Summer is a fun and exciting time when family and friends from different parts of the country come together to relax, go camping, set up bonfires, roast marshmallows, and so on. Regardless of the activity you and your friends plan to engage in during the summer months, safety should be your first priority and for good reasons.
According to a report from the USFA (United States Fire Administration), the warm summer months are one of the most dangerous periods for fire-related accidents, injuries, and deaths . Countless numbers of fire incidence occur every day during the summer months. These fires are often caused by careless campers, wear and tear of cooling equipment, barbequing, and many more.
To ensure the safety of you, and your loved ones, there are some important fire safety tips; you must keep in mind during the summer. In this article, we are going to be looking at some of them.
HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) maintenance
You can choose to do this on your own if you have a good technical background or you have been trained to do so. If you are not trained, then you should employ the services of a professional cleaning company. Whether you choose to do it on your own or hire a professional, your goal should be to remove the dust on the electrical component of your home. It is easy to assume that HVAC maintenance is not really important, perhaps because you don’t know much about it and how it works. Well, the truth is that you are putting your life and the lives of your family at risk if you fail to clean your HVAC system, especially during the summer.
How HVAC related fires start
During the summer months, most people usually run multiple cooling simultaneously for periods. This is likely going to result in overheating and overloading which will present an excellent opportunity for a fire to start.
Don’t store propane gas cylinders indoors, even for a short period. Don’t store them under the sun or high-pressure areas, as the heat and ambient temperature can cause it to explode and start a fire.
In the heat of the excitement, many homeowners forget to remove the debris in their vents and clean their exhaust fans. Don’t make it a habit to run fans for long hours every day as they can overheat and start a fire.
As you probably know, a fire alarm can alert you to a small fire before it spreads and causes large-scale damage. Since a lot of residential fires occur during the summer months, it is important that you keep your fire alarm up and running. A good way to do that is by inspecting and testing your alarm system to see if it is working. Remove and replace old batteries. If you aren’t tech savvy, then you should hire a professional to help you test your fire alarm and carry out all necessary maintenance.
Carefully read the instructions that came with your mower and strictly follow them to the letter. Also, follow the maintenance schedule on your equipment. Don’t forget to remove the grass clippings and debris from the mufflers, cutting unit, and engines. Never refuel your mower if it is overheated.
Keep your grill a good distance away from your home and any overhanging branches. Do well to remove grease build-up and other debris after using it. Do not leave a grill unattended. If you must leave, turn it off before leaving.
How to ensure fire safety when Barbequing
Keep the following tips in mind if you plan on going out camping or Barbequing during the summer.
Keep a bucket of water close by
There are a lot of things you can do to prevent a campfire or a bonfire from going out of control and starting a ferocious wildfire. Even if you are able to do all these things, there is a small possibility that a fire might still start. For example, hot embers may be blown away by wind and dumped on a combustible material nearby like foliage or paper. If this happens, you will only have a couple of minutes to put out the flames before it grows and spreads. Having a bucket of water close by will go a long way in helping you put out the flames. If you plan on starting a large bonfire, it is wise you carry one or two fire extinguishers with you, like this portable one here, in case things get out of control.
Closely supervise all fireworks
Truth be told, no firework is safe enough for little kids to use without the supervision of an adult. It is easy to assume that fireworks like pinwheels and sparklers are low risk and cannot start a fire. But the truth is that under the right condition, these fireworks can start a small fire. Never attempt to re-light fireworks that didn’t work properly the first time you started it. Instead, dump them in a bowl or bucket of water.
Regardless of the type of grill you are using, it is important you keep it clean and free from grease build-up and accumulation as it can start a fire.
Put the flames out when you are done
It might seem like a good idea to fall asleep in front of a campfire, but the truth is, it is dangerous and for good reasons. You see, the embers from the flames can easily drift to nearby vegetation and start a small fire. The best course of action, therefore, is to put out your campfire totally before sleeping. You can do this by dumping water or sand on it. The same applies to BBQs. Ensure that your propane valve and vents on the grill are tightly shut when you are done.
Campfire Safety tips
Inspect your surroundings
Think carefully before choosing a location for your campfire regardless of how experienced you are as a camper. To be on the safe side, it is wise you camp in areas that have an existing fire pit. If you don’t have places like this in your area, then you can build your fire in a safe location where there is no dry grass and overhanging tree branches. Be sure to clear away all the vegetation from the area you plan to set up your fire, dig a fire pit and surround it with rocks.
Follow area rules
As you probably know, camping is prohibited in some towns and parks. So before choosing an area, it is important that you do some research to learn about the campfire rules governing that area. The reason why some parks camping restriction varies, most times, is because the area is prone to wildfires or has a unique plant and animal species that can easily be wiped out.
Don’t store highly flammable liquids like gasoline, lighter fluid or kerosene close to your campfire, as stray flames can easily ignite them and start a fire.
Stop, drop and roll
Ensure that the people you are going camping with know how to stop drop and roll especially if their clothing catches on fire. If only adults come, then you can simply talk about it, but if you plan on bringing kids along, then you should practice each step with them together.
Keep it under control
See, you don’t have to build a large campfire to have a good time. Large campfires are often very difficult to control. And even worse, embers from them can easily be blown to nearby bushes and start a small fire. The best option, therefore, is to keep your campfire small. This way, it will be easy to control and put out if need be.
Don’t set it too close to your tent
Your campfire should be a good distance away from your tent or sleeping area. Only opt for tents that are made from fire-resistant materials. Of course, they may be expensive like this one, but that shouldn’t deter you from purchasing them.
Stay close by
Assign someone to keep an eye on the campfire at all times. If nobody is a going to be keeping an eye on it or monitoring it, then you should put it out. Don’t forget to put out your campfire before going to bed.
Do not start a campfire if you don’t have the means or equipment to put it out. Always keep a shovel, buckets of water, and a fire extinguisher that you can easily use to put out the fire in the event of an emergency or when you are done using it.
Putting it out
Be sure to douse your campfire with water and bury with dirt and ash. Then douse the campfire with water again. This may seem like an overkill, but it will go a long way in preventing the fire from spring up after you’ve left.
Bonfire safety tips
Bon fires are much larger than campfires. If you plan on building one this summer, then you should keep the following guidelines in mind.
Check the weather
This should be the first thing you should do before setting up a bonfire. If the weather condition is going to be windy, then you probably shouldn’t set it up, as the wind may blow the hot embers and start a fire elsewhere.
Is it legal?
Do some research to see if it is legal to set up a bonfire in your area. Check your state’s regulations and laws about fires. If you aren’t able to find much information, visit the local fire department in your area and ask them.
Don’t let children get too close– Don’t let kids play around the bonfire or get very close to it.
Only burn wood
Never should you burn canisters, aerosols or anything that contains paint and foam. The ingredients of these chemicals are highly flammable and can cause your bonfire to spread sporadically. Also, the fumes from these materials are toxic and can have health consequences if inhaled for long. Even more, the containers of these products can explode when subjected to heat.
The right wood
Many people have the notion that any wood can be used to set up a bonfire or a campfire. Even if that is true, it is wise, you only use woods that are haven’t been seasoned or coated.
Keep it small
Of course, you have the freedom to set up a massive bonfire. But if you are really serious about fire safety, then you should keep it small. Your bonfire pile shouldn’t be larger than 5”x 5”
Things to keep in mind
See, you don’t have to consume too much alcohol to have a good time. Too much alcohol can dull your senses, make you clumsy and careless. While under the influence, you may make poor decisions like tossing the wrong item into the fire or getting too close to it.
What to wear to wear?
Wear clothes made with fire retardant materials and hard-soled shoes instead of flip flow or sneakers as leaping embers could cause them to ignite.
According to the NPS (National Park Service), about 85% of the wildfires that occur in the U.S are caused by humans. In most cases, by careless campers, who left their campfire or bonfire unattended or didn’t put it out totally.
Important fire safety tips for summer travel
Summer is a great time to go on a vacation or a road trip to broaden your horizon, have fun, and bond with family and friends. Keep the following fire safety tips in mind during your travels.
Choose a good hotel or motel
Don’t just settle for a mediocre hotel or motel that lacks a working fire suppressing system (sprinklers), smoke detectors, and extinguishers. Ask the clerk at the front desk of the hotel you are opting for to tell you about the fire notification system installed in the hotel, what the fire alarm sounds like, and the quickest way to get out in the event of a fire.
Find the exits
The first thing, you should do, when you enter a structure, be it a hotel, a restaurant or a museum, is to identify the exits. Of course, this may be difficult, but it will go a long way in helping you and your loved ones get out quickly in the event of a fire emergency.
Dispose of cigarette appropriately
Never should you throw a lit cigarette out on the floor or out of a car window as it could easily ignite the combustible materials around (dry grass and paper). Under certain circumstances, it could ignite the fumes from your car.
Protecting your home from summer wildfires
Do you know that summer is a season for wildfires in certain parts of the country? This may be difficult for you to take in especially if you live in an area where wildfires seldom occur. Keep the following tips in mind if you live in an area that is prone to wildfires.
Have a plan
While everything is ok, sit down with your family and loved ones who live with you and prepare a comprehensive escape route from your home. Carefully map out the various routes you would take to leave the area with your car. Regardless of how brilliant or smart you are, write down your fire safety plan on paper and keep it with your emergency kit.
Prepare an emergency kit
During a wildfire, it will be difficult for you to get supplies especially if some areas have been cut off by the fire. To be on the safe side, it is wise you put together an emergency kit. Your kit should comprise of 3 days’ worth of food, water, and medical supplies. Store emergency kit in a safe location where you can easily grab it and head out in the event of an emergency.
Locating your home
Ensure that your property is clearly marked so that firefighters can easily locate it in the event of a fire emergency. Make sure your building number is visible from a good distance away.
Create a Safety zone
Clear all debris, dry vegetation, and other combustibles from your home. Keep about 30 to 100 feet away from your home clear. Get rid of fallen branches, dry grass, vines, and leaves within your safety zone.
Summer is a great time to go on camping trips, road trips, and engage in other fun activities. Regardless of what you do, it is important that safety should be your number one priority, and for good reasons. Camp and bonfire- related accidents send thousand of adults and kids to the hospital each year. So be very careful when setting them up and putting them out. If your kids are with you, be sure to keep an eye on them.
The good news is that fire-related accident can avoidable. So, take action and apply the tips discussed in this article to have a safe, enjoyable, and memorable summer.
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