Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What is a Pet Oxygen Mask?

Before you jump to Step 8...lets review some important Fire Facts that apply to people and pets.

Step 1: The Fire Timeline describing how fast a fire can progress throughout a home.
Step 2:  It takes 3 to fire. Fire is a chemical reaction involving rapid oxidation or burning of a fuel. It needs three elements to occur: 
FUEL (any combustible material solid, liquid or gas) + OXYGEN (We breathe 21% O2 - Fire needs 16% O2) + HEAT (Heat is the energy necessary to increase the temperature of the fuel to a point where sufficient vapors are given off for ignition to occur). Take any one of those 3 away and you've killed yourself a fire.
Step 3: What is Smoke Asphyxiation? Noun. The condition of being deprived of oxygen (as by having breathing stopped). Oxygen starvation of tissues. Chemicals such as carbon monoxide prevent the blood from carrying sufficient oxygen to the brain and other organs. As a result, the person may lose consciousness, stop breathing, and die without artificial respiration (assisted breathing) and other means of elevating the blood oxygen level.

Step 4: What is smoke? Smoke is the collection of airborne solid and liquid particulates and gases emitted when a material undergoes combustion or pyrolysis, together with the quantity of air that is entrained or otherwise mixed into the mass. Smoke kills by a combination of thermal damage, poisoning and pulmonary irritation caused by carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and other combustion products.

Step 5: Why is Smoke Inhalation Dangerous? A person with smoke inhalation has inhaled poisonous gasses and soot from a fire. Smoke does not contain enough oxygen to meet the body's demand. In addition, many substances in smoke are toxic to the body. Too much smoke inhalation puts too much carbon monoxide into your lungs. Carbon Monoxide prohibits hemoglobin from transferring oxygen into your body and carbon dioxide out of your body. Fire burns oxygen, so as a fire continues to be active, more oxygen gets removed from the room. Smoke can cause damage to the lungs and airways, or poisoning can occur if a chemical in the smoke is absorbed by the lungs. Smoke inhalation may account for 70 percent of fire-related deaths in the US.

Step 6: How does this apply to my pets? Most animals considered as pets have a respiratory system that functions almost identically to ours. Did you know that cats and dogs can get lung cancer? Lungs are lungs. Smoke inhalation is a threat to people and animals.
Whether you happen to be at the house at the time of the fire or at work, any pet left in a burning structure will most certainly suffer from smoke inhalation and may die as a result.

Step 7: Why should fire departments carry pet oxygen masks?
The real question is why shouldn't they? For a long time firefighters who tried to save pets on the scene of a residential fire had to use human non-rebreather masks (NRB) if inclined to provide on scene 100% oxygen. These masks are designed for human use not animal use. That in-and-by-itself caused some health and safety issues. It also resulted in quite a waste of oxygen since the masks didn't properly fit the pet's nose. Last but unfortunately not least, because NRBs might have been in short supply on scene, the increased public calls to help save pets on scene resulted in the mis-conception that pet owners where asking firefighters to somehow chose between animal and human life which resulted in somewhat of an uproar. The oath and priority is always to save human life. Pet oxygen masks solve that issue. Once the first responder make the choice to extricate the pet from the burning structure and gets it out, and once all humans are taken care of, assigned personnel can start working their magic on pets. 

Step 8: So What Are Pet Oxygen Masks? These cone-shaped masks, which come in sets of three sizes, were designed by Richard McCulloch and his crew at McCulloch Medical of New Zealand, which manufactures masks for veterinary use. Because of the simplicity of the design and its lightweight, it was discovered that the masks could be used in the field by first responders in addition to their original veterinary use. Oxygen tanks are already carried by first responders so the simple top stopper hook up to O2 tank makes field use easy and solves the issue of cross contamination with humans.
As pets have entered our homes and curled their ay into our hearts and bedrooms, giving the first responders the right tools to make a difference during a rescue is logical. 

Please consider sponsoring your local fire department. 
The pet's life they save could be your own!

Semper Wag'N™!

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