Heat Safety

Heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, yet hundreds of people die annually from extreme heat in the U.S. Dr. William S. Paul from the Metro Public Health Department joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss how to stay cool and safe when temperatures rise. View his segment here.

In the summertime, many people want to be outside soaking in the sun. However prolonged exposure to heat can be dangerous without taking proper precautions. Whenever possible, limit your time outdoors during the hottest part of the day. It’s also important to take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water while you’re out in the sunshine.
Even when taking precautions, some people are especially vulnerable to extreme heat, like the elderly, those who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, homeless individuals, and people with a chronic medical condition. When exposed to high temperatures, they can fall victim to heat exhaustion or, in extreme cases, heat stroke. Learning how to spot the warning signs of each can help save a life.
A few symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold, pale and clammy skin
  • Weak pulse
  • Fainting and vomiting

If someone progresses beyond heat exhaustion to heat stroke, their case is classified as a medical emergency. Some warning signs of heat stroke include:

  • Extremely high body temperature – above 103° F
  • Red, hot and dry skin
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Possible unconsciousness

If you suspect someone is suffering from heat stroke, call 911 immediately. And if you have friends, family or neighbors at high risk for heat exhaustion, it’s recommended to check on them at least twice a day.

Visit CDC.gov/extremeheat to learn more about how you can stay cool, stay hydrated and stay informed about heat safety.


Do you have tropical travel plans this summer? If you’re concerned about the Zika virus, Dr. Morgan McDonald from the Tennessee Department of Health joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to explain how to “pack to prevent” transmission of the virus. View her segment here.

Though Zika has fallen out of the international spotlight, it’s still a very real concern for those traveling to certain parts of the world. Currently Zika has spread throughout several regions in South and Central America, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. In the continental U.S. there have been a few cases of local transmission in Florida and Texas, but all Tennessee cases have been the result of travel.

The virus is spread through a bite from an infected mosquito, sexual contact with an infected person, or transmission of infected blood products. After infection the virus can be difficult to detect because many people will have mild, flu-like symptoms or none at all.

The most common Zika symptoms include red eyes, fever, rash and joint pain. Although there isn’t a specific medicine or vaccine, symptoms can be treated with plenty of rest, fluids to prevent dehydration, and acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.

However complications arise if the infected person is pregnant. Zika can cause microcephaly and other severe birth defects for pregnant women. For those returning from a Zika-infected area and who are trying to conceive, it is advised to postpone pregnancy for at least eight weeks for females and at least six months for males.

If you’re traveling to areas with the risk of Zika, take steps before, during and after travel to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission of the virus. “Pack to prevent” and keep yourself safe by bringing the following items:

  • Insect repellent
  • Long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Clothing and gear treated with permethrin
  • Bed net
  • Condoms

For more information on packing to prevent, visit CDC.gov/Zika.


Teen Drinking

Teen alcohol use kills about 4,700 people each year, more than all other drugs combined. Phaedra Marriott-Olsen from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Tennessee joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss the perils of teen drinking, and how it may lead to drunk driving. View her segment here.

Studies show that children begin weighing the pros and cons of drinking alcohol beginning at age eight. About 30 percent of 8th graders have tried alcohol and almost half of 10th graders drink alcohol. Though underage drinking is very common, there are many dangers associated with underage drinking. Youth who actively drink alcohol are more likely to:

  • Die in a car crash
  • Get pregnant
  • Flunk school
  • Be sexually assaulted
  • Become an alcoholic later in life
  • Take their life through suicide

The danger also extends to youth who are abstaining but are still surrounded by underage drinking or choose to get in a car with someone who is drunk. Thirty-two percent of teens are drinking and driving, but 16 percent of teens who aren’t drinking are still dying from alcohol-related situations.

These statistics are scary, but the key to keeping your kids safe is simple – talk to them about drinking. Three out of four adolescents say their parents, not their peers, are the biggest influence on their decisions about alcohol. It’s important to have frank conversations about the life-altering ramifications of their choices. Bring it up often, at the appropriate times, and be prepared to accept what your children have to say.

For free resources to assist parents who would like to have intentional, ongoing and potentially lifesaving conversations with their children, visit MADD.org/powerofparents and download a free handbook.

One in three teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been physically hurt by their dating partner. Lani Ramos, a crisis counselor in the domestic violence division of the Metro Nashville Police Department, joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss the warning signs of teen dating violence and how you can help a teen in a dangerous relationship. View her segment here.

In the U.S., one in four women and one in 10 men will experience domestic abuse before the age of 18. There are many causes for this epidemic, but Ramos believes that teen domestic violence is largely due to the inexperience, volatile emotions and lack of conflict management skills of young people.
If a teen in your life is experiencing an abusive relationship, the warning signs can manifest themselves physically and emotionally. Abused teens may isolate themselves or frequently allow their partner to make decisions for them. Also, they may have visible bruises on their body or other signs of trauma.
Teen dating violence can be hard to identify and often goes unreported. Some warning signs include:

  • Embarrassing their partner with bad names and put downs
  • Controlling what they do and who they see
  • Calling or texting their partner constantly
  • Taking their money or making them ask for money
  • Telling them they’re a bad person
  • Destroying their property
  • Shoving, slapping or hitting their partner

And, teen dating violence is not only destructive at the time of abuse, but there are also many long-lasting effects. It increases the likelihood of:

  • Abusing alcohol and/or drugs
  • Developing an eating disorder
  • Losing self-confidence
  • Declining of relationships with family or friends
  • Considering or attempting suicide
  • Engaging in risky sexual behavior and/or becoming pregnant

If you suspect a teen in your life is in danger, Love Is Respect offers trained peer advocates to support teens and young adults 24/7 by phone, text or online chat. All conversations are free and confidential. Learn more or chat online at LoveIsRespect.org, call 866-441-9479, or text “loveis” to 22522.

Mosquito Control

Did you know that when temperatures reach a consistent 50 degrees, mosquito eggs hatch and mosquito season begins? Spring is here, and it’s time to think about safeguarding ourselves from these dangerous bites. Dr. Sanmi Areola from the Metro Public Health Department joined us on a recent episode of Community Health Matters to discuss the importance of mosquito control. View his segment here.

Mosquitos aren’t just annoying pests that leave you with bites that itch for a few days. All across the world, mosquito bites are linked to the spread of dangerous diseases such as malaria, Zika and the West Nile virus. While it’s difficult to eliminate the presence of mosquitos altogether, it is possible to reduce the opportunity for them to bite.

The insects can breed on leaves, tree holes, storage containers, ditches or any other surface that contains still water. Mosquito-proof your property with the following tips:

  • Remove or turn over objects that collect water
  • Tightly cover water storage containers
  • Clean clogged gutters
  • Fill low-lying areas that collect water
  • Repair damaged screens
  • Use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito to cover cracks, gaps, vents or openings

When you have to be outside, prevent bites by regularly applying insect repellant and wearing clothing that covers your arms and legs. For extra protection, treat clothing with the insecticide permethrin.

For more information on protecting yourself from mosquito bites and eliminating them from your property, visit CDC.gov.



Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance is a growing international health concern. Pam Talley from the Tennessee Department of Health told us about prevention efforts in TN.