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Why smoke is deadlier than fire

Here’s Why Smoke Is More Deadly than Fire

In this article, I will explain why smoke is more deadly than fire and the factors that exacerbate this.

It takes less time to die from smoke inhalation than it does from burns. In the UK, people are more likely to die if they have been overcome by gas or smoke in a house fire than if they have been burned. This makes it even more important to protect yourself and your family from fire and smoke effects.

Why is smoke more dangerous than fire?

Fire and smoke are a deadly duo which together outstrip most other causes of death. However, smoke has more tricks up its sleeve, with some of the deadliest elements released in a fire being gases—most commonly carbon monoxide, but also hydrogen cyanide, sulphur dioxide and others. A person about to become trapped in fire will rapidly begin to experience choking and nausea—and the situation becomes much more serious once they enter the ‘Second Breath’ phase where their initial intake of air is replaced by dangerous gases.

What’s in the smoke?

The smoke from a typical fire is also highly toxic, partly because of the products of combustion but also as a result of pollutants and chemicals that create indoor air pollution. In addition to carbon dioxide, the products of combustion in smoke include carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide. Some people might say that these quantities are small and not worth worrying about, yet the volume of smoke produced by a fire can be enormous.

Smoke inhalation can cause a number of problems including lung damage from burns, oxygen depletion and carbon monoxide poisoning. The effects of smoke depend upon the type and severity of smoke particles inhaled and how long the victim is exposed. Also, whether the person has suffered any injuries before being exposed to smoke.

How can I stay safe in a fire?

Staying safe in a fire may be a challenging task but it’s not impossible. If you know how to protect yourself and follow the correct procedures, there will be no reason for you to be caught up in a fire.

  • Create  A Fire safety Plan

    • Plan multiple exit routes.
    • Plan for any vulnerable, elderly or disabled people.
    • Plan a safe room if you might be stuck above ground floor levels
    • For more detail check out this great article from the Devon & Somerset Fire Services about creating an escape plan 
  • Install Smoke and Heat Alarms

    A smoke alarm is an electronic device designed to detect and warn occupants of the presence of smoke in a residential dwelling. When smoke enters a building from outside, it rises because it is less dense than the surrounding air. As the amount of smoke increases, more particles float into the detector\’s sensing chamber. The London Fire Brigade have pulled together some advice on getting the right fire detection system, which you can read here. Or you can watch the video below.

Key Takeaway: 

  • Smoke inhalation can happen quickly and can be deadly.
  • Install smoke and heat detectors
  • Create a plan to get out of your home quickly or into a safe room. 

If you want to find out more about our fire risk assessments you can find more information here  or you can contact us directly.