Sunday, May 26, 2013

"Mommy's On Fire! Call 911!"

Ah, Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to the summer season is now upon us.  County fairs, music festivals, vacations, and of course outdoor barbeques for the next few months will fill our weekends as we enjoy the long warm days of the summer solstice.

Sadly, it also means the beginning of the busiest time of the year for emergency rooms and burn units.  According to the U.S. Fire Administration, during the five-year period between 2006-2010, fire departments in the United States responded to an estimated average of 157,300 home structure fires in which cooking equipment was identified as the source of  ignition.  Death, injuries, and property losses are staggering to say the least and the numbers tell the story quite convincingly, 380 civilian deaths, 4, 920 civilian injuries, and $794 million in property damage year-after-year.  While other types of fires have decreased significantly over the years, the number of reported homes fires involving cooking equipment has actually increased since 2002.

Hannah Storm, ESPN SportsCenter anchor found out first-hand the dangers of outdoor grilling.  On a windy and chilly December night, Hannah was seriously burned after attempting to re-light her barbeque, an event that could have ended her life.  Hannah was kind enough to tell her story with a public safety message presented by ESPN and the NFPA:

Follow a few simple safety tips to keep you and your family safe this summer:

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • Always make sure your gas grill lid is open before lighting it.
For charcoal grills:
  • There are several ways to get the charcoal ready to use.  Charcoal chimney starters allow you to start the coal using newspaper as a fuel. Use caution on windy days so as to not spread embers to other combustible materials.
  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid.  Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the fire.
  • Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.
  • There are also electric charcoal starters, which do not use fire.  Be sure to use an extension cord for outdoor use.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container. Never place coals in a paper bag.
For propane grills:
  • Check the gas tank fittings and all hoses for leaks before using the grill for the first time each year by using a soapy bubble test.  Place a small amount of dishwashing detergent in a spray bottle and spray the solution around all gas components, looking for air bubbles.  If there is a leak, immediately turn off the gas grill and tank.  Inspect and tighten all components or get the grill serviced by a professional before using it again.
  • If you smell gas while cooking, immediately get away from the grill and call the fire department.  Do not move the grill.
  • If the flame goes out, turn the grill and gas tank off and wait at least 15 minutes before re-lighting it.

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