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A 26-year-old fire-breather presented with a 3% area of superficial partial thickness perioral burns in a typical spilt-fluid pattern [Figure 1]. The patient sustained the injury while exhibiting a fire-breathing act in an entertainment show. The patient used naphtha as the ignition medium and not too forceful blow resulted in spillage of the material around the mouth which caught fire resulting in burns. The burns were managed conservatively with topical ointment application. Satisfactory healing was achieved within 2 weeks without residual scarring.
Fire breathing is a stunning but potentially injurious stunt. The fire-breathers direct a mouthful of fuel forcefully or creates a fine mist by spitting through pursed lips which is ignited over a flame resulting in a stunning visual show of plume, pillar, ball, volcano, or a cloud of fire [Figure 2]. The important thing in this process is controlling the fuel's direction and the consistency of the spray. The choice of fuel also plays an important role in a fire-breather's technique. The important factors in choosing a fuel includes flash point, toxicity, odor, color, visibility of flame, amount and thickness of the smoke produced. The flash point of a fuel is the temperature at which vapor given off will ignite when an external flame is applied under test conditions. Higher flash point fuels are safer and preferable for the act. Usually, a pure fuel is used; however, a mixture of fuels is often used by the performers to enhance the visual effect. The consideration of angle of the fuel and flame is also important. The lower angle can make the flame fall on the body, while the higher angle can cause unignited fuel to fall back into the face.
Various types of fuels used for fire breathing are liquid hydrocarbons including Naphtha's (Zippo), gasoline (petrol), diesel; alcohol (methanol, ethanol); liquidified natural gases (propane, butane); and various types of oils including mineral, kerosene (paraffin), and lamp oils.[1,2] The kerosene and purified unscented lamp oil are the commonly used fuels as they have a high flash point (90C), making them a safer choice. The naphtha is usually considered as a dangerous fuel choice for fire breathing because of its low flash point and high volatility. The methyl alcohol is extremely toxic and has extremely low flash point; ethyl alcohol in addition allows drunkenness and should be avoided for the fire work. For igniting the fire, flaming juggling torches are the preferred choice, while matches are considered unsafe as they keep the performer's hand dangerously close to the flame. Gas lighters are also not used as they can explode in the hand.
There are several immediate and long-term health hazards associated with fire-breathing act. Burns are the most obvious fire-breathing danger; however, there could be facial hair loss, ingestional toxicity, cutaneous irritation, peptic ulcers, fire-eater's pneumonia (hydrocarbon pneumonitis/chemical pneumonia),[3,4] inhalational injuries, and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. The post-burn perioral hypopigmentation referred to as leucoderma can cause significant cosmetic concerns in dark-skinned individuals and often leads to adverse psychosocial impact. Naphtha is quite carcinogenic and fuels like gasoline and kerosene often contain carcinogenic additives or refining byproducts, such as sulfurated compounds or benzenes.
From Puget Sound to Disneyland and east over the Rockies, Americans have coughed and wheezed, rushed to emergency rooms and shut themselves indoors this year as pollution from wildfires darkened skies and rained soot across the landscape. Even for healthy people, it can make breathing a miserable, chest-heaving experience. For the elderly, the young and the frail, the pollution can be disabling or deadly.
With large wildfires on the rise, smoke and the attendant breathing ailments seemed everywhere this year. In September, smoke from fires burning in California, the Pacific Northwest and Montana pushed as far east as Pennsylvania. Smoke triggered emergency declarations in Washington state and California. The Evergreen State was experiencing few fires of its own in July when it was hit by smoke waves that poured across the Canadian border. And smoke returned to much of the northwest in August and September as fires broke out in the Cascades and the Columbia Gorge.
Researchers from leading American universities examined fire pollution across the West, finding that two of every three counties in the region suffered at least one smoke wave from 2004 through 2009. When they correlated those findings with medical data, they found a 7 percent jump in breathing-related hospitalizations after smoke levels were most extreme.
The veil of pollution clouding much of the West this summer comes with fatal consequences. A study published in GeoHealth this summer concluded that early deaths related to wildfire smoke could double this century, even as deaths from breathing fossil fuel pollution decline amid a transition to cleaner energy.
Still, AJ Rassamni, who manages a car wash in Fresno, wants to see more comprehensive forest management. With fewer people leaving their homes amid recent smoke waves, fewer customers have been coming through his car wash. He provides masks to protect staff, but they can make breathing difficult.
But fire breathing is the most dangerous of all the fire arts. People who breathe fire professionally have to go to great lengths to keep themselves and their audiences safe. And since the process involves fire and flammable, toxic fuel, fire breathing accidents can be deadly.
Our second performer uses the stage name Pele, and she incorporates a number of sideshow acts in her shows. She had about ten years of fire stunt experience at the time of our interview. In this article, these performers will help explain the basics of fire breathing, the potential dangers and the safety measures that protect fire breathers and their audiences.
Fire breathing acts can be stunning, or even startling. \"It's a very spectacular effect,\" says Garner. \"There are very few things that produce as much amazement...it's something people don't see very often.\"
Some performers use naphtha, also known as white gas, Coleman fuel or lighter fluid, for some fire stunts. However, naphtha has a low flash point, making it more volatile and more likely to burn the performer. It is also toxic. Most performers consider it to be a more dangerous fuel choice for fire breathing.
But directing fuel from the mouth through a flame is the smallest component of a fire breather's performance. Protecting the performer and audience is an even greater undertaking. In the next section, we'll examine the dangers of fire breathing and the steps performers take to minimize the risks.
When talking about fire breathing, most performers acknowledge the dangers and emphasize the steps they take to minimize them. Many decline to teach others to fire breathe because of the risks involved. \"I discourage people from trying it every chance I get,\" says Pele.
Burns are the most obvious fire breathing danger. Performers can influence the direction of a fire, but they cannot actually control it. Shifting wind or other conditions can cause a flame to get out of control, burning the fire breather, the audience or property. Another burn hazard is blowback, which is when the flame follows the fuel back to the performer's mouth.
\"Home of Poi\" has several detailed articles about fire safety and fire breathing safety. In addition, the North American Fire Artists Association and the National Fire Protection Association maintain comprehensive guidelines for fire performance safety. These provide helpful standards for performers, but Pele cautions that they are not universally accepted. \"Every township has their own laws we have to work within, and there is no blanket catch-all standard.\"
Heinlein imagined a chemical reaction to ignite the dragon's fire, while biologist Frank van Breukelen proposed the physical spark of flintlike scales. But in either case, how would fire breathing affect a dragon's dental health
For a flame source, most performers shy away from lighters and matches because they are too small and too close to the body. The most commonly used flame source is a torch, with metal torches being the safest. Binding on torches is very important so no parts will fall off, specifically the wick. Wicks should not be made of wadding, cotton, or rags, as they will burn fairly quickly. Also many wicks in the U.S. are still made of asbestos, so performers need to ensure they are utilizing non-asbestos wicks. The most difficult part of fire breathing is mastering consistency of spray as well as direction. Fuel must be expelled as a fine mist-like spray in order to ignite properly. If expelled too heavy, a fuel will ignite and simply fall to the ground. If too light, it may be difficult getting the fuel to ignite at all. A fire breather must make sure that the fuel is misted just right to increase fuel surface area, and provide the perfect ratio of fuel, oxygen, and heat to cause combustion. 59ce067264