Practice Safe Fire Strategies with Outdoor Fires

Published on August 13, 2019

Practice Safe Fire Strategies with Outdoor Fires

By Dr. Alan Stephens, plastic surgeon at Bronson Plastic Surgery Specialists

Pleasant weather in West Michigan brings the return of burn injury season. While burns are definitely not limited to summer, the rise of these injuries occur as more people get out to enjoy the warm weather. Just as “April showers bring May flowers”, summer brings bonfires and brush burning, which can lead to burn injuries.

woman tending outside bonfire

Open burning can involve the use of gasoline or another flammable substance to start the fire. Unfortunately, in the spring and summer months, many injuries treated at Bronson’s Burn and Wound Centers are a result of these types of fires. Patients often experience burns on the face and arms, which tend to be the closest point of contact to the fire.

Gasoline has the potential to do great harm. Gasoline vapor can easily become a fireball when ignited by a match or lighter.

Summer is also a time to enjoy backyard fire pits, bonfires and grills. However, you need to approach these activities with caution as they too can be a source of burn injury. Take special care when children are around. Many children experience burns to their hands and feet when walking too close or reaching into fire pits or grills.

Depending on how hot the fire was, what was burning, and or much unburned fuel remains, coals and ashes can still cause serious injury long after the fire is extinguished. Remember to wet down ashes and dispose of them in metal containers. This can help avoid burns and/or unwanted fires.

Open burning safety tips include:

  • Start fires only on level areas.
  • For grills and portable fire pits, choose an area with traction, such as on a wooden deck, on cement or in the grass..
  • Create a 10 to 20 foot space around the burning source.
  • Avoid using accelerants to start the fire.

Safe fire strategies are an important part of making sure that outdoor fires are an enjoyable experience.