emergency, fire

emergency, fire

A situation in which fire may cause death or severe injury. A person whose clothing catches fire should be rolled in a rug or blanket to smother the flames. If an individual is outdoors, rolling in the dirt will smother flames. See: burn; gas; smoke inhalation injury; transportation of the injured

If the victim is trapped in a burning building, the occupied room should have the doors and windows closed to prevent cross-breezes from increasing the fire. The window should be opened only if the victim is to be rescued through it. Doors should be opened only a few inches to ascertain the possibility of escape. A burst of flame or hot air can push the door in and asphyxiate anyone in the room. Wet cloths or towels should be held over the mouth and nostrils to keep out smoke and gases.


In attempting to escape from an area filled with smoke or fire, it is important to crawl rather than walk or run upright. The heat several feet above floor level may be lethal due to superheated gases, but at floor level, it may be cool enough to tolerate. Even when crawling, it is important to proceed as quickly as possible. Carbon monoxide is present in higher concentration at floor level because it is heavier than air.
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners
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