Articles Posted in Resources

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Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. It is quite toxic to humans and other oxygen-breathing organisms. Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when enough carbon monoxide is inhaled. (See carbon monoxide poisoning)

Low levels of carbon monoxide are always present in air. It can also be produced from incomplete combustion of flame fueled devices such as fireplaces, furnaces, stoves, vehicles, space heaters and others.

Breathing carbon monoxide fumes decreases the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Low levels of oxygen can lead to cell death, including cells in vital organs such as the brain and heart.

A carbon monoxide detector is a device with an alarm that is designed to detect elevated levels of carbon monoxide, the detectors can be AC powered, battery operated or hardwired. The AC powered unit may have a battery backup. As the weight of CO is almost identical to the weight of normal air, the detector can be installed near the ceiling or on a wall. The detector shouldn’t be placed near a fireplace and shouldn’t be installed near a smoke detector so that you are able to distinguish between a CO and a smoke detector alarm when there is an emergency situation.

CO detectors should be present in every home and each level needs a separate detector. If you have one CO detector it should be installed near the sleeping area and make sure that the alarm is loud enough so that you can wake up when it sounds.

When the alarm sounds, don’t panic, try to stay calm because the alarm is intended to sounds before you experience symptoms. Evacuate the house, gather all the members of household out to a safe area where there is fresh air. Check if anyone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (see CO poisoning), if yes than call 911. Ventilate the area and identify the source of the carbon monoxide and make sure that your appliances are checked by a professional as soon as possible.

Prevention of CO poisoning:

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home. Test and replace the detector according to the instructions of the manufacture, check the batteries according to the manufacture instruction.
  • Check the battery once per year.
  • Inspect and properly maintain heating system, chimneys and appliances.
  • Use non electrical space heaters only in well ventilated areas.
  • Don’t use a gas oven or stove to heat your house.
  • Don’t burn charcoal inside your home, garage, tent or camper.
  • Don’t leave cars running inside the garage.
  • If you are using a kerosene heater indoors, make sure there is good ventilation

When buying a CO detector consider the location you want to install the detector in, the power source and the installation ease.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

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Fires and burns are one of leading causes of household injuries. Simple things can be done to prevent or decrease these risks of fires and the resulting burns which include:

  • Have a proper escape plan in case of an emergency.
  • Make sure that a smoke detector is installed and it is working properly.
  • Check the smoke detector every year.
  • Make sure that you have a working, fully charged fire extinguisher.
  • Make sure that your water heater is set to 120 degrees or less to avoid scalds, install radiator cover, and isolate exposed steam pipes.
  • Fire places and burning candles should never be left unattended, dispose of cigarettes, and matches carefully; never place anything that may burn near a water heater, space heater, stove top, or near a furnace,
  • If a kitchen fire occurs, don’t panic, know how to handle it and put it out. For oven fires, close the door and turn off the oven. For a stovetop fire, use a lid to smother it.
  • Children should be taught never to play with matches, lighters, or gasoline; they should never be allowed to handle fireworks; never leave young children alone; place pots on the rear burner of the stove and turn the handles inward out of the reach of children; make sure that the stovetop is clean as residue grease can catch fire; make sure that the stove is turned off when you are finished; children should be taught what to do if they smell smoke of hear the smoke alarm.
  • Never place electric cords under rugs or bedding. Heat or sparks from these cords may cause a fire.
  • Always check electrical cords for signs of wear and replace cracked or frayed cords to avoid shock and fire. Don’t overload outlets or power strips, and cover unused outlets with plastic plugs.
  • When dealing with chemical substances, protective clothing should be used; all chemical substances should be stored in tamper proof containers out of reach of children; chemicals should never be stored in food or drink containers; different products that contain toxic chemicals should not be mixed together as they may give off toxic fumes; avoid using potentially toxic substances in the kitchen or around food.
  • If your clothes are on fire, stop, drop and roll.
  • In case there is a fire in a building, you should move to the floor where the air is cool and clear because hot air carrying harmful gasses will rise up.
  • Know the emergency phone numbers for your area. In most places it is 911. Teach children the emergency number and post it near each phone.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

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Is a governmental agency that investigates and responds to any case of potential child abuse or neglect. Its purpose is to ensure that children are safe and to prevent any further abuse or neglect by the parents or the legal caregivers. CPS also helps families to get the services needed to guarantee a safe and a healthy home. CPS protects children from physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect by the parents or the legal caregivers.

A suspected case of child abuse or neglect must be reported. Anyone can report a case of child abuse or neglect but professions who have regular contact with children like hospital personnel, teachers, social workers, and police are required to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect by New York state law. The person who reports a case doesn’t need to have any evidence of child abuse or neglect. A suspicion to a reasonable degree based on behaviors, observation and other information is enough to make a report. The 24 hour New York State Central Register number is 1-800-342-3720. When calling the person will be asked specific information and the report will be accepted if the information provided meets the legal criteria for child abuse or neglect. Depending on the county that the family lives in, the report will be given to the CPS in that area.

The CPS will assign a caseworker to meet the family and assess the situation to determine if there is child abuse or neglect and the steps required to deal with it if there is a case.

Among the rights they have, parents have the right to:

  1. Be notified that a report has been made and the CPS has to notify the parents in writing within seven days.
  2. Be given the contact information of the case worker and his/her supervisor (name, phone number and which department), if not given, the parents should ask for it.
  3. Ask for a copy of the information in the Central Register report, all the information in the report can be given to the parents apart from information regarding the person who made the report.
  4. Ask the caseworker and the supervisor about the case progress and its status.
  5. Parents should save all the documents and papers they get and attend all the meetings regarding the case.
  6. Be told by CPS about your rights if a case of child abuse or neglect is found.
  7. Request to change the information in the report if the parents think that the information in the report is inaccurate.
  8. Ask any question they have about the case. Don’t hesitate to ask any question you have about your case.

Talk to the caseworker you are assigned to if you are not getting the services that you need. Services that are available differ from one place to another. Some programs and community services are free.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

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In mid June, hundreds of frightened residents were evacuated from a multi-story apartment building when smoke filled their apartments from a simple stove fire that grew out of control. The fire spread so quickly that flames leaped up three floors of the large building in the town of Hempstead, N.Y.

Witnesses recalled seeing residents of the Fulton Manor apartment building with their heads out open windows, screaming for help, before firefighters came to their aid in high-rise ladder buckets. The firefighters pulled more than a dozen people out of their windows to safety. Some of the residents were becoming so overcome by smoke that they were yelling that they were going to jump from their windows.

About 30 people were treated at hospitals for smoke inhalation after they were evacuated from the seven-story building. The cause of the fire was a stove malfunction in an apartment on the second floor. The fire spread quickly to the walls of that apartment, and created a lot of smoke containing deadly carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.

The risk of death from smoke inhalation was higher for the residents on the floors above a fire, because smoke always rises. Because of this, people who are evacuating a fire should crawl or somehow get their faces as close to the floor as possible, because that is where the only breathable air is located in a smoky room. One or two breaths of smoke is enough to make a person unconscious, and unable to escape a fire.

The fire started around 6:20 p.m. and was contained around 8 p.m. Two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion. More than 300 firefighters from 30 volunteer departments were at the scene. Four Nassau County buses shuttled about 100 evacuees to a temporary shelter.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

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On May 4, 2012, New York City police rescued five people, including a baby boy and another child, who were trapped in a smoky kitchen fire in Rockaway Beach, NY because they could not open a jammed apartment door.

A police sergeant on another call spotted a 21-year-old man leaning out of a smoke-filled sixth-floor window in a public housing project about 7 p.m. The man was yelling, “Help! There’s children inside!”

The police officers and members of the city’s Emergency Services Unit team went to the sixth-floor apartment, but found that the door lock was broken inside the door, so the door would not open. Trapped inside were a baby, a boy, their mom, and two visitors, as a kitchen fire raged. The blaze had begun as a grease fire in the kitchen, at the front of the apartment.

One policeman used a hydraulic drill to force the door open at the frame. Police eventually got the door to open, but by that time the apartment was thick with smoke as flames crawled up the walls of the kitchen, just to the left of the front door. Some of the officers began dousing the flames with pots of water, while others dropped to their hands and knees and went in search of the people trapped further inside.

“As we crawled, we did everything by feel–there was no visibility,” said one officer. “We inhaled a lot of smoke. But we had to search the rooms. There was quite a bit of panic by the residents because it was very heavy smoke. We had to get out real quickly.”

A baby boy, 19 months old, and an 8-year-old boy were treated for smoke inhalation at Jamaica Hospital. Two women, ages 19 and 22, were also treated at the same hospital. The 21-year-old man was also treated for a hand injury and smoke inhalation. Also, 11 cops were taken to Long Island Jewish Hospital for smoke inhalation but later released.

The police investigation into the fire will determine if the building was at fault for negligence because the door lock was broken and caused the door to be inoperable.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

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In Coachella, CA this week, a driver suffered severe burns when propane tanks in the back of his pickup truck exploded while he waited with his family in a drive-through at a McDonald’s restaurant.

It was about 1:45 p.m. on a Saturday when the man heard a hissing noise coming from one of two tanks. When he stepped into the back of his pickup to check on the leaking tank, he created static electricity that ignited the leaking gas and caused a gas explosion in both tanks.

The blast had so much force that it caused the roof of the truck to buckle and the tailgate to blow off, striking a vehicle behind it. The fire engulfed the truck, scorched part of the drive-through, and damaged the roof of the restaurant
The patrons of the restaurant were evacuated during the incident. The family in the truck was transported to a local area hospital after suffering from second degree burns, which were not life-threatening.

With summer coming up, there is a good lesson to be learned from this story. Propane tanks that are used for outdoor barbecues and grills can be dangerous if they are too old, if they are not filled up in a safe manner, or if they are not handled properly and gently. Severe burns can result from the rupture of even a small propane gas tank.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

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On April 12, Newark Mayor Cory Booker saved a neighbor from a blazing house fire — a dramatic rescue that he admitted was absolutely terrifying.

The dramatic rescue began at around 9:30 p.m. that night, when Booker and two officers from the Mayor’s security team spotted a fire at a house on Hawthorne Avenue belonging to Booker’s neighbor. They went over to investigate.

On the first floor, they found a couple, who told them that the woman’s daughter and a man were trapped upstairs. Booker and Newark Detective Alex Rodriguez then went to the top of the stairs, where the home’s kitchen had erupted in flames.

They first saw a man trying to douse the fire, and told him to get out. Then they heard Zina Hodge, 47, yelling for help from somewhere beyond the burning kitchen.

“This woman is going to die!” the mayor recalled saying at that moment.

“It was very scary, and I consider myself very lucky,” Booker said. “There was a time I got through the kitchen and was searching for her, and I looked back to see the kitchen in flames. It was really a frightening experience for me. I didn’t think we’d get out of there.”

Despite the flames, Booker was determined to get Hodge, whom he has known for six years and considers a good friend. “When I come home from a really tough day, she’s there to tease me,” he said. “She’s just a really good human being.”

Rodriguez, however, tried to stop his boss because the fire was getting worse. “Something exploded [in the kitchen], and at that point, my security men did what they’re trained to do, which is get me out of danger,” Booker said. “So Detective Rodriguez and I had a bit of an altercation. He was literally pulling me by the belt. Finally, I whipped around, we had some words, and he relented. In the end, I am his commanding officer.”

Booker said he had to crawl on his hands and knees to get to the bed where Hodge was lying, because the rising smoke was so thick that he would have passed out from smoke inhalation if he did not get down on the floor. In a smoky fire, the cleanest air can be found near the floor, so the correct thing to do is to crawl to safety.

Booker put Hodge over his shoulder and carried her back through the kitchen — where fire was shooting up the wall and flaming embers were showering down around them. At this moment, Booker said he feared for his life.

“Honestly, at that point, I did not feel bravery — I felt terror,” he said. “It looked like I couldn’t get back from where I came from. And I couldn’t breathe.” But he eventually got back to Detective Rodriguez, and they both took Hodges out of the house.

“She didn’t have many clothes on, so she sustained more severe burns than I did,” Booker said. “I was holding her and my clothes got burned, but my hand was the only part of my body that got burned.”

Two days later, as Hodge was treated for a few third degree burns plus other second degree burns, her mom, Jacqualin Williams, showered Booker with praise. “I think he’s Super Mayor,” she said. “He should stay mayor and then become president.” Booker said he didn’t feel like a hero, and balked at being called Super Mayor. “I think that’s way over the top. There are people who do this every day,” he said, referring to police officers and firefighters.

But Hodge’s family feels that Booker was a real hero. “That was great,” said Hodge’s brother, Roderick Lucas, 38. “My uncle tried to get into the burning house, and my nephew too. Neither one of them could get through, but the mayor did.”

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

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Since the start of April, there have been more than a dozen deaths around the United States from smoke inhalation during fires in houses and other buildings. This is a clear indication that smoke from fire is even more dangerous to people than the flames themselves. Why? Because it only takes one or two breaths of smoke to cause a person to become unconscious, and become unable to escape a burning building. And just a few more breaths of the hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide in the smoke can kill a person.

Here is a grim example from just last week: In Northeastern Pennsylvania, a four-month-old girl was killed by smoke inhalation in a fast-moving fire in a trailer home. The county coroner said that the girl died of carbon monoxide poisoning from the smoke, although all other occupants got out safely or were rescued by neighbors. The infant was not able to be rescued in time from her bassinet. Three boys and a woman were treated at Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton and released, while a man was admitted in stable condition.

The local fire chief stated that the trailer was engulfed in flames when he arrived. He and a state police fire marshal said the cause is unknown, but the fire is not believed to be suspicious.

And in Fitchburg, MA, last week, a police officer was taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation after responding with firefighters to a kitchen fire. The officer, whose name was not given, entered the building believing there was a child inside the house, because a woman there made statements indicating her 3-year-old baby was inside. But the woman was actually referring to her dog, who made it out of the fire. Firefighters were on scene about 45 minutes after the blaze was reported. It appeared to have started with unattended food and spread into the kitchen cabinets.

In case of fire, it is important that adults find children immediately and get them to safety. The best thing to do is for everyone to then drop the floor and then crawl towards a door or window. Remember that smoke rises, so the only breathable air during a fire is right down at the floor.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

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A recent article from the Institute for NanoBioTechnology discussed the developments that Johns Hopkins researchers have made in creating a jelly-like material for burn wound treatment which, in early experiments on skin damaged by severe burns, seemed to regenerate healthy tissue with no sign of the previous burn scars.

In a mid-December report from the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers reported their promising results from tests using mouse tissue. The new treatment has not yet been tested on human patients, but the researchers say that the procedure, which promotes the formation of new blood vessels and skin, could lead to greatly improved healing for victims of third degree burns.

The treatment involved a simple wound dressing that included a specially designed hydrogel: a water-based, three-dimensional framework of polymers. This material was developed by researchers at Johns Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering, working with clinicians at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Burn Center and the School of Medicine’s Department of Pathology.

Third degree burns typically destroy the several layers of skin right down to the muscle tissue. They require complex medical care and leave behind significant scars. But in the journal article, the Johns Hopkins team reported that its hydrogel method yielded much better results than typical outcomes. “This treatment promoted the development of new blood vessels and the regeneration of complex layers of skin, including hair follicles and the glands that produce skin oil,” said Sharon Gerecht, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, who was principal investigator on the study.

Gerecht said that the hydrogel could form the basis of an inexpensive burn wound treatment that works better than currently available clinical therapies, adding that the product would be easy to manufacture on a large scale. Gerecht suggested that because the hydrogel contains no drugs or biological components to make it work, the Food and Drug Administration would most likely classify it as a device. Further animal testing is planned before trials on human patients begin, but Gerecht said that “it could be approved for clinical use after just a few years of testing.”

John Harmon, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and director of Surgical Research at Bayview, described the mouse study results as “absolutely remarkable…We got complete skin regeneration, which never happens in typical burn wound treatment,” he said.

Gerecht says that the hydrogel is constructed in such a way that it allows tissue regeneration and blood vessel formation to occur very quickly. “Inflammatory cells are able to easily penetrate and degrade the hydrogel, enabling blood vessels to fill in and support wound healing and the growth of new tissue,” she said. For burns, Gerecht added, the faster this process occurs, the less there is a chance for scarring. After 21 days, the gel is harmlessly absorbed, and the tissue continues to return to the appearance of normal skin.

If the treatment succeeds in human patients, it could address a serious form of injury. Harmon, a co-author of the NAS journal article, pointed out that 100,000 third degree burns are treated in the U.S. every year in burn centers.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

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In August 2011, Randy McAllister suffered third degree burns while trying to save equipment from a fire in wheat field. Today, he says that when he goes for his burn treatments, “it gets me to the threshold where I can’t stand it, but then I find out it can hurt even more,” says the 60-year-old farmer. During five weeks at the Oregon Burn Center at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, McAllister needed repeated rounds of burn wound care to remove dead tissue from his extensive burns. “It’s more painful than the fire.”

Then a nurse told him about SnowWorld, a computer game designed to help burn patients escape from agonizing pain by distracting their minds during burn treatments. During his next wound care session, McAllister wore headphones and looked through virtual reality goggles. He found himself floating through an icy canyon rendered almost three-dimensional by the wrap-around goggles. By tapping on a computer mouse, McAllister fired snowballs at animated penguins, snowmen and dolphins in the canyon to a soundtrack of upbeat music. And the virtual world made his real-world pain less overwhelming.

It’s one of the most successful examples of non-drug pain management techniques to emerge from the work of psychologists and neuroscientists. The search for non-drug options has gained urgency amid a worsening epidemic of overdoses linked to prescription opioid pain relievers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, which killed 14,800 Americans in 2008 – more those killed from heroin and cocaine overdoses combined.

In clinical trials, burn patients using SnowWorld reported 35 to 50 percent reductions in pain. The system was developed at the University of Washington by research scientist Hunter Hoffman and psychologist David Patterson, with input from burn care experts at Harborview Burn Center in Seattle.

Virtual reality therapy isn’t a substitute for opioids and other pain-relieving medications, but it can boost the effectiveness of drugs – and possibly reduce the dosage. Researchers who developed the technology say it might also help people with chronic pain syndromes, although those clinical trials are incomplete.

Theresa McSherry, burn and wound care coordinator at the Oregon Burn Center, says burn patients need more options. Pharmaceutical research has provided safer and more effective anesthetics and opioid pain relievers, but drugs have limits.

“You can’t safely give burn patients enough medication to provide adequate pain relief,” says McSherry, a registered nurse who has worked with burn patients for more than 10 years. A grant from the Legacy Foundation allowed the Oregon Burn Center to buy the $66,000 virtual reality system in August. About a dozen are being used worldwide.

Preventing pain not only relieves immediate suffering, but also seems to help burn patients weeks and months later. Patterson, the UW psychologist, says the amount of pain during treatment is a stronger predictor of depression, anxiety and distress six months to a year later than the extent of burns or the length of hospital stay. “If you can control more of the acute pain, it can result in better long-term outcomes,” he says.

Scientists have known for decades that the human brain can interpret the same signal transmitted by a pain receptor as painful or not, depending on what a person is thinking. Mood and expectation also play a big role. German researchers recently showed that a sad mood consistently makes people experience more pain. In another recent experiment, tricking people to think time passed more quickly reduced perception of pain.

Entering a rich, three-dimensional, sound-filled virtual reality might use so much of the brain’s attention resources that less is available to process pain. “We’re taking advantage of the malleability of human perception to deliberately divert mental resources away from the pain,” Hoffman says.

Burn patients come to associate the sights and sounds of the wound treatment room with excruciating pain so that just entering the room can amplify the suffering, Hoffman says. Putting on headphones and goggles blocks the anxiety-stirring sights and sounds.

But distraction of attention appears to be the main way that virtual reality reduces pain. Hoffman’s team has compared differing gear and found that the more realistic and “immersive” the gear, the greater the reduction in pain reported.

That matches McAllister’s experience. His burned fingers made it difficult to hold the computer mouse during his SnowWorld experience. When the mouse slipped from his hand and he lost engagement with the snowball throwing, the pain of the procedure immediately intruded.

McAllister expects to continue intensive physical therapy for several months to regain more use of his fingers and hands. He may need additional surgery to remove scar tissue and increase joint mobility. But he’s optimistic about returning to work next year.

Patterson believes virtual reality can help treat chronic pain as well. The UW researchers also developed a virtual reality program that induces hypnosis. The goal is to use post-hypnotic suggestion to change the way the brain handles chronic pain signals long after therapy sessions.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.