Summer 2015 Health Connection

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Welcome to Health Connection!

Stephanie Vick, M.S., B.S.N., R.N. - AdministratorI am thrilled to announce that Collier County was recently ranked by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's County Health Rankings as the second healthiest place in Florida to live, learn, work and play. The rankings are a snapshot of the health of counties across the country and they emphasize that health is not a singular effort but a combined work in progress across all community partners. The department works in collaboration with local governments, non-profit organizations, health care facilities, business groups, schools, faith-based organizations and many other stakeholders to improve the health of all people in Collier County. These rankings use data related to physical environments, social and economic factors, health behaviors and clinical care. Our continued high ranking is a direct result of the whole community working together, from continued collaboration and commitment of our community leaders, to the hard work and healthy choices of each individual in our community.

Focusing on our employees and creating an environment that benefits their well-being, while working towards the well-being of the community, is also important to the Florida Department of Health. It is an honor that, for the sixteenth year, DOH-Collier has been recognized by the Naples Alliance for Children as a Family Friendly Business. This award is conveyed to Collier County businesses and organizations that implement a mix of traditional and innovative ways to assist employees with balancing the needs of their families with the high demands of their careers. DOH-Collier was also spotlighted in the Naples Daily News along with other businesses that met this criteria. We take great pride in receiving this honor and thank the Naples Alliance for Children for their recognition.

As always, the residents of Collier County are our priority. It is our pleasure to bring you the "Summer Safety" edition of "Health Connection”, the Florida Department of Health in Collier County's quarterly newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed putting it together. If you would like more information or need assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours in Health,

Stephanie Vick, M.S., B.S.N., RN
Administrator, Florida Department of Health in Collier County (DOH-Collier)

Be Free From Falls

Healthy HappyEach year millions of Americans are injured from preventable falls. In older adults, falls can cause injuries such as hip fractures and head trauma and may also increase the risk of death. Fortunately, falls are a public health problem that is preventable. It is estimated that one out of every three older adults will suffer a fall. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 2.5 million non-fatal falls among older adults are treated in emergency departments annually, with the direct medical cost of over $34 billion.

Avoiding a fall starts with these simple steps that may not only improve your health, but also your overall well-being:

  • Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercise focuses on increasing strength and improving balance. Exercise classes also provide an opportunity for older adults to create a network of relationships. There are a variety of exercise programs targeting older adults offered in Collier County. These programs, along with other information, can be found via Collier Senior Resources at
  • Review medication. Work with your doctor or pharmacist to identify medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness which are risk factors for a fall.
  • Have your eyes checked. Visit an eye doctor at least once a year to maximize vision. If necessary, consider getting a pair of eyeglasses for some activities.
  • Make the home safe. Reduce tripping hazards, add grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and/or next to the toilet, add railings on both sides of stairways, and improve the lighting in your home. If you are unable to perform these tasks on your own, ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to assist you.

Falls are not only an issue for older adults, but also for children. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for children. Approximately 8,000 children are treated in U.S. emergency rooms daily for fall-related injuries, or almost 2.8 million children per year. These injuries range from fractures and dislocations to internal injury and amputations. Children ages five through nine years are at the highest risk for falls, with females being at a slightly higher risk.

Ensuring a safe and fun environment provides children with security and can minimize the danger of a fall:

  • Playground protection. Falls on the playground, either at home, school, or in a park, are a common cause of injury. Check to make sure that the surfaces under the equipment are safe, soft, and well-maintained (such as wood chips or sand, not dirt or grass). Ensure that equipment has been properly cared for and there are no maintenance issues.
  • Keep sports safe. Make sure your child wears the recommended protective gear during sports and recreation. Use wrist guards, knee and elbow pads, cleats or a helmet when necessary.
  • Supervision is key. Supervise young children at all times around fall hazards, such as stairs and playground equipment, whether you are at home or out to play.

Thankfully falls can be prevented in a variety of ways, however, the most important starts with you and your home. By creating a safe environment for yourself, your family, and your children you are taking the first and most important step in avoiding a potential injury.

Drowning Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control reports that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children between 1 and 4 years old and it is the third leading cause of injury-related death among children 19 and under.  Furthermore, for every child that dies of drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. However, despite the dismal statistics, drowning is preventable.

First and foremost, never leave children unattended around water. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water. Empty all buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use and store them upside down and out of a child's reach. Keep toilet lids closed and always watch your child while they are in the bathtub. If you have a swimming pool, install a four-sided isolation fence with self-closing and self-latching gates.

Children should wear life jackets in a
Life Jacket Loaner Stationnd around natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the ocean, even if they know how to swim. There are 12 life jacket loaner stations in Collier County: Sugden Park, Clam Pass, Vanderbilt Beach, South Marco Island, Tigertail Beach, The historic Naples Pier, Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Lowdermilk Park, Barefoot Beach, Gulf Shore Boulevard Beach, Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park, Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park. Life jackets can also be used in and around pools for weaker swimmers. And remember to always wear life jackets in boats.

Supervising adults should learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), first aid and other rescue techniques through ongoing certification courses. CPR is your final line of protection in preventing accidental drowning and limiting the severity of injuries. Also, children of an appropriate age and maturity should also learn these valuable techniques.

To learn more about water safety and available CPR courses, please visit the Safe and Healthy Children's Coalition web site at

Hurricane Health Hazards

Evacuation RouteBefore and after weather emergencies such as Hurricanes or Tropical Storms, it is important to have a plan in place for emergency medication, food, water, and supplies. This is especially true for taking care of individuals with health concerns, particularly if the power goes out. After the storm, DOH-Collier wants you to know about potential health risks and how you can prevent them.

Sanitation and Hygiene: Preventing waterborne illness

  • If your area is put on a "boil water notice” you must take precautions against contaminated water, especially if you have a well. To remove bacteria, bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute. If you are unable to boil the water, disinfect one gallon of water with eight drops of plain unscented bleach and let stand for 30 minutes. When in doubt, drink commercially bottled water.
  • Basic hygiene is very important during this emergency period. Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected before eating, after toilet use, after participating in cleanup activities, and after handling articles contaminated by floodwater or sewage. Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food or make ice.
  • Flooding that occurs after the hurricane may mean that water contains fecal matter from sewage systems, agricultural and industrial waste and septic tanks. If you have open cuts or sores exposed to the floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and disinfected or boiled water. Apply antibiotic ointment and an appropriate wound coverage to reduce the risk of infection. If a wound or sore develops redness, swelling or drainage, see a physician as these signs are an indication of infection.
  • Do not allow children to play in floodwater. They can be exposed to water contaminated with fecal matter or displaced wildlife. Do not allow children to play with toys that have been in floodwater until the toys have been disinfected. Use ¼ cup of bleach in one gallon of water to disinfect toys and other items.
  • When is it safe? The only way to know that the water is safe to drink is to have it tested. Although chlorine bleach is effective against microorganisms, it will not remove chemical contamination that may have gotten into your drinking water. Contact DOH-Collier for sampling instructions and how to get your water tested. For more information, please contact DOH-Collier Environmental Health at 239-252-5530.

Food safety: Preventing food-borne diseases

  • Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with contaminated water from floods or tidal surges.
  • Undamaged, commercially canned foods that came into contact with contaminated water from flooding can be saved if you remove the labels and then disinfect the cans in a bleach solution. Use ¼ cup of bleach in one gallon of water; re-label the cans including expiration date and type of food. Assume that home-canned food is unsafe.
  • Infants should be fed only pre-mixed canned baby formula. Do not use powdered formulas prepared with treated water. Use boiled water when preparing formula and sanitizing bottles and nipples.
  • Frozen and refrigerated foods can be unsafe after a hurricane. When the power is out, refrigerators will keep foods cool for only about four hours. Thawed and refrigerated foods should be thrown out after four hours.

Carbon Monoxide (CO): Preventing CO poisoning

  • CO is an invisible odorless, tasteless gas that is highly poisonous. Symptoms of CO poisoning are tiredness, weakness, headache, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and confusion.
  • Do not use gas powered generators or charcoal or gas grills inside a house, garage, vehicle or tent. ALWAYS locate the unit outdoors on a dry surface, away from doors, windows, vents, and air conditioning equipment that could allow CO to come indoors.
  • If you think you or a family member may have CO poisoning, go outside immediately and call 911. The Florida Poison Information Center can be reached at 1-800-222-1222.

Heat Exhaustion

  • Warning signs include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting or even fainting.
  • Cool off by drinking cool, non-alcoholic beverages, take a cool shower, bath or sponge bath, wear lightweight clothing and rest in the coolest area available.
  • Heat Exhaustion may lead to Heat Stroke. Severe symptoms of heat stroke include skin that is hot, red and dry as the victim is no longer sweating, a rapid pulse rate, and disorientation or confusion which may lead to seizures and unconsciousness. If you believe someone may have heat stroke, seek medical attention immediately.


  • Due to power outages alternate lighting may be necessary. Use of battery powered lanterns and flashlights is recommended
  • If you must use candles, put them in safe holders away from curtains, paper, wood or other flammable items and never leave unattended.

Stay Safe this Hurricane Season!

Mosquito Safety

MosquitoAs we approach another Southwest Florida summer we can be certain of three things: warm and muggy temperatures, daily thunderstorms and, of course, mosquitoes. You may be preparing for the summer season by replacing air conditioning filters, pulling out winter flowers or fueling your boat, but you should also be thinking about healthy mosquito control and prevention habits.

Arboviruses, viruses spread to people by insect or tick bites, are a growing concern in Florida. Among the most common Arboviruses are West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Chikungunya Fever, all of which are transmitted by mosquitoes. These viruses can cause serious illness in people, which is why it is important to take a few simple precautions when enjoying a summer day outdoors.

How can you be prepared? Remember the 5 D's: Dusk and Dawn, Dress, DEET and Drain.

Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are seeking blood. For many species, this is during the dusk and dawn hours. If you must spend time where a lot of mosquitoes are present, it is best to be fully covered by wearing shoes and socks, long pants and long sleeves and for additional protection, apply mosquito repellent to your clothing. Mosquito repellent should contain DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, or N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. For children younger than two months old or for persons who do not wish to apply repellent, use mosquito netting for protection when outside. In addition to preparing yourself, be sure that your home is prepared as well. Doors and windows should close securely and broken screens should be repaired or replaced as needed to keep the outside out.

Lastly, drain anything that may collect water to prevent mosquitoes from multiplying. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing, stagnant water so it is important to keep a close eye for pooling places in your yard. Bird baths, pet bowls, garbage can lids and old tires can hold water and it only takes a spoonful for mosquitoes to reproduce. Be sure to empty and clean these items at least once a week or store them until rainy season is over.

Additional information can be found at

Reportable Diseases

Below is a list of select reportable diseases for Collier County. This information will be provided on a quarterly basis via Health Connection.

Reportable Diseases

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