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Upstate Burn Center issues warning on accelerants use to start, stoke fires

Experts from the Upstate Medical University's Clark Burn Center are issuing a warning about the increase in fire-related injuries due to the use of accelerants.

There have been 38 hospitalizations related to the use of accelerants already in 2021. That’s 8 more than were recorded in all of 2020. Since 2017, accelerant-related burns are up 100 percent.

Tamara Roberts, MSN, manager of the Clark Burn Center at Upstate, said people have been throwing cups of gasoline on fires to accelerate the burn or pouring gasoline from a gas cans to jump start their fire. Other accelerants used include kerosine and aerosol cans.

“Many times, using accelerants on an open fire will pop and the fire will leap causing burns to individuals nearby,” Roberts said.

The burns suffered by the use of accelerants can be extremely dangerous. “Most of these burns can be very large and most often require surgery, especially skin grafts and it can be a very painful recovery.”

Most accelerant-related burns have been seen in individuals aged 13 to 37.

Roberts is concerned that the cooler weather can lead to greater use of outdoor fires and leaf burning that will lead to more injuries.

Roberts said another common burn being seen in greater numbers this year are scalds. Forty-six individuals have been hospitalized for scalding burns so far this year. Fifty-five individuals were seen at the hospital last year for scalds 

“Microwaveable meals have been the cause of many of these scalds,” Roberts said.

“There are warnings on most packages about the high temperature involved in using a microwave to prepare a quick hot meal,” Roberts said. “But not everyone heeds these warnings.

“Giving your child a soup or other meal prepared in a microwave without letting it cool down, can be problematic.”