Natural gas is a common energy source used for heating, cooking, and electricity generation in many households and industries around the world. While it is a convenient and efficient fuel, it can pose serious risks, including the potential for burn injuries. Understanding the causes, treatment, and prevention of natural gas burn injuries is crucial for both safety and emergency preparedness.

In the article below, the burn injury attorneys at Kherkher Garcia provide insight into natural gas burn injuries. Find out how these injuries commonly occur, and how an attorney can help you protect your rights.

Causes of Natural Gas Burn Injuries

Natural gas burn injuries can occur in various ways, often resulting from accidents or negligence. Here are some common causes:

Gas Leaks

Natural gas leaks can happen due to faulty appliances, damaged pipelines, or improper installation. When gas leaks occur in enclosed spaces, such as homes or buildings, it can lead to a buildup of highly flammable gas. If ignited, this can cause explosions or fires, resulting in burn injuries.

Appliance Malfunctions

Malfunctioning gas appliances, such as water heaters, stoves, or furnaces, can release excess gas or cause flames to flare unexpectedly. This can result in burns to anyone in close proximity to the appliance.

Improper Use of Gas Appliances

Incorrect use or maintenance of gas appliances can increase the risk of burn injuries. For example, using a gas stove or oven for heating purposes or leaving a gas burner unattended can lead to accidents and burns.

Workplace Accidents

In industrial settings where natural gas is used for manufacturing or processing, workplace accidents can occur due to equipment failures, human error, or inadequate safety protocols. These accidents can result in severe burn injuries to workers.

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods can damage gas pipelines or infrastructure, leading to gas leaks and subsequent fires or explosions. In such situations, individuals may suffer burn injuries while attempting to escape or during rescue efforts.

Improper Handling or Storage

Improper handling, transportation, or storage of natural gas or gas-related materials can increase the risk of fires or explosions. Mishandling compressed gas cylinders, storing flammable materials near gas appliances, or failing to secure gas storage facilities can create hazards that may lead to accidents.

Equipment Failure

Mechanical failures or breakdowns in gas-related equipment, such as pressure regulators, valves, or control systems, can compromise the integrity of gas supply systems and increase the likelihood of leaks, fires, or explosions. Regular inspection, maintenance, and testing of equipment are essential for identifying and addressing potential issues before they escalate into accidents.

By addressing the common causes of gas-related accidents, individuals, businesses, and communities can mitigate risks and promote safety in the use and handling of natural gas.

Types of Natural Gas Burn Injuries

Natural gas burn injuries can vary in severity depending on factors such as the temperature of the fire, the duration of exposure, and the area of the body affected. The following are common types of burn injuries associated with natural gas accidents:

  • Thermal Burns: Thermal burns occur when skin comes into direct contact with flames, hot surfaces, or boiling liquids. In natural gas accidents, individuals may suffer thermal burns from fires or explosions caused by gas leaks or appliance malfunctions.
  • Inhalation Injuries: In addition to skin burns, exposure to natural gas fires can also result in inhalation injuries. Breathing in hot gases, smoke, or toxic fumes can damage the respiratory tract, leading to airway burns, lung damage, or carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Flash Burns: Flash burns occur when individuals are exposed to sudden, intense bursts of heat and flames. These burns often affect the face, hands, and upper body and can result from explosions or flare-ups in natural gas accidents.
  • Secondary Burns: Secondary burns occur when hot objects or debris come into contact with the skin, causing additional injuries beyond the initial flames. In natural gas explosions, individuals may suffer secondary burns from flying debris, collapsing structures, or contact with hot surfaces.

Treatment of Natural Gas Burn Injuries

Prompt and proper treatment is essential for managing natural gas burn injuries and minimizing long-term complications. The following steps are typically involved in the treatment process:

  • Immediate First Aid: If someone sustains a natural gas burn injury, it’s crucial to remove them from the source of the heat or flames and stop the burning process. This may involve extinguishing any flames, smothering burning clothing, or dousing the affected area with water.
  • Assessment and Stabilization: Once the person is removed from danger, assess the severity of the burn injuries and provide basic first aid as needed. For more severe burns or cases involving inhalation injuries, seek medical help immediately and ensure the person’s airway, breathing, and circulation are stable.
  • Cooling the Burns: Cooling the burned area with cool (not cold) water can help alleviate pain, reduce swelling, and prevent further tissue damage. Avoid using ice or ice-cold water, as this can cause additional injury to the skin.
  • Medical Treatment: Depending on the severity of the burns, medical treatment may involve cleaning the wounds, applying topical medications or dressings, and administering pain relief or antibiotics to prevent infection. In cases of inhalation injuries, oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation may be necessary to support breathing.
  • Wound Care and Rehabilitation: After the initial treatment, ongoing wound care is essential for promoting healing and preventing complications such as infection or scarring. This may involve regular cleaning and dressing changes, physical therapy to improve mobility, and psychological support to cope with the trauma of the injury.

Preventing Natural Gas Burn Injuries

While natural gas accidents can happen unexpectedly, there are steps individuals and organizations can take to reduce the risk of burn injuries:

  • Routine Maintenance: Regular inspection and maintenance of gas appliances, pipelines, and ventilation systems can help detect potential problems before they lead to accidents or leaks.
  • Proper Installation: Ensure gas appliances are installed correctly by qualified professionals according to manufacturer guidelines and local building codes.
  • Gas Leak Detection: Install carbon monoxide detectors and natural gas detectors in homes and workplaces to alert occupants to potential leaks or buildup of gas.
  • Safe Practices: Follow safety guidelines when using gas appliances, such as keeping flammable materials away from stoves and heaters, never leaving cooking unattended, and avoiding using gas appliances for purposes they’re not intended for.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Have a plan in place for responding to gas leaks, fires, or other emergencies, including knowing how to shut off the gas supply and evacuating safely if necessary.

Overall, preventing natural gas fires and explosions requires a combination of proactive safety measures, adherence to regulations and standards, regular maintenance and inspection of gas infrastructure, and prompt response to potential hazards or incidents.

When are Natural Gas Burn Injuries a Legal Matter?

Natural gas burn injuries can become a legal matter under various circumstances, especially when negligence, liability, or misconduct are involved. Here are some situations where natural gas burn injuries may lead to legal action:

Product Liability

If a natural gas appliance or equipment malfunctions due to design defects, manufacturing errors, or inadequate warnings, the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer may be held liable for resulting injuries. Victims of burn injuries caused by defective gas appliances or components may pursue legal action to seek compensation for damages, including medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Premises Liability

Property owners or managers have a legal obligation to maintain safe premises and protect visitors from foreseeable hazards, including gas leaks or fires. If a property owner fails to address known gas-related risks, such as faulty appliances, inadequate ventilation, or gas leaks, and someone suffers burn injuries as a result, the property owner may be held liable for negligence. Premises liability claims may arise from accidents in residential, commercial, or industrial properties where natural gas is used.

Contractual Obligations

In cases involving rental properties or leased premises, landlords or property managers may have contractual obligations to ensure the safety and maintenance of gas appliances and infrastructure. Failure to fulfill these obligations or breaches of lease agreements may result in legal disputes if a tenant suffers burn injuries due to gas-related accidents.

Workplace Accidents

Employers have a legal duty to provide a safe working environment for employees and contractors, including proper training, equipment maintenance, and hazard mitigation measures. If a workplace accident involving natural gas leads to burn injuries, the employer may be held accountable for violating workplace safety regulations or standards. Workers’ compensation laws may provide injured workers with benefits for medical expenses, lost wages, and disability, but in some cases, legal action against negligent employers or third parties may be pursued.

Getting Help after Natural Gas Burn Injuries

If you or someone you love is suffering from natural gas burn injuries, you likely have many questions about your legal rights and options. It can be challenging to determine if your injuries qualify you for compensation, such as workers’ compensation, personal injury damages, etc. At Kherkher Garcia, we can help you explore the circumstances of your burn injuries and determine what options you have to pursue recovery.

Our burn injury attorneys have the skills and resources necessary to explore all aspects of natural gas leaks, fires, and explosions. We can help determine who is liable and hold them accountable for their negligence.

To find out more about our attorneys and services, contact us for a free consultation. Get started by calling 713-333-1030, or by submitting our online contact form.

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Steve Kherkher

Steve Kherkher

Founding Partner and Trial Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Injury Trial Lawyer and Founding Firm Partner Steve Kherkher. Steve has been a practicing injury lawyer for more than 30 years. He has won $300 Million+ in Settlements and Verdicts for his clients. He is a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom and the trial lawyer you want on your side if you or a loved one have been catastrophically injured.

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