Monthly Archives: July 2016
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas that can be fatal if inhaled in large amounts. You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide gas, which makes it even more dangerous. Carbon monoxide can infiltrate your home without you ever knowing until symptoms strike.
The longer and more significant a person’s exposure to carbon monoxide, the more severe the symptoms can become, ultimately leading to death.
Carbon Monoxide in the Home
A malfunctioning or inappropriately used heating, cooking, or ventilation system in the home can allow leakage of carbon monoxide gas into the air, leaving you breathing toxic gas without knowing it.
Carbon monoxide can come from a number of sources within the home:
- Furnace systems and chimneys with leaks
- Kerosene heaters
- Wood-burning stoves and fireplaces
- Gas ranges
- Appliances fueled by gasoline
- Gas-fueled space heaters
- Fireplaces that aren’t vented
- Cigarette and pipe smoke
Carbon Monoxide and Your Health
When carbon monoxide gas contaminates the air, you breathe in more carbon monoxide than oxygen. Once it enters the body, carbon monoxide gets into the blood, where it takes the place of oxygen; this happens most notably in vital organs like the brain and heart, which then become oxygen-deprived.
The first symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Chest tightness or shortness of breath
How carbon monoxide affects your health depends on the amount of carbon monoxide exposure and on how long the exposure lasts. Carbon monoxide poisoning may cause some of the immediate short-term effects noted above, but it can quickly turn serious, with nausea, vomiting, and loss of muscle coordination coming next. Inhaling high quantities of carbon monoxide can quickly lead to unconsciousness and suffocation.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
A carbon monoxide detector is a must for any home and just as important as a smoke detector. CO detectors should be placed near all bedrooms; they’re the only way you will know if carbon monoxide is affecting the air quality in your home, and can help prevent serious illness and even death.
Follow all the manufacturer’s directions, including how often the unit needs replacing, and always make sure there’s a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) certification tag on the model you buy. Unfortunately, not all carbon monoxide detectors are 100 percent effective — some brands did well during independent testing, and others didn’t. Investigate models before you buy to choose one that rated highest in tests.
Big winter snowstorms, like nor’easters and blizzards, bring on extreme cold, major snow accumulation, and other immobilizing conditions. Winter storm experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Red Cross offer advice on how to prepare and stay safe and healthy during blizzards and other winter storms.
In addition to dressing appropriately for the weather, experts recommend stocking up on disaster supplies: flashlights, batteries, candles, waterproof matches, a radio, a first-aid kit, sand or rock salt for icy walkways, a snow shovel, and extra blankets.
However, your most crucial disaster supplies will be your food, water, and any prescription medications you, your family, or your pets need. Even if your home doesn’t suffer any storm damage, you could have trouble getting to the supermarket, pharmacy, or doctor during extreme winter weather conditions.
Healthy Meal Plans in Extreme Winter Snowstorms
A bad snowstorm or blizzard doesn’t have to derail your regular healthy eating regimen. As soon as you hear a winter storm warning, start stocking up on emergency water and healthy, shelf-stable and frozen foods that your family will enjoy. Be sure to pay special attention to the diet-specific needs of family members with health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, celiac disease (gluten sensitivity), or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
It is essential for people with health conditions like these to pay attention to their diets during winter storms. People with diabetes must stay on a regular eating schedule to keep their blood sugar stable, and people with high blood pressure must remember to stick with low- or no-sodium canned goods and packaged foods — not the high-sodium prepared foods that are typically set aside for times when the electricity goes out.
Read the shopping lists and sample menus below to get more ideas about how you and your family can eat healthfully during a winter emergency.
Shopping Lists and Sample Menus by Condition and Special Food Plans
These healthy-eating plans help those with medical conditions, as well as people who choose a vegetarian diet, make it through in good health.
If you want to grow roses in your garden but don’t have space left, try growing them in containers. They can also add beautiful accents that brighten up your landscape and perfume the air.
Pick the Right Roses
Not all roses will work well in containers. For example, unless you put it against a trellis or otherwise provide support, one of the climbing roses would be a poor choice to pot up as it will sprawl everywhere. Grandifloras live up to their name and tend to be on the taller side in addition to large blooms. Shrub roses, species roses and older cultivars of roses also reach dimensions that make it difficult to grow in a contained space. Leave the hybrid teas to your landscape as they do not usually grow well in pots.
Four types of roses that are especially suitable for containers are:
- Groundcover These stay low and look lovely spilling over the edges of your container. Depending on the size of your pot and the groundcover variety, you could also possibly use it as a border around a larger plant.
- Miniature Since these types of roses have been cultivated to stay on the small side, they are naturally well suited to growing in containers.
- Patio If you want a rose that is not miniature, but not as big as a standard rose, try a patio rose. They are the type called floribunda, on a smaller scale.
- Polyantha These bear clusters of small roses on a shorter plant. Check the tag to make sure you are not purchasing a climbing type of polyantha rose.
There is a delicate balance to be maintained when you are planting roses (or any other plant) in containers. You want a potting medium that drains well enough that root rot is less likely, but is heavy enough to hold some water. The container needs to have enough drainage holes so that the excess water can flow out. However, this also means that water runs through it relatively quickly and the plant can dry out faster.
Keep an eye roses so you know when you need to water. A good general rule of thumb is to water when the top of the soil surface is dry–you want to keep them moist, not wet–the soil should have as much moisture as a rung out sponge. You will also have more success if you water outside of the period of 10 AM – 6 PM, as this is when it is usually hottest in the day and evaporation is accelerated. As much as possible, try to keep the water off the leaves of roses as wet leaves can lead to powdery mildew and other fungi and disease.
Drip irrigation can also be a successful way to keep your container rose happy. These systems are designed to deliver the water directly to the root zone instead of spraying over a general location.
When you place a rose within a finite amount of soil, it tends to use up all of the nutrients available. Apply fertilizer every other week to make sure that they have access to all of the food that they need for proper growth. Be sure to follow the directions as over-fertilizing can be as bad or worse than not feeding at all. Apply to the soil and not the leaves (unless the directions instruct you to do so) because foliage can be burned by the salts in fertilizers.
Repot and Change the Soil Every Few Years
If you start with a miniature rose or one that is at maturity, you may not need to repot for many years unless the roots start coming out the bottom or the pot breaks. With most other roses, though, you will need to change containers every few years as the plant grows.
While you are repotting, go an extra step and change out the soil if it has been there for more than two years. The plant has depleted some of the nutrients, and the soil has probably compacted, so a fresh batch will keep the nutrient level at an acceptable level. Over time, salts and minerals can also accumulate in the soil from fertilizers, so this may potentially damage the rose.
The second-leading cause of lung cancer could be hiding inside your own home.
Radon — an odorless, colorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas — is inhaled into the lungs, where it can damage the DNA, potentially increasing cancer risk, says Douglas Arenberg, MD, associate professor of medicine in the pulmonary and critical care department at the University of Michigan Health System.
Exposure to radon gas, which can seep through cracks in the walls and floors of your home, increases the risk of developing lung cancer. In the United States, an estimated 21,000 people die from radon-related lung cancer every year (compared with 160,000 lung cancer deaths from smoking), according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, and it’s the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, adds the EPA. And people who smoke or used to smoke have an even greater chance of developing lung cancer if they are exposed to radon.
“Lung cancer risk from radon exposure occurs over many years of high-level exposure,” Dr. Arenberg says.
Radon: The Home Invader
Radon forms when uranium in water, rocks, and soil begins to break down, releasing radon gas into the dirt beneath your home. Radon can enter your home through:
- Cracks in foundation walls and floors
- Gaps in flooring
- Warm air rising indoors
- Spaces around pipes entering the foundation
- Wind blowing outdoors
- Fireplaces and furnaces
- Open areas inside the walls
- Exterior air vents
- Water — usually well water
- Construction joints — where concrete stops and starts again
Radon is a common problem in homes throughout the country — as many as one in 15 U.S. homes has high levels of radon, according to the EPA. But certain geographic regions are more likely to be affected. In general, the Northeast, southern Appalachia, the Midwest, and northern plains areas tend to have levels over the recommended limit of 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air, while coastal areas tend to have lower levels. Newer homes may also have higher levels of radon due to better porosity in soil around the house, which can make it easier for radon gas to flow in.