RED OAK – Grilling outdoors and gathering around the campfire are summertime rituals for many families. This season, local parents are working to keep summer fun from turning into tragedy by spreading the word that gas and fire never mix.

Most parents don’t use gas to start fires, but those who do put themselves – and their children – at risk. That’s why Red Oak Fire Rescue has joined the National Gasoline Safety Project to end gas fires and reduce burn injuries to children.

The vast majority of parents today do not use gasoline to start fires, according to a national survey funded by the National Gasoline Safety Project. But the study found that parents who do use gas to start fires mistakenly think it’s something “everybody” does. These parents are also twice as likely as other parents to think it’s hard to start a fire without gas.

“We just want to make sure the truth is loud and clear. Most parents do not use gas to start fires.  If people think it’s a common thing to do, they’re fooling themselves,” said Dr. James Johnson, a burn care surgeon from Tulsa, Okla., who supports the cause. “Ironically, the research shows that even parents who use gas to start fires know it’s not safe to do. They are putting their kids at risk.”

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, according to monitored hospital admissions. Overall, 14,500 Americans die each year from burn injuries and burn-related infections.

The National Gasoline Safety Project aims to put an end to gas fires and burns through parent-to-parent outreach. The initiative includes a website, StopGasFires.org, that allows parents to view a video about a teenage gas burn survivor and connect with others parents though email, Facebook and twitter.

The National Gasoline Safety Project also has put hangtags on all new portable gasoline fuel containers sold in the United States to remind parents that gas and fire never mix. The hangtags feature Johnson as well as firefighters, a burn survivor and others who are working to stop gas fires.

StopGasFires.org is a program of the National Gasoline Safety Project, which is sponsored by the Portable Fuel Container Manufacturers Association in partnership with Shriners Hospitals for Children and Safe Kids USA.

Gasoline Safety Tips

• Never use gas to start a fire. Parents who mix gas and fire put themselves — and anyone near them — at risk of injury or death. Kids also learn by example.

• Talk to your kids about the hazards of gasoline. 

• Keep gasoline out of reach of children. Out of sight isn’t enough, for any age. Store your gasoline where children cannot access it. Many parents keep their gas in a locked location.

• Use a proper container. Never use old soda bottles or other makeshift containers to store gas; someone might think it’s a beverage and drink it. And even a small cup of gasoline can emit vapors and may ignite.

• Store gas in a well-ventilated area outside your vehicle and living space. Consider a detached garage or outdoor storage shed.

• Keep gasoline away from any source of heat, spark or flame. Even common household appliances like water heaters and clothes dryers can ignite gas vapors.

• Read the warning label on your gas can. A list of safety precautions is imprinted on every approved portable gasoline container. Make sure you read the warnings if you store gasoline at home.

For more information, go to www.stopGasFires.org.