The summer months are a time when families enjoy doing a variety of activities outdoors; however, it’s also when barbecue grills and fireworks can cause devastating residential fires and serious injuries to children. According to the United States Fire Administration, each year almost 5,000 Americans are injured by charcoal/wood-burning and propane grill fires. Additionally, more than 8,500 people are injured by fireworks annually. Children under 15 years old account for 39 percent of the estimated fireworks injuries.
Statistics show the majority of grill fires on residential properties occur in the four months of May through August. In addition, on Independence Day, far more U.S. fires are reported than any day of the year, with fireworks accounting for more than 15,000 fires in 2010.
Fireworks also cause serious injuries, including devastating burns and other injuries to children. In fact, the risk of fireworks injury is highest for children ages 5-14. The National Fire Proection Agency reports that sparklers and other novelty items, which are typically views by parents as relatively harmelss fireworks for children, cause serious burn injuries and account for 43% of all emergency room fireworks injuries.
Safe Kids Grand Forks urges parents to practice these safety tips recommended by the United States Fire Administration to reduce the risk of a residential fire or a trip to the emergency room and ensure this summer is a safe one for your family.
- Only use the grill outdoors; position the grill well away from siding, deck railings, out from under eaves and overhanging branches and a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill area by declaring a 3-foot “kid-free zone” around the grill.
- Be careful when using lighter fluid. Do not add fluid to an already lit fire because flames can flashback up into the container and explode.
- Do not wear loose clothing while cooking at a grill.
- When cooking food, use long-handled grilling tools to give plenty of clearance from heat and flames. Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill so it cannot be ignited when the grill is hot.
- Keep all matches and lighters away from children. Teach your children to report any loose matches or lighters to an adult immediately. Supervise children around outdoor grills.
- Dispose of hot coals properly – douse them with plenty of water, and stir them to ensure that the fire is out. Never place them in plastic, paper or wooden containers.
- If you smell gas while cooking on a propane gas grill, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
- Never store propane cylinders in buildings or garages. If you store a gas grill inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.
- Sunscreen is flammable. Do not apply aerosol sunscreen near a grill or open flame.
- Never use gas to start a fire.
- Keep gas out of reach of children. Out of sight isn’t enough, for any age. Store your gasoline where children cannot access it in a well-ventilated area outside your vehicle and living space. Consider a detached garage or outdoor storage shed.
- Use gasoline containers with a spout and automatic shut-off feature that will prevent overfilling of fuel tanks.
- Never use old soda bottles or other makeshift containers to store gas; children may think it’s a beverage and drink it.
- Keep gas away from any source of heat, spark or flame. Even common household appliances like water heaters and clothes dryers can ignite gas vapors.
For more information about summer fire safety, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at email@example.com. Altru Helth System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.