Perils of Grilling Go Far Beyond Charred Food
Flash fires from lingering vapors pose serious risks
FRIDAY, July 5, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- ESPN anchor Hannah Storm did what many people do every weekend: She re-lit her gas grill after the fire had been blown out by the wind. But what Storm didn't realize was that gas had been collecting while the fire was out, and though she opened the lid, she didn't allow enough time for the gas to dissipate before she tried to relight the fire.
Her attempt to relight it created an explosive fireball that burned Storm's face, neck, chest and hands. She suffered first- and second-degree burns on her face and hands, according to CBS News, and has made sure to share her story so that other people might realize that they need to allow time for the gas to dissipate before relighting a grill.
Gas grills aren't the only type that can cause burns, however. Georgia resident Dave Bakke suffered a first-degree burn last summer while trying to get a charcoal grill ready.
"I doused the coals with lighter fluid, but instead of waiting, I immediately got out my lighter to light the fire," Bakke recalled. "I didn't know that you were supposed to wait a bit in order to give the vapors enough time to disperse. A flash of fire resulted when I used the lighter and I burnt my hand."
Bakke was lucky. He was treated at a local hospital with an aloe solution and a gauze bandage, as well as a minor pain reliever. He said he was told at the hospital that he should have run cool water over the damaged skin, instead of the ice he put on the burn.
His advice to other grillers? "Always allow the vapors to dissipate after spraying lighter fluid before lighting a charcoal grill," Bakke suggested.
This wasn't his only brush with a summer burn. Bakke also forgot to put sunscreen on during a summer vacation in Florida, landing him at a walk-in clinic seeking treatment for a severe sunburn. An aloe-based solution was prescribed then, too, along with the recommendation that he take cool showers often and stay out of the sun.
"My recommendation is that you never underestimate the damage the sun can cause," Bakke said, "and always use sunscreen with a minimum strength of 30 SPF."
A companion article details other summertime burn risks.