Be safer this summer by following these tips 05-24-24

May 24, 2024

Be safer this summer by following these tips

MOBILE, Ala. — The traditional start of summer is almost here as Americans will celebrate Memorial Day next Monday.

“Spending time outside is a great way to be physically active, reduce stress,” said Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County. “It also a great time to bound with family and friends.”

Whatever people have planned, the American Red Cross, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer these tips to help them enjoy their holiday and the steps they can follow to be safe.

GRILLING – Every year, people in this country are injured while using backyard charcoal or gas grills. Follow these steps to safely cook up treats for the backyard barbecue:

  • Always supervise a barbecue grill when in use.
  • Never grill indoors – not in your house, camper, tent, or any enclosed area.
  • Make sure everyone, including the pets, stays away from the grill.
  • Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, the deck, tree branches, or anything that could catch fire.
  • Use the long-handled tools especially made for cooking on the grill to keep the chef safe.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals have already been ignited.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using grills.

PICNICS – Plan to take only the amounts of food you will use. Most foods are safe for short periods when stored with ice or frozen gel packs in a proper cooler. Creamy or custard foods and salads using store-bought mayonnaise are safe if kept cold in a cooler.

  • No cooler? Not a problem. Plan your menu using the following items: Fruits, vegetables, hard cheese, canned/dried meats or fish, dry cereal, bread, peanut butter, and crackers.
  • Use separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry and ready-to-eat foods, like raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked hot enough to kill harmful germs.
  • Do not leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours – one hour if the outside temperature is over 90 degrees. Keep perishable food in an insulated cooler packed with ice.
  • At the end of the picnic or as soon as you return home, clean your cooler with water and a mild detergent and rinse thoroughly. Then, make sure to wipe it completely dry before storing it. If lingering odors are an issue, a quick wipe with a vanilla extract-soaked paper towel can freshen things up. Finally, if your cooler has a drain plug, make sure it is open to prevent moisture from accumulating during storage.

SUN PROTECTION – Limit exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 15. Reapply sunscreen often. Remember to drink plenty of water regularly, even if you are not thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. Protect the eyes by wearing sunglasses that will absorb 100 percent of UV sunlight. Protect the feet because the sand can burn them, and glass and other sharp objects can cut them.

BEACH SAFETY – If someone’s visit to the shore includes swimming in the ocean, they should learn how to swim in the surf and only swim at a lifeguarded beach within the designated swimming area. Obey all instructions and orders from lifeguards. Other safety tips include:

  • Keep alert for local weather conditions. Check to see if any warning signs or flags are posted.
  • Always swim with a buddy.
  • Have young children and inexperienced swimmers wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Protect the neck – do not dive headfirst. Walk carefully into open waters.
  • Keep a close eye and constant attention on children and adults while at the beach. Wave action can cause someone to lose their footing, even in shallow water.
  • Watch out for aquatic life. Water plants and animals may be dangerous. Avoid patches of plants and leave animals alone.

RIP CURRENTS — These are responsible for deaths on our nation’s beaches every year — and for most of the rescues performed by lifeguards. Any beach with breaking waves may have rip currents. Be aware of the danger of rip currents and remember the following:

  • If someone is caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until out of the current. Once free, they should turn and swim toward shore. If they can’t swim to the shore, they should float or tread water until free of the rip current and then head toward shore.
  • Stay at least 100 feet away from piers and jetties. Permanent rip currents often exist near these structures.

POOL SAFETY – Well-maintained pools are less likely to spread germs. Injuries and drownings are less likely in pools that have trained staff and adequate safety equipment. Before you swim, you can check the pool yourself using the following checklist:

  • Look for the pool’s latest inspection results.
  • Make sure the drain at the bottom of the deep end is visible.
  • Check that the drain covers at the bottom appear to be secured and in good repair.
  • Use pool test strips to make sure the water’s pH and free chlorine or bromine concentration are correct.
  • Check for a lifeguard.
  • Make sure no chemicals are out in the open.

CAMPING – If a camping trip is in your plans, know the level of ability of the people in your group and the environment around you. Plan accordingly.

  • Pack a first aid kit to handle insect stings, sprains, cuts and bruises, and other injuries that could happen to someone in your group. Take a Red Cross First Aid and CPR course and download the First Aid app so that you will know what to do in case help is delayed. You’ll learn how to treat severe wounds, broken bones, bites and stings, and more.
  • Sprains and falls are some of the most common misfortunes travelers may face. Falls are the biggest threat, many due to poor decision-making, lack of skill, or not being properly prepared. Dehydration is also a danger. Plan ahead for these dangers.
  • Share your travel plans and locations with a family member, neighbor, or friend.
  • Bring nutritious food items and water, light-weight clothing to layer, and supplies for any pets.

TEMPERATURE – During hot weather, watch for signs of heatstroke — hot, red skin; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing. If it is suspected someone is suffering from heatstroke:

  • Call 9-1-1 and move the person to a cooler place.
  • Quickly cool the body by applying cool, wet towels to the skin (or misting it with water) and fanning the person.
  • Watch for signs of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.

INSECTS – Bugs, including mosquitoes, ticks, and some flies, can spread diseases like Zika, Dengue, and Lyme disease.

  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents that contain at least 20 percent DEET for protection against mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and a hat. Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks for maximum protection.
  • Check yourself and your children for ticks.

MCHD attends training on how to respond to foodborne illness outbreak 05-22-24

May 22, 2024

MCHD attends training on how to respond to foodborne illness outbreak

MOBILE, Ala. — Several departments from the Mobile County Health Department took part in Epi-Ready Training on May 14-15 at the Alabama Department of Public Health’s Training Center in Prattville. Among those taking part were staff from Environmental Health, Infectious Disease & Outbreaks (ID&O), and Data Science.

“The seminar was a two-day course designed to prepare various departments responsible for investigating possible foodborne illness outbreaks,” said Dr. Derrick Scott, the Bureau Director of Environmental Health. “During an active foodborne illness complaint, knowing the latest strategies and techniques to mitigate the spread of disease and illness is very important.”

The training was funded through the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) Epidemiology & Laboratory Capacity Cooperative Agreement and facilitated by the Tennessee Integrated Food Safety Centers of Excellence. Dr. Scott said the Tennessee team led participants on a journey of real-life foodborne illness investigation with case studies.

“This course would start with a pretest to test your current knowledge in investigating foodborne illness,” he said. “Immediately after the pretest, the class was plunged into the eight-module curriculum for the course. The main objectives of the eight models were to explore the importance of teamwork amongst epidemiology, environmental health, and the laboratory.

“The informational resources used in this course provided valuable insight into the importance of teamwork and the importance of a thorough foodborne illness investigative plan. The strategies and techniques discussed in this course will help in the fight to protect the public from food-borne illnesses.”

Also attending with Dr. Scott were Barbara Gibbs and Shamya Simpson with the ID&O team, along with Epidemiologist Tommie Walker with Data Science.

“The training was focused on collaborative workflow within each district. And how they function independently and together on outbreaks within the community and outside the jurisdiction,” Gibbs said. “MCHD’s ID&O team works closely with the Inspection Services team at MCHD when we have suspected illness within the community either based on a lab or signs and symptoms of individuals.

“There is specific data collected that goes into the Outbreak Management System and this is guided by information obtained on initial/potential outbreak completed by the nurse or investigator. Each part combines the pieces to the puzzle and helps us communicate with our team and other departments involved, like the CDC, FDA (Food & Drug Administration), et cetera.”

Fatherhood Initiative takes part in Warrant Clinic 05-22-24

May 22, 2024

Fatherhood Initiative takes part in Warrant Clinic

MOBILE, Ala. — On Saturday, the Fatherhood Initiative was invited to be a part of the inaugural Warrant Clinic in Alabama. This was the result of a partnership/collaboration between the City of Mobile’s Legal Department and Municipal Court and the non-profit Growing Real Alternatives Everywhere (GRAE).

The clinic provided a non-intimidating pathway for citizens to address and resolve outstanding traffic violations, missed court dates, and other violent misdemeanors. More than 600 people registered, and no one was turned away during the time of clinic operation without being provided a pathway towards resolution.

While there, the Mobile County Health Department’s Fatherhood Initiative was able to share information about the mission of the program funded by the Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama. The team provided hand-outs and brochures to more than 100 people that outlined objectives and resources available through the Mobile County Health Department to assist in building healthy families and stronger communities.

“We look forward to continued participation and partnerships that allow us to emphasize the importance of fathers in the lives of their children and utilizing resources meant to build healthy relationships and environments among families that allow children to thrive and grow,” said William Henderson, an outreach educator for the Fatherhood Initiative.

MAWSS reports on Sanitary Sewer Overflow 5-17-24

May 17, 2024

MAWSS reports on Sanitary Sewer Overflow

MOBILE, Ala. — Mobile Area Water & Sewer System (MAWSS) responded to a Sanitary Sewer Overflow on May 16 at 1601 Cedar Downs Drive. Approximately 2,400 gallons of wastewater overflowed because of a broken Air Release Valve (ARV) on the force main.

The overflow was contained and did not reach state waters. MAWSS crews stopped the overflow and will repair the valve to prevent further overflows at this location.

Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County, advises area residents to take precautions when coming into contact with any standing water that may have accumulated as a result of this overflow. Those who have come into direct contact with untreated sewage are advised to wash their hands and clothing thoroughly.

Prichard reports on Sanitary Sewer Overflows caused by heavy rains 5-15-24

May 15, 2024

Prichard reports on several Sanitary Sewer Overflows caused by heavy rains

MOBILE, Ala. — Prichard Water Works & Sewer Board has reported on Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO) that began on May 14. One did not conclude until today. Heavy rains were the cause of the SSO’s.

The nearest manhole locations, estimated overflow, and receiving waters are listed below:

LocationEstimated GallonsReceiving Water
218 Patricia Ave.153,400Gum Tree Branch
2407 Whistler St.134,225Gum Tree Branch
N. Bessemer Ct. & Whistler St.210,925Gum Tree Branch
1300 N. MLK Dr.43,375Chickasaw Creek
830 Strauss Ave.89,700Toulmins Spring Branch
First Ave. & Owens St.90,600Toulmins Spring Branch
824 E. Seminary St.54,975Toulmins Spring Branch
823 N. College St.90,300Toulmins Spring Branch
705 Sample St.90,450Toulmins Spring Branch
1205 W. Highland St.181,800Toulmins Spring Branch
798 W. Highland St.249,650Toulmins Spring Branch

Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County, advises area residents to take precautions when coming into contact with any standing water that may have accumulated as a result of these overflows. Those who have come into direct contact with untreated sewage are advised to wash their hands and clothing thoroughly.

Area residents should take precautions when using Gum Tree Branch, Chickasaw Creek, and Toulmins Spring Branch for recreational purposes because of these overflows. All seafood harvested in this general area should be thoroughly cooked before eating. People should wash their hands after cleaning seafood and before preparing food.

MAWSS reports on Sanitary Sewer Overflows caused by heavy rains 5-15-24

May 15, 2024

MAWSS reports on Sanitary Sewer Overflows caused by heavy rains

MOBILE, Ala. — Mobile Area Water & Sewer System (MAWSS) responded to numerous Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO) in the Mobile area over a two-day period that started on May 13. These were caused by heavy rainfall.

MAWSS sewer system is designed to collect and convey wastewater to a MAWSS wastewater treatment plant. During heavy rains, storm water infiltrates and inundates aging sewer lines causing manholes to overflow.

Below are the documented locations, estimated volume and receiving waters:

766 Johnston Ave.8,800Eslava Creek
755 Johnston Ave.4,000Eslava Creek
McVay Dr. @ Navco Rd.46,500Eslava Creek
1301 Gulf Field Dr. W.3,075Eslava Creek
1701 Gulf Field Dr. E.3,075Eslava Creek
1102 Gimon Circle (2)Evidence onlyEslava Creek
1 Eslava St. (3)17,100Mobile River
Airport Blvd. easement (3)21,900Halls Mill Creek

Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County, advises area residents to take precautions when encountering any standing water that may have accumulated because of these overflows. Those who have come into direct contact with untreated sewage are advised to wash their hands and clothing thoroughly.

Area residents should take precautions when using Eslava Creek, Mobile River and Halls Mill Creek for recreational purposes because of these overflows. All seafood harvested in this general area should be thoroughly cooked before eating. People should wash their hands after cleaning seafood and before preparing food.

MCHD bureau director earns doctorate degree 05-15-24

May 15, 2024

MCHD bureau director earns doctorate degree

MOBILE, Ala. — Derrick Scott has many titles at the Mobile County Health Department. Along with being the Bureau Director of Environmental Health Services, he also oversees the Public Health Response Units, and the MCHD Activities Team (previously known as the Cannon Team) that fires the cannon to start local races.

However, he recently obtained another designation. That is “doctor.”

Scott has earned his Doctorate in Healthcare Administration from Virginia University of Lynchburg. This achievement highlights an academic career that began with an Associate of Science degree from Lawson State Community College in Fire Science/General Studies, a Bachelor of Science degree from Athens State University in Public Health and Safety Administration, and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia Southern University.

“After graduating high school, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserves,” Scott said. “My public service career started in 1989 with the Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service. I worked my way through the ranks and retired with 20 years of service in 2009 as a Fire Lieutenant.

“After moving to Mobile, I was hired as the Chief Property Maintenance Officer for the City of Mobile. This department handled various municipal enforcement ordinances.”

Eventually, his career path would lead him to the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County. There he served as the Planning Consultant I.

“As a planning consultant, I was responsible for preparing and updating emergency plans for hurricanes, floods, biohazard spills, and any other natural or man-made disasters that threaten the health and safety of Escambia County residents,” he said. “In addition, I was responsible for COVID-19 testing and vaccination at various sites throughout the county.

“Doing my civic duty during the pandemic was one of my most valued accomplishments. My experience as a firefighter and my education would be keys to my continued success in public service.”

Scott arrived at MCHD in 2021, working as a Public Health Administrative Support Specialist assisting Dr. Stephanie Woods-Crawford, Executive Director of Prevention and Wellness. He was later promoted to Bureau Director of Environmental Health Services, which has Onsite Sewage, Inspection Services, and Vector Control. The bureau has more than 50 employees with a combined budget of $4.3 million.

“We use this budget to make sure that the health and safety of Mobile County residents are protected,” he said. “We protect our residents by regulating food and lodging, onsite sewage, and reducing vector-borne illness.

“The health and safety of the public has always been my passion and it started early in my career.”

Prichard reports on Sanitary Sewer Overflows caused by heavy rains 5-14-24

May 14, 2024

Prichard reports on several Sanitary Sewer Overflows caused by heavy rains

MOBILE, Ala. — Prichard Water Works & Sewer Board has reported on Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO) that took place on May 13. Heavy rains were the cause of the SSO’s.

The nearest manhole locations, estimated overflow, and receiving waters are listed below:

LocationEstimated GallonsReceiving Water
218 Patricia Ave.118,525Gum Tree Branch
2407 Whistler St.32,325Gum Tree Branch
N. Bessemer Ct. & Whistler St.21,550Gum Tree Branch
830 Strauss Ave.41,200Toulmins Spring Branch
823 College St.10,625Toulmins Spring Branch
705 Sample St.32,025Toulmins Spring Branch
1205 W. Prichard Ave.43,000Toulmins Spring Branch

Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County, advises area residents to take precautions when coming into contact with any standing water that may have accumulated as a result of these overflows. Those who have come into direct contact with untreated sewage are advised to wash their hands and clothing thoroughly.

Area residents should take precautions when using Gum Tree Branch and Toulmins Spring Branch for recreational purposes because of these overflows. All seafood harvested in this general area should be thoroughly cooked before eating. People should wash their hands after cleaning seafood and before preparing food.

Tover transforms pediatric waiting room into the ‘Imaginarium Aquarium’ 05.14.24

May 14, 2024

Tover transforms pediatric waiting room into the ‘Imaginarium Aquarium’

MOBILE, Ala. — As part of its continued focus and investment in children and their care, Family Health – the primary care division of the Mobile County Health Department — decided to upgrade its pediatric waiting area at its downtown Mobile location. The immersive full-scale wall mural painting is designed to engage the eyes and minds of children.

The agency commissioned award-winning local artist Ty Tover, to paint the waiting area in such a way that it would both amaze and captivate children’s minds while they wait to see their physician.

Tover has affectionately dubbed the newly painted space the “Imaginarium Aquarium” because his massive and stylized fish come to life with bold colors and whimsical brush strokes.

“The ‘Imaginarium Aquarium’ is a mural to depict the same, but different, vibrant colors representing the vibrancy of the children and the families that we serve,” said Tover, who is also a peer counselor at MCHD. “We have both koi fish and goldfish swimming. Within the koi fish and goldfish, you find hidden images that the children will seek out. And all of the fish will glow under fluorescent lights.”

Additionally, the “Imaginarium Aquarium” will include surprises like hidden common shapes and characters that will be part of a “scavenger hunt” in which children can participate while they wait to see their doctor.

Cats, hearts, and other shapes are hidden amongst the fish. Children can use the scavenger hunt page that will be available in the pediatric waiting area to check off shapes and characters as they find each hidden surprise on the walls.

Activities such as scavenger hunts can help build children’s observational skills and teach collaboration and teamwork which enhance their language and communication skills, problem-solving skills, and social-emotional intelligence. Additionally, parents, guardians and caregivers can engage with their children as they participate in this activity to observe the growth and development of their children.

This project couples perfectly with Family Health’s participation in the Prescription for Play (P4P) Learning Collaborative which emphasizes the importance of well-child visits and supporting the achievement of developmental milestones in children. Family Health care teams have trained on the importance of play for children and ways for providers to encourage parents and caregivers to use play as a means of identifying potential developmental delays.

Since its inception in 1979, Family Health has provided high quality compassionate health services to the people of Mobile County. Call for an appointment at 251-690-8889.

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