Fireworks are one of the leading causes of fires during the summer and lead to nearly 9,600 injuries each year, as reported by both the National Fire Protection Association and US Consumer Product Safety Commission. In 2010, the NFPA reports that fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires. These fires resulted in an estimated eight reported civilian deaths, 60 civilian injuries and $36 million in direct property damage. Additionally, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,600 people for fireworks related injuries. Studies show a sparkler burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit; to put that into perspective, glass melts at 900 degrees, and water boils at 212 degrees.
In North Carolina, some consumer fireworks are allowed and are marked as 1.4G pyrotechnics. These are commonly known as "Safe and Sane". "Safe and Sane" usually means fireworks that do not fly or explode. Examples of what are considered to be "Safe and Sane" fireworks may include fountains, sparklers, wheels, smoke and snake items, strobes, ground spinners, novelty fireworks that do not travel, snappers and caps. Firecrackers, rockets, missiles, mines, shells, aerial cakes, flying spinners, and roman candles are NOT considered "Safe and Sane" fireworks. A good way to know if the fireworks are legal is to answer one simple question: Does the item leave the ground and/or make a loud report? If you answer "yes" to this question, the product is illegal.
Before you light off your fireworks, check with the local fire department for rules and regulations governing the use of such fireworks. In some municipalities on the Outer Banks, all fireworks have been banned. All fireworks are banned in Hatteras Island and in the Towns of Duck and Nags Head. If you have any questions, please contact your local fire department.
Here are some general safety guidelines to follow when using legal fireworks:
- Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
- Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
- Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don't realize young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 1,200 degrees - hot enough to melt some metals.
- Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not fully ignited.
- Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
- Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
- Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
- Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
- To prevent a trash fire after fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it.
Grilling is a favorite past time for many during the summer. This can range from cooking some of your summertime favorites, to entertaining the masses during family gatherings. Nearly three out of every four households are reported to have a grill of some sort that is used for cooking. Even though grills have become for many in the summertime, they pose a real threat to your safety. The National Fire Protection Association reported that between 2005 and 2009, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 8,200 home fires involving grills, hibachis or barbecues per year, including an average of 3,400 structure fires and 4,800 outside fires. These 8,200 fires caused an annual average of 15 civilian deaths, 120 civilian injuries, and $75 million in direct property damage. In 2009, emergency rooms treated nearly 9,400 people for burns related to grilling activities. Of these reported cases, children under the age of 5 accounted for nearly a quarter of these visits.
Here are some tips to avoid some issues while grilling:
- Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
- The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings, and from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
- Never leave your grill unattended.
Prior to lighting a Gas Grill for the first time, here are basic maintenance checks that should be made:
- Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage from insects, spiders, or food grease. Use a pipe cleaner or wire to clear blockage and push it through to the main part of the burner.
- Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.
- Move gas hoses as far away as possible from hot surfaces and dripping hot grease. If you can't move the hoses, install a heat shield to protect them.
- Replace scratched or nicked connectors, which can eventually leak gas.
- Check for gas leaks, following the manufacturer's instructions, if you smell gas or when you reconnect the grill to the LP gas container. If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don't attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.
- Keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from a leaking grill.
- Never use a grill indoors. Use the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any building. Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.
- Do not attempt to repair the tank valve or the appliance yourself. See an LP gas dealer or a qualified appliance repair person.
- Always follow the manufacturer's instructions that accompany the grill.
Charcoal Grill Safety
- Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers. Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.
- Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.
These are just a few safety tips that can help assure that you'll have a safe and enjoyable summer with family and friends. If you have any questions, please call your local fire department or the Fire Marshal's Office at 252.475.5750. You can also visit us at www.darenc.com/emgymgmt/fire.asp.