5 Ways Smoke From A Fire Can Be The Last Thing You'll Ever Breath
Pretty fair to say that the following is one of the most universally understood sayings in the world:
“If there is smoke there is fire.”
You use it to underline “high levels of fishyness”, that you take a suspicious somewhat serious, CSI. And everyone gets it. Think about it, you smell can something burning in the air most of times way before you even can see what it is. In fact, smoke is one of Nature’s best alarm systems...It smells unique, suspends well in air, travels light, and gets everyone’s in alert mode. Whether its the smoke of a 10 ounce beefburger dancing on the barbie, a tray of burning incriminating Wallstreet banker documents, or something more serious like the fires in Portugal last year and in Greece & California this year.
(Just a quick note here, fires in Cali are still raging as we speak. The fatality toll has already risen to 74 human lives. Absolutely no words. Tragedy. Warmest praises to the families.)
What Is Smoke?
Smoke = fire’s dirty air = a sort of “salad” of air-suspended particles and gases, all bi-products of a fire. Putting the whole system into equations is the work of Thermochemistry. And it is not a easy one when you talk about real-life fires…
“If There Is Fire There Is Probably Smoke To”
Each fire is different because it occurs in different places at different conditions. A wildfire in California is not the same as one in Portugal, Russia or Sweden. Vegetation and trees are different, land is different. In a wildfire for instance, the trees distance to one another defines mainly if fire propagation is made through radiant heat, convection heat or, even, conduction.
But this is not new to you. What might be news for your avid natural curiosity is that, each type of fire has more or less dangerous smoke. This, might get you out or one alive…
5 Ways Fire Smoke Can Take You Down
CO2 Poisening - Hypercapnica
Contrarily to what one would expect, this doesn’t necessarily happen because of the CO2 in the smoke. You know that CO2 is inert. Surprisingly the CO2 that is most likely to kill you in the event of a fire, is, actually the one you produce.
You see, when you experience a long smoke exposure without a mask, your lung alveolly will start looking like layered cake with dark glaze of smoke particles. The layer of particle smoke it pretty serious and will shut-down your lungs to gas exchange.
When that happens, the carbohemoglobine in your red blood cells, can’t dump away the CO2 out of your blood stream efficiently, its internal gas pressure (concentration) rises and it can lead to death. Generally CO2 Pressures greater than 10 kPa or 75 mmHg can lead to severe effects and death. It can happen in both wildfires, building fires and others.
Best prevention: simple certified smoke mask;
Toxic Gas Poisoning
The ugliest form of smoke fire. The dirt of the dirt. This stuff is hazardous, toxic, you name it. It occurs mainly on man made spaces, where man made objects can be let to burn, .e.g, TV, Carpet, Crude Oil, plastic bags.
The most infamous is Carbon-Monoxide intoxication. You can’t see, smell or taste it, it it has a high diffusion coefficient passing will through the lungs. Just in the US alone, on a yearly basis, about 20’000 people get internalized from it and 400 loose their lives.
Best prevention: smoke mask with O2 extra supply in the car or at home;
The phenomena can happen in two different trajectories
Low O2 Air Concentration - when the surrounding air is so saturated with crap that the oxygen intake through unassisted breathing is not enough a source of the gas. This happens mainly on closed space fires and not as much in wildfires.
Best prevention: smoke mask with O2 external source;
Smoke Lung Shut Down - this is similar to the cause of hypercapnia described above. Lungs fill up with smoke, smoke deposits block O2 diffusion through alveolli, you know where it can end. This is common is most about every fire.
Best prevention: simple certified smoke mask;
Last not least. Ok, it wont put you directly on a hospital bed breading through a tube but keep reading. One of the most commonly experienced reactions to prolonged smoke exposure to the eye is burning, followed by intense involuntary tearing and a significant lost of sight.
The most natural reaction is disorientation and panic which can lead a person to take bad decisions when there is no room for such.
Ergo, eye smoke, panic, poor decision making hability.
Best prevention: fire goggle in your car or home.
No need to develop much. Smoking cigarettes is the number 1 smoke killer in the world obviously. And, by far the most press covered, so no need to write about what you know. Nonetheless it had to feature on this list.
Best prevention: don’t smoke!!!
Keep your self safe by investing in prevention. Check out our Faraday Kit and be prepared for the worst…
Smoke is the most frequent killer in a fire event worldwide.