ESPN reporter using accident as chance to promote propane safety

January 4, 2013 By    

As a Google Alerts user who receives daily emails containing news items related to all things propane, I’ll sometimes come across stories about propane accidents and explosions. Most of these incidents fly under the national radar, but one involving an ESPN SportsCenter anchor in December gained unique attention on New Year’s Day.

The propane accident involved Hannah Storm, who hosted the Tournament of Roses Parade on ABC and shared her story on the Jan. 1 telecast – one that was likely watched by millions. Storm lit her grill Dec. 11, went back inside her home and returned shortly thereafter to find the grill’s flame had gone out. Storm then shut off the gas and relit the flame, but a wall of fire came at her as an explosion occurred.

“The cover of the grill was open, so I assumed logically, as I guess most people would, that there wouldn’t be any gas in the air,” Storm says on the telecast.

Storm sustained second-degree burns on her hands, chest and face in the accident, and half of her hair was burned. She even showed photos of the burns to her hand, chest and neck, which displayed the flame marks from the accident.

Considering the extent of her injuries, Storm could easily have become a proponent for alternative grilling methods and an advocate against propane. Fortunately for our industry, Storm has chosen to deliver a different message as she tells her story.

“A lot of people are afraid of grills,” Storm says in an interview with the Huffington Post. “I think this will be a good chance to talk about safety.”

Storm even offered a public service announcement of sorts on the parade telecast.

“If your grill has been lit but the lighter did not ignite for a period of time, the chances are very good that there is a lot of propane still sitting in the area,” she says, noting earlier in the parade telecast that propane is heavier than air – especially in cold weather. “So just turning it off and relighting it isn’t sufficient. You have to wait a long period of time for all of that propane to dissipate.”

Stuart Flatow, PERC’s vice president of safety and training, stressed that very point Jan. 2 in an ABC News video following Storm’s appearance on the parade telecast. In the ABC News video, Flatow says most grill manufacturers will encourage users to wait five minutes to relight their grill if the flame goes out. – Kevin Yanik, Managing Editor

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik was a senior editor at LP Gas Magazine.

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