TOPEKA -- The summer months are a time when families enjoy doing a variety of activities outdoors; however, it’s also when barbecue grills and fireworks cause devastating residential fires and serious injuries to children. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, each year almost 5,000 Americans are injured by charcoal/wood-burning and propane grill fires.
Fireworks send 3,000 children under the age of 15 to emergency rooms each year in the U.S. And sparklers, which are typically viewed by parents as relatively harmless fireworks for children, cause serious burn injuries, accounting for one-third of the injuries to children under five. In 2011, 77 Kansas children ages 0-14 were injured by fireworks, with five-year-olds sustaining the largest number of injuries, according to the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office. Unfortunately, many fireworks injuries are not even reported.
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 22,000 fires in 2008.
Safe Kids Kansas urges parents to practice these safety tips recommended by the U.S. 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.
· The best way to enjoy fireworks is to visit public fireworks displays hosted by professionals who know how to safely handle fireworks.
· Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby. Know how to operate the fire extinguisher properly.
· Do not carry fireworks in your pocket or hold them close to your face.
· Do not modify fireworks or use homemade fireworks.
· Light fireworks only outdoors on smooth, flat surfaces, and aim them away from spectators, buildings, dry leaves and flammable materials.
· Stand several feet away from lit fireworks. If a device does not go off, do not stand over it to investigate it. Put it out with water and dispose of it.
· Fireworks are intended for use by adults in open spaces and children should watch from a safe distance with plenty of adult supervision.
· Keep a phone handy, and know first aid for burns.
· Sparklers are not “safe” fireworks for children. The tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of about 2,000°F, which is hot enough to cause third degree burns. Also, children tend to wave them around, increasing the risk that a flying spark may cause an eye injury.
· 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, call Safe Kids Kansas at 785-296-1223 or 785-296-0351, or visit www.safekids.org.
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