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Burn Injury Education: National Burn Awareness Week Addresses Flammable Liquid Burns


Flammable Liquids

February 4 through February 10 is National Burn Awareness Month, an annual public awareness campaign founded by the American Burn Association. Each year, the ABA focuses the campaign on a specific burn injury risk, and the 2024 theme is flammable liquid burns. 


The most combustible liquids include fuels like gasoline, butane, and propane. However, many other highly flammable liquids are stored throughout the home, which increases the risk of a serious burn. Use Black Jack Fire Protection District's burn injury education guide to minimize the risk of a burn injury and house fires.


Table of Contents:

Combustible Liquids List

  • What is a Flashpoint?

  • Flammability of Liquids

  • Is Oil Flammable?

  • Look for the Flammable Symbol

Burn Safety in the Kitchen

  • How to Extinguish a Grease Fire

Which Class of Fire Extinguisher is Appropriate for a Fire Involving a Flammable Liquid?

Types of Burns


Synopsis:

Flammable liquids include numerous household products. Proper storage is essential to ensuring these liquids do not lead to a burn injury or a house fire. 


Combustible Liquids List of Products

A combustible liquid is not synonymous with a flammable liquid. Combustible liquids are more volatile and have a higher flashpoint. 


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) notes that the "industry" definition of combustible liquids is: "[A]ny liquid having a flashpoint at or above 100 °F. (37.8 °C.);" in contrast, a flammable liquid is defined as "[A]ny liquid having a flashpoint below 100 °F. (37.8 °C.), except any mixture having components with flashpoints of 100 °F. (37.8 °C.) or higher, the total of which make up 99 percent or more of the total volume of the mixture."


What is Flashpoint?

A flashpoint is the lowest temperature at which a liquid's vapors ignite in a flame or heat. The term denotes the "flash" of fire when the vapor ignites. Combustible liquids flash faster than flammable liquids.



Engine oil

Combustible liquids include:

  • Kerosene 

  • Gasoline

  • Engine oil

  • Camphor oil





About the Flammability of Liquids

Across the globe, the World Health Organization reports that 180K people die from burn injuries every year. These deaths are related to burns caused by various factors, including flammable liquids, scalding (burns resulting from extremely hot liquids), electrical burns, and burns from fires.

Safely storing flammable liquids helps individuals reduce their risk of burn injuries and house fires. Many common flammable liquids are stored in the home; individuals might not know that some are dangerous.


The most common flammable liquids in the home include:


  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Cooking oils

  • Cooking oil spray 

  • Nail polish remover

  • Grease

  • Aerosol spray products (like hairspray and deodorant)


To mitigate the risk of these products, keep them away from heat sources (like stoves and ovens). Ideally, keep these products in cool, shaded places like cabinets or pantries. 


Is Oil Flammable?

Oils are a dangerous, flammable liquid. Keep all cooking oils and motor oils away from a heat source. Never light a match near any oil or oil-based product. Store motor oils in a garage or shed, and keep cooking oils in cabinets and pantries away from hot ovens and stoves. 


Is it Flammable? Look for the Flammable Symbol

Flammable symbol

The simplest solution for understanding if a liquid is flammable is to look for the symbol. This symbol features a red outline of a diamond with a black fire in the center. Always store products with this symbol somewhere cool and away from heat sources.


Burn Safety in the Kitchen

The kitchen is home to many flammable liquids (and solids!). Cooking sprays and oils are highly flammable and can ignite near a hot burner. In addition, flour is also flammable; this go-to ingredient should not be stored near the stove or oven. 


To minimize the risk of a burn injury in the kitchen:


  1. Always be careful when cooking with flammable liquids.

  2. Spray cooking oil on pans and cookware away from the stove.

  3. Always add cooking oil (like olive oil) to cool pans and pots before cooking. This ensures that hot grease does not "pop" and ignite on burners. 


Grease fire

One of the most common burns in the kitchen is the contact burn. This often happens when grabbing a hot dish from the oven or off the stove. Always use oven mitts or pot holders to grab hot dishes. In addition, make sure these mitts are not wet; moisture minimizes their protective properties. 


Another simple cooking tip that helps reduce the risk of a burn or injury is to always place the handle of pots and pans inward on the stove. This keeps the handle from being accessible to children and minimizes the incidence of accidentally bumping the handle and spilling the contents (leading to a scald burn injury).


How to Extinguish a Grease Fire


Grease fires are extremely common and scary. Grease is highly flammable, and a grease fire can quickly spread. If grease falls onto a burner or catches fire, use baking soda to extinguish the fire. Never use water; this will only feed the flame.


Place a lid over the dish if the grease fire occurs in a pot or dish. The lid smothers the fire and helps extinguish it. 


Which Class of Fire Extinguisher is Appropriate for a Fire Involving a Flammable Liquid?


ABC Fire Extinguisher

Individuals should always keep an ABC fire extinguisher in their homes. This extinguisher works on all types of fires, even grease fires. Ideally, keep an ABC extinguisher in the kitchen, the garage, and each floor of the home (including the basement).


When using a fire extinguisher, remember the acronym PASS:


  • Pull

  • Aim

  • Squeeze

  • Sweep


Types of Burns

When individuals take the proper precautions and store flammable liquids properly, a burn injury can still happen. Burns are classified, which denotes their severity. 


First-degree burns are minor. These burns lead to redness and pain on the burn site. A sunburn is typically a first-degree burn.


Second-degree burns lead to more skin damage. Blistering and a shiny appearance are hallmark traits of these burns. Sunburns can also be second-degree burns; a contact burn during cooking can also lead to a second-degree burn.


Third-degree burns are severe. These burns damage deeper into the skin tissue and require immediate medical attention. Do not attempt to treat a third-degree burn at home.


Fourth-degree burns are the most severe. The burn damage extends down near or to the bone. These burns can be fatal. 


Learn About Burn Risks and Stay Safe

Black Jack Fire Protection District wants all residents to learn about the risk of flammable liquid burns in their homes. Evaluate how flammable liquids are stored and help reduce the concerns of a burn injury or a house fire.


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