Staying safe while enjoying summer

Summer is great time to get outdoors and explore our beautiful region. Whether it’s going for a dip at the beach, hiking one of Halton’s many trails, having people over for a barbeque or enjoying a picnic at a local park, it’s important to remember that making smart choices helps keep you safe. Below are some tips and information to keep in mind while you enjoy all that Halton has to offer this summer!

Beach safety

We are fortunate to have several recreational beaches located throughout the region. Beginning in June, our Health Department staff sample Halton’s beach water to determine if the water is safe for swimming and water activities. The beach water quality results are updated weekly at halton.ca/beach and you can check to see if it’s safe to go swimming before heading to the beach.

Air quality and heat safety

You can help protect yourself from the health impacts of extreme heat and poor air quality by getting environmental alerts delivered to your inbox. This is especially important for people with health concerns such as asthma, families who have children in outdoor summer camps or people who work outside. Sign up to receive alerts at halton.ca/airquality.

As we get closer to summer and higher temperatures, it’s important to drink plenty of water, take frequent breaks from activities and use sun protection. Also remember to visit family members, friends and neighbours at risk from extreme heat to make sure they are staying cool and hydrated. To learn more, visit halton.ca/heat.

Food safety

Summer means firing up the grill and barbecuing. Make sure your food is safe by following these four tips:

  • Clean
  • Separate
  • Cook
  • Chill

After a day of visiting our local farms or farmers’ markets, remember to properly wash and store your fresh fruits and vegetables. To learn more, visit halton.ca/foodsafety.

Mosquito safety

Halton Region staff work hard to help protect our communities from mosquitoes that can carry West Nile virus (WNV). The Halton Region Health Department monitors and helps control the mosquito population to reduce the risk of West Nile virus in the region. Residents can also protect themselves by:

  • wearing insect repellent with DEET or Icaridin;
  • avoiding being outdoors at dusk and dawn;
  • covering up: wearing light coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs; and
  • removing areas of standing water from your home

Practice tick safety when travelling

While the risk of tick-borne diseases in Halton is low, it’s important that residents are aware of how to protect themselves. If you will be around wooded, brushy or tall grass areas, or traveling to areas identified at risk for Lyme disease, you should be especially cautious and know how to avoid tick bites. Halton residents can also submit ticks found on themselves or family members for identification and testing through the submit-a-tick program.

By working together, we can help keep our community safe and healthy, and ensure that Halton continues to be a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire. Wishing you all a fun summer in Halton!

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Healthy changes for the New Year

Holiday resolutions can be maintained by making small, incremental changes

2017 is here and for many of us we are looking for ways to maintain or improve our health. The start of a new year is often the time when people decide to make changes that can have a positive impact on their health. Physical activity is a great way to keep your body and mind healthy, and it is easy to incorporate into your daily routine, if you take small steps.

If you are just starting out, think about the small changes you can make to improve your health. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Walking is one of the best ways to build physical activity into your day. Halton has a beautiful landscape, from the escarpment in the North to Lake Ontario in the south, with many conservation areas and walkable communities in between. Take some time to get outside, enjoy the fresh winter air and walk for your health.
  • Increase the amount of time you spend moving each day. At home and at work, take regular walking and exercise breaks.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, both at work and in the community, to build more physical activity into your day.
  • For families, there are many fun activities you can do together to help keep everyone get and stay healthy. From walking, skating and skiing outdoors to swimming and playing sports indoors at your local community centre – the options are endless!

To meet your weekly requirements for vigorous physical activity—a minimum of 2.5 hours a week—set goals that incorporate active living into your daily routine. Physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, depression, stress and anxiety. These are great reasons to get started today!

Halton’s website has a many great resources to help people of all ages stay healthy and physically active. To learn more, visit halton.ca/healthyliving. By making small investments in our wellbeing, we can better enjoy everything that makes Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Protect yourself during the flu season

Fall is such a great time of year to experience the harvest and the beauty of Halton’s natural surroundings, but it is also the season to start thinking about protecting yourself from the flu. The Halton Region Health Department, local pharmacies and physicians are working together to offer residents convenient access to flu clinics and help keep people safe and healthy this flu season.

Visit Ontario’s Flu Clinic Locator for locations of local flu immunization clinics including pharmacies.

While most healthy people recover from the flu within a few days, influenza infection can lead to pneumonia, hospitalization or worse, especially for those at high risk, including the elderly, children under the age of five and those with certain chronic health conditions.

Thankfully, there are some simple things you can do to protect yourself and those you love from getting sick.

Halton Region’s Health Department reports the best way to protect against getting and spreading the flu is to get the annual influenza immunization (flu shot). Remember that when you protect yourself, you protect those around you who may be at risk of severe illness from the flu.

savingyourself-fromthefluThere are many options which make it easier for you to get your flu shot. In Halton, you can get your flu immunization at your physician’s office, walk-in clinics, many pharmacies and some workplaces. Be sure to call the walk-in clinic or pharmacy before you go. Halton Region is also offering flu immunization clinics throughout the Region.

In addition to getting vaccinated, it is important to take everyday precautions by washing your hands frequently, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (if soap and water are not available), and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you are sick, stay home from work or school to prevent the flu from spreading to others, and talk to your doctor if your illness continues to worsen or does not begin to improve after a few days.

For more information on the flu, please visit halton.ca/flu or dial 311.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Resources to support active, healthy living are just a click away

Every day we hear about the importance of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle and all of the great benefits of regular physical activity, healthy eating and healthy lifestyle choices. From news reports to advertisements and conversations amongst friends and family, the evidence that healthy choices lead to more energy and happier lives is all around us. As a former professional athlete, I have always done my best to stay active and to make physical activity a part of my regular routine.

Being physically active and making healthy, nutritional choices are integral to maintaining health at all stages of life. Supporting people to make active, healthy choices is an important priority for Halton Region. Our website, halton.ca/healthylifestyle, connects you with a number of resources and services to help you build physical activity and healthy eating into your daily routine including:

In addition to these resources, we have many opportunities in Halton year-round to participate in fun, recreational activities that can help you make active living a part of your day. The fall is a great time to check out the many hiking trails located throughout Halton. Consider spending the day at a fall fair or touring Halton’s Pumpkins to Pastries Trail. Not only will you get to enjoy the sites and sounds of the harvest season, you also be building ‘active living’ into your day. Great resources and many opportunities to be healthy and active, contribute to making Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Protect yourself from West Nile virus

As the summer winds up, it’s easy to start thinking about back-to-school and the autumn season, but did you know that late summer and early autumn are also the times when West Nile virus (WNV) is often spread and when the symptoms of mosquito-borne diseases often start to appear? Working together, we can work to reduce WNV in our communities while making smart, healthy choices.

Since the virus is spread by mosquitoes, until the first hard frost in the fall, the most important step to preventing WNV is to prevent mosquito bites. Taking a few simple actions can make all the difference in protecting your family’s health:

  1. Wear insect repellent with DEET or Icaridin;
  2. Avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn;
  3. Cover up – wear light coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs; and
  4. Remove areas of standing water from your home since mosquitoes lay their eggs in water that doesn’t flow.

To help control the mosquito population and reduce the risk of WNV, the Halton Region Health Department treats areas of standing water, such as catch basins, with a larvicide. This larvicide prevents the mosquito larvae from maturing into adult mosquitoes. When walking around your neighbourhood, you may have noticed some dots of spray paint on catch basins – these indicate how many rounds of larvicide have been applied to each catch basin.

Health Department staff also set mosquito monitoring traps throughout the region to determine the level of WNV risk. The number and types of mosquitoes trapped are examined and sent for WNV testing. If the Health Department finds West Nile virus positive mosquitoes in the region, we inform the community to remind you how to help prevent the spread of the virus across Halton.

To learn more about how to protect yourself against WNV, visit halton.ca/wnv. Working together to prevent WNV, we can make safe and healthy choice and keep Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire all year long.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Getting ready for back to school by updating immunization records

As a parent, keeping your children safe and healthy is your number one priority. With the beginning of school less than a month away, it’s important to start planning now to ensure your children are up-to-date with their immunizations and that you’ve reported any updates to the Health Department. Immunization can ensure our children and community are protected from the threat of preventable diseases and Halton Region is doing its part to help families stay safe and healthy.

While the majority of families in Halton immunize their children to protect their health, many are unaware of the legal requirement to notify the Halton Region Health Department about any required immunizations or exemptions their children have, especially those the province requires for school attendance.

ImmunizationRecordsIn order to enforce the provincial Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA), the Health Department needs your help. Please take a moment this summer to ensure that your family’s immunizations are up-to-date and report any immunizations to the Region. If your child is unable to get immunized, you must have a notarized exemption on file with the Health Department in order to meet school attendance requirements.

Since immunization reporting is so important to not only the health of our children, but also needed to attend school, Halton has recently been making it easier for parents to report and request immunization records. You can now report immunizations either online, in person or by dialing 311. If you’re unsure what immunizations the Health Department has on file, we recently launched an online immunization records request form to give you a more convenient way to request a copy of the immunization records we have on file.

As we continue to enforce ISPA, the Halton Health Department periodically sends out letters to students in certain age groups who have outdated immunization records. In May, we sent out letters to families with students born in 1999 and 2000. If you received one of these letters, you can sign up for one of Halton’s special summer clinics to help your family catch up with mandatory immunizations.

Working together, we can protect ourselves, our children and our community from vaccine preventable diseases. Thank you for helping us keep Halton a great and healthy place to live, work, go to school, raise a family and retire.

As always, if you have any Regional concerns or comments you would like to share, please feel free to email me at gary.carr@halton.ca. You can also find me on Twitter @garycarrhalton, LinkedIn or Facebook. To receive further updates on Regional issues, please subscribe to my quarterly e-newsletter, “The Carr Report”.

Helping keep Halton healthy in 2016

ThinkstockPhotos-462255685At the beginning of each year, many of us make resolutions to lead healthier, more active lives. As part of Halton Region’s commitment to enhancing the health and well-being of residents, we can help you and your family make healthy choices and improve your quality of life.

Knowing the actions you take today can enhance your health tomorrow, choosing an active lifestyle can improve your health with every step. Whether you are at work or school, at home or travelling, there are always opportunities to remain active. Halton offers residents of all ages and stages a variety of physical activity resources to help you get active in 2016!

To make it easier for residents to make active choices, we’re also putting the infrastructure in place to help residents incorporate active transportation into their daily lives. Halton Region’s new Active Transportation Master Plan will support walkable communities and promote human-powered travel through an active transportation network of sidewalks, on-road bike lanes and off-road, multi-use trails. Once implemented in partnership with our Local Municipalities, the Active Transportation Master Plan will offer Halton residents many potential environmental, health and economic benefits including increased levels of physical activity, lower levels of obesity and other chronic diseases, as well as improved air quality.

At Halton Region, we know that there is more to your health than just staying active. We want to ensure all residents have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. Our nutrition programs and services and food safety initiatives connect residents with healthy resources and supports for the entire family. The Where to Get Help in Halton guide also helps connect residents in need to community services such as food banks and emergency food programs.

The start of a new year is a good time to reduce alcohol consumption to support a healthy lifestyle.  Making a commitment to low-risk or moderate drinking can be an important first step towards better health. For resources and support to help you reduce alcohol consumption, visit halton.ca/alcohol.

Mental health is another key part of your overall health and we’re dedicated to ensuring residents receive the resources and services they need to support good mental health for the community. So whether you have a child in need, are stressed at work or looking for ways to improve a relationship, Halton is here to help.

For more information on how to stay healthy this year, please visit halton.ca/health. By working together to create a healthier Halton, we can keep Halton a great place to live, work, raise a family and retire.