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Silencing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Winterize your home to fend off carbon monoxide poisoning

As temperatures plummet and snow continues to fly, the urge to hunker down settles in for many. Before cozying up to the fireplace and treating yourself to a piping mug of hot chocolate, just remember – ‘tis the season to guard against a lurking threat that is out of sight and, often times, out of mind.

Carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness or death if inhaled, is commonly referred to as the “silent killer,” and for good reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States, with more than 20,000 people visiting the emergency room and nearly 500 killed each year from overexposure.

The best way to protect yourself is to get detectors installed. That can’t be stressed enough. Wisconsin state code requires that all homes and duplexes have at least one CO detector installed on every level, including the basement. Also consider putting detectors in or near any sleeping areas.

Here are several tips to assist with prevention and detection in order to help ensure a safe and healthy winter season and year ahead for you and yours:

  • Switch out detectors according to the manufacturer’s specifications, typically every five to seven years. To simplify this process, write the replacement date on them when installing.
  • Have any devices that burn fuel – kitchen ranges, water heaters, space heaters, furnaces and fireplaces – inspected regularly by a professional to make sure they are operating properly and free from any blockage.
  • If warming your vehicle before driving, be sure to pull it out of the garage first.
  • When power outages occur during winter storms, avoid using generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, basement, garage, or camper. And never use a gas range or oven to heat a home.

CO Poisoning Warning Signs

In addition to taking appropriate measures to prevent incident, it pays to be aware of the warning signs associated with CO poisoning.

What’s scary about carbon monoxide is that symptoms of an acute exposure are very similar to flu-like symptoms. The only real difference is that the flu is going to usually give you a fever.

Be on high alert if everyone in a household is displaying common signs such as headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. Another indicator of a potential problem is if you experience these symptoms at home but not elsewhere.

If you suspect exposure to unsafe levels of CO, evacuate the home or building immediately and then call 911 from a safe area.

5 Indoor Fitness Tips for Those Cold Days Ahead

women cardio indoors

Oh, the weather outside will soon be frightful but inside it’s so delightful. Don’t use the cold blustery days of winter as an excuse to get out of shape. Experts say it’s actually good to shake up your usual fitness routine, and there are plenty of exercises you can do in the warmth of your home to stay active and gain health benefits.

It’s particularly important to keep moving during the cold months because fewer daylight hours can make us feel sluggish. Try incorporating some or all of these tips to increase your energy level:

  1. Get creative. Winter is the right time to start sneaking in some extra movement into your daily routine. Skip the elevator at work and make extra trips up and down those stairs, if you have them at home. Do squats while you brush your teeth, schedule walk breaks, make your own food, and take all your calls standing up.
  2. Strength train. Pick up some weights. Strength training is essential to build lean muscle, which naturally boosts your metabolism. Don’t have weights? Use your body as resistance.
  3. Cardio exercise. Try to get 30-45 minutes a day, three to five days a week. Remember you don’t have to do it all at once. It all adds up. Try jumping rope for 30-60 seconds and alternate with some strength training, like squats and push-ups. Even heavy cleaning can elevate your heart rate to an aerobic level.
  4. Meditate. You don’t always have to speed things up. It’s important to slow down too. Take this time to reflect. Meditation reduces stress, which is important for both your mental and physical health.
  5. Have fun. Turn up the music and dance around your house. Changing activities will help keep you motivated and allow your body to recover from those hard summer and fall workouts while still challenging you.

It’s important to remember when the cold weather forces you to stay inside that fitness is not a one-time event, but a journey to be enjoyed.

Cold Weather Non-Alcoholic Drinks

non-alcoholic drinks

Santa’s Bells Seltzer


  • 2 cups cranberry-raspberry juice
  • 2 cups seltzer
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, plus 4 wedges for garnish
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, for garnish


If using fresh raspberries, freeze them in a single layer for about 1 hour (or overnight) before proceeding. Combine cranberry-raspberry juice, seltzer and lime juice in a pitcher. Divide among 4 ice-filled glasses. Garnish with frozen raspberries and lime wedges.

Mrs. Claus’ Salted Caramel Milk


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4 cups room temperature milk
  • Big pinch salt


In a small bowl, rub together the sugar and the lemon juice, until the sugar is damp and fragrant. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and let it preheat for several minutes until the pan is hot. Once the saucepan is hot, add the sugar. Begin stirring immediately and continuously. Because the pan was preheated, the sugar will start cooking very quickly. Soon after it liquefies it will start to take on color. Stir constantly, until it is a medium amber color.

Continue to stir while you stream in the milk. The caramel may seize and form small chunks of sugar, but continue to stir and heat the mixture, and by the time the milk is piping hot, the caramel will have melted and you will have a smooth liquid. Add a pinch of salt, taste the milk, and add more salt if desired.

Serve with whipped cream, marshmallows, a drizzle of caramel sauce, or even a scoop of ice cream! Salted Caramel Milk can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. (Four 1-cup servings)

New Year’s Mock Champagne Punch


  • 1 liter chilled sparkling mineral water
  • 1 liter chilled ginger ale
  • 3 cups chilled white grape juice


In a large glass jug or carafe, combine sparkling water, ginger ale and grape juice. Serve immediately in champagne flutes.

Spiced Pomegranate Delight


  • 1 (2 1/2-inch-long) cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 5 thin fresh ginger slices
  • 2 (16-oz.) bottles refrigerated 100% pomegranate juice
  • 4 cups white grape juice
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • Garnishes: pineapple chunks, orange rind curls


Cook cinnamon stick, cloves, and ginger in a Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until cinnamon is fragrant.

Gradually stir in juices. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes. Pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a heat-proof pitcher; discard solids. Serve warm. Garnish, if desired.

Holiday Sunset Mock Sangria


  • 7 cups chilled cranberry juice
  • 5 cups club soda
  • 6 small peaches or nectarines, cut to small chunks
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 4 cups ice cubes


In a large pitcher, mix cranberry juice and club soda. Add fruit and ice cubes. Makes 24 1/2 cup servings

Rudolph’s Salted Caramel Chocolate Chill Chaser


  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons caramel topping
  • 1/8 teaspoon course sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Canned whipped cream


Pour caramel topping into mug.

Heat milk and cocoa powder in a small sauce pan and heat until hot and frothy, stirring occasionally. Pour heated cocoa mixture into mug, add sugar and stir.

Top with whipped cream. Sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with additional caramel topping if desired.

Snow Plow Party Punch


  • 2 – 32 ounce bottles cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2 cups brewed tea
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 small lemon thinly sliced


In a 4 quart saucepan over high heat, heat cranberry juice and next five ingredients until sugar dissolves and punch is hot. Move to punch bowl and garnish with lemon slices. Makes 20 1/2 cup servings.

Winter Morning Tomato Refresher


  • 2 1/2 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon grated celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon horseradish
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Dash of Worcestershire


Combine all ingredients well and heat through. Do not bring to a boil. Garnish with a celery stick and a few sprinkles of tarragon and parsley. Makes four servings.

Snowdrift Espresso Eggnog


  • 1/4 cup instant espresso coffee powder
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 quart prepared eggnog
  • 1 pint coffee ice cream
  • Grated chocolate for garnish


In a medium bowl stir coffee powder with boiling water until dissolved. Refrigerate until chilled. About 30 minutes before serving, remove coffee ice cream from freezer and let soften. In a 3 quart punchbowl, combine espresso mixture, egg nog and coffee ice cream. Stir until blended. Lightly sprinkle with grated chocolate. Makes 12 1/2 cup servings.

Mocha Chilla


  • 7 cups fresh coffee, chilled
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 quarts chocolate ice cream
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • grated nutmeg or chocolate


Whip cream until stiff. Pour chilled coffee into a large chilled bowl. Add half of the ice cream. Beat until cream is partly melted. Add almond extract and salt. Fold in the remaining ice cream and all but a cup of whipped cream. Pour into tall glass and garnish with remaining cream. Sprinkle with grated nutmeg or chocolate. Makes 20–30 servings, depending on glass size.

Tropical Holiday Cheer


  • 4 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 (12-ounce) can apricot nectar
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 3 (6-inch) cinnamon sticks, broken
  • Garnishes: orange wedges, whole cinnamon sticks


Bring first 6 ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Pour through a wire-mesh strainer, discarding spices. Serve hot. Garnish, if desired.

Wisconsin Wassail


  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 3 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 2 teaspoons whole allspice
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 small orange, sliced for garnish
  • 1 small lemon, sliced for garnish
  • 1 6 ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 6 ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 3 1/4 cups white grape juice
  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar


In a 5 quart pan over high heat, heat cider, cinnamon, allspice and cloves to boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Place lemon slices in a heat safe 5 quart punch bowl, set aside.

To the heated cider mixture, add orange concentrate, lemon concentrate, grape juice, water and brown sugar. Heat to boil. Pour hot mixture over fruit slices in bowl. Makes 32 1/2 cup servings.

Sleigh Rider


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 3 pears, chopped into bite-size pieces, divided
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 1 lemon, halved and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract


Combine water, sugar, ginger and 1 pear in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Strain out the solids and return the mixture to the pan. Add the remaining pears, cider, lemon and allspice and heat over medium-high heat, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Add cranberries and vanilla and reduce the heat to medium-low (the liquid should be simmering, not boiling). Let simmer for 10 minutes more. Makes approximately 25 servings.

50 Things You Can Do to Make Someone Feel Better

When someone needs help, it’s common to wonder what you can do to pitch in — but sometimes, it’s hard to know where to begin or just what to do. That’s where we come in!

Check out our top 50 ideas for making someone feel better:

  1. Donate blood whenever you can, it may help a friend or family member in the future.
  2. Bake them a cake with a funny message on it
  3. Make them dinner
  4. Send them flowers
  5. Send them a card
  6. Send them a get-well text
  7. Send them an inspirational book
  8. Bring them a chocolate shake
  9. Tell them a joke
  10. Bake them chocolate chip cookies
  11. Send them a fruit basket
  12. Give them a gift certificate for house cleaning
  13. Make them a “feel better” mix CD
  14. Show them a puppy
  15. Sing them a song
  16. Take them on a picnic
  17. Volunteer for an organization/charity they care about
  18. Paint their nails/toenails
  19. Do a movie night with them
  20. Serve them breakfast in bed
  21. Give them a back/foot massage
  22. Read a book to them
  23. Bring them a good book to read
  24. Make them an origami flower
  25. Offer to babysit
  26. Take care of their pets
  27. Take their dog for a walk
  28. Send them a photobook loaded with great memories
  29. Slip an encouraging note into their lunchbox or purse
  30. Do some yard work for them – water plants, cut grass, clean gutters, etc.
  31. Bring them chocolate
  32. Give them a new nickname
  33. Play a board game with them
  34. Give them a hug
  35. Give them a high five
  36. Bring them coffee in the morning
  37. Give them art drawn by kids
  38. Compliment them on what they’re wearing
  39. Buy them tickets to a musical
  40. Send a funny photo or video of yourself through a text or e-mail
  41. Get them a magazine subscription
  42. Throw them a surprise party
  43. Bake them banana bread
  44. Surprise them at work with lunch
  45. Send them a care package
  46. Give their kids a ride to school
  47. Play catch
  48. Leave them a voicemail in a funny voice
  49. Leave a surprise gift on their doorstep
  50. Write them an actual handwritten letter

Tips for Traveling Moms-to-Be

pregnant woman traveling

Today’s society is increasingly mobile, and the demands of career and family often require travel during a woman’s pregnancy. Here are some tips and guidance for safe travels while you’re pregnant.

Be sure to consider many factors when making your travel decisions, including the distance, travel time to your destination, and stress involved. A 5-hour trip by car with several stops may turn out to be shorter and less stressful than a 2-hour plane trip with long waits and luggage delays.

Is it OK to travel while pregnant?

Modern transportation makes traveling safe during pregnancy. But many women find that travel during the second trimester is the easiest. By this time, morning sickness of the first trimester is usually over, and the physical demands of late pregnancy haven’t yet arrived. Always check with your healthcare provider before traveling, but the likelihood is low for pregnancy emergencies during this time.

Should I avoid certain modes of travel?

Most modes of travel are safe for pregnant women, with a few exceptions. But no matter how you travel, it’s important to get up and move around often. This can decrease the chances for deep vein thrombosis. Deep vein thrombosis is when blood clots form in the legs or other parts of the body. This condition is more likely for pregnant women.

When traveling by car, be sure to wear your seat belt correctly. Studies have found the best way to protect you and your unborn baby is to:

  • Move your seat back as far as possible, with at least 10 inches between your breastbone and the steering wheel or dashboard.
  • Adjust the lap belt so that it is low, across your hips and below your belly.
  • Place the shoulder belt across your chest between your breasts and away from your neck. You should never push the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm.
  • Always leave the air bag switch turned on. The air bag works with your seat belt for the maximum protection.

Air travel is generally safe, but women with certain medical conditions and those with a high-risk pregnancy may be advised not to fly. Many airlines recommend that pregnant women not travel during the last few weeks of pregnancy.

Also, frequent fliers have some risk of increased radiation. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider if you need to travel often by air. When you do fly, drink plenty of water to reduce the drying effects of airplane cabin air. And as with car travel, wear your seat belt low across your hips while seated.

What if I have to travel internationally?

International travel is an issue during pregnancy because of the length of the trip, the risks of contracting diseases, and the potential for pregnancy complications while away from your obstetric care provider. If you have to travel internationally, be sure to discuss your trip with your healthcare provider. And plan to carry a copy of your medical records with you.

If your plans include travel during pregnancy, and you aren’t having any pregnancy problems, with proper planning, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip.


© 2000-2016 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

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