SUNDAY, Aug. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Be careful around gasoline.

That's the message from the University of Michigan Health System's Trauma Burn Center, which has treated 14 gasoline-related burns in just the past month.

"These kinds of injuries are avoidable and the painful consequences often last a lifetime," Karla Klas, injury prevention education specialist, said in a news release from the trauma center.

Most of the burns occurred when people used gasoline or other accelerants to boost bonfires and brush fires, Klas said. In some cases, children were burned when they played around gasoline and lighters.

Gasoline fires are responsible for 500 deaths and more than 10,000 visits to emergency rooms each year, says the American Burn Association.

"Because we safely use gasoline every day in our cars and lawn mowers, people don't always realize how dangerous it can be when it's improperly used," Klas said. "People underestimate how flammable and explosive it can be."

Here are some tips from the trauma center on how to use gasoline safely:

  • Don't start any type of fire -- including grill fires, bonfires and campfires -- with gasoline. And don't use it to make those fires burn hotter and brighter.
  • Don't use gasoline around open flames, including cigarettes.
  • Fill tanks in yard equipment, like lawn mowers, only when the engine is off and it's cold.

More information

For more on gasoline safety, visit the University of Michigan Health System's Trauma Burn Center.