Believe it or not, most deaths and injuries in structure fires aren’t caused as a result of exposure to flames. Where there’s fire there’s smoke, and most casualties are a result of smoke inhalation or chemical exposure than burns. That makes smoke your No. 1 enemy in the event of a fire in your home.
That’s why Monitronics offers 24-hour fire monitoring. Even in a minor house fire, there is usually enough smoke to trigger an alarm that will warn occupants to get out of the house. Statistics have shown that when used together, smoke alarms and 24-hour monitoring are most effective at saving lives.
Here is a quick look at why smoke is so dangerous during a house fire, and why monitoring from Monitronics is a valuable way to help avoid tragedy.
Less Oxygen, More Poisonous Gas
Fire needs oxygen to burn. In a house fire, flames immediately begin consuming valuable oxygen as soon as combustion starts. The hotter and faster the fire burns, the more oxygen it consumes. What takes its place is a toxic cloud of smoke, gases, chemicals and particulates could be inhaled by anyone in the structure. This presents a number of dangers:
- Loss of Consciousness – A lack of oxygen can quickly cause a victim to become unconscious. People can be quickly overcome by smoke before they ever know where the fire is taking place.
- Particulates – Many of the particulates in smoke are small enough that they can penetrate the human respiratory system and lodge in the lungs. These same particulates can severely irritate the eyes and digestive tract.
- Toxicity – Many house fires release toxic chemicals into the air as furniture and other flammable materials burn. Occupants in the building are at risk of poisoning from common toxins like carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and phosgene.
Much of the damage caused by smoke is the direct result of inhalation. But unfortunately, the danger does not stop there. There is also the matter of absorption to consider.
Absorbing Chemicals through the Skin
The skin is a lot more porous than people realize. In a house fire, chemical droplets too fine to be noticed by the naked eye can quickly be absorbed through the skin. Like toxins that are inhaled through the lungs, any toxins absorbed through the skin can do a tremendous amount of damage. Some of the damage is short-term and temporary, while other damage can be permanent or even fatal.
The amount of damage done depends on what is known as diffusion. Human skin is part of the immune system, which has built-in suppression against foreign bodies. One of the ways the skin deals with contaminants is to diffuse them across a large portion of skin much the same way steam from a kettle disperses into the air. In the event of fire, however, there can be a significantly larger volume of contaminants than the skin can deal with. This is why firefighters are covered from head to toe in protective gear; they want no skin exposure.
Fire can be deadly, but smoke is incredibly dangerous. Installation of smoke detectors can go a long way toward keeping your property and loved ones safe. You can go one step further by considering a basic security system from Monitronics that includes fire monitoring. Our system can detect smoke and alert you to get out quickly, before it becomes life-threatening.