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Vilas County Public Health Department Passes Review by State Health Officials

Vilas County Health Department has successfully passed the state’s health department review.  As a result, the Vilas County Public Health Department will maintain their Level II status. 

“Local public health staff help make their community a healthier place in which to live, play, work, and learn,” said Chuck Warzecha, Deputy Administrator of the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.  “The department has an actively engaged and supportive Board of Health, and does an excellent job of collaborating with partner agencies and keeping the community informed of the best ways to stay healthy.” 

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is required to formally review the operations of all 86 Wisconsin local health departments at the county or municipality level at least every five years.  The review establishes the health department as a level I, II or III agency.  All agencies must meet the minimum requirements of a level I health department and agencies must provide an additional 7 to 14 programs or services to meet the requirements of a level II or III health department. 

The Vilas County Health Department provides services and programs important to the community, such as:

  • Coalition work with community partners on the Community Health Improvement Plan.
  • Environmental health monitoring and facility licensing to assure safe food service and lodging.
  • The Northwoods Dental Project. 

For information about the state health plan, Healthiest Wisconsin 2020, visit: For more information about the Wisconsin Health Improvement Planning Process (WI-HIPP) that will meet national accreditation standards, visit:


Preparing for Flooding

It looks like spring may be here.  That means that flooding season is here too. The extra snow combined with mild temperatures and rain will increase the likelihood of flooding now and into the next few months in our area. Take steps to protect you and your family before any flooding may happen.

Secure your home 

  • Speak to your insurance company about flood coverage. 
  • List emergency numbers and contacts near phones. 
  • If you live in a flood zone, raise electrical components, furnace, and water heater  above flood zone level. 
  • Install backflow valves for drains, toilets, and other sewer connections.
  • Install sump pumps with back‐up power. 

In the case of a flood watch or warning:

  • Gather emergency supplies.
  • Stay informed.  Listen to local weather reports.  
  • Turn off power. 
  • If time allows: 
  • Bring outdoor possessions indoors and secure them. 
  • Fill bathtubs, sinks, and plastic bottles with clean water. 
  • Do not walk through water. If water levels begin to rise, immediately seek  higher ground. 
  • Prepare for evacuation. 
  • Make transportation arrangements and make sure the gas tank is full.
  • Check on friends, family, and neighbors that may be isolated or unaware of the situation. 
  • Collect important documents including ID cards, insurance cards, and medical  records. 

In the case of an ordered evacuation:

  • Turn off the gas, electricity, and water. 
  • Disconnect appliances. 
  • Listen to evacuation orders and follow evacuation route.
  • Take emergency supplies.
  • Avoid flood zones and remain informed by listening to weather reports.
  • Map a safe evacuation route in advance. 

For more information:

Tri-County Coaster Campaign to Promote Mental Health Services for Men


On February 1, a tri-county effort was kicked off through a coaster campaign in local bars and taverns.  The campaign focuses on men getting help for mental health concerns, such as depression and anxiety.  The strategy is provided by the Community, Outreach, Prevention, Education Coalition (COPE) Coalition.  The coalition is a tri-county, Forest, Oneida, and Vilas Counties, that provides education, prevention, and outreach on the issues of mental health and AODA.

This is one of the strategies for suicide prevention for middle-aged males.  According to the 2016 Centers for Disease (CDC) data, suicide rates for males 55-64-year old is the 8th leading cause of death. Wisconsin Interactive Statistics on Health (WISH) data ranks Vilas County as the second highest (per 100,000) rate in Wisconsin, which is almost double the national rate at 21.2/100,000; national rate is 14 and WI rate is 13. 

The coaster is a resource that may provide hope to someone and possibly save a life.  The front of the coaster, has a link to the website.  The site provides information and resources on mental illness and suicide.  It’s easy to follow and includes ways to obtain support, such as therapy or medication management in the community in which you reside.

The back side of these coasters provides patrons with our local Tri-County Crisis number  1-888-299-1188 (sponsored by Human Health Services) and the National Crisis Line, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), so they have access to support 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.

It takes a village and we would like to sincerely thank all bars and taverns that supported this strategy in our three counties!


National Nutrition Month® 2019


This month, focus your grocery shopping around informed food choices and creating healthy eating and physical activity habits.

Key Messages:

  1. Discover the benefits of a healthy eating style.
  2. Choose foods and drinks that are good for your health.
  3. Include a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.
  4. Select healthier options when eating away from home.
  5. Be mindful of portion sizes. Eat and drink the amount that's right for you, as MyPlate encourages us to do.
  6. Keep it simple. Eating right doesn't have to be complicated.
  7. Make food safety part of your everyday routine.
  8. Help to lower food waste by considering the foods you have on hand before buying more at the store.
  9. Find activities that you enjoy and be physically active most days of the week.
  10. Talk to nutrition experts. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.

For more information, visit:



The Vilas County Sheriff’s Office-Oneida County Sheriff’s Office/Divisions of Emergency Management has identified the following facilities that are open in the event citizens need to seek warmth from the bitter cold.

The National Weather Service is predicting dangerously cold wind chills tonight into the weekend. Dangerous cold through this weekend and early next week with wind chills of -25 to -40 degrees. Be sure to prepare and dress appropriately for the cold temperatures!

Please contact the utility company you are serviced by to report a power outage or a downed power line.

Safety Tips                                                                                                                     

When going outside, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.  Carry a charged cell phone if possible and watch for slippery conditions.

Health Risks: With These Bitter Temperatures, Beware of Hypothermia and Frostbite

Frostbite: can occur on exposed skin in less than 10 minutes. Symptoms include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ear tips and tip of the nose. Limit your time outside.

Signs of hypothermia: include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness in adults and children. In infants, symptoms can include bright red or cold skin and very low energy.

Carbon Monoxide Danger: Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. Breathing carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood and can cause death within minutes at high levels. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide are often mistaken for the flu which includes: headaches, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath/chest pain, nausea/vomiting, and confusion. If you or someone you know experience any of these symptoms, or your carbon monoxide detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

If you see any of the above signs, seek medical care immediately!

Pet/Livestock Precautions: Animals can suffer from hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries.  It is recommended to bring pets indoors during this bitter weather. Harsh conditions weaken livestock immune systems and open the door to illness. Calves and swine are especially susceptible to cold. Make sure animals have a place to get out of the wind, even if it is just a windbreak or a three-sided shelter. Also provide dry bedding to protect them from frostbite. Additional feeding may be necessary as well as providing access to fresh water – not frozen streams or snow.

On the road: Before you travel, call 511 Wisconsin for 24/7 road conditions, notify a friend or family member of your travel route and notify them when you arrive at your destination. Make sure you have a winter emergency kit including: candles, matches, flashlight, pocket knife, snacks, cell phone adapter, extra blanket and extra clothing. Stay at least 200 feet from the rear of a snowplow and obey the ‘Move Over’ Law to provide a safety zone for law enforcement vehicle, tow truck, ambulance, fire truck, highway maintenance vehicle, or utility vehicle that is stopped on the side of a road with its warning lights flashing.  If your vehicle slides off the road, gets stuck or becomes disabled, make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow, keep the window cracked and run the engine for 10 minutes an hour, stay inside the vehicle it if at all possible with your seat belt fastened until a tow truck or help arrives to help protect against out-of-control vehicles. A vehicle is a good shelter.

For more information, contact: Vilas County Emergency Management at 715-361-5167


It is Still 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.


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.


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  


Protect You and Your Family from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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.

On average, carbon monoxide poisoning sends about 500 Wisconsinites to the emergency room each year, according to data from the Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking Program.  These trips to the ER for carbon monoxide poisoning are preventable when people are prepared.

 To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide, follow these safety tips:

  • Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors.  All homes and duplexes in Wisconsin are required to have detectors on every level, including the basement, but not the attic or storage areas.  Detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores for $20-50.  Daylight Savings Time is a good time each year to replace the batteries in your detector and push the “Test” button to be sure it’s working properly. Replace your detector every five years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually.  Hire a professional to make sure it is functionally sound and vents properly outside the home.
  • Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or garage.  Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, and RVs.
  • Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home.  Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.
  • Never run a car in an enclosed space.  Even with a door or window open, carbon monoxide levels can still build up to an unsafe level.

At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and confusion. If you think you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911. 

Visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website for more information about carbon monoxide poisoning.  


Tips to Protect Yourself Against the Flu


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 are other tips on how 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.

Tips for Food Safety in a Power Outage: