Toxic Smoke Inhalation is the Primary Cause of Death in House Fires

Fires are extremely dangerous and many simply do not realize how dangerous the mixture of smoke and in-home chemicals can be. Our first recommendation with any fire or smoke damage is to make sure you get somewhere safe. During an emergency, it is our reaction to stay and grab what is important to us. We cannot stress enough how important it is to us and your loved ones that you are safe and sound.

Today, our fire and smoke restoration team wants to share what you need to know to keep you and your family safe if you experience a fire. Exposure to smoke can cause extreme life-threatening injuries such as long-term neurological and lung damage. In many cases, these extreme health issues are caused by to exposure to contact irritants, like hydrogen chloride, which bring on death by causing the body’s cells to release fluids, causing massive edema.

At Restoration Now!, we recommend never entering a home during a fire. It is best to leave it to the professionals who understand the behavior and hazards first hand when dealing with fire, as they know how to protect themselves. See below for the chemicals you should look out for during a fire.

What you need to know about gases in your home after house fires

Gases generated by house fires are corrosive and irritating. When wood and other household materials burn, they generate gases that can bring on intense coughing and choking. These gases are extremely toxic, causing severe destruction of the lungs. Of course, the degradation of plastics forms toxins like phosgene, hydrogen chloride and hydrochloric acid, all of which can be deadly. When inhaled, coughing and gagging ensue, followed by swelling to the upper airways causing spasms and damage to the lungs. Once this occurs, fluid and soot can’t be removed from the lungs, allowing large quantities of fluid to then fill the lungs, which may result in respiratory failure.

Be cautious of carbon monoxide

Exposure to an active fire for longer than twenty minutes may push carbon monoxide concentrations past the lethal level. Nearly forty percent of those who have suffered serious carbon monoxide poisoning are inflicted with long-term neurological impairments. Why? Carbon monoxide is a triple threat, as it:

1) Inhibits oxygen from attaching to hemoglobin
2) Interrupts oxygen from being transferred to the cells from the hemoglobin
3) Prevents muscular cells from storing oxygen, primarily the muscles of the heart

While being aware of carbon monoxide could save your life, you also need to be familiar with other harmful and highly toxic threats such as cyanide. When cyanide is inhaled in a low oxygen setting, it becomes ten times more toxic, and can cause you to lose consciousness within thirty seconds. The combustion of a simple seat cushion in a closed room can produce enough cyanide to poison the entire room.

Signs of toxic exposure

Early signs of exposure to toxic smoke inhalation include confusion, anxiety, a rapid pulse, rapid breathing, dyspnea, a decrease in cognitive ability and hypotension. Remember, your body is built with a natural “flight or fight” instinct. When your pulse rapidly increases, you know there is something wrong and you must act. If you’ve experienced a house fire and show any signs or symptoms of toxic smoke inhalation, please seek medical advice immediately, either by a paramedic or health professional.

The atmosphere in a fire damaged home is often as toxic, if not more so, than during the active burning phases of the fire. Carbon monoxide levels are typically measured to identify the safety of house fire scenes, because toxic exposure can occur after the fire is extinguished. For this reason, oxygen masks should be worn to protect the wearer from cyanide, carbon monoxide and any particulates.

Contact Restoration Now! in Omaha at (402) 502-7277

Here is what our Omaha Restoration Now! team will do for you should you experience a house fire. First, our fire and smoke restoration team will secure the building and ensure its structural integrity. If needed, we will remove and store your belongings off-site during clean-up. Then, we will begin the cleaning process by removing debris, and saving as much of your property as we possibly can. Our restoration service is an all-in-one package, saving you costs on additional contractors.

If you have any questions about why Restoration Now! would be the right choice for fire and smoke damage restoration, please call us at (402) 502-7277 or contact us today. We’d love to help you in any way that we can.