Grant Regional | aspire to live well | Winter 2020

C A R BON MONOX I D E PO I SON I NG Protect your home and family The cold truth about hypothermia Do you have a carbon monoxide de- tector in your home? If not, it’s time to get one. It could save your life by alerting you to a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide in your home. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen if you breathe in a lot of car- bon monoxide, a gas you can neither smell nor see. Too much of this gas can collect inside your home if, for in- stance, a heater or other fuel-burning appliance leaks or malfunctions. Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause headaches, dizziness, chest pain, confusion, weakness, vomiting and nausea. It can feel like the flu. People who are sleeping and breathe in carbon monoxide can actually die before they have symptoms. In fact, carbon monoxide poisoning kills hundreds of people each year and seriously sickens many more. Prevent it You can help protect your family against carbon monoxide poisoning. Start by making sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector near every sleeping area in your home. Test them regularly, and change the batteries in the spring and fall. Here are some other important prevention pointers: ●   ● Have your heating system, water heater, woodstove and any other fuel-burning appliances profession- ally inspected every year. Make sure they are properly working and vented. Carbon monoxide is a by-product of burning gasoline, natural gas, wood, oil, kerosene and propane. ●   ● If the electricity goes out, don’t use a generator or a portable camp stove inside your home for power or heat. ●   ● Never use a gas oven or range to heat your home. Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Chances are you know this: Bitter cold can cause hypothermia, a serious, potentially deadly medical condition. It happens when someone’s body tem- perature becomes dangerously low. But this may surprise you: Hypo- thermia can strike in temperatures as warm as 60 degrees. For example, it can develop in people chilled by rain, particularly if they’re outside for a long time. It can also affect people stranded in cold water. Most people who have hypothermia don’t realize it. Or if they do, they may not be able to take steps to get warmer. A low body temperature can make it hard to think, speak or move. (A body temperature of 95 degrees or lower is considered hypothermia.) What’s more, hypothermia can progress rapidly. Every year in the U.S. hypothermia kills hundreds of people, half of them 65 and older. Seniors are especially vulnerable because as we grow older, we lose body heat faster. Certain health problems also raise the risk of hypothermia, including diabetes, poor circulation and thyroid problems. Know the red flags Hypothermia is a medical emer- gency. Call 911 right away if you suspect someone has it. Early signs of hypother- mia include: ●   ● Cold feet and hands. ●   ● Puffy or swollen face. ●   ● Pale skin. ●   ● Shivering. ●   ● Slower speech or slurred words. ●   ● Sleepiness or low energy. ●   ● Confusion. Later signs include: ●   ● Slow or clumsy movements. ●   ● Trouble walking. ●   ● Jerky arm or leg movements. ●   ● Slow, irregular heartbeat. ●   ● Slow, shallow breathing. ●   ● Loss of consciousness. While you are waiting for help, gently move the person out of the cold or wet environment if possible. Remove any wet clothes. Then lie next to the person and put a blanket, or whatever is handy, over both of you. Your body heat will provide extra warmth. Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; National Institutes of Health; National Weather Service 7 WINTER 2020