July 1st, 2019, Minneapolis, Minnesota:
We’ve reached the heart of summer with this week’s Fourth of July celebration. It ranks as one of the most popular American holidays along with Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween and New Year’s. The difference from those holidays, however, is the Fourth takes full advantage of the great American outdoors and long warm summer days. We’re going to cabins in the woods. We’re swimming, boating, and barbecuing. We’re taking vacations.
Whether you’re a commercial or residential business celebrating Independence Day with an employee picnic, or with family and friends, here are practical ways to keep everyone safe, have fun and create great memories.
BURGERS ON THE BARBIE
According to that National Fire Prevention Association, July is the peak month for grilling—and for grill fires. On the average, 85 percent of home fires—8,700 a year—are caused by grills that started on a balcony or open porch. Ten percent began on an outside wall; five percent began with a structural member or framing.
No matter your preferred cooking method—gas, charcoal, electric—here are basic safety measures to ensure fun and not fire.
- Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and the trays below the grill. One-quarter of grill fires are because the grill hasn’t been cleaned.
- Gas and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.
- The grill should be placed well away from buildings, homes, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Check for and repair any leaks or breaks, a common malfunction in gas grills.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
- Never leave your grill unattended.
- Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
- Have a fire extinguisher nearby, know how to use it, and make sure it’s been tested to function correctly.
WHERE THERE’S SMOKE, THERE BETTER BE FIREWORKS
The highlight of the Fourth of July is fireworks, both on a grand scale above city skylines and in our backyards. But fireworks, as we all know, can be dangerous. Did you know that sparklers, a favorite with children, can burn at 2,000 degrees F, which is as hot as a blow torch!
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires per year. In 2017, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 12,900 people for fireworks-related injuries; 54 percent were to the extremities and 36 percent were to the head. Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for 36 percent of the injuries.
To ensure a safe backyard fireworks display:
- Only use fireworks in open, flat, inflammable, and sturdy spaces.
- Light the fireworks then get as far away as fast as you can.
- Spectators should be at least 25 feet for ground-based fireworks; 75 feet for aerial.
- Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully. Contact the fire department or police for safe disposal.
- Never point or throw fireworks at people, pets or structures
- Keep a fire extinguisher, bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
IN THE SWIM OF THINGS
Boating and swimming are especially popular outdoor activities here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (and 100,000 ponds). Boating safety tips from the Coast Guard include:
- Make sure life preservers are not just in the boats, but everyone is wearing them and they fit all ages properly.
- Fire extinguishers are required by law to be on boats with an engine. It’s not required on other types of boats, but I’d highly recommended having one on board. Fires can happen unexpectedly and it’s always a smart idea to be prepared. Extinguishers should be mounted in a location within arm’s reach of you and your passengers.
The American Red Cross has excellent advice for swimming in lakes and rivers, which are very different from pools.
- Always enter unknown or shallow water feet first.
- Watch for currents, waves and underwater obstructions.
- Keep a close eye on children at all times to prevent drowning, even if they know how to swim.
- Know what to do in a water emergency – including how to safely help someone in trouble, call for emergency help and CPR.
FUN FAMILY GETAWAYS
As one of the top vacation months, July finds us traveling by air, road, sea, and even train. Since you’ll be out of your routine and familiar surroundings, it’s crucial to pay attention to the people and activity around you. Nationwide Insurance has practical suggestions for travel safety.
- Don’t draw attention – People who look like they’re from out of town are vulnerable to crime, so blend in as much as you can. Be discreet when looking at maps or guide books, and approach people carefully if you need to ask for directions.
- Keep your friends and family updated – Give your itinerary to people you trust and check in regularly so they know you’re where you should be.
- Be wary of public Wi-Fi – Hackers can access your data on open unsecured networks, including credit card or Social Security numbers. Set up a virtual private network (VPN) to access the Internet securely while traveling.
Be aware of your surroundings
- Don’t let your guard down to snap a selfie for social media or the family Christmas card.
- If someone near you is acting suspiciously, or you feel uncomfortable, leave the area immediately.
Safeguard your hotel room
- Give the impression that you’re in your room even when you’re away. Place the Do Not Disturb sign on the outside of your door and keep the blinds or windows closed.
- Review the escape route in your hotel room; it’s usually located on the back of the door. Know where fire extinguishers are located.
- Have a family safety plan. Find a “safe spot” that everyone knows to go to immediately if they get separated from the group or are lost. Pick a public, highly visible, easy-to-find central spot like a fountain in the square, a large statue, or a lobby in a museum so younger children can easily find it and remain in a safe open space. Remind younger children to seek help only from a police officer or a retailer at a store wearing a nametag, and if they have their cell phone to call you immediately.
As your business, employees, family, and friends celebrate the 243rd birthday of our nation, the Brothers Fire & Security team hopes everyone has a safe and memorable Fourth of July and the rest of the summer.
ABOUT BROTHERS FIRE & SECURITY
As one of the premier providers of fire and security solutions in the Upper Midwest, Brothers Fire & Security strives to build long-term, value-added relationships. We work with business owners and property management companies, as well as all types of public institutions to solve fire and security needs. By taking advantage of our integrated bundled services, many of our clients find that they can save 25-30% on their safety services, annual inspections and more. From a single location to franchises throughout the region and the country, our integrated approach saves our clients valuable time, money and stress. We provide fire protection systems, security systems, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, 24-7 monitoring, fire extinguishers, card access and kitchen hoods.