Summer Safety: Fireworks, Barbecues, Fire Pits and Campfires

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Summer Safety: Fireworks, Barbecues, Fire Pits and Campfires

While summer brings with it plenty of opportunities for fun, there is also much to be aware of when it comes to safety. Barbecues, campfires, boating, swimming, fireworks, and many more summer activities bring with them potential dangers. In order to ensure your family and friends are safe this sunny season, take a moment to refresh your safety skills with our quick primer.

FIREWORKS

Fireworks can make any occasion sparkle and they are an absolute necessity for many when it comes to celebrating our nation’s independence. But those bright shows also have a dark side – with more than 8,800 people nationwide badly injured and requiring emergency services every year, as a result of improperly handled at-home fireworks displays. Burning at 1,500 degrees, fireworks can prove to be extremely dangerous, especially for children.

Most emergency room visits are the result of small firecrackers such as bottle rockets and sparklers. Fireworks that explode or take off are illegal in Minneapolis. Examples include: firecrackers, bottle rockets, missiles, roman candles, mortars and shells.

Non-explosive fireworks like sparklers, cones, tubes that spark, snakes, and party poppers are legal to use in your yard or on the sidewalk in Minnesota. If you choose to use these types of fireworks, please be sure there is adult supervision, and keep very young children away. It’s always wise to keep a bucket of water nearby, to help extinguish used fireworks and to put out any errant ones.

For more Minnesota specific firework tips, check out our post on Safety Tips for At-Home Fireworks this 4th of July.

BARBECUES

There’s nothing better than food fresh off the grill on a summer day, but cooking over an open flame means taking responsibility for the fire safety of everyone at your BBQ. According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) grill fires on residential properties result in an estimated average of 10 deaths, 100 injuries, and $37 million in property loss each year. Here are some quick BBQ tips to help keep things safe and tasty:

Never leave an in-use grill unattended.
All grills should be a minimum of 15 feet away from the building.
Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for operating your grill.
Keep children and pets far away from the grill.
Wear snug-fitting, short-sleeved clothing with a tight weave. If any item of your clothing happens to accidentally catch fire: Stop, drop and roll
Only use charcoal starter fluids designed for coal barbecue grills, and do not add fuel after the coals have been lit.
Allow used charcoal ashes to cool completely, and then extinguishing ashes with water before disposing.
Wet charcoal may spontaneously combust, store only dry briquettes.
Check that the hose connection is tight and leak free on all gas grills. If you’re unsure if your connection is secure, apply soapy water to the hoses to safely reveal any leaks.
If your grill needs repair, make sure a professional does it safely.
Be aware: grilling on decks is prohibited in any apartment with more than two units.
FIRE PITS

Long warm, temperate summer nights may seem like the perfect time to relax by the fire pit but be sure you have safety precautions in place before you enjoy that warm outdoor hearth.

Though, the Minnesota State Fire Code and the Minnesota Statutes allow for outdoor fire pits, you must follow the established guidelines for your fire pit to be legal in Minnesota as enforced by city officers and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). These regulations are in place to protect both the community and the household maintaining the fire pit.

Fire Pit Location: No closer than 25 feet from any combustible materials, including buildings, wood structures, debris, log piles, trees or fences. If your fire is contained within a portable barbecue, this restriction does not apply.
Fire Size: Fires must be no larger than 2 feet high by 3 feet in diameter and contained inside a fire ring, fire pit or portable barbecue pit.
Fire Watch: Never leave your fire unattended. All fires must be extinguished by midnight and cannot give off any offensive odors or oppressive smoke that interferes with neighbors. In the event of a fire ban, NO fires may be built. When winds reach stronger than 15 miles an hour, fires are NOT allowed.
Starting and Extinguishing your Fire Safely: Fires must be started with a lighter or matches. The use of gas, lighter fluid, debris, or trash is not permitted. Chopped wood or untreated building wood may be used but all large pieces must be cut down to fire sizing specifications. Do not dispose of trash, debris, grass, treated or painted wood, chemicals, solvents, or similar materials in your fire pit as these present unique and uncontrollable fire hazards. All fires must be extinguished by a fire extinguisher or water, or by smothering it with dirt. It is highly recommended that you soak the area or shovel fire debris into a metal container of water for 24 hours to ensure it is safely out.
CAMPFIRE SAFETY BASICS

According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Minnesota has about 1,400 wildfires annually. People are overwhelmingly the the cause of over 98% of these wildfires, many of them as a result of improperly tended campfires.

Follow the tips below to an enjoy a safe and fun time roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories around the campfire this summer:

Always set-up your flame retardant tents far (15 to 25 feet) from the campfire, making sure your fire is downwind from your tent. Never set-up a fire in or near your tent or enclosed sleeping area.
Clear all vegetation, digging your pit and surrounding it with rocks to create a fire barrier before building a campfire.
Store liquid fire starter away from your tent and campfire, using only dry kindling to freshen the fire.
Never leave your fire unattended.
When retiring for the evening or leaving the campsite, be sure to properly extinguish your campfire by covering it with dirt or soaking it with water and checking make sure your fire is fully extinguished.

For more in-depth information on building, maintaining and extinguishing a campfire safely, visit the sites below:

Smokey Bear
Safety Tips For Campfires
By following these summer safety guidelines, you and your loved ones can make the most of all that summer has to offer.
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