Are your children current on their immunizations?

This week is National Infant Immunization Week and it’s also World Immunization Week, so it’s a good time to talk about the importance of protecting infants in Idaho and around the world from vaccine-preventable diseases.

This week, the focus is on infants. Why infants specifically instead of all children?

While it’s important that all children have received the recommended vaccinations, giving babies the recommended immunizations by the time they are 2 is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, including whooping cough and measles. Parents are encouraged to talk to their child’s doctor to make sure their babies’ immunizations are up-to-date.

Some parents may not trust that vaccines are safe, so they may not immunize their children. What would you say to those parents?  

We know that parents want to do what’s best for their children, and if they have concerns about the safety or necessity of a particular vaccine, they should talk to their children’s doctors about that. Generally, vaccines are very safe, and they are monitored continuously to make sure they stay that way.  Continue reading

Free workshops offer step-by-step instructions on how to keep radon out of your home

Banner_RadonClass_2017 (002)Radon is odorless, tasteless, and invisible, so it’s impossible to know without testing if the gas is in your home. Every county in Idaho contains homes that have high levels of radon, so it’s important to know how to keep it out of your home.

During May, homeowners, contractors, and remodelers can learn how to keep the cancer-causing gas out of homes in free workshops at various locations around the state.

The two-hour interactive workshop will explain what radon is, how it enters homes, and what can be done to help prevent excessive amounts of the gas from getting into homes. Exposure to radon gas can increase your risk for lung cancer, particularly if you smoke. Continue reading

You can help celebrate The Week of the Young Child this week

Come one, come all, it’s a community celebration!  Idaho, along with all other states, is celebrating our youngest citizens this week… our CHILDREN!

The Week of the Young Child is an annual celebration hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) during the last full week in April. Throughout the week, Idahoans will be celebrating early learning, young children, their teachers, and families.

weekofyoungchild.jpgThe National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a professional membership organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research.  Members work to achieve a collective vision: that all young children thrive and learn in a society dedicated to ensuring they reach their full potential. Locally, the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children leads the celebration efforts with community events across the state.  Statewide, each early childhood education program celebrates uniquely.  For families and community members, this is a great time to show appreciation to the special professionals that serve young children.  Continue reading

Best way to stay safe around canals? Stay away

Canal4

Across the state, Idaho is experiencing record spring run-off from a historic winter season snowpack, causing rivers and streams to run fast and full. To help water managers reduce the risk of flooding, many irrigation canals have opened early. So, it’s a good time to talk about canal safety and drowning prevention.

What’s the best way to stay safe around irrigation canals?

That’s simple: Stay away. Never, ever swim or play in a canal. And that message is not just for children, it’s for adults too. Both children and adults drown each year in Idaho canals, and records from the Idaho Care Line show that more children drown in canals than any other body of water in Idaho annually. In fact, Idaho has the nation’s second highest unintentional drowning rate for children aged 1-to-5. Continue reading

Please help Idaho’s children by reporting suspected abuse or neglect (It’s the law!)

041117ChildAbuseKeeping children safe is one of our primary goals at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. This month is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, so it’s a good time talk about what you should do if you think a child might be neglected or abused.

If you suspect a child is abused or neglected, what should you do?

We hope you’ll care enough to call 1-855-552-KIDS. If you even suspect that a child is being mistreated, you are required by law to call and report it. Your call is confidential, and you don’t have to prove neglect or abuse. That’s the job of law enforcement and social workers. You just need to let us know you think there might be an issue, so our child protection staff can start looking into it. Continue reading

Listen up, Idaho: It’s plague awareness season!

Spring is a good time of year to enjoy the desert – it’s warm but not too hot when other parts of the state are still encased in snow. Birds are flying, lizards are sunning themselves, and ground squirrels and other animals are becoming more active. It’s a tempting respite from winter for Idahoans and our four-legged companions as spring settles in.

However, the desert in southern Idaho also contains rodents that might carry the fleas that carry the plague bacteria.  Plague can cause serious illness in people and pets if it’s not treated quickly.  It’s important to brush up on your knowledge of this deadly disease now so you can take precautions if you’re planning to spend time in the desert; particularly from March through July when ground squirrels are most active. Idaho has had no confirmed reports of plague so far this year, but the deadly disease was found in Idaho ground squirrels in 2015 and 2016.

Ground squirrel

Rodents that can become infected include ground squirrels (pictured), rats, and mice, and they readily die from the infection. Tree squirrels in Idaho are not known to carry plague. Continue reading

New county rankings show where we live matters to our health

2017 Health Outcomes - IdahoWe’ve all heard, “You are what you eat,” and the premise behind that saying is our health is significantly influenced by the choices we make, including diet and exercise.

But increasingly, research shows that the economic, social and environmental conditions in the communities where we live, work and play also factor into our ability to make healthy choices and live healthy lifestyles.

In general, living in Idaho provides the environments and opportunities for those healthy choices and lifestyles, from easy access to recreation for exercise, safe communities, family and social support systems and access to clinical care.

That’s according to the 2017 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps (CHRR), which were published today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The annual county-by-county report analyzes multiple databases to evaluate overall health and well-being at the community level. It then ranks individual counties based on a calculation of overall health outcomes based on life expectancy and overall quality of life.

So how do Idaho counties compare to other Idaho counties in this latest survey? Continue reading