Health Blog

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

Screening Saves Lives

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Philadelphia Department of Public Health's photo.

If you're 50 or over, getting a colorectal cancer cancer screening test could save your life. Here's how:

  • Colorectal cancer usually starts from polyps in the colon or rectum. A polyp is a growth that shouldn't be there.
  • Over time, some polyps can turn into cancer.
  • Screening tests can find polyps, so then can be removed before they turn into cancer.
  • Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early. When it is found early, the chance of being cured is good. 
Precancerous polyps and early-stage colorectal cancer don't always cause symptoms. This means that someone could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important. 

Getting a colonoscopy can help doctors find and remove precancerous polyps. The CDC recommends regular tests starting from the age of 50. 

For more information visit  

What You Should Know About Measles

Friday, February 6, 2015

In 2000, the U.S. declared that measles was eliminated from this country. Measles was eliminated because there is a highly effective vaccine and  a strong vaccination program is able to achieve high vaccine coverage in children.

Every year, measles is brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers who get measles in other countries. They can spread measles to other people who are not protected against measles, and sometimes, this can lead to an outbreak.

Vaccination is the best protection against measles. Children are not vaccinated until 12 months of age, which makes those less than 12 months of age vulnerable. The more people vaccinated in a community, the less likely there is disease, protecting the most vulnerable.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that spreads through the air and respiratory droplets. The disease can result in severe complications, including pneumonia.
  • The incubation period ranges from 7 to 21 days.
  • Individuals are infectious 4 days before and after the rash onset.  
Measles begins with
  • high fever,
  • cough,
  • runny nose, and
  • red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth.

Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots.
The spots may become joined together as they spread from the head to the rest of the body. When the rash appears, a person’s fever may spike to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

After a few days, the fever subsides and the rash fades.

If any one in your family has these symptoms, please contact your health care provider.
If any one in your family is not vaccinated against measles, or did not have measles, please stay informed of where measles cases or suspected cases are developing.

For more information, please visit:

Extreme Cold Weather Prevention Guide 01 30 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

Extreme Cold: a Prevention GuideWhen the weather is extremely cold, and especially if there are high winds, try to stay indoors. Make any trips outside as brief as possible, and remember these tips below to protect your health and safety.

Dress Warmly and Stay Dry

Adults and children should wear:
  • a hat
  • a scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
  • sleeves that are snug at the wrist
  • mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
  • water-resistant coat and boots
  • several layers of loose-fitting clothing
Be sure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven, preferably wind resistant, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind. Wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers of clothing will hold more body heat than cotton. Stay dry—wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm. Also, avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using a snow blower. These materials in contact with the skin greatly increase heat loss from the body. Do not ignore shivering. It’s an important first sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to return indoors.

Be Safe During Recreation

Notify friends and family where you will be before you go hiking, camping, or skiing. Do not leave areas of the skin exposed to the cold. Avoid perspiring or becoming overtired. Be prepared to take emergency shelter. Pack dry clothing, a two-wave radio, waterproof matches and paraffin fire starters with you. Do not use alcohol and other mood altering substances, and avoid caffeinated beverages. Avoid walking on ice or getting wet. Carefully watch for signs of cold-weather health problems.

Avoid Frostbite and Hypothermia

When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening and won’t be able to do anything about it.
Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.
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. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.
For more information about frostbite and hypothermia, see Stay Safe & Healthy(

Avoid Exertion

Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. 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. Otherwise, if you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly. Remember, your body is already working hard just to stay warm, so don’t overdo it.

Understand Wind Chill

The Wind Chill index is the temperature your body feels when the air temperature is combined with the wind speed. It is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by the effects of wind and cold. As the speed of the wind increases, it can carry heat away from your body much more quickly, causing skin temperature to drop. When there are high winds, serious weather-related health problems are more likely, even when temperatures are only cool.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers an Extreme Cold Prevention Guide available on their website:


Protect Yourself and Be Prepared - NJ Poison Experts Warn of Snow-Related Poisoning Exposures 01 26 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

(Newark, NJ) – January 26, 2015 Dangerous conditions lay ahead for residents of the Garden State as they prepare for a massive winter storm expected later today into tomorrow. This storm is expected to cause extremely dangerous driving/traveling conditions – heavy snow with high accumulations; strong, gusty winds causing snow drifts; low visibility; slippery/icy roads; and frigid temperatures.  The NJ Poison Experts have weathered all storms alongside residents (24 hours a day/7 days a week/365 days a year).  From our experience with Super Storm Sandy, we learned a great deal about unintentional poisonings/exposures that may occur in the midst of severe weather. 

“Major storms like the one we will be expecting later today into tomorrow are known to result in illness and even deaths from hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as exposures to a variety of substances.” said Steven Marcus, MD, executive and medical director of the NJ Poison Center. Exposures to carbon monoxide often happen when people attempt to heat their homes by using space heaters and portable generators that run on kerosene, propane, or natural gas without proper ventilation. The danger occurs when too much carbon monoxide gets trapped inside an area that is poorly ventilated. 

Keep in mind, high winds can result in power outages across the state. If power is lost it may be lost for an extensive period of time and your cell phone may become your lifeline!  “Remember, the experts are hard at work responding to your calls for help, 24/7/365,” said Dr. Marcus. Protecting yourself and being prepared is half the battle when dealing with such intense weather.

“We learned from Super Storm Sandy how important a fully charged cell phone can be when dealing with severe weather,” said Marcus. “To prepare for this storm, program the Poison Help Hotline (800-222-1222) into all phones (home, cell, office) now.” Keep your cell phone charged whenever possible.

Below you will find key safety tips and prevention precautions that may potentially save your life or the life of a loved ones.

Safety Tips to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
·         Check the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector. If you don’t have either detector, install before the storm hits.
·         Clear any snow accumulation from all outside dryer and heating vents.
·         Remove snow from car exhaust pipe(s) before sitting in car and letting it warm up. Failure to remove snow can result in carbon monoxide poisoning. Be sure there is ample room for air to circulate behind your car to allow any exhaust to dissipate and not build up around your car.
·         Do not bring a portable gas powered generator into the home or garage –
o   Do not place them outside near any open windows/doors
o   They should be at least 25 feet from any house 
·         Do not bring other gas powered equipment, propane stoves, propane lights, or kerosene camping stoves into the house or garage.
·         Do not heat your home with your stove.
·         DO not cook with charcoal indoors or inside your house or garage.
·         DO NOT idle a car in a closed garage. Once you pull in, immediately turn off the engine.
·         Keep your home well ventilated. If need be, keep a window slightly cracked to allow air flow.
·         During storm cleanup, keep all gas powered cleaning equipment outside away from the house when in use. Bringing and using them indoors could result in serious injury.

If you suspect Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Take Immediate Action:  
1.       If a loved one is unconscious or unresponsive, get out them out of the house and call 911 immediately.
2.       Exit the house/building immediately. Do not waste time opening windows to “air” it out; this will delay your escape and cause you to breathe in more dangerous fumes.
3.       Contact your local fire department/energy provider.
4.       Call the NJ Poison Experts, 800-222-1222, for immediate treatment advice. Do not waste time looking for information on the internet about carbon monoxide poisoning. Call us for fast, free and accurate information.

General Safety Tips:
·         Have a flashlight with fresh batteries ready to use (you may have used the flashlight during previous storms including Hurricane Sandy, replace the batteries if you did).
o   Make sure to use a flashlight when giving or taking medication. Read all labels carefully.
·         Have a battery-operated radio available and be sure the batteries are fresh.
·         Risk for hypothermia increases with frigid temperatures. Infants, children, and the elderly are at greatest risk for hypothermia. 
o   Signs and symptoms include headaches, sleepiness, fatigue, confusion and irritability, nausea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, impaired vision and coordination, and death
o   Stay warm and dress appropriately! For prolonged exposure to cold, wear insulated or layered clothing that does not retain moisture.  Wear a head cover!
o   Avoid over-exertion and excessive sweating in the cold. Snow shoveling is a very intense exercise.  If you are not in top physical shape, don’t attempt it yourself.
o   Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature.
o   Avoid drinking alcohol, especially in cold temperatures.
o   Some medications may increase your risk.  Check with your doctor, pharmacist or call the Poison Control Center

Safety Tips to Prevent Food Spoilage during a Power Outage:
·         With the threat of power outages, it is important to be careful about food stored in refrigerators and freezers. Food-borne illness, also known as food poisoning, results from the eating of food that is contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses or other foreign material. Contamination is caused by improper food handling and preparation practices. The symptoms of food-borne illness are flu-like and may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and fever.
·         In preparing for a power outage, make the temperature colder than usual on both freezers and refrigerators.  This will prolong the cold after a power outage.
·         During a power outage, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed and open them only when necessary.
·         Place a refrigerator thermometer in the center of the middle shelf and check the temperature. If it has risen to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, discard any potentially spoiled foods. Such foods include meat, poultry, fish, dairy and egg products, soft cheese, cooked beans, cooked rice, cooked potatoes, cooked pasta, potato salad, custard and pudding.
·         Fill freezers to capacity, but refrigerators need room for air to circulate.
·         When power is restored, allow time for the refrigerator to reach below 40 degrees Fahrenheit before restocking.
·         If it looks funny, smells funny or if you are just unsure, "When in doubt, throw it out!"

Don’t waste valuable time looking up information on the Internet when every minute counts.  “Many of the calls we get are genuine emergencies,” said Marcus. Poisons may act very quickly. Having a poison expert give you exact instructions for your specific situation can help significantly during those critical first few minutes.

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