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Impact of Smoke Damage on Pets & Children

Published by 911 Restoration Miami on March 17, 2022 in category: Uncategorized

Why are pets and children more at risk of smoke damage? Read on and find out!Smoke poisoning is common in fires and causes more damage. Pets and children are more at risk of it because they are vulnerable. They cannot escape immediately and are unaware of how to react correctly. Also, their respiratory systems are weak and are more likely to be affected by toxic smoke. Here’s our explanation of the impact of smoke on pets and children.

Why Are Pets and Children More at Risk of Smoke Damage?

Children are more at risk of smoke damage because they breathe more times per minute than adults. Their respiratory systems are still developing and they inhale more air volume per pound of their body size, making them more vulnerable to smoke damage. As far as pets are concerned, they are much more sensitive than humans to vapors and fumes—some more than others. The smaller the animal, the more it is in danger, and certain species in particular, such as birds.

Thus, pets and children are the first victims of smoke inhalation in case of a fire. They must be removed from exposure to smoke as quickly as possible and be oxygenated at a rate of 15 l/min as quickly as possible, and be examined even if their improvement is rapid. The improvement does not exclude a secondary aggravation in particular respiratory and neurological, which requires medical care.

Depending on the smoke inhalation syndrome severity, these vulnerable groups can benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy, assisted ventilation, administration of the cyanide antidote hydroxocobalamin, or cardio-circulatory resuscitation in intensive care.

Impact of Smoke on Pets and Children

The fire causes a significant drop in oxygen in the air and real poisoning by producing numerous toxic gases and particles during combustion, particularly hydrogen cyanide (HCN) and carbon monoxide (CO).

These two toxins cause hypoxia, i.e., a lack of oxygen for the body’s cells and the first target organ is the brain. Their toxic action causes depression and respiratory disorders: first acceleration, then slowing down breathing. Coma, convulsions and respiratory arrest can then occur. Let’s discuss this further!

Decreased Oxygen and Inhalation of Soot

The fraction of inspiratory oxygen (FIO2) strongly conditions the functioning capacities of the brain and, in particular, alertness. During a fire, the combustion of materials consumes oxygen. In a closed space such as an apartment, its fall can be extremely rapid, not exceeding a few minutes. Thus going from an FIO2 of 21% of the ambient air to 17% will lead to motor incoordination, likely preventing the vulnerable from escaping or reacting correctly. With the drop in O², a depression of the central nervous system sets in, leading to coma and serious cardiovascular disorders.

A drop in oxygen level is also caused by the inhalation of soot in the airways, obstructing them and preventing gas exchange in the lungs.

Soot is aerosol formed mainly from carbon, heavy hydrocarbons and polycyclic nitrogenous compounds. It is also hot, causing local burns by thermal transfer, and is loaded with acidic products that cause irritation and desquamation of the bronchial mucosa. They are deposited in a film on all the bronchi, bronchioles, and alveoli, obstructing the respiratory tree.

Impact of Toxic Gases on Pets and Children

The toxic gases released during fires are classified into two main categories:

  • asphyxiating gases (cyanides, hydrogen sulfide and carbon oxides)
  • irritating gases (chlorine and its derivatives, aldehydes and nitrogen derivatives)

Asphyxiating gases cause depression of the central nervous system while the irritating gases can cause caustic lesions of the respiratory mucous membranes.

Exposure to fires poses a host of risks to pets and children, ranging from the drop in oxygen in the ambient atmosphere, the inhalation of hot soot with respiratory burns and those of irritating and asphyxiating gases which cause lung damage, disorders of oxygen transport and cell poisoning by cyanides.

It should never be taken lightly, especially in pets, children, and the elderly weakened by respiratory pathologies and pre-existing cardiac pathologies.

Fire smoke poisoning should be suspected, particularly in a closed space, when there is soot in the pharynx or the sputum if there are burns in the nose and oropharynx. A neurological alteration such as confusion, agitation, even transient loss of consciousness is also a strong indication of smoke poisoning. Dysphonia and laryngitis of thermal or chemical irritant origin are also serious warning signs, especially in the absence of soot.

The irritating action of toxic gases and hydrocarbon particles released by the fire leads to inflammation of the respiratory mucosa and can also cause pulmonary edema. In addition, the heat of the fumes can cause burns to the upper airways.

During exposure to fire fumes, one must be particularly vigilant for the following symptoms in pets and childnre: depression, impaired consciousness and breathing. All these signs can be the consequence of the toxicity of the gases produced.

The immediate step should be the removal of soot by washing. Then, see a doctor or a veterinarian as soon as possible to avoid any problems. If the airways are very irritated, there may be complications of bronchopneumonia that will require antibiotic treatment. The earlier the reoxygenation, the better the prognosis.

Fire and smoke damage restoration companies may be the best way to clean and restore your property and personal belongings. If you’re a resident of Miami and looking for a fire damage restoration company near you, contact 911 Restoration of Miami.

The experts are 911 Restoration of Miami are IICRC certified and trained in removing smoke and soot from your property after a fire. Call (305) 280-0755 or visit their website for more information!


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