Category Archives: General

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.]

Degree Completion Day

Are you a new Parkland student taking a few classes but not sure where those classes might take you?  Are  you a first-year student who hasn’t made a solid plan to get to graduation or a second-year student wanting to confirm you are in the correct last few courses?

ALL of you should attend Degree Completion Day.

Degree Completion Day takes place Wednesday, September 27 in the U building (Student Union) between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Here are some features of this great event:

  • You can learn about transferring to another institution for a bachelor’s degree.
  • Academic advising will be available.
  • Learn how to track your progress toward your degree or certificate.
  • Confirm your degree program.
  • Complete a Graduation Petition and turn it in for a formal degree audit.
  • Learn the difference between “graduation” and “commencement.”
  • Find out what General Education courses are and why you might need them.

Finally, come and get some giveaways and refreshments.  WPCD-FM will be streaming live!

Don’t spend any more time just guessing how to get through college or wondering why you’re here. Get real answers and get on track!

[Dennis Kaczor is a credentials analyst in Parkland Admissions and Records.]

 

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.]

In the Shadow of the Moon

I guess this is where I’m supposed to describe the Great American Total Solar Eclipse of August 21. The problem is, I can’t. I’ve been attempting to come up with words that would give the event its props and, I’ll admit, I’m coming up short.

Camp Ondessonk. Online photo from Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc.

I’ve been asked many times “How were things in Carbondale?” I didn’t go to Carbondale. That venue was a bit overcrowded for me. My and CU Astronomical Society colleagues and I descended on Camp Ondessonk, near Ozark, Illinois. The Catholic youth camp was previously directed by my brother-in-law, and my kids spent a lot of time there. We set up telescopes in an impressive row in a horse pasture, meaning you had to pay close attention to where you erected your tent! We had numerous telescopes from CUAS, the twin city group from Bloomington-Normal, and University of Illinois students. And my daughter made the trip from Chicago to go with us.

We arrived Saturday morning to avoid traffic, and my wife and daughter took part in some of the camp’s amenities like archery, hiking, and craft-making. Carl Wenning (ISU) and I did three workshops each on Sunday, and Carl did a keynote after dinner. The food was awesome! They treated us well! Stargazing was a bit disappointing as we were greeted with heavy dew and clouds both Saturday and Sunday night. But the main event was Monday.

The observing field (half of it anyway). Photo by Dave Leake.

We all smiled as we opened our tents Monday morning, greeted by blue skies with a few clouds. I did two radio interviews via cell phone before breakfast and then spent the rest of the morning setting up equipment. Our camp director said that with the influx of “Monday only” traffic (no overnight accommodations), he expected 800 people in the camp. I used my telescope to project an image of the Sun, about a foot in diameter, on a poster board. It was here that I shouted, “first contact” to the group right at 11:53 a.m.

The partial eclipse as projected by a colander. Photo by Dave Leake.

We watched as the Moon seemed to consume a wonderful sunspot group on the Sun’s face. People used pegboards, mailing tubes, and even colanders to project the partial eclipse.

As the Moon overtook the Sun, everything seemed “weird!” It is difficult to articulate! Shadows became sharper and the countryside took on a pale appearance as if it were twilight, but it was everywhere (not just one direction) and the Sun was high in the sky! It got darker and cooler. At the first diamond ring, a roar came from the crowd and there was applause as we bathed in the Moon’s shadow. The horizons stayed relatively bright, but the sky overhead darkened and Venus became brilliant. Jupiter was visible east of the Sun.

Eclipse totality at Ozark, Illinois. Photo by Saiko Rosenberger.

Some colleagues began snapping photos. I did not. This was my first total eclipse and I was advised just to watch. That was great advice. It was an emotional scene:

  • My daughter was there, with whom I had shared telescopic views of Saturn when she was just a tyke. She spent seven years as a camper here, so this was a homecoming for her.
  • Chuck Greenwood was there from Florida; he was Staerkel Planetarium’s show producer when I started. We presented shows together for 12 years. Frank Oriold was there from St. Charles. Frank and I were in the UI Astro Club together in 1981 and I had not seen him in years. Mike Rosenberger was there with his wife. Mike and I co-founded CUAS back in 1986—a lifelong friend.
  • And I was wearing my dad’s eclipse T-shirt. I lost him in 2015. The coronal streamers were nothing short of spectacular and the Moon’s perimeter took on a pearl white color. He would have loved this!

My wife kept a timer on her phone and, at 2.5 minutes, I yelled “have your glasses ready!” The second diamond ring was more dramatic than the first. The Sun’s brilliant light appeared as a point that grew in size. Given the high ice crystal clouds in the area, the point was surrounded by brilliant colors and the crowd gasped. Afterwards, club members gathered and either hugged or provided a “high five.” It was only 2.5 minutes but it will be etched in our memories forever!

The next eclipse in the area will be April 8, 2024. I hope I’m around for it. What an amazing experience! I didn’t even mind the 6.5-hour drive home!

[David Leake is director of the William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College.]