Tuesday, August 12, 2008

‘Excessive aerosol use’ caused girls' house blast

AN EXPLOSION which left four teenage girls critically ill in hospital for several weeks was caused by the “excessive use of a large number of aerosol deodorants”, an official inquiry will announce today.
A joint investigation was launched by Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid and West Wales Fire Service after the fire, which blew the roof off a terraced house in Llanelli on December 17.
A file was also submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service, who have decided there is insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone for causing the fire.
But an action plan will now be launched to warn young people of the dangers of aerosols.
Sisters Anya, 15, and Kira Evans, 14, and Kimberly Patterson, 15, and Nadine Fardon, 14, were severely burnt when the fire tore through the sisters’ home in Old Castle Road.
Stunned neighbours reported at the time how the girls ran screaming into the street after the explosion which closed the entire road.
The teenagers spent weeks in intensive care, underwent 10 major skin graft operations – some of which lasted up to a day at a time – had surgery to their hands, arms and legs and were treated for burns on their faces.
They received occupational therapy and physiotherapy, and psychologists were on hand to offer emotional support to the teenagers and their families.
They were also put on special diets, while doctors said it is likely they will need further operations in the future and will continue to be treated on an outpatient basis until they are 18 or 19.
The girls were unable to walk for more than a month after the accident, and Kimberley’s mother, Katrina, told how she burst into tears when she saw her daughter walk again.
“I wasn’t expecting it and I started crying – I was overwhelmed,” she said.
They were gradually eased back into their lessons at Coedcae Comprehensive School and volunteers in Llanelli raised thousands of pounds towards a fund for the girls and their families.
In a joint statement released today, Dyfed-Powys Police and the fire service said: “The investigation concluded that the cause of the fire was as a result of the excessive use of a large number of aerosol deodorants in a confined space being accidentally ignited.
“The use of the aerosols led to the accumulation of flammable gas and vapours in a bedroom without sufficient ventilation.
“The ignition source was a cigarette lighter.
“Following a full investigation, Dyfed-Powys Police submitted a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service.
“The CPS has instructed that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute any person.
“Dyfed-Powys Police and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service would like to warn people of the dangers of aerosols.
“We are working together with local agencies in a bid to prevent this type of tragic incident from happening in the future.
“Educating young people about the dangers and potential consequences of inappropriate use of aerosols will form part of future community safety education programmes.
“The four girls have now been released from hospital. Their families have asked the media to respect their privacy.”
Mark James, chair of the Carmarthenshire Community Safety Partnership, said: “The partnership is committed to raising awareness of the dangers of volatile substances such as the inappropriate use of aerosols.
“These are also highly flammable so great care must be taken in their day-to-day use, particularly in confined spaces. Parents need to be vigilant about excessive use and we all need to make our children aware of the dangers of misusing aerosols.
“Talks are already given to young people and as part of the partnership’s joint commissioning strategy for substance misuse, an action plan for children and young people will be developed to include additional ways of tackling this important concern.”

taken from WalesOnline

Friday, August 01, 2008

Deaths from VSA in the UK rose in 2006 to 49 from 45 in 2005

A report released today by the Division of Community Health Sciences at St George’s, University of London, reveals that altogether in 2006 there were 49 deaths in the UK associated with volatile substance abuse. The report "Trends in Death Associated with Abuse of Volatile Substances 1971-2006", which was prepared for the Department of Health, describes trends in death associated with the abuse of gas fuels, aerosols, glues, anaesthetic agents and other solvent based products.
In 2006, butane from all sources accounted for 33 of the 49 deaths and of these butane cigarette lighter refills formed the largest group. Five deaths in 2006 were as a result of asphyxia associated with the inhalation of nitrous oxide.
In under-18 year olds there were six deaths resulting from volatile substance abuse in 2006, compared with eight in 2005. Two of these deaths were associated with butane cigarette lighter refills, the sale of which to under-18s is prohibited by legislation.
Deaths were generally sudden and in 2006 were three times more common in males than females. Of the 49 deaths in 2006, ten were suicides involving the inhalation of a volatile substance. For both adults and children volatile substance abuse leading to death usually took place in the home.
Re-Solv is pleased to note that deaths in the under-18 year olds continues to fall. With the introduction this year of our Toxic Agents Primary School pack we are in the best possible position to help keep those figures down.
There is a worrying trend in deaths of long term adult abusers and in VSA being used in suicide. These difficult to address areas will need a strong focus in the coming months and years ahead.
For further details of the St George's Report please click here.
If you would like any further information on Re-Solv's work please see our website or email information@re-solv.org.