Important Lesson of the Day: Do Not Wear Spray-on Sunscreen Near Fire

Watch your dreams of a healthy summer go up in flames

Pop quiz: What do smoking a cigarette when filling your gas tank, dousing yourself in gasoline before playing with fireworks, leaving your dog in the custody of Amanda Bynes, and wearing spray-on sunscreen at a backyard BBQ all have in common?

Answer: They’re all great ways to see you or your beloved pooch go up in flames.

While most of those seem like “no duh” health hazards, there is one among them that you might be guilty of (and we hope it’s not hanging with Bynes).

When you religiously apply SPF to avoid the sun’s scorching ray’s, you don’t expect your sunscreen to be the thing that gives you a nasty burn. But that’s exactly what’s been happening to a handful of unsuspecting users of spray-on sunscreen, who’ve found themselves with something much worse than a lousy sunburn.

The FDA issued a warning this month telling consumers to beware sunscreen sprays, after a spate of incidences have caused people to ignite after getting too close to an open flame -- sending them to the hospital to be treated for serious burns.

Sprayable sunscreens, it turns out, contain a host of flammable chemicals that do not make cordial companions of things like candles, cigarettes, barbecue grills or campfires.

Though all of the cases involved Banana Boat UltraMist spray-on sunscreens, which have been voluntarily recalled (check the FDA’s site to see if you’re still using the Molotov cocktail), the FDA cautions that all aerosol sunscreen sprays contain fire-causing chemicals, and should not be used near flames or by smokers.

In the Banana Boat cases, the people involved had been lighting a cigarette, standing near a lit citronella candle, walking too close to an outdoor grill, and – in one case -- doing welding work.

To be fair, Banana Boat UltraMist’s label did caution users to "keep away from sources of ignition — no smoking." But how many of us actually read or heed those warnings?

According to USA Today, the problem was caused by the continuous mist spray valve, which applied too much sunscreen to the skin. That causes the lotion to take more time to dry, which raises the flammability risk.

Once the spray-on sunscreen has dried completely, the risk of bursting into flames should deteriorate as well. However, the FDA is urging people to reconsider using spray-on sunscreen when they’ll be near an open flame of any kind -- be it Fourth of July fireworks, roasting marshmallows over a campfire, blowing out birthday candles, or hanging out with gasoline-toting celebrities.

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