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Training and Education

Summer Fire Safety

Summer is here and temperatures are rising along with the number of cookouts and fireworks. In the backyards of America, it's important to remember safety.


According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), from 2012 to 2016, an average of 16,600 patients per year have gone to the emergency room based on grill-related injuries. Half of those are thermal burns, and children under five averaged one-third of those.

Gas grills cause approximately 7,900 home fires per year, with 36 percent of structural and outdoor fires being caused by leaks or breaks in a gas line. Charcoal grills are the cause of approximately 1,300 home fires a year.

While safely handling grills and fireworks, here are some facts and recommendations from the NFPA.

When using both propane and charcoal, you should only do it outdoors. Keep the grill away from the building and any other flammable objects, like overhanging tree branches. Keep children at a safe distance from the grill area and never leave the grill unattended.

"For people who are going to be grilling, you want to make sure that first and foremost you're ten feet away from your home," said Caleb Bridgers, fire inspector, Ft. Meade Fire Prevention Office. "Have a bucket of water handy to extinguish any fires that pop up."

If using propane, check for leaks from either the tank or the gas line by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose. Turn on the propane tank, and if there is a leak, visible bubbles will form.

If bubbles form, turn off the gas tank and connections, then request for a professional to service the grill before using it again. If the leak does not stop, immediately call the fire department.

When using charcoal grills, ensure that charcoal starter fluid is used. Keep charcoal fluid out of reach of children and away from heat sources. Use long-handled grilling tools for plenty of clearance from heat and flames. Make sure to allow the coals to cool after grilling is done before disposing of them in a metal container, and keep the container away from anything that can burn.

"The kind of clothes you want to wear when operating a grill are short sleeves," said Bridgers. "Try not to have anything long or flowing that could catch fire."

While grill safety is important, it is even more important to employ safety measures when dealing with fireworks, which cause more fires and injuries than grilling does.

Fireworks cause roughly 18,500 fires in the U.S. An average of three deaths, 40 injuries and approximately $43 million in direct property damage are the direct result of fireworks.

"Make sure you have a bucket of water or a garden hose handy to douse any flames that might occur," said Bridgers. "It's never a good idea to aim fireworks at anyone or anything."

To watch fireworks without risk, attend shows set up by experts. NFPA suggests to not handle or use fireworks yourself and keep children away from them.

Completely submerge fireworks in a bucket of water and allow them to soak overnight to dispose of them. Double wrap soaked fireworks in plastic wrap or plastic bags so they do not dry out. Then place the wrapped bags in regular household garbage bags and take to your local solid waste facility.

"There are no such things as safe fireworks," says Lorraine Carli, NFPA Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy. "The power and danger of fireworks should not be underestimated."

The 2016 Consumer Product Safety Commission's 2016 Fireworks Annual Report by Yongling Tu stated that sparklers caused about 900 injuries, with most of them affecting children under the age of five, which is half of the total injuries of that age group.

Regardless of the activity, it is always important to practice good fire safety when having fun during the summer season. Contact your local fire department for any questions.

Sources: www.nfpa.org, www.maine.gov, www.cpsc.gov.