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Accident Analysis and Prevention 32 (2000) 407420

Burn properties of fabrics and garments worn in India


S. Bawa Bhalla
a
, S.R. Kale
b
, D. Mohan
c,
*
a
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Cornell Uni6ersity, Ithaca, NY, USA
b
Mechanical Engineering Department, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Hauz Khas, New Delhi 110016, India
c
Transportation Research and Injury Pre6ention Programme, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Centre for Biomedical Engineering,
Hauz Khas, New Delhi 110016, India
Accepted 10 August 1999
Abstract
A full-scale human form dummy was designed for studying the burning of common dress assemblies (i.e. combination of
garments) worn in India. The dummy was made in eight parts; each made of a steel shell lled with water so as to replicate
properties of skintissue combination. Four thermocouples were xed on the dummy for measuring torso, neck and face
temperatures. The dummy was clothed separately in three womens dress assemblies (saree, salwarkhameez and nightgown) and
mens dress assemblies (kurtapyjama, shirt pant and lungi), and ignited at the feet by a at ame. The tests showed that loose
tting garments burnt easily. Once completely burnt, all dress assemblies result in third degree burns over most of the body. The
burning process of synthetics is radically different from cottons or cottonpolyester blends. However, ame duration and
temperatures produced on the skin are not radically different, suggesting that on the whole synthetics are no worse than cotton
garments. Thick garments, such as, jeans and khadi, do not ignite easily and are inherently safer than similar garments made of
light fabric. The studies show that results of standard ammability tests using single fabric strips do not correlate with the burning
observed in garments as part of a dress where multilayering is common. Standards/codes for re safety of garments and
garment dress assembly combinations need to be evolved to adequately address their re safety. 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All
rights reserved.
Keywords: Dummy; Dress; Dress assembly; Garments; Fabrics; Fire safety; Burning; Burns; Indian
www.elsevier.com/locate/aap
1. Introduction
The re safety of garments is a subject of consider-
able interest and has resulted in standards, interna-
tional and country specic, for testing fabrics. In many
cases, a test sample, typically 50300 mm, is burnt in
a controlled setting. Measurements of heat ux and
temperature and ame propagation are used for charac-
terising the re safety of the fabric on the basis of
certain criteria laid out in the codes. This characterisa-
tion procedure has considerable relevance for character-
ising the ammability of draperies because the test
conditions reasonably mimic actual conditions. These
tests, however, do not accurately mimic the conditions
of the fabric when it is made into a garment and worn
as a combination of garments, i.e. dress assembly. The
present study was conducted to explore these aspects,
particularly in the Indian environment where an over-
whelming number of burn injuries occur at home.
Sawhney (1989) analysed 339 patients with burns ad-
mitted to a teaching hospital and concluded that 89%
of the cases occurred at homes with oor level cooking
using a kerosene stove. Two-thirds of these cases re-
sulted from mishandling of the stove while wearing
loose garments. More recently, analysis by Subrah-
manyam (1996) showed that 92% of the burns occurred
at home. Similar gures have been reported in other
studies (Gupta et al., 1993; Jayaraman et al., 1993;
Kumar et al., 1994) in urban areas. Even in a
predominantly industrial area, 85% of the burns oc-
curred at home where kerosene stove and open ames
were common causative agents (Sarma and Sarma,
1994).
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +91-11-659-1147; fax: +91-11-685-
1169.
E-mail address: dmohan@cbme.iitd.ernet.in (D. Mohan)
0001-4575/00/$ - see front matter 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S0001- 4575( 99) 00112- 8
S. Bawa Bhalla et al. / Accident Analysis and Pre6ention 32 (2000) 407420 408
2. Experimental facility
The experimental facility consisted of an instru-
mented dummy over which the dress assembly was
tted. The re was initiated at the feet with a at ame.
Still and video pictures of the burning process were
taken besides the temperature history at four locations
on the dummy. Details of the dummy and experimental
procedures are given below.
2.1. The dummy
Conventional dummy designs consist of a multilay-
ered shell of bres, usually carbon bres and kevlar,
joined together with epoxy (Crown and Dale, 1993;
Eaton, 1995). Such a design does not accurately repre-
sent the properties of the skinesh combination. Its
use is at best limited to short testing periods, less than
1 min, such as those encountered during exposure to
ash res or a short run through a re. In prolonged
exposures, lasting several minutes, heat transfer to the
skin and tissue is important as it affects the ame itself
and determines the extent of injury. Fires from burning
dresses last several minutes, which necessitated a
dummy, whose heat transfer properties matched those
of human skin and esh.
A review of literature for obtaining thermal proper-
ties of the skin and tissue was undertaken, on the basis
of which, data given by Bowman et al. (1975) and Duck
(1990) was adopted. The data indicate that thermal
conductivity and diffusivity of skin and tissue are al-
most the same as the corresponding properties of water.
This observation can also be traced to the fact that
water is the predominant constituent in skin and tissue.
It was, therefore, decided to make a composite dummy
with a thin outer shell containing water. Several candi-
date materials were examined for thermal properties,
strength, ease of fabrication, re resistance, cost and
availability, after which galvanised mild steel sheet of
thickness 0.56 mm was nally selected. For ease of
fabrication and dressing, the human form was realised
by assembling eight pieces, viz, two each for each arm,
one for each leg, torso and head (and neck). The shape
of each piece was an approximation of the correspond-
ing body portion, such as, cylinder, frustum of a cone
or elliptical. The individual parts were assembled with
bolts and the bottom of the torso was placed on a steel
rod anchored vertically in the oor. The assembled
dummy was enclosed in a wire mesh cage with exhaust
hood and fan at the top. A photograph of the entire
assembly is shown in Fig. 1a. Each piece was lled with
deaerated water so as to prevent bubble formation on
the inside surfaces. Experiments conducted by Bandhu
and Singh (1994) on a single piece showed that over the
range of room temperatures, which includes body tem-
perature, water temperature did not inuence the fabric
combustion. Hence, water in the dummy was at room
temperature during the tests. On the basis of a heat
transfer analysis it was decided that internal inserts in
the parts would not be necessary because natural con-
vection currents were insignicant.
Fig. 1. (a) Experimental facility the dummy. (b) Experimental
facility instrumentation.
S. Bawa Bhalla et al. / Accident Analysis and Pre6ention 32 (2000) 407420 409
Fig. 2. Burn sequence of cotton saree dress assembly.
Fig. 3. History during burning of a cotton saree dress assembly.
S. Bawa Bhalla et al. / Accident Analysis and Pre6ention 32 (2000) 407420 410
Fig. 4. Sequence of polyester saree dress assembly.
Fig. 5. Temperature history during burning of a polyester saree dress assembly.
S. Bawa Bhalla et al. / Accident Analysis and Pre6ention 32 (2000) 407420 411
Fig. 6. Burn sequence of silk saree dress assembly.
Fig. 7. Temperature history during burning of a silk saree dress assembly.
S. Bawa Bhalla et al. / Accident Analysis and Pre6ention 32 (2000) 407420 412
Fig. 8. Burn sequence of a cotton salwarkhameez dress assembly.
2.2. Test procedure
Each test commenced by selecting the dress (de-
scribed in Section 2.3) and cleaning the dummy with
carbon tetrachloride. The dummy was then clothed. In
order to avoid disturbing the thermocouples, some
garments had to be cut and stitched back later. For
light up, a U-shaped sheet metal tray, 5050 cm
overall was covered with jute fabric and sprayed with
kerosene oil. When ignited, it produced a at ame
5070 mm in height at which point it was slid along the
oor directly under the dummy. After appearance of a
stable ame on the clothed dummy, the tray was re-
moved and its ame put out. The burning on the
dummy was recorded using still and video cameras and
temperatures of the four thermocouples were recorded
on the PC. After the combustion was complete, the
dummy was cleaned and readied for the next test. This
procedure of initiating combustion was used for three
main reasons. Firstly, it replicates the situation in an
Indian home described in the previous paragraph. Sec-
ondly, from a combustion stand point, the ame speed
for a burning fabric is greatest when the ame travels
vertically upward; representing a worst case scenario
for burn injuries. Finally, the at ame provided a well
controlled method for ame initiation, something not
possible if the ame were to be applied at any other
location on the dummy.
2.3. Garments and fabrics
2.3.1. Dress assemblies and garments
The experiments focussed on the fabrics, garments
and dress assemblies typical to India. Three typical
The dummy was instrumented with four thermocou-
ples (K-type with breglass insulation) brazed on the
head (face), neck, upper torso and lower torso, as
shown in Fig. 1b. Prior to brazing, each thermocouple
was calibrated up to 180C. These thermocouples were
connected to a PC-based data acquisition system via
compensating cables. All the thermocouples were sam-
pled at 2-s intervals during tests.
The dummy was placed upright on a steel rod
grouted into the oor. The vertical upright position
used here simulates a worst case scenario, in compari-
son to lying at or sitting positions, from burn injuries
stand point. It is here that the garments are free from
the body making them extremely vulnerable to ignition
and subsequent combustion. In Indian homes which is
where most burn injuries occur, such a position would
occur when a person cooking food on the oor stands
up and the lower garments are exposed to the open
ame of a stove.
Fig. 9. Temperature history during burning of a cotton salwarkhameez dress assembly.
S. Bawa Bhalla et al. / Accident Analysis and Pre6ention 32 (2000) 407420 413
Fig. 10. Burn sequence of a cotton nightgown dress assembly.
Fig. 11. Temperature history during burning of a cotton nightgown dress assembly.
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Fig. 12. Burn sequence of a thick-khadi kurtapyjama dress assembly.
Fig. 13. Temperature history during burning of a thick-khadi kurtapyjama dress assembly.
S. Bawa Bhalla et al. / Accident Analysis and Pre6ention 32 (2000) 407420 415
Fig. 14. Burn sequence of cottonpolyester blend shirt pant dress assembly.
Fig. 15. Temperature history during burning of a cottonpolyester blend shirt pant dress assembly.
S. Bawa Bhalla et al. / Accident Analysis and Pre6ention 32 (2000) 407420 416
womens dress assemblies, viz, saree, salwarkhameez
and nightgown, and three typical mens dress assem-
blies, viz, kurtapyjama, shirt pant and lungi were
tested.
The saree dress assembly, Figs. 2a, 4a and 6a, con-
sists of ve garments, panty, petticoat, saree, bra and
blouse. The saree is a 5 m long and 1.5 m wide cloth
which is wrapped twice around the waist, with pleats in
the front, and thrown across the chest and left shoulder
with the end hanging freely at the back. The petticoat
and saree are loose tting whereas the undergarments
and blouse are tight tting. The salwarkhameez dress
assembly, Fig. 8a, consists of panty, bra, khameez (a
knee length dress), salwar (baggy trousers snug at the
bottom) and a dupatta (a scarf like cloth covering the
chest and thrown across the shoulders). Except for the
undergarments, the other garments are loose tting.
The nightgown dress assembly, Fig. 10a, consists of
nightgown, similar to those worn worldwide, and panty
and bra.
The mens dress assembly kurtapyjama, Fig. 12a,
consists of a kurta (a knee length dress), pyjama (baggy
trousers loose at the bottom), vest and brief. The dress
is loose tting all over, except for the undergarments.
The shirt pant dress assembly is the same as it is the
world over; a shirt tucked into a pant, briefs and vest,
Fig. 14a. The lungi dress assembly, Fig. 16a, consists of
a vest, a brief and 2 m long and 1.5 m. wide cloth tied
at the waist and loosely hanging down.
2.3.2. Fabrics
A wide variety of fabrics are in use in India, with the
cost being an important factor in their use. Besides
established large mills where quality records are prop-
erly maintained, there are a large number of small and
medium mills where quality records are not maintained
as well. The latter are lower in cost and, hence, used by
a majority of the people. Detailed analyses of the
fabrics were, therefore, difcult to obtain and broad
classications were followed. All undergarments were
Fig. 16. Burn sequence of a cotton lungi dress assembly.
S. Bawa Bhalla et al. / Accident Analysis and Pre6ention 32 (2000) 407420 417
Fig. 17. Temperature history during burning of a cotton lungi dress assembly.
of cotton. Saree, kurtapyjama and nightgown fabrics
were either cotton, polyester or cottonpolyester blend,
and silk (saree only). Mens kurta-pyjama were made of
thin khadi, thick khadi and cottonpolyester blend.
Khadi is a cotton fabric, which is produced on small or
medium scale, usually coarse in texture. Shirt pant
combination consisted of cotton or cotton-polyester
blend shirt, or cotton, cottonpolyester blend or wool
T-shirt with either cottonpolyester blend pant or cot-
ton jeans. The lungi was made of cotton fabric which
was not of khadi variety.
3. Experimental results
Multiple runs were performed with each dress assem-
bly using different fabric combinations and the results
are presented below. Pictures and data, typical of the
particular dress assemblyfabric combination are also
presented.
3.1. Womens dress assemblies
3.1.1. Saree dress assembly
Figures 2ad show the burning sequence of a cotton
saree dress assembly and it can be seen that even while
the ames exist at the feet, the re has spread along the
saree up to and above the face/head (Figs. 2bc).
Flame propagation is rapid for loose cloth whereas the
tight tting garments and the blouse have burnt par-
tially or not at all (Fig. 2d). The temperature history,
Fig. 3, shows that after an initial delay, the inuence of
ames is felt rst at the head and neck and then at the
lower and upper torso. At 140 s, a pair of peaks
appears at the lower and upper torso, a result of
delayed burning of waist level fabric the panty,
petticoat band and saree tucked into the petticoat.
Heavy charring was observed which smouldered for a
considerable time.
The burn sequence of a polyester saree dress assem-
bly is shown in Figs. 4ad. After light up, the ames
gradually progress upwards, burning the saree fabric
below it. Flames do not engulf the head even when
torso-level fabric is burning. Chunks of molten burning
fabric fall off the dummy to the ground where burning
continues (Figs. 4b and d). Figure 5 shows the temper-
ature history during this process. Here, the four loca-
tions record peak temperatures at almost the same time.
The highest temperature occurs at the lower torso and
it is substantially greater than the others. Hot gases
produced by combustion at the torso ow upward past
the face, resulting in simultaneous peaks. An interesting
feature is the absence of a peak at the neck and the
head due to combustion of chest level fabric.
The burn sequence of a silk saree dress assembly is
shown in Figs. 6ad; here immediately after ignition,
the entire saree is in ames, typical of a ash over.
Pieces of burning fabric fall off to the ground where the
combustion continues. The temperature history, Fig. 7,
shows rapid temperature rise at all locations with the
lower torso experiencing elevated temperatures for a
much longer period. The secondary peak at the lower
torso results from delayed combustion of waist level
fabric, which is worn tightly.
Test results for cottonpolyester and terylenecotton
sarees exhibited similar trends as the cotton saree and,
hence, are not presented here.
S. Bawa Bhalla et al. / Accident Analysis and Pre6ention 32 (2000) 407420 418
3.1.2. Salwarkhameez dress assembly
Figures 8a and b show the burn sequence of a cotton
salwarkhameez dress assembly. Hot gases produced
by combustion at the feet, balloon the dress which
starts burning at several locations. The ames rapidly
engulf the head and face, Fig. 8b. The temperature
history of Fig. 9 shows rapid ame spread and all
locations experience high temperatures for similar time
periods.
The burning of a polyester salwarkhameez dress
assembly exhibited the ballooning observed in the cot-
ton khameez but the ame propagation was gradual,
much like the polyester saree. Due to variations in
localised burning, the temperature histories showed
wide variations high temperatures if burning oc-
curred in the thermocouple vicinity, moderate tempera-
tures otherwise. The cottonpolyester blend salwar
khameez too exhibited khameez ballooning and its
subsequent combustion was similar to that of the cot-
ton salwarkhameez.
3.1.3. Night dress assembly
Figures 10ad depict the burning of a cotton night-
dress assembly. Immediately after initiating the re to
the bottom of the nightgown, it ballooned resulting in
rapid ame spread vertically up to the face, along the
front in this case. The torn nightgown then burnt
slowly all around. The result of this burning is a rapid
temperature rise at the lower torso and at the head,
seen in Fig. 11. The same trends were observed in the
burning of a cotton-polyester blend nightgown. The
burning of the polyester nightgown was similar to the
saree, gradual progress to the top with pieces of molten
burning fabric falling to the ground.
3.2. Mens dresses assembly
3.2.1. Kurtapyjama dress assembly
Figures 12ad show the burning sequence of a
kurtapyjama dress assembly, the kurta and pyjama
being of thick khadi fabric. Qualitatively, this dress
assembly has semblance to the salwarkhameez and
here also the kurta balloons and ames erupt at the
upper portion. The burning is followed by heavy char-
ring. The temperature history, Fig. 13, shows a consid-
erable delay in re initiation, the result of a snug tting
pyjama. The head experiences highest temperatures al-
though the duration of elevated temperatures at all
locations is comparable.
Kurtapyjama sets of thin khadi exhibited similar
behaviour, with one difference; the time for ignition
was less than that for thick khadi. With both fabrics,
vertical ame propagation dominated horizontal ame
propagation, which left columns of charred fabric be-
hind them.
3.2.2. Shirt pant dress assembly
A unique feature of all shirt pant dress assemblies
was the difculty in initiating the re. In some cases a
re would self extinguish itself after the re tray was
removed necessitating re-introduction of the re tray. A
sequence of burning of a cottonpolyester blend shirt
and pant is shown in Figs. 14ad; the ames gradually
progress to the top consuming the pant and shirt in
their wake. Differences in the combustion on left leg
(Fig. 14b) and right leg (Fig. 14c) are attributed to the
difculty in initiating a stable ame simultaneously on
both legs, an observation common to this dress irre-
spective of fabric type. The temperature history, Fig.
15, shows a peak at the head at about 120 s which is
attributed to the burning shirt at chest level. Another
peak is observed at the lower torso at about 330 s
which is attributed to the burning of waist level fabric
of the pant, shirt, vest and brief. The total burning time
is quite long, over 7 min.
Cotton and wool shirts with cottonpolyester blend
pant exhibited similar behaviour. Cotton jeans were
very difcult to set on re and, subsequently, the rate of
combustion and ame spread were very slow compared
to pants of any other fabric.
3.2.3. Lungi dress assembly
The burning sequence of a cotton lungi dress assem-
bly is shown in Figs. 16ad. The lungi itself burnt very
rapidly, the waist level cloth and vest burning compara-
tively slowly. The major combustion occurred below
the waist and, consequently, temperatures do not attain
high values as seen in Fig. 17.
4. Discussion
The series of tests described above give insights on
the combustion of different dress assemblies and fabrics
there in. The observations can be generalised on some
important issues and these are presented below.
4.1. Effect of t and multilayering
In the dress assemblies investigated, the saree is the
loosest tting garment; at the other end of the spectrum
is the shirt-pant assembly. The effect of t can be
observed on two aspects. First, loose t garments catch
re easily and, second, once on re the ame spread is
rapid. Both aspects limit the safety of the dress. In all
the tests, the dummy was clothed in undergarments that
were tight/snug tting. In most cases, these garments
did not burn completely and, in some, they did not
burn at all. There is a possibility that the tight tting
garment could shield the underlying skin from the
ame. These types of garments can enhance re safety.
In this context it is important to note that results from
S. Bawa Bhalla et al. / Accident Analysis and Pre6ention 32 (2000) 407420 419
ammability tests (ISO 6940, 1984; ISO 6941, 1984; IS
11871, 1986) which were obtained for all fabrics, cannot
be correlated with the burning characteristics and,
hence, re safety of a dress. A fabric used as a light/
snug tting garment is inherently safer than the same
fabric used as a loose tting garment.
Simultaneously, the limitation of standard tests is
evident when multilayered fabrics are encountered. The
same fabric or combinations of different fabrics in
multilayer arrangements give very different burning
characteristics. For example, the cotton petticoat, worn
with the saree, burns very differently from a cotton
lungi, which is almost the same as the petticoat. With a
saree, the petticoat burns after the saree covering it has
burnt, thus slowing its burning. The petticoat, without
the saree would burn rapidly. On the basis of standard
tests, using vertical or inclined strips of fabric, it is not
possible to predict the burning of the petticoat. This
aspect was observed in the experiments performed by
Bandhu and Singh (1994). They rst conducted single
strip tests as per standards and then studied the effects
of t (loose, medium and tight) by wrapping the fabric
once over a vertical cylinder and on a horizontal cylin-
der. While results of loose t fabric on the vertical
cylinder could be correlated with single strip tests, no
such conclusion could be drawn about the tight t
cases. Tests on the horizontal cylinder had almost no
correlation with standard tests. Similar conclusions
were observed for multiple layers of fabrics. Hence, the
standard tests, using vertical or inclined strips of fabric
are very limited and a comprehensive set of tests cover-
ing these aspects need to be evolved to predict the
burning/ammability of dress assemblies and garments
and not just of the fabrics they are made from.
4.2. Relati6e grading of the re safety of Indian dress
assemblies and fabrics
The re safety and, hence, injury potential, of the
dress assembly-fabric combinations have been analysed
on the basis of (i) ignition time, i.e. time required to
establish a stable ame, and (ii) total burning time, i.e.
time required for complete combustion of the dress.
This numerical criterion suppresses the physical charac-
teristics of the burning processes. On the basis of these,
the re safety of the dress assemblies are discussed
below.
4.2.1. Womens dress assembly
Amongst sarees, silk sarees were not only highly
inammable but as a dress assembly they burnt most
vigorously and rapidly, followed by terylenecotton,
cotton and polyester in that order. Although the total
burning time is similar for terylenecotton, cotton and
polyester (the most widely worn sarees) was similar;
there were marked differences in the physical character-
istics of the ames. Cotton and terylenecotton sarees
burn with a large ame with rapid horizontal and
vertical spread whereas polyester burns with smaller
ames in lumps which either stick to the skin or fall to
the ground. These lumps continue burning long after
the dress had been consumed. The most inammable
salwarkhameez was of terylenecotton, followed by
cotton and polyester. The same grading was observed
for nightgowns also. In all cases, the burning was
similar to the corresponding saree.
4.2.2. Mens dress assembly
Amongst kurtapyjamas, thin khadi dress burnt
faster than thick khadi; the latter was also difcult to
ignite. In comparison to khadi dresses, terylenecotton
kurtapyjama was much more ammable. Amongst all
dress assemblies, the shirt pant dress was the safest.
Further, cotton jeans were safest as they did not catch
re easily and even after catching re, they burnt very
slowly. The cotton lungi burnt very rapidly. Though the
re did not affect the torso, neck or head, injuries to
the feet and lower abdomen cannot be ruled out.
4.3. Grading the re safety of fabrics
In general, thick garments are less susceptible to
burning than thin garments. For all dresses, womens
and mens, there is no evidence that synthetics are on
the whole more dangerous than cottons. There are,
however, trade-offs because the burning characteristics
of the two are quite different. Synthetics melt as they
burn and break off from the garment; as they fall off,
these molten pieces could stick to the skin and cause
severe injury. In the tests, it was observed that such
pieces occasionally stuck to the dummy. A test was also
performed on the leg of a pig (obtained from a local
butcher) by wrapping a synthetic fabric on it and
setting it on re in vertical position. Interestingly, most
of the molten burning fabric that came in contact with
the skin did not stick to it. It is possible that these
pieces would stick to the skin where it is horizontal.
4.4. Burns injury estimates
The temperature histories give magnitudes of ex-
pected skin temperatures in case of real burns. Based
on the data of Guzzetta and Randolph (1983),
thresholds for third degree burns are 54C for 30 s,
60C for 5 s or 70C for 1 s. These criteria were
exceeded in most cases suggesting third degree burns if
the clothes burn completely. This criteria, however, is
based on wet burns, i.e. burns caused by hot water. In
general, wet burns are more serious than dry burns
because heat penetration is signicantly larger in the
former case. For dry burns, the heat ux criteria de-
scribed in ASTM D4108 or by Diller (1985) for second-
S. Bawa Bhalla et al. / Accident Analysis and Pre6ention 32 (2000) 407420 420
degree burns were used and on this basis, too, the
temperature histories suggest third degree burns.
4.5. Burn injury mitigation
The experimental data also indicates an important
aspect, viz, time available for preventive action. This
time can be deduced from the ignition delay times
obtained from temperaturetime data. The ignition
delay is dened as the time required for a stable ame
to appear at the lower torso after the light-up tray has
been introduced. All womens dress assemblies and the
lungi dress for men have short ignition delays, typically
30 s. For other mens dress assemblies, the delay times
were generally more than 50 s. Most dress assemblies
required ame from the light-up tray for 35 s; the
exceptions being shirt pant and shirt jeans which re-
quired ame for as much as up to 1 min. The time
required for complete burning (total burn time) of the
dress assembly was also obtained from the data. For
loose tting garments, these times were less than 2 min;
there was considerable variation depending upon the
type of dress assembly-fabric combination. All shirt
pant combinations exhibited total burn times in excess
of 5 min.
These data while supporting the earlier conclusion of
the effect of t on fabric burning also give an estimate
of the time available for preventive action. Strategies
for loose t dress res should rst aim at natural
retardation of the ames for which ballooning should
be suppressed. A quick and easy method for realising
this is for the victim to lie at on the ground, preferably
face downwards. Lying at on the ground also prevents
injuries to the face, head and neck, which are most
difcult to treat, and which also leave visible disgura-
tions. Writhing in pain, a natural human reaction,
exacerbates the re and increases burn injuries. Dous-
ing the victim with water, as recommended by rst aid
manuals, is likely to be more effective for polyester
dresses than cottons as the ame propagation speeds
are lower and ash over does not occur. On the whole,
res from coarse fabric dresses allow more time for
preventive action as compared to ne fabric dresses.
The tests clearly point to the use of heavy fabric,
particularly cotton, dresses in snug or tight t, for
maximum re safety.
5. Conclusions
The tests conclusively show that standard ammabil-
ity tests where single layered strips of cloth are burnt do
not accurately predict the burning process when the
same fabric is made into garments and worn as part of
an overall dress assembly. Most dress assemblies, on
complete combustion will result in third degree burns.
There is no evidence that synthetics on the whole are
worse in re safety as compared to cotton for same
garment dress combination. Burn injuries can be min-
imised by wearing tight/snug tting garments made of
thick fabrics. Consequently, future action should be
directed towards public awareness; development of re
retardant cottons and synthetics, and drafting of codes/
standards for re safety of garments and dress assem-
blies in addition to those for the fabric.
Acknowledgements
The nancial support of the WHO is gratefully ac-
knowledged.
References
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