Burning incense, grilling can be hazardous if misused

By Christina Seidel, CSFD Community Risk Reduction Specialist

When I think about burn injuries, I picture searing my hand on a toaster or curling iron, but those types of burns account for only 8 percent of burn injuries. The most common burns – 46 percent – come from direct contact with fire.

Incense and barbecue grills are prime culprits, especially in College Station, where we have responded to several incidents in the last year. Since this is Burn Awareness Week, it’s an ideal time to review some basic safety tips.


People burn incense for the same reasons they burn candles – they are fragrant and can provide a calm and soothing atmosphere. But since enjoying incense requires burning it, you should always make safety a priority.

For example, you should place incense burners on heat-resistant surfaces and make sure that the burner is properly insulated. It’s also important to never leave burning incense unattended and to keep it away from combustibles.

In 2005, a horrific fire in Washington D.C. caused by incense resulted in the death of two sisters, who were burning incense near a sofa and houseplant when the items ignited. The flames and thick smoke apparently obscured their escape route, so they sought shelter in the bathroom, where they died of smoke inhalation.

It’s important to remember that burn injuries can happen from burning anything, no matter how small or insignificant. If you enjoy burning incense, it’s a good idea to observe these safety tips:

Barbecue Grills

The weather in College Station – the recent cold spell notwithstanding – is frequently ideal for outdoor grilling, no matter the season. In addition to keeping the grill 10 feet from your house, cleaning the grill regularly, and checking for gas leaks, you should also fully understand how to light and re-light your grill safely.

In 2013, ESPN anchor Hannah Storm suffered second-degree burn injuries to her face while re-lighting her grill. Watch this video to learn more about her story and to see how gas can build up and cause an explosion:

If you’re unsure about how to use anything that involves a flame, be sure to research it thoroughly beforehand. The College Station Fire Department offers several prevention and safety programs, including one on the proper use of fire extinguishers.

For more information, contact me at 979-764-3712 or cseidel@cstx.gov.


About the Blogger

Community Risk Reduction Specialist Christina Seidel has been with the College Station Fire Department since 2013. She previously served as executive director of the Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley and was a teacher for several years in her hometown of Lockhart. Seidel earned a bachelor’s degree in developmental psychology from the University of Texas in 2001.


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