The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently announced a recall of gel fuels that are manufactured by nine companies-including Bird Brain, Inc. of Michigan, Real Flame of Wisconsin, Lamplight Farms, Inc. of Wisconsin and Luminosities, Inc. of Minnesota. The companies involved have all agreed to pull their products off of store shelves voluntarily.
According to the CPSC, these products - which are used in firepots, personal fireplaces and patio torches - are extremely dangerous and may cause burns if the gel fuel is added to a pot that has not been fully extinguished.
The agency says that it has received reports of 65 incidents involving gel fuel, including 37 incidents where users suffered second- or third-degree burns on their face, hands, legs, arms and/or chest. In two cases, those who were injured after an accident involving gel fuel died of their injuries.
The Dangers of Gel Fuel
One factor that makes gel fuel so dangerous is that, when using a firepot, it's often difficult to determine if the fire is burning. If a fire is extremely low and the user thinks the light has actually gone out, adding additional fuel can have devastating consequences - burns that have been likened to being attacked by napalm.
In addition, it's also difficult to put out a fire that has been caused by gel fuel products. If the burning fuel is stuck to the skin, dropping and rolling will not put out the fire and chemical extinguishers must be used.
As a result of these problems, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has also issued a warning about gel fuel products, urging consumers to use these items with extreme caution.
"As with any product, manufacturer's instructions should be followed, but the NFPA is issuing a special alert because we are seeing a number of cases where people have been injured while using gel fuel and are seemingly unaware of the dangers associated with its use," reports Lorraine Carli, the organization's Vice President of Communications. "Anytime you are using devices that involve fire, it is critical to use caution and follow safety tips. This is proving to be especially important with gel fuel."