Today, many homeowners add outdoor amenities such as pools, gardens and outdoor fire pits to elevate their backyard spaces. Having a bonfire outside may bring people together on a cooler evening. However, an estimated 6,200 fire pit related injuries sent people to an emergency room in 2021 following a serious fire accident.
While many outdoor burn injuries at home are no one’s fault, sometimes they may occur during an incident where someone may be held liable for your injuries. At MHM, we want you to stay safe as you have your fun outdoor evenings, and we encourage you to note these important safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe this fall.
Understanding the Classifications of Burn Injuries
Burns may be as minor as spilling hot coffee on your hand or as serious as a thermal burn from a fire accident. In personal injury law, serious burns are considered a catastrophic injury due to their intense recovery time, medical expenses and alterations to one’s daily life.
According to medical professionals, there are three main classifications of thermal burn injuries, or burn injuries caused by excessive heat.
- First-degree burns. A burn that only affects the outer layer of the skin, leaving the burn location red, dry and sore. An example would be a mild sunburn or burn from grabbing a hot plate.
- Second-degree burns. These involve the outer layer of the skin and a portion of the dermis layer that lies below, causing swelling, redness, blisters and pain at the burn site.
- Third-degree burns. Considered the most damaging type of burn injury, third-degree burns destroy skin and may also cause additional damage to bones, muscles and tendons. The burn site will look white or charred, and the victim will have no feeling in the area since nerves are also destroyed.
Any of these burns may occur while sitting or standing near an outdoor fire area. It is important to pay attention to your surroundings and keep an eye on others as you enjoy this outdoor activity.
5 Essential Rules to Keep Outdoor Fires Safe
Outdoor fire injuries are typically caused by an outdoor bonfire, raised fire pit or fireplace. Whether you are with friends, family or young ones, these five tips will help you keep the fun going and steer clear of potential injuries from an outdoor fire accident.
- Keep your fire contained. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, you must keep your backyard fire pit at least 3 feet or more away from your home and keep any bonfires away from dry grass, leaves or low-hanging branches. Additionally, you must put out the fire before you leave your backyard or fire pit area and make sure it is extinguished before leaving it unattended.
- Stay fire smart. Have open discussions with family members and visitors about your fire pit area. Encourage children to not run near the fire, make sure those drinking alcohol do not sit too close to the fire and pay attention to the direction of the wind to avoid burns from embers or moving flames.
- Don’t burn other objects. Many people throw items into a fire because they anticipate they will just burn away. Feeding a bonfire or fire pit leaves, twigs and most paper products may lead the fire to burn faster and hotter than it would with traditional firewood. Keep yourself and others safe by only feeding your fire clean, dry firewood.
- Place flammables far away from the pit. Using accelerants such as gasoline or alcohol to light or kindle a fire are extremely dangerous in a backyard area. Keep the essential bonfire safety tools of a shovel, a bucket of water, a hose or fire extinguisher handy to douse the flames.
- Choose someone to watch the fire. Late nights by the fire are relaxing and fun, but make sure at least one person keeps watch of the fire pit area and not leave a fire to burn down by itself in the middle of the night.
If your fire is unable to be contained or controlled, immediately call 911 to contact the local fire department for professional assistance and vacate the fire area to prevent any burn injuries.
The Liability in a Fire Accident
While a fire accident at a home is different from a public place, the homeowner or a guest at the scene may be held negligent for your injury. If you or a loved one were seriously burned due to someone else’s negligence near the outdoor fire area, you’ll need to prove they were at fault by considering the four elements of a personal injury claim and contacting a personal injury attorney to build your case.
A Helping Hand in Fire Safety
At MHM, we understand that a fire accident at a bonfire or fire pit at someone’s home is a difficult event to process. As personal injury attorneys, we are here to guide you and formulate the next step in your road to healing. If you have been injured in an outdoor fire accident, contact our burn injury attorneys with a free consultation.