Upon detonation, a high explosive undergoes an almost instantaneous conversion into a gas at extremely high temperature and pressure. Rapidly, these high pressure gases expand generating a marked pressure wave known as the blast wave, which moves outward in every direction resulting into an abrupt shattering blow on everything in the immediate surroundings (Bailey and Murray, 1989). The blast wave inflicts on individuals in the surroundings injuries that are known as blast injuries, which this paper discusses.
The blast wave is an intense rise in pressure that the detonation of a high explosive creates. In the ambient environment, the pressure rises almost instantly followed by an exponential decay and may have a brief reduced-barometric pressure period. The peak pressure as well as the period that the initial positive blast phase covers is dependent on the distance from the detonation centre (blast epicentre) and the explosion size. Energy transfer from the blast wave to bodies or objects in its path takes place causing damage (Elsayed, 2007). Below is a diagram showing a typical pressure/ blast wave.
One may characterize explosive devices on the basis of their source. The bureau of Firearms, Tobacco and Alcohol classifies explosives into improvised and manufactured. While an improvised explosive denotes utilization of weapons fabricated in small quantities, devices used outside of their intended purposes, or alternative materials; a manufactured explosive entails a standard, quality tested and mass produced weapon. It is important to note that if somebody with training in explosives designs an ‘improvised’ explosive device, it may be professional in form and its operation may be somewhat lethal. In fact, high quality improvised explosive devices may bear a resemblance to military weapons both in appearance and effect (Bailey and Murray, 1989).
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