BY tribune STAFF
TOPEKA — As Kansans soon join millions of other Americans, gathering to celebrate our nation’s independence, safety officials warn that some inherent dangers of Fourth of July celebrations can lead to injuries and other damage.
The Office of the State Fire Marshal with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Safe Kids Kansas remind Kansans of the importance of safety around fireworks. Fireworks can be dangerous to both adults and children if not handled properly.
According to the Kansas Syndromic Surveillance Program, in 2016 there were 123 reported fireworks-related injuries. Injuries to hands were involved in 39 percent of incidents and 34 percent involved injuries to the eyes, face and head.
The most common victims of fireworks injuries are adult males and children. According to statistics from the Kansas Fireworks Injury Survey, a voluntary reporting system for Kansas hospitals, adult males represented 40 percent of all reported fireworks-related injuries, with another 40 percent of reported fireworks injuries affecting children under the age of 18.
“While shooting your own fireworks can be a thrill, they can also cause serious injuries and fires if not handled properly,” says Doug Jorgensen, Fire Marshal for the State of Kansas. “The safest approach to enjoying fireworks is to visit public fireworks displays conducted by trained professionals who know how to properly handle fireworks. We want all our Kansas kids to enjoy this summer’s festivities as safely as possible.”
To help the public celebrate safely, the Office of the State Fire Marshal and Safe Kids Kansas offers the following tips for the safe use of fireworks:
• Always purchase high quality fireworks from reliable and legitimate sources
• Always read and follow label directions
• Have an adult supervise all fireworks activities
• Always ignite fireworks outdoors
• Have water nearby
• Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks
• Light only one firework at a time
• Never re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks
• Never give fireworks to small children
• Store fireworks in a cool, dry place
• Dispose of fireworks properly
• Never throw fireworks at another person
• Never carry fireworks in your pocket
• Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers
In addition, bottle rockets and M80s are dangerous and illegal in the State of Kansas. The use or sale of these banned fireworks is considered a crime under Kansas law.
For more information on fireworks safety, visit FireMarshal.ks.gov/fireworkssafety or SafeKidsKansas.org.
Barbecue grilling safety
Grilling is another holiday tradition, but according to the National Fire Protection Association, June and July are the peak months for summer grill fires, with nearly 9,000 fires caused by grills, hibachis and other barbecues each year, accounting for $37 million in property loss in the United States.
“Grilling season is a great time to enjoy friends, family, food and the outdoors, but accidents can happen,” said Alex Greig, Regional Insurance Manager with AAA Kansas. “Before you barbecue, take a few minutes to review grilling safety tips and to ensure your equipment is working properly.”
Safe barbecuing tips
• Place your grill at least 10 feet away from walls and deck railings to prevent fires from igniting buildings. Keep your grill away from decorations, such as hanging plants and umbrellas.
• Never grill indoors or in confined areas; charcoal grills produce carbon monoxide fumes that are fatal in unventilated areas.
• Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, and know how to use it.
• Never leave a grill burning unattended.
• Grease can cause flare up fires. Keep your grill clean by removing grease and fat build-up from the grill and grill trays.
• If the flame on your propane grill goes out, turn the grill and gas off. Wait at least 15 minutes before relighting, and always make sure your grill lid is open before igniting.
“AAA wants everyone to safely celebrate the red, white and blue, without injuries or damage to their property,” Greig added. “It’s always a good idea to consult your insurance agent to be sure about what your homeowners or renters policy covers and does not cover in terms of liability with party gatherings and potential damage related to grilling or fireworks accidents.”
For for more information about auto and home insurance, call your AAA insurance agent or insurance customer service, or visit a local AAA branch.