Keep summer fire safety in mind around fireworks and grills

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Jun. 20, 2013
- Contributed Photo

One summertime holiday is past us now, and another will be upon us shortly. Hopefully you have been experiencing a safe and fun-filled summer so far. As the opportunities for fun times, fireworks and outdoor cooking come up, keep thinking about your family's safety.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that families simply avoid using fireworks at home. Children look to their parents for leadership by example. Give them an alternative that provides entertainment, as well as a learning experience. The U.S. Fire Administration suggests taking the family to a public, professionally-run fireworks display. Check with your town or one close by to see if they offer pyrotechnic displays in conjunction with their Independence Day parades.

Even fireworks such as sparklers that you might regard as "safe" can reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees or more. In the hands of an exuberant child, they might result in someone getting severely burned, with scars that carry ugly memories of fun times gone bad.

After Independence Day in 2011, the Consumer Product Safety Council released a study revealing that 65 percent of all fireworks injuries were sustained in the 30-day period surrounding the holiday. In more than half of those injuries, people were not using the fireworks as they were designed, or ignition of the device came unexpectedly. That study by the CPSC attributed the accidents to sparklers, firecrackers and aerial fireworks displays.

There was a time when fireworks were illegal, and some localities may still ban their use. If you are determined to burn them on your own property, first check to be certain fireworks are legal in your area. Then do all you can to keep onlookers safe. Keep them out of the hands of children. Before parents hand an unlit sparkler to their child, they should realize they are putting something in their child's hand that is twice as hot as the hottest kitchen stove.

Before the fireworks begin, get a plentiful source of water close by to deal with any mishaps. Keep your body away from the device as you light the fuse, and immediately move a safe distance away after ignition. Light only one fireworks device at a time. Keep several people from igniting fireworks at the same time. Under no circumstances should anyone try to re-light or even go near fireworks that failed to explode. The right thing to do is douse it with water and leave it alone.

Fireworks are no laughing matter. Do not throw lit firecrackers or other devices at another person, and do not explode them inside any container. When the fireworks are all consumed, soak the spent devices with water, and wait until the next day to collect and discard the remnants.

Fireworks are not the only activities that can cause a ruinous fire during vacations and celebrations. Summer holiday get-togethers are typical occasions for camping and family picnics. That means cooking over open fires or outdoor grilling. But wherever there is fire, little children, running and games, there is potential for a fire-related accident. Keep these fire safety tips in mind, and take the time to advise young and adult partygoers about staying safe while they enjoy the celebration.

Separate the fire area from dining, seating and fun-filled areas of the property. Keep paper, plastics and other combustibles away form the open fire or grill. Before using a gas grill, check for a secure connection between the propane tank and the fuel line. Cooks should not wear loose clothing around the grill.

If you have a charcoal grill, be careful with the lighter fluid. And never add starter fluid to a fire you have already ignited. Even if the coals seem to have gone out, you might get a nasty surprise - or worse - when the fire flares up suddenly. If you are not in your own backyard, with a grill that allows you to suffocate the fire, be sure to douse coals with plenty of water to be certain the fire is extinguished.

When the parade starts, wave the flag vigorously. When it's time for fireworks, sit back and let the professionals take care of the "Wow!"

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