facebook Eskenazi Health Provides Helpful Tips for Burn Prevention

Outdoor fall burning season creates increased risk of severe injuries

Indianapolis, Sept. 21, 2017 – With the fall season kicking off tomorrow, many of us are looking forward to traveling to traditional fall festivals, preparing for Halloween, watching the leaves change color, appreciating a backyard bonfire and enjoying the familiar smell of burning leaves.

While those activities provide a clear sign that fall has arrived, Eskenazi Health warns that the improper use of gasoline, kerosene and other accelerants can turn a pleasant seasonal get-together into a potentially disastrous situation.

In conjunction with 2017 National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 8-14), 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.

Many Hoosiers are injured in their own backyards while hosting bonfires, cookouts and campfires, along with burning leaves, trash and brush. 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 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.

“If people want to get a large fire going, they will often use an accelerant. But gasoline can vaporize and explode, and the injuries can be absolutely devastating,” said Dr. Rajiv Sood, medical director of the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center and professor of plastic surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "Our burn center has seen patients with severe injuries resulting from burning brush and garbage, which is a totally preventable injury.”

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 treats more than 350 inpatients each year in addition to 4,200 outpatient visits with patients from across the country. The Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center is regarded as one of the finest and most progressive burn centers in the United States and is located above the Michael & Susan Smith Emergency Department and Smith Level I Shock Trauma Center at Eskenazi Health. For more information about the unit or burn prevention, please call 317.880.6862.


For nearly 160 years, Eskenazi Health has provided high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered health care to the residents of Marion County and Central Indiana. Accredited by The Joint Commission, nationally recognized programs include a Level I trauma center, regional burn center, comprehensive senior care program, women’s and children’s services, teen and adolescent care programs, Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health, and a network of primary care sites located throughout the neighborhoods of Indianapolis known as Eskenazi Health Center. In partnership with the Regenstrief Institute, Eskenazi Health conducts groundbreaking work that informs health information technology around the globe. Eskenazi Health also serves as the sponsoring hospital for Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services. As the public hospital division of the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County (HHC), Eskenazi Health partners with the Indiana University School of Medicine whose physicians provide a comprehensive range of primary and specialty care services. In December 2013, Eskenazi Health moved to its new main campus and opened the brand new Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital. The new modern and efficient facility is Central Indiana’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold health care campus and offers unique features like a one-of-a-kind sky farm and extensive art collection. The Eskenazi Health Foundation was the recipient of $40 million gift from Indianapolis couple Sidney and Lois Eskenazi to assist with building the brand new hospital facilities. HHC recognized this generous gift by naming the new hospital and health system in the Eskenazis’ honor.

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