Summer activities peak during July. Everyone, for instance, loves food cooked on an outside grill. And although Independence Day is over, others celebrate summer with fireworks.
“These common activities are lots of fun, but can create hazards,” said Orange Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas. “But a little caution will keep things safe.”
Fireworks are responsible for about 18,500 fires per year, including 1,300 structure fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The celebratory explosives also are responsible for about three deaths and $43 million in property damage each year. In 2017, almost 13,000 people were seen in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries. More than a third of those were under 15 years old.
“Fireworks are inherently dangerous,” said Dumas. “That’s one reason they’re illegal in Connecticut for non-professional, non-licensed consumers. We recommend you don’t use consumer fireworks. If you want to see fireworks, go to a professional display.”
While sparklers and fountains are legal, Dumas said they’re just as dangerous as exploding fireworks. “Sparklers burn at 1,200 degrees,” he said. “To put that in perspective, wood burns at 575 degrees and glass melts at 900 degrees. Would you want your child to hold on to a piece of burning wood?”
Sparklers account for one quarter of emergency department fireworks-related visits, according to the NFPA, said Dumas. More information is available at the NFPA website.
“I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t have some sort of grill, hibachi or other outside cooking area,” said Dumas. “They make great food. But like anything else that operates at high temperatures, you’ve got to be careful.”
Unfortunately, he added, not everyone is. Nationally, grills cause an average of 10,200 home fires a year, including 4,500 structure fires and $123 million in property damage. Grill-related fires cause 10 deaths and 160 injuries each year across the United States.
“It’s important to remember that these devices are designed to be used outdoors, well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves or branches,” said Dumas. “The grill shouldn’t be unattended, and kids and pets should be kept at least three feet away.”
Dumas also recommended starting and ending grilling carefully. For instance, never add gasoline or lighter fluid to “speed up” your coals. And let the coals completely cool before disposing them in a metal container.
For propane grills, the gas tank hose should be checked for leaks at the beginning of the year. If you smell gas, shut off your grill and have it serviced by a professional. If the flame goes out, turn off the grill and the gas and wait at least five minutes before relighting. If you smell gas after you’ve had it serviced or turned it off, call the fire department.
“July is the peak month for grill fires,” said Dumas. “Roughly half of the injuries involving grills are thermal burns. Either one can ruin a great cook out.” More information about grilling safety is available on the NFPA website.
“Summer should be a time for lots of fun,” said Dumas. “Being careful around grills and seeing fireworks displays performed by professionals are two important steps anyone can take to keep things fun while avoiding injuries and property damage.”
Those with questions can call the Orange Volunteer Fire Department at (203) 891-4703.
The Orange Volunteer Fire Association provides fire protection residents and businesses in Orange and, through mutual aid, surrounding towns. Members receive training in fire suppression, rescue, hazardous materials response, homeland security issues and other emergency services.
Operating strictly with revenues from fundraisers and donations, the Orange Volunteer Fire Department is one of the remaining few all-volunteer incorporated fire departments in Connecticut. Active members are on-call to serve the community on a 24-hour/seven-day basis, responding from stations on Orange Center Road and Boston Post Road.
In addition, the fire company offers public education services including lectures, demonstrations and training. For information about membership, donations or public education, call (203) 891-4703, click on https://www.orangevfd.org/ or find us on Facebook.