By Bill Eggleston.
Without sounding like I’m name dropping, I was having breakfast at the Purcellville Family Restaurant the other day with Keith Brower (and others), and he made a suggestion for inclusion in the Firefighter's Corner. Well, its hard to say no to the Chief of the Loudoun County Combined Fire-Rescue System. After all, he is our big boss.
He thought that the recently revised booklet entitled ‘After the Fire -Your Survival Guide’ warranted some exposure. After I contacted the author, Lisa Braun with the Fire Marshal’s Office, and read the document she sent me, I agree. It is one of those things that you hope you never need, but fires do happen, and if it happens to you, you’ll want to know about the booklet, because it has a lot of local emergency contact information, all in one place.
The Fire Marshal’s Office or other first responders will leave a copy with you after a fire, or you can ask for one at anytime. It provides valuable contact information and where to begin and what steps you should take first on your road to recovery. It addresses topics like insurance, counseling, pets, utilities, cleanup, and the replacement of valuable records and documents.
Something else to be aware of as we contemplate spring, is poisoning. Coming up soon is National Poison Prevention Week. It runs March 20 through 26 and is noteworthy in that poisoning only stands behind motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths. Whatever you might learn about poisonings, keep in mind the American Association of Poison Control Centers and their 55 poison centers, or the Poison Help line which connects you to your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222. Please remember that if someone is unconscious or has trouble breathing, call 911 immediately.
If you need information, the Virginia Poison Control Center reports that 90% of their cases are successfully treated via phone when they’re called immediately. Common call topics include questions about:
Substance abuse or withdrawal
Ingestion of household cleaners
Inhalation of gases or chemical fumes
Exposures to plants or mushrooms
Bites and stings
Questions were most often answered about exposure to a given poison, but there were a significant number also related to pet poisonings. As we move into spring, seasonal use of pesticides rises and can be dangerous to both humans and pets. Even leather shoes and gloves do not offer full protection. Directions for many pesticides require staying away from areas that have been sprayed until the spray has dried, or for at least one hour. Whatever the case, follow the manufacturer's directions, and never mix household or chemical products together. Doing so could create dangerous gasses. Also, it is recommended not to use food containers (such as cups or bottles) to store household cleaners or other chemicals. These should be stored away from food.
Continuing the theme of a seasonal movement into spring, what about Spring Break? This phenomenon just seems to get bigger and crazier each year, which reminds me that alcohol poisonings rise this time of year too. Overconsumption depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking). It is common for someone who has had excessive alcohol to vomit, since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach and the body is simply trying to remedy the situation. The down side then becomes the danger of choking on the vomit, which could cause death by asphyxiation.
There are several critical signs and symptoms of acute alcohol poisoning, including: mental confusion, stupor, coma, vomiting, seizures, fewer than eight breaths per minute, irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths), low body temperature, and bluish skin color, paleness. Remember, call 911 if you have doubts.
The February count of calls we ran was 65, which is almost half of last month's total. Maybe it's the spring thaw.
Fire Safety Tip: More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year to the Nation's poison centers. Approximately 90 percent of poisonings happen at home, and 51 percent of poisonings involve children under the age of 6. The majority of fatal poisonings occur among adults, especially older adults.