Indianapolis, Oct. 4, 2021 – With fall festivals and Halloween celebrations on the horizon, many who love this time of year look forward to sitting around bonfires during a cool evening and enjoying the pleasant aroma of burning leaves. While this time of year offers so much to look forward to, the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health warns of potential dangers if proven safety precautions are not adhered to.

Serious wounds may result from improper and irresponsible use of gasoline, kerosene and other accelerants that can turn a pleasant seasonal get-together into a potentially disastrous situation.

In conjunction with 2021 National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 3-9), doctors and nurses at the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health urge residents of Central Indiana to use caution when starting any outdoor fire and to never use accelerants to fuel them.

The National Fire Protection Association claims that fires are a leading cause of home deaths and the risks associated with fire are increased with the negligent use of accelerants leading to possible combustion and serious injuries. Thousands of people, including Hoosiers, are injured or killed each year in fires involving gasoline alone.

The Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center hopes to decrease the number of burn injuries by educating the community about the dangers of open flames. The burn center has already treated patients burned while involved in multiple activities, such as lighting fireworks, this past summer.

“Using dangerous accelerants while burning brush, leaves and garbage is a dangerous practice which could result in serious injuries or even death,” said Brett Hartman, D.O., medical director of the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health. “Unfortunately, individuals sometimes get in too big of a hurry to create a larger fire and discover they don’t know what they’re doing and those careless mistakes too often result in catastrophic injuries.”

Accelerants such as propane, kerosene, turpentine, ethanol, methanol, gasoline or other extremely flammable liquids should never be added to a fire.

If propane is used to fuel a grill, the container should be used strictly according to specific directions and be stored safely. Be sure to use caution when lighting a charcoal grill that requires an accelerant to light coals. After the coals have been soaked in the starter fluid, wait a few minutes before lighting them to allow the vapors to dissipate. Use a protective mitt when lighting, and keep children away. Never add more starter fluid once the coals have been lit.

Accelerants in your garage or home should be stored in well-ventilated areas to allow fumes to dissipate. Fumes and flammable liquids can instantly catch fire when ignited by a spark or flame. Gasoline should only be stored in small quantities in labeled gasoline-approved containers away from the house and with a fire extinguisher nearby.

Prior to starting an outdoor fire, check local ordinances to see what materials can and cannot be burned in the area.  We also suggest following these safety tips:

  • Only burn dry material.
  • Keep outdoor fires away from buildings, fences, telephone wires and trees.
  • Avoid lighting fires on windy or dry days.
  • Keep a bucket of water or garden hose nearby.
  • Keep children and pets at a safe distance.
  • Put out the fire completely with water before leaving it.

If a fire becomes out of control or someone sustains an injury from fire, call 911 immediately.

Verified by the American College of Surgeons and the American Burn Association, the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center is regarded as one of the finest and most progressive burn centers in the United States. For more information on burn prevention, please call the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center’s burn prevention hotline at 1.866.339.BURN.

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