Planning to fire up the grill or gather around the fire pit this summer? While these fun activities are great ways to spend the season with your family and friends, they also come with a risk of fire-related injuries.
If you’re hosting an outdoor gathering or handling potentially hazardous materials like fireworks, it’s important that you take the proper fire safety precautions. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe and prevent an injury or accident this summer.
1. Fire Pits
There’s nothing better than taking advantage of your fire pit on a cooler summer evening. But if you haven’t set up for safety, there could be dangerous consequences.
- Position your fire pit so it is at least 10 feet away from your house and anything that can catch fire. This includes trees and bushes.
- Avoid burning treated wood, wet wood, or anything that gives off a gas or dense smoke.
- Don’t use flammable fluids to start or relight a fire. They can cause an explosion or turn a controlled fire into an uncontrollable one.
- Consider a fire screen to catch stray sparks.
- Have a fire extinguisher on hand and/or a bucket of water.
2. Barbecue Grills
Barbecues are the centerpiece of our summer celebrations. But cooking outdoors comes with its own share of hazards. Propane is used to power some grills. It is a highly flammable substance that can burn if it comes in contact with your skin. Charcoal briquettes also can cause burns and fires if not properly attended. Follow these tips for grilling safely.
For propane grills:
- Be careful not to overfill a propane tank.
- Check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line to make sure there are no leaks. You can do this by making a solution of 50% liquid dish soap and 50% water, and brushing it on the hose connections. If there are leaks, you will see air bubbles when you turn on the propane.
- Store your tank in a safe location, upright and away from a heat source. Do not store a propane tank inside your house.
For charcoal grills:
- Use plenty of water to douse hot coals after you’re done cooking. Give them a stir to make sure there are no lit embers.
- Do not put the coal and embers in plastic, paper, or wooden containers after use. They could still be hot enough to start a fire.
Sitting around the campfire and roasting marshmallows is a highlight of camping. But did you know that campfires can get as hot as 932 degrees Fahrenheit in just 3 hours? Their embers stay hot long after the fire is done—hot enough to burn someone who comes in contact with them eight hours later!
- Choose a location for your campfire that is away from dry grass and trees and from your tent.
- Add rocks around the perimeter of your campfire to help contain it.
- Enforce a 3-foot perimeter around fires that is the kid-free zone and pet-free zone.
- Never use gasoline to start a campfire or add it to an open flame.
- Put out your campfire before going to bed. Drench it with water and bury it with sand. That will help prevent the fire from starting again from the embers.
Fireworks are fun, festive, and a much-loved part of our patriotic celebrations. Yet fireworks send thousands of Americans to the ER every July. While you can enjoy the public fireworks without too much worry, doing them on your own requires a few additional safety precautions.
- Buy fireworks from a reputable seller.
- Store them safely away from children and pets in a locked box in a cool, dry place.
- Carefully read and understand all instructions.
- Avoid alcohol while using fireworks. Not only could it impair you, alcohol is highly flammable.
- Keep onlookers 60 feet away from the place where you’re setting off fireworks.
- Light one at a time. Light the fuse at the tip, not the bottom.
- A barbecue lighter works well to help keep fireworks at arm’s length.
- If a firework does not light, do not attempt to relight it. Wait at least 30 minutes to retrieve any fireworks that did not ignite.
- Never allow children to handle fireworks. Children ages 8 and older may hold sparklers with proper supervision. Sparklers could easily catch a child’s clothing on fire or cause blindness if in contact with a child’s eyes.
You may not think it, but your lawnmower is a fire risk. Any lawnmower, electric or gas, can catch fire and ignite items around them including your home. Fires may be caused by leaking fuel or fumes from a gas mower. Electric mowers may short circuit, causing a fire. In addition, a hot mower can ignite dry grass that is packed into it.
- Start mowing at your house and head away from it. This will reduce the chance that a hot mower is near your home.
- Never add fuel to a hot motor. Wait until it cools down.
- Avoid moving in hot, dry, windy weather, or if you do, wet down the grass first.
- Use a hose to clean out grass from mower blades.
- Make sure the area you’re mowing is clear of rocks. Even tiny rocks can cause a spark when it strikes the mower’s blades at high speed.
- Follow your mower’s recommended maintenance plan to ensure everything is in good working order.
6. Recreational Vehicles
Traveling in an RV is a dream. Having a fire in an RV is a nightmare. Powered by propane, a hazardous substance, and electric generators, which produce exhaust gases, RVs can be a fire risk.
- Make sure you have installed a smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, and a propane leak alarm.
- Check the RV’s mechanical and electrical systems to ensure they’re in good working order.
- Look for frayed electric cords on any appliances in the RV.
- When cooking, never leave the stove unattended.
- Store clothes and flammable objects away from the cooking area.
- Store the propane tank outside, but not in the back or you could be at risk in the event of a rear-end collision.
- Let the generator cool down before refueling.
- Add RV coverage to your insurance policy.
7. HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) Systems
During the summer, we run our air conditioning for long periods of time. Hot temperatures can strain air conditioning units. If your system is dirty, it could short circuit, causing a fire to start.
- Have your HVAC system cleaned at least once a year.
- Replace vents and exhaust fans as needed.
- Check your smoke detectors to make sure that they are in working order so they may warn you of a fire.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.