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Environmental Health Division

HEALTH AND SAFETY AWARENESS MONTHS

January
Radon
April
Healthy Schools
July
Fireworks Safety
October
Lead Awareness
February
Burn Awareness
May
Asthma Awareness
August
Sun Safety
November
Smoking Cessation
March
Poison Prevention
June
Home Safety
September
Food Safety
December
Holiday Safety

January - Radon Action

  • Radon is a tasteless, odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally in soil and rock. It enters buildings through openings in the foundation floor or walls (sump openings; crawlspaces; floor/wall joints; cracks; space around plumbing, wiring, or ductwork; etc.).
  • Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for nonsmokers.
  • Radon has no warning symptoms (it does not cause headaches, nausea, fatigue, etc.); the only known health effect is an increased risk of lung cancer!
  • Any home could have a radon problem whether old or new; rural or urban; energy efficient or drafty; or built over a basement, over a crawlspace, or built slab-on-grade. ALL homes should be tested. The only way to know if your home has a radon problem is to test it!
  • Radon testing kits can be purchased at Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department located at 3299 Gull Road, Kalamazoo, MI 49048 for $10.00. Kits can also be ordered on line: Radon Kits.
  • For more information, visit: Michigan Radon Webpage or call 269-373-5210.
  • Click to see a map of Kalamazoo County with radon results.
  • Kalamazoo County Environmental Health Radon Page

February - Burn Awareness

  • Burns can result from contact with heat, chemicals, electricity, or radiation. They can damage not only the skin, but other organs. They are most common in young children.
  • 80% of burns occur in and around the home!
  • Burn Prevention Tips (Espanola)
  • If a burn occurs remember these important steps:
    • Call 911 immediately for emergency assistance if burn looks bad
    • Cool a burn with cool water until the ambulance arrives
    • Never use grease, butter or ointments on a burn
    • Don't remove clothing from the burn
  • Sparky the Fire Dog
  • Fire Extinguishers

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March - Poison Prevention

  • Every day in the United States, about 75 people die as a result of unintentional poisoning, and another 2,000 are treated in emergency departments (ED). CDC Statistic Fact Sheet
  • A poison is any substance that is harmful to your body when eaten, inhaled, injected, or absorbed through the skin. Any substance can be poisonous if too much is taken.
  • Poisonings are either intentional or unintentional (did not intend to cause harm).
  • In 2006, 96% of unintentional poisoning deaths were caused by drugs. Pain medications were most commonly involved.
  • Among children, ED visits are higher for medication poisonings than from other household products (such as cleaning solutions).
    • Drugs and Medicines
    • Household Chemicals
      • Always read the label before using a product that may be poisonous.
      • Keep chemical products in their original bottles or containers. Do not use food containers to store chemical products.
      • Never mix household products together. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia can result in toxic gases.
      • Wear protective clothing (gloves, long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes).
      • Turn on the fan and open windows when using chemical products.
      • Visit the Kalamazoo County Household Hazardous Center.
    • Keep Young Children Safe from Poisoning
      • Put the poison control number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and save it on your cell phone. The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
      • Keep all drugs in medicine cabinets or other childproof cabinets that young children cannot reach.
      • Avoid taking medicine in front of children.
      • Do not call medicine "candy."
      • Be aware of any legal or illegal drugs that guests may bring into your home.
      • When you take medicines yourself, do not put your next dose on the counter or table where children can reach them.
      • Do not leave household products out after using them; return them to a childproof cabinet as soon as you are done.
      • Identify poisonous plants in your house and yard.
    • What to do if a poisoning occurs
      • Remain calm.
      • Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and the victim has collapsed or is not breathing.
      • If the victim is awake and alert, dial 1-800-222-1222.
      • Have this information:
        • the victim's age and weight
        • the container or bottle of the poison if available
        • the time of the poison exposure
        • the address where the poisoning occurred
        • Stay on the phone and follow the instructions from the emergency operator or poison control center.
    • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
      • You Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure
        • Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
        • Do install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
        • Do seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous.
        • Do leave your home immediately if the detector sounds and call 911.
        • Don't burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn't vented.
        • Don't heat your house with a gas oven.
        • Don't run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even with the door open.
        • Don't use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage.

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April - Healthy Schools

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May - Asthma Awareness

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June - Home Safety

  • Think Safe, Be Safe: Create a Personalized Checklist
  • Is your home safe for your family? Follow these 10 tips from the Home Safety Council.
    • Prevent Falls:
  • Install grab bars in the tub and shower and install non-slip mats.
  • Have bright lights over stairs and steps and keep stairs clear of clutter.
    • Prevent Choking & Suffocation:
  • Things that can fit through a toilet paper tube can cause a young child to choke.
  • Keep coins, latex balloons and hard round foods, such as peanuts and hard candy where children cannot see or touch them.
  • Place babies to sleep on their backs, alone in their crib. Don't put pillows, blankets, comforters or toys in cribs.
  • When your children are in or near water, watch them very carefully. Stay close enough to reach out and touch them. This includes bathtubs, toilets, pools and spas - even buckets of water.
    • Prevent Poisonings:
  • Keep cleaners, medications and beauty products where children can't reach them.
  • Install safety locks.
    • Prevent Fires & Burns:
  • Have working smoke alarms and practice fire drills.
  • Stay by the stove when cooking!! Use back burners and turn pot handles toward the back of your stove.
  • Keep your hot water at 120?F degrees to prevent burns.
  • Get involved! Safe Kids Kalamazoo County
  • Other chemicals that may be in your home: asbestos, formaldehyde, mercury.

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July - Fireworks Safety

  • The National Council on Fireworks Safety invites you to celebrate our nation's heritage on the Fourth of July, but celebrate safely:
    • Use fireworks outdoors only.
    • Obey local laws. If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
    • Always have water handy (a hose or bucket).
    • Only use fireworks as intended. Don't try to alter or combine them.
    • Never relight a "dud" firework. Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
    • Use common sense. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter and the shooter should wear safety glasses.
    • Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a "designated shooter."
    • Only persons over the age of 12 should be allowed to handle sparklers of any type.
    • Do not ever use homemade fireworks of illegal explosives: They can kill you! Report illegal explosives to the fire or police department in your community.

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August - Sun Safety

  • How do I protect myself from UV rays?
    • It isn't possible or practical to completely avoid sunlight, and it would be unwise to reduce your level of activity to avoid the outdoors. Time in sunlight also helps your body make vitamin D, which can be important for good health. But too much sunlight can be harmful.
    • Some people think about sun protection only when they spend a day at the lake, beach, or pool. But sun exposure adds up day after day, and it happens every time you are in the sun.
    • Following these practical steps can help protect you from the effects of the sun. These steps provide the best protection when used together:
      • Cover up
      • Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher
      • Read the labels
      • Be sure to apply the sunscreen properly
      • Be generous with sunscreen application
      • Wear a hat
      • Wear sunglasses that block UV rays
      • Limit direct sun exposure during midday
      • Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps
      • Protect children from the sun
  • Join EPA SunWise Kids and be Sun Smart!
  • Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke Facts
  • Sun Burn Instructions
  • What's Your Sun-Safety IQ?

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September - Food Safety

  • The Basics: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill (Food Safety.gov)
    You can help prevent food poisoning from bacteria and viruses by following four simple steps when you prepare food:

    • CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often
    • SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate!
    • COOK: Cook to proper temperature
    • CHILL: Refrigerate promptly
  • Kalamazoo County Restaurant Audits

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October - Lead Awareness

  • Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. The key is in stopping children from coming into contact with lead and treating children who have been poisoned by lead.
  • Lead hazards in a child's environment must be identified and controlled or removed safely.
  • How are children exposed to lead?
    • Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure to lead in children. Although, lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978, all houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. It is the deterioration of this paint that causes a problem. Approximately 24 million housing units have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust. More than 4 million of these dwellings are homes to one or more young children.
  • Who is at risk?
    • All children under the age of 6 years old are at risk because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands or other objects into their mouths, which may be contaminated with lead dust. However, children living at or below the poverty line who live in older housing are at greatest risk. Additionally, children of some racial and ethnic groups and those living in older housing are disproportionately affected by lead.
  • What can be done to prevent exposure to lead?
    • It is important to determine the construction year of the house or the dwelling where your child may spend a large amount of time (e.g., grandparents or daycare). In housing built before 1978, assume that the paint has lead unless tests show otherwise.
  • Talk to your state or local health department about testing paint and dust from your home and soil for lead.
  • Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
  • Pregnant women and children should not be present in housing built before 1978 that is undergoing renovation. They should not participate in activities that disturb old paint or in cleaning up paint debris after work is completed. Insure contractors are certified and have appropriate training (Lead Inspector and RRP Training).
  • Create barriers between living/play areas and lead sources. Until environmental clean-up is completed, parents should clean and isolate all sources of lead. They should close and lock doors to keep children away from chipping or peeling paint on walls. You can also apply temporary barriers such as contact paper or duct tape, to cover holes in walls or to block children's access to other sources of lead.
  • Regularly wash children's hands and toys. Hands and toys can become contaminated from household dust or exterior soil. Both are known lead sources.
  • Regularly wet-mop floors and wet-wipe window components. Because household dust is a major source of lead, parents should wet-mop floors and wet-wipe horizontal surfaces every 2-3 weeks. Windowsills and window troughs can contain high levels of leaded dust. They should be kept clean. If feasible, windows should be shut to prevent abrasion of painted surfaces.
  • Prevent children from playing in bare soil. Plant grass on areas of bare soil or cover the soil with grass seed, mulch, or wood chips. Until the bare soil is covered, parents should move play areas away from bare soil and away from the sides of the house.
  • To further reduce a child's exposure from non-residential paint sources:
    • Avoid using traditional home remedies and cosmetics that may contain lead.
    • Avoid eating candies imported from Mexico.
    • Avoid using containers, cookware, or tableware to store or cook foods or liquids that are not known to be lead free.
    • Remove recalled toys and toy jewelry immediately from children. Check the Lead Recall List frequently.
    • Use only cold water from the tap for drinking, cooking, and for making baby formula (Hot water is more likely to contain higher levels of lead. Most of the lead in household water usually comes from the plumbing in your house, not from the local water supply.).
    • Shower and change clothes after finishing a task that involves working with lead-based products such as stain glass work, bullet making, or using a firing range.
  • Kalamazoo County Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
  • Lead Free Kids

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November - Smoking Cessation

  • According to the 2004 Surgeon General's Report, tobacco smoking remains the No. 1 cause of preventable disease and death in the United States.
  • Resources from the American Heart Association
  • Environmental (second hand) Tobacco Smoke:
    • A 2006 report of the U.S. Surgeon General states that: "There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. The finding is of major public health concern due to the fact that nearly half of all nonsmoking Americans are still regularly exposed to secondhand smoke."
    • Short exposures to secondhand smoke can cause blood platelets to become stickier and damage the lining of blood vessels = probable increase of the risk of a heart attack.
    • A May 1997 report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association found that constant exposure to environmental tobacco smoke - in the workplace or home - nearly doubled the risk of having a heart attack.
  • Michigan joins other states in the benefits of a Smoking Ban, May 1, 2010.

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December - Holiday Safety

  • Facts from Holiday Safety.org:
    • Roughly 64 percent of homeowners expect to take their decorations down during the first half of January.
    • Nearly 156,000 fires occur during the winter holiday season, causing 630 deaths, 2,600 injuries, and approximately $936 million in property damage. (Source: United States Fire Administration)
    • Approximately 5,000 people visit the emergency room each holiday season due to indoor and outdoor electrical decoration mishaps. (Source: United States Consumer Product Safety Commission)
    • Each year, there are more than 200 fatalities and injuries resulting from fire on December 31 and January 1 alone.
    • Thirteen percent of all home fires attributed to Christmas trees occur during the month of January. (Source: National Fire Protection Association)
    • Holiday decorations and Christmas trees cause 2,000 fires and more than $41 million in property damage every year.
    • The number of children injured and killed by home fires more than doubles during the winter holiday season.
  • Choosing safe toys
    • One of the most important things to keep in mind is the age recommendations for the toy.
  • Product and Toy Recalls

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