Fire Safety: Burn Awareness Week and New Federal Safety Standards for Flammable Liquids
February 15, 2023
To protect consumers from burn injuries related to flammable liquids, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is making gas cans and other portable fuel containers safer by requiring manufacturers to equip them with flame mitigation devices. This move comes on the heels of an important national campaign; just last week, the federal agency promoted fire safety vigilance in observance of Burn Awareness Week, which ran from February 5-11.
How Do Burn Injuries Usually Happen?
According to the CPSC, emergency rooms saw and treated an estimated 193,450 burn injuries in 2021. The agency notes that young children, particularly those under the age of 10, are especially vulnerable to sustaining burn-related injuries. Children in this age group accounted for slightly over 25% of burn injuries treated by ERs in 2021. Almost one half of those burn injuries were to the individual’s upper extremities. Of these, more than one-third to the hands and/or fingers.
Flammable liquids, like those contained in gas containers and other portable fuel containers, also inflict thousands of preventable burn injuries on consumers each year. The CPSC reports that many of these injuries involve liquid fuel used on backyard fire pits, campfires, bonfires and burning trash. Another hazard associated with flammable liquids is the vapors they produce, which are invisible and dangerous to breathe in.
To safeguard consumers from the array of hazards, the CPSC created its new safety standard. The standard will go into effect in July of this year and requires the installation of flame mitigation devices on gas cans, other types of containers that are sold empty (like kerosene and diesel), and on new containers that are pre-sold with fuels like liquid fireplace fuels, charcoal lighter fluid, and pre-mixed gasoline and engine fuel. Flame mitigation devices protect against something that we know as flame jetting and container rupturing.
Flame jetting occurs when a container of flammable liquid, like a portable gas can, meets an ignition source, causing flames to shoot out at 15 feet or sometimes even more. Flame jetting causes a blowtorch-like effect and can engulf bystanders, causing deadly burns. Although it is like flame jetting, container rupturing happens when the burning vapor and liquid are expelled through a rupture in the container.
Types of Burns
Burns are classified as first-, second-, or third-degree, depending on how much they penetrate the skin’s surface. Here is a useful explanation of the complications that arise from first-, second-, and third-degree burns from Johns Hopkins University:
- First-degree burns, or superficial burns. First-degree burns only affect the outermost layer of the skin, or epidermis. The burn site around a first-degree burn is typically red, dry, painful, and with no blisters. First-degree burns usually do not cause long-term tissue damage
- Second-degree, or partial thickness, burns. Unlike first-degree burns, second-degree burns not only include the epidermis, but also part of the dermis layer of the skin. The dermis is the inner layer of the two main layers of the skin and contains connective tissue, blood vessels, oil and sweat glands, nerves, hair follicles, and other structures. Second-degree burn sites appear red, blistered, and may be swollen and/or painful
- Third-degree burns. Third-degree burns are also known as full thickness burns. They destroy the epidermis and dermis layers of the skin and can also damage the underlying bones, muscles and tendons. When this occurs, it is called a fourth-degree burn
Depending on their severity, burns can cause devastating effects on their victims. Johns Hopkins reports that severe burns often lead to complications including physical disfigurement, loss of limb(s), loss of mobility, scarring, and recurrent infections. They can also penetrate the deep skin layers, leading to muscle and tissue damage that affects every system in the body. Burns can also lead to emotional problems like depression, nightmares, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and nightmares.
Burn Awareness Week: How to Be Vigilant with Fire Safety
With the CPSC’s new standard going into effect in just under five months, it is important that consumers take certain safety precautions in the meantime. The CPSC recommends the following:
- Use flashlights instead of candles. If you decide to use candles, do not burn them on top of or near anything that can catch fire. Never leave a candle unattended and extinguish candles when leaving the room and before sleeping
- Keep children away from cooking areas. Keep flammable items, like potholders and paper or plastic bags, away from the stove and oven
- Keep clothing away from flames and ignition sources. Remember, loose clothing can catch fire easily
- Keep hands and fingers away from space heaters. Make sure to place space heaters a minimum of three feet away from other objects. When loose, flammable items are in close proximity to a space heater they can catch fire
- If you smoke, never do it while drowsy and be sure to safely extinguish smoking materials
Burn Injuries: When it’s Time to Contact a Lawyer
There are many different situations that warrant speaking with an attorney following a burn injury. For example, if you or a loved one sustained a burn because of an unsafe work environment or after using an unsafe or defective product, an attorney at our firm can help. The lawyers at Galfand Berger have been successfully representing burn victims for decades. To find out more about filing a legal claim, contact a representative online now.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP, Representing Injured Victims Since 1947
If you have questions about filing a claim for injuries you sustained, contact the Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.