Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff weekend to the start of summertime fun, even though this summer is full of challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic . If your weekend plans include grilling, sitting around the campfire or using fireworks, here are some important tips to keep you and your family safe!
Having a campfire can be one of the greatest joys of summer. Whether roasting marshmallows, cooking a meal or surrounded by family and friends, it’s important to understand how to stay safe around a campfire.
- Select an appropriate location. Before creating a campfire, make sure you understand any rules or regulations for your area. Avoid building the fire near low-hanging branches, tree roots, structures, and other flammable items. Try to choose a location where your fire will be sheltered from the wind and use campfire rings or other designated campfire accessories whenever possible.
- Use the appropriate campfire fuel. Soft woods like pine, fir, and cedar are best for starting a fire. Start the fire by building a small teepee of dry sticks and igniting it with a match. As the fire gets started, add larger pieces of wood. Remember to keep the fire small. Don’t burn items that may explode or give off toxic fumes. Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start a campfire. Never throw items into a fire. That includes batteries, plastic bags, glass, and aluminum cans.
- Supervise the campfire area continuously. A responsible adult should always be present while a campfire is burning. Encourage small children and pets to stay seated several feet away from the fire. Extinguished campfire areas should still be monitored after the flames have gone out to make sure the campfire does not re-ignite and to make sure that children are not burned by embers, which still retain heat even after the fire is extinguished.
- Completely extinguish the campfire. A roaring fire is both a success, and a responsibility. It is your job to properly maintain and extinguish your campfire when you are finished. Make sure you always have a large bucket of water and metal shovel on hand to put out the fire. Pour lots of water on the fire, drown all embers, not just the red ones, until the hissing sound stops. Stir the campfire ashes and embers with a shovel and pour more water on the ashes, then feel the area to make sure they are cold to the touch.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 20,000 people across the United States went to the hospital due to grilling-related injuries from 2014 to 2018. Grills were involved in nearly 4,000 structure fires in that time. Seven out of every ten adults in the United States have a grill or smoker, which translates to a lot of tasty meals. But it also means there’s an increased risk of home fires and thermal burns. A grill placed too close to anything that can burn is a fire hazard. Remember:
- Propane and charcoal barbeque grills should only be used outdoors.
- The grill should be placed at least 10 feet away from your home or anything that can burn including deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in the trays below the grill.
- Never leave your grill unattended.
- Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
- There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use. Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the charcoal using newspaper as a fuel.
- If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
- Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
- There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire. Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
- When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
- Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year.
- Apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. A propane leak will release bubbles.
- If your grill has a gas leak, by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off both the gas tank and the grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call 911.
- If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call 911. Do not move the grill.
- If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 5 minutes before re-lighting it.
Fireworks are as American as apple-pie, but 2 out of 5 fires reported during the summertime are started by fireworks. Thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using consumer fireworks. Despite the dangers of fireworks, few people understand the associated risks which include devasting burns, injuries to the eyes, hands and face, fires and even death. Here are some ways you can enjoy the Memorial Day holiday injury-free:
- Check with your local municipality to determine if and when consumer fireworks may be used.
- Leave pets at home and keep them inside during fireworks displays.
- Parents and caregivers should always closely supervise children where fireworks are used.
- Leave fireworks to the experts. However, if you are going to use fireworks:
- Follow manufacturer instructions,
- Wear protective eyewear,
- Only light one device at a time outdoors and
- Maintain a safe distance after lighting
- Never re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety reminds you that Memorial Day weekend activities are more fun when you know that your kids and family are safe and secure because Fire Is Everyone’s Fight®!