Celebrating the July 4th holiday safely

Tips for preventing fires
Statewide collection of worn American flags for proper disposal
Posted at 11:14 AM, Jul 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-02 11:14:51-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Fourth of July this year will mark a return to pre-pandemic celebrations for many Americans, as COVID-19 restrictions lift around the country.

But despite there being more options to view professional fireworks displays and areas to go to celebrate, many Americans will still celebrate from home.

And as you are celebrating at home, there are some things you will need to keep in mind so your Fourth of July festivities are safe and go off without a hitch.

Cookout/grilling safety tips

Celebrating the Fourth of July safely - Cookouts

According to AAA Western and Central New York, there are some 5,700 house fires per year that start with outdoor grills or barbecues and the National Fire Prevention Association says about 19,700 people are treated in the emergency room with grilling-related injuries.

Almost two-thirds of homes nationwide have at least one outdoor grill, barbecue or smoker, and about 61 percent of households have a gas-fueled grill, which are the cause of a majority of house fires involving grills. The NFPA says the number of house fires caused by grills reaches its peak in July.

Lieutenant Marvin Spates with the Buffalo Fire Department says to prevent fires and injuries, you should always adhere to the following safety rules:

  1. Set up the grill at least 10 feet away from your house, garage, trees, awnings or deck railings
  2. NEVER set it up on a porch
  3. Make sure to clean grease, oil and debris from the grill before each use
  4. Always ignite the grill with the hood up
  5. Maintain a three-foot "kid-free" zone around the grill
  6. NEVER leave the grill unattended

Similar rules apply to cooking on a stovetop, microwave or oven, but you should always make sure to remove all flammable materials like towels, wooden or plastic utensils, oven mitts, or food wrappings from the area of the stovetop before you begin cooking.

In the event a grease fire ignites while you are cooking you should do the following to put it out:

  1. Cover the pan with its lid, a cookie sheet or a larger pan
  2. Smother the flames with baking soda; NEVER use flour, sugar, baking powder or water, as they will only make the fire worse
  3. Use a Class B fire extinguisher, if necessary; a dry chemical-based extinguisher is the preferred type

The department says there are four steps to using a fire extinguisher to ensure you put out the fire, known as the "PASS" system:

P - Pull the pin
A - Aim the nozzle
S - Squeeze the handle
S - Sweep back and forth across the base of the fire

Home fireworks safety tips

Celebrating the Fourth of July safely - Fireworks

Along with cookouts, many Western New Yorkers may be looking to put on fireworks displays of their own at home, rather than attending one of the professional displays around the region this weekend.

Fireworks that emit sparks are legal for home use in New York State but fireworks that launch into the air and explode are illegal.

Lieutenant David Morales with the Getzville Fire Company says most important rule to follow when you're using fireworks is not to let young children use them, even sparklers.

Sparklers burn at 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and can quickly cause third-degree burns, he says.

The National Safety Council says to safely use fireworks, you should do the following:

  • Only allow older children to use fireworks under close adult supervision
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Anyone using fireworks or standing nearby should wear protective eyewear
  • Never hold lighted fireworks in your hands
  • Never light them indoors
  • Only use them away from people, houses and flammable material
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person
  • Only light one device at a time and maintain a safe distance after lighting
  • Never ignite devices in a container
  • Do not try to re-light or handle malfunctioning fireworks
  • Soak both spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that don't go off or in case of fire