The aftermath of an explosion can be chaotic and frightening, but it is important for those in the surrounding area to try and remain as calm as possible. The aftermath of an explosion can involve physical and mental injury to the health of those involved, restoration of affected buildings, and pollution of the surrounding environment. Consequently, there is a range of serious effects which you can expect in the aftermath of an explosion.
Why do explosions occur?
Explosions occur due to three different types of explosive substances, which can be: Chemical, Mechanical and Nuclear.
Chemical Explosions: Chemical explosions occur due to exothermic reactions, allowing the rapid expansion of gas which forms a shock wave. There are two types of chemical explosives:
High-order Explosives: High-order explosives such as dynamite create huge, destructive shock waves, which can have serious consequences.
Low-order Explosives: Low-order explosives, such as gunpowder, create an explosion but lack the over-pressurization wave which high-order explosives create.
Mechanical Explosions: A mechanical explosive requires a physical reaction to occur within a high-pressure gas in a container, which eventually expands beyond the limit of the container's tensile strength, resulting in the container bursting due to the explosion.
Nuclear Explosions: A nuclear explosion occurs due to either a fusion or fission reaction, which releases a large amount of heat and gas very quickly. Fusion and fission reactions are used within nuclear bombs, which are created with the intention to create vast amounts of destruction.
What happens in the aftermath of an explosion?
Sadly, those who are close to an explosion can suffer very serious injuries, which require immediate medical attention and are often fatal. The severity of injuries suffered by those in the surrounding area can change due to a number of factors, including the size of the explosion, the distance away from the explosion and the amount of material involved.
Typically, injuries from explosions include:
- Blast lung
- Abdominal haemorrhage and perforation
- Bowel perforation
- Eye rupture
- Eye penetration
- Closed and open brain injury
- Crush injuries
- Breathing difficulties
- Traumatic amputation
The impact on the mental health of those who were involved is also severe. There could be post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety moving forward.
Reconstruction of damaged buildings
The buildings which have been blown up or damaged as a result will need to be accessed, to ensure there are no people remaining beneath the rubble. Moreover, there will then be plans to clear up the destruction and a decision as to whether the affected buildings will be rebuilt. This will affect human and economic activity massively. The aftermath of an explosion creates an extensive restoration project.
An explosion will certainly have an impact on the surrounding environment due to the harmful chemicals, materials, gases and fumes which are involved.
The surrounding atmosphere, soil and vegetation is affected by the chemicals, fumes and substances which are released during an explosion. The United States Army have estimated that over 1.2 million tonnes of soil have been contaminated with explosives on training grounds alone.
On the 21st September 2001, shortly after the devastation of 9/11 in New York, an explosion occurred at the AZF chemical factory in Toulouse, France. The AZF plant experienced an explosion in hangar 221, where ammonium nitrate was stored. It has been reported that the explosion measured 3.4 on the Richter scale and was heard up to 50 miles away. Sadly, 31 people died and thousands were injured. The cause of the explosion at the AZF factory has been contested. Some suggest it was a terrorist attack, some suggest it was due to a chemical reaction between two chemical products at the plant.
The aftermath of explosions can be frightening for those involved and therefore it is important to understand the range of effects that explosions can have upon individuals and the environment.