Category Archives: Campus Safety

Alcohol Poisoning: When Drinking Turns Toxic

Alcohol poisoning happens when you drink a large amount of alcohol, usually over a short period of time. Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is so high that it is considered to be toxic.

Alcohol depresses the nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (to prevent choking). A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually cause these functions to shut down. Since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach, excessive vomiting is also common. If the person is unconscious, this could lead to death by asphyxiation.

Some of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Confusion
  • Irregular breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
  • Loss of coordination
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Pale or blue-tinged skin
  • Seizure
  • Slow breathing (less than eight breaths per minute)
  • Unconsciousness or passing out
  • Vomiting

If you think someone has alcohol poisoning, call 911 right away. Illinois State Law provides amnesty from any criminal liability related to underage drinking if you call for yourself or a friend. So don’t worry about getting in trouble or getting a drinking ticket; the police care significantly more about your health and safety than about issuing a ticket.

While you wait for help, DO

  • ….Stay with them.
  • …Keep them warm.
  • …If they are unconscious, put them in the recovery position and check that they are breathing.
  • …If they are awake, try to keep them in a sitting position and awake.

If someone has drunk too much, DO NOT

  • …leave someone to sleep it off. The amount of alcohol in someone’s blood continues to rise even when they stop drinking.
  • …give them coffee. Alcohol dehydrates the body, as does coffee. Having both can lead to severe dehydration and permanent brain damage.
  • …make them throw up. Alcohol can interfere with a person’s gag reflex, causing them to choke on their own vomit.
  • …walk them around. Alcohol slows brain function and affects coordination and balance. Walking around might cause accidents.
  • …put them under a cold shower. Alcohol lowers body temperature. A cold shower could make them colder than they already are and lead to hypothermia.
  • …let them drink more alcohol. The amount of alcohol in their bloodstream could become even higher – which could put them in more danger.

***A number of blog posts will be repeated throughout the year. This post was originally published on March 2, 2017.***

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

Suicide Prevention Week

This week is Suicide Prevention Week, and today’s post draws information from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

  • Did you know that more than 5 million people in the United States alone have been directly affected by a suicide?
  • Experts believe that most suicidal individuals do not want to die. They just want to end the pain they are experiencing.
  • Experts also say suicidal crises tend to be brief. When suicidal behaviors are detected early, lives can be saved.

Services are available in our community that assess and treat suicidal behaviors and their underlying causes. If you or someone you know is experiencing serious depression and/or suicidal thoughts, please reach out to a friend, instructor,  counselor, or one of our campus police officers for help getting through this difficult time.

For this year’s National Suicide Prevention Week (Sept. 10–16), the theme is “Take a Minute, Save a Life.” Please join Parkland College in supporting suicide prevention. Together we can reduce the number of lives shaken by a needless and tragic death.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

Planning for When Disaster Strikes

Putting together a disaster plan is something that is often overlooked but that can be of tremendous help in the event of a catastrophe. There are four basic steps you can take to help get you and your family ready. (These recommendations were compiled from resources available on The Disaster Center’s website.)

The first is to find out what could happen to you. Apart from the common  “anywhere” disasters such as a fire or gas leak, find out what kinds of things are region-specific that you may need special directions for.

Second, create a plan that includes instructions on where to meet outside of the home if there is a fire, as well as a dedicated out-of-town contact to check in with if your family gets separated (it’s often easier to make long-distance calls rather than local calls in an emergency).

Third, visibly post a checklist that includes emergency numbers as well as instructions on how to turn off water, gas, or electricity in the case of a leak or damaged lines if the authorities instruct you to do so.

Finally, it’s important to practice and maintain your plan. Review your plan and check on any disaster food/water/medical supplies every six months or so; doing this will ensure that all the hard work you’ve done won’t go to waste. Check on and maintain smoke alarms, CO alarms, and fire extinguishers on a regular basis.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

Smoke Alarms Safety Tips

For those of us who are moving in at the  beginning of the semester or just haven’t checked in a while, the Department of Public Safety wants to remind you to make sure your apartments or homes are equipped with functioning smoke alarms. Smoke alarms save lives. The National Fire Protection Association offers the following tips concerning smoke alarms:

Properly installed and maintained  smoke alarms play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast; smoke alarms give you time to get out! Remember these important tips:

  • There are two kinds of alarms: Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It is best to use of both types of alarms in your house or apartment.
  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home.
  • Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
  • Test your smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside immediately and stay outside.
  • Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

Buckle Up: The Benefits of Regular Seat Belt Use

Now that we’re well into road trip season, this week’s post is going to discuss the importance of seat belt use. From a young age, we have had it drilled into us how crucial it is to wear a seat belt when we’re in a vehicle, but many people still decide not to buckle up before they hit the road.

The good news is that the CDC reports that Illinois is above the national average when it comes to regular seat belt use: 94% of Illinois drivers wear their seat belts as opposed to 86% nationwide. The bad news is that this still leaves over 750,000 drivers in the state who don’t regularly buckle up. Here’s what you should be aware of:

  • People between the ages of 21 and 34, particularly men,  are the most likely to be killed or seriously injured in a car accident, and many of those casualties are due to a lack of proper seat belt use.
  • On top of a mountain of statistics that show seat belt use saves lives is the fact that Illinois is a “Primary Enforcement” state. This means that you can get pulled over and given a citation just for not wearing your seat belt, as opposed to needing to observe a separate violation to initiate a traffic stop.

I think it’s safe to say that police officers would much rather everyone just wore their seat belt in the first place, however Primary Enforcement has been shown to be an effective tool to increase the rates of regular seat belt use. The Parkland College Police Department asks that you join us in committing to wear your seat belt, every time.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]