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Westfield — Letters to the Editor

Important Information from the Westfield Board of Health

Lawrence D. Budnick, MD, MPH President, Westfield Board of Health

Friday, May 9, 2014 • 3:35pm

The Westfield Board of Health met on May 5, 2014.
 
The Board is concerned about continued cigarette smoking and nicotine addiction, especially among high school and even younger students, and about electronic nicotine drug delivery devices.  We reaffirmed our previous resolution that all Westfield parks and public recreational facilities should be designated smoke-free.  In addition, the Board introduced an ordinance to regulate the sale of these electronic devices and will have a public hearing and vote concerning it on June 2.  A formal public notice will be issued.
 
The Board is also concerned about summer-related health issues.  Some reminders:
1)    Please be watchful of children near pools.  All children should learn to swim.
2)    Be careful about the sun and avoid heat-related illnesses.  Apply and reapply sunscreen, stay hydrated and wear a cooling hat.  More information and tips are available from the State Department of Health at http://www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/hhazweb/cool.htm#GEN.
3)    Foodborne illnesses may increase due to the warm weather, so you should wash your hands and surfaces often, separate foods and not cross-contaminate them, cook foods to proper temperatures and refrigerate food promptly.
4)    Grills, fire pits and outdoor stoves should be used properly to prevent harmful fires and smoke exposure.  Have a working fire extinguisher nearby and never leave an open fire unattended.  Additional useful information is available from the Environmental Protection Agency at http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/bestburn.html.
5)    To prevent poison ivy, you should wear protective clothing as needed.
6)    On your property, please eliminate any stagnant water, which is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.  I discussed other ways to prevent tick-borne diseases, like Lyme disease, last month.
7)    Residents must keep garbage in tightly-sealed covered containers to minimize harmful rodents, which are more active during the summer.  Also, please do not feed wild animals.  Rabid animals are present in our county.
 
The Vaccines for Adults Program continues to offer free vaccines against pneumonia, shingles, meningitis, human papilloma virus (HPV), and tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) for uninsured or underinsured individuals or persons with Medicaid or Medicare (but not Part D).  For more information, please contact Laura Scanlon, the Public Health Nursing Supervisor, at 908-789-4070 x4074 or lscanlon@westfieldnj.gov.
 
During the past month, 17 retail food establishments and 13 Spring Fling food vendors were inspected and all were satisfactory.  However, the town experienced a second grease-related sewage back-up in a year.  As a result, procedures to prevent or lessen further grease-related disruptions are being recommended.
 
In the past 3 months, 11 residents were bitten or scratched by animals.  Residents must license all cats and dogs through the Town Clerk and get them vaccinated against rabies.
 
Information about all of the Health Department’s activities is available on its website http://www.westfieldnj.gov/health.  The complete minutes of the May 5 meeting will be posted after review and approval at our June 2 meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building.   The public is invited to attend.
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