The Fourth of July is a time for celebration, family, and summer fun. Maybe you get some time off work in observance of the holiday and you’re looking forward to relaxing, grilling out, and watching some fireworks. Sure, July 4th is a great time, but you also need to be sure to be safe. Check out the following reminders so you can have a happy and safe Fourth of July.
Part one: Grilling safety for the Fourth of July.
Barbeques are a staple of Fourth of July. Burgers, hot dogs, kebabs, chicken – whatever your favorite cookout delicacy is, don’t forget to grill safely. If you’re planning a backyard barbeque, check out the following tips.
1. Know what kind of grill you’ll be using.
Gas grills are different than charcoal grills. (Gas grills use propane. Charcoal grills use, well, charcoal.) For starters, you should never put lighter fluid on a gas grill – that’s only for charcoal grills. Familiarize yourself with the grill in question and know how to use it properly.
2. Check gas grills for propane leaks.
It’s important to make sure your gas grill isn’t spewing propane. Check the area where the propane tank and the fuel line connect. If it looks like you have a leak, do NOT use the grill or light it. Turn off the gas instead. Also – don’t use a match to check for a propane leak. Just don’t.
3. Use the grill outside.
You need to grill in a well-ventilated area. Don’t bring the grill into a place like a garage (or, umm, house) where there isn’t enough ventilation. That’s a fire hazard. Also, carbon monoxide is a thing.
4. Keep the grill at a distance.
Make sure your grill is at least three feet away from anything flammable that could go up in flames. Be mindful of how close the grill is to things like outdoor furniture, the house, and so on.
5. Keep the pets and kids away.
It’s also important to lay down some ground rules for kids and pets. You don’t want any fingers – or whiskers – to get singed if someone gets too close to the grill. Establish a kid-and-pet-free zone while you’re manning the grill.
6. Don’t forget food safety.
You don’t want anyone to get sick from undercooked or raw meat. That’s no fun. Don’t forget about the following:
- Wash your hands frequently if you’re handling raw meat. At the very least have moist towelettes on hand to clean your hands if you’re not going to be able to step away from the grill.
- Don’t use the same utensils for the raw meat as the cooked food.
- Don’t let the raw food mix or touch the cooked food.
- Cook the food thoroughly. Burgers need to reach a temperature of 160˚F and chicken 165˚F.
- Marinate food in the fridge.
- Refrigerate leftovers ASAP. Don’t let food sit out for more than two hours.
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7. Don’t forget to clean the grill thoroughly.
You can avoid carcinogens, or icky cancer-causing stuff, from emanating from your grill by cleaning it thoroughly with a wire brush after use. This helps remove food build-up. You can also use nonstick spray and cook leaner types of meat that have less grease and fat. The goal is to reduce food build-up that can slip through the rungs of the grill and into the fire, so to speak – this can release smoke that is not good.
Part Two: Fireworks safety for July 4th.
Now. What’s the Fourth of July without fireworks? Sure, fireworks are pretty and sparkly, but they’re also explosive – that’s kind of the point. That’s why you need to be VERY careful and responsible if you’re going to be setting off fireworks.
1. Set off fireworks outside.
Well, this should be a no-brainer. Make sure that you’re in a clear, open space and away from anything flammable if you’re going to be launching fireworks. Have water at the ready just in case you need to douse anything. Fireworks literally have FIRE in the name.
2. Be smart.
A few basic things:
- Pockets are NOT a good place to keep fireworks.
- Metal or glass containers are NOT good things to launch fireworks from.
- It’s not a good idea to light more than one firework at a time.
- It’s also not a good idea to have any part of your body over the device.
- Back up when you light the firework and retreat to a safe distance.
- Dump a lot of water on used fireworks before disposing of them.
- Wear safety goggles/eye protection.
3. Don’t deviate from the instructions.
Fireworks are not the time to get creative. Follow all the manufacturer’s instructions and do NOT try to get fancy.
4. Keep your audience at a safe distance.
Make sure that everyone is standing and viewing the fireworks from a safe distance. Don’t let your onlookers get too close.
5. Don’t mess with fireworks that don’t want to light.
If you’ve got a firework that won’t light, DO NOT try to light it again. Just give up. Wait twenty minutes, then submerge it in water. It’s not a good idea to mess around too much with fireworks that don’t want to go off.
6. Respect the law.
Make sure you know your state’s laws and your area’s laws when you’re setting off your fireworks. Know what kind of fireworks are allowed to be used and when you can use them. Your city or town might have certain rules that they expect you to follow. Don’t use any illegal fireworks. They’re illegal for a reason.
7. Take care of your pets.
It’s also important to remember your pets. Fireworks can be very scary for cats and dogs. Set up a quiet, calm room inside your house where your kitty or doggie can hide out so they don’t get too freaked out by the fireworks. (Preferably somewhere in the house where the noise might be muffled.) To them, there’s no reasonable explanation for the loud booms, and they don’t like it. Leave your furry buddy at home and don’t take them to the fireworks show.
Part 3: Sparklers.
Sparklers are pretty and shiny, but you need to be careful.
- Remember that sparklers can burn really hot. Sparklers can burn at almost 2,000˚F.
- Small kids shouldn’t use them. The younger kids might beg for a sparkler, but it’s not the best idea to give a small child a stick that’s popping and sparking at those kinds of temperatures. (Generally, kids and fire are not a good combination.)
- Supervise. If the older kids have sparklers, make sure you’re watching carefully.
- Don’t allow any horseplay. Some basic rules – no running, no chasing, no horseplay, and no crazy antics.
While the Fourth of July can be a lot of fun, it’s important to be careful. Don’t forget grilling safety basics, and be extremely cautious with fireworks. You don’t want your holiday to end with a surprise hospital trip or home insurance claim.
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