Every year, about 6,000 people die every year from fire related injuries. Over half of these deaths are the result of inhalation burn injuries. While external burns caused by a fire are easily detectable, internal injuries, like inhalation burns, are less apparent and harder to detect. In many cases, injuries to the lungs caused by smoke inhalation might not become present until 24 to 36 hours after exposure. The risk of inhalation burn injuries increases in confined spaces and during long durations of exposure to smoke or burning substances that might emit poisons. Some pre-existing respiratory diseases also increase this risk.
How Do Inhalation Burn Injuries Occur?
Inhalation damage can occur in 3 ways:
- Heat causes thermal damage
- Gases cause asphyxiation
- Irritation of the lungs or airways
Carbon monoxide (CO) gas is a by-product of combustion. A fire can take a large amount of oxygen from the air, sometimes leaving only 10% to 13%. Small amounts of carbon monoxide can aggravate the situation and cause the blood to leave the lungs saturated with oxyhaemoglobin and carboxyhaemoglobin. Products that might give off CO poisoning include:
- Charcoal Burners
- Kerosene & Propane Engines
- Automobile Exhaust
Combustion of plastics, polyurethane, wool, silk, nylon, nitriles, rubber, and paper products can lead to cyanide production. Only about 20% to 40% of the population carries the gene needed to smell hydrogen cyanide which is more toxic than CO and can cause immediate respiratory arrest.
Signs of Inhalation Burn Injuries
Inhalation injuries are among the most devastating types of burn trauma a person can experience. Signs of an inhalation burn injury include:
- Facial Burns
- Singed Nasal Hairs
- Redness, Swelling, or Mouth-Blisters
- Cyanosis of the Skin
- Hoarse Throat
- Impaired State of Mental or Sensory Perception
If you or a loved one has suffered an inhalation burn injury, seek legal guidance immediately. At the Denver Trial Lawyers ®, we have represented thousands of clients in personal injury cases for 13 + years. Our lawyers spare no resource when it comes to investigating and preparing your case.
Contact our team of Denver burn injury attorneys, or call (303) 647-9990 for your free case evaluation.