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Test Your Home for Radon Gas

~ January is Radon Month!

 

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.

Between January 22th and February 26th test kits are available at the Vilas County Public Health Department or your local town hall for $8.00. Please call 715-479-3656 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. with any questions. Quantities are limited.

 

Make Health Your Resolution in 2018!

 

Make 2018 your healthiest year yet! Add these tips to your resolution list to boost your health and well-being!

Six Tips for 2018:

  1. Make an appointment for a check-up, vaccination, or screening. Regular exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water to prevent the spread of illnesses.  Handwashing involves five simple and effective steps – wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry for at least 20 seconds.
  3. Make healthy food choices. Healthy eating includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
  4. Get active! Start small – try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking further from your destination. Adults should get at least 2½ hours a week of moderate-intensity physical activity.
  5. Be smokefree. If you are ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for free resources, including free quit coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to other resources where you live. Need inspiration? Check out these videos from the Tips From Former Smokers® campaign.
  6. Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can cause a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Adults need seven or more hours per night.

 

It's Winter!

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.

Hypothermia

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:

  • Shivering,
  • Feeling tired,
  • Loss of coordination, and
  • Confusion.

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.

Frostbite

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

 

We are in the Midst of Flu Season

Flu season is upon us! Healthcare providers throughout the State have already seen people ill from the seasonal flu.  Call the Vilas County Public Health Department to schedule your flu shot.  The cost of the flu shot is $25.00 and can be paid with cash or checks.  We also bill Medicare Part B, Medicaid and some Medicare replacements.

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 steps can also be taken 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.

Please feel free to contact the Vilas County Public Health Department at 715-479-3656 with any questions regarding the flu shot clinics. We also have pneumonia shots available for individuals 65 years of age and older. There are some restrictions.  Please call us for more information.  

 

Tips for Food Safety in a Power Outage:

https://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/2015/05/power-outage.html

 

Protect your family from carbon monoxide this winter!

Winter is here. Vilas County Public Health Department wants to remind everyone of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, especially those who will be headed to the hunting cabin or to another location where there may not be carbon monoxide detectors.

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.

About 50% of all CO Poisonings occur in the home. Other places include cars, cabins, and tents. No matter where you live, prevent exposure and know the symptoms. Common signs of CO poisoning might include headaches, dizziness, and weakness. CO may also cause sleepiness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and disorientation. At very high levels, it causes loss of consciousness and death. If you think you may be experiencing CO poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

Following these tips can help you and your family avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors. CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. CO alarms are not replacements for smoke alarms. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and the sound of CO alarms.
  • Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually. Hire a professional to make sure it is working properly and vents outside of the home.
  • Never run an engine in an enclosed space. If a car, snowmobile, generator or lawn mower is running, you must have a door open to the outside.
  • Generators should be run a safe distance from the home. Never run a generator in the home, garage, or right next to windows or doors.
  • Put a carbon monoxide detector in your camper, cabin or tent. With hunting season almost here hunters and other campers are encouraged to put a battery powered CO detector in their cabin, tent, RV or wherever they may be sleeping.
  • Do not use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal burning device inside your home.

For more information about carbon monoxide, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/air/co.htm 

 

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”.