Home Fire Hazards to Avoid on Independence Day

Fourth of July celebrations often include fireworks, barbecues, and other activities known to pose a fire risk. Here are some guidelines to help prevent home fires during these festivities, especially in Florida.

Fireworks Safety

In 2021, fireworks caused 12,264 fires, including more than 2,000 home/structure fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). An estimated 11,500 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries at emergency rooms – a quarter of whom were children.

Don’t let your holiday get-together turn tragic.

The safest way to enjoy fireworks on July Fourth and help prevent home fires is to attend a public, professional display hosted by a nearby city, town, or other authority. Here are some options for notable celebrations happening throughout Florida in 2023 (complete with event schedules!), according to Florida Travel + Life and Trips to Discover.

Should you decide to stay home and celebrate, here are some tips to ensure your fireworks are dazzling – and safe.

• Only purchase fireworks from a licensed dealer.

• Light fireworks (and sparklers) in a clear, open area as far away as possible from homes and flammable items.  

• Use a flat, hard, and sturdy piece of plywood as a surface for those devices intended to be shot upward. Use bricks to prop up fireworks susceptible to tipping over before taking off.

• Keep a bucket of water nearby and use it to dispose of used fireworks and sparkler sticks and any unexploded items.

• Never attempt to re-light a “dud” firework – instead, make sure it is doused in water.  

• Choose one responsible adult to light all fireworks. This person should wear appropriate clothing and safety glasses. They should not have any alcohol while handling fireworks. Pacing is also important: only one device at a time should be lit.

• Children should not handle fireworks – even sparklers can burn little fingers. Adult supervision is always necessary.

• Keep pets inside.

Grilling Safety  

Fireworks aren’t the only fire hazard common at many Fourth of July celebrations. Barbecues can be irresistible on long holiday weekends, but they are also to blame for nearly 6,000 house/structure fires a year, on average, for the five-year period ending in 2022, according to the NFPA. July is the peak month for grill-related fires.

Here are some basic ways to prevent home fires caused by grilling accidents:

• Never leave a lit grill unattended.

• Use chalk to outline a 3’ perimeter around the grill; no children, pets, or inebriated adults should be allowed within it, to prevent accidentally knocking the grill over.

• Make sure the grill is as far away from your home as possible to help prevent home fires: aim for 10’. Don’t grill under any type of overhang (branches, balcony, deck, etc.).

• Keep a bucket of sand nearby. Sand is better than water because many grill flare-ups are grease fires; using water will only spread the flames, making the situation worse.

With gas grills, be sure to open the grill’s lid before attempting to light it and check for gas leaks before attempting to light it

With charcoal, allow 24-48 hours for the coals to cool, before disposing of them in a metal container with a lid.

• After the grill has cooled, be sure to clean it thoroughly so there is no leftover food or oil residue, a common cause of flare-ups next time the grill is used.

Maintain a Fire-Free Zone Near the Home

As a general rule of thumb, keep any activities with the potential to start a fire at least 10 feet from your home. This includes fireworks and grilling. Additional methods to help prevent home fires include preparing the area around your house ahead of time. This means cleaning debris from your gutters, removing dry brush from the yard, mowing the lawn, and trimming trees. Use a hose to wet the ground and foliage around your home. Before the July fourth fireworks or grilling activities commence, go ahead and set out a sprinkler or keep a hose at the ready. It may seem like overkill, but being safe is a whole lot better than being sorry.  

Have a Safe & Happy July Fourth

Let's celebrate nearly 250 years of independence this July Fourth with safety in mind. By being mindful when grilling or enjoying the holiday fireworks, you can prevent home fires and keep your loved ones safe. With a few simple precautions, you can ensure a memorable occasion filled with fun, not fire hazards. Let's make this July fourth bright – for all the right reasons.

If you’re a current Florida Peninsula Insurance Company policyholder, call your agent for more information about making sure you’re home and belongings are protected in case the worst happens. If you’d like to obtain a homeowner’s policy with us, get a quote now or call us at (877) 229-2244.

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