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Target 11 investigates dangers related to spray-on sunscreen



PITTSBURGH - A Massachusetts man caught fire while tending a grill after using spray-on sunscreen. Target 11 Consumer Investigator Robin Taylor takes a look at how something like that could happen.

Aerosol cans all carry a label warning that they can be flammable, but the man, who suffered second-degree burns, says he wasn't spraying the sunscreen next to the grill.

He says he put it on and then went to tend the charcoal about two minutes later.

"All of a sudden it just lit up on fire everywhere," said Brett Sigworth, of Stow, Ma.

Sigworth says he was standing in front of the grill when his body was suddenly engulfed in flames.

"I went into complete panic mode, just screamed. I mean, I never experienced anything like that in my life," said Sigworth.

He was using Banana Boat Sport aerosol sunscreen.

"Sprayed on the spray-on sunscreen, then rubbed it on for a few seconds. Then I walked over to my grill and took one of the holders to move some charcoal briquettes around, and all of a sudden, it just went up my arm," said Sigworth.

Ten days later, his skin is still healing. The worst burns were around his neck.

But pictures, taken in a hospital burn unit, show the extent of his second-degree burns. Looking at them, you can even see the lines where he sprayed on the sunscreen.

"Flames can move very, very quickly," said Ester Atwood, a nurse at West Penn Burn Center.

I talked to the manager of the West Penn Burn Center at Western Pennsylvania Hospital. She told me that aerosol products like hairspray can be flammable hours after they're applied. Even the alcohol in hand sanitizer can catch fire if it's exposed to an open flame.

"If it says flammable or potentially flammable, then you need to use caution if you're around a heat source," said Atwood.

Sigworth says he has no plans to sue Banana Boat. He says he's speaking out to prevent this from happening again.

"I had no idea, and it was so scary. I just wouldn't want to see it happen to anyone else," said Sigworth.

Remember what you were taught in grade school, to stop, drop and roll? That's the best thing you could do in this situation. Experts say you want to smother the fire.

Banana Boat released this statement, "At Banana Boat, we take these matters very seriously and will begin a prompt investigation as we continue to strive to deliver products of the highest quality to our consumers."

In the meantime, be very careful using any aerosol product near the grill.