Just in Time for Fireworks and Grilling Season
According to the American Pyrotechnics Association’s National Council on Firework Safety, each year in the United States, fireworks cause 20,000 fires and almost 10,000 people are injured from activities related to fireworks. On average, four people die from their injuries each year. What is extremely eye opening is that 45 percent of those injured are under the age of 14. Even worse is that most of the injuries and fire damage could have been prevented.
Dr. Peter Alvarez, a local physician at Lakeland Gynecology and a Polk County Medical Association member, says he and his family don’t take any chances when it comes to fireworks. “We let the pros do the major fireworks,” says Alvarez. “However, for July 4 we do some at-home fireworks. We only use low powered fireworks sold legally at our local shops. They are always done under adult supervision in an outdoor open area and away from house. We only light one at a time and move away quickly. We do not hold any lit fireworks in our hands. We never relight fireworks that did not go off, and our garden hose is always close by (just in case).”
As summer celebrations reach full swing, many will also include outdoor grilling. Dr. Alvarez says he and his family grill every week during the summer and not just on the weekends. The family has a safety plan in place, so that everyone can safely enjoy their time together.
When it comes to grilling, I always check my gas grill at the start of the season to make sure lines and burners are intact,” explains Dr. Alvarez. “Prior to opening the gas valve or switching on the grill, I make sure the grill cover is open and the burner area is ventilated. We always grill in a well-ventilated area and never indoors or under a roof. I never poor grease or oil based liquids on meat while on the open flame. Once I am done cooking, I always shut off the tank valve.”
Outdoor gatherings are the perfect venue for grilling burgers and hotdogs, but unfortunately, accidents can happen. The National Fire Protection Association reports that half of home fires caused by outdoor grilling were ignited using flammable or combustible gas or liquid, like kerosene or gasoline. To protect your family from unnecessary damage or injuries, the following are recommended safety tips for grilling:
- Do not use a charcoal grill in an enclosed space. Deadly carbon monoxide is a byproduct of charcoal fire.
- Only use approved charcoal lighter fluid to start your grill.
- Follow any and all instructions for lighting your grill.
- Grill in an open area away from fences, houses, trees and brush.
- Keep anything flammable away from the grill.
- The person manning the grill should not wear loose clothing.
- Observe a ten-to-five rule when lighting your gas grill. If the grill does not light within 10 seconds, turn off the gas, leave the lid open and wait five minutes until you try again.
- With gas grills, make sure you turn off the grill before taking the food to the table or kitchen. Once you step away from the grill, you are more likely to forget to come back and turn it off.
Most importantly this summer, keep an eye on young children and adolescents who aren’t inclined to focus on safety.
story by JO LYNN DEAL