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Flammable Fabrics Can Cause Devastating Burns

Few people consider the flammability of the fabrics they bring into their homes and the dangers these fabrics can pose to their families. In fact, most people are completely unaware that certain fabrics are supposed to be labeled according to their flammability.

Dangerous fabrics cause second- and third-degree burns in seconds

Some fabrics are extremely flammable and can ignite instantly when exposed to a flame. These include home décor fabrics, such as upholstery, drapes, carpets and bedding, along with sleepwear, outerwear and children’s costumes. Synthetic fabrics can melt onto a person’s skin, causing second- and third-degree burns to the skin and flesh beneath.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission is in charge of enforcing rules

Under the Flammable Fabrics Act, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has the authority to set standards for fabric flammability. The CPSC has established standards for clothing textiles, vinyl plastic film, carpets and rugs, children’s sleepwear and mattresses and mattress pads. Nonetheless, many important items make it into the marketplace without adequate safety labeling.

Virtually all fabrics are flammable to some extent, but you can take steps to make safer choices. When purchasing items made of or covered with fabric, consider how you intend to use the items and the fabric’s relative flammability:

  • Natural fibers — Untreated fabrics made of natural fibers such as cotton, silk and linen burn more readily than wool. The weight and density of the threads affect burn rates. Tightly woven fabrics are less likely to ignite than lightweight fabrics.
  • Synthetic fibers — Fabrics made of synthetic fibers such as rayon, polyester and acrylic are slower to ignite, but once ignited they melt, causing extremely severe burns when in contact with skin.
  • Blended fibers — Fabrics made of a blend of natural and synthetic fibers are among the most dangerous, because the natural fibers can ignite quickly, causing widespread melting of the synthetic fibers.

Consider fabrics treated with a flame retardant when possible. Match the type of fabric with its intended use in your home. If you or someone you know suffered severe burns due to dangerously flammable fabrics, contact a personal injury lawyer in Boston to discuss your situation.

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