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Smoke Inhalation

Smoke Inhalation Overview

The number one cause of death related to fires is smoke inhalation. An estimated 50%-80% of fire deaths are the result of smoke inhalation injuries rather than burns.

Smoke inhalation occurs when you breathe in the products of combustion during a fire. Combustion results from the rapid breakdown of a substance by heat (more commonly called burning). Smoke is a mixture of heated particles and gases. It is impossible to predict the exact composition of smoke produced by a fire. The products being burned, the temperature of the fire, and the amount of oxygen available to the fire all make a difference in the type of smoke produced.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/11/2015
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Picture of wildfires in southern California.

Wildfire Smoke - Gets In Your Lungs

Medical Author: Benjamin C. Wedro, MD, FAAEM
Medical Editors: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Every summer the risk for forest fires are greater in climates with a lot of underbrush and tree growth. Often people have just minutes to grab a few items before they are forced to evacuate their home. The number of people evacuated and the number of homes destroyed are hard to comprehend at times. But as the fires die down, the television cameras will move to the next story, and the stories from wildefires will be replaced by the next catastrophe.

In the medical world, the fallout from the fires may be exactly that?

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Smoke Inhalation »

Smoke inhalation (SI) was described as early as the first century AD, when Pliny reported the execution of prisoners by exposure to the smoke of greenwood fires.

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