Articles Posted in Smoke Inhalation Injury

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Smoke inhalation injuries are caused by inhalation or exposure to hot gaseous products of combustion, this can cause serious respiratory complications, and it is the primary cause of death in victims with indoor fires.

In these injuries diagnosis is not always easy and symptoms may not appear until 24-48 hours after the exposure, that’s why it is important to immediately evaluate any person with suspected smoke inhalation.

Children under the age of 11 and adults over the age of 70 are most vulnerable to the effect of smoke inhalation; firefighters are at a great risk for smoke inhalation because of their occupation.

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In mid June, hundreds of frightened residents were evacuated from a multi-story apartment building when smoke filled their apartments from a simple stove fire that grew out of control. The fire spread so quickly that flames leaped up three floors of the large building in the town of Hempstead, N.Y.

Witnesses recalled seeing residents of the Fulton Manor apartment building with their heads out open windows, screaming for help, before firefighters came to their aid in high-rise ladder buckets. The firefighters pulled more than a dozen people out of their windows to safety. Some of the residents were becoming so overcome by smoke that they were yelling that they were going to jump from their windows.

About 30 people were treated at hospitals for smoke inhalation after they were evacuated from the seven-story building. The cause of the fire was a stove malfunction in an apartment on the second floor. The fire spread quickly to the walls of that apartment, and created a lot of smoke containing deadly carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.

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In eastern Pennsylvania last week, a machine battery at a production plant overheated and ruptured, and then began leaking acid onto other batteries that were nearby. This caused the other batteries to melt and release poisonous smoke that filled the entire building.

Although all employees evacuated safely, a number of them later in that week experienced breathing problems, coughing, headaches and other illness. Doctors who treated these employees said that in most cases, the lungs and throat are mildly inflamed from the smoke inhalation (the smoke contains hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide in it, both of which are potentially deadly in humans). The doctors’ suggested remedy: Drink lots of water and take Advil or another ibuprofen product to reduce the inflammation in the body. It was fortunate that no employees touched the leaking batteries, as it is very easy to suffer third degree burns from battery acid.

Although there will probably not be a lawsuit filed against the company for legal liability due to negligence–batteries do sometimes overheat and leak–this story is a good reminder for anyone who work in an industrial facility: make sure the facility has working smoke detectors, and also know where the emergency exits are so you can escape quickly even if visibility is bad due to a smoke condition. Also, be sure to get your face down to the floor in order to avoid smoke inhalation–when there is smoke or fire, the cleanest air to breathe is down at floor level.

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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.”

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”