Now more than ever before, men are turning to outdoor activities to find balance and just plain fun. And something as simple as a backyard BBQ can be one of the most enjoyable activities of the year. The scent of smoke and charred meat in the air and a gas grill that burns consistently make outdoor cooking a rewarding experience.
But what if you are severely injured as a result of a gas grill accident? Gas grills are generally safe and reliable, but an open flame does have its share of risks associated with it. The National Fire Protection Association has found that around 19,700 patients visit the ER each year for injuries related to gas grill accidents. Of these people, over 9,000 were injured due to thermal burns.
Gas grill accidents aren’t as much a surprise as one might think. Some of those accidents are explosion fires caused by:
- Manufacturing defects
- Leaking propane tanks
- Poorly installed grills
If you find yourself near a gas grill when it explodes, you should first take care of your safety and that of others around you. If you believe you can safely manage the situation, make sure to follow these steps:
- If your clothes are on fire, immediately drop to the ground and roll around to extinguish any flames.
- If someone nearby is on fire, help them put the flames out, if possible.
- Call for emergency assistance, specifying that there was a gas explosion.
- It is possible to extinguish a small fire; you can attempt to do it yourself if it is not close to a natural gas line or other explosives.
- When you see signs of a further gas explosion, expect danger and immediately evacuate the surrounding area. Never go near a fire without an extinguisher or protective gear if the gas leaks are not controlled.
- When paramedics show up, ask them to check for injuries of everyone they see that might have been near the explosion.
A gas grill accident might mean injuries and medical expenses for burns, hand burns, lacerations, eye irritants (from the smoke.) The more severe injuries result from burns sustained when the propane tank exploded or when the flames accidentally torch clothes.
Burns cause far more extensive injuries than to just the burned skin. Anything close to third-degree burns can have long-lasting health effects on the entire human body. It is a terrible experience.
More importantly, if there is an injury, it should be investigated. Sometimes another party’s negligence could have caused the explosion.
Gas can, of course, be dangerous, but often the safest way to handle gas and gas-powered appliances isn’t apparent. That’s why providers of products like appliances are legally required to offer clear instructions on the correct use and safety warnings.
Also, there are aspects of owning a gas grill that you, the average user, shouldn’t be expected to handle alone. Of course, when you do the responsible thing and hire a professional to perform an installation or repairs, you should be able to rely on that professional’s expertise, but that isn’t always the case.
Every company is responsible for protecting consumers from foreseeable dangers posed by their products and services. Flammable gases carry well-known risks that companies need to account for. The duty to prevent harmful mistakes would apply if the gas company was responsible for an oversight that caused damages. It would also apply if you hired a third-party company to install, repair, inspect your gas grill set up or if the explosion resulted from a design flaw in the fire pit itself.
In the past ten years, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued gas grill recalls for matters ranging from missing hoses to faulty burners. These defects can leave you in a dangerous position.
While you can control some grilling dangers, a defective grill isn’t one of them. It’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to keep consumers safe. There can be disastrous results when that doesn’t happen, especially as gas grills can pose risks even when working as intended.
A gas grill is a tool that comes in handy every summer. You can use it for cooking food quickly, and it also makes cooking fun. But you need to be aware there’s a severe risk of burns to more than just your burgers and veggies.
About the author
Sean M. Cleary is the founder and president of Miami-based The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary, where he focuses his practice on product liability. Mr. Cleary works with investigators and experts to create positive results for clients in defective gas grill cases and help them get the compensation they deserve.