About the Health Department
"Building a Model Public Health Community"
Howard Health Dashboard
Introducing our new Health Dashboard which will give you an idea of the health of the County based on five ares: Access to Health Care, Healthy Weight, Behavioral Health, Healthy Living and Communicable Disease Surveillance. While our Dashboard is not "real-time" or "up to the minute", it provides recent health statistics and will be updated quarterly. Click on the Dashboard graphic above or CLICK HERE to see an introduction and breakdown of the many indicators used to evaluate our health!
Extreme Cold Weather Safety Prevention Tips and Weather Alerts
Extreme Cold weather often brings snow and ice that may keep people in their homes for longer than normal periods of time. Don't forget to REFILL YOUR MEDICATIONS if you are nearing the end of the prescription and there is a chance the winter weather may keep you in the house or your friends and family in theirs. Don't risk your health and safety or the health and safety of others. Get your prescription filled as soon as you hear about the possibility of a winter storm approaching.
Snow shoveling safety tips:
The American Heart Association says that for most people, shoveling snow may not lead to any health problems. However, the association warns that the risk of a heart attack during snow shoveling may increase for some, stating that the combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion increases the workload on the heart.
Here are some tips from the American Heart Association to make snow shoveling safer:
- Give yourself a break. Take frequent rest breaks during shoveling so you don’t overstress your heart. Pay attention to how your body feels during those breaks
- Don’t eat a heavy meal prior or soon after shoveling. Eating a large meal can put an extra load on your heart.
- Use a smaller shovel or consider a snow thrower. It is safer to lift smaller amounts more times than to lug a few huge shovelfuls. When possible, simply push the snow.
- Learn the heart attack warning signs and listen to your body, but remember this: event if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out. Minutes matter!
- Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before or immediately after shoveling. Alcohol may increase a person’s sensation of warmth and may cause them to underestimate the extra strain their body is under in the cold.
- It is also important to understand the heart attack warning signs prior to heavy lifting. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s happening and wait too long before getting help.
Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:
- Chest discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body, such as pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. If you or someone you know begins experiencing any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.
For more information about safety and shoveling visit the American Health Assciation page at by visiting www.heart.org or go directly to the page by clicking here
Hypothermia and Frostbite
Weather with temperatures in the low teens and strong winds that will yield cold which can be dangerous after periods of exposure if proper precautions are not taken. Some of the dangers associated with winter weather include: hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning and injuries from heat sources.
A danger of extreme cold is frostbite. Frostbite is the freezing and subsequent destruction of body tissue that is likely to occur any time skin temperature gets much below 32ºF. The areas most likely to freeze are toes, fingers, ears, cheeks and the tip of the nose.
To protect yourself and your family in extreme cold weather follow the below tips:
• Cover your head. You lose as much as 50 percent of your body heat through your head.
• Wear several layers of lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. The air between the layers acts as insulation to keep you warmer.
• Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect lungs from direct cold air. Cover your ears and the lower part of your face.
• Wear mittens rather than fingered gloves. The close contact of fingers helps keep your hands warm.
• Wear warm leg coverings and heavy socks, or two pairs of lightweight socks.
• Wear waterproof boots or sturdy shoes to keep your feet warm and dry.
• Be alert to other common winter hazards, such as carbon monoxide (CO) and injuries from heat sources. CO is produced by small gasoline engines, stoves, generators, lanterns and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood. This colorless, odorless gas can cause severe illness and death. Go to www.cdc.gov/features/copoisoning/ for CO poisoning prevention tips
• Vehicles should contain items such as heavy blankets, water, nonperishable food, a flashlight and a snow shovel. More information about cold weather preparedness may be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Winter Weather page which you may view by clicking HERE.
More cold-weather resources:
Affordable Care Act Resources for Enrollment
The Affordable Care Act went into effect October 1, 2013. With many systems still working out new system challenges, it is easiest to come to the Door to HealthCare and have an enrollment specialist walk you through the process answering your questions and addressing your concerns along the way.
Door to HealthCare
The Door is open from 8:30a.m. to 4:30p.m helping residents to enroll in health care
Maryland Health Care Connection
The White House
Good Habits to Prevent the Flu
Seasonal Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
Who Should Get the Flu Shot:
All persons aged 6 months and older should be vaccinated annually, with rare exceptions. (Talk to your health care professional)
Good Health Habits to Prevent the Flu:
1. Avoid close contact. - Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
2. Stay home when you are sick - If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
3. Cover your mouth and nose - Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
4. Clean your hands - Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth - Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
6. Practice other good health habits - Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
Seasonal Influenza, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The way to prevent the flu is by .All persons aged 6 months and older should be vaccinated annually, with rare exceptions. (Talk to your health care professional) 1. . - Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too. 2. - If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.3. - Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.4. - Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.5. - Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.6. - Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
To Request the Health Department at Your Next Health Event
Toll Free: 1-866-313-6300
Columbia Health Center: 410-313-7500
North Laurel Health Center: 410-313-0630
Behavioral Health Services/Substance Abuse Services: 410-313-6202
Environmental Health: 410-313-2640