Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Cautionary Word


I've been reading Laura Bickle's wonderful urban fantasy, EMBERS, which is all about firefighters, fire elementals, dragons and, naturally, fire. At the same time, we've had some beautiful weather, sending my thoughts in the direction of cookouts.

The combination of the two made me think of a cousin of mine who, like far too many people, combined the two in an unfortunate way.

Every year, people are hurt or killed because they didn't respect the power of fire: rapid, rapid, rapid oxidation.

Some people neglect to carefully inspect--or don't know how to inspect--the equipment they're going to use. Me, I just have one of those round metal pots with a grill on top. Attempt to make a fire in it and, if the fire takes hold of the charcoal, cook. But some people have gas grills, or smokers or fryers or pressure doo-dahs that, if they go wrong, can go disastrously wrong.

Some people don't attend to their fires, so stuff blows into it or out of it, or something--or, God forbid, someONE--gets too close to it.

Some people forget that, even when the cooking is done, even if the fire is out, the grill is still hot. I've had a few ouchies from that, myself.

What happened to my cousin is damage I'm always in danger of sustaining. His fire wasn't catching, so he squirted flammable liquid on the hot-but-not-flaming coals. Now, the thing about flammable liquid, the thing one must always remember about it, the one thing one should always bear in mind, IS THAT FLAMMABLE MEANS IT BURSTS INTO FLAMES. The temptation to give smoldering coals one more squirt, since they aren't flaming, is almost impossible to resist. But my cousin, along with many other equally highly intelligent people, gave in to the temptation and squirted. The coals were hot enough to ignite the liquid as it touched them. The fire almost instantaneously traveled up the stream and the can exploded, spattering my cousin in burning liquid.

He was badly but not critically hurt, and told everyone who visited him in the hospital to remember him whenever they thought it might be a good idea to squirt flammable liquid onto a sulky fire.

I do, and it's probably saved me from agony many times.

So do respect your equipment and Mr. Fire Element. Don't be a fatal foodie. And this is ME saying it.

MA

1 comment:

Lisa Hall said...

I once saw a news story about a man who used lighter fluid with coals that were already lit. The can of lighter fluid exploded. That has always stayed with me.