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“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt  
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  Volume No. 14 Issue No. 9 September 2017  

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  Caution: fireworks; summer heat
  Fireworks: leave it to the professionals
  By Robin Widmar

   Fireworks have long been a hallmark of Fourth of July celebrations. However, just because certain types of consumer fireworks are permitted in unincorporated areas of El Paso County doesn’t mean they are safe. Every year in the U.S., fireworks cause thousands of injuries and millions of dollars in property damage.
  • In 2013, fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 reported fires in the U.S., including 1,400 structure fires, 200 vehicle fires and 14,000 outside and other fires. (National Fire Protection Association)
  • Almost half (47 percent) of the reported fires on the Fourth of July were started by fireworks. (NFPA)
  • Sparklers, which can reach temperatures of more than 1,200 degrees, accounted for more than one-quarter (28 percent) of the emergency room fireworks injuries seen from June 20 to July 20, 2014.  (Consumer Product Safety Commission)

   In addition to injuries and fires, fireworks can cause problems for veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder; and can frighten pets and livestock.
   
   For those reasons, the Falcon Fire Protection District encourages everyone to leave the fireworks to professional handlers — fireworks displays such as the Falcon Freedom Days celebration at Meridian Ranch.
   
   A reminder about fireworks in Falcon and other areas of unincorporated El Paso County:
  • Any firework that flies through the air, explodes or shoots balls of flame is not permitted (bottle rockets, firecrackers of any type, mortars, Roman candles, etc.).
  • Always keep some sort of water supply (garden hose, bucket of water) close at hand when using fireworks.
  • Remember, if fireworks cause a fire and/or property damage, the person responsible could be liable for costs and may even face charges under state arson statutes.

   Enjoy the Fourth of July, but do so safely!
   
   Stay connected with the FFPD
   Website: http://falconfirepd.org
   Facebook: Falcon Fire Department
   Twitter: @FalconFireDept
  
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  Staying cool (and hydrated) when the heat is on

   In June, Falcon firefighters responded to several emergency medical calls involving serious heat-related illnesses. These kinds of emergencies go beyond just being a little too warm or thirsty –- they can be life-threatening.
   
   Fortunately, heat exhaustion and the more severe heat stroke can usually be prevented. Staying hydrated and being mindful of outdoor activities go a long way toward staying healthy when temperatures rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mayo Clinic offer these tips to prevent heat-related illnesses:
  • Stay well-hydrated. Drinking fluids helps the body sweat and regulate its temperature but avoid alcohol and sugary drinks.
  • Stay indoors and in air-conditioned spaces when possible.
  • Fans are good for circulating air but not for cooling off. Instead, take a cool shower or bath, or move to an air-conditioned place.
       Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. A looser fit allows the body to cool properly.
  • NEVER leave people or pets in parked vehicles, even if the windows are open.

   For those who must be out in the heat:
  • Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours when possible.
  • Cut down on exercise and drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour during physical activities.
  • Rest frequently in shady areas.
       Sunburn affects the body’s ability to cool itself, so wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and apply sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if sweating or swimming.

   What to watch for
   It is important to know how to identify the signs and symptoms of heat illness. Visitors from lower elevations, children, the elderly and people with chronic health conditions can be particularly susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
   
   Heat exhaustion can occur when the body fails to cool itself during hot weather and/or strenuous activity. Dehydration, alcohol use and wearing clothes that don’t allow sweat to evaporate can cause heat exhaustion. Signs and symptoms may occur suddenly or develop over time. They include
  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold, pale and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Headache

   What to do for heat exhaustion:
  • Move to a cooler location.
  • Lie down and loosen clothing.
  • Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible.
  • Sip water.
  • If vomiting occurs and persists, immediately seek medical attention.

   Heat exhaustion can lead to the most serious form of heat injury: heat stroke. Left untreated, heat stroke can cause permanent damage to the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. It can even lead to death. Signs and symptoms include
  • High body temperature (above 104°F)
  • Altered mental state or behavior
  • Hot, red, dry skin
  • Rapid pulse and breathing
  • Throbbing headache
  • Possible unconsciousness

   What to do for heat stroke:
  • Call 911 immediately — this is a medical emergency.
  • Move the person to a cooler environment.
  • Remove excess clothing.
  • Cool the person with any means available (cool water; apply cold wet towels; place ice packs on the person’s head, neck, groin and armpits).
  • Do NOT give the person fluids.
  
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  Safety Tip - Potting soil is for plants, not cigarettes
  By Robin Widmar

   Whether indoors or outside on the patio, using potted plants to extinguish smoking materials is a bad idea. In recent years, potting soil has played an increasing role in a number of house fires across the country.
   
   Potting soil is not the same as dirt. Many commercial potting soil blends contain peat moss, which becomes flammable when it gets too dry. Other flammable organic materials such as shredded wood, coir fiber (coconut fiber), composted pine bark, Styrofoam and vermiculite can also be found in potting mix. Add in a plant that has dried out or died from lack of water, and the chance of ignition from improperly discarded smoking materials only increases.
   
   Smoking materials are the leading cause of fire deaths. One out of four victims who die in fires related to smoking materials is not the smoker whose cigarette started the fire. Fortunately, these kinds of fires can be easily prevented.
  • Use only fire-safe cigarettes.
  • Properly extinguish smoking materials and make sure they are completely out before discarding them.
  • Do not discard cigarettes in mulch, potted plants, peat moss, dried grasses or leaves.
  • Keep cigarettes, lighters, matches and other smoking materials in a locked cabinet, well out of the reach of children.
       
       Sources:
       National Fire Protection Association
       Kansas Fire Incident Reporting System 2014 Annual Report
  
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