Check gas bottles and barbecues to avoid serious injury

Published: 15th November 2013

NSW Ambulance and Fire & Rescue NSW have joined in highlighting the importance of people checking their gas bottles and barbecues for faults, to avoid the potential for injury.

Since September 1 (to November 14), NSW Ambulance paramedics have responded to at least six calls involving burns from exploding gas bottles and barbecues across NSW. This is compared with 33 calls for spring/summer 2012/13.

Paramedics have also, since September 1, responded to at least 28 calls for burns suffered in barbecue and campfire incidents (65 calls for spring/summer 2012/13).

Further, there have been two responses to burns suffered after fuel was used as an accelerant on barbecues/fires (10 last season). Responses to people suffering burns from barbecues/fires (20 calls) - including people who fell into or stood on fires - is close to exceeding last year’s total of 22.

Paramedic responses so far this spring have included a 22-year-old male who suffered serious burns to his face and hands from an exploding barbecue at Tregear on September 5; and a 37-year-old male who suffered burns to arm and face from a barbecue gas bottle explosion at Nana Glen on October 31.

Fire & Rescue NSW A/Superintendent Mick Ollerenshaw said the warmer months, particularly during the festive season, were a popular time for family and friends to get together for a barbecue.

"Fire & Rescue NSW figures from last year indicate the average number of fires caused by barbecues, especially gas barbecues, jumped by 58 per cent during October to December," Supt Ollerenshaw said.

"I urge people to follow some simple precautions to ensure everyone stays safe. Make sure your gas cylinders and hoses are in good condition before you fire up the barbecue and keep it properly serviced and maintained.

"Never leave your cooking unattended and ensure the fire is extinguished or the gas bottle is turned off when you're finished."

NSW Ambulance Inspector John Brotherhood urged caution when people were around fires,particularly if they were consuming alcohol.

"Each year, we treat a number of the burns victims who have fallen into fires after becoming intoxicated," Insp Brotherhood said.

“It is also very important to ensure children are well-supervised when around fires.”

Insp Brotherhood said the best treatment for any burn was to place the injury under cold running water for 20 minutes or, where the burns were more expansive, under a cold shower. Salt water swimming pools were also an option, where available.

Jewellery such as earrings and rings should be removed from burn areas, if possible. “The metal holds the heat and when the skin starts to swell it restricts the circulation,” Insp Brotherhood said.

Safety tips:

  • Service and maintain your barbecue correctly - check cylinders for rust or damage and make sure connections are clear and fit properly before lighting. Check the date on your cylinder also to make sure it’s in date.
  • Clean your barbecue after use and ensure there is no fat or oil left in the drip tray.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the correct start up and shut down procedures.
  • Check Total Fire Ban details before lighting your barbecue.
  • Never put flammable liquid or accelerants on to a barbecue.
  • Keep children away from the barbecue and store lighters and matches in a secure place.
  • If a gas leak occurs, and it is safe to do so, shut off the cylinder immediately and allow any gas to disperse.
  • After use, make sure the gas is turned off at the cylinder.
  • Cool the burn area with running water for at least 20 minutes. Do not apply ointment, cream or butter and try to remove jewellery and loose clothing from the affected area.