As fire breaks out, there are more dangers than just the heat that result in burns. Toxic gases and smoke account for more numbers in fire related deaths. Given that the toxic gases are in the smoke, it makes smoke inhalation the biggest threat when fire breaks out. Smoke overwhelms an individual quickly incapacitating them from making the required exit while depriving them of the needed oxygen. Synthetic substances and products found at home burnup producing dangerous substances. The resulting smoke is even more dangerous. There are three elements present in the smoke that make it a dangerous element when fire breaks out.
Particles in the smoke are caused by burnt, unburnt as well as partially burnt substances which lodge in the lungs and affect body organs.
As the heat comes up, it releases the moisture in different objects causing a lot of vapor like droplets in the air. If they are toxic they can poison the body organs when inhaled while corroding the skin when absorbed.
There are several toxic gases in the smoke depending on the different chemicals and synthetic materials in the home. The most common one is carbon monoxide which comes as a result of depletion of oxygen as the fire burns. It replaces oxygen in the blood and is deadly even in small quantities. There is also hydrogen cyanide which comes from the burning of plastics and it hampers cellular respiration. Finally, there is phosgene which is formed from the burning of different household products like vinyl. It can cause a wide range of effects from itchy eyes and sore throats to pulmonary edema and death when in high quantities.
Smoke Inhalation Risk
The risk of deaths by smoke inhalation spreads with every minute. Chances of survival decrease by 7% to 10 % every minute that someone is trapped in the burning building. Given that most of the time the fire department will arrive not earlier than 9 minutes after they’re called, the chance that the person will survive by this time is usually about 5%. This is where having fire sprinklers prove to be of great advantage. Fire sprinklers provide immediate fire response at the point of fire.
This fast response works to reduce the density of the smoke. The big particles are washed away from the smoke while toxic substances like acids are diluted. Much of the smoke is absorbed by the water particles which reduces its risk for incapacitating the victims. This fast response not only allows the house occupants to move out but also negates the risk of fire damage and deaths by extinguishing the fire. The risk of smoke inhalation that comes from reduced oxygen levels is also removed since the water from fire sprinkler systems contains oxygen molecules with bind the gases like carbon monoxide preventing their poisoning action.
Further damage to property and other substances like items in the store and food products is prevented. With the fire out and the harmful impact of heat and smoke removed or reduced, these products do not get affected or spoilt.