Monday, October 10, 2011


A family member enjoying a relaxing backyard moment in Madison, Alabama was severely burned after a ceramic fuel pot exploded, covering the victim with burning hot gel over 40% of their body. 

What happen:  The victim was using a decorative ceramic fuel pot when the flame died down after consuming the fuel.  When the victim poured more fuel into the hot bowl, the bowl exploded.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has logged to date this year 57 injuries and two deaths involving gel fuel products or containers.  In contrast, the CPSC only received 6 reports of injuries for all of 2010.  Although unsure at this point, the CPSC and the NFPA suspect that the rise in injuries and death may be due to a growing popularity with the item. 

The problem appears to be two-fold: 1) it can be very difficult to tell if the flame is still burning.  This could cause an unexpected flare-up and exposing your clothing or nearby combustibles to ignite.  2) pouring new gel into a hot fuel pot can cause the gel to splash or explode, consequently, sticking to the person's flesh and clothing.  Stop, drop and roll may not extinguish the flames or burning gel, therefore, causing further serious burns. 

What can you do to make your family safe?  Talk to your family about the warning and make sure they understand the hazards involved.  The NFPA recommends the following:

  • Have a dry chemical extinguisher or baking soda nearby in case of exploding gel.
  • Allow the pot to cool for a minimum of 45 minutes before refueling again.
  • Turn your face away from the pot when refueling.

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