View Full Version : Need a person to survive a fire, but die from injuries/smoke inhalation a few days later.

01-30-2011, 01:41 AM
What sort of injuries could a person sustain in a fire and survive only to die from complications from the fire after a few days have gone by? Could smoke inhaltion damage the lungs enough to leave him alive, but unable to survive for long?

01-30-2011, 02:01 AM
it could. have a look here for some good info on smoke inhalation http://www.emedicinehealth.com/smoke_inhalation/article_em.htm

burns can lead to multiple problems, from dehydration to decreased immunity leading to infection.

Drachen Jager
01-30-2011, 02:21 AM
More likely burns. Most burn victims who will eventually die survive for a while but die due to infection days later. It is next to impossible to stop infections when large portions of the outer layers of skin are burned away.

01-30-2011, 02:26 AM
Smoke inhalation serious enough to kill you will nearly always result in you being removed from the fire unconscious and never regaining consciousness. I don't know if that's a problem. Caveat on this is that if you have a compromised breathing already from something like lung cancer, COPD, or other lung/heart problem, you can be conscious after a fire, although in breathing distress, and die from complications down the road.

Burns don't really happen in fires as a cause of death as much as people think, but dying from burns is often a long, slow process.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

01-30-2011, 05:41 AM
Could smoke inhaltion damage the lungs enough to leave him alive, but unable to survive for long?

Yes, someone can die of asphyxiation over a very long period of time, several days, and retain consciousness for initial portion. If lung tissue was damaged from smoke inhalation it could be serious enough to kill someone from asphyxiation over a period of time. Smoke inhalation can also result in the burning of the lungs (even if the skin isn't burnt), in addition to the smoke itself damaging to the lung tissue. Meaning someone could die from septic shock or necrosis of the lung tissue several days after this fire of yours.

01-30-2011, 08:04 AM
thanks for the info everyone. I see there are lots of fun ways for my character to snuff it!

01-30-2011, 08:46 AM

If you want someone to die in a hospital, sepsis is your best bet. Burns can get infected, easy, especially if they're 3rd or 4th degree.

Velma deSelby Bowen
01-30-2011, 08:55 AM
Sepsis from the burns. My mother set herself on fire in 2001, getting second- and third-degree burns over 30% of her body, and sepsis set in within a couple of days, followed by kidney failure and mini-strokes. It took her a couple of years to die from the combination, but if the sepsis hadn't been caught as quickly as it was, it would have been sooner.

(By the way, if someone you know catches fire. don't let them talk you into letting them take a cool bath: TAKE THEM TO THE HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY. My brother listened to my mother, and as a result, she didn't go to the hospital for several hours. [My family is not known for common sense around health issues... the stories I could tell....])

02-01-2011, 02:46 AM
Should you need yet more reasons to die, crush injuries (from falling timbers in the fire, etc.) can kick in after relatively minor injuries. That is, your character can get an arm trapped in the rubble for a several hours, valiantly manage to free him/herself, stagger around pretty well for a couple of days, and then have the breakdown of muscle tissue overwhelm the kidneys.

However, my favorite would be the sepsis nominee above. It's hard not to admire the swarming might of bacteria.

Slate article on crush syndrome (http://www.slate.com/id/2242214/)

02-03-2011, 07:29 PM
Recently, my fire crew saw a video on the effects of Carbon Monoxide. The point was to convince us we should ALWAYS wear an SCBA when doing overhaul.

The video mentioned that levels of CO could be immediately fatal, or, if they were more moderate, could kill us later, by causing heart failure, etc. I don't remember the details, but you might try googling the long term effects of CO as it seemed similar to a concussion (seem fine now, but two days later you're dead anyway kind of thing.).

02-03-2011, 07:32 PM
thanks for all the replies!