ORLANDO, May 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- For most people, Memorial Day weekend kicks off a summer filled with outdoor fun. But as families begin planning beachside barbecues and backyard marshmallow roasts, a local parent is working to keep fun from turning into tragedy by spreading the word that gasoline and fire never mix.
Larry Davis, a longtime Orlando resident and father of two young children, has partnered with the National Gasoline Safety Project.
"Parents are critical role models when it comes to teaching responsible behavior to their children," said Davis, a research and development engineer. "Just saying, 'Don't touch Daddy's gas' isn't going to keep your kids safe. Kids learn from what their parents do as well as what they say."
An independent survey funded by the National Gasoline Safety Project found that 80% of parents do not use gas to start fires. But the survey also found that parents who mix gas and fire mistakenly think it's a normal thing to do.
That disconnect between perception and reality puts those parents — and their children — at risk, said Amanda Emerson of the National Gasoline Safety Project. It's especially worrisome during the summer, when families are more likely to be barbecuing or lighting campfires.
"Good parents do not use gas to start fires," Emerson said. "Our research shows that parents know that gasoline is extremely flammable, and that mixing gas and fire is not safe. But for some parents, outdated habits die hard."
Though gasoline burn data is not directly tracked, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System estimates about 1,500 children a year are injured or killed in gasoline fires. Approximately 14,500 Americans die each year from burn injuries and related infections.
The National Gasoline Safety Project includes a website, StopGasFires.org, that allows parents to view videos about a teenage gas burn survivor and connect with others parents. The initiative also has put hangtags on portable gas containers sold across the nation. The hangtags feature Davis and others who are working to stop gas fires in their communities.