The biggest risk to individuals caught in a fire isn’t necessarily the burns to the outside of the body. As we have noted in other posts, external burning can be minor or it can be severe. In the most severe cases, external physical damage can be permanent. Burn victims can also suffer from mental health complications. However, it’s worth noting that the main cause of death from fire is smoke inhalation.
The damage that smoke, heat, fumes, and gases do to the inside of the body may be less apparent, but it can be more debilitating to the victim in the long run, causing chronic health issues for the rest of a person’s life. Treatment and care can be costly and if someone’s negligence led to the exposure, legal accountability may be called for.
A Clearer View of Smoke Inhalation
It should come as no surprise to readers that firefighters face the most persistent exposure to smoke. It’s at nearly every event they respond to, yet line-of-duty injuries due to smoke are relatively rare for them. Most experts would likely agree that civilians are more at risk because they lack firefighter training and access to safety gear. Civilians also tend to be on the front line of the worst exposure from fires – whether it is smoke, gas, or chemicals.
Another factor that many might not think about is that what fuels fires today is significantly different from what it was just 50 years ago. Natural materials commonly used in construction and the making of furniture have been replaced with fabricated products that emit more toxicity when burned.
It is in light of these realities that medical services experts recommend that all smoke inhalation victims be checked for three particular issues:
- Heat burns to the airways
- Chemical damage to the windpipe and tubes to the lungs
- Systemic poisoning from carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide
Regardless of how the exposure occurred, it’s clear that smoke inhalation can have catastrophic and life-changing consequences for victims, for which they may be entitled to compensation.