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Mar 18, 2021

Prepare. Prevent. Protect.

Poison Prevention Awareness Month takes place every March. While it began in 1961 with a Presidential proclamation for a March National Poison Prevention Week, it has now grown to include the entire month of March, and even extends to include Poison Prevention Awareness for pets. This year’s campaign is entitled: Prepare. Prevent. Protect.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Poisoning is injury or death due to swallowing, inhaling, touching or injecting various drugs, chemicals, venoms or gases.” What that means is that poisonings can occur due to medicines (including Over the Counter medications), household chemicals, garden products, and other substances. The Health Resources and Services Administration has found that more than 90% of poisonings occur in people’s homes, with 45 percent of those instances involving children under the age of six.

According to WA Poison Center, here are some ways to prevent poisonings:

  • Read and follow directions on the labels.
  • Re-read the label each time before you take or give medications. Establish a medication routine.
  • Keep medications, household cleaners and garden products locked up, or stored out of reach of children. Separate those items from food items.
  • Use child-resistant containers.
  • Store products and medicines in their original containers.
  • Use Mr. Yuk stickers to help children identify substances to avoid.
  • Dispose of expired or unwanted medicines properly; consider mail-back and take-back events.

Mr. Yuk - Poison Prevention Week











When to call 9-1-1

Call 9-1-1 if the person is:

  • Drowsy or unconscious
  • Having difficulty breathing or has stopped breathing
  • Uncontrollably restless or agitated
  • Having seizures
  • Known to have taken medications, or other substance, intentionally or accidentally

When to call the Poison Center, 1-800-222-1222

More than 6,000 people call poison centers each day in the US. If you are unsure, call the Poison Center. The WA Poison Control Center is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can get answers right away from a nurse, pharmacist, or other poison expert. Call the Poison Center if the person is:

  • Stable and has no symptoms
  • Going to be transported to an Emergency Department; you’ve already called 9-1-1

The WA Poison Center recommends taking these steps after an exposure, while waiting for help:

  • Inhaled Poison: Get to fresh air right away and avoid fumes. Open doors and windows wide.
  • Poison on the Skin: Take off clothing that the poison touched. Rinse off skin with running water. Wash off with soap and water.
  • Poison in the Eye: Run lukewarm tap water over the eye for 20 minutes. Do not force the eyelid open.
  • Swallowed Poison: Do not make the person vomit, drink or eat, unless told to do so by a poison expert.

To learn more about ways to help prevent poisonings, visit Washington Poison Center – Always here, Always Ready. From the emergency room to the living room. (

Did you Know?


  • You can sign up for a station tour. Great for small groups.
  • You should replace the batteries in your smoke alarms twice a year.
  • Creating a defensible space with regards to wildfires could just save your home or property.

Media Contact

  • Julie Happy
  • 509-892-4155

Commissioner Patrick Burch

Board Member Since: July 18, 2016
Current term expires: December 31, 2025

Commissioner Burch was appointed to the Board of Fire Commissioners in July 2016 to fill an unexpired term and has served continuously since that time. He became a volunteer member of the Department’s CERT Team in 2008 and later served as a team leader/member of Fire Corps.

“I admire the Spokane Valley Fire Department’s focus on continuous improvement. Our dedication to the community, fiscal responsibility and the fact that we are one of the few accredited fire departments in the State of Washington all make SVFD great!”

Note: As the individual appointed to this non-partisan position, Commissioner Burch was elected by voters in November 2017.

Commissioner Mike Kester

Board Member Since: January 1, 2020
Current six year term expires: December 31, 2025

Commissioner Mike Kester was elected to the Board of Fire Commissioners in November, 2019.

Commissioner Kester grew up in the Spokane area and has a deep appreciation for just how fortunate we all are to live in this beautiful area. He believes that being involved in this community is not something to take lightly.

His background includes joining the United States Coast Guard (U.S.C.G) after high school and serving on a port firefighting boat doing search and rescue in Portland, Oregon.  After the Coast Guard, he attended the University of Montana earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Resource Management.  He then went on to work for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, serving in their Parks Department.

Spokane was the next step in his career. He  went to work for the Burlington Santa Fe Railroad and the next 22 years was spent as a conductor moving freight. Commissioner Kester  retired in 2010 after a workplace injury and now,  he and his wife enjoy making meals for World War II Veterans, helping out at the YMCA ,and providing meals for those in need.

“In the 25 years of being a resident of the Spokane Valley the professionalism of the SVFD has inspired me to take an active part in bettering our community. We have one of the best fire departments in the whole Pacific Northwest. My wife and I have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. I have dedicated my life to keeping them safe.  I want to apply that dedication to our community.  Keeping us all safe is a goal we should all aspire to in one way or another. Communication within the department and with the public is, and always will be one of my primary goals.”

Commissioner John Guarisco

Board Member since: August 27, 2018
Current six year term expires: December 31, 2027

Commissioner Guarisco was appointed to the Board of Fire Commissioners in August 2018 to fill an unexpired term and has served continuously since that time. Commissioner Guarisco founded Marjoni Marketing in 2004 and in 2010 merged with MDI marketing. He then pursued Real Estate, earning his license and now, currently serves the greater Spokane area as a licensed Realtor. He has long been active in the community and has won numerous awards during his career including the Volunteer of the Year (2014) and the Community Caring Award (2010) from the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce.  He is a member of the Greater Spokane Valley Rotary Club and holds an AA degree from Spokane Falls Community College.

Note: As the individual appointed to this non-partisan position, Commissioner Guarisco was elected by voters in November 2019.

Commissioner Bill Anderson

Board Member since: January 1, 2000
Current six year term expires: December 31, 2023

Commissioner Anderson served our community as a Spokane Valley Fire Department firefighter for 29 years. Throughout his career, he worked as a firefighter, dispatcher and engineer before he was promoted and became an officer. He was Station Captain of Millwood Station 2 when he retired in 1999. During his years as firefighter, he was an active leader of Spokane Valley Firefighters Local 876 and served as a trustee on the Washington State Council of Firefighters for 25 years.

“It’s important to me that we continue the good service we’ve always given the people. We’ve accomplished a lot and are pulling in the same direction to get better. I’m very proud of the Spokane Valley Fire Department.”

Commissioner Brian Asmus

Board Member Since: June 14, 2021
Current term expires: 

Commissioner Brian Asmus was appointed to the Spokane Valley Fire Department Board of Fire Commissioners in 2021.

Commissioner Asmus is the former Liberty Lake Police Chief and current Director of Safety and Security at Central Valley School District (CVSD).

“Brian Asmus brings extensive Public Safety leadership experience, and a long history of being actively engaged in his community to his new role as a SVFD Commissioner,” said SVFD Fire Chief, Bryan Collins. “During his time as a Police Chief, Brian interacted with SVFD firefighters and administrators on a regular basis, making him very familiar with our structure, standing within our communities, as well as with many of our current SVFD board members and personnel. Brian’s experience working and collaborating on regional issues aligns nicely with SVFD’s philosophy and will help us continue to be a catalyst for local and regional excellence and innovation.”