NFPA Urges Extreme Caution When Using Gel Fuel

Stop, drop, and roll may not extinguish clothing that catches fire involving splattered or spilled gel fuel. A dry chemical extinguisher or baking soda is recommended to extinguish the fire.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is urging the public to employ extreme caution when using gel fuel, a product typically used with fire pots, personal fireplaces, and some patio torches. Stop, drop, and roll may not extinguish clothing that catches fire involving splattered or spilled gel fuel. A dry chemical extinguisher or baking soda is recommended to extinguish the fire.

“As with any product, manufacturer’s instructions should be followed, but 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,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of communications.

Recent news reports from across the country have highlighted several incidents where people have been injured while using gel fuel. A number of these injuries have occurred during the refueling process. NFPA warns the public that a flame may still be burning even when it is not visible, which is not uncommon with some gel fuel, and pouring fuel on any open flame is extremely unsafe. According to NFPA, it is also important to allow a gel fuel device to cool completely (30-45 minutes) before refueling because if the fuel comes into contact with the hot device it may splatter on clothing or skin, resulting in a burn injury.

“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,” Carli said.

NFPA offers the following safety tips when using devices that have gel fuel:

  • Keep your face away from the device when refueling.
  • If gel fuel is spilled on clothing, remove the clothing and launder it immediately.
  • Never leave a lit fire pot, personal fireplace, or patio torch unattended.
  • Keep these devices at least one foot from anything that can burn.
  • Place the fire pot or personal fireplace on a sturdy surface.
  • Make sure patio torches are secure and not in the path of people or pets.
  • Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away.
  • These devices will be hot during and after burning; do not touch or move.
  • Be careful reaching over the device because clothing or hair could catch fire.
  • Use only gel fuel to refuel. Never substitute another kind of fuel.
  • Citronella gel fuel is intended for outdoor use only.
  • Allow the device to cool for 30-45 minutes before refueling.
  • Pouring gel fuel in a device that is not completely cool may result in a fire or injury.
  • Store the gel fuel in its tightly sealed original container, away from heat sources and out of reach of children and pets.

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