Fire Protections During Freedom Celebrations
My ears ring with the popping, cracking, sizzling, and banging of the fireworks. The sulfurous smell fills the air as colors of red, white, and blue dazzle my eyes. I’m breathless as the firework finale ends, signaling another Independence Day in the books—another year full of gratitude for those who stand up for our great country and defend the USA at any cost.
Fireworks, barbecues, picnics, and parades are all events used to celebrate the independence and freedoms of America. We wouldn’t have this opportunity without those people who bravely put on the uniform to fight and protect. As always, it’s important to take notice of all the potential risks surrounding our outdoor celebration activities and how to protect ourselves from dangers.
Would you give your child a lighted match or candle and let them run wildly around the house or yard? Probably not, so why would you hand them a sparkler and let them loose? Fireworks are dangerous—legal, but dangerous. Children always need adult supervision while handling sparklers or firecrackers. According to the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Center), nearly half of firework injuries are to children under age 5 and are related to sparklers.
• Sparklers burn at an extremely high heat: 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt some metals.
• Sparks can ignite clothing on fire and cause eye injuries.
• Touching a lit sparkler to skin can result in third-degree burns.
According to the National Safety Council, half of firework injuries were related to sparklers, firecrackers, roman candles, and bottle rockets, in children under the age of 20. Several of us have made poor firework-related decisions as kids, but please, keep fireworks at a distance and always supervise the use of them.
The US Fire Administration and FEMA agree that the best way to enjoy and stay safe from fireworks is to attend a public display put on by professionals. However, if you plan to shoot fireworks yourself, there are some guidelines to keep you, your family, and other viewers safe this Independence Day.
• First and foremost, obey all state and local laws/ordinances as it relates to approved fireworks.
• Read the safety and performance descriptions before igniting fireworks.
• Assign a responsible and sober adult to supervise all firework activities; do not give fireworks to children.
• Wear safety glasses when shooting fireworks.
• Use fireworks outdoors and away from structures and vehicles.
• Always have a bucket of water and charged water hose nearby.
• Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
• Pets and fireworks do not mix. Do not bring pets to watch fireworks; they won’t enjoy it. If fireworks are used near your home, bring pets inside to a safe, interior room to avoid exposure to the sounds, which may scare them. Make sure your pets have a collar and an identification tag in case they get out and run off during these events.
• Be mindful of your veteran neighbors and give them a heads up that you will be shooting off fireworks.
Guarding Against Grilling Claims
Whether you’re a grill master or a pit master, gathering family and friends together for a feast is a great way to celebrate the freedoms of America. However, if you are neither, grilling out can have a potential for fire risk and dangers that can ruin your fun. Here are some safety tips for making your barbeque memorable for the right reasons.
• Never leave a lit or hot grill unattended.
• Move the grill away from siding, decking, and other things that can catch fire.
• Do not use a grill under porches/overhangs or too close to any structure.
• Keep your grill clean so leftover grease and fat won’t catch on fire.
• Designate a “grill master” to assure children and pets stay away from the flames or hot grill.
• Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
If using a fire pit:
• Make sure the fire pit is at least three feet away from your house and anything that can burn.
• Closely watch children when the fire pit is in use.
• Use a metal screen over wood-burning fires to keep sparks from floating out.
• Turn off or put out fires before you leave the backyard.
• Store matches and lighters out of children’s sight and reach.
Even though all precautions may have been taken to ensure a stress-free Independence Day, a claim could still arise. It’s important to have a trusted insurance policy and team to help you when disaster strikes.
If a rogue firework does happen to hit your home or another structure, your basic homeowners insurance policy should cover the fire damage as an accidental fire.
If a party attendee gets burned from firework or gets too close to the grill or fire pit, again the homeowners policy should have liability built in to get them the medical treatment they need.
However, it is a good idea to discuss with your Tower Street agent about getting an excess liability policy to extend coverage from the basic policy.
On July 3, 1776, John Adams said, “It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
I believe John Adams would be proud of how Americans have actively brought life to his vision throughout the years. Let’s continue . . . stay safe and stay protected.
Happy Independence Day!
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