Articles Posted in Smoke Inhalation Injury

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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.

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On April 12, Newark Mayor Cory Booker saved a neighbor from a blazing house fire — a dramatic rescue that he admitted was absolutely terrifying.

The dramatic rescue began at around 9:30 p.m. that night, when Booker and two officers from the Mayor’s security team spotted a fire at a house on Hawthorne Avenue belonging to Booker’s neighbor. They went over to investigate.

On the first floor, they found a couple, who told them that the woman’s daughter and a man were trapped upstairs. Booker and Newark Detective Alex Rodriguez then went to the top of the stairs, where the home’s kitchen had erupted in flames.

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Since the start of April, there have been more than a dozen deaths around the United States from smoke inhalation during fires in houses and other buildings. This is a clear indication that smoke from fire is even more dangerous to people than the flames themselves. Why? Because it only takes one or two breaths of smoke to cause a person to become unconscious, and become unable to escape a burning building. And just a few more breaths of the hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide in the smoke can kill a person.

Here is a grim example from just last week: In Northeastern Pennsylvania, a four-month-old girl was killed by smoke inhalation in a fast-moving fire in a trailer home. The county coroner said that the girl died of carbon monoxide poisoning from the smoke, although all other occupants got out safely or were rescued by neighbors. The infant was not able to be rescued in time from her bassinet. Three boys and a woman were treated at Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton and released, while a man was admitted in stable condition.

The local fire chief stated that the trailer was engulfed in flames when he arrived. He and a state police fire marshal said the cause is unknown, but the fire is not believed to be suspicious.

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On April 1, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced an investigation into the cause of fires in the Chevrolet Cruze, General Motors’ best-selling passenger car. According to complaints made to NHTSA, there have been at least two incidents in which the small sedan has caught fire while in motion. What’s more, General Motors confirmed that it is researching warranty claims involving fires for at least 19 Cruzes. NHTSA is also investigating incidents of fire in the Jeep Wrangler sport-utility vehicle.

In one incident, a driver said that his 2011 Cruze Eco – a model with a special factory-installed set of options that increases the sedan’s fuel economy – caught fire when the car had about 11,000 miles on the odometer.

The driver first complained of a slight smoke smell whenever he brought the vehicle to a stop. In one instance, flames appeared out of the hood and the car was completely engulfed with fire within five minutes. The owners said that a warning light appeared on the dashboard only after the first flames appeared.

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In mid-January, BMW began a recall of 89,000 Mini Coopers in the United States for the same sort of problem that led to earlier recalls of BMW and Rolls-Royce luxury cars.

The problem, in all the recalls, is that a computer circuit board controlling a turbocharger cooling system can fail. The result: an overheating and smoldering water pump and, in some cases, a fire in the engine compartment.

The turbo cooling system in the Mini Coopers operates differently from that in the BMW and Rolls-Royce cars, according to a letter BMW sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nevertheless, some turbocharged Mini cars have caught fire in the same way the larger cars did.

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In late February, two Prince George’s County, MD firefighters were critically injured when a wind-fueled fireball blew through a burning house. They will survive, but the two members of the Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department will face long, painful recoveries.

Ethan Sorrell, 21, sustained respiratory burns “through his esophagus and down to his lungs,” and Kevin O’Toole, 22, suffered second and third degree burns over 40 percent of his body when a basement fire suddenly turned a small house into something resembling a blast furnace.

O’Toole underwent skin graft surgery shortly after, and will be in the burn unit at the Washington Hospital Center for six weeks. He then faces six months of rehabilitation beyond that.

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Last week, a small fire at a high-rise hotel in the main tourist district of Bangkok, Thailand caused the upper floors to become filled with smoke, killing at least one foreign tourist and injuring 23 others.

When firefighters arrived at the 15-story Grand Park Avenue Bangkok hotel last Thursday evening, they saw people screaming for help from the upper floors. The smoke had risen so quickly and had gotten so thick that “people were panicked and some of them wanted to jump from windows. We had to tell them to wait and we sent cranes in to help,” said a local fire chief.

One foreign woman who suffered from smoke inhalation was unconscious when taken from the building and later died at a Bangkok hospital. It can take just two or three breaths of smoky air that contains carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide to cause permanent injury to the brain, heart and lungs, and even death.

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Several weeks back, a few unattended candles sparked a fire that caused about $130,000 in damage and caused more than 40 people to be evacuated from an apartment building in Seattle, Washington.

The fire started at just before 4 a.m., according to the Seattle Fire Department. Firefighters responding to the scene had to use a ladder to rescue a woman who had already become trapped in her second floor unit. Once she was rescued, it took them another 30 minutes to knock down the fire.

The evacuated residents waited inside a city bus as the firefighters fought the blaze. By about 6 a.m., all but two of them were able to return to their homes. Those two residents, a man and a woman, were being helped by American Red Cross.

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In mid-February, the following product safety recall was voluntarily conducted by Bosch Security Systems of Fairport, NY, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Consumers should stop using this product immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

The name of the Bosch product is the Fire Alarm Control Panel. The fire alarm panel is a locking red wall box with dimensions of 22.7 inches high by 14.5 inches wide by 4.3 inches deep. The status, date and time can be seen through a glass screen on the panel door. The word BOSCH is printed on the right corner of the panel and the model number FPA-1000-UL is printed on the bottom left below the glass screen. The alarm panels featured software versions 1.10, 1.11 and 1.12, which can be determined by installers. These units were designed to be used in small to medium-sized facilities, in both public and residential buildings. These were sold at authorized distributors and installers nationwide from May 2009 through October 2011. They were manufactured in China.

About 330 units are being recalled because when the “alarm verification” feature of the system is turned on, the control panel could fail to sound an alarm if a fire occurs. In addition, on systems with 50 or more reporting stations, a delay in sounding an alarm and reporting a fire might occur if the loop for the alarm system is broken.

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Here is a story that shows clearly why, if a fire breaks out in your home, you should get out immediately and call 911 to report the fire, rather than stay inside and try to extinguish the fire yourself. In short: Unforeseen dangers can arise, and they can kill you.

In mid-February in San Francisco, investigators who reviewed last year’s house fire in the Diamond Heights district that killed two city firefighters issued a set of safety recommendations aimed at preventing a similar tragedy in the future.

A sudden flare-up in the burning house, fueled by oxygen coming in from a broken window, caused the deaths of the two firefighters. The men died even though they did not commit any procedural errors, San Francisco fire officials said.