First Aid for a Smoke Victim: What You Need to Know

The first thing you should know is that smoke inhalation can be fatal. If someone is exposed to a fire or an emergency situation, they’re at risk of having second- and third-degree burns. They may also suffer from inhalation injuries. Therefore, they need first aid immediately.

The body’s natural response to inhaling smoke is to protect itself. It does this by closing off the airways. This reduces the amount of available oxygen. Smoke inhalation may also cause burns in areas like the nose, mouth, throat, lungs, and eyes. 

The information below gives you the steps you should follow to treat this life-threatening emergency.

Get the victim out of the smoke

The first thing you should do when someone is exposed to smoke is to move them to a place with fresh air. Therefore, they need to get out of harm’s way as soon as possible. 

Think Safety: Don’t put yourself in harm’s way!

If you cannot avoid the smoke, cover the victim’s mouth and nose with a clean cloth. You can gain further details by taking a first aid course. Exposure to smoke may also lead to exposure to other chemicals. Therefore, knowing how to give aid is important.

Stay calm and assess the situation

When giving first aid for any reason, it is highly important to remain calm. Assess the situation. If multiple fires are occurring, you need to make sure you’re away from any further threat.

Is the victim unconscious? If so, check to see if they’re breathing. If they are awake but unresponsive, they are still breathing. Otherwise, if they’re unconscious but not breathing, you’ll need to give CPR.

Therefore, along with first aid training, you should also take a CPR course. Both courses are vital if you want to be fully prepared for an emergency.

Gently sweep away any debris

Sweep away any debris that may have fallen on the victim. Therefore, brush away pieces of wood, stones, or other flammable materials.

Stay with the victim until emergency services arrive. If the victim’s breathing is under control, you’ll need to assess their wounds.

Call emergency services

Call emergency services right away if the victim has breathed in a good deal of smoke.

Once emergency responders arrive, give them all the details. This includes info about other fires that may still be burning.

Treat cold injuries first

In cold weather, you need to treat cold injuries like frostbite first.The injuries occur because of freezing conditions. They may also develop from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures and rain. 

You might keep the injury warm by warming it with your hand or covering it with a blanket.

Treat heat injuries

Burns on hands or feet are serious, as the injury can limit further use. Start by applying gentle pressure to the wound with a clean cloth. Use sterile water, if available, to clean the wound. This will help remove any debris that are lodged in the wound. It will also prevent the growth of bacteria. Finally, use gauze or cotton to flush the injury.

Look for signs of breathing problems 

While burns to the skin are an immediate concern, you also want to check the person’s breathing. This is why it makes sense to take a first aid course and CPR training together. Both forms of training will allow you to use your skills fully and increase the rates of survival.

In-Pulse CPR offers classes in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Tennessee



Donna Ryan
Donna Ryan is a writer and editor with extensive writing and editing experience. She has covered subjects, such as health and fitness, home and gardening, technology, travel, business, and general news content. She is also an award-winning poet. You can send her a message by visiting