What injuries may result from an explosion?

Explosions are serious situations that can cause injuries ranging from minor to critical. It is not always easy to determine the extent of injuries immediately following the blast either as some may take time to appear.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain that there are four levels of injuries from an explosion: primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary.


Primary level injuries come from the wave of pressure hitting the body. The resulting injuries are likely to be to the ear, lungs and gastrointestinal tract. The most common fatal injury is blast lung. Other possible injuries include a concussion and eye rupture.


Secondary level injuries are a result of flying debris. They can affect any part of the body and cause a range of injuries with varying severity levels. An injury in this category may include a concussion due to getting hit in the head or a broken bone due to something flying into your leg.


Tertiary injuries occur when the blast throws you and can affect any part of your body. They often cause traumatic injuries, such as brain injuries, and may result in amputations. The injury can occur from the impact of the blast wave against your body or from what occurs after you land on the ground.


Quaternary injuries are those that do not fit into another category. This includes burns and long-term effects, such as COPD and asthma. It often relates to breathing in the smoke and fumes from the explosion. It can include complications from injuries that may fit into other categories.

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