SEATTLE, Wash. -- As skies clear and weather turns warmer, Pacific Northwest residents are hoping for glorious weather this Fourth of July. But however the weather turns out, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) warn that careless handling of fireworks and outdoor grills can ruin parties and picnics -- and entire summers. In 2010, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,600 people for fireworks-related injuries, and according to FEMA Regional Administrator Ken Murphy, 73 percent of fireworks injuries occurred between 18 June and 18 July.
"When celebrating the Fourth of July, Americans need to remember to use fireworks, fires and barbecues with care. The best way to enjoy fireworks is to visit public displays held by trained professionals," said Murphy. "Summer holidays should be fun and generate good memories, not pain and remorse. Have fun, but be safe."
FIREWORKS SAFETY TIPS:
If fireworks are legal where you live and you decide to set them off on your own, be sure to follow these important safety tips:
- Observe local laws.
- Keep a bucket of water handy in case of a malfunction or fire.
- Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never shoot a firework at or near another person.
- Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials.
- Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
- Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
- Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
GRILLING FIRE SAFETY TIPS
- Propane and charcoal BBQ grills must only be used outdoors. If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces such as tents, they pose a fire hazard and a risk of exposing occupants to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic. Grills should be positioned at least 10 feet away from siding, deck railing, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Keep matches, lighters, and starter fluid out of the reach of children in a locked drawer or cabinet.
- Keep children and pets away from the grill area: declare a three-foot "kid-free zone" around the grill.
- Use long barbeque mitts and long-handled grilling tools to protect the chef from heat and flames when cooking.
- Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below the grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.
USFA, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, serves the American public and the nation's fire services through training, data collection and analysis, public fire education, and fire protection technology research. For more information, visit: www.usfa.fema.gov. For wildfire preparedness tips, sample preparedness plans and emergency checklists, visit firewise.org or www.fema.gov.
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