Posted on Burn Injury Blog / Blog / Burns, Smoke and Ash

Is Smoke And Ash Inhalation A Form of Catastrophic Burn Injury?


Over the last decade, forest fires and guide prescribed fires in California have exponentially grown. They have become fiercer and stronger at the same time. With nature’s contribution to the Santa Ana winds blowing, these wildfires have raged across the state leaving structural destruction and vegetation devastation in their way.

It’s not only California but the guide prescribed fires, pole creek fire, Southern forests fires, and more in Utah and other states that have affected the country.

However, these wildfires have also caused chaos among residents. People evacuate their homes leaving everything behind without knowing if they’ll ever see their property again.

Some are lucky, while others lose everything to the fire from physical property damage to emotional trauma, losing their loved ones, and more. Breathing in these fires can be harmful to humans affecting their way of life.

Have You Experienced a Traumatic Event Including a Fire? Call Ehline Law

  • How Does Smoke and Ash Cause Smoke Inhalation Injuries?
  • Symptoms of Smoke Inhalation Injuries
  • Can You Get Burn Injuries from Breathing Smoke Ash?
  • National Fire Protection Association Fire Statistics
  • Contact Ehline Law for Legal Advice

Besides inhalation-related wildfires, there have been outbreaks of structural fires within the counties and cities of California. This causes severe levels of pollution, affecting business owners, home renters, and other groups of people. If you’ve gotten hurt in a fire or are suffering breathing difficulties from smoke ash inhalation due to someone else’s negligence, contact Ehline Law and our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers immediately as you might be eligible for compensation.

How Does Smoke and Ash Cause Smoke Inhalation Injuries?

A human body runs on a lot of things but the most important element is oxygen. As we breathe oxygen, it enters our lungs and from there it makes its way to the bloodstream and into the red blood cells. This is where it gets consumed for normal bodily functions.

However, when smoke inhalation occurs, then the carbon monoxide or the carbon dioxide particles enter the lungs replacing the oxygen particles in the red blood cells. This causes smoke inhalation injuries affecting the respiratory system at first and then making its way to the organs mainly causing slow brain damage. Smoke ash inhalation can happen from wildfires, home fires, cigarette smoke, pollution, and more.

Smoke and ash inhalation often comes with catastrophic burn injuries. The three types of damage that happen when breathing in smoke and ash. These are temperature damage from the heat in the smoke, the damage from harmful chemicals in the smoke, and the damage from the ash settling in the respiratory tract affecting the nasal passages, bronchi, alveoli, and more.

Symptoms of Smoke Inhalation Injuries

Unlike natural gas that does not have any odor or color making it difficult to detect, thick clouds of smoke and ash are visible as fire ravages which makes it easier for individuals to avoid. However, those stuck in places or waiting for fire services to get them out of a burning building are the ones that get smoke ash inhalation-related injuries.

Here are some smoke inhalation symptoms you can experience if you inhale too much smoke or ash:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Coughing
  • Headache
  • Red eyes
  • Burning
  • Skin becomes burned
  • And more

Before a hospital can start treating a smoke injury victim, they must evaluate the patient’s condition and for that, the patient must undergo certain tests like chest ct scan, complete blood count, pulmonary functioning testing, and more.

Medical treatment for smoke inhalation victims is often complicated and requires considerable recovery time before the patient restores their breathing to acceptable levels and gets back to their life. Treatments are expensive and the financial loss from smoke injuries and social loss due to post-traumatic stress disorder are high which can definitely affect your life further if you’re paying from your own pocket.

Smoke and ash inhalation often comes with catastrophic burn injuries to the children, elderly, and individuals with respiratory problems like asthma.

Can You Get Burn Injuries from Breathing Smoke Ash?

When a victim experiences catastrophic burn injuries, they also end up having inhalation injuries as these come together. More than 500 wildfires have happened in California and the level of destruction it caused has been undeniable with many homes and properties destroyed while some injured and a few losing their lives to it.

The fast blowing winds in the state do not help the situation but further worsen it as it increases the spread rate not giving enough time for residents to evacuate with their belongings or livestock. Property owners that try to safeguard their property or livestock before evacuating often underestimate the rate of the fire receiving burn injuries in the process. Those running through excessive heat to evacuate and avoid the fire end up breathing smoke ash and get a catastrophic burn injury while doing so.

Even after evacuation alerts get issued, some residents refuse to leave their homes and property behind willing to accept the consequences of the wildfire and smoke inhalation damages.

National Fire Protection Association Fire Statistics

In 2019, the United States saw more than 1.3 million fires causing over 3,700 deaths and 16,000 got burn injuries affecting their respiratory health. It was also reported that the fires in the states caused more than $14.8 billion in damages. More than 70% of the injuries and deaths were a result of home fires suggesting that the surviving victims might be undergoing smoke and ash injuries too besides the catastrophic burn injuries due to breathing smoke ash that is flaming hot. The resulting respiratory distress from heat and toxic chemicals can cause more than just chemical irritation, it can kill. (Can convert to sulfur dioxide and even hydrogen cyanide, causing lung disease and chemical asphyxiation).

Those victims with worse respiratory system conditions are the ones that are sleeping when the fire breaks giving them less time to react and get to safety from the smoke produced. This is why Federal government agencies and local state laws are creating awareness on installing smoke detectors. The idea is to provide more respiratory protection by giving enough warning time to sleeping residents, minimizing the damages.

Contact Ehline Law for Legal Advice

We are expert Los Angeles smoke inhalation injury lawyers. Our personal injury law firm and its attentive, caring staff are ready today to offer you free legal advice right over the phone.

You shouldn’t be the one to shoulder the financial burden from inhalation injuries and our lawyers are here to help determine claims, file a lawsuit, and get you the compensation you need to pay for the medical bills. We understand injuries can put a victim in a dark place but our lawyers have the right experience to get your life back on track.

Contact us for more information about forming an attorney-client relationship so you can seek compensation before the expiration of the statute of limitations. If you’ve got a smoke inhalation injury and it was not your fault, contact us at (213) 596-9642.

Citations

https://ameriburn.org/who-we-are/media/burn-incidence-fact-sheet/

https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools/US-Fire-Problem/Fire-loss-in-the-United-States

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