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Fire Safety and Prevention Over the 4th Of July

Published in Urgent Care, Trauma Services, Emergency Services, For the Health of It Author: Jason McDonald, Injury Prevention Analyst, CentraCare – St. Cloud Hospital Trauma Service

Summer is here and the 4th of July is fast approaching. As Minnesotans get ready to celebrate with friends and family, it’s important to keep fire safety in mind this Independence Day. Bonfires, fireworks and grilling can be ingredients for a great time, but they can also be a recipe for a trip to the emergency room.

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were over 10,200 firework-related injuries in 2022 with 73 percent occurring in the month surrounding the 4th of July.

Here are some tips to keep you and your loved ones safe if you’re planning to incorporate fire in any of your activities this holiday weekend.

Firework Safety

  • Know the laws. In Minnesota, certain types of fireworks are illegal. You should also follow up with your local city ordinances to see if there are restrictions.
  • Choose a safe location. It’s important to evaluate your surroundings and make sure you’re away from people, flammables, and anything else that could pose a risk. It is also important to make sure you’re close to a water source or have water handy.
  • Select a responsible adult. This person should be sober and knowledgeable about fireworks and proper handling. They should also follow through with proper firework disposal.
  • Monitor young children. Designate a responsible teenager or adult to supervise any children who are present. Always keep them at a safe distance away from fireworks.

Bonfire Safety

  • Know the laws. Check to see whether your city or municipality requires a burning permit.
  • Check the weather conditions. Local weather advisories will alert you to fire danger ratings and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will have information on any burning bans or restrictions.
  • Choose a safe location. You want to be aware of any flammable material including vehicles, low-hanging tree branches, lawn furniture or anything else that could catch fire. Make sure your firepit is at least 25 feet from the nearest structure.
  • Only put wood in the firepit: It is illegal in Minnesota to burn garbage. Burning anything other than wood can cause an increase in heat and embers that could cause the fire to get out of control.
  • Make sure your fire is contained. You’ll want to use a fire ring or pit that’s specifically created to contain fire. You’ll want to keep your fire at a reasonable size so you can control it from spreading. Never use accelerants to start your fire.
  • Keep water nearby. It’s important to have a water source handy in case you have an urgent need to extinguish the fire.
  • Monitor the bonfire. Make sure a designated responsible adult is always monitoring the fire and keeping children at a safe distance away.
  • Extinguish correctly. Never assume the fire is out just because you don’t see flames. Fires can reignite from hot coals. Pour water over the coals until they are cool to the touch.
  • Dispose safely: Place ashes in a metal can and dispose of them by spreading them in a garden or taking them to a compost after they’re completely cooled.

Grilling Safety

  • Choose a safe location for your grill. It’s best to put them on gravel or concrete for a stabilized surface. Grills should not be used in the garage because a flare-up could cause fire to spread. Keep your grill away from vinyl or wood siding, low-hanging branches, structures and anything else that could catch fire.
  • Always clean your grill and check for gas leaks. Grease buildup can cause large fires to erupt. Be sure to clean grease traps and burners on gas grills before use.
  • Wear the right clothing. Make sure you’re properly covered to protect your body from potential burns. You’ll always want to make sure you’re not wearing anything too loose that could catch fire.
  • Keep water or a fire extinguisher nearby. It’s important to have a water source handy in case you have an urgent need to extinguish the fire. If you’re using a fire extinguisher, follow the PASS method:
    • P: Pull pin
    • A: Aim nozzle or hose
    • S: Squeeze handle
    • S: Sweep base of fire
  • Monitor the grill. Never leave the grill unsupervised. Make sure young children are kept at a safe distance away.

If you experience a fire emergency, get to a safe location and call 911 immediately. We wish you have a happy and safe 4th of July holiday. We hope we don’t see you in the emergency room, but we’re here if you need us.