Fire Hazard from Insect Repellant and Sunscreen Sprays

Okay, this makes sense, but I never thought of it before, and now my obsessive/compulsive mind won’t be able to let it go.

The FDA has just released a warning about using certain sprays near an open flame, such as a burning grill, campfire, bonfire, candle, lighter, or even a cigarette. Many sprays contain flammable ingredients, including alcohol. Common products include spray insect repellant, sunscreen, and hairspray. Apparently, if you spray these products close to an open flame, you end up with the equivalent of a blowtorch!

In some cases, the freshly applied product may catch fire even after it is on the skin. That happened to five people who suffered serious burns after applying spray sunscreen and then standing too close to a lit cigarette, a lit citronella candle, a grill, and–in one case–welding. The FDA says that these incidents suggest that there is a possibility of catching fire if you are near an open flame or a spark even after spraying on a flammable sunscreen—and even if you believe you have waited a sufficient time for the sunscreen to dry and your skin feels dry.

“Based on this information, we recommend that after you have applied a sunscreen spray labeled as flammable, you consider avoiding being near an open flame, sparks or an ignition source,” says Narayan Nair, M.D., a lead medical officer at FDA.

Safety Precautions

To stay safe, the FDA recommends to do the following:

  • When you choose a sunscreen, think about where you’ll be using it. If you’ll be anywhere near a flame source, avoid any product with a flammability warning and choose another non-flammable sunscreen product instead. This recommendation is particularly important when it comes to choosing a product for children since they are frequently active and may get near a flame source.
  • While applying and wearing sunscreen products labeled as flammable, do not smoke, and avoid open flames from lighting cigarettes, lit cigarettes, grilling, candles or sparking materials.
  • Do not apply flammable products to yourself or someone else near an open flame.

Whoever thought that protecting yourself from sunburn and insect bites could be so dangerous?!  Happy 4th of July, everyone, and stay safe!

To read the full warning from the FDA, click here:

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