You’ve probably heard about the recent fire in Taiwan, in which more than 500 water park attendees were injured in a horrific stage accident. I couldn’t watch the video of the event myself, but it was described as graphic and disturbing. The tragedy sparked the Flow Arts Institute to share a series of fire safety reminders for flow artists: fire poi and staff spinners, fire eaters and breathers–all of us.
It came the week of the Fourth of July, which was perfect timing. I watched some of the videos that were shared. The posts included an interview with the well-known poi spinner Drex, about a scary fire accident that he witnessed. His point was that it only takes one person who makes a mistake or bad decision to create a disaster. Another post was written by Kyle White in a blog post titled “Fire Safety 101 Only Works When You Use It,” where he shows a photo history of the worst case scenario, which he experienced first-hand. I looked, and can tell you that it, too, is graphic and disturbing.
These stories came to me a few days before I planned on sharing my fire eating and fire poi spinning with my family at our Fourth of July grill out. The day was beautiful. We went swimming in the heated salt water pool, ate a buffet of American foods and desserts that we potlucked together, and when the sun went down, began gathering our kids and our fireworks to celebrate America’s birthday.
When it came time for me to eat fire and spin my fire poi, I did three things differently, and I have to thank the Flow Arts Institute, Drex, and Kyle for this. I’ve been a fire dancer since 2006, and I’ve gotten relatively comfortable with my tools and fuel, but that’s a dangerous place to be. Here are three simple things that I did, and that if you work/play with fire, you should consider as well.
Simple Fire Safety Tips for Flow Artists
- Check the material of your clothes. I went swimming, changed back into my skirt and t-shirt, and then got thrown in the pool, fully clothed. It was all fun and games, except that the outfit I had on was the only 100% cotton fabric that I had with me. With my clothes in the dryer, I borrowed the only other safe fabric I could find – a pair of my dad’s sweat shorts, and a t-shirt from my step-mom. It wasn’t my normal flow wear, but it was safe.
- Make sure you have enough spare room. I was asked if I could “do my fire thing” in the backyard where the fire pit was. I scanned the area, and saw not one, but several risky things. A nearby wooden fence, a wooden deck, the house, and overhanging trees. For the campfire, it truly was enough space, but it wasn’t enough for me to be swinging around fire poi, simply because of the possibility of me accidentally losing a poi. It’s happened before, and it could happen again, to any of us.
- Cover your fuel and have it guarded and/or safe. Once I had eaten fire and spun my fire snakes, I joined my family to sit in the driveway and watch the guys set off fireworks in the street. The first ones went off, and I realized that my fuel cans were about 50 feet from where we were, tucked into a corner. It would have taken quite the odds for any spark to get near them, but stranger things have happened. I got up and moved them into the garage where there was no chance of them igniting from a rogue firework.
I hope you’ve learned something here. If you’re a fire dancer, I encourage you to check out Kyle’s post in particular. You do not want to be casual when it comes to using fire in flow arts. If you have any questions, let me know! Be safe, have fun, and thanks for reading.
Peace, love, and fire,