Causes of Death.—1. Shock.—Severe pain from extensive burns causes
shock to the nervous system and produces a feeble pulse, pale and cold skin
and collapse, resulting in death
instantaneously or within twenty-
four to forty-eight hours. In chil-
dren it may lead to stupor and insensi-
bility deepening into coma and death
within forty-eight hours. In order to
avoid the suggestion that coma was
due to the drug it is advisable not to
administer opium in any form for the
alleviation of pain.
Shock may also occur from fright
before the individual is affected by
burns, if his heart is weak or diseased.
If death does not occur from shock,
it may subsequently occur from toxae-
mia due to the absorption of toxic
products from the injured tissues in
the burned area. In this condition
the temperature rises perhaps to
104 °F., the pulse rate increases in
frequency, and restlessness super-
venes and passes into unconsciousness
2. Suffocation.—Persons removed
from houses destroyed by fire are
often found dead from suffocation due
to the inhalation of smoke, carbon-
dioxide and carbon-monoxide—the
products of combustion. In such a
case burns found on the body are
On or about the 12th January 1917, a
lunatic in the asylum at Agra was suffocated
in bed from smoke produced by the quilt
with which he had covered his face catch-
ing fire and the extensive superficial burns
found on the body appeared to have been
caused after death.
Between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. on the 6th
January 1922, some dacoits broke into the
house of one Kusher Lodh, aged 50 years,
and, finding him and his son, 20 years old,
sleeping in a room, chained it from outside.
On leaving the house they set fire to rubbish
lying at the door with the result that the
father and the son died in the room. The
post-mortem examination of both the bodies
afforded clear evidence of death from suffocation. The larynx and trachea in both were
congested with a deposit of soot along the interior. The lungs were congested and
exuded frothy blood on section. The brain vessels were found engorged with blood.
There was general venous engorgement. Externally the bodies showed a few small
superficial burns on the face, thighs and legs with singeing of the hair of the head.
3. Accidents or Injuries.—Death may result from an accident occurring
in an attempt to escape from a burning house or from injuries inflicted by
walls and timbers falling on the body.
4. Inflammation of serous membranes and internal organs, such as
meningitis, peritonitis, oedema glottidis, pleurisy, bronchitis, broncho-pneu-
monia, pneumonia, enteritis and perforating ulcer of the duodenum.
Fig. 62.—Extensive burns from
clothes catching fire.