The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to leave the lighting to the professionals. Pyrotechnic devices, also known as fireworks, are designed to burn and explode, and are a leading cause of injuries in the U.S. Every year, fireworks used by amateurs cause thousands of injuries serious enough to require emergency room treatment.
The Cary Fire Department recommends that fireworks be used only by trained professional pyrotechnicians. Even sparklers, often mistaken as safe, burn as hot as 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave any area where amateurs (adults included) are using these devices, and do not pick up or touch found fireworks.
If you choose to ignite fireworks, please follow these safety tips:
* 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 they could pose a danger to consumers.
* Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities.
* 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.
* Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
* Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
* 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.
* Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
* After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
Keep barbecue grills far away from anything that can burn -- your home, cars, dry vegetation, etc. Stay with the grill when lighted, and keep children and pets well away from the area. When barbecuing, protect yourself by wearing a heavy apron and an oven mitt that fits high up over your forearm. If you get burned, run cool water over the burn for 10 to 15 minutes.
Tip: Don't use butter or a salve on burns because these seal in heat and can damage the tissue further.
If you receive a serious burn, with charred skin, for example, seek medical attention promptly.
Barbecue grills must never be used inside the home because, in addition to the fire hazard of indoor grilling, the grill can easily cause carbon monoxide poisoning. If lightning appears while you're grilling, seek shelter and wait for the storm to pass.
For charcoal grills, only use starter fluids designed for barbecue grills (never use gasoline). Use a limited amount of starter fluid before lighting the fire. If the fire is too slow, rekindle with dry kindling and add more charcoal if necessary. Don't add liquid fuel to re-ignite or build up a fire, as flash fires can result. Soak the coals with water before you discard them and leave the grill away from the house until completely cool.
For gas grills, always store the gas cylinder outside - away from structures - and turn off the valves when not in use. Check frequently for any leaks in connections by using a soap-and-water mix that will show bubbles if gas escapes. When purchasing a gas grill, select one that bears the mark of an independent testing laboratory. Follow manufacturer's instructions and if needed, have it repaired by a trained professional.
Store gasoline outside the home, preferably in a locked, detached shed, and store just enough to power your gasoline-fueled equipment. Keep gasoline up high, inside a clearly marked container that's labeled and approved for gasoline storage. Make sure gasoline and all flammable liquids are well away from any heat source or flame.
Use gasoline as a motor fuel only -- never as a stain remover or for other purposes. To transport gasoline in an automobile to and from the filling station, place a sealed, approved container in the trunk with the trunk lid propped open and drive directly to the fueling site. Take a direct route back home and never store gasoline in a vehicle.
Extinguish smoking materials before fueling, and take the equipment outside well away from combustibles. Wipe up any spills immediately and move the equipment at least 10 feet away from the fueling area to start the engine. Before re-fueling, turn off the equipment and let it cool completely.
Pitch your tent (flame retardant is best) well away from your campfire. Only use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns inside the tent or any other closed space, as opposed to liquid-fueled heaters or lanterns. In addition to the fire hazard posed by liquid-fueled devices, carbon monoxide poisoning can easily result in un-vented spaces.
Build your campfire downwind, away from your tent, clearing away all dry vegetation and digging a pit surrounded by rocks. Look for signs that warn of potential fire hazards in national forests and campgrounds, and always obey park service regulations. Pour water over or cover the fire with dirt before going to sleep or leaving the campsite. Store liquid fire starter -- NEVER use gasoline -- away from your tent and campfire and use only dry kindling to freshen a campfire - not liquid fuel.
By following these quick and simple steps, we can all keep summer activities fun and fire-safe. For further information on summer fire safety or other fire safety topics, contact the Cary Fire Department at (919) 469-4056.