The trees are green, the grass is growing, and the heat and humidity has settled on top of the area like a wet blanket. Summer has officially arrived. With the longer hot days of summer comes fun in the sun. A popular favorite is to host or attend a barbeque (BBQ) and enjoy a burger and dog with your favorite condiments. Another coveted past time to celebrate summer is to ring in the nations birthday by blowing things up with fireworks, firecrackers, and anything that is labeled as such with a colorful wrapper and a fuse. However we decide to celebrate and enjoy the long summer days it is in our best interest to do it as safely as possible. Both BBQ’s and fireworks although fun and enjoyable, can bring along catastrophic consequences if general safety tips are ignored.
There is nothing like outdoor grilling, it is one of the most popular ways to cook food in the summertime. But a grill placed too close to anything that is combustible is a fire hazard. The month of July is the peak month for outdoor grill fires. In addition, grills get extremely hot, causing burn injuries. Roughly half the injuries involving grills are thermal burns. Almost 20,000 patients went to the emergency room last year for injuries involving grills and thermal burns. Failure to adhere to the basic grill safety standards and or because of a grill malfunction is the key reason why an average of 10,600 home fires are started every year. The two major types of grills are propane and charcoal, both of which pose their own hazards. Propane will grill the food by means of a fuel in a tank stored under pressure. Charcoal uses coals that will heat up into small lava rocks that are not easily extinguished if they find their way out of the grill. Some best practices for either type of grill is only use them outdoors. The grill should be placed well away from the house, deck railings and out from under tree branches. Keep the kids and pets away when operating the grill. Be sure to clean the grill between uses and remove the fat and grease buildup as it is flammable and will cause a fire where you do not want one. Lastly, its best to never leave the grill unattended while in use. 64 percent of U.S households own at least one outdoor BBQ grill or smoker, propane grills specifically. Propane gas grills contribute to a higher number of fires than charcoal grills because of the gas that is being used under pressure. There is more of a likelihood for a component to fail on a gas grill leading to a gas leak near an exposed flame. Most importantly, if at any point while cooking on a propane grill, you smell gas, immediately get away from the grill and call your local fire department. Do not attempt to move the grill.
What can be more fun than grilling on a summer day? Grilling on a summer day while lighting off fireworks to enjoy the smell of spent gun powder followed by the loud crackle sound of freedom. As fun and exhilarating as fireworks are, they come with a high price of hazards and destruction. More than 19,500 reported fires are started by fireworks annually. Burns account for the 44% of the 9,100 injuries treated in the emergency rooms seen in the month around July 4th. Half of the fireworks injuries seen in emergency rooms were extremities: hand, finger, or leg. One third were eye or other parts of the head. Children ages 10-14 had the highest rate of fireworks injury with more than 36% of victims of fireworks injuries under the age of 15. Lastly, and most surprisingly, sparklers account for roughly one quarter of emergency room fireworks injuries (fun fact, sparklers reach 1200 degrees F!). In 2013 fireworks caused and estimated 15,600 reported fires in the U.S. 1400 of the 15,600 were structure fires, 200 were vehicle fires. Fireworks are also the lead cause of grass, brush, and forest fires in the summertime when the fuel moisture is low, and the foliage is highly combustible. To avoid the likelihood of hurting yourself or burning something down, it is best practice to leave the lighting of fireworks to the professionals and attend professional fireworks display rather than trying to do it in the back yard.
However you and your friends and family decide to spend the summer, try to do it in a safe manner and heed any safety tips you have picked up along the way on the journey of life. Not lighting off fireworks or not leaving the grill to go watch the game may be a drag, but it is worth it in the long run. Get out there and enjoy the weather, stay safe and just remember before starting an outdoor activity, how can this go wrong and what can I do to stay safe and prevent a hazard. Enjoy.