loose clothing,
  • Warm gloves and hats
  • Waterproof and Insulated shoes.

The colder it is, the faster hypothermia and frostbite can set in and so you shouldn't stay in the cold any longer than you needed.

Here is more information: Cold Weather Stress Fact Sheet

Other tips to help you prepare for the winter months, such as winterizing your home, car safety and emergencies, can be found here:  Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter

 

It's Flu Season!

Flu season is upon us! Healthcare providers throughout the State have already seen people ill from the seasonal flu.  Call the Vilas County Public Health Department to schedule your flu shot.  The cost of the flu shot is $25.00 and can be paid with cash or checks.  We also bill Medicare Part B, Medicaid and some Medicare replacements.

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated against the flu. People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.

The following steps can also be taken to stay healthy this flu season:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners can also help.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs can spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever (100°F or 37.8°C) or signs of a fever (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine).
  • Follow public health advice in regards to school closures, avoid crowds and other social distancing measures.

Please feel free to contact the Vilas County Public Health Department at 715-479-3656 with any questions regarding the flu shot clinics. We also have pneumonia shots available for individuals 65 years of age and older. There are some restrictions.  Please call us for more information.

 

Survivors of Suicide Support Group Meets in Rhinelander

Has someone you love taken their own life?  Are you troubled with questions like, “why?”, “what brought this on?”, “why my family?”.  Do you find yourself with no one to talk to about your frustrations and confusion regarding the suicide of your loved one?  Then you are a Survivor of Suicide (SOS) and have a safe place to go to discuss your issues.

The SOS support group was started in July of 2005.  The group is facilitated by Sue Mackowski, a Certified Bereavement Specialist and Consultant.  The group originated as a result of the co-founder’s need for support after the death of her son.  Tina Werres, a Rhinelander native, lost her son Paul to suicide in 2001.  In the months following his death, she struggled with the loss and understood the need for people suffering from the unique backlash of suicide to have a gathering place to meet their needs.  Those needs planted the seeds for the formation of the Survivors of Suicide support group.

The Rhinelander based Survivors of Suicide support group meets once a month, the third Saturday at the Curran Building, 315 S. Oneida Avenue, Rhinelander.  The meetings are from 10am-12 noon.  The SOS support group offers a safe and confidential environment to discuss the unique grieving process experienced by those whose lives have been touched by suicide.  It is a place where survivors tell their stories, share their experiences, and help each other move forward in their grief journey.  The meetings are informal and confidentiality is the primary guideline.  The SOS support group is free and open to the public.

Since its inception, our group has served families and individuals from the Northwood’s area.  Our goal is to provide a “safe haven” for those dealing with the death of a loved one due to suicide.  In addition to group discussions, we have a small library of books, pamphlets, and other literature dealing with grief and loss, specifically loss due to suicide that is available to attendees.

We invite all of you who are struggling with the death of a loved one who has taken their life to join us. 

If you have any questions regarding the meeting schedule or content, please call Sue Mackowski, 715-275-5399 or Tina Werres, 716-499-3002.  Remember, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE”. 

 

Tips for Food Safety in a Power Outage:

https://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/2015/05/power-outage.html