The Fourth of July is just around the corner, which means barbecues, bonfires, boat rides and of course, booming fireworks displays. Unfortunately, the traditions and activities we hold dear come with a little downside: fire. More fires occur on the Fourth of July than on any other day of the year, and more fires occur in July than any other month of the year. That is why we recommend taking some time to do a little preparation for the holiday season — and we don’t just mean marinating the chicken. Below are a few tips we encourage you to review and take action on so that you can ensure your holiday celebration goes by without a hitch.
General Fire Safety Tips:
1. Test Your Fire Detectors
According to the U.S. Fire Department, smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month, and their batteries should be replaced 1-2 times a year. We all get busy, and it can be easy to let this slip our minds, but if there is one month out of the year that you decide to check your smoke detectors, make it July. Even if you don’t plan on partaking in any fire-related activities, a neighbor might.
2. Always Have a Fire Extinguisher On Hand
A loose spark, a gust of wind, or a curious child could start a fire in an instant, so regardless of what your plans are this Independence Day, make sure you’re prepared. You probably have a fire extinguisher in your home (if you don’t, stop reading this post and go buy one), but when you may not remember the last time you used it. You may not remember where it is located in your house. You may not remember exactly how to use it.
Regardless of your memory, it pays to revisit your fire extinguisher this time of year. Put it in an obvious location that you and guests will be able to get to quickly in the event of a fire. Review these instructions on the back so there is absolutely no hesitation if you need to leap into action. Have it nearby when you are grilling or lighting off fireworks and make sure your family members are familiar with it as well. These few steps could be the difference between a small BBQ mishap and $10,000 in fire damage.
3. Review Your Home Fire Evacuation Plan
Smoke detectors are supposed to warn you of fires. Fire extinguishers are supposed to help you put them out. But even with these tools, fires can spread so quickly that you don’t have the time to do anything but get out of your house. That is why it is important to review your home fire evacuation plan before the holiday. You may not have the time to check on your family members before exiting, and the last thing you want is to wonder if a family member made it out. A fire evacuation plan will ensure that your family knows what to do in the event of a fire and where to meet.
Grill Fire Safety Tips:
4. Clean Your Grill Before Using It
July is the top month for grill fires in the U.S., and the number one cause of these fires is an unclean grill. Oil and fat residue left on your grill from previous use can cause nasty flare-ups that, if unchecked, can spread fire to the surrounding environment. Good grilling practice calls for a clean grill anyway, so take the time to do a deep cleanse of your whole unit before hosting your BBQ. You’ll be less at risk of experiencing a fire, and you’ll look more like the expert griller you are.
5. Position Your Grill Away from Potential Hazards
Second to an “unclean grill” in the causes for grill fires is having some object or structure too close to the grill. As we stated above, large flare-ups can sometimes reach low-hanging branches, nearby bushes, structural overhangs, and nearby walls. That is why it is best to position your grill away from your home and other environmental hazards that could catch fire. It might require you to slightly adjust your grilling set-up, but don’t risk placing your grill up against your home or under a too-low branch. Move your grill, trim your bushes and trees, and ensure that your BBQ isn’t ruined by a small home fire.
6. Keep Children and Pets Away from the Grill
Fire injury can occur without the presence of an uncontrolled flame. Children and pets can wander to close to your grill, coming into contact with hot metal and grease. If left unsupervised, a young child might even play with the buttons, dials, and knobs on the grill. That is why we recommend establishing a “grill perimeter.” Let everyone who will be attending your BBQ know that children and pets must remain 10 feet away from the grill at all times. This will prevent any child/pet related accidents and will probably make the grillmaster job a whole lot easier too.
Firework Safety Tips:
7. Read and Follow Firework Instructions
As you fall into the excitement and fun of the evening, it might be easy to get a little lax with your fireworks. But we can’t stress enough that while you’re having fun you also remain safe. The instructions on fireworks should always be followed to ensure that you and your guests are not injured. Make sure everyone is standing the recommended distance away. Light them in the recommended way. And wait for the recommended amount of time before disposing of the leftover paper and plastic. All it takes is one mistake to ruin an evening of fun.
8. Exercise Adult Supervision
No matter how many times you may stress to your children to read and follow firework instructions, the excitement of the holiday can be enough to make anyone forget about safety. Many fireworks may seem harmless, but even the most common of children’s fireworks — Sparklers — burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and are capable of causing extreme bodily damage. Don’t take any chances even with the most responsible of children; always have an adult around to keep an eye on things.
9. Keep a Hose and Bucket On Hand at All Times
In the event of a firework tipping over or being held incorrectly, it can be less damaging to douse the object (and sometimes the person near it) with water than with whatever type of chemical concoction is in your fire extinguisher. So, having a hose or bucket of water on hand in addition to an extinguisher is always a good idea. You’re probably more comfortable aiming the hose anyway, right?
10. Get a Monitored Fire Alarm System
It is probably a little late to have a new fire alarm system installed in time for the holiday, but if you do it now, next year will be a breeze. A monitored fire alarm system involves more than just smoke detectors. Your monitoring center will keep an eye on your system and alert both you and your local fire department at the first signs of a fire. This means that even if you aren’t home, you don’t have to worry about stray fireworks or any other holiday hazards setting your home alight. Furthermore, if you choose a company like Supreme for your fire alarm system, you’ll be able to schedule equipment testing any tie to make sure your system is fully functional. There really is no better way to protect your family from the risks of a house fire.