Fire is an alluring medium. Kids love it – so do adults. Watching kindling slowly take flame is like watching magic. The Fall means leaf and trash burning in back yards all across the country.
While everyone knows to watch kids around fire, there’s a hidden danger that many folks are unaware of – chances are the gas can in your garage does not have a flame arrester installed in the spout. A flame arrester is a small ball or pane of wire mesh material that fits in the spout of the gas can. It lets the fuel flow out, but lowers the temperature below the flash point for the vapors in the can, which prevents explosions.. These arresters cost less than a dollar to install.
Still, you ask, why would anyone put themselves in that situation in the first place? Well, consider the following scenario and see if it rings any bells. You have been working around the yard all day. The weather is crisp and cool and dusk approaches. You had been burning leaves and tree limbs, but the fire went out an hour ago. Your son wants to start a fire and the idea of the warmth it will provide sounds good to you. So you decide to pour some gas on the pile, not realizing that there are still some smoldering embers … That is the recipe for an explosion.
A few tips to remember:
- – When you buy a gas can, buy one with an installed flame arrester.
- – Never use gasoline as an accellerant. There are many safer alternatives.
- – Make sure that your burn area is clear (overhead, as well) of flammable debris.
- – Use an enclosed space (like a 55 gallon drum) instead of a pile. Cover the top of the space with a heavy mesh cover to keep sparks in.
- – Don’t burn on windy days.
- – Keep the water hose handy.
- – Never burn aerosol cans.
- – If children have access to the burn area (and they probably will), make sure that they understand the danger present and then assume that they will not follow your instructions.
Cum Laude graduate of Cumberland School of Law, Pet Mackey is a civil trial litigation expert who represents plaintiffs in business and consumer tort, contracts and construction, employment disputes and insurance. He is board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Certified Alabama Mediator, and an “AV” rated lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell.