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Todd Slaughter
Todd Slaughter
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Two Teens Die of Alcohol Poisoning over Holidays

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Today, the Enterprise Record Searchlight sadly reported the death of an 18-year-old Chico High Student that occurred in the early morning hours of New Years Day. Witnesses reported that he had been drinking earlier that night and retired about 2:30 am. Soon thereafter he was found vomiting and convulsing. He was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead at 5:00 am. Toxicology reports have not yet confirmed the cause of death.

The Holiday Season was marred by another tragic death when a 17-year-old Redding student was found unconscious in the bathroom of her friend’s house. The two had been drinking after the parents had apparently gone to bed. Alcohol poisoning was determined to be the cause of death.

These two events in such a short span of time in Northern California reminds us of the importance of communicating the potential lethal nature of so-called "binge drinking" with our adolscents. These young people do not appreciate the intoxicating effects of these beverages, nor how alcohol impaired judgment can lead to dangerous behavior that results in a lethal overdose.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has recently published a Statistical Snapshot of Underage Drinking at www.niaaa.nih.gov . This report shows that alcohol is the preferred drug of teenagers with 3/4′s of 12th graders, 2/3′s of 10th graders and as many as 2/5′s of 8th graders admitting to its use. The study also reports as many as 5000 alcohol-related underage deaths occur each year, the majority arising from vehicular crashes.

Parents and other adults need to be reminded that providing alcohol to a minor is illegal in California and significant criminal penalties can attach.

SAFETY TIPS

The Student Health Services of the University of California at Davis has published guidelines on monitoring and responding to someone potentially suffeing from alcohol poisoning. For ease of reference, these steps are restated here:

  • Continually monitor the intoxicated person.
  • Check their breathing, waking them often to be sure they are not unconscious.
  • DO NOT exercise the person.
  • DO NOT allow the person to drive a car or ride a bicycle.
  • DO NOT give the person food, liquid, medicines or drugs to sober them up.
  • DO NOT give the person a cold shower; the shock of the cold could cause unconsciousness.

REMEMBER: THE ONLY THING THAT CAN SOBER A DRUNK PERSON IS TIME.

How to Tell if Someone Has Alcohol Poisoning

  • If the person is breathing less than 13 times per minute or stops breathing for periods of eight seconds or more CALL 9-1-1.
  • If the person is asleep and you are unable to wake him/her up, CALL 9-1-1.
  • Look at the person’s skin. If it is cold, clammy, pale or bluish in color, CALL 9-1-1.
  • If the person is continually vomiting (repeated, uncontrolled), CALL 9-1-1.

Other Important Factors

  • Stay with a person who is vomiting. Keep him/her sitting up. If s/he must lie down, keep them on their side with head turned to the side. If person begins to choke, GET HELP IMMEDIATELY, CALL 9-1-1.
  • Any person that has altered consciousness, slowed respiration, repeated, uncontrolled vomiting, or cool, pale skin is experiencing acute alcohol intoxication (alcohol poisoning). This is a medical emergency and you MUST get help! CALL 9-1-1.