Question. Persuade. Refer. Suicide Prevention Training June 3rd 1pm-2pm at the Laona School

Three steps anyone can learn to help prevent suicide. This free training is being offered at the Laona School District from 1-2pm on June 3rd and is open to the community. We encourage anyone interested in learning more about mental health and suicide to attend this one hour training. QPR is taught to the faculty teaching your children, and provides local resources to help those in need. School aged children may go to the gym for supervised open gym while you attend this training. Join the conversation to make Forest County a healthier community.

Why does this matter in our neck of the woods? The 2018 Forest County Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) polled 249 high school students, and showed rising suicidal thoughts. Forest County high school students reported that 31% felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more in a row. Also noted was a rise in seriously considering attempting suicide from 10.8% in 2016, to 15.6% in 2018. Students who reported a failed suicide attempt in the last 12 months went from 4.2% to 7.8% in the same time frame. According to the Wisconsin 2017 YRBS report, one in six students (16.6%) indicated that they had engaged in self-harm. Amongst 9th grade girls, the Wisconsin data states that self-harm is almost as common as eating breakfast every day (30% vs 32%)! Come to this training to learn how to help your child, their friends, and your neighbors!

Just like CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives. Suicidal individuals are suffering from an overwhelming sense of helplessness and hopelessness, usually complicated by a clinical depression and often triggered by a major loss. While in this health crisis, clear thinking is near impossible, and individuals often times suffer from “tunnel vision” which does not allow them to see a way out of their situation.

QPR is advanced suicide prevention training and is designed to detect persons who are in the thinking or ideational phase of their suicidal plan, and provide clear steps to aid the sufferer to the help that is needed.

Registration is not mandatory, but to help us get an accurate head count please call the Forest County Health Department at 715-478-3371. Can’t make this training? Call to see if there is another upcoming training in your area!

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To celebrate National Nutrition Month, we would like to encourage healthy eating habits for busy families. One of the hardest things about working full time and being part of a busy family is providing nutritious, good tasting meals that everyone can sit down at the end of the day and eat together. Time is precious to us all, so making meals should not be something that uses a lot of time.  Using a slow cooker is a great way to cook food while you’re doing other things. Slow cooker recipes will specify the heat level (low or high) and how many hours to cook the food. Busy families will love the “set it and forget it” convenience that slow cookers bring!

Eating more homemade meals, and less fast food, can ensure that kids get the fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy their growing bodies need. A slow cooker does all the work of cooking for you while you’re at work or busy with the kids, minimizing time spent in the kitchen.

Slow cookers aren’t just for winter chili’s, soups and stews-you can make appetizers, side dishes, fillings for sandwiches and tacos, and even desserts in a slow cooker. A slow cooker gives off very little heat beyond its base, so your kitchen will stay cool when it’s hot outside.

Try these tips to make the most of your slow cooker:

  • Prep the ingredients in advance: chop vegetables, soak beans and trim meats on Saturday or Sunday when you have extra time. Be sure to cut pieces all the same size for even cooking, and store prepped ingredients in airtight containers or zip lock bags in the refrigerator for up to three days.
  • Make ahead when possible: If your slow cooker has a removable insert, assemble the ingredients the night before and refrigerate the entire insert overnight. Starting with cool ingredients might lengthen the cooking time.
  • Reinvent leftovers: Instead of serving the same recipe two nights in a row, turn last night’s dinner into something new. If you make a large roast, serve the leftovers as a filling for quesadillas or sandwiches.  

Whenever using a slow cooker, be sure to follow good food safety practices to ensure your food cooks to safe temperatures and to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

For more healthy food ideas go to

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February is American Heart Month

In celebration of American Heart Month this February, the Forest County Health Department wants to help increase awareness of high blood pressure, which is often times referred to as the “silent killer.”  Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or less.  Nearly half of the American population over age 20 has high blood pressure and many do not even know it.  You may not feel that anything is wrong, but high blood pressure could be quietly causing damage that could threaten your health.  Certain risk factors for high blood pressure cannot be controlled, such as, family history, race/ethnicity, age and gender.  The good news is that you can do some things to improve your blood pressure.  Don’t smoke and avoid second hand smoke, reach and maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet that is low in saturated and trans fats and rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, reduce your daily intake of sodium, be more physically active, limit alcohol intake.  

High blood pressure can lead to stroke, vision loss, heart failure, heart attack, kidney disease, and sexual dysfunction.  The best prevention is knowing your numbers and making changes to prevent and manage high blood pressure.  For more information please go to the American Heart Association website

The Forest County Health Department would like to encourage you to increase your activity level this month. Challenge yourself to get 150 minutes of physical activity per week.  This might sound like a lot if you haven’t been active this winter but you can start small with 10 or 15 minutes and work your way up.  If you are looking for a place to walk, try your local school.  All of them allow the public to walk inside during certain hours- you will need to sign a waiver and check into the hours.  You could also try walking on your lunch break or walking in place at home. You can track your times by jotting them on the calendar each day, you will be amazed at how it adds up, even just 10 minutes three times a day.

 Holli from the health department will be visiting each Senior Meal Site this month to offer blood pressure screenings and information about ways to control blood pressure and information about conditions that affect heart health.  February 5th at 10:30-11:30 at the Armstrong Creek Meal site, February 7th 2:30-3:30 at the Alvin Town Hall, February 12th at 11:00-12:00 at the Laona Senior Citizen Center, February 19th at 10:45-11:30 at the Wabeno Town Hall, and February 20th at 11:15-12:00 at the Crandon Community Building. You can also walk in to the health department Monday through Friday 7:30 am to 5 pm to have your blood pressure checked.

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January is National Radon Action Month

Radon comes naturally from rocks and dirt in the ground, you cannot see it or smell it. There’s always some radon in the air around us. It can become a problem when radon gas from beneath your home leaks in through cracks or gaps in the foundation and builds up in your home. Breathing in high levels of radon can raise your risk of lung cancer. In the United States, radon is the #2 cause of lung cancer after smoking and it is estimated to cause over 20,000 deaths each year.

Smoking makes radon even more dangerous. Radon and tobacco smoke from cigarettes (and cigars and pipes) can damage your lungs. When they are combined, smoking and radon are more dangerous than either one on their own. Smokers who live in homes with high radon levels have a risk of lung cancer that is 10 times higher than nonsmokers who live in homes with high radon levels.

Testing your home for radon is easy.  A simple test will tell you if your home has a high radon level.  Most tests last between 2 and 7 days. It’s as easy as opening a package, and putting the test kit in the right place. After sending the kit back to the address in the package, the company will send your test results in about 2 weeks.

If your house has a radon problem, it can be fixed.  Fixing a radon problem reduces the risk of lung cancer for you and your family. 

Radon test kits can be purchased at the Forest County Health Department for $8.00.  

Take action today. Encourage your friends and family members to do the same.

Please call the Forest County Health Department at 715-478-3371 with any questions.

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Are You Prepared for Winter Weather?

Winterize Your Home

Winter weather can bring extreme cold, ice, snow, or high winds. If bad weather hits,is your home ready? Take time before winter weather arrives to winterize your home:

  • Make sure your walls and attic have enough insulation. This preparation will help keep you warm in extreme cold. As a bonus, you can reduce energy waste and save on your electricity bills!
  • Caulk and weather-strip your doors and windows.
  • Keep indoor space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn.
  • Never heat your home with a stove.

Learn more about winter weather safety here.

Prepare for a Power Outage

Severe winter weather may cause power outages. Are you ready if the lights go out? Prepare now to make sure you stay safe if you lose power.

  • Make a list of anything you need that uses electricity; plan for batteries and other alternatives to meet your needs when the power goes out.
  • Plan if you have medication that needs to be refrigerated. Talk to your doctor about what to do with medicine if you lose power.
  • Make sure to have a flashlight and extra batteries at home.
  • Have enough non-perishable food and water for your family.
  • Keep mobile phones charged and gas tanks full.

For more information to prepare now, survive during, and be safe after a power outage, go to:

Recognizing Frostbite

Winter is almost here! If your area experiences extreme cold, you could be at risk for developing frostbite when you spend time outdoors. It’s important you know the signs if you or something you know develops frostbite:

  • Redness or pain in any skin area may be the first sign of frostbite.
  • Other signs of frostbite include numbness, white or gray skin, and firm or waxy skin.
  • The body parts most affected by frostbite are your nose, ears, toes, cheeks, chin, and fingers.
  • If you or someone you know has frostbite, go to a warm room. Soak in warm water or use body heat to warm. Don’t massage or put a heating pad on frostbitten skin.

To learn more about recognizing and responding to frostbite, click here.

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