Summer safety guidance for grilling and outdoor activities, including fireworks

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With summer officially here and COVID-19 restrictions loosening around the country, many people will look to grilling, cookouts, and other outdoor gatherings, including fireworks displays, to enjoy the warm weather all summer and this 4th of July. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is providing important reminders and guidelines for safely enjoying these activities.

Make sure your gas grill is working properly

  • Leaks or breaks are primarily a problem with gas grills. Check the gas tank hose for leaks before using it for the first time each year.
  • If your grill has a gas leak detected by smell or the soapy bubble test, and there is no flame, turn off both the gas tank and the grill. If the leak stops, get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again. If the leak does not stop, call the fire department.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and do not move it. If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas off and wait at least 5 minutes before re-lighting it.

Never leave equipment unattended

  • Make sure to closely monitor food cooking on the grill. Turn the grill off promptly when you’re done cooking, and let it cool completely before returning it to its original location.
  • For campfires, fire pits, and chimineas, always have a hose, bucket of water, or shovel and dirt or sand nearby, and make sure the fire is completely out before going to sleep or leaving the area.

Keep equipment a safe distance from things that can burn

  • Place your grill well away (at least 3 feet) from anything that can burn, including deck railings and overhanging branches; also keep them out from under eaves.
  • Keep portable grills a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and foot traffic.
  • Keep children and pets well away from any type of equipment in use.
  • In areas where campfires are permitted, they must be at least 25 feet away from any structure and anything that can burn. Also make sure to clear away dry leaves and sticks, overhanging low branches and shrubs.

Use fuel and fire starters properly

  • If you use a starter fluid to ignite charcoals, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • Never use gasoline or other flammable or combustible liquids on firepits, chimineas, or campfires.
  • For electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire, make sure the extension cord you are using is designed for outdoor use.

If a fire breaks out, call the fire department

  • For any type of outdoor fire that can’t be quickly and effectively extinguished, call the fire department immediately for assistance.

Only attend public fireworks displays

  • After many public fireworks displays were cancelled last year, many towns and cities will be hosting public fireworks events for the Fourth of July this year. If you are planning on making fireworks part of your Fourth of July celebration, NFPA strongly recommends attending these public shows rather than using consumer fireworks, which can cause serious injury and damage due to their unpredictability.
  • An estimated 19,500 fires in the US were started by fireworks in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires, 500 vehicle fires, and 17,100 outside and other fires. These fires caused five deaths and 46 injuries to civilians and $105 million in property damage.
  • More than one-quarter (28 percent) of fireworks fires from 2014-18 occurred on the Fourth of July. Approximately half (49 percent) of all fires reported on the Fourth of July are caused by fireworks.
  • In 2020, an estimated 15,600 people were seen for fireworks-related injuries at hospital emergency departments, according to data collected by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. This was the highest estimate seen in more than 15 years. For more facts and information about fireworks, visit NFPA’s fireworks page

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