Winter is fast approaching. Days and nights are getting colder.
With winter comes increased risk of smoke inhalation from house fires, often started by open fireplaces, wood stoves, cooking fires, electrical faults from overheated heaters, etc, (By the way, did you know that 50% of deaths from house fires result from smoke inhalation, not actual contact with fire?)
Knowing what to do when someone suffers from smoke inhalation can dramatically increase their chance of survival and recovery.
Smoke affects the body in many ways. When you breathe in smoke, both harmful gases and particles enter your lungs. These can inflame your lungs and airways, causing them to swell. This swelling can lead to blockages that prevent oxygen transferring into your bloodstream and we all know how vital oxygen is to keeping your body alive.
All these effects on your body from smoke getting into your lungs can lead to acute respiratory distress, which means your “breathing system” just isn’t able to function normally and that can lead to respiratory failure, which in turn leads to cardiac arrest and death.
So what should you do if you come across someone suffering smoke inhalation?
Well, if they are in a smoke-filled room, get them out of there as quickly as possible into fresh air, if it is safe to do so. Call 000 while you administer first aid.
Check their vital signs. Are they breathing normally? Are they coughing severely? Check their airways to see if they are clear. Are they unconscious? Do they have a pulse?
If they are conscious try to keep them calm and stop them from trying to “over-breathe” as this can lead to hyperventilation. If they are getting enough oxygen into their lungs stay with them till help arrives.
But if they go unconscious immediately start applying CPR, including the mouth-to-mouth breaths as it will be more important that you try to get as much oxygen into their lungs as possible.
If they go into full cardiac arrest, keep going with CPR if you don’t have a “defib” device. But if you do, then use that.
Keep working on them until medical help arrives. All ambulances have oxygen supplies which if quickly administered can help the person recover better from the smoke inhalation.
Of course if you don’t know how to do CPR, you can get trained with Results First Aid. Book now at https://www.resultsfirstaid.com/book