Tips to Prevent Poisonings

Drugs and Medicines

  • Only take prescription medications that are prescribed to you by a healthcare professional. Misusing or abusing prescription or over-the-counter medications is not a “safe” alternative to illicit substance abuse.
  • Never take larger or more frequent doses of your medications, particularly prescription pain medications, to try to get faster or more powerful effects.
  • Never share or sell your prescription drugs. Keep all prescription medicines (especially prescription painkillers, such as those containing methadone, hydrocodone, or oxycodone), over-the-counter medicines (including pain or fever relievers and cough and cold medicines), vitamins and herbals in a safe place that can only be reached by people who take or give them.
  • Follow directions on the label when you give or take medicines. Read all warning labels. Some medicines cannot be taken safely when you take other medicines or drink alcohol.
  • Turn on a light when you give or take medicines at night so that you know you have the correct amount of the right medicine.
  • Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers.
  • Monitor the use of medicines prescribed for children and teenagers, such as medicines for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
  • Dispose of unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs. Follow federal guidelines for how to do this (FDA 2011).
  • Participate in National Drug Take Back days recognized by the Drug Enforcement Administration or local take back programs in your community.

Household Chemicals and Carbon Monoxide

  • Always read the label before using a product that may be poisonous.
  • Keep chemical products in their original bottles or containers. Do not use food containers such as cups, bottles, or jars to store chemical products such as cleaning solutions or beauty products.
  • Never mix household products together. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia can result in toxic gases.
  • Wear protective clothing (gloves, long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes) if you spray pesticides or other chemicals.
  • Turn on the fan and open windows when using chemical products such as household cleaners.

Keep Young Children Safe from Poisoning

Be Prepared

  • Put the poison help number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and save it on your cell phone. The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Be Smart about Storage

  • Store all medicines and household products up and away and out of sight in a cabinet where a child cannot reach them.
  • When you are taking or giving medicines or are using household products:
    • Do not put your next dose on the counter or table where children can reach them—it only takes seconds for a child to get them.
    • If you have to do something else while taking medicine, such as answer the phone, take any young children with you.
    • Secure the child safety cap completely every time you use a medicine.
    • After using them, do not leave medicines or household products out. As soon as you are done with them, put them away and out of sight in a cabinet where a child cannot reach them.
    • Be aware of any legal or illegal drugs that guests may bring into your home. Ask guests to store drugs where children cannot find them. Children can easily get into pillboxes, purses, backpacks, or coat pockets.

Proper Disposal

For more information on proper disposal, please see the FDA’s web site, Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know.

What To Do If A Poisoning Occurs

  • Remain calm.
  • Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and the victim has collapsed or is not breathing. If the victim is awake and alert, dial 1-800-222-1222. Try to have this information ready:
    • the victim’s age and weight
    • the container or bottle of the poison if available
    • the time of the poison exposure
    • the address where the poisoning occurred
  • Stay on the phone and follow the instructions from the emergency operator or poison control center.

The Safety tips above were adapted from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Find more information on Home and Recreational Safety from the CDC HERE.

WIC: Improving the Lifelong Health and Nutrition of Families

From the 2018 Malheur County WIC Report

Our vision at WIC is to ensure optimal nutrition and lifelong health for every Oregon family. Locally, we are here to protect and promote the health of families in Malheur County.

Find out more about how the WIC Program improves the health of families, communities, and economy by reading the 2018 Annual Malheur WIC Report.

Find out how WIC can help you and your family. If you are pregnant or have a child 5 years or younger, you may qualify for free nutrition counseling, breastfeeding support, and supplemental foods. Call the Malheur County Health Department’s WIC line directly at 541-889-7041.

Secondhand Smoke

Malheur County Health Department is committed to enforcing Oregon’s Indoor Clean Air Act (ICAA), which prohibits smoking, vaporizing or aerosolizing in most public places and places of employment. Additionally, smoking, vaporizing or aerosolizing is not permitted within ten feet of any entrance, exit, window that opens or air-intake vent. All public places and workplaces affected by the law must post appropriate signs. The ICAA is a complaint-driven law; OHA (along with the health department) may respond to complaints, inspect public places and issue citations and penalties for violating the law. Report an ICAA violation HERE by filling out the online complaint form or call 1-866-621-6107. You can leave your complaint anonymously.

Why do we care so much about the ICAA? Because second hand smoke is dangerous and can harm you and the ones you love. Quitting smoking and ensuring you are not exposed to second hand smoke will benefit you plus help you protect the people in your life.

Dangers of Secondhand Smoke

The main way smoking hurts non-smokers is through secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke that comes from a cigarette and smoke breathed out by a smoker. When a non-smoker is around someone smoking, they breathe in secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke is dangerous to anyone who breathes it in. It can stay in the air for several hours after somebody smokes. Breathing secondhand smoke for even a short time can hurt your body.

Take this quiz to see how much you know about the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke

Over time, secondhand smoke has been associated with serious health problems in non-smokers: 

  • Lung cancer in people who have never smoked. 
  • More likely that someone will get heart disease‚ have a heart attack‚ and die early. 
  • Breathing problems like coughing‚ extra phlegm‚ wheezing‚ and shortness of breath.

Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for children, babies, and women who are pregnant: 

  • Mothers who breathe secondhand smoke while pregnant are more likely to have babies with low birth weight. 
  • Babies who breathe secondhand smoke after birth have more lung infections than other babies. 
  • Secondhand smoke causes kids who already have asthma to have more frequent and severe attacks. 
  • Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to develop bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections and are at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). 

The only way to fully protect non-smokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke is to not allow smoking indoors. Separating smokers from non-smokers (like “no smoking” sections in restaurants)‚ cleaning the air‚ and airing out buildings does not get rid of secondhand smoke.

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Loved Ones

The best thing you can do to protect your family from secondhand smoke is to quit smoking. Right away, you get rid of their exposure to secondhand smoke in your home and car, and reduce it anywhere else you go together.

Make sure your house and car remain smokefree. Kids breathe in secondhand smoke at home more than any other place. The same goes for many adults. Don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home or car. Setting this rule will:

  • Reduce the amount of secondhand smoke your family breathes in.
  • Help you quit smoking and stay smokefree.
  • Lower the chance of your child becoming a smoker.

When you’re on the go, you can still protect your family from secondhand smoke:

  • Make sure caretakers like nannies, babysitters, and day care staff do not smoke.
  • Eat at smokefree restaurants.
  • Avoid indoor public places that allow smoking.
  • Teach your children to stay away from secondhand smoke.

Find out more about secondhand smoke:

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness every day. During May, the Malheur County Health Department is raising awareness of mental health and the ways we can support those in our communities. It is important that together with many other service organizations, we fight stigma, provide resources, educate the public and advocate for people with mental illness and their families.

Mental Health Awareness Month brings attention to trauma and the impact it can have on the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children, families, and communities. Mental health is essential for a person’s overall health. Prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can recover from mental disorders and live full and productive lives. For more information on mental health, children and families, visit

One in six Oregonians live with mental illness. To raise awareness, fight stigma and encourage struggling individuals to seek help, two Oregonians share their stories in this brief video.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) wants to inspire others with the following facts.

Mental Health Facts

  • 1 in 5 (46.6 million) adults in the United States experience a mental health condition in a given year.
  • 1 in 25 (11.2 million) adults in the United States experience a serious mental illness in a given year.
  • Approximately 46.6 million adults in the United States face the reality of managing a mental illness every day.
  • Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24, but early intervention programs can help.
  • Up to 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness as revealed by psychological autopsy. 46% of those who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental illness.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. With effective care, suicidal thoughts are treatable, and suicide is preventable.

What is Stigma?

People experiencing mental health conditions often face rejection, bullying and even discrimination. This can make their journey to recovery longer and more difficult. Stigma is when someone, or you yourself, views you in a negative way because you have a mental health condition. Some people describe stigma as shame that can be felt as a judgement from someone else or a feeling that is internal, something that confuses feeling bad with being bad.

Navigating life with a mental health condition can be tough, and the isolation, blame and secrecy that is often encouraged by stigma can create huge challenges to reaching out, getting needed support and living well. Learning how to cope with stigma and how to avoid and address stigma are important for all of us.

Get Help

Recovery is possible. Help is available.

Wildfire Community Preparedness

2019 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day banner

May 4 is Wildfire Community Preparedness Day! This national campaign encourages people to come together and take action to reduce wildfire risk.

Wildfires across the United States have cost more than 100 lives and more than $25 billion dollars in property losses in just the last two years. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to improve the wildfire safety of your home and community.

Wildfire Protection Projects

Projects that reduce wildfire risk and increase preparedness can be accomplished by a broad range of ages; and come in a variety of time commitments, with some as short as a few hours. You might be asking – what can I do in one day to be safer from wildfire? And the answer is a lot! To help get you started, we’ve developed more than two dozen project ideas for individuals, families and groups. With the youngest participants in mind, most can be accomplished without power tools or monetary costs.

  • Rake and remove pine needles and dry leaves within a minimum of 3 to 5 feet of a home’s foundation. As time permits – continue up to a 30-foot distance around the home. Dispose of collected debris in appropriate trash receptacles.
  • Clean pine needles from roof and gutters and pay attention to maintaining the home ignition zone.
  • Get out your measuring tape and see how close wood piles are located to the home. If closer than 30 feet, they need to be relocated and moved at least 30’ away from structures.
  • Sweep porches and decks clearing them of leaves and pine needles. Rake under decks, porches, sheds and play structures. Make sure you dispose of debris. 
  • Mow grasses to a height of four inches or less.
  • On mature trees, use hand pruners and loppers to remove low-hanging tree branches up to a height of 4 feet from the ground (specific height depends on the type and size of tree).
  • Collect downed tree limbs and broken branches and take them to a disposal site. 
  • Remove items stored under decks and porches and relocate it to a storage shed, garage, or basement. Gasoline cans and portable propane tanks should never be stored indoors and should be located away from the home.
  • Distribute wildfire safety information to neighbors, or staff a table at a grocery or hardware store (other high-traffic locations work too) and distribute free Firewise and emergency preparedness materials that can be ordered from the catalog or from
  • Join forces with neighbors and pool your resources to pay for a chipper service to remove slash.
  • Visit the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association site, and download free home inventory software. Work together as a family to videotape and take photos of your possessions – that way you’ll have the insurance documentation needed to replace belongings.
  • home evacuation plan.
  • Create a Family Communication Plan (available in both English and Spanish).
  • Build or update a 72-hour kit.
  • Contact your local Office of Emergency Management and ask if your jurisdiction requires individuals to register cell phones to receive emergency notifications on mobile devices.
  • Can you see your home’s address number from the street? If not, trim overgrown vegetation covering or blocking the numbers.
  • Using social media or text messaging, pick a day and send hourly Firewise and Emergency Preparedness tips to your contacts and friends.
  • Help an elderly relative or neighbor enter emergency numbers and the names of close relatives into their cell phones; and in large font post their phone number and street address above their landline so it can easily be seen when providing information to an emergency dispatcher.
  • As a family – locate two alternate routes out of your neighborhood (besides the one normally used); and plan and practice an evacuation drill using those secondary routes.
  • Teens that babysit outside the home need to schedule a conversation with the parents of the kids they’re responsible for and learn their emergency plan and what they should do if a wildfire starts, or an evacuation issued, while in that leadership role.
  • Work with neighbors to develop a phone tree that can be used to alert everyone about a fire or evacuation.
  • Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire screening no larger than 1/8” mesh to help keep embers out during a fire.
  • During an evacuation pets have special needs too – build an emergency kit for your animals.
  • Hold a garage sale and donate the proceeds to your local fire department’s wildland fire team.

Visit the National Wildfire Protection Association for more information.

Babies First! Home Visits

To make an appointment for Babies First! in Malheur County or for more information, call 541-889-7279.

What is Babies First! and how much does it cost?

Would you like support during pregnancy or with your baby?

Babies First! is a program that provides nurse visits for pregnant women and families with babies and young children up to age 5. Babies First! helps make sure moms, families and babies have the support and information they need to be healthy.

Babies First! is free to eligible women, families, and children.

What can Babies First! help with?

  • Answer questions about how to keep you or your baby healthy, and help know when to see the doctor
  • Sign up for health care and/or the Oregon Health Plan
  • Solve problems, or connect you to services you might need
  • Give information about what to expect as your child grows and develops
  • Check to make sure your child is learning and growing as they should
  • Help you keep your child’s teeth and smile healthy
  • Help you make your home safe for your child
  • Weigh your baby
  • Help with breastfeeding
  • Build a happy, loving and fun relationship between you and your child
  • Be the best parent you can be!

Call the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279 to learn more.

Build a Family Emergency Preparedness Kit

Part of the work of the Malheur County Health Department is Preparedness and we want to help everyone be safe and ready for emergencies.

If disaster were to strike Malheur County, you might not have access to food, water, or electricity for some time. By taking time now to prepare emergency water, food and disaster supplies, you can provide for your entire family.

Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in an emergency. A normally active person needs to drink at least 2 quarts (a half gallon) of water each day. You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. Store at least an additional half gallon per person, per day for this. 

Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food and water supplies for two weeks, consider maintaining a supply that will last that long. You may not need to go out and buy foods to prepare an emergency food supply: you can use the canned goods, dry mixes, and other staples on your cupboard shelves. If you are unable to store this much, store as much as you can.

And don’t forget about your pets! They need a kit, too.

Oregon Health Authority presents the video below to help viewers gain insight into what goes into a preparedness kit and how much (or little) one can cost.

Checklist for your kit

  • Bags or container for kit
  • Water – 3 gallons – one gallon per person per day
  • Food – enough for 3 days
  • Battery ­ powered or hand­crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit – also include applicable prescription medications
  • Whistle – to signal for help
  • Filter mask
  • Moist towelettes
  • Wrench or pliers
  • Manual can opener
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Garbage bags
  • Flashlight
  • Unique family needs – entertainment, rain gear, blanket

Download the “Build a Kit on a Budget” checklist (pdf)

Adapted from information from Oregon Health Authority Health Security, Preparedness and Response.

HPV Vaccine Can Prevent Genital Warts and Cancer

HPV Vaccine available at NO COST for ages 9-26 at the Malheur County Health Department. Schedule your appointment today by calling 541-889-7279. Walk-ins also welcome.

What is HPV?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). HPV is a different virus than HIV and HSV (herpes). 79 million Americans, most in their late teens and early 20s, are infected with HPV. There are many different types of HPV. Some types can cause health problems including genital warts and cancers. But there are vaccines that can stop these health problems from happening.

How is HPV spread?

You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.

Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person. You also can develop symptoms years after you have sex with someone who is infected. This makes it hard to know when you first became infected.

Does HPV cause health problems?

In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer.

Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or group of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. A healthcare provider can usually diagnose warts by looking at the genital area.

Does HPV cause cancer?

HPV can cause cervical and other cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. It can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (called oropharyngeal cancer).

Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV. The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types of HPV that can cause cancers.

There is no way to know which people who have HPV will develop cancer or other health problems. People with weak immune systems may be less able to fight off HPV. They may also be more likely to develop health problems from HPV.

How can I avoid HPV and the health problems it can cause?

You can do several things to lower your chances of getting HPV.

Get vaccinated. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective. It can protect against diseases (including cancers) caused by HPV when given in the recommended age groups. Vaccination is available from age 9-26 currently. The CDC recommends vaccination at age 11-12, but many healthcare providers give the vaccine earlier and to those up to age 26 who did not receive the vaccine earlier.

Get screened for cervical cancer. Routine screening for women aged 21 to 65 years old can prevent cervical cancer.

If you are sexually active

  • Use latex condoms the right way every time you have sex. This can lower your chances of getting HPV. But HPV can infect areas not covered by a condom – so condoms may not fully protect against getting HPV;
  • Be in a mutually monogamous relationship – or have sex only with someone who only has sex with you.

How do I know if I have HPV?

There is no test to find out a person’s “HPV status.” Also, there is no approved HPV test to find HPV in the mouth or throat.

There are HPV tests that can be used to screen for cervical cancer. These tests are only recommended for screening in women aged 30 years and older. HPV tests are not recommended to screen men, adolescents, or women under the age of 30 years.

Most people with HPV do not know they are infected and never develop symptoms or health problems from it. Some people find out they have HPV when they get genital warts. Women may find out they have HPV when they get an abnormal Pap test result (during cervical cancer screening). Others may only find out once they’ve developed more serious problems from HPV, such as cancers.

Article adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vaccine Safety

2017 World Immunization Week infographic #VaccinesWork

Due to the success of immunization, some diseases are no longer perceived as a threat. Certain groups have even questioned the utility of vaccination in spite of its proven success in controlling disease. In recent years, a number of web sites providing unbalanced, misleading and alarming vaccine safety information have been established, which can lead to undue fears, particularly among parents and patients. 

Vaccines are safe. Any licensed vaccine is rigorously tested across multiple phases of trials before it is approved for use, and regularly reassessed once it is on the market. Scientists are also constantly monitoring information from several sources for any sign that a vaccine may cause an adverse event. Most vaccine reactions are usually minor and temporary, such as a sore arm or mild fever. In the rare event a serious side effect is reported, it is immediately investigated.

It is far more likely to be seriously injured by a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine. For example, in the case of polio, the disease can cause paralysis, measles can cause encephalitis and blindness, and some vaccine-preventable diseases can even result in death. While any serious injury or death caused by vaccines is one too many, the benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risks, and many more illness and deaths would occur without vaccines.

Scientific evidence shows that giving several vaccines at the same time has no negative effect on a child’s immune system. Children are exposed to several hundred foreign substances that trigger an immune response every day. The simple act of eating food introduces new antigens into the body, and numerous bacteria live in the mouth and nose. A child is exposed to far more antigens from a common cold or sore throat than they are from vaccines.

The key advantage of having several vaccines at once is fewer clinic visits, which saves time and money. Also, when a combined vaccination is possible (e.g. for diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus), that will result in fewer injections and reduces discomfort for the child. A number of steps can also be taken to reduce pain at the time of vaccination.

Information adapted from the World Health Organization Vaccine Safety Net.

Recommended Immunization Schedules

Shingrix is preferred vaccine to prevent shingles

We recommend following these simple immunization schedules for people of all ages, from birth throughout adulthood. Visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Immunization Schedules for easy to use instructions to keep your whole family protected.

And download the Growing Up with Vaccines fact sheet on information about vaccines at every life stage.

Call the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279 to schedule your vaccine appointment and to review your immunization record. Walk-ins are also welcomed.