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Fresher Fears: Fire

With Fresher’s week around the corner, we are going to discuss some fresher’s fears. To start with, let's talk about fires. Students move to halls and some with limited to no knowledge of cooking. After a night of dancing and drinking, a student might decide that they are the next master chef and get cracking in the kitchen. This can easily go downhill. Fires can break out very quickly with some serious consequences.

So after a night out, treat yourself to a takeaway or something that doesn’t require cooking, or try and hold out until morning!

So let's discuss the ways fire affects the body. The different types of burns are categorised on how deep your skin has been damaged. You can have first, second, third, or fourth-degree burns. The higher the number, the more severe the burn.

First-degree burns only affect the outer layer of skin, this is the epidermis. Sunburn is an example of a first-degree burn, the skin would be red and hot.

Second-degree burns travel to the next layer of skin, the dermis. The skin would be red, and swollen with blisters occurring. This is pretty painful.

Third-degree burns destroy the epidermis and dermis completely. Instead of turning the skin red, it turns a blackish-brown colour. This type of burn is not as painful as the nerve endings have been burned off so you wouldn't be able to feel much pain.

Fourth-degree burns are the most severe and are potentially life-threatening. All the layers of the skin are destroyed as well as the underlying bones, tendons, and muscles.

Most of these burns can be successfully treated with antibiotics, removing the damaged skin (debriding), and sometimes a skin graft is required to help with the healing process.

But what happens when the fire is so severe and a person can’t escape?

When a person is caught in a fire with no way of escaping. It is a slow, painful and gruesome death. Smoke can restrict oxygen entering the body, which inhibits the respiratory system. A person can suffocate to death before the flames kill them. The fire will tear through all the layers of the skin, which will then cause the soft tissues to contract, and the fat and muscles start to shrink. The muscles contract due to burning and this causes the joints to flex. The body then takes on a ‘boxing pose’, this was seen in a lot of the victims of Pompeii. The internal organs will also shrink and shut down. If a person is unfortunate enough to still be alive, they can die from hypovolemia, the loss of blood. Severe burns trigger an inflammatory response and the capillaries burst open, causing a person to bleed out.

Although painful to begin with, once to fire has torn through the layers of the skin, the victim does now feel a thing as the nerve endings have been destroyed. It is an extremely horrid way to die, so let’s hope you think twice about cooking after a night out!

Important advice!

When moving into halls, ask if all the electrical appliances have passed a recent safety check. Make yourself aware of where the fire extinguishers and fire blankets are located and become familiar with the fire escape routes. Ensure that your smoke alarms are working correctly, if in any doubt report this to your accommodation manager. Better to be safe than sorry!

Get your tickets to The Post Mortem Live here!


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