Solvent abuse can kill instantly

There has been some recent publicity about young people in Auckland being seriously harmed by solvent abuse.

It’s not scaremongering – sniffing and huffing is really dangerous.

Here are some of the more significant risks from abusing solvents…

  • Heart Failure (Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome) – ‘Sniffing’ can make the heart beat in an irregular way. If the ‘sniffer’ becomes excited, frightened or runs, the heart can’t cope, stops working, you collapse and can die.
  • Fatal Accidents – ‘Sniffing’  may make you do things without thinking in dangerous places. You might be involved in an accident like falling from a high building or being knocked down by a car, drowning, etc.
  • Suffocation – The mouth and nose can be blocked by a plastic bag (if you fall unconscious) Sometimes the oxygen in the blood is displaced by fumes or chemicals.
  • Choking – ‘Sniffing’ can make you violently sick. If you were to vomit while you were unconscious or drowsy you could choke on your own puke.
  • Explosions – Abusable products are usually very flammable and if they are used around naked flames they can set you on fire. They may even explode causing bad burns or even death. It’s really dangerous to smoke around solvents.

What would you do if your friend collapsed?

• Make sure there is plenty of fresh air and that it’s safe for you to help them

• Stay calm, remove any solvents

• Check their airway, breathing and circulation. Apply first aid if you know how

• Turn them on their side, (the recovery position)

• Get help or call an ambulance as quickly as possible

• Stay with them if you can and keep them warm and still.

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