Most fire-related deaths are attributable to smoke inhalation rather than burns. The inhalation of fire smoke, which contains not only carbon monoxide but also a complex mixture of gases, seems to be the major cause of morbidity and mortality in fire victims, mainly in enclosed spaces. Cyanide gas exposure is quite common during smoke inhalation, and cyanide is present in the blood of fire victims in most cases and may play an important role in death by smoke inhalation. Cyanide poisoning may, however, be difficult to diagnose and treat. In these children, hydrogen cyanide seems to be a major source of concern, and the rapid administration of the antidote, hydroxocobalamin, may be critical for these children.
European experts recently met to formulate an algorithm for prehospital and hospital management of adult patients with acute cyanide poisoning. Subsequently, a group of European pediatric experts met to evaluate and adopt that algorithm for use in the pediatric population.