The summer season is full of outdoor events. Backyard parties, picnics, beach parties and holiday events often include grilling, campfires, and fireworks. For many the last thing on their minds is fire safety, but it should be.
A lack of rain over the past seven months has left 85% of the state experiencing drought conditions, including all of North Texas. In fact, this is the driest September-March period in Texas since 1967 and the eighth driest measured in 127 years, according to the Texas Water Development Board. Dry, hot, and windy weather combined with dried out vegetation can increase the probability of fire, making fire safety that much more important.
Oftentimes grills and firepits are the culprits for causing house fires. Brad Parker says, “It is critical to have operational smoke detectors in your home. Also…have two or three fire extinguishers at each end of the house for easy access.”
In addition to taking these safety measures, here are some summer fire safety and burn prevention tips for all ages:
- Keep children and pets away from the grill and cooking surfaces.
- Always use gas grills, charcoal grills, smokers, and fryers outdoors.
- Position grills at least 3 feet away from porch and deck rails, house siding, and roof overhangs.
- Clean grill surfaces and empty or replace grease trays.
- Don’t leave a grill unattended while pre-heating or cooking.
- If you are using a propane grill and smell gas, turn off the grill and the tank valve immediately. Check the level of gas in your tank as well.
- Be mindful of spraying lighter fluid onto an already lit fire.
- Store lighter fluid away from the grilling area.
- Don’t discard hot charcoal coals.
- Ensure buckets of water or a fire extinguisher are present to put out the fire quickly.
- Prior to lighting a campfire, make sure your county does not have a burn ban.
- Keep children and pets away from the fire, having them play away from the area.
- Always keep fire flames manageable.
- Clear away ground cover, sticks, leaves from your fire pit.
- Don’t forget one of the most important tips in the event of a clothing fire: Stop, drop, and roll!
- Ensure the fire is out and embers are cool before leaving the site.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Back up to a safe distance right after lighting the fuse.
- If you find unexploded fireworks, leave them alone and don’t try to relight or handle them.
- Keep a hose or bucket of water nearby.
- Light fireworks one at a time and then move away quickly.
- Don’t carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- When fireworks are done burning, douse with plenty of water before throwing them away.
- Parents should not allow children under 10 handle or use fireworks, and older children should be closely supervised when using fireworks.
Americans spend $1 billion on fireworks each July according to the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA). The estimated cost adds up to about 268 million pounds of fireworks sold each year. Brad says, “Little hands should never handle explosive fireworks. If they are going to handle fireworks, there should be significant adult supervision. Also…while the combination of drinking alcohol and blowing things up is commonplace, you should leave the fireworks up to the professionals.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, every July 4th thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. Here are a few other startling facts about fireworks:
- More than 19,500 reported fires are started by fireworks annually.
- Burns account for 44% of the 9,100 injuries treated in emergency rooms seen in the month around July 4.
- Half of the fireworks injuries seen at emergency rooms were extremities: hand, finger, or leg.
- Sparklers burn at 1200 degrees F and account for roughly one-quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries.
- One-third were to the eye or other parts of the head.
- Children ages 10–14 had the highest rate of fireworks injury, with more than one-third (36%) of the victims of fireworks injuries under age 15.