Burn Center: Stay safe on Father’s Day

Published 5:00 pm Friday, June 16, 2023

Dads love to cook out, and many are working on the perfect Father’s Day menu.

Dr. Derek Culnan, Medical Director of Mississippi Burn, Hand and Reconstruction Centers, P.C., has a simple, but import- ant, addition: staying safe in front of the grill.

“I can’t overstate how important it is to just be aware when you are in front of the grill,” he said. “As a dad myself, I know how easy it is to get distracted, and it’s those moments of distraction when disaster can strike.”

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Carelessness around grills can lead to severe burn injuries, blunt force traumatic injuries and damage to property from fire. Officials estimate there are more than 7,500 home fires each year related to grills. Dr. Culnan said he sees dozens of patients hurt in grill incidents each season – especially around holidays where people often take advantage of warm weather to grill outdoors – and the injuries range from minor contact wounds to severe, life-altering burns.

“Most of the burns are minor,” he said. “However, minor injuries can be extremely painful and, depending on where they are on the patient’s body, can interfere temporarily with day-to-day life.

The best way to stay safe is to take precautions before the big day arrives. Before you use the grill for the first time, all lines and connections should be checked for leaks. Dr. Culnan recommends spraying soapy water on the tubing and watching for bubbles, which means there’s a leak. Also, check for spider webs, insect or other nest and other debris that will need to be cleaned out before lighting up.

It’s also important to wear the right clothes for grilling.

“It’s not a fashion show, but you do have to think about what you are wearing when you are grilling,” said Dr. Culnan. “Long sleeves or baggy clothes can get too close to the heat and catch fire.”

When it comes time to don the apron and light the grill, avoiding flash fires becomes the focus. If you have a gas grill, make sure the lid is open so fumes can’t build up. For charcoal grills, only use approved lighter fluid to get the fire started, and never, ever add fluid to an already lit fire because the flames can flashback up into the container and explode.

Finally, before those steaks hit the grates, clear out a set safe zone around the grill that’s only accessible to responsible, sober adults. Dr. Culnan said most people don’t realize that children have thinner skin than adults so it takes less time for a more severe burn to occur.

“We would prefer to never see a young burn patient,” he said. “That’s why we put such an emphasis on keeping them safe away from potential hazards.”

Other tips for staying safe during Father’s Day cookouts include:

  • Before using the grill, make sure it’s at least 10 feet away from other objects, including the house or
  • Use grills only in properly ventilated areas, as the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fires increases if grilling in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Always follow manufacturers’ instructions when operating a grill.
  • Make sure to use cooking utensils with really long
  • Dispose of hot coals properly: Soak, stir, Repeat.
  • Always shut off the propane tank valve when not in
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy – just in

For more information about the prevention and care for burn and extremity injuries, please contact John David Smith, VP of Outreach and Education, at 601-946-0325, or visit www.msburnandhands.com.