Waterloo Fire Rescue Safety

Close the Bedroom Door

A simple nighttime routine can wind up saving countless lives: close the door! Researchers with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) are finding that fire spread is occuring far more rapidly with modern home furnishings, which often incorporate synthetic, petroleum-based products as coverings and stuffing. Simply closing the bedroom door at night can provide more survivable temperatures, higher oxygen concentrations, and reduced exposure to carbon monoxide for occupants if a fire ignites outside the room. In conjunction with creating a simple barrier to fire and toxic smoke, preparing escape plans for each member of the family is paramount. The fire service recommends that each person has two ways out of a bedroom. A window and a door can serve as two means of escape, and frequent practice can help ensure that family members feel competent in their ability to exit the structure. ...More

Smoke alarms provide an early signal to help residents escape a fire condition. Functioning smoke alarms are especially important as new research indicates that our ability to smell is greatly diminished while asleep. It is recommended that batteries for smoke detectors are replaced twice a year; the entire smoke alarm should also be replaced periodically (within ten years from the date of manufacturee or if the detector fails to function properly when tested).

UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute: close your door

Stoves and Heaters
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and tasteless gas produced from incomplete combustion of many types of materials. Common sources of CO in the household are appliances that require the combustion of fuels (gas or wood): these may include stoves and ovens, furnaces and fireplaces, portable generators, and wood burning stoves. An idling car in a garage that is not well ventilated may also produce dangerous volumes of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide detectors are now widely available and are recommended if a household has any chance of exposure to the toxic gas.

Carbon monoxide will displace oxygen in the bloodstream, which is required by all living cells of the body for normal function. Even short exposures to high concentrations of CO can be very dangerous if not lethal. Signs of carbon monoxide exposure include headache and tightening of the forehead, confusion, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and in severe cases coma and (or) death. If you notice anyone exhibiting signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure, dial 911 immediately. Shut down or turn off any potential sources of the gas and leave the premises promptly. ...More

One of many hazards children face in the home is the potential for accidental poisoning. Nearly 90 percent of all poisonings occur at a child's own home. In roughly half of all cases involving accidental poisoning, the individual is under 5 years of age. To limit the potential for such tragedies, caretakers are encouraged to store potential poisons (including medications, alcohol, houseplants, and cleaning agents) out of reach and out of sight of children. Items that would otherwise be within reach of a child should be stowed in cabinets or drawers using child-resistance locking devices. Should an accident occur, use the Poison Control hotline (1-800-222-1222) and 911 for immediate assistance. Both phone numbers should be in highly visible locations for quick reference.

Stroke can be likened to a 'brain attack' where there is inadequate blood flow to tissue of the brain,

often due to a blockage. Early recognition is of paramount importance in minimizing severity of disability or the chance of death due to stroke. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Patients who arrive at the emergency room within 3 hours of the onset of stroke symptoms will have less disability 3 months after the incident than those for whom care was delayed. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are major risk factors for stroke.

Individuals experiencing a stroke will often exhibit symptoms including one-sided numbness or weakness in the face or extremities, difficulty seeing and walking, and sudden confusion and headache. Care should not be delayed for anyone exhibiting these symptoms of stroke.

A rapid assessment that can be done for a suspected stroke follows the acronym, F.A.S.T. If any of the following stroke indicators are present, immediately dial 911 for assistance. Face -- Ask the person to smile and determine if one side of the face droops; Arms -- Ask the person to raise both arms and determine if one arm drifts downward; Speech -- Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase and determine if speech is slurred or otherwise confused; Time -- Note the time that symptoms first appeared. ...More

American Heart Association: stroke guidelines

Heart Attacks
The heart is the engine of the body, responsible for pumping oxygen-rich blood to each and every cell. If there is insufficient oxygen provided to the heart tissue itself, the tissue begins to die and a heart attack occurs. The problem compounds as other parts of the body become starved of oxygen. There are many risk factors for a heart attack, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, a history of stroke, obesity, or diabetes. Signs and symptoms of a heart attack vary by individual but there are several common signs: shortness of breath; pain in the jaw, neck, back, shoulder, or chest; feeling faint. If a heart attack is suspected, dial 911 immediately. ...More

Cardiac arrest -- the condition where the heart suddenly no longer pumps blood -- is very serious. While cardiac arrest need not follow a heart attack, heart attacks are nevertheless a common cause of cardiac arrest. A recent report suggests that nearly half of all cardiac deaths occur before medical assistance can be offered. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), especially when administered promptly, can substantially increase the odds of recovery from cardiac arrest. CPR can be administered by anyone! The American Heart Association now recommends 'hands-only' CPR (without giving breaths) for bystander CPR.

American Heart Association: 'hands-only' CPR