You are here: Home > Your safety > Fire safety > How does smoke kill? >

How does smoke kill?

Direct video link:

If a fire starts in your home, you probably won’t burn to death.

You’re more likely to be killed by the toxic fumes.

The chemicals carried in the smoke will disorientate you, so you won’t know where you are. Then they’ll go to work on your body, suffocating you, poisoning you and destroying internal tissues.

The only good news is that by the time the flames reach you, you won’t feel a thing.

How does it happen?

Fire smoke contains a lethal cocktail of carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and hydrogen sulphide which damages cells and stops the supply of oxygen to the body.

Sulphur dioxide, ammonia, hydrogen chloride and chlorine fumes cause the airways to swell and fill with mucus.

If you’re asleep, the poisonous gases in the fire smoke will numb your senses and put you into a deeper sleep.

The good news... that this doesn’t have to happen. Kent Fire and Rescue Service offers a wide range of advice and services to everyone in Kent and Medway, all free of charge.

We also have special support packages for people with health issues and sensory impairment, so whatever your situation, we can make you safer at home.

For more information, call us on 0800 923 7000, or email

Are you more vulnerable to fire in your home?

Site tools


Add This


Objective: We are committed to working with businesses to support the local economy