The Pacific Fire Protection District offers tips for summer safety, especially for Fourth of July cookouts.
Every year Americans look forward to summer vacations, camping, family reunions, picnics and the Fourth of July. The popular holiday also frequently brings fires and injuries due to outdoor cooking and recreational fires, fire district officials say.
“While summertime should be a time of fun and making happy memories and knowing a few fire safety tips and following safety instructions will help everyone have a safe summer,” they said. The district offers the following safety reminders.
When having a cookout, remember propane and charcoal barbecue grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces such as tents, they pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.
Position the grill well away from siding, deck railing and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
An estimated 5,700 grill fires occur on residential properties each year in the United States and 32 percent of grill fires on residential properties start on patios, terraces, screened-in porches or courtyards.
Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic and keep children and pets from the grill area. Declare a three-foot “safe zone” around the grill.
When using a charcoal grill, purchase the proper starter fluid and store out of reach of children and away from heat sources. Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.
If using a propane fueled grill, check the propane cylinder hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year. A light soap and water solution applied to the hose will reveal escaping propane quickly by releasing bubbles. If a grill has a gas leak by smell or the soapy bubble test and there is no flame:
1. Turn off the propane tank and grill.
2. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
3. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department. If you smell gas while cooking, 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 a gas grill is stored inside during the winter, disconnect the cylinder and leave it outside.
In recent years, there has been a new concern for firefighters — fire pits. Fire pits are known to be a great source of warmth and ambience. But, with the popularity of fire pits increasing, fire safety has become even more important.
There are many things owners should consider while setting up and using a fire pit. Do not use flammable fluids such as gasoline, alcohol, diesel fuel, kerosene and charcoal lighter fluid to light or relight fires.
Do not burn trash, leaves, paper, cardboard or plywood and avoid using soft wood such as pine or cedar that likely pop and throw sparks, use of seasoned hardwood is suggested.
Do not allow children to use the fire pit and keep pets away. Always keep a fire extinguisher or garden hose nearby.
When preparing to build a fire while camping, follow these campfire safety tips from Smokey Bear.
Do not build a fire at a site in hazardous, dry conditions and do not build a fire if the campground, area or event rules prohibit campfires.
Find out if the campground has an existing fire ring or fire pit, if there is not an existing fire pit, and pits are allowed, look for a site that is at least 15 feet away from tent walls, shrubs, trees or other flammable objects. Also beware of low-hanging branches overhead.
When you’re ready to put out your fire and call it a night, allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible. Pour lots of water on the fire; drown all embers, not just the red ones and keep pouring until the hissing sound stops.
Stir the campfire ashes and embers with a shovel then scrape the sticks and logs to remove any embers. Finally, stir and make sure everything is wet and they are cold to the touch.
If you do not have water, use dirt. Mix enough dirt or sand with the embers. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cool. Remember: Don’t bury the fire as the fire will continue to smolder and could catch roots on fire that will eventually get to the surface and start a wildfire.
The Pacific Fire Protection District wants all residents to have an enjoyable but safe summer.
For more information about summer fire safety, visit www.usfa.fema.gov and click on the citizens tab.