Today, we celebrated the promotions of six lieutenants (three not present), two captains and one battalion chief at our Joint Training Facility. In compliance with social distancing guidelines, we held a live stream for families and colleagues to join in the celebration. Congratulations!
Annual Mishap Causes Anguish for Families
This year, as we live through the stress and momentous change of an historic global pandemic, summer’s warm, sunny days gives us a chance to physically and emotionally lighten up. It’s the perfect time to spend time in the sunshine – albeit with sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, and now socially distanced and masked! But even so, there’s no better time to get outside and fully enjoy ourselves with friends and family.
One thing to keep in mind is while the rays of summer feel good, the buildup of heat in an enclosed car, even when parked for a short time, creates dangers to small humans and pets.
The Numbers are Grim
According to Safe Kids Worldwide:
- On average, every 10 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle. In more than half of these deaths, the caregiver forgot the child was in the car.
- A car can heat up 19 degrees in just 10 minutes. And cracking a window doesn’t help.
- Young children are particularly at risk, as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s.
The numbers are even more frightening for child vehicular heatstroke death as cited by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Each case below ended with the death of a child and the planning of a funeral:
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2019: 52
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2018: 53
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2017: 43
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2016: 39
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2015: 25
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2014: 32
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2013: 44
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2012: 35
- Child vehicular heatstroke deaths for 2011: 33
Prevention: Remember to ACT
Thankfully, Safe Kids recommends several things people can do to avoid these tragedies.
Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving a child alone in a car, not even for a minute, and not even with the windows down or partway down. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not inside so kids don’t get in on their own.
Create reminders. Keep a stuffed animal or other memento in your child’s car seat when it’s empty, and move it to the front seat as a visual reminder when your child is in the back seat. Or place and secure something essential to you – your phone, briefcase, purse, even a shoe – in the backseat when traveling with your child.
Take action. Make “look before you leave” a routine whenever you get out of the call. Be sure all occupants, including sleeping babies and pets, leave the vehicle.
Technology Helps: Look for the Rear Seat Reminder
In the past few years, car companies have started implemented a new safety feature to help prevent these kinds of heat-related injuries. By 2025, it’s expected to be standard equipment. It’s called the Rear Seat Reminder. Here’s how it works:
Rear Seat Reminder monitors a vehicle’s rear doors. The system activates when either rear door is opened and closed up to 10 minutes before the vehicle is started or while the vehicle is running. Once the system is activated, the vehicle is designed to sound five chimes and display a message in the driver information center that reads “Rear Seat Reminder / Look in Rear Seat” the next time the vehicle is turned off. Some systems may even send you a text message.
Next time you’re in the market for a new or pre-owned vehicle, be sure to ask about this great safety development.
Finally, if you see a child alone in a car, call 911. We want you to call. We need emergency responders to get there as soon as possible. Every minute counts. The difference can save a life and prevent a family from suffering the loss of beloved child or pet.
The weather is finally heating up in our region and we will most likely experience some hotter days in the days and weeks to come. Higher temperatures can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent becoming ill from too much heat.
Too much heat and sun can overwhelm anyone but those most at risk from heat exhaustion and heat stroke include older adults, young children, and people who work or exercise outdoors.
Signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Pale, ashen or moist skin
- Muscle cramps (especially for those working or exercising outdoors in high temperatures)
- Fatigue, weakness or exhaustion
- Headache, dizziness or fainting
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid heart rate
Heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke if proper steps are not taken to reduce overheating.
Heatstroke is more serious and occurs when the body reaches a temperature of 104 degrees or higher. It is usually a result of prolonged exposure to high temperatures or physical exertion in high temperatures.
In addition to the above heat exhaustion symptoms, heatstroke symptoms can include:
- Altered speech
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid breathing and a racing heartbeat, among other symptoms.
Call 9-1-1 immediately if any of these symptoms occur.
Stay Safe in the Heat
- Drinking water and other fluids often is important. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty!
- Eat foods with lots of water in them.
- Check on family and neighbors who may be more vulnerable to heat.
- Children can also have heat exhaustion because they are so active and forget to drink water.
- Keep children out of the direct sun during the hottest part of the day.
- Never leave babies, young children or pets in a parked car – even with the windows rolled down. Not even for a minute. Cars can get dangerously hot in seconds!
- People who work outside should take frequent breaks to cool off.
How to Cool Down
- Drinking water and other fluids often is important. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty!
- Eat foods with lots of water in them.
- Play in fountains and sprinklers, go to the swimming pool, and stay in the shade.
- Try to go somewhere with air conditioning on a hot day.
For more information:
Safe Choices Start with You!
As the great summer weather continues, now is an excellent time to get out on the water. This year, as an added bonus, whether you’re kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding on a lake or in Puget Sound, it’s not only enjoyable – it’s a socially distant thing to do!
Gov. Jay Inslee signed a proclamation declaring July 19-25, 2020, “Paddle Safe Week” for the State of Washington. Seattle Fire joins with safety partners in boating, law enforcement and recreation to raise awareness on the basic rules of the water as well as tips to keep yourself and others safe.
Just recently on July 10, Seattle Fire’s Rescue Swimmers were called into action and successfully conducted a surface water rescue of a man struggling in the water along Seattle’s waterfront on Alaskan Way. Rescue swimmers quickly pulled the patient from the water, got him into the Fire Boat to begin treatment, then paramedics took him to Harborview Hospital where he was expected to make a full recovery.
As with many things in life, knowledge and a few good choices go a long way. Check out the links below to learn more about how to make sure your recreational experience on the water is a safe one:
- Safety on the water starts with you. Whether you kayak, canoe, or SUP — (Stand Up Paddleboard), legal requirements are minimal and do not maximize your chance of survival in an accident. Research and carry essential gear for safety, emergency communications and comfort.
- Know before you go! Life jackets are required by law on all vessels, including kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards. It’s up to you to wear it! Paddlesport experts choose to wear a life jacket for a reason—life jackets save lives.
- Pre-plan and study your paddle route before going out on the water. Even if you’re only going out for a brief time, always file a float plan. Tell someone who, where, when, what to do if you don’t return on time. Make this part of your routine every time you go paddling.
- Paddlesports is fun but comes with risks. Know how to swim and learn essential information from the experts. Find a local club, outfitter, take a class or sign up for lessons. There are even online courses!
For more tips and to learn more, go to: paddlesafewa.org. #PaddlePrepared #PaddleSafeWeek
Every summer beginning in July, the number of fires related to warmer weather increases. In the past week, we responded to over 30 dry weather-related fires involving bark, dry grass and shrubs.
Carelessly discarded smoking materials and lit fireworks can cause significant damage an put residents and responding firefighters at risk. Fireworks caused a major fire in West Seattle on July 4 that caused over $100,000 in damages.
Here are steps to help reduce the chance outdoor fires:
- Discourage friends and family members from lighting fireworks.
- Douse smoking materials in water before tossing out. Make sure proper cigarette disposal canisters are available in areas where smoking is allowed.
- Remove long grass, weeds or anything that can burn from around homes. This includes limbs that touch buildings or hang near the roof.
- Remove dead plants or bushes as soon as possible.
- Clear roof and gutters of pine needles and leaves
On June 24, we celebrated the promotions of eight lieutenants (one not shown) and two captains at our Joint Training Facility. In compliance with social distancing guidelines, we held a live stream for families to
join in the celebration. Congratulations!
Every year at this time, Seattle and King County medics can be heard rushing to the scene of fireworks-related injuries. It happened again, just last Friday night. A patient was Airlifted to Harborview and now faces a long recovery at the Harborview Burn Center.
Like firefighters and medics, burn doctors and nurses stand ready to serve. Their doors are always open for those in need. But every 4th of July, they really don’t want to be popular. For them, the fewer people, the better.
According to Dr. Tam Pham at Harborview’s Burn Center, there were 50 fireworks-related injuries in June and July, 2019. Forty-four of them occurred in the one-week period leading up to the holiday. More than half of all injuries were to the hands and face.
“The issue is that people play around with fireworks very soon after they purchase them and long after the 4th of July,” said Pham. “Those injured in the pelvis/groin/thigh region were usually holding them in their lap.”
Twenty people were admitted to Harborview’s Burn Center last year, with seven suffering either partial or full amputations of their fingers or hands. This year, at least two amputations have already occurred.
With public displays canceled and the spread of COVID-19 continuing, the team at the Burn Center hopes people can celebrate safely – in small groups of 5 or less, with sparkling beverages versus sparklers that burn at 1800 to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit!
Although personal use of fireworks has long been banned in Seattle, many still choose to endanger their homes, friends and family by lighting them up themselves. The risk of fire and injury in densely-populated urban centers gets compounded when this happens. This year, more than ever, there is no room for amateurs – Stay Home and Stay Safe!
Every summer, the Seattle Fire Department responds to preventable drownings. According to Public Health – Seattle & King County, 16 people King County residents died in preventable drownings in 2018. Many more near drownings go unreported.
Washington waters are often cold enough to cause muscles to not work. Even when the outside temperatures are high, water temperatures can be cold enough to overwhelm even the strongest swimmer.
If you plan to be in or near water this summer, follow these recommendations:
Learn to swim, including water safety and survival skills — To enjoy the water safely, learn swim strokes, water safety, survival skills, and becoming comfortable in the water.
Wear a life jacket — Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket when boating, tubing, rafting, swimming or other activities in or on lakes, rivers, salt water, or pools without a lifeguard. Life jacket information for children and teens.
Swim where there is a lifeguard — Swim in areas with lifeguards when possible. Wear a life jacket while swimming in unguarded waters or until the guards start their service.
Supervise children in or near water — Always provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water. Stay within touching distance of young children at all times.
Do not use alcohol or drugs during water activities — Never use alcohol or other impairing drugs during water and boating activities or while supervising children around the water. Alcohol affects balance, coordination, and judgement. Exposure to sun and heat worsen these effects.
Learn first aid and CPR — Learn first aid and CPR. Seconds count—the more quickly lifesaving CPR is started, the better the chances of recovery. Dial 911 in an emergency.
We are sorry to announce that the Fire Day with MOHAI and Seattle Fire planned for this weekend is now postponed. Please stay tuned for a new date!
Ten years ago this month a deadly house fire in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle killed four children and a young woman – all were members of Seattle’s Ethiopian and Eritrean communities. This tragic fire was the deadliest fire in Seattle in over 30 years and greatly impacted members of the Seattle Fire Department and the wider community. This tragedy was especially difficult for Seattle’s East African communities.
Shortly after the fire, Seattle Fire Department members met with community leaders to begin gathering ideas on how to reach more East African communities with fire safety information. The Community Fire Safety Advocate (CFSA) program developed as a response to this tragic day. This program became the fire department’s primary outreach and educational program targeting East African community members within weeks of this devastating fire.
CFSA Outreach and Education
The CFSA program was modeled after community-based popular education programs such as Public Health promotoras and community health worker programs which utilize people from the communities trying to be reached as the primary outreach workers. The original cohort of four CFSAs were community leaders who spoke Somali, Amharic, Tigrinya, and Oromo. This group received training on the reality of fire, home fire safety, and how 911 and the fire department works. Classroom training included tours of fire stations and the Fire Alarm Center. One very important aspect of this training was the information the CFSAs shared with the fire department on some of their traditions and customs that could potentially be fire hazards. It was from this exchange of ideas that shaped the training and fire safety messaging.
After receiving the training, the CFSAs primarily set out to conduct outreach and education at community events to reach target populations. At these events, they utilized interactive activities to demonstrate important fire prevention and safety messaging. They also gave presentations in their native languages. The focus of their safety messaging was cooking fire safety, home fire evacuation, and calling 911 – the most common fire-related concerns. They also discussed how to be safe when burning incense or when roasting coffee at home.
Two of my favorite subjects to talk about are heaters and smoke alarms because when I go to a friends or relatives house, I see their furniture is against their baseboard heater or the smoke alarm is hanging open. I taught them about fire safety, and now they know how to keep their home safe. When I give a presentation, I give examples about my own family and the people in the audience tell me their houses are not safe. They tell me when they go home today; they are going to make a change in their own house. Every time I hear that, I feel that my team and I have done a great job.Maymuna – CFSA (first cohort)
CFSA outreach activities were often supported with firefighter visits at community events. Firefighter visits allow immigrant/refugee community members to interact with firefighters in a non-emergency situation which builds trust and strengthens relationships between the fire department and the communities it serves.
CFSAs after 10 years
Since 2010, the CFSA program expanded to include addional immigrant/refugee communities in Seattle. The program has been recognized nationally for being a successful community risk reduction program. Currently, there are 11 active community members who provide fire safety and CPR education in Oromo, Amharic, Tigrinya, Somali, Lao, Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Chinese (Mandarin & Cantonese) and Spanish.
Over the past 10 years, educational messaging expanded to include CPR education, carbon monoxide poisoning prevention, and the importance of working smoke/CO alarms.
June 12, 2020 will mark 10 years since the tragic fire that took 5 lives. The CFSAs have made a positive impact in our communities, especially those most vulnerable to fires and other emergencies. Over the past 10 years, CFSAs have made over 34,000 community contacts. Because of their knowledge of the fire department and the communities in which they serve, the CFSAs have also been tasked with serving on focus groups and assisting with interpretation and translation needs. Their input has shaped how the Public Affairs Division conducts its outreach in immigrant/refugee communities. Beyond the numbers, their efforts not only make communities safer, they provide a vital link between the Seattle Fire Department and the communities it serves. CFSAs make it possible for the department to build stronger relationships with community-based organizations and establish trust among Seattle’s most vulnerable communities.
For me it’s been a very amazing and fruitful learning experience working with the CFSA program as a community outreach and educator advocate. This program really provides the basics and importance of fire safety at home for our community. And seeing the response from many people when we are out there providing the information and education is very meaningful to me because it shows that we are doing a very good job and also brings to life the awareness of fire safety.Paola F. – CFSA
I love it.
The COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily halted community outreach efforts but the department is preparing and planning to continue this important work in the near future.
For more information about the CFSA program or to request participation in a community event or presentation, contact William Mace.