WOODBRIDGE, Va., May 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Grilling outside and gathering around the campfire are summertime rituals for many Virginia families. As Memorial Day nears, Prince William County Fire & Rescue is working to keep outdoor fun from turning into tragedy by spreading the word that gas and fire never mix.
An independent national survey found most parents don't use gas to start fires — but those who do mistakenly think it's a normal behavior, said Bob Wall, Public Safety Education Coordinator for Prince William County Fire & Rescue.
That disconnect between perception and reality puts parents — and their children — at risk, said Wall, who has teamed up with the National Gasoline Safety Project.
"Good parents don't use gas to start fires. People who mix gas and fire are fooling themselves if they think that's a normal behavior," Wall said. "It's especially worrisome during the summer, when families are more likely to be lighting barbecues and campfires."
Though gasoline burn data is not directly tracked, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System estimates 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.
"Our research shows that parents know that gasoline is extremely flammable and that mixing gas and fire is not safe. But for some people, outdated habits die hard," said Amanda Emerson of the National Gasoline Safety Project. "Parents also know that kids learn by example. But parents who use gas to start a fire may not be thinking about the fact that they are teaching that dangerous behavior to their children."
The National Gasoline Safety Project includes a website, StopGasFires.org, where parents can view a video about a teenage gas burn survivor and connect with others parents though email, Facebook and Twitter.
The initiative also has put hangtags on new portable gasoline fuel containers sold in the United States. The hangtags feature firefighters, a burn survivor and others across the country working to stop gas fires in their communities.