May 30,

Tobacco-Wise Awards 2015

May 28, 2015 – Health Unit Celebrates Community Leaders in Tobacco Prevention

The greater Peterborough area is a leader in promoting tobacco-wise living. On Thursday, May 28 the Peterborough County-City Health Unit formally recognized those who have taken measures to make Peterborough a smoke-free environment as part of their World No Tobacco Day celebrations. The award ceremony was held at Peterborough Collegiate Vocational School with individuals and organizations that go above and beyond to help create a tobacco-free community.

The awards, in three categories, were handed out by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Rosana Pellizzari. First, the Exceeding the Standards Act Award was for organizations and municipalities who have introduced policies going beyond the Smoke Free Ontario Act. Next, the Cessation or Prevention Award went to schools that prevent youth from starting to use tobacco products, as well as helping youth quit smoking and remaining tobacco free. Finally, the Community Leader Award celebrated individuals and organizations who contribute to smoking prevention and cessation in our community.

“Peterborough has always been at the forefront of progressive tobacco control for more than a decade,” explained Dr. Pellizzari. “There is still work to be done to make Ontario home of the lowest smoking rates in the country, but thanks to the hard work of our award winners today we certainly are on the right path.”    

There were a total of nine award recipients from municipalities, schools and school boards, sports clubs and community organizations. This marks the third year of PCCHU handing out these awards in recognition of community members’ hard work. Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Ontario. Each year, smoking and exposure to second-hand-smoke results in 13,000 deaths provincially. Locally, the use of commercial tobacco products kills approximately 286 Peterborough residents each year. For more information on smoke-free policies, tobacco-wise living or supports for quitting smoking, please contact the Health Unit, or visit the Smoke Free Places page on www.pcchu.ca.

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For further information, please contact:

Keith Beecroft

Health Promoter, Tobacco Use Prevention

705-743-1000, ext. 238

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Are You Ready For Heat This Summer?

May 25, 2015 – Health Unit Activates Heat Alert and Response System

Weather-Alert-aWith summer quickly approaching and warmer temperatures imminent, the Peterborough County-City Health Unit has activated its Heat Alert and Response System (HARS) to advise residents of the best way to protect their health when temperatures soar.

The Health Unit monitors forecasted weather conditions daily, as provided by weather forecasters and Air Quality Ontario.  Heat advisories will be issued to the media and key stakeholders and posted at www.pcchu.ca  when a hot or humid air mass is forecast and heat related health effects may occur.  Upon learning that a potential heat threshold is forecasted to occur within 24-48 hours, the Health Unit will activate the HARS.

The Health Unit has adopted a series of extreme heat thresholds designed to advise the public, health professionals, and community service providers of appropriate measures they can take to reduce the health effects of hot, humid and smoggy weather.  Information about these three advisory levels is available on the Extreme Weather – Heat webpage on www.pcchu.ca and outlined below:

Level 1: Heat Alert

A Level 1 Heat Alert is issued when the temperature is forecasted to reach 36ºC, with or without humidity, for two consecutive days with NO smog advisory.  This level of alert reminds residents of the following core messages: to keep their home cool, stay out of the heat, keep the body cool and hydrated, assist others, and recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion.

Level 2: Heat Warning

A Level 2 Heat Warning is issued when the temperature is forecasted to reach 36˚C, with or without humidity for two consecutive days AND a smog advisory has been issued OR when the temperature is forecasted to reach 40˚C, with or without humidity for two consecutive days with NO smog advisory OR at least two consecutive nights with minimum temperatures greater than 25ºC.  This level of warning reminds residents of the core messages above in addition to providing details on how and where to stay cool, advising suspension of strenuous outdoor activities, reminders to assist vulnerable groups, and to watch for further information through the media and Health Unit website.

Level 3: Heat Emergency

A Level 3 Heat Emergency is issued when the temperature is forecasted to reach 36˚C, with or without humidity, with contributing factors (such as a power outage) OR when the temperature is forecasted to reach or reaches 40˚C, with or without humidity, for two consecutive days AND a smog advisory has been issued OR when the temperature is forecasted to reach or reaches 45˚C, with or without humidity, for two consecutive days WITH OR WITHOUT a smog advisory OR when the Medical Officer of Health (MOH) has determined a heat emergency based on reports of heat related illness.  This level of emergency reminds residents of all the core messages above in addition to asking residents to STOP all unnecessary strenuous outdoor activity, and to listen to media for further information and updates.

Extreme heat events are a potentially significant health risk and can have a severe impact on the health of vulnerable populations including infants, the elderly, shut-ins, persons with chronic diseases, the morbidly obese and the marginally housed.  Heat related illnesses such as dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are preventable.  Most healthy people can tolerate a short period of hot and humid weather as long as they stay cool and drink plenty of fluids. It is important to be aware that some medications may increase the health risks from extreme heat events.

The Health Unit encourages all stakeholders to advise vulnerable clients of the heat advisory system and precautions they can take to prevent and manage heat related illness.

How to Protect Yourself During Hot Weather:

  • Drink lots of water and natural fruit juices even if you don’t feel very thirsty. Avoid alcoholic beverages, coffee and cola.
  • Avoid going out in the direct sun or heat when possible. If you must go outside, stay in the shade as much as possible and plan to go out early in the morning or evening when it is cooler.
  • Go to air conditioned or cool places such as shopping malls, libraries, community centres or a friend’s place.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning, keep shades or drapes drawn and blinds closed on the sunny side of your home, but keep windows slightly open.
  • Wear loose fitting, light clothing and a wide brimmed hat.
  • Keep lights off or turned down low.
  • Take a cool bath or shower periodically or cool down with cool, wet towels.
  • Avoid heavy meals and using your oven.
  • Avoid intense or moderately intense physical activity.
  • If you are taking medication or have a health condition, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it increases your health risk in the heat and follow their recommendations.

 

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • heavy sweating
  • muscle cramps
  • weakness
  • headache
  • fainting
  • paleness, tiredness
  • dizziness, nausea

 

Air conditioned public facilities are available to city and county residents seeking a place to cool off, such as shopping malls, community centres, arenas and libraries.  Residents are advised to phone in advance to determine hours of operation.

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For further information, please contact:

 

Wanda Tonus
Public Health Inspector
705-743-1000, ext. 285

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Growing Up!

May 22, 2015 – Health Unit Celebrates School Garden Day

Food security, sustainability and nutrition were all on the agenda when the Peterborough County-City Health Unit was at Highland Heights on Friday, May 22 to celebrate School Garden Day. This was an opportunity to learn about the educational value of growing gardens at local schools, and how we are creating healthier schools and communities.

This was an excellent opportunity for students to connect and become more involved in their school community at the same time they are learning about the environment, active living and a balanced diet.

Local schools were asked to write a brief story about their garden, and send it to PCCHU. In return they were provided seeds courtesy of Green Up!, Peterborough Community Garden Network and Johnston’s Greenhouse.

“Celebrating School Garden Day is a fitting way to champion those schools in Peterborough and Peterborough County who take the time to garden,” explains School Health Liaison Anne Gallant. “The Peterborough County-City Health Unit encourages all schools to grow because of the benefits for students and faculty alike.  It is great to see students interested in the school garden all while improving their overall health.”

Students need to be healthy in order to learn, which is why the Peterborough County-City Health Unit is committed to creating healthy schools.  While this is the first time PCCHU is celebrating School Garden Day, creating school gardens is part of a broader healthy schools initiative that focuses upon education and physical and social environments to promote healthier students. The healthy schools program is dedicated to ensuring the best overall health for all students. Highland Heights is one of 11 schools in Peterborough and Peterborough County who participate in the healthy schools campaign.

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For further information, please contact:

Anne Gallant
School Health Liaison
705-743-1000, ext.314

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Are You an Outdoor Worker?

May 21, 2015 – Health Unit Promotes Sun Safety to Reduce Skin Cancer Risk for Those Who Work Outside

In response to higher-than-average local skin cancer rates, today the Peterborough County-City Health Unit teamed up with Johnston’s Greenhouse to promote sun safety for outdoor workers. The event focused on how those who work outside can reduce their risk of skin cancer by spotlighting Johnston’s Greenhouse’s efforts to educate and protect their staff.

“The health and safety of our staff is our number one priority, so making our employees aware of the potentially dangerous effects of long-term exposure to the sun is vital,” explained Chris Heckel of Johnston’s Greenhouse. “With the help of the Health Unit we have created a sun safety program to educate our staff and make it easier for them to protect themselves. This program also benefits our community as our team is able to share their knowledge with our clients who also like to spend time in the sun.”

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Rosana Pellizzari was on hand to commend Johnston’s Greenhouse for their leadership in sun safety promotion.  “Rates of skin cancer in Peterborough are higher than the provincial average, and the mortality rate for melanoma is rising. However 90% of skin cancer can be prevented, so programs like this are absolutely necessary to turn the tide.” She noted That those who work outside have greater exposure to the potentially harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun.

Between 1986 and 2007, a Health Unit study found that Peterborough men aged 45 to 64 had incidence rates 36.2% higher than their provincial counterparts, whereas women aged 75 and older had rates 41.5% higher than the province.

Anita Record, Manager of the local chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society also attended today’s event and spoke about the dangers of UV rays, particularly those who enjoy outdoor recreational activities or work outside.

A large part of Johnston’s business is landscaping, property maintenance and deck installation.  Johnston’s is considered a leader in the community for providing their workers with sun safety training, hats, water and sunscreen at the beginning of every shift. When sun exposure is unavoidable, these are the major precautions that should be taken.

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For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence
Communications Supervisor
705-743-1000, ext. 391

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Board of Health Summary – May 13, 2015

May 15, 2015 – ** To view the Board of Health Meeting Summary from April 15 please click the image below:

BOHSummary150513

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