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Health Blog

Were You Affected by Super Storm Sandy?

If you were affected by Super Storm Sandy, or if you still are affected by this storm, the Morris County Office of Health Management invites you to take our survey. We are hosting a short health and wellness survey on our website to understand how the residents of Morris County were affected and might still be.

The survey is anonymous and will help us better plan and respond to other storms that may come our way.

Here is the link:  

If you have questions you can contact our office at 973-631-5484.

Extreme Cold Reminder from Governor Christie 01 06 2014

With dangerously low temperatures and wind-chills expected tomorrow, Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd is urging residents to be sure to prepare for the extreme weather.

"Dress in layers, have an emergency kit in your home and car, don't over-exert yourself when shoveling snow and make sure to check on elderly neighbors and relatives," said O'Dowd.  "Exposure to extreme cold, for even short periods, can have major health consequences."

During extreme inclement weather, it also is important to check on seniors and people with disabilities. "Frigid temperatures and snowstorms may prevent or delay caregivers from getting to their client or family member, right away," said Department of Human Services Commissioner Jennifer Velez. "It's important to have one or two backup plans in place to ensure that any health or prescription needs are met during a weather event."

The following is a list of tips to stay safe, healthy and warm:

  • Dress in layers while outdoors and remember to wear a hat to help retain body heat. If you get wet, change into dry clothes as soon as possible
  • Be sure you eat and stay hydrated if you are going to be outdoors in the extreme cold. Avoid drinking alcohol as it can accelerate the loss of body heat
  • Use rock salt or other chemical de-icing compound to keep walkways, steps, driveways and porches as ice-free as possible. Many cold-weather injuries result from falls on ice-covered sidewalks and other surfaces around the home
  • If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor's advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold
  • When using a snow blower, read the owners' manual and follow all safety guidelines
  • If you will be outdoors in the sun for an extended period, remember to use sunscreen and sunglasses, particularly if you are at higher altitudes
  • Stock your car with emergency gear, such as cell phone, jumper cables, flashlight, sand or kitty litter for extra traction, ice scraper and small shovel, and flares and other warning devices. For long car trips, carry food, water, extra blankets and required medications
  • Have at least a half tank of gas in your car to keep the fuel line from freezing
  • In advance of the storm, charge all electronic devices
It's best to stay inside, but those who need to be outside should dress warmly to avoid Hypothermia and Frostbite.  Hypothermia is a drop of normal body temperature from 98.6 degrees to 95 or lower that requires emergency medical care. It can be especially dangerous for the very young and older adults and individuals with chronic medical conditions.  Symptoms include shivering, slurred speech, irrational behavior, weakened pulse, shortness of breath and unconsciousness.
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. Symptoms include: white or grayish-yellow skin areas, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, and numbness.
For more information on Frost Bite and Hypothermia please visit:

In case of a power outage, make arrangements to move to a heated location.  Senior centers and libraries are typically used by municipalities as heating centers. Residents should contact their municipality or county for information on heating centers in their area.   You should also call your utility to determine repair schedules.

Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when power is restored, turn on the faucets slightly to prevent pipes from freezing, and use only safe sources of alternate heat, such as a fireplace or small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heater.  Remember to always follow manufacturer's guidelines.  For more information, please visit:
New Jersey 2-1-1 has more information on cold weather preparedness, including county resources at:

 The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM) works closely with the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center regarding storm predictions and forecasts. The NJOEM website contains links to the County OEM social media pages and alerting systems.   Online resources for weather information include:

Flu Season 2014 - Its Not Too Late to Get a Flu Shot January 2 2014

Flu activity is picking up in much of the country, with activity already very high in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Further increases across the country are expected in the coming weeks, which includes New Jersey.

Seasonal flu is responsible for severe illness and death every year, but who is most affected each season can vary depending on the predominant circulating virus. So far this season, the 2009 H1N1 viruses have been most common. CDC has already received several reports of severe flu illness among young and middle-aged adults, many of whom were infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus.

Vaccination is your best protection against seasonal flu. It is not too late to get a flu vaccine and there is available supply. Remember also to cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands frequently and thoroughly, and, if you are sick, please stay home.

For more information of seasonal flu, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 

It's Not Too Late To Vaccinate - Get Your Flu Vaccine Today 12 09 2013

The New Jersey Department of Health reminds everyone that it is not too late to get your flu vaccine. Influenza activity usually peaks in January, but illnesses can occur as late as May. Flu surveillance indicates that levels of flu in Northwest NJ are now at a moderate level and rising.

National Influenza Vaccination Week, December 8-14, 2013, is an opportunity to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination through December and into the spring. Flu vaccination coverage estimates from past years have shown that influenza vaccination activity drops quickly after the end of November. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older to protect against influenza.

"During this time of year, family and friends are gathering for the holidays, so now is a great time to get your flu vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones," said Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd. "Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, work absences, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths."

Although anyone can get the flu, some individuals are at greater risk for serious flu-related complications such as hospitalization or worsening of existing chronic conditions. Those at high-risk include children younger than 5 years, people 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, blood disorders, morbid obesity, kidney and liver disorders, HIV/AIDS, and cancer.

"Flu vaccination should also be a priority for individuals who live with or care for persons at higher risk for influenza-related complications, said Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito. "This includes healthcare personnel and household contacts of children less than 6 months of age, since children younger than 6 months are too young to receive the flu vaccine."

Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor's offices, community health centers, local health departments and pharmacies. New Jersey residents can visit the Flu Vaccine Finder at to find flu clinics near to them.

For information on flu vaccines available this flu season, visit CDC's seasonal flu website at CDC does not recommend one flu vaccine over another-the important thing is to get your flu vaccine every year. Some children may needs two doses of flu vaccine this season to be fully protected. Talk to your health care provider about the best options for you and your loved ones.

For more information about NIVW, please visit

It's Turkey Time: Review How to Safely Prepare Your Holiday Meal 11-24-2013

When preparing a turkey, be aware of the four main safety issues: thawing, preparing, stuffing and cooking to the adequate temperature.

Safe Thawing: 

Thawing turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature. The "danger zone" is between 40 and 140°F — the temperature range where foodborne bacteria multiply rapidly. While frozen, a turkey is safe indefinitely, but as soon as it begins to thaw, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to grow again, if it is in the "danger zone."
There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in a microwave oven. For instructions, see "Safe Methods for ThawingExternal Web Site Icon;" instructions are also available in SpanishExternal Web Site Icon

Safe Preparation:

Bacteria present on raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils, and work surfaces as you prepare the turkey. If these areas are not cleaned thoroughly before working with other foods, bacteria from the raw poultry can then be transferred to other foods. After working with raw poultry, always wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces before they touch other foods.

Safe Stuffing: 

For optimal safety and uniform doneness, cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish. However, if you place stuffing inside the turkey, do so just before cooking, and use a food thermometer. Make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165°F, possibly resulting in foodborne illness. Follow the FSIS' steps to safely prepare, cook, remove, and refrigerate stuffingExternal Web Site Icon; Spanish language instructionsExternal Web Site Icon are available.

Safe Cooking:

Set the oven temperature no lower than 325°F and be sure the turkey is completely thawed. Place turkey breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep. Check the internal temperature at the center of the stuffing and meaty portion of the breast, thigh, and wing joint using a food thermometer. Cooking times will vary. The food thermometer must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Let the turkey stand 20 minutes before removing all stuffing from the cavity and carving the meat. For more information on safe internal temperatures, visit's Safe Minimum Cooking TemperaturesExternal Web Site Icon.
Following these cooking guidelines can help you prepare
a safe holiday dinner that everyone will enjoy.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 

The Great American Smokeout - November 21, 2013

The Great American Smokeout, a day when those who are still smoking are encouraged to quit, is this Thursday, November 21. In Morris County only 14% of adults still choose to smoke. We are beginning to see an increase in smoking in middle and high schoolers. The cost for tobacco related illness in the United States is $96 billion.

The health benefits of quitting smoking start immediately from the moment of smoking cessation.

  • 20 minutes after quitting your heart rate and blood pressure drop, 
  • 12 hours after quitting the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal 
  • 2 weeks - 3 months your circulation improves and your lung function increases 
  • 1 - 9 months coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia start to regain normal funtion in the lungs 
  • 1 year after quitting the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker's
If you or a loved one is smoking, this Thursday may be the first day for becoming a nonsmoker.

For resources on how to quit visit: or the American Cancer Society.

Fall Prevention Debunking Myths - 10-01-2013

Debunking the Myths of Older Adult Falls

Many people think falls are a normal part of aging. The truth is, they're not.
Most falls can be prevented—and you have the power to reduce your risk.
Exercising, managing your medications, having your vision checked, and making your living environment safer are all steps you can take to prevent a fall.
Every year on the first day of fall, we celebrate National Falls Prevention Awareness Day to bring attention to this growing public health issue. To promote greater awareness and understanding here are 10 common myths—and the reality—about older adult falls:

Myth 1: Falling happens to other people, not to me.

Reality: Many people think, "It won't happen to me." But the truth is that 1 in 3 older adults—about 12 million—fall every year in the U.S.

Myth 2: Falling is something normal that happens as you get older.

Reality: Falling is not a normal part of aging. Strength and balance exercises, managing your medications, having your vision checked and making your living environment safer are all steps you can take to prevent a fall.

Myth 3: If I limit my activity, I won't fall.

Reality: Some people believe that the best way to prevent falls is to stay at home and limit activity. Not true. Performing physical activities will actually help you stay independent, as your strength and range of motion benefit from remaining active. Social activities are also good for your overall health.

Myth 4: As long as I stay at home, I can avoid falling.

Reality: Over half of all falls take place at home. Inspect your home for fall risks. Fix simple but serious hazards such as clutter, throw rugs, and poor lighting. Make simple home modifications, such as adding grab bars in the bathroom, a second handrail on stairs, and non-slip paint on outdoor steps.

Myth 5: Muscle strength and flexibility can't be regained.

Reality: While we do lose muscle as we age, exercise can partially restore strength and flexibility. It’s never too late to start an exercise program. Even if you've been a "couch potato" your whole life, becoming active now will benefit you in many ways—including protection from falls.

Myth 6: Taking medication doesn't increase my risk of falling.

Reality: Taking any medication may increase your risk of falling. Medications affect people in many different ways and can sometimes make you dizzy or sleepy. Be careful when starting a new medication. Talk to your health care provider about potential side effects or interactions of your medications.

Myth 7: I don't need to get my vision checked every year.

Reality: Vision is another key risk factor for falls. Aging is associated with some forms of vision loss that increase risk of falling and injury. People with vision problems are more than twice as likely to fall as those without visual impairment. Have your eyes checked at least once a year and update your eyeglasses. For those with low vision there are programs and devices that can help. Ask your optometrist for a referral.

Myth 8: Using a walker or cane will make me more dependent.

Reality: Walking aids are very important in helping many older adults maintain or improve their mobility. However, make sure you use these devices safely. Have a physical therapist fit the walker or cane to you and instruct you in its safe use.

Myth 9: I don’t need to talk to family members or my health care provider if I’m concerned about my risk of falling. I don’t want to alarm them, and I want to keep my independence.

Reality: Fall prevention is a team effort. Bring it up with your doctor, family, and anyone else who is in a position to help. They want to help you maintain your mobility and reduce your risk of falling.

Myth 10: I don't need to talk to my parent, spouse, or other older adult if I’m concerned about their risk of falling. It will hurt their feelings, and it's none of my business.

Reality: Let them know about your concerns and offer support to help them maintain the highest degree of independence possible. There are many things you can do, including removing hazards in the home, finding a fall prevention program in the community, or setting up a vision exam.

Look for community programs that help older adults improve balance, such as "A Matter of Balance".

Source: National Council on Aging

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