News for Constituents

New Interactive Health and Wellness Guide from Council on Aging 

The Pennsylvania Council on Aging (PCoA) has released an interactive guide to aid with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for older Pennsylvanians, available in both English and Spanish.  This guide, titled “SOLO: Strengthening Older Lives Online,” was produced by the Risk Reduction Committee of the PCoA.  Included in the guide are activities, videos, and resources promoting mental, spiritual, and physical fitness as well as short questionnaires to build health plans.

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging also provides COVID-19 information and resources for older Pennsylvanians and aiding with their care. 

PA Home Energy Assistance Program Open for Applications 

Pennsylvania’s 2020-21 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is accepting applications to help income eligible families, whether renting or owning a home, to pay their heating bills. 

Enter your fuel type and county into the LIHEAP Benefit Table to access benefit amount by household size.  You do not have to be on public assistance or have an unpaid heating bill to be eligible. 

Apply online, by paper application, or through your County Assistance Office between November 2, 2020 and April 9, 2021.

Avoid an Uninvited Holiday Dinner Guest

You survive the holiday dinner countdown.  You stuff and safely roast the turkey.  Dinner is served.  The collection of pies, cookies, and desserts thins out. 

Now it’s time to wrap it up, literally, before bacteria ascends upon your gathering.  Thriving at room temperature, bacteria can grow quickly at temperatures between 40*F and 140*F.  Make sure your refrigerator is 40* or below and your freezer should be 0*F or lower, then store the leftovers. 

Leftovers require cooling from 135*F to 70*F within 2 hours and to 41*F within an additional 4 hours, for a total of 6 hours of cooling time.  Bacteria can survive freezing.  Thawed food also requires cooking to the proper internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria.

Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Wood-burning fireplaces and stoves, gas-fired fireplaces, appliances, grills, generators, and motor vehicles are all capable of releasing deadly carbon monoxide as a result of the incomplete burning of combustible materials, according to the Pennsylvania Office of State Fire Commissioner (PAOSFC). 

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, often mistaken for the flu, include nausea, headaches, dizziness, disorientation, fatigue, and death, if undetected.  On average, carbon monoxide poisoning claimed the lives of 73 Pennsylvanians annually between 2009 and 2013. 

The PAOSFC recommends installing carbon monoxide detectors and changing the batteries in the fall and spring when resetting your clocks and replacing smoke alarm batteries. 

Flu Season Precautions

Pennsylvania experienced 129,912 cases of flu and 102 deaths from the flu during the 2019-20 flu season.  Due to the continued presence of COVID-19, the Pennsylvania Department of Health is urging all Pennsylvanians to protect themselves and their loved ones this flu season by getting vaccinated and taking specific preventive actions: 

  • Wash hands with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.
  • Cover nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw away used tissues. Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control. 
  • Keep hands away from your face, eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Disinfect frequently-used surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, TV remotes, and countertops.
  • Avoid personal contact with those experiencing symptoms of the flu.
  • Remain at home until at least 24 hours after your fever subsides without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

Flu symptoms come on quickly and may include a fever, headache, fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches.  Populations at particular risk include the very young, older Pennsylvanians, pregnant women, and those with chronic health conditions.