Thursday, December 27, 2018

January is National Radon Action Month

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

If you live in Kansas, there’s a decent chance your home will test positive for radon, an odorless, colorless gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

“One in four homes in Kansas will test at or above the EPA’s radon action level,” said Bruce Snead, director of the Kansas Radon Program at Kansas State University. He referred to the Environmental Protection Agency’s radon action level of 4.0 picocuries of radon per liter of indoor air.

To help raise awareness and encourage people to have their homes tested, the EPA has deemed January National Radon Action Month. Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer signed a proclamation Dec. 18 recognizing the month in the state.

Radon occurs naturally in the soil. Its levels are low outdoors because its effects are diluted, but indoor levels can build and lead to lung cancer. And Kansas soils generate significant amounts of radon leading to the potential for homes to have elevated concentrations of this naturally-occurring class A carcinogen.

Snead encourages all homeowners to test for radon. Test kits can be obtained from your local Post Rock District Office in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center for a reduced fee, which includes a lab analysis. Kits can also be ordered online at at retail price.

More than 112,000 radon measurements have been reported in Kansas, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The agency indicates that the statewide average indoor radon level in Kansas is 4.9 picocuries of radon per liter (pCi/L), which is above the EPA threshold of 4.0.

For homeowners who test and find elevated radon levels in their homes, the most common technique to reduce it is called Active Soil Depressurization. An ASD mitigation system is a permanently-installed pipe-and-fan system that places a direct constant vacuum on the soil beneath the home’s foundation, so the amount of radon that can penetrate into the living space is reduced.

More information about radon, testing and mitigation is available at or by calling the Kansas Radon Hotline at 1-800-693-5343.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Navigating the Caregiving Journey

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter once explained that there are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.

The life you have planned can change in an instant. Your caregiving journey might begin as a simple phone call to check-in with a loved one, or it might include a multitude of roles that constitute a full-time job. You may have volunteered to serve as a caregiver, or feel as if you inherited the role.

Here are some strategies that can help you maintain self-care while effectively meeting the needs of the one you serve.

Get to know the care receiver. It is valuable to truly understand the care receiver’s situation, both positive and negative. It’s important to approach caregiving with a positive attitude, yet realistic mindset, as you strive to comprehend what the journey may entail.

Know what community resources are available, on a local and regional level. Build a relationship with local professionals who can assist you throughout the journey. Keep track of in-person and online resources that are research-based, reliable and meaningful. Storing the information in an organized manner will decrease stress and time searching for answers and connections.

Seek out help and find support. It is unlikely that you’ll be able to fulfill all caregiving roles on an everyday basis. Have open and candid conversations with your community resources, family members and friends to develop a clear picture of ways you can serve as a caregiver and where others might be able to provide assistance.

Advocate for your own self-care needs throughout the process. Know you cannot effectively meet the needs of someone else without first meeting your own health and wellness needs.

Address legal and financial issues with the care receiver early in the caregiving journey. It is essential for the care receiver to make their own health, legal and financial decisions for as long as they are capable. As a caregiver, you can work with them to ensure appropriate documents are in place according to their preferences. Having plans in writing will benefit the care receiver and all caregivers because roles and responsibilities can be outlined clearly.

Strive to be an educated caregiver. Honestly evaluate your skillset as you recognize your strengths and areas of needed growth. The skills you will need to effectively serve as a caregiver may change throughout the journey. Be prepared to use community resources to not only assist the care receiver, but to also serve you, a life-long learner.

Seek out opportunities to learn powerful strategies for maintaining self-care, explore new knowledge about the individual’s unique needs, and be willing to engage in interactive educational experiences to enhance your skillset.

K-State Research and Extension provides a wealth of resources and services for individuals and families across the age spectrum. We are ready to assist you as you work toward your goals and embrace the caregiving journey.

The Post Rock District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith Counties. Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent, may be contacted at or 785-346-2521. Stay connected with “Post Rock Extension” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Our website is