By Lloyd Adams, Safe Kids Southwest Florida (Photo: iStockphoto.com/NatesPics)
Well it is that time of year again. The warm weather has arrived, the bathing suits are out and it is time to have some fun. What are two of the most popular past times? Grilling out and fireworks, food and fun. Who could ask for more? The key to enjoying the season is safety. Let’s start by talking about grills.
According to the US Fire Administration, about 5,700 grill fires take place every year on residential properties, causing an estimated $37 million dollars in damage. One of the most asked questions is, Which type of grill is safer, charcoal or propane? While both are very safe when maintained properly, propane grills have a higher risk of fire, due to leaks and breaks in the propane lines. When using any grill, make sure it is at least 10 feet from a structure. Always have a fire extinguisher close by, and more importantly, know how to use it. When starting a propane grill, turn on the gas supply, apply a light soap and water solution to the hose and couplings; if you see bubbles, there is a leak.
Now on to charcoal grills. Never use a flammable or combustible liquid other than approved charcoal starter fluid to ignite the fire. Do not add starter fluid after coals have been ignited. Remember ash may remain hot for several days and can produce a fire long after the grill has been used. Keep your grill clean by removing any grease build up that could be added fuel for a fire. Follow these simple tips for grilling and it will be a safe and, more importantly, delicious summer.
But grilling is only part of the summertime risks. We’re also coming up on the season for fireworks.
Before discussing safety, we first must know what type of fireworks are legal to purchase. Here in Florida, fireworks such as sparklers are legal. However almost all of us have visited the side of the road stand and purchased bottle rockets, mortars, etc. If you remember when purchasing them, we had to sign a waiver stating for agricultural use only. Keep in mind, if you have purchased fireworks like this, it is illegal and a crime.
Now that we have purchased the fireworks, let’s discuss how to be safe. First, read the labels and performance descriptions before igniting. You should always have adult supervision. Always wear eye protection when shooting off fireworks. Only use fireworks in a clear area and never — and I mean never — light a “dud” firework.
Even the safest fireworks have danger. Sparklers, for instance, burn at more than 2,000 degrees, hot enough to melt some metals. They can ignite loose clothing and cause severe burns. Bottle rockets, those little projectiles on a stick, cause numerous eye injuries each year. An oldie but a goody, firecrackers, almost everyone’s favorite, are supposed to be ignited on the ground, but we have all seen that one person who has to hold it until the last possible second.
Two words about class M fireworks (M-80’S, M-100’S, M-250’s): Just don’t. These fireworks produce the large explosions that make everyone run for cover. Remember, these fireworks are produced illegally and produce hundreds of severe injuries each year.
Always have a bucket of water nearby and a fire extinguisher handy if you have one. Remember to soak unused fireworks in water before disposing of them. I hope these simple tips will make your summer season a fun and, more importantly, safe season.
Lloyd Adams is a fire prevention specialist with Fort Myers Beach Fire Rescue. He writes on behalf of Safe Kids Southwest Florida.