Sudden Death in Sauna Due to Fatal Burns: A Case Report

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Sudden death during or after sauna bathing is a rare event. When occurring accidentally, it is often caused or contributed by consumption of ethanol. To accidentally burn to death because of hot air is highly uncommon without some contributing factor that lowers the person’s consciousness. Hot air burns have been reported to develop in 20 to 60 minutes. We present a case of sudden death of a healthy man with rare and extensive hot air burns that developed in less than 10 minutes in the sauna. Ethanol was not a contributing factor. Substantial injuries were found at the autopsy, both external and internal, for instance, small hemorrhages in the stomach mucosa, indicating a heavy antemortem stress reaction. The most probable reason for the extensive scalds was concluded to be, apart from the high temperature, the high degree of relative humidity in the sauna.

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