Health
Fire safety

Smoke inhalation is more dangerous than fire

SVP GMC Mirella Vitale
Mirella Vitale
21 February 2019

Did you know, that during a fire people are more likely to killed by smoke than burns.

Firefighter, fire, smoke

When people fear fire, they typically imagine suffering from intense heat and burns. While these are certainly well founded dangers to consider, the majority of fire-related deaths and injuries can actually be attributed to the inhalation of smoke1.

Toxic smoke will obscure vision, irritate eyes and lungs and prevent you from breathing. The effects will be loss of mental capacity, disorientation, panic and eventually unconsciousness and death. In fact, statistics show that smoke causes more than half of building fire casualties in the UK2.

The truth is, all combustible materials produce toxic smoke when they burn. The volume and toxicity of smoke emitted depends on the material burning, the amount of oxygen available, and the length of time it burns.

As a fire spreads and consumes more and more furniture, as well as other contents of a building, the smoke it produces increases exponentially. In addition, there is a high risk that the soil and dust around a burn site are subsequently contaminated by burned debris from the building.

Combustible building materials, including those on the building exterior, can also contribute to the magnitude of flames and fumes if they are left unprotected. This can threaten occupants in other parts of the building, as well as neighbouring residents, which is becoming an increasing challenge as more people move to urban environments and cities.

As such, limiting and containing the spread of fire is essential for increasing fire safety in buildings and reducing the amount of toxic smoke. But what can we do to achieve this?

The answer: use non-combustible materials, such as stone wool insulation.

Stone wool can help to contain fires locally and limit the spread.. This is thanks to its non-combustible nature, and its ability to resist temperatures above 1,000ºC.

What this means is that stone wool insulation can help confine a fire to a certain section of the building. Not only does this minimise damages a the amount of toxic smoke produced, it also reduces the money and time required for repairs and replacements.

At the same time, less smoke is likely to mean less physical harm to the inhabitants of a building, along with less obstructed escape routes.

After all, it is impossible to guarantee that a fire will never occur. Therefore, it is important to ensure that measures are in place to prevent fire and smoke from spreading throughout a building. By utilising stone wool insulation, you can reduce risks to the lives of others, from the negative effects of toxic smoke, in the event of a fire.

 

Source(s):

1. “Fire Safety and Burns--Injury Statistics and Incidence Rates” Stanford Children's Health, 2019. 

2. Department for local communities and government, Fire Statistics Great Britain 2013 – 2015, January 2015 

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