Shortly after midnight on June 15, a loud explosion woke up many Nemaska residents. The blast came from a house at 4 Rabbit Trail. As you can see by the photos the damage was extensive. The cause turned out to be a propane explosion.

Five teenagers, between the ages of 13 to 18, were injured. All were flown out to Montreal.

Some of them were allegedly sniffing the propane. Another youth arrived home to a darkened house. Since he couldn’t see, he lit his lighter. The flame ignited the propane and caused the explosion.

According to a Nemaska Band Council press release, the Surete du Quebec, who investigated the incident, said it was an accident and not criminal. The Nemaska Police and the Matagami SQ detachment would only confirm the Nemaska Band Council press release. They refused to discuss the incident at all.

The Nemaska Band Council press release also stated, “We cannot stress enough the importance of reporting any suspicious or unusual activity in your neighbourhood.”

I would like to report the suspicious behaviour on the part of the two police forces. If they are unwilling to answer questions regarding an accident one has to wonder what else they may be trying to hide from the public’s eyes.

The focus here should rightly be on the sniffing by the youth. In this context the police and the health officials should have been lining up to do drug-abuse preventive measures to ensure this type of incident doesn’t happen again.

It should focus not only on the dangers of an explosion but that the real dangers of sniffing are well presented and publicized.

Sniffing propane can lead to many complications. The way it tends to work is by displacing air in the lungs. In other words, inhalants deprive the body of oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia. Hypoxia can damage cells throughout the body, but the cells of the brain are especially sensitive to it.

The symptoms of brain hypoxia vary according to which areas of the brain are affected: the hippocampus, for example, helps control memory, so someone who repeatedly uses inhalants may lose the ability to learn new things or may have a hard time carrying on simple conversations.

Long-term inhalant abuse can also break down myelin, a fatty tissue that surrounds and protects some nerve fibres. Myelin helps nerve fibres carry their messages quickly and efficiently, and when damaged can lead to muscle spasms and tremors or even permanent difficulty with basic actions like walking, bending and talking.

Animal and human research show that most inhalants are extremely toxic. Chronic exposure can lead to widespread and long-lasting damage to the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Nerve damage can be similar to that seen in individuals with neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Chronic exposure can produce significant damage to the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. Prolonged abuse can negatively affect a person’s cognition, movement, vision and hearing.

And that’s just to start with as sniffing highly concentrated amounts can directly induce heart failure and death within minutes of a session of repeated inhalations. This syndrome, known as “sudden sniffing death,” can result from a single session of inhalant use by an otherwise healthy young person. Sudden sniffing death is particularly associated with the abuse of butane, propane and chemicals in aerosols.

And that’s just one way you can die from it as high concentrations can kill you quite nastily. Asphyxiation is where vapours displace oxygen in the lungs and you die. You can suffocate when oxygen is blocked from entering the lungs when inhaling fumes from a plastic bag placed over the head and you die. You can go into convulsions or seizures caused by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain and you can die. You can go into a coma where the brain shuts down all but the most vital functions. The chances of waking up are dismal at best. You may also die or simply be a vegetable for the rest of your life.

You can choke to death from inhaling vomit prompted by inhalant use. You may sustain a fatal or near-fatal injury from accidents, such as motor vehicle crashes, that occur while intoxicated.

In other words, sniffing is just plain stupid.