May 29, 2012

House Fire Due to Faulty Electrical Wiring Kills a Child Through Smoke Inhalation, Severe Burns

In mid-May in Joliet, IL, an investigation found that there was no criminal activity involved in a fire that caused the burn death of a 3-year-old boy just days before. The cause of the fire was an accidental electrical malfunction, local fire officials said. There will probably be no liability lawsuit for negligence stemming from this incident.

The child was found in a second-floor bedroom of a home on Sterling Avenue in Joliet, IL. The boy died of soot and smoke inhalation from the house fire, according to the Will County coroner's office. The boy was pronounced dead shortly after the fire.

The boy's uncle and another child were on the first floor when the fire started. The uncle had been watching the children because the victim's mother had left to take a relative to a doctor's appointment. "The uncle tried to make entry to the room but he was forced back by the fire,'' said one fire official. Neighbors who heard the man crying came to his aid but were also not able to help. They too ran into the house, "but the flames coming out of this bedroom were so intense that no one could get to this child.''

The fire seemed to start because of faulty wiring near a microwave and a small refrigerator that were set up in that bedroom, according to the deputy chief, who said that "it was a bad electrical situation" caused by overloaded electrical outlets. The fire official added.that the child died of smoke inhalation but was also suffered severe burns because he fell unconscious, probably just seconds after inhaling the poisonous smoke and soot. There are chemicals such as hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide within smoke that make people fall unconscious after just a few breaths. So if you find yourself in a smoke situation, you must drop down and put your face very close to the floor in order to breathe clean air, because smoke and poisonous gases rise.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 24, 2012

Factory Explosion Kills One Person, Injures Ten; Does the Company Have Legal Liability Due to Negligence?

In Arlington Heights, Illinois on May 22, one person was killed and ten injured in an explosion at an industrial complex in this suburban Chicago town.

Emergency officials there responded to reports of an explosion inside a manufacturer called Arens Controls, which produces power management systems for commercial vehicles (batteries, etc.). A woman who lives two blocks from the facility told reporters that she heard a large explosion at around 8:30 a.m. An Arlington Heights Fire Department official said the explosion involved a machine inside the facility. One person was pronounced dead shortly after the blast, while at least ten people were taken to Northwest Community Hospital, some of them requiring treatment for severe burns.

Signs outside the affected building indicated that Motorola, Honeywell and a Home Depot training college are also housed there. There was no word at the time as to whether any employees of these firms were injured in the explosion. It is also unclear at this time if there is any legal liability due to negligence on the part of the Arens Controls or any of its employees for the explosion.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 22, 2012

Burn Survivor Has Skin Graft Surgery, and Has a Difficult Recovery Ahead


The lone survivor of a small-airplane crash in southeast Kansas recently underwent skin graft surgery to treat third degree burns across 28 percent of her body. Hannah Luce of Garden Valley, Texas, a recent graduate of Oral Roberts University, was flying with four others to a Christian youth rally in Iowa when their twin-engine Cessna crashed northwest of Chanute, Kansas.

All the other people, including the pilot, died in the crash. Hannah Luce is the daughter of Ron Luce, an Oral Roberts trustee and founder of Teen Mania Ministries, which was sponsoring the rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She was treated at the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas. A spokesperson there said that Hannah was in serious condition but was expected to make a full recovery.

"She went into her first surgery for skin grafts on burns she suffered on her left leg, her arms and her hands," said a spokesperson for the family. "The doctors are saying it's a miracle Hannah didn't suffer more internal trauma." Hannah was off a respirator and breathing on her own several days after the crash, and was awake and answering questions before surgery.

However, "she's dealing with the loss of four friends. They were all tremendous individuals," the spokesperson said. "They all had a heart for reaching the younger generation."

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the crash. The pilot had a commercial pilot's license, was certified for that aircraft, and had been flying for years. One other victim, a former Marine who had served two tours of duty in Iraq before attending Oral Roberts, might have helped Luce escape the crash site and get help before succumbing to his own burn injuries.

Once the surgery is complete, Hannah will have to undergo a lot of painful rehabilitation in order for her burn injuries to heal enough to allow her to lead a normal life again.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 17, 2012

Man Suffers Severe Burns from Propane Tank Explosion at Special Event. Who Has Legal Liability?


In Washington DC in mid-May, a man suffered severe burns when a small propane tank exploded during a buffet dinner event at the National Building Museum, a museum dedicated to architecture, design, and construction. The museum frequently hosts exhibitions and special events that offer food and beverage service.

The dangerous incident happened when a catering company's propane tank exploded, causing a flash fire inside the building during the event. One man was rushed to a local hospital with potentially life-threatening third degree burns.

Two issues come into play regarding this incident:

First, the catering company will likely be the target of a lawsuit claiming that it has legal liability for injuries suffered by the severely burned man.

Second, anyone who attends an event in a public place should make sure to locate the nearest emergency exits immediately upon arriving at the event. The reason: In case of a fire or smoke condition, you can evacuate the area quickly. Otherwise, once fire or smoke builds within a room, there is very little time left to find the emergency exits and evacuate before suffering burns or smoke inhalation, which can be deadly.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 15, 2012

Lawsuit Filed for Deadly House Fire; Father Claims City Has Legal Liability for Failing to Check for Smoke Alarms


Last week in New Haven CT, the father of three young girls killed in a Christmas morning house fire filed a lawsuit, accusing the city of Stamford of allowing the house to become a fire trap by failing to properly oversee construction.

Richard Emery, attorney for Matthew Badger, confirmed that a notice of intent to sue the city was filed in early May. He said the city failed to ensure fire or smoke alarms were hooked up when children were living in a residence under construction. "They allowed a fire trap to exist, under their supervision, with children in it," Emery said. But a city official said recently that building inspectors last examined the work in July 2011 and did not find any problems.

Matthew Badger's daughters, 9-year-old Lily and 7-year-old twins Sarah and Grace, and their grandparents were killed by third degree burns and smoke inhalation during the fire at the girls' mother's house. Extensive home renovations were taking place during the daytime hours for several weeks up until the fire, which was started by a house guest who left a pile of hot fireplace ashes in a sack on the front porch. The ashes burned through the bag, and the house burned very quickly because of its wood structure as well as the construction materials being stored there.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 11, 2012

Movie Studio Burns Next to Homes. Is There Legal Liability if Residents Suffered Severe Burns or Smoke Inhalation?

In early May, a large building at the Atlanta studio complex of filmmaker Tyler Perry caught fire, sending flames into the night sky. The blaze began shortly before 9 p.m. on a weekday inside the studio and burned fully through the building's exterior surface.

"The building was all in flames," said one resident who lives in a high-rise apartment next door to the studio complex. Flames shot as high as nearby trees, which are about as high as a six-story building. "The building started popping," said the resident. "Whatever the fire was hitting was blowing up. There were plenty of sparks coming over here where we are."

Luckily, there were no reports of any injuries such as severe burns or smoke inhalation among studio employees or local residents. If there were, the studio might have legal liability for injuries suffered by employees or local residents.

More than 100 firefighters responded to the blaze, and they were able to limit the damage because the building is separated into sections. The cause of the four-alarm blaze and the amount of damage to the complex was not immediately known.

Tyler Perry, whose films include "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" and "Why Did I Get Married?", arrived at the complex as the fire raged and spoke with the local fire chief. His studio complex includes a 200,000-square-foot studio, five sound stages and a 400-seat theater in southwest Atlanta. It also includes a chapel, dining hall, gymnasium and a five-acre pond on the grounds. The complex also includes an art department, where sets for shows are designed.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 8, 2012

Broken Door Traps Family Inside Rental Apartment During Kitchen Fire. Does the Building Have Legal Liability?

On May 4, 2012, New York City police rescued five people, including a baby boy and another child, who were trapped in a smoky kitchen fire in Rockaway Beach, NY because they could not open a jammed apartment door.

A police sergeant on another call spotted a 21-year-old man leaning out of a smoke-filled sixth-floor window in a public housing project about 7 p.m. The man was yelling, "Help! There's children inside!"

The police officers and members of the city's Emergency Services Unit team went to the sixth-floor apartment, but found that the door lock was broken inside the door, so the door would not open. Trapped inside were a baby, a boy, their mom, and two visitors, as a kitchen fire raged. The blaze had begun as a grease fire in the kitchen, at the front of the apartment.

One policeman used a hydraulic drill to force the door open at the frame. Police eventually got the door to open, but by that time the apartment was thick with smoke as flames crawled up the walls of the kitchen, just to the left of the front door. Some of the officers began dousing the flames with pots of water, while others dropped to their hands and knees and went in search of the people trapped further inside.

"As we crawled, we did everything by feel--there was no visibility," said one officer. "We inhaled a lot of smoke. But we had to search the rooms. There was quite a bit of panic by the residents because it was very heavy smoke. We had to get out real quickly."

A baby boy, 19 months old, and an 8-year-old boy were treated for smoke inhalation at Jamaica Hospital. Two women, ages 19 and 22, were also treated at the same hospital. The 21-year-old man was also treated for a hand injury and smoke inhalation. Also, 11 cops were taken to Long Island Jewish Hospital for smoke inhalation but later released.

The police investigation into the fire will determine if the building was at fault for negligence because the door lock was broken and caused the door to be inoperable.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 3, 2012

Girl Suffers Severe Burns from Electrical Transformer. Is There Legal Liability for Her Injury?

In Vestavia Hills, Alabama this week, a six-year-old girl suffered second degree burns and third degree burns when she came in contact with an electrical transformer that powered the lighting at a large athletic complex.

The girl was at the athletic complex to watch her older brother play soccer. But she wandered away from the field and towards a wooden fence that separated the spectator areas from the electrical transformer. But because there were two planks missing from the wooden fence, the girl was able to wiggle through the fence and got too close to the transformer. After suffering a severe electrical shock, the girl was treated by a doctor who happened to be at the complex. She was then flown by Life Saver helicopter to Children's of Alabama Hospital. The girl was listed in fair condition a day after the incident.

The Vestavia Hills Mayor acknowledged that there were planks missing from the fence. The incident is under investigation, and it is possible that the family of girl could file a lawsuit claiming that the injuries the girl suffered were a result of negligence on the part of the city, which oversees the operation of the athletic complex.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 1, 2012

Basement Fire in House Due to Flammable Materials Causes Smoke Inhalation and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning


In Arlington Heights, IL last week, a man was burned in his own home and a firefighter was injured when he responded to the fire--a fire that started from careless use of flammable materials inside the home.

The man was able to escape his smoke-filled basement after chemical fumes exploded in his face. Moments later, firefighters pulled out of the building just before the first floor collapsed. "We got out just in time," said the Arlington Heights fire chief.

The homeowner was attempting to plug a hole in his basement with a flammable patching material when the nearby water heater turned on. The spark from the water heater ignited fumes created from the patching material. The man suffered first- and second-degree burns to his face from the ignited fumes but was able to escape along with his wife before firefighters showed up to the home.

The homeowner was treated at Northwest Community Hospital for his severe burns and for smoke inhalation. He was expected to spend the night at the hospital. The victim was lucky in that the home is located just two blocks from the hospital.

When firefighters entered the house, a firefighter going down the stairwell to the basement was thrown back by the force of an explosion from inside the basement, where the flammable materials ignited other items. Only seconds after the firefighters retreated from the home, the first floor collapsed into the basement. The firefighters would have been trapped and possibly killed had they still been in the house when the floor collapsed.

The firefighter who was injured during the explosion was taken to Northwest Community Hospital for a back injury, smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning. Fire officials said that a stairwell is a vulnerable spot for the firefighter to be, but it was the only way to reach the basement. "When there's a fire in the basement, the stairwell acts like a chimney, which is very dangerous," the fire chief said.

Firefighters battled the flames, which had reached the first and second floors through the walls, for about two hours until it was under control. The home sustained major damage; officials estimated the damage to the structure at more than $200,000.

The lesson from this story is that flammable materials and liquids should not be used or stored in a home. Also, it does not even require a fire to kill a person from cyanide poisoning--many chemicals give off this gas and can overwhelm a person, making them unconscious and unable to escape.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 1, 2012

Necrotizing Fasciitis and Third Degree Burns (Part I)

Necrotizing Fasciitis (NF) which is also known as "flesh eating bacteria" is a serious, potentially fatal infection involving the deep layers of the skin, the subcutaneous tissue and fascia. Necrotizing Fasciitis is a rare infection caused by bacteria in which 1 out of 4 people who get the infection die from it. Based on a surveillance from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that Necrotizing Fasciitis causes 10.000 to 15.000 infections each year in the United Stated, resulting in 2000 to 3000 deaths.

There are two types of necrotizing fasciitis, Type I describes a polymicrobial infection (caused by more than one type of bacteria), it is more common and usually occurs in immunocompromised patients such as patients with chronic renal failure or diabetus mellitus whereas Type II describes a monomicrobial infection (caused by one type of bacteria), this type is less common and most type II cases are caused by Group a streptococcus. many types of bacteria can cause necrotizing fasciitis Group A streptococcus, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringes, bacteriods, E coli and Pseudomonas.

Necrotizing fasciitis is characterized by rapid destruction of tissue caused by toxins released from these bacteria. These bacteria can spread from the site of infection at the skin to other areas including the bloodstream which may lead to septic shock and death therefore early diagnosis and aggressive treatment reduces the risk of complications.

The infection begins locally at the site of trauma to the skin which could be a major trauma such as the result of a third degree burn or surgery or a minor trauma such as the result of an acupuncture needle. Both the organisim that cause the infection and the patient susceptibility play a role in the development of the infection, Although there are risk factors for necrotizing fasciitis, many individuals are in a good health before getting the infection. Necrotizing fasciitis can affect any age but adults are the most affected by it, in children rare cases can occur as a complication of chickenpox.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

April 26, 2012

Propane Tank Explodes, Causes Severe Burns to One Person

In Coachella, CA this week, a driver suffered severe burns when propane tanks in the back of his pickup truck exploded while he waited with his family in a drive-through at a McDonald's restaurant.

It was about 1:45 p.m. on a Saturday when the man heard a hissing noise coming from one of two tanks. When he stepped into the back of his pickup to check on the leaking tank, he created static electricity that ignited the leaking gas and caused a gas explosion in both tanks.

The blast had so much force that it caused the roof of the truck to buckle and the tailgate to blow off, striking a vehicle behind it. The fire engulfed the truck, scorched part of the drive-through, and damaged the roof of the restaurant

The patrons of the restaurant were evacuated during the incident. The family in the truck was transported to a local area hospital after suffering from second degree burns, which were not life-threatening.

With summer coming up, there is a good lesson to be learned from this story. Propane tanks that are used for outdoor barbecues and grills can be dangerous if they are too old, if they are not filled up in a safe manner, or if they are not handled properly and gently. Severe burns can result from the rupture of even a small propane gas tank.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

April 24, 2012

Septic Shock and Third Degree Burns (part II)

Diagnosis of septic shock:

  • History and physical exam.
  • Observing characteristic symptoms.
  • Tests including blood tests, blood cultures ( may not become positive for several days after the blood has been taken), urine, sputum and spinal fluid test, organ function tests, X-ray, CT scan and others.

Treatment of septic shock:

  • Septic shock is a medical emergency, the treatment is started even before diagnosis through lab conformation.
  • Admission to the intensive care unit is essential.
  • Mechanical ventilation and oxygen administration.
  • Treatment of infection with antibiotics.
  • Intravenous fluids and medication administration to raise blood pressure and restore blood volume.
  • Support of organ dysfunction,
  • Surgery.

Out come of septic shock: the outcome depends on:

  • The age of the patient.
  • The underlying health condition of the patient.
  • The causative microorganism.
  • The number of organs that have failed as a result of the septic shock ( the lesser the better outcome).
  • The timing of the start of treatment (the sooner the better outcome) and the method of treatment.
Prevention of septic shock:

Although some causes can not be prevented, immediate treatment of bacterial infections, wounds or burns decrease the incidence of septic shock.

  • Take care of any infection that you get ( see wound infection) and contact your doctor or go to the emergency department if you develop symptoms of septic shock.
  • If you are taking care of a patient with burns in a hospital, contact the treating staff if you notice any symptom of septic shock on the patient.
  • If you are a care giver of a burned patient at home, contact the treating physician if you notice any symptoms of septic shock on the patient ( see burn wound care at home).
  • Due to the increase of elderly patients and the increase in the invasive medical procedures and devices along with the increase in immunocompromised patients in recent decades, the rate of death from septic shock has increased.

Kramer and Pollack, LLP; are VERY well versed in all aspects of representing burn injury victims. They have handled a multitude of burn injury cases ranging from hot water scald burns, to stove tipping cases to explosion cases. They are competent, experienced and very thorough

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

April 24, 2012

Huge Workplace Fire at Oil Company Creates Possibility of Dangerous Smoke Inhalation for Miles

In Pike Township, Ohio, last week, firefighters from dozens of departments needed six hours to get control of a massive fire at an oil company. The damage from the fire, smoke, and hazardous materials that leaked will require an extensive environmental cleanup in the area.

More than 50 agencies responded to the workplace fire. The blaze produced flames that shot 200 feet into the air, and black smoke could be seen several counties away. The clouds of smoke could even be seen on weather radar. The oil company supplies diesel fuel, heating oil, gasoline, racing fuel, bio-diesels and lubricants.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials at the scene determined that oil spilled into a tributary of Donnels Creek, which feeds into Mad River. Officials used vacuum equipment and other techniques to remove environmental contaminants. "We pushed hard to protect the environment," said a local fire chief. "We should have things back to normal in a couple days."

Public and private hazardous materials teams contained petroleum-based contaminants to no more than a quarter mile downstream, said another fire chief who is a member of the county's hazardous materials team.

Firefighters ramped up the use of water and foam to quench the flames after the fire spread throughout the entire facility. One firefighter was treated for a minor leg injury, and all 15 employees at the company's plant were accounted for. Homes in the surrounding area had minimal to no damage.

The fire started about 11 a.m. as the oil company's crews loaded a tanker truck. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but fire officials believe it ignited while workers transferred a fluid from one tank to another. It was not immediately known what type of fluid was being transferred.

After about 45 minutes, firefighters ordered first responders and company employees to get back as the blaze spread. Electric transformers exploded and electric lines fell on the scene a short time later, forcing firefighters back even more. And as the fire spread, the building began to collapse.

Before the fire spread, oil company employees were able to salvage all computer servers and some files. But once the flames began advancing and the possibility of severe burns and smoke inhalation became higher, people were told to evacuate.

At the time of the fire, the company said it only had lubricants at the site. However, a fire chief said the fire involved several petroleum products and fuel oil, including 55 gallon drums of petroleum product. There might be legal liability on the part of the company if any employees or local residents were injured in this incident, or afterwards as a result of environmental contamination.

Some oil was found in the stream near the facility. One official said that this tributary was "running orange-red." Veolia Environmental Services of Dayton, Ohio had booms in the tributary to try to stop the flow of the oil.

Michelle Simmons, environmental manager for the Dayton Water Department, said her department recommended that the Mad River intakes be closed overnight as a precaution, even though the Ohio EPA does not expect any impact to the Mad River surface water from runoff. Any possible runoff will have passed the water supply intakes by morning, she said.

The city of Springfield's water well taps an aquifer along Mad River. It also has a ridge line along it, creating almost a confined pond that provides more protection. Fortunately, "we are upstream of their problem," said one city official.

Runoff of contaminated surface water is a common concern in fighting fires near hazardous materials. "When you knock down a fire of any size, you're going to have the water you use picking up contaminants," said one fire chief.

The Ohio EPA likely will monitor the stream and other water sources for the foreseeable future. Residents near the fire have well water, and several horse farms in the area rely on the stream, so they need to monitor the quality of their water.

This chemical fire posed numerous risks. One fire chief said that firefighters have to be aware of numerous risks when fighting a fire of this magnitude. The chemicals can seep into the clothes and skin of first responders, contaminate the air, and when mixed with water can create a slurry that will create an environmental hazard as it seeps into streams and waterways. Some surrounding homes were evacuated and people with farm animals had been advised to keep them away.

Having enough water to keep flames under control was a challenge. Without hydrants, fire crews trucked water into the site, including from schools and a local water tower. Firefighters used 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of water a minute, said a fire chief.

Firefighters handling the blaze went to Springfield's distribution district and filled up tankers with water from the city's hydrants. As crews worked to keep a steady supply of water on hand, officials remained concerned about the potential for explosions. There were many large explosions during the first several hours of the fire -- a large boom followed by a ball of flame and a heat wave that spread across the area. Soot and ash rained down cross the scene, raising the possibility of dangerous smoke inhalation.

The Clark County Sheriff's Office advised people in the immediate area to close their windows and turn off air conditioning. The advisory was issued about 1 p.m. and lifted about 6 p.m.

Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said his agency worked closely with incident commanders on the scene, as well as the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency. Brian Huxtable, of the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency, advised people to avoid the smoke if possible but said as far as he knows, it's not a serious inhalation hazard if people stay far enough away. "It may cause coughing... Just try to avoid going outside in it." People with prior breathing problems like asthma would probably be affected most, he said.

The two air pollution monitors in Clark County picked up any smoke by mid-afternoon, probably due to their placement in relation to the smoke plume. Officials closed ventilation systems at local schools anyway.

Kelly Phares lives across from the scene of the fire, and said that "I heard some pops and literally my house shook," she said. "I'm concerned that something flammable could fly over, but we don't have any trees or anything (that would catch fire)." She said black debris from the fire is in her yard.

"I just happened to look outside and I thought it was getting cloudy," she said. "But then I saw (the fire) before the fire trucks got here. It's pretty scary."

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

April 19, 2012

Hydrogen Cyanide Plays a Large Role in Fire Deaths from Smoke Inhalation

A recent article in the trade publication EMS World discussed how the newer materials being used in home construction are actually making the homes more dangerous in the event of a house fire. And it is not the flames that make fires in new and recently built homes so dangerous, but rather it is the danger of smoke inhalation, which kills many more people in fires than do third degree burns.

With the number of smoke inhalation deaths between 5,000 and 10,000 each year in the U.S., experts looked at possible factors in those numbers being so high. And what they found is that because of lightweight construction materials and the increased use of synthetics in buildings and furnishings, a house fire is likely to reach "flashover" in a shorter period of time in the past. Reduced flashover time means there is a reduced time for firefighters to intervene, and it also means that potential smoke inhalation victims have much less time to escape from the fire. And the levels of toxic gases in the fire smoke also increase dramatically. All that adds up to increased potential for becoming incapacitated from smoke inhalation, and thus more possibility of death.

So it is important to know about the materials that were used to build the house or apartment you live in, so you can figure out how much time you would have to escape in case of a fire.

You see, fire smoke contains particulate matter as well as heated gases such as hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, ammonia and carbon dioxide. It also generates toxins including hydrogen sulfide and hydrogen cyanide.

Recent research from independent studies about smoke inhalation victims may very well change the treatment protocols. More evidence now suggests that victims of smoke inhalation also suffer significantly from cyanide poisoning. Cyanide kills quickly by disabling the blood's mechanism for carrying oxygen. Cyanide in a fire comes from natural substances such as wool, silk, cotton or paper. Synthetic substances, such as plastics and other polymers, also produce cyanide.

Two studies in different countries were designed to assess the role of cyanide in fire-related mortality. In both studies, blood samples were drawn from smoke inhalation victims as close as possible to the times of exposure to smoke.

In one study, blood was collected by the first-arriving medical squads to residential fires. A total of 109 fire victims were studied - 66 who survived and 43 who died. The data was compared against 114 control individuals - 40 with drug intoxication, 29 with carbon monoxide poisoning and 45 with major trauma. The study showed that in some victims who died, blood levels of cyanide were in the potentially lethal range while blood levels of carbon monoxide were in the non-toxic range.

These results were directly opposite the thinking that smoke inhalation victims die only from carbon monoxide. Instead, the study showed that cyanide and carbon monoxide were both important when determining mortality risk associated with smoke inhalation. Other results of the study showed that cyanide concentrations were directly related to the probability of death, and that cyanide poisoning may have been the leading cause of death in some fire victims, and that cyanide and carbon monoxide may have possibly helped the toxic effects of one another.

The other study collected blood within eight hours from victims exposed to smoke. The study compared 144 smoke inhalation victims who arrived alive over a two-year period at the University of Texas Health Science Center emergency room against 43 smoke inhalation victims who were dead on arrival at the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office during the same period.

The study found that the average blood cyanide concentrations in victims arriving alive at the emergency room were lower than concentrations in victims who were dead on arrival. The Dallas County study concluded that elevated cyanide concentrations were more present among smoke inhalation victims. It also concluded that cyanide concentrations were directly related to the probability of death, and cyanide poisoning may have been the leading cause of death over carbon monoxide poisoning.

And in a study using monkeys, researchers found that even sub-lethal concentrations of cyanide in a fire can still cause death because it rapidly brings on unconsciousness, thus preventing escape from the fire and permitting more exposure to fatal concentrations of other toxins.

As a result of these studies, it is easy to conclude that cyanide plays an important role in causing death and incapacitation in fires. Further, medical providers and firefighters should suspect cyanide poisoning in any person exposed to smoke from a fire in a closed space and any other smoke inhalation victims with soot in the mouth, an altered mental status and low blood pressure.

Obviously, the difference between life and death of a smoke inhalation victim is dependent upon the concentration of exposure and the time between exposure and treatment.

The current treatment of smoke inhalation victims is to administer pure oxygen and stabilize vital signs.

Some fire departments and ambulances carry cyanide antidotes kits specifically for smoke inhalation victims, called Cyanokit. By protocol, if a victim has soot in the nose or mouth and suffers an altered level of consciousness, the Cyanokit is used.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

April 18, 2012

Septic Shock and Third Degree Burns (part I)

One of the complications of severe burn injuries such as third degree burns is septic shock. Septic shock is a serious medical emergency that result from bacteremia ( bacteria in the bloodstream) leading to sepsis which is a systemic immune response to the bacterial toxins, this will lead to a dramatic drop in blood pressure leading to decrease tissue perfusion and decrease oxygen and nutrient supply to the tissues. Septic shock is the number one cause of death in intensive care units and the 13th most common cause of death in U.S (Parrillo, 1990 and US CDC). The mortality rate may reach up to 50%.

Septic shock can cause multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (multiple organ failure) including respiratory system failure and may cause death. Sepsis can be caused by other infectious microorganisms other than bacteria such as fungus and viruses. Septic shock occurs most often in children, elderly and immunocompromised individuals as their immune system is weakened and can't effectively with infection. Infection can be localized to a particular site but when the immune system is weakened or compromised, the infection can spread to the blood stream causing systemic infection, sepsis and septic shock.

Risk factors for septic shock may include:

  • Severe burns (second and third degree burns) and severe injuries.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Aids.
  • Advanced cancer.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Genitourinary tract infections and diseases.
  • Liver cirrhosis.
  • Infections of the abdomen.
  • Indwelling catheters that are kept in place for a long time.
  • Patients using chemotherapy.
  • Prolonged use of antibiotics.
  • Recent surgery, organ transplant or medical procedure.
  • Recent infection.
  • Recent use of certain steroid medications.
Symptoms of septic shock:

Septic shock can affect any organ of the body, symptoms may include:

  • High temperature (fever) > 100.4 degree F or low temperature (hypothermia) < 96.8 degree F, chills.
  • Rapid heart rate (tachycardia) > 90 beats per minute.
  • Palpitation (awareness of the heart beats).
  • High respiratory rate ( hyperventilation) > 20 breaths per minute.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Pale and cool body extremities.
  • Skin rash or discoloration.
  • Little or absent urine out put.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Dizziness, lethargy, agitation, disorientation, confusion or coma.
  • Organ failure such as respiratory failure.
  • Gangrene that may lead to amputation.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.