COVID, loss of smell & fires: Fishers fire captain warns of the potentially deadly combination

Posted at 6:51 PM, Jan 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-24 13:42:08-05

FISHERS — COVID, loss of smell, and fires. The combination is part of a potentially life-saving warning from the Fishers Fire Department.

Public Information Officer Capt. John Mehling spoke out Saturday to share a warning for those who may experience a loss of smell due to COVID-19. It is something that is personal for him.

“I got every possibility you could have from COVID-19," Mehling said. "From all the symptoms, and the taste and smell still have not come back to me and it’s approaching two months in for me now."

It is a situation that has already played out in other parts of the country and while thankfully there have been no accounts in Fishers yet, Mehling wanted to make sure it stays that way.

“You have about three minutes to get out of a house that’s on fire,” Mehling said. “If you don’t have that smoke alarm going off or alerting you or you can’t smell that smoke to get out, that three minutes is diminishing quickly and we’re afraid we’re going to lose someone if we can’t get them out.”

Cooking and cleaning are the two areas of concern with the loss of smell. If mixing cleaning chemicals, like bleach and water, Mehling suggested doing so in a well-ventilated area and finding a buddy who could alert to a toxic smell.

“If you’re putting too much bleach into that solution, you don’t know because you can’t smell it," he said. "At the point where you realize that solution is too great because there’s a chlorine cloud appearing in your residence."

With cooking, the Fisher fire captain said it is important to stay in the kitchen to monitor things and to make sure smoke alarms are up to date. He suggested all families do monthly tests by pressing the smoke alarm to make it works, changing batteries at least once a year, and changing the actual alarm every 10 years.

“It’s really important that we have those smoke alarms that are working and they can be your nose, as you will that there’s something going on and you can react to it quickly,” Mehling said.

Mehling also said it is important to really be conscious of what you are doing.

A loss of smell can impact more than just cooking and cleaning hazards. It can also mean not being able to smell a gas or chemical leak, which is why officials say it is imperative to be aware and attentive.