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Songs and S’Mores, Not Burns and Gore: 4 Tips to Avoid Campfire and Barbecue Accidents

As summer comes to a close you may be planning one last hoorah over Labor Day weekend. The celebration of American workers is often marked by four-day-weekend camping trips, beers and delicious barbecue. We’re certainly looking forward to it! To keep your weekend relaxing and enjoyable, you’ll want to keep in mind a few tips on how to avoid dangerous mistakes commonly associated with campfires and barbecues.

There are, unfortunately, many instances of people- kids and adults alike- who suffer campfire accidents.  It is almost certainly the ubiquity of campfires that makes them so deadly.  After all, who hasn’t enjoyed a fire numerous times without anything going wrong? We get complacent, especially in the dying sun of this late summer.  It is a similar trap to crossing the street- we’ve done it so many times we don’t always remember it still can be incredibly dangerous.   These are tips to remember.  Being safe doesn’t kill your fun- it enhances and prolongs it.

1. Safety First: follow instructions

Yes, it seems like a bad idea putting gasoline or other flammable liquids like liquid fire-starter on an open flame, but believe me, people do it. The danger seems obvious but one way or another people justify it. “It’s just a little bit” or “but the fire was really low”. Most people don’t understand the behavior of gasoline and similar substances. For example, gasoline is more flammable in smaller quantities when it’s been aged. (Aging occurs more quickly when the container is open and when the surrounding temperature fluctuates over time.) If even a tiny bit of gas is poured onto an open flame, a flashback can occur, resulting in the can exploding.  This is the worst-case scenario, but other issues less disastrous than this can occur. To avoid, read manuals and instructions on bottles and BBQs before use.

2. Stay Sanitary

It’s the perfect time of the year for a barbecue on the beach or at your local park. While technically your coals will get the grill hot enough to kill bacteria on public barbecues, you should still scrub the grill in soapy water before using or cover the grill in foil. To avoid other health  blunders, use a food thermometer to make sure food is cooked to the correct temperature.  Few things can ruin a perfect sunset on the beach more than a sudden onset of food poisoning.

3. Stay sober…. or at a distance

This may be far too obvious, but it’s easy to be over confident in your own abilities and coordination while consuming alcohol.  In one study eighty one percent of adults who sustained contact burns from campfires were intoxicated. And for those camping with children (we’re assuming the kids won’t be intoxicated), keep in mind that 74 percent of all child camping accidents are campfire related so remind them to keep their distance and be mindful around a campfires.

4. Be a good example

The popular “Do as I say, not as I do” phrase is a nice idea, but not all that effective. Even when children are told NOT to do something o (i.e. lighting a fire on their own), we have to expect that children will be curious, and at some point some children will get into trouble. Even if you don’t have kids of your own, if you’re around children you need to be watchful. We can’t leave it all up to Smokey the Bear. As role models it’s important for us to instill safe behaviors and habits, especially when it comes to more dangerous scenarios like campfires and barbecues.

Burn injuries are one of the most painful injuries to recover from and thousands of people die from burn injuries each year.  Accidents can be the fault of individual negligence, product and manufacturing defects, improper labeling or a combination of all of the above. If you or a loved one is badly burned contact a personal injury attorney specializing in burn injury to guide you through the best course of action.

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