Salem High School first in state to install vape detectors

Friday, September 27, 2019
Pictured is one of the HALO vape detectors recently installed at Salem High School.
Kim Break

Salem High School is the first in Arkansas to install a device to help with an ongoing issue in teens … vaping.

Salem School District Superintendent Wayne Guiltner said vape detectors have been installed in the high school restrooms recently. “Right now, everywhere you go, you see people vaping. There are some health concerns being put out there to everyone, but it still seems to be accepted,” said Guiltner.

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is warning Arkansans who use an electronic smoking device, e-cigarette, or vape about the risk of a potential lung illness. Investigations in many different states have been launched to determine the possible cause of the illnesses.

In Arkansas, there has been one confirmed vape related illness, three currently being investigated and seven illnesses which are “probable” to have been caused by vaping.

ADH provides information and statistics about what is going on in other states across the country on its website.

“There are 530 cases of lung injury reported from 38 states and 1 U.S. territory. Seven deaths have been confirmed in six states. CDC has received complete sex and age data on 373 of 530 cases.

- Nearly three fourths (72%) of cases are male.

- Two thirds (67%) of cases are 18 to 34 years old.

- 16% of cases are under 18 years and 17% are 35 years or older.

All reported cases have a history of e-cigarette product use or vaping.

Based on initial data from certain states we know: Most patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC. Many patients have reported using THC and nicotine. Some have reported the use of e-cigarette products containing only nicotine.

We do not yet know the specific cause of these lung injuries. The investigation has not identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) or substance that is linked to all cases.”

Guiltner said SHS just wants to provide the students with another reason to say no. “We aren’t trying to catch or punish, just give the kids another reason to say, ‘I’m not going to do that because I’ll get in trouble.’ Our kids are a reflection of what they see in society.”

SHS Principal Cody Curtis inquired to Technology Coordinator Shaun Windsor if there were devices would could detect vape – and at first his answer was no. However, after some research, Windsor came across HALO.

According to the company’s website, “HALO IOT Smart Sensor is a multi-sensor capable of detecting vape, smoke, and abnormal sounds like shouting in areas a camera cannot be placed. Additional sensors give HALO the ability to monitor air quality for temperature, humidity, hazardous chemicals and more.”

The detector looks similar to a smoke detector and is comparable in size to one as well. “As soon as vape is detected, it sends a message to whatever email address you set up and a time stamp. So when that happens, even if a principal is out of the office, they can come back and see the time stamp and they can look at cameras to see who was in the hall and entered the restroom around that time,” explained Guiltner.

Guiltner has shared the information with legislation, as Jim Hendren, a senator in northwest Arkansas, is possibly looking to put together a piece of legislation on vaping. He also said if any school in the area was interested in learning more about the device, he would be more than happy to share the information.

CDC has released interim recommendations for healthcare providers, health departments and the general public.

Until we know more, if you are concerned about these specific health risks, CDC recommends that you consider refraining from using e-cigarette or vaping products.

If you are an adult who used e-cigarettes containing nicotine to quit cigarette smoking, do not return to smoking cigarettes.

If you have recently used an e-cigarette or vaping product and you have symptoms like those reported in this outbreak see a healthcare provider.

Regardless of the ongoing investigation:

Anyone who uses an e-cigarette or vaping product should not buy these products (e.g., e-cigarette or vaping products with THC or CBD oils) off the street, and should not modify or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.

Youth and young adults should not use e-cigarette products.

Women who are pregnant should not use e-cigarette products.

Adults who do not currently use tobacco products should not start using e-cigarette products.

ADH said symptoms may include shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, and fatigue. A few patients also reported fever, nausea, and diarrhea. The symptoms may worsen over days and weeks. Of the confirmed cases, all patients had vaped in the weeks and months leading up their hospitalization. People who experience any type of chest pain or difficulty breathing after vaping should seek medical attention.

Clinicians who become aware of cases are encouraged to report them to ADH Outbreak Response at 501-537-8969.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: