February plays host to multiple national safety awareness initiatives, and I will talk about three of them in this column.

The American Heart Association’s “American Heart Month” warns us of the signs and symptoms associated with heart attack and stroke. Heart attacks and strokes are life-and-death emergencies where every second counts. If you see or have any of the listed symptoms, immediately call 911. Sometimes they go away and return. If some occur, get help fast! Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. So again, don’t delay — get help right away!

AHA heart attack warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • Pain or discomfort in the chest, one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  • Sudden loss of responsiveness.

AHA uses the acronym “F.A.S.T.” to identify the signs and symptoms of a stroke. They are:

  • Facial drooping or numbness, often on one side.
  • Arm weakness or numbness.
  • Difficulty speaking, whether it be slurred speech, speech that is hard to understand or the inability to speak.
  • Time to call 911. If a person shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call 911 immediately.

Learn more at

The American Burn Association sponsors National Burn Awareness Week Feb 4-10.

Burn injuries continue to be one of the leading causes of unintentional death and injury in the United States, with one civilian fire death occurring every 2 hours and 35 minutes. Seventy-three percent of burn injuries treated at a burn center occurred in the home. Children under five are 2.4 times as likely to suffer burn injuries that require emergency medical treatment, the association said.

Be aware of burn hazards in and around your home. Heaters, open flames, matches, lighters, electrical sources, cooking, bath water, ovens and appliances can all be the source of a burn. Ensure your families safety by recognizing and addressing any burn sources in your home.


Randy Richman is a part-time Brookfield firefighter and paramedic, firefighting instructor and regional director for hyperbaric medicine for Shared Health Inc.