Huffing Dangers

Huffing is responsible for more than 100 deaths a year, as mostly teenagers seek a fast, cheap high.

Two close calls in Tallahassee in the last four months are prompting a warning for parents whose children may find trouble right under their nose this summer.

A 26-year-old man was critically burned when this home exploded in February. Fire investigators discovered he had been inhaling propane, and then lit a cigarette.

Last week a call came into fire station 15. A 14-year-old boy was in convulsions after huffing gasoline in the garage. Stephanie Powell was one of the first to arrive at the Killearn Lakes home.

"He was dead, he was flatlined. We hooked up the AED and he was showing a flatline systole. We ended up shocking him three times between doing CPR to get him back," says Stephanie.

The teenager has since recovered and came by the firehouse to say thank you a few days ago.

"Our kid was walking, talking, didn't seem to have any long-term impacts, so I hope he learned his lesson."

Firefighters say he was lucky, and they're urging parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of huffing before they find trouble in the garage, on the back porch, or even under the sink.

"There are thousands of things that can be used, from whipped cream to gasoline, some of the things you may think would be harmless are harmful depending on how you use 'em."

Recent surveys show one in five teenagers has tried huffing by the time he or she graduates from high school, but statistics are hard to find.

Florida's office of drug policy doesn't keep them, and FDLE only tallies deaths from freon and nitrous oxide. The number of close calls from huffing is anyone's guess. Extended Web Coverage

Inhalant Abuse

  • Huffing is the act of getting high by inhaling toxic fumes from legal household or industrial items.
  • Other names for this act are bagging and sniffing.
  • Huffing is responsible for more than 1,000 U.S. deaths annually.
  • Inhalant abuse is third to alcohol and marijuana in drug use by teens.
  • Twenty percent of all eighth graders have huffed inhalants.

Common Signs

  • Red, runny eyes or nose

  • Chemical breath

  • Slurred speech

  • Excessive or odd laughter

  • "Drunk" appearance

  • Glassy, dilated or constricted eyes

  • Sweating

  • Nonsensical talk, paranoia

  • Withdrawal from family

  • Apathy

  • Rags/Cotton balls and plastic bags with chemical odor

  • Correction fluid on nose, fingers, or clothes

  • Markers in pockets

Common Items Used for Huffing

  • Hair spray

  • Gasoline

  • Rubber cement glue

  • Furniture polish

  • Air fresheners

  • Spray paint

  • Liquid correction fluid

  • Paint thinners

  • Inhalers

  • Breath spray

  • Felt tip markers

  • Propane gas

  • Cleaning fluids

  • Tape head cleaners

  • Aerosol whipped cream

  • Vegetable cooking sprays

  • Paint thinners

  • Art or office supply solvents

Source: (Dakota State University Web site) contributed to this report.