How is the air quality in your cabin this winter?

Friday, January 15, 2016

We've had some unseasonably warm, sunny days, but rest assured we will have some dreary weather before spring arrives.

With it will come cabin fever from being cooped up indoors, and worse than that, potential harm from indoor pollution.

The Nebraska Poison Center warns that calls concerning carbon monoxide poisonings increased nearly 13 percent last year, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Nebraska as one of the states with the highest mortality rate from carbon monoxide.

That's saying something; the CDC reports more than 400 deaths and about 15,000 emergency room visits each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include sleepiness, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting, shortness of breath and convulsions.

The first step in treating carbon monoxide is getting the victim to fresh air, then seek medical attention immediately.

Feeling like you are coming down with the flu? Make sure it's not really carbon monoxide from heating equipment in poor repair, lack of ventilation in a car, using a charcoal grill indoors or an unvented space heater.

The Poison Center recommends inspecting all fuel-burning equipment yearly, vent fuel-burning heaters outside, don't use a gas range or oven for heating a room, never use a charcoal grill or hibachi inside, install carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home, never leave a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.

Have your vehicle muffler and tailpipes checked regularly.

Carbon monoxide symptoms are similar to other health conditions among the elderly, so it's especially important that people 65 and older are not exposed to the colorless, odorless gas.

For more information call the Nebraska Regional Poison Center at (800) 222-1222.

Carbon monoxide isn't the only colorless, odorless, tasteless gas we should be concerned about, however.

Nebraska has a very high incidence of radon in homes, about half of them testing above amount deemed to be safe.

Created by the breakdown of uranium in the soil, radon can build up in your home, and become trapped in your lungs, damaging lung tissue and increasing the risk of lung cancer. Next to smoking, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

The Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department has collaborated with the City of McCook to pass building codes which require all new residential construction to be radon-ready.

You can test for radon yourself or hire a professional; contact the Southwest Nebraska Health Department at (308) 345-4223, email educate@swhealth.ne.gov or visit http://1.usa.gov/1OTqygM

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