Some people try to commit suicide with a fire extinguisher. The results depend on the manner of use and the contents of the fire extinguisher.


Feature of Fire Extinguisher




inert gas. liquid or dry powder


dry chemical

acid-base disorder, chemical burns


If the nozzle is placed in the mouth, then a pressurized extinguisher can cause:

(1) rupture of the esophagus

(2) barotrauma to the lungs

(3) pneumomediastinum (via Macklin effect)

(4) pneumothorax


Discharge of carbon dioxide or dry chemical powder into the lungs can cause asphyxiation.


Chemical powders used to suppress fires:

(1) bicarbonates: potassium, sodium

(2) phosphates: ammonium dihydrogen

(3) chloride: potassium

(4) sulphate: ammonium


Chemical derangements may include:

(1) hypernatremia (sodium bicarbonate)

(2) metabolic alkalosis (bicarbonate)

(3) metabolic acidosis (phosphate)

(4) hyperphosphatemia

(5) hypocalcemia

(6) hyperkalemia

(7) hypomagnesemia


Other chemical effects:

(1) phosphate nephropathy with acute renal failure

(2) ventricular tachycardia

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