Smoke inhalation is mostly a concern for wood fireplaces and stove or pellet burning stoves. Smoke inhalation is often caused by smoke from a residential fire, or smoke from a fireplace that does not properly vent outside. Smoke inhalation can cause harm one of three ways: heat damage (burns in and around the mouth, nose and throat), tissue irritation (tissue damage of the throat and lungs) and asphyxiation (lack of oxygen, resulting in suffocation). Symptoms of smoke inhalation include coughing, shortness of breath, hoarseness (sore throat), noisy breathing, headache and irritated red eyes. Symptoms may appear 24 hours after exposure to smoke. Seek medical attention if the symptoms are severe or get worse.
If your fireplace produces a lot of smoke and it does not vent outside ensure you open all of the windows and completely extinguish the fire. Improper venting is often caused by blocked chimneys, leaking chimney flues, closed dampers or cracked heat exchangers. To determine the cause have your fireplace and chimney inspected by a certified chimney sweep. If the cause of smoke is a residential fire get outside immediately and call the fire department or emergency service. Smoke can occur and spread quickly so it is essential to have several smoke detectors throughout the house.