CPSC Burn Center Reporting System Says Gasoline, Other Flammable Liquids Often Involved in Kids’ Clothing-Related Burns

November 24, 2004

The first full year of data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) National Burn Center Reporting System shows that gasoline and other flammable liquids are frequently involved in clothing-related burns to children. In a new report, CPSC staff reviewed 209 children’s clothing burn injury reports received from March 2003 through June 2004 and found that more than one-half involved gasoline or other flammable liquids.

“One of CPSC’s top priorities is fire safety,” CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton said. “The high number of children’s burns involving gasoline is shocking. Parents need to know about this serious hazard and keep gasoline and other flammable liquids away from children.”

Developed in cooperation with the American Burn Association and Shriners Hospitals for Children, the CPSC’s National Burn Center Reporting System collects comprehensive reports on clothing-related burns to children under age 15 from the 105 burn centers that treat children. These incidents involve the ignition, melting or smoldering of clothing worn by children.

To support this effort, the National Association of State Fire Marshals works cooperatively with CPSC to retrieve and preserve children’s clothing involved in burn injuries – an action that reportedly greatly enhances the investigative process. Garments collected by fire officials are forwarded to CPSC headquarters for inspection. At the suggestion of the NASFM, a committee consisting of the National Volunteer Fire Council, National Fire Protection Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs and NASFM developed a protocol for use by “first responders” across the country.

For each incident reported, the burn center provides CPSC with preliminary information on the incident. A CPSC investigator is assigned to the case to conduct an in-depth investigation, interviewing the victim when possible, as well as parents, fire officials and medical personnel. All reports are reviewed and maintained in CPSC’s epidemiological databases.

Here are some highlights from the CPSC staff report on the first year’s data collected through the National Burn Center Reporting System:

* Of the 213 victims, 179 were injured while wearing daywear. Shirts, pants and combinations of garments were most frequently involved in the incidents.
* No incidents appear to have involved tight-fitting children’s sleepwear or infant garments sized 9 months or smaller.
* The most frequent ignition source was an outdoor fire, involved in 62 of the 209 incidents, followed by lighters in 37 of the incidents.
* More than one-half (107) of the 209 incidents involved flammable liquids. Boys, ages 10 to 14, comprised most of the victims. Many of these incidents were also associated with outdoor fires. Gasoline was the most frequently reported flammable liquid involved in these incidents.

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