Practice summer fire safety to avoid serious injury

TOPEKA, Kan. – Summertime means spending more time outdoors for many Kansas families. Summer is also when there is an increase in visits to the emergency room due to fire and burn injury. Barbecue grills, campfires and fireworks can cause serious injuries to children. Safe Kids Kansas, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and the Kansas Highway Patrol remind everyone to practice fire safety to ensure your family has a fun, safe summer.

Statistics show that as summer approaches, we see an increase in the number of fire or burn related emergency department visits in Kansas. Kansas Hospital Association data from 2007 to 2010 show such ER visits peaked in the month of July. This is likely due to the increase in use of fireworks. In 2013 more than a third of Kansas hospitals reported 133 injuries due to fireworks according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

It is no surprise that many families enjoy the sparkles and booms of fireworks. But it is important to recognize that fireworks are explosive and can be dangerous. More than half of the firework injuries reported by Kansas hospitals in 2013 were to children up to to 18 years old, according to the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office. In addition, it is important to note that many minor injuries due to fireworks are not even reported.

“Even when handled correctly, fireworks can sometimes be defective or simply unpredictable,” said Cherie Sage, Safe Kids Kansas.  “Even sparklers, which are typically viewed by parents as relatively harmless fireworks for children, cause serious burn injuries, accounting for one-third of the injuries to children under five in the U.S.”

Follow these fireworks safety tips:

  • Closely supervise children around fireworks at all times.
  • Transport fireworks in the trunk of your vehicle. If your vehicle does not have a trunk, ensure fireworks are kept out of direct sunlight.
  • Read and follow the directions on the packaging.
  • Never modify fireworks or use homemade or illegal fireworks.
  • Little arms are too short to hold sparklers, which can heat up to 1,200 degrees. Let young children use glow sticks instead. They can be just as fun but they don’t burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass.
  • If a child is injured by fireworks, call 911 immediately.

Many families enjoy camping during the summer months and making s‘mores around the campfire is often part of that tradition. Be fire smart when you head for the great outdoors, and be prepared to take extra precautions when you may be far from a water source.

Follow these campfire safety tips:

  • Supervise children and keep them away from the fire.
  • Teach kids how to stop, drop and roll if their clothing catches fire.
  • Keep plenty of water nearby and have a shovel for throwing sand or dirt on the fire if it gets out of control.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended.
  • When extinguishing the fire, drown it with water. If you do not have water, use dirt. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cooled. However, do not bury coals, as they can smolder and start to burn again.

Grilling food outdoors is a national summer pastime. But before lighting up the grill, know the facts and keep safety in mind. Gas grills were involved in an average of 7,100 home fires every year from 2006 to 2010 in the U.S., while charcoal or other solid-fueled grills were involved in an annual average of 1,200 home fires, according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Grill fires at home are estimated to cause an average of 10 deaths, 100 injuries, and $37 million in property loss each year in the U.S.

Follow these grilling safety tips:

  • Gas and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill to prevent flare ups.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.

Safe Kids Kansas, KDHE and KHP urge parents to practice these safety tips to reduce the risk of a fire or a trip to the emergency room and ensure this summer is a safe one.

For more information about fire safety, visit www.safekids.org.


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