Health Blog

Beat the Heat This Summer

Friday, July 31, 2015

When you’re outdoors in hot weather, stay cool, stay hydrated and stay informed. Rest often in shady areas. Cut down on exercise and other hard tasks. Replenish yourself with plenty of cool, non-alcoholic fluids every hour. If you have a medical condition, be sure to check with your doctor about how much water to drink. Wear light clothing and protect yourself from the sun with a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Sunburn and Excessive Heat

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sunburn can slow the skin's ability to release excess heat. During this period of excessive heat, don't forget your sunscreen and avoid repeated sun exposure.

If you have a sunburn, apply cold compresses or immerse the sunburned area in cool water. You can also apply moisturizing lotion to affected areas. It is not recommended to use salve, butter, or ointment. You do not want to break any blisters that may form.

Keep your body temperature cool to avoid heat-related illness:
  •   Stay in air-conditions buildings as much as possible.
  •   Find an air-conditioned shelter or cooling station.
  •   Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
  •   Avoid direct sunlight.
  •   Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  •   Take cool showers or baths.
  •   Check on older neighbors twice a day.
Because your body loses fluids through sweat, you can become dehydrated during times of extreme heat.
  •    Drink more water than usual.
  •    Don't wait until your are thirsty to drink more fluids.
  •    Drink from tow to four cups of water every hour wile working or exercising outside.
  •    Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.
  •    Remind others to drink enough water.

Learn the symptom of heat-related illnesses:

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015

Food Safety for Summer Grilling

Monday, July 13, 2015

Calling all grill masters! With summer in full swing, you’re probably looking forward to enjoying many   BBQs with friends and family.
But remember, grilling outdoors can sometimes lead to unwanted food poisoning.
This year, one in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness). Food poisoning can affect anyone who eats food contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, or other substances. Some groups of people – such as older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems – have a higher risk of getting sick from contaminated food.  And if they do get sick, the effects of food poisoning are a lot more serious.
Join us this summer in practicing food safety by “Grilling Like A Pro” using a food thermometer. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is reminding us all that we can’t see bacteria on our burgers, hotdogs, and other meats and poultry; checking the internal temperature is the best way to ensure protection.
So what does it mean to grill like a PRO? Read on to learn three easy steps for safe summer sizzling:
P—Place the Thermometer!
Think your food is ready? Make sure by checking the internal temperature. Find the thickest part of the meat (usually about 1.5 to 2 inches deep), and insert the thermometer. If you’re cooking a thinner piece of meat, like chicken breasts or hamburger patties, insert the thermometer from the side.  Make sure that the probe reaches the center of the meat.
R—Read the Temperature!
Wait about 10 to 20 seconds for an accurate temperature reading.  Use the following safe internal temperature guidelines for your meat and poultry.
  • Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F with a 3-minute rest time
  • Ground meats: 160 °F
  • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 °F
O—Off the Grill!

Once the meat and poultry reach their safe minimum internal temperatures, take the food off the grill and place it on a clean platter.  Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry.  Also remember to clean your food thermometer probe with hot, soapy water or disposable wipes.

Caution: Portugese man-of-wars at the Jersey Shore

Monday, July 6, 2015

Portuguese man-of-wars at the Jersey Shore

Steven Marcus, MD, Executive and Medical Director,
Bruce Ruck, Pharm.D., Director, Drug Information and Professional Education
New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES)

(Newark, NJ) – July 1, 2015 —Recent sightings of Portuguese man of wars (a jellyfish like creature) on the beaches of the Jersey Shore has raised both interest and fear among beachgoers especially now as the summer season has begun. The good news…the NJ Poison Experts are prepared to help anyone who may have questions or has been injured by this creature. Poison center experts are encouraging the public to stay away from these creatures as much as possible. If you see any in the water, swim away from them and have a professional remove any found on the beach. 

“We encourage the public to report all exposures to us at the NJ Poison Center (800-222-222),” said Steven Marcus, MD, executive and medical director of the NJ Poison Center. “Our experts are available 24/7/365 to give advice on how to handle such exposures. Do not follow the suggestions given by friends, relatives or found on the internet. Call the poison center for help. Remember, we are just a phone call away!” 

What is a Portuguese man of war? The scientific name is physalia physali. Commonly referred to as a jellyfish, it is not quite that at all. This creature is really a group of animals working together as a colony to survive in the watery environment. These creatures can be found floating in warm waters around the world.  They often appear in large numbers at the same time, raising the risks of exposure for the swimmer and beachgoer alike.

Are they dangerous? Man-of-wars tend to float on the water’s surface making them a potential hazard to anyone in the water (swimmers, surfers, boogie boarders, children frolicking, pets, etc.), especially if they appear in large numbers. These jellyfish like creatures have extremely long tentacles attached to a balloon-like float. Located on their tentacles are mechanisms (nematocysts) that will deliver a painful sting if they should come in contact with human skin. Unfortunately, their tentacles tend to wrap around the victim’s body or extremities resulting in numerous “stings.”  Although man-of-war stings are very painful, they rarely fatal.

Where are they? There are reports of swarms of man-of-wars occurring in many regions, including along the Jersey Shore.  

What are the symptoms if stung?  Man-of-wars are known to deliver very painful stings, potentially making it difficult for a swimmer to swim back to shore. Deaths have been reported from drowning.

Stings often times leave dark, colored track marks along the skin where the tentacle made contact on the body.  The pain produced by the sting can become severe at times, lasting for several hours. Those injured may also experience itching, swelling, tingling and numbness, burning or prickling sensation, nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, loss of consciousness, muscle and joint problems, difficulty breathing, heart problems, weakness and dizziness, etc.  This experience is extremely painful, but rarely fatal.  There may be scarring left on the skin of the affected area. 

What to do if you encounter a Portuguese man-of-war? As with other stinging animals, the best way to stay safe is to avoid contact. Always be aware to the possible presence of these creatures in the water. If you should see any, stay as far away as you can or get out of the water.  Remember, only the balloon-like float is seen above the water level.  The stinging tentacles trail behind for a considerable distance, often over a yard or more. Since it may be difficult to tell which is the front or back, give these creatures their due respect and stay well away from them!

Keep in mind that no one should ever handle a “live” or “dead” specimen. There are many reports of stings occurring from contact with man-of-wars that have washed up onto the shoreline. Even after being on the beach for days, they retain their stinging capability. Their tentacles and the nematocysts may still release toxins even after several days of being out of the water.

If stung, wash the affected area with sea water (salt water) and then remove the tentacle(s) using a stick or other object. Do not use fresh water, vinegar, or urine since such efforts have been shown not to help and can potentially make things worse.  Do not touch the tentacle(s) with your bare skin (hand, finger, etc.).  If stinging occurs, it is probably best to seek medical care immediately. If the pain is severe and/or the tentacles cannot be seen/removed with ease, seek medical attention right away. 

If you or a loved one should be stung by a Portuguese man-of-war or any other kind of creature, it’s good to know help is just a phone call away. Program the Poison Help number (800-222-1222) into your cell phones and contact us immediately for help. Every minute counts in poisoning situations so do not take chances by either waiting until symptoms occur or waste valuable time looking up information on the Internet.  If someone is unconscious, not breathing, seizing/convulsing, bleeding profusely, difficult to arouse/wake up, etc. call 911 immediately, otherwise call us (NJ Poison Experts) at 800-222-1222.

Many of the calls the poison center gets are genuine emergencies. Having a poison expert give you exact instructions for your specific situation can help significantly during those critical first few minutes. A quick response by both the caller and the poison center expert can make a difference in preventing serious injury and saving lives

Help is Just a Phone Call Away!

We are social. Join us on Facebook ( and Twitter (@NJPoisonCenter) for breaking news, safety tips, trivia questions, etc. Stay tuned for more poison prevention week safety information.

Real People. Real Answers.

Fireworks Safety

Thursday, June 25, 2015

June is Firework Awareness Month. As the Fourth of July approaches, NJ residents should keep firework safety in mind. The following tips will ensure plenty of fun, safe outdoor evenings:

Obey local laws regarding fireworks: New Jersey has made fireworks illegal to sell, use or transport fireworks. Only paper or plastic caps for use in toy guns are legal. Residents can buy fireworks out-of-state, but cannot transport fireworks into NJ.

The kids can watch: Adults should supervise and manage fireworks, keeping fireworks out of the hands of children. Adults should not consume alcohol and attempt to handle fireworks.

Take it outside: Fireworks should be kept a reasonable distance from buildings, houses and vehicles. Find a clear area for firework activities, and keep fireworks out of your pockets during transportation.

Protect your eyes and body: Wear safety goggles when managing fireworks, and never point a lit firework toward anyone’s body or face.

Have water ready: A bucket of water and a charged water-hose serve to wet spent fireworks and douse any fires/smoke. “Dud” fireworks should not be relit, but doused immediately in a bucket of water.

Safe disposal: After dousing spent fireworks, dispose them in a metal trash can away from any building, house or vehicle until the next day. 
For more information on firework safety, please visit:

Firework injuries can be severe, and even in New Jersey where fireworks are illegal, several people are injured or killed yearly from irresponsible use. If you or anyone you know is injured handling fireworks, contact emergency services immediately.


Burns from fires or explosives require immediate treatment. In the case of a burn, remove all burned clothing. If clothing sticks to the skin, cut or tear the cloth around the burned area. Also, all tight-fitting clothing, jewelry, and belts should be removed due to immediate swelling of burned areas. Identify the degree of burn before providing treatment, and contact emergency services if the burn has penetrated the skin.
First-degree burns: Red and painful to the touch, these burns do not require professional medical attention. To treat, apply a cool wet compress or immerse in cool, fresh water. Once the pain has subsided, cover the burn with a sterile non-adhesive bandage or clean cloth. Do not apply ointments, as these may cause infection, but consider over-the-counter medications to reduce pain and inflammation. If the victim is an infant or elderly, seek emergency medical attention.
Second and Third-Degree Burns: The skin is penetrated by the burn. Deep reddening of the skin, blisters, leaking fluid, dry or leathery skin indicate second and third-degree burns. These burns require immediate medical treatment. Do not attempt to treat serious burns unless you are a trained health professional.
For more information on burn trauma, please visit:

Father's Day: Don't Put Food Poisoning on the Menu

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Treating your dad, father-in-law, grandfather, or uncle to a nice home cooked meal on Father’s Day? As you plan, shop, prepare, and cook, keep in mind there is always a risk for food poisoning when cooking at home. The best course of action is to brush up on food safety basics before heading into the kitchen. Food poisoning can spoil his day just as easily as a burnt meal.

Quick facts about food poisoning:
·         It is generally a mild illness that most commonly results from poor food handling.
·         It usually occurs hours after eating contaminated food and can include nausea, fever, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. 
·         Once symptoms develop they may last from several hours to several days.
·         It can be a serious issue for those in poor health, infants and children, the elderly, and pregnant women.

There is no way to be sure food is safe to eat unless you follow basic food safety practices from start to finish. Poison center experts suggest following the tips below to ensure a safe Father’s Day celebration. Remember not to prepare or cook food if you are feeling sick or have any type of respiratory illness or infection. This can put your guests at risk of becoming ill.

·         Wash hands with soap and warm running water for at least 20 seconds before preparing any foods and especially after handling raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs. You can estimate the proper time to wash by slowly singing the happy birthday song twice while you wash your hands. 
·         Wash food-contact surfaces (cutting boards, dishes, utensils, countertops) with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item. Never reuse utensils without careful cleaning; this is a source of contamination.
·         Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water and use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.

·         Keep foods that will not be cooked from coming into contact with raw eggs, meat, poultry, or seafood. The same goes for kitchen utensils – do not use any kitchen utensil that has touched raw eggs, meat, poultry, or seafood on foods that will not be cooked. 
·         Store raw foods below cooked food in the refrigerator so that raw food cannot drip into cooked food and contaminate it.
·         Keep cutting boards separate. Use one board for raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Use another for board for raw fruits and vegetables.
·         Do not put cooked meats or other foods that are ready to eat on any unwashed plates that held any raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, or their juices.

·         Follow the cooking instructions on food packages.
·         Use a food thermometer to confirm that cooked foods (meat, poultry, and fish) have been properly cooked by reaching a safe internal temperature. Visit for proper temperatures of cooked foods.
·         Keep food hot after cooking (at 140 ˚F or above) to prevent bacteria from growing.
·         When reheating sauces, soups, and gravies, be sure to bring it to a rolling boil.
·         Eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella.  Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny.
·         Don't eat uncooked cookie dough, which may contain raw eggs. It is unsafe!

·         Avoid overstuffing your refrigerator. To keep foods properly chilled, cold air must circulate inside.
·         Defrost/thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave—never on the counter at room temperature. Be sure to cook thawed foods immediately.  
·         Allow enough time to properly thaw food. In the event you do not have enough time to defrost/thaw frozen food, you can safely cook it frozen. Remember to increase your cooking time. Frozen meat or poultry will take 50% longer to cook than if it was defrosted/thawed.
·         Check to make sure both refrigerators and freezers are set at proper temperatures. Refrigerators set at or below 40°F and freezers set at 0°F.
·         Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods such leftovers, pies, etc. within two hours. Cut this time to one hour during the summer months.
·         Leftovers should be used within three to four days, unless frozen.
·         When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t taste any food that looks or smells questionable.

Safe Grilling:
·         Store charcoal lighter fluid in locked cabinets, out of sight and reach of children and pets.  Swallowing lighter fluid can lead to serious poisoning. 
·         When taking cooked food off the grill, do not put it back on the same plate that held raw food.
·         Turn meats over at least once to cook evenly.
·         Do not partially grill meat or poultry and finish cooking later.
·         Use a meat thermometer to make sure meats have reached the proper internal temperature. The color of meat and poultry is not a good indicator of safety.
·         Never use your gill indoors, in a garage, shed, etc. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result.

Be sure to keep these tips in mind as you cook your Father’s Day meal. “If you should run into a potential problem at any point during the cooking process, we are here to help. Every minute counts in poisoning situations so do not take chances by either waiting until symptoms occur or waste valuable time looking up information on the Internet,said Bruce Ruck, Pharm.D., NJ Poison Center.

“I would like to call your attention to some concerns we have for children unrelated to food poisoning,” said Ruck. Fuel oil (most commonly used in patio torches) is a dangerous poison if ingested. The oily liquid can easily get into the lungs potentially causing pneumonia, lung damage, and even death. Even small amounts can be life-threatening. Since fuel oils are often the same color as beverages, like apple juice, children often confused the two, setting the scene for a perfect storm. Be mindful that many of the lamps/torches containing these oils are not child-resistant and must be kept away from both children and pets. When not in use, store the lamps and extra oils, the same way you would store any chemical - Lock them up and keep them out of the sight.

During adult celebrations, alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, mixed drinks, liquor, etc.) are often part of the menu. Ruck said, “Alcohol can be a deadly poison to children because they are small and their livers are not fully developed.”  If ingested, the alcohol can lower their blood sugar potentially causing seizures, coma, and even death. Remember to always empty beverage glasses and place them out of sight and reach of curious children. The same advice goes for your pets; alcohol can make them very sick as well.

If you have questions about food preparation/handling, foodborne illness, or any poison exposure it’s good to know help is just a phone call away. Having a poison expert give you exact instructions for your specific situation can help significantly during those critical first few minutes. A quick response by both the caller and the poison center expert can make a difference in preventing serious injury and saving lives If someone is unconscious, not breathing, seizing/convulsing, bleeding profusely, difficult to arouse/wake up, etc. call 911 immediately, otherwise call the NJ Poison Experts at 1-800-222-1222

Help is Just a Phone Call Away!

Source: Steven Marcus, MD, Executive Director and Medical Director, Bruce Ruck, Pharm. D, Drug and Information
New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES)

Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic in Morristown

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Associated Human Societies' Mobile Clinic will be in Morristown, partnering with the Town of Morristown's Division of Health - Animal Control Program to offer a low cost spay/neuter clinic. 

It will be held on May 5, 2015 and appointments are necessary. To make an appointment call Samantha Judson at 973-292-6731.


Female Dog       $95.00
Male Dog           $85.00
Female Cat         $75.00
Male Cat            $65.00

Spay/Neuter 80 - 100 pounds      $110.00
Spay/Neuter over 100 pounds     $150.00

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