Recent injuries a reminder of the need for precautions when using gasoline

Summer is in full swing and injuries from gasoline and other accelerants are on the rise. The University of Michigan Health System’s Trauma Burn Center saw 14 such burns in the past month.

“These kinds of injuries are avoidable and the painful consequences often last a lifetime,” says Karla Klas, B.S.N., R.N., C.C.R.P., injury prevention education specialist at the University of Michigan Trauma Burn Center.

Most of this year’s cases involved adults putting gasoline and other accelerants on bonfires and brush fires, says Klas, who also sits on the American Burn Association’s Burn Prevention Committee. Several additional cases involved kids playing around with gasoline and lighters.

Gasoline fires kill about 500 people and are responsible for more than 10,000 emergency room visits each year, according to the American Burn Association. A gallon of gas is equivalent to 20 sticks of dynamite, the National Fire Protection Association notes.

“Because we safely use gasoline every day in our cars and lawn mowers, people don’t always realize how dangerous it can be when it’s improperly used,” Klas says. “People underestimate how flammable and explosive it can be.”

Here are some safety guidelines:

  • Never use gasoline to start or accelerate a grill, campfire, brush fire, bonfire or any other type of fire.
  • Never use gasoline around an open source of flame, such as a cigarette.
  • Only fill tanks in yard equipment when the engine is turned off and cold.

The Trauma Burn Center also offers a free education and intervention program called Straight Talk for youth who are experimenting with or misusing fire or gasoline.

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