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June 24, 2014
Safety tips for campfires, fire pits and grilling
MAYWOOD, Ill. (June 24, 2014) – Summer means cooking out and gathering with friends and family around the fire pit or campfire. It also means a seasonal increase in trips to the emergency department and burn unit for burn injuries.
“The old adage of ‘When you play with fire, you get burned’ is true; you must always be very serious and attentive when fire is involved,” said Richard L. Gamelli, MD, director of the Burn & Shock Trauma Research Institute, director of the Burn Center and senior vice president and provost of the Health Sciences Division at Loyola University Chicago. ”Injuries due to fire happen easily and fast, especially when children are involved or alcohol has been abused."
According to the American Burn Association, in 2013:
- 450,000 people sought medical treatment for burn injuries
- 3,400 deaths were attributed to fire/burn and/or smoke inhalation
- 40,000 people were hospitalized due to burn injuries
“Young children are among the most vulnerable and often get burned by putting their hands on the side of cooking grills,” said Dr. Gamelli, who serves as the president of the International Society for Burn Injuries. “Children should be kept well away at all times from the cooking area and always be watched closely even after the cooking is done – the grill is still hot."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), burns and fires are the third leading cause of death in the home. In 2010, a fire-related death occurred every 169 minutes. A fire injury occurred every 30 minutes.
“At Loyola, we have had patients who got burned after contact with a log from the previous night’s fire, thinking the fire was out,” Dr. Gamelli said. “Fire can burn for hours after ignition and the temperature can remain dangerously hot."
When using a fire pit, barbecue or campfire this summer, Dr. Gamelli offered these safety tips:
- Keep an eye on anything that burns.
- Keep children and pets away from the cooking area and supervise them around recreational fires.
- Place the barbecue, fire pit or campfire in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures, especially wooden construction that can ignite.
- Never burn anything in, on or under a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, deck or any other structure that can catch fire.
- Keep a fire extinguisher close at hand and be familiar with how to operate it.
- If you do burn yourself, or someone else is burned, seek immediate medical attention.
- Do not abuse alcohol while around fire.
- Place a metal cover over a still-burning fire pit to contain embers.
- Never leave a fire burning unattended.
- Coals and logs can burn and stay hot a long time – do not kick them or touch them and cover them to protect others from accidental contact.
“Whether a campfire, a fire pit or a barbecue grill, you should always take extreme care when using devices that have the potential to cause great harm to yourself and others if used in a careless, irresponsible manner,” Dr. Gamelli said.
Loyola’s Burn Center is one of the busiest in the Midwest, treating nearly 600 patients annually in the hospital and another 3,500 patients each year in its clinic.
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.