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February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

Did you know the tooth decay is the most chronic disease among U.S. children, five times more prevalent than asthma?  Dental care is one of the nation’s greatest unmet children’s health needs, especially in low-income, minority and rural communities. 

Getting into a routine of regular dental care is one of the best ways for children to fight cavities.

  • Visit a dentist regularly (twice per year)
  • Eat tooth healthy foods like vegetables, fruit and cheese
  • Avoid sugary beverages like soda, juice and sports drinks
  • Rinse with water if it isn’t possible to brush after each meal or snack
  • Brush teeth at least twice daily using a fluoride toothpaste
  • Apply sealants to permanent molars starting around age 6.
  • If your water is not fluoridated, talk to your dentist or physician about the best way to protect your child’s teeth.

Vilas County Public Health can help keep your child’s teeth healthy by applying fluoride varnish from birth through age 5 in local daycares, Head Starts and school districts.  Sealants can be applied when permanent back teeth (molars) come in.  Please visit our Northwoods Dental Project under Services/Dental to find out about our programs to keep your child’s teeth healthy!

Brushing Teeth for Kids

It’s never too early to start focusing on the importance of brushing teeth for kids.  While some parents don’t make it a priority at an early age because kids’ teeth aren’t permanent, the earlier you can focus on brushing teeth, the sooner it will become a long-term habit.  Baby teeth are very important for speech development, eating and maintaining space for permanent teeth.

Follow these tips for brushing:

  • You can start brushing teeth as soon as the first tooth arrives.
  •  Infant toothbrushes are gentle and make brushing teeth for kids easy and painless.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste twice daily.
  • Let your kids watch you and other family members brush and floss their teeth.  This will reinforce the importance of brushing and flossing teeth for kids.
  • Brush your child’s teeth until around age 4-5.  Supervise from ages 6-8.



The Vilas County Sheriff’s Office-Oneida County Sheriff’s Office/Divisions of Emergency Management has identified the following facilities that are open in the event citizens need to seek warmth from the bitter cold.

The National Weather Service is predicting dangerously cold wind chills tonight into the weekend. Dangerous cold through this weekend and early next week with wind chills of -25 to -40 degrees. Be sure to prepare and dress appropriately for the cold temperatures!

Please contact the utility company you are serviced by to report a power outage or a downed power line.

Safety Tips                                                                                                                     

When going outside, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.  Carry a charged cell phone if possible and watch for slippery conditions.

Health Risks: With These Bitter Temperatures, Beware of Hypothermia and Frostbite

Frostbite: can occur on exposed skin in less than 10 minutes. Symptoms include a loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, ear tips and tip of the nose. Limit your time outside.

Signs of hypothermia: include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness in adults and children. In infants, symptoms can include bright red or cold skin and very low energy.

Carbon Monoxide Danger: Carbon monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in the United States. Breathing carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in the blood and can cause death within minutes at high levels. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide are often mistaken for the flu which includes: headaches, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath/chest pain, nausea/vomiting, and confusion. If you or someone you know experience any of these symptoms, or your carbon monoxide detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911.

If you see any of the above signs, seek medical care immediately!

Pet/Livestock Precautions: Animals can suffer from hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries.  It is recommended to bring pets indoors during this bitter weather. Harsh conditions weaken livestock immune systems and open the door to illness. Calves and swine are especially susceptible to cold. Make sure animals have a place to get out of the wind, even if it is just a windbreak or a three-sided shelter. Also provide dry bedding to protect them from frostbite. Additional feeding may be necessary as well as providing access to fresh water – not frozen streams or snow.

On the road: Before you travel, call 511 Wisconsin for 24/7 road conditions, notify a friend or family member of your travel route and notify them when you arrive at your destination. Make sure you have a winter emergency kit including: candles, matches, flashlight, pocket knife, snacks, cell phone adapter, extra blanket and extra clothing. Stay at least 200 feet from the rear of a snowplow and obey the ‘Move Over’ Law to provide a safety zone for law enforcement vehicle, tow truck, ambulance, fire truck, highway maintenance vehicle, or utility vehicle that is stopped on the side of a road with its warning lights flashing.  If your vehicle slides off the road, gets stuck or becomes disabled, make sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow, keep the window cracked and run the engine for 10 minutes an hour, stay inside the vehicle it if at all possible with your seat belt fastened until a tow truck or help arrives to help protect against out-of-control vehicles. A vehicle is a good shelter.

For more information, contact: Vilas County Emergency Management at 715-361-5167


Test Your Home for Radon Gas


Radon is a cancer-causing radioactive gas.  Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States among non-smokers and the second leading cause for smokers. You can’t see, smell, or taste radon, but it may be a problem in your home.  The EPA estimates radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths every year, resulting in more deaths per a year than drunk driving, drowning, fires, or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Radon can be found all over the U.S.  Radon comes from the natural radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water and gets into the air you breathe.  It can get into any type of building- homes, offices, and schools- and build up to high levels.  But you and your family are mostly likely to get your greatest exposure at home.  That’s where you spend most of your time.

You should test for radon.  Testing is the only way to know if you and your family are at risk from radon.  The EPA and the Surgeon General recommend testing all homes below the third floor for radon.   Testing is inexpensive and easy – it should only take a few minutes of your time. Protect your family and test your home. 

You can fix the problem.  The cost of reducing radon in your home depends on how your home was built and the extent of the radon problem. Most homes can be fixed for about the same cost as other common home repairs. The cost to fix can vary widely. Consult with your state radon office or get one or more estimates from qualified contractors.

Test kits are available at the Vilas County Public Health Department or your local town hall for $10.00, which includes sales tax. Please call 715-479-3656 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. with any questions. Quantities are limited.


It's Winter!


Some cold weather dangers are easier to see than others.  Sometimes, you might not even think it's very cold, but a cold-related illness or injury can still harm you.  So when you are outside this winter, be prepared and be aware.


One of the biggest dangers from working in the cold can be the hardest to recognize. Hypothermia happens when your body temperature drops below 95° F. Mild hypothermia can make you feel confused. Being too cold can also cloud your judgment.

Early symptoms (or signs) of hypothermia include:

  • Shivering,
  • Feeling tired,
  • Loss of coordination, and
  • Confusion.

As your body loses more heat, the shivering will stop, your skin may turn blue, the pupils of your eye will dilate, your pulse and breathing will slow, and you will lose consciousness.


Many parts of the body are prone to frostbite, including your fingers, toes, nose, and ears. Frostbite happens when a part of the body freezes, damaging the tissue. If the tissue can't be saved, the body part may need to be removed to prevent even worse health problems.

Warning signs of frostbite include:

  • Numbness or tingling,
  • Stinging, or pain on or near the affected body part.

If the temperature and or the wind shield are at dangerous levels, do not go outside if you do not have to. 

Avoid hyperthermia and frostbite by being aware of the weather and wear the right clothing for the weather, such as:

  • Several layers of loose clothing,
  • Warm gloves and hats
  • Waterproof and Insulated shoes.

The colder it is, the faster hypothermia and frostbite can set in and so you shouldn't stay in the cold any longer than you needed.

Here is more information: Cold Weather Stress Fact Sheet

Other tips to help you prepare for the winter months, such as winterizing your home, car safety and emergencies, can be found here:  Be Prepared to Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter  


Protect You and Your Family from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is the most common cause of deadly poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 450 people die each year and 20,000 experience other injuries because of CO poisoning. Carbon monoxide is often called the “invisible killer” because it is odorless and some of the symptoms are similar to the flu. People can be exposed to CO when charcoal, gas, oil, or wood are burned in poorly ventilated areas.

On average, carbon monoxide poisoning sends about 500 Wisconsinites to the emergency room each year, according to data from the Wisconsin Environmental Public Health Tracking Program.  These trips to the ER for carbon monoxide poisoning are preventable when people are prepared.

 To protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide, follow these safety tips:

  • Make sure you have working carbon monoxide detectors.  All homes and duplexes in Wisconsin are required to have detectors on every level, including the basement, but not the attic or storage areas.  Detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores for $20-50.  Daylight Savings Time is a good time each year to replace the batteries in your detector and push the “Test” button to be sure it’s working properly. Replace your detector every five years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have your furnace or wood-burning stove inspected annually.  Hire a professional to make sure it is functionally sound and vents properly outside the home.
  • Never run a gasoline or propane heater or a grill (gas or charcoal) inside your home or garage.  Any heating system that burns fuel produces carbon monoxide. Use a battery-powered detector where you have fuel burning devices but no electric outlets, such as in tents, cabins, and RVs.
  • Generators should be run at a safe distance (at least 20 feet) from the home.  Never run a generator in the home or garage, or right next to windows or doors.
  • Never run a car in an enclosed space.  Even with a door or window open, carbon monoxide levels can still build up to an unsafe level.

At high levels, carbon monoxide can cause death within minutes. Symptoms of overexposure to carbon monoxide include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and confusion. If you think you may be experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, or your detector sounds an alarm, head outside immediately for fresh air and call 911. 

Visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website for more information about carbon monoxide poisoning.  


Tips to Protect Yourself Against the Flu


Everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated against the flu. People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older. 

The following are other tips on how to stay healthy this flu season:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners can also help.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs can spread this way.

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

  • Stay home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever (100°F or 37.8°C) or signs of a fever (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine).

  • Follow public health advice in regards to school closures, avoid crowds and other social distancing measures.

Tips for Food Safety in a Power Outage:


Survivors of Suicide Support Group Meets in Rhinelander

Has someone you love taken their own life?  Are you troubled with questions like, “why?”, “what brought this on?”, “why my family?”.  Do you find yourself with no one to talk to about your frustrations and confusion regarding the suicide of your loved one?  Then you are a Survivor of Suicide (SOS) and have a safe place to go to discuss your issues.

The SOS support group was started in July of 2005.  The group is facilitated by Sue Mackowski, a Certified Bereavement Specialist and Consultant.  The group originated as a result of the co-founder’s need for support after the death of her son.  Tina Werres, a Rhinelander native, lost her son Paul to suicide in 2001.  In the months following his death, she struggled with the loss and understood the need for people suffering from the unique backlash of suicide to have a gathering place to meet their needs.  Those needs planted the seeds for the formation of the Survivors of Suicide support group.

The Rhinelander based Survivors of Suicide support group meets once a month, the third Saturday at the Curran Building, 315 S. Oneida Avenue, Rhinelander.  The meetings are from 10am-12 noon.  The SOS support group offers a safe and confidential environment to discuss the unique grieving process experienced by those whose lives have been touched by suicide.  It is a place where survivors tell their stories, share their experiences, and help each other move forward in their grief journey.  The meetings are informal and confidentiality is the primary guideline.  The SOS support group is free and open to the public.

Since its inception, our group has served families and individuals from the Northwood’s area.  Our goal is to provide a “safe haven” for those dealing with the death of a loved one due to suicide.  In addition to group discussions, we have a small library of books, pamphlets, and other literature dealing with grief and loss, specifically loss due to suicide that is available to attendees.

We invite all of you who are struggling with the death of a loved one who has taken their life to join us. 

If you have any questions regarding the meeting schedule or content, please call Sue Mackowski, 715-275-5399 or Tina Werres, 716-499-3002.  Remember, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE”.