They are popular on the patio this time of year: Gel-fueled pots and burners.
Some people use them to keep the bugs away, while others enjoy the fact that they offer no soot, ash or smoke -- no wicks or wax to mess with. But the number of accidents involving gel-fueled burners and pots is rising this summer.
As a result, these products are now being investigated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. And one maker of the products, Napa Home and Garden, has voluntarily stopped selling their line of these products as a precaution. The CPSC’s probe, however, may take awhile since there are so many brands, types of fuels, and manufacturers who make these.
A Granger man, Sandi Grove, suffered second and third degree burns June 10 when he was burned by a gel fueled product while at a neighbor’s home. He was transferred to the burn unit at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.
His story was picked up by the New York Times who interviewed him from his hospital bed. Medical officials at Bronson in Kalamazoo say they have treated at least three patients in the last several weeks who all were burned by gel fueled products.
“We have had an increase in the number of burn injuries as a result of these gel type citronella candles,” said Jennifer Lechota, Bronson’s Injury Prevention Coordinator for Trauma and Burns.
“My understanding is throwing water on these burns can make it worse and cause a splatter and create more burns,” Lechota adds.
The gel that burns in these products is mostly alcohol, which makes the flame very hard to see. That is part of the safety concern. It would be easy for consumers to try and add more fuel without even realizing the flame is lit. Adding fuel to an open flame is hazardous. In fact, the product should be completely cool before refueling.
Grove isn’t the only Hoosier to get burned by these products. Angela Rabus of Fishers burned her arm on one and shared her story with Indianapolis TV station, WISH-TV.
“It’s just like adding gasoline to a fire almost, it’s just boom you know,” Rabus explained.
“I literally was just reaching across the table to get something and I was like ‘Woah!’ And it almost singed me,” Rabus described.
Clay Fire Marshal, Dave Cherrone, demonstrated one of the products for WSBT recently. In doing so, he commented on how it would be very simple for someone adding fuel to it to have it flashback at them.
Cherrone recommends that if you have one of the products made by Napa Home and Garden that now is no longer being sold, take it back to where you purchased it. Since the product isn’t under recall, you may not get your money back, but Cherrone says at least that is a safe way to try and dispose of it.
These products will also be taking center stage in the nation’s capitol Wednesday.
CPSC officials say they plan to demonstrate the dangers Wednesday on the National Mall in Washington, DC. That’s when the CPSC will put on its annual fireworks event to show the dangers of using fireworks.
But this year, they plan to add an element demonstrating the dangers of gel fueled products. CPSC officials say victims have described how “stop, drop, and roll” doesn’t put out the fire and water doesn’t put it out and can actually make it worse. In fact, Grove described for the New York Times how “nothing would put it out” when he caught fire in Granger from a gel fueled product.