Test Your Home for Radon Gas
Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States among non-smokers and the second leading cause for smokers. You can’t see, smell, or taste radon, but it may be a problem in your home. The EPA estimates radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year, resulting in more deaths per a year than drunk driving, drowning, fires, or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Radon can be found all over the U.S. Radon comes from the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water and gets into the air you breathe. It can get into any type of building- homes, offices, and schools- and build up to high levels. But you and your family are mostly likely to get your greatest exposure at home. That’s where you spend most of your time.
You should test for radon. Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon. The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon. Testing is inexpensive and easy – it should only take a few minutes of your time. Protect your family and test your home.
You can fix the problem. The cost of reducing radon in your home depends on how your home was built and the extent of the radon problem. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs. The cost to fix can vary widely. Consult with your state radon office or get one or more estimates from qualified contractors.
Test kits are available at the Vilas County Public Health Department or your local town hall for $10.00, which includes sales tax. Please call 715-479-3656 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. with any questions. Quantities are limited.
Some cold weather dangers are easier to see than others. Sometimes, you might not even think it's very cold, but a cold-related illness or injury can still harm you. So when you are outside this winter, be prepared and be aware.
One of the biggest dangers from working in the cold can be the hardest to recognize. Hypothermia happens when your body temperature drops below 95° F. Mild hypothermia can make you feel confused. Being too cold can also cloud your judgment.
Early symptoms (or signs) of hypothermia include:
- Feeling tired,
- Loss of coordination, and
As your body loses more heat, the shivering will stop, your skin may turn blue, the pupils of your eye will dilate, your pulse and breathing will slow, and you will lose consciousness.
Many parts of the body are prone to frostbite, including your fingers, toes, nose, and ears. Frostbite happens when a part of the body freezes, damaging the tissue. If the tissue can't be saved, the body part may need to be removed to prevent even worse health problems.
Warning signs of frostbite include:
- Numbness or tingling,
- Stinging, or pain on or near the affected body part.
If the temperature and or the wind shield are at dangerous levels, do not go outside if you do not have to.
Avoid hyperthermia and frostbite by being aware of the weather and wear the right clothing for the weather, such as:
- Several layers of loose clothing,
- Warm gloves and hats
- Waterproof and Insulated shoes.
The colder it is, the faster hypothermia and frostbite can set in and so you shouldn't stay in the cold any longer than you needed.
Here is more information: Cold Weather Stress Fact Sheet
Other tips to help you prepare for the winter months, such as winterizing your home, car safety and emergencies, can be found here: Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter
Protect You and Your Family from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is the most common cause of deadly poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 450 people die each year and 20,000 experience other injuries because of CO poisoning. Carbon monoxide is often called the “invisible killer” because it is odorless and some of the symptoms are similar to the flu. People can be exposed to CO when charcoal, gas, oil, or wood are burned in poorly ventilated areas.
On average, carbon monoxide poisoning sends about 500 Wisconsinites to the emergency room each year, according to data from the Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking Program. These trips to the ER for carbon monoxide poisoning are preventable when people are prepared.
To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide, follow these safety tips:
- Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. All homes and duplexes in Wisconsin are required to have detectors on every level, including the basement, but not the attic or storage areas. Detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores for $20-50. Daylight Savings Time is a good time each year to replace the batteries in your detector and push the “Test” button to be sure it’s working properly. Replace your detector every five years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure it is functionally sound and vents properly outside the home.
- Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or garage. Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, and RVs.
- Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home. Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.
- Never run a car in an enclosed space. Even with a door or window open, carbon monoxide levels can still build up to an unsafe level.
At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and confusion. If you think you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.
Visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website for more information about carbon monoxide poisoning.
Tips to Protect Yourself Against the Flu
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated against the flu. People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
The following are other tips on how to stay healthy this flu season:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners can also help.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs can spread this way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
Stay home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever (100°F or 37.8°C) or signs of a fever (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine).
Follow public health advice in regards to school closures, avoid crowds and other social distancing measures.
Tips for Food Safety in a Power Outage:
Survivors of Suicide Support Group Meets in Rhinelander
Has someone you love taken their own life? Are you troubled with questions like, “why?”, “what brought this on?”, “why my family?”. Do you find yourself with no one to talk to about your frustrations and confusion regarding the suicide of your loved one? Then you are a Survivor of Suicide (SOS) and have a safe place to go to discuss your issues.
The SOS support group was started in July of 2005. The group is facilitated by Sue Mackowski, a Certified Bereavement Specialist and Consultant. The group originated as a result of the co-founder’s need for support after the death of her son. Tina Werres, a Rhinelander native, lost her son Paul to suicide in 2001. In the months following his death, she struggled with the loss and understood the need for people suffering from the unique backlash of suicide to have a gathering place to meet their needs. Those needs planted the seeds for the formation of the Survivors of Suicide support group.
The Rhinelander based Survivors of Suicide support group meets once a month, the third Saturday at the Curran Building, 315 S. Oneida Avenue, Rhinelander. The meetings are from 10am-12 noon. The SOS support group offers a safe and confidential environment to discuss the unique grieving process experienced by those whose lives have been touched by suicide. It is a place where survivors tell their stories, share their experiences, and help each other move forward in their grief journey. The meetings are informal and confidentiality is the primary guideline. The SOS support group is free and open to the public.
Since its inception, our group has served families and individuals from the Northwood’s area. Our goal is to provide a “safe haven” for those dealing with the death of a loved one due to suicide. In addition to group discussions, we have a small library of books, pamphlets, and other literature dealing with grief and loss, specifically loss due to suicide that is available to attendees.
We invite all of you who are struggling with the death of a loved one who has taken their life to join us.
If you have any questions regarding the meeting schedule or content, please call Sue Mackowski, 715-275-5399 or Tina Werres, 716-499-3002. Remember, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE”.