How are smoke inhalation injuries prevented?

Updated: Oct 15, 2021
  • Author: Keith A Lafferty, MD; Chief Editor: Joe Alcock, MD, MS  more...
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Primary prevention with functioning fire and smoke alarms and family education for fire hazards is critical to help avoid fire injuries. Fire prevention should be viewed as the primary means to avoid inhalation injury

Smoke detectors reduce the risk of death by about 60% in all subgroups of people. [32] This finding stands in contrast to past data that suggested that these early warning devices may not be effective in populations that have difficulty responding to an alarm in a timely manner, such as children, older adults, persons with disabilities, or those impaired by alcohol or other drugs. These new data clearly reinforce the point that all homes should have a working smoke detector in every room.

Although smoke detectors have been widely adopted by the public— 93% of US households have one in place—it is estimated that 30-45% of these devices are not operational, usually because the battery has died or has been removed. DiGuiseppi et al have shown that merely giving out free smoke alarms in a deprived, multiethnic, urban community did not reduce injuries related to fire, because few of the alarms were installed or properly maintained. [29]

In the military setting, the mission-oriented protective posture (MOPP) gear ensemble provides adequate protection against all smokes. In the industrial setting, guidelines have been established for the protection of the worker as well as any person who may come in contact with toxic smokes. Aim preventive efforts at decreasing the concentration of the smoke and the time of exposure and recognizing underlying health problems that may be exacerbated by exposure to toxic smokes.

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