Summer Fire Safety: Fireworks, Backward BBQ and More

With the Fourth of July right around the corner, it’s important to be vigilant when it comes to fireworks displays. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, each year, about 10,000 firework-related injuries are seen in ERs across the country, with half of those being kids.

Posted on | Leigh Vinocur, MD FACEP | Comments ()

With the Fourth of July right around the corner, it’s important to be vigilant when it comes to fireworks displays. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, each year, about 10,000 firework-related injuries are seen in ERs across the country, with half of those being kids. 

And it’s not just on the Fourth of July! The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that over two-thirds of injuries from fireworks occur from June 19 to July 19. The best way to be safe and still enjoy the holiday is to leave the fireworks up to the professionals.

However, if you insist on doing it yourself, make sure you buy legal fireworks as well as make sure it is legal in your state. And here are some other safety tips to remember:

  1. If you are going to do it yourself, buy fireworks from a reputable dealer and read the labels.
  2. Light only one at a time.
  3. Keep a bucket of water and fire extinguisher handy.
  4. Don’t give any fireworks to children, including sparklers that heat up to blowtorch temperatures.
  5. Never light them in a container that can explode and produce flying fragments and shrapnel.
  6. Never try to re-light or handle fireworks that don’t go off or malfunction.

Other summer fire hazards are gel fuel fire pots and tiki torches used at many outdoor parties. Fires caused by gel fuel are very hard to put out. The old adage of “Stop, drop and roll” does not work if your clothes ignite with a gel fuel. These fires can only be put out with dry chemicals such as those in fire extinguishers. The fires burn very hot and do not create typical orange flames, making gel fuel fires very difficult to see.

Often, people try to add more fuel to a full hot torch or fire pot, which then splatters causing severe burns. Only add gel fuel to an empty container that is cool to the touch.

Lastly, make sure you keep all young children and pets away from containers burning gel fuels.  These tips will help insure you spend the holiday with family and friends and not your local emergency department staff.

Blog written by Leigh Vinocur, MD FACEP
Dr. Leigh Vinocur is a board certified emergency physician and national spokesperson for the American College of Emergency...