Friday, August 21, 2009

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Martha Hunt, MA Health Promotions Coordinator
Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital

While it is still officially Summer, the winter months are really not that far off. Soon we will all be winterizing our swamp coolers and getting our furnaces checked for the season. Now is the time to start thinking about carbon monoxide poisoning and taking steps to prevent it. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless, deadly gas produced by burning any fuel and is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the US. In CO poisoning, we breathe in carbon monoxide gas and it replaces the oxygen in our blood. When this happens, our organs and tissues do not get enough oxygen and we can become sick or die.

Early signs of CO poisoning consist of flu like symptoms. These symptoms may include fatigue, dizziness, headache, vomiting, trouble breathing, confusion and fainting. Carbon monoxide poisoning may lead to unconsciousness and death. Breathing CO can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, unborn babies, infants and people with anemia (low red blood cell count) or a history of heart disease. The most common sources of carbon monoxide include oil, wood or gas furnaces, kerosene space heaters, gas or oil water heaters, gas stoves, gas dryers, fireplaces and wood stoves, charcoal grills, automobiles, lawn mowers and other gas powered lawn equipment.

To help protect you and your family from CO, follow these safety tips:
Have the gas-burning appliances and venting and chimney systems in your home inspected at the beginning of each heating season by a professional technician
Follow directions for proper installation and maintenance of gas-burning appliances
Check pilot light(s) on gas-burning appliances for a clear blue flame
Make sure appliances and chimneys have proper airflow
Do not use the oven or gas range for heating your home
Do not let the fireplace or space heater run while you are sleeping
Never use charcoal grills in your home - only use them in a well-ventilated area
Never let your car run in the garage, even if the garage door is open
Do not sleep in a parked car while the engine is on
Have your car's exhaust system inspected for possible leaks
Never let anyone travel or sleep as passengers in a covered bed of a pickup truck

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends placing CO detectors near the ceiling of your home. In addition, the CPSC recommends placing a detector on each floor of your home, in sleeping areas, and near any major gas-burning appliance. Detectors should not be placed within five feet of any gas burning appliances or near cooking or bathing areas. Always follow the manufacturer's directions for proper placement within a given area. Remember that CO detectors are for added safety, not as a replacement for proper use and maintenance of your appliances.

Know What to Do in A Poison Emergency

Keep the telephone number of the California Poison Center on or near your telephones
If you think a carbon monoxide poisoning has occurred, move the victim to fresh air right away and call 911!

Avoid the possible CO source until a professional service technician investigates the problem

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Slide Into Debt Could Bring Wider Waistline

Obesity rates may increase along with rising financial debt, German researchers suggest. In their study, Eva Munster and her colleagues at the University of Mainz tracked the weight of more than 9,000 people. They found that while 11 percent of those who were not in debt were classified as obese, a full quarter of those who were in debt met the medical criteria for obesity.

Writing in the early online edition of BMC Public Health, the researchers say they took into account the income of the participants, and the link between debt and obesity "was not explained by components of traditional socioeconomic status definitions such as education and income."

"The recent credit crunch will have health implications for private households. While income, education and occupational status are frequently used in definitions of socioeconomic status, levels of debt are not usually considered," Munster added in a journal news release. "We've shown that debt can be associated with the probability of being overweight or obese, independent of these factors."

Her team speculates that certain lifestyle changes linked to debt, such as restricted daily activities, "comfort eating" and poorer available food choices may all contribute to packing on pounds during financial hard times. For example, "a person's ability to pick and choose the food they eat often depends on the financial resources they have available," Munster said. "Energy-dense foods such as sweets or fatty snacks are often less expensive compared to food with lower energy density such as fruit or vegetables."

More information:
Find out how to fight obesity at the

Monday, August 3, 2009

Some Hand Sanitizers Recalled by FDA

The Food and Drug Administration issued a recall for the following hand sanitizers made by Clarcon Biological Chemistry Laboratory:

. Citrushield Lotion

. Dermasentials DermaBarrier

. Dermassentials by Clarcon Antimicrobial Hand Sanitizer

. Iron Fist Barrier Hand Treatment

. Skin Shield Restaurant

. Skin Shield Industrial

. Skin Shield Beauty Salon Lotion

. Total Skin Care Beauty

. Total Skin Care Work

These products have been removed from store shelves and consumers are advised to discontinue use and throw any of the above hand sanitizers into the trash.

Please note that "Purell" (used at the Naval Hospital) is not made by this company and continues to be safe for use.