Summer offers us a respite from work and school and an opportunity to enjoy our beaches, parks, waterways, and iconic historical destinations. It is also a time for fireworks, barbeques, camp fires, and bonfires on the beach. Unfortunately, Massachusetts has its share of out-of-control fires that seriously injure scores of people and leave many permanently disfigured.
With the pandemic and its effects waning, hopefully, we are all anxious to get outside and enjoy the summer breezes and heat. But to ensure our safety and that of others, State Fire Marshall Peter J. Ostroskey has issued reminders about safe grilling, use of gasoline receptacles, starting and maintaining campfires, and leaving fireworks to the experts.
Barbeques are often a source of injuries to persons not using a grill safely or wisely. Between 2016 and 2020, our fire departments were called to 427 grill or barbeque fires that caused fatal injuries to 15 people, injured 4 firefighters, and caused over $4 million in property damage.
Barbeque and Grilling Fires
Some tips that the Fire Marshall offers may seem only commonsense, but too often commonsense is left behind when we drink too much, feel invulnerable, or simply forget basic safety. While grilling or barbecuing, here are some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe and free from serious burn injuries:
- Never grill indoors
- Be sure your grill is at least 10-feet from the house and that no overhanging leaves, branches, or other items are above it
- If using gas or charcoal, place the grill on a cement patio and not on a balcony, porch or fire escape
- Keep pets and children at least 3-feet away from the grill
- Only use charcoal starter fluid on a charcoal grill
- Charcoal only in well-ventilated areas since deadly carbon monoxide can build up in garages or enclosed areas
- Never leave a grill unattended
- If the fire goes out on a gas grill, shut off the gas and wait 15-minutes before relighting
- Wait at least 48-hours after charcoal has burned out before disposing. If you must dispose of the embers earlier, then thoroughly douse the ashes in water beforehand
Old lawnmowers or those not properly maintained can be a source of fires. Gasoline-powered mowers are highly flammable. If you spill gas on clothing, the vapors are highly susceptible to a spark or match that can set off a fire.
The following safety measures should be followed:
- Store gasoline only in approved containers
- Never store gasoline in your house
- Allow a lawnmower to fully cool before adding gasoline
- Keep gasoline away from any potential fire starters such as grills, campfires, or pilot lights
- Keep your hands away from a running mower
- Keep children far away from a mower
- Never use gasoline to start a charcoal fire or campfire
Enjoy a campfire but take appropriate safety measures so that you are not responsible for a catastrophic forest fire. Here are some commonsense tips to follow:
- Only start a fire in pits and rings designed for it. Start with tinder and slowly build the fire up.
- Have a bucket of water available at all times
- Never leave the fire unattended
- Thoroughly douse and extinguish the fire before going to sleep
- Never use gasoline on a campfire
This last tip may seem obvious but every year out-of-control fires started by someone who used gasoline on a grill or campfire result in serious injuries or extensive property and forest damage.
Fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts. This means it is a crime to possess any fireworks or to use them, including any fireworks legally purchased in another state. Despite state law and warnings, many people continue to set off fireworks that include sparklers, poppers, snappers, firecrackers, cherry bombs and any other similar incendiary devices.
Setting off fireworks can easily cause a fire on a porch or in a brush. Every year people use fireworks while camping, and even inside residences. More deadly are fireworks that go off prematurely while a person holds them or is too close while they are set off, causing blindness, severe burns, loss of fingers or limbs, and death.
First Aid For Burn Injuries
If someone’s clothing or skin catches fire, roll them on the ground or use a jacket, shirt, or blanket to douse the fire. Other advice and first aid suggestions are:
- If the injury looks serious, immediately call 911
- Remove jewelry, belts, rings and other restrictive items from the person as burned areas swell quickly
- Use a cool, moist bandage or clean cloth on the burned area
- Do not immerse large, burned areas in water as it could cause hypothermia
- Elevate the burned area above the person’s heart level if possible
- Watch for signs of shock—fainting, pale skin, shallow breathing
- Do not break blisters as these protect against infections. If one breaks, clean the area with water and apply an antibiotic lotion unless a rash appears
- Once the burn is cooled, apply lotion with aloe vera or a moisturizer
- Bandage the wound with a sterile gauze but wrap it loosely
- Get the person to a clinic or hospital emergency room if you suspect shock, the burn looks serious, or you lack any bandages or lotions
Damages in Burn Injury Claims
Burn injuries are among the most painful of any injury since it can be chronic, severe, and require extensive, painful treatments. Skin grafting may be necessary in serious cases and may involve numerous surgeries and long periods of rehabilitation and recovery. Extreme and prolonged emotional distress from disfigurement is not uncommon. Medical expenses can easily reach and be more than $100,000 in severe cases.
A personal injury lawyer experienced in burn injury claims is vital if you are to recover what you deserve in these types of cases. Damages may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Lost earning capacity
- Emotional distress
- Permanent disfigurement and disability
- Diminished quality and enjoyment of life
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Retain a Personal Injury Lawyer from Burns and Jain
At Burns and Jain, we understand the trauma and pain from a burn injury and how it affects your life and that of your loved ones. As your personal injury lawyer, we will handle all aspects of your claim, gather all necessary records and documentation, retain experts, and negotiate a satisfactory settlement or take your claim to court. Call us at (617) 227-7423 for a complete analysis of your burn injury claim.