Fire safety for a happy summer

Have a safe and happy summer, and be aware of safety hazards this Fourth of July.

Every year Americans look forward to summer vacations, camping, family reunions, picnics and the Fourth of July. Summertime, however, also brings fires and injuries due to fireworks and outdoor cooking. Knowing a few fire safety tips and following instructions will help everyone have a safer summer.

Fireworks safety

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association National Council on Firework Safety, fireworks account for an estimated 9,300 serious injuries in the United States each year. Forty-five percent of these injuries occur to children under the age of 14. The best way to protect yourself and your family is not to use fireworks at home. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends attending public firework displays and leaving the lighting to the professionals. Although sparklers are legal in Illinois, some municipalities and villages have an ordinance that bans the sale and use of sparklers.

Did you know that the tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to ignite clothing and cause third-degree burns? Always supervise small children when they use sparklers.

Barbecue safety

  • Before using a grill, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line. Make sure the Venturi tubes—where the air and gas mix—are not blocked.
  • Do not wear loose clothing while cooking at a barbecue.
  • Do not add fluid to an already lit fire, as the flames can flash back up into the container and explode.
  • Supervise children around outdoor grills and keep them away from matches and lighters.
  • Never place hot coals in plastic, paper or wooden containers.
  • Dispose of hot coals properly: Douse them with plenty of water and stir them to ensure that the fire is out.
  • Never grill or barbecue in enclosed areas. Doing this could produce carbon monoxide.

Campfire safety

  • Build campfires where they will not spread, away from dry grass and leaves.
  • Keep campfires small, and don’t let them get out of hand.
  • Keep plenty of water and a shovel around to douse the fire when you’re done.
  • Never leave campfires unattended.

Learn more about summer and fire safety by visiting the Fermilab Fire Department Web page or by viewing this video.

Chuck Kuhn, Fermilab Fire Department chief