Summer is finally here, which means it’s time to kick back and enjoy s’more time outdoors. Unfortunately, the Great Outdoors come with their own set of hazards – electrical, fire, and of course, lightning.
That’s why we reached out to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) for summer safety tips to help you enjoy your outdoor living space during the wonderful weather of the season.
Don’t get burned by your fire pit
Fire pits are exceptionally popular and fun to enjoy with ghost tales and summer s’mores! Unfortunately, they can also be dangerous and have been attributed to more than 5,300 injuries each year. Learn how to keep your family safe from the dangers of fire pits with these summer safety tips!
Before you light your fire pit
- Check with your local fire department or municipality for any restrictions on fire pits and obtain proper permits if required.
- Check with your local authorities for regulations regarding the use of fire pit screens. A fire pit screen helps to contain sparks, embers, and ash.
- Only use fire pits outdoors and at least 10 feet away from anything that can burn.
- Place the fire pit on a surface that is level and will not catch on fire, such as patio blocks, bricks, or concrete.
- Keep the fire pit away from siding, decks, deck railings, tents, grass/vegetation, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches or structures.
- Clear the area around the fire pit of any fall risks, including uneven ground, rocks, or sticks that hang over the pit area. Tripping and falling on or into a fire pit is a real danger.
- In wood-burning fire pits, burn only clean, dry hardwood that’s been seasoned for at least 6 months.
- Arrange chairs a safe distance from the fire pit and stay a safe distance from the fire pit.
- Avoid loose-fitting clothing that can be ignited by flames, sparks, and blowing embers.
While your fire pit is in use
- Use caution if cooking food over a fire pit. Use commercially available sticks that have prongs and a wooden handle when cooking food over a fire pit. These may be called roasting forks or roasting sticks.
- Keep the area well-lit or use a flashlight when approaching or leaving the fire pit area.
- Keep children and pets away from the fire pit. Have a 3-foot “kid-free zone” (and a pet-free zone) around the pit.
- Use commercial fire starters to start the fire, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Never use lighter fluid or gasoline to start or relight a fire in a fire pit.
- Never leave the fire unattended even for a short period of time.
How to extinguish your fire pit safety
- Follow the fire pit manufacturer’s instructions for putting out the fire. Make sure to put out the fire completely.
- For a wood-burning fire pit, dispose of ashes after they have cooled. Empty the ashes in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid that is used only for the ashes.
- Place the container away from anything that can burn. Never empty the ashes directly into a trash can.
- For a gas fire pit, be sure to turn off the fuel source after use.
If you live in an area prone to wildfires, learn why you may need to curb some summertime activities, including using your fire pit, in Awesome Wildfire Home Protection Tips.
How to protect your summer evenings from firelight
A romantic summer evening by firelight may be one patio torch away, but its gel fuel is highly flammable. Make sure to follow these quick summer safety tips to keep your summer evenings enchanting and safe.
- Fire pots, personal fireplaces, and patio torches use gel fuel and are considered open flames. Gel fuel is highly flammable. Use extreme caution when using or adding fuel.
- Use chimineas, patio torches, personal fireplaces, and similar products outdoors only and at least 10 feet away from the home or anything that can burn.
- Never leave a lit fire pot, personal fireplace, or torch unattended.
- Make sure patio torches are secure and not in the path of people or pets.
- Be careful when reaching over fire pots, personal fireplaces, and torches – clothing or hair could catch fire.
- Use only gel fuel to refuel.
- Citronella fuel is intended for outdoor use only.
- Allow a fire pot, personal fireplace, or torch to cool for 30 to 45 minutes before refueling. Pouring gel fuel in a fire pot, personal fireplace, or torch that is not completely cool may result in a fire or injury.
- If gel fuel is spilled on clothing, remove the clothing and launder immediately.
- Store the gel fuel in its tightly sealed container away from heat sources and out of reach of children and pets.
- The stop, drop, and roll method may not put out clothing that catches fire from splattered or spilled gel fuel. A dry chemical portable fire extinguisher can be used to extinguish the fire.
Smoking hot grilling safety tips to keep you safe
Approximately 70% of American households own an outdoor barbecue, grill, or smoker. While grilling is a popular activity and a great way to prepare a tasty dinner, NFPA also reports that an annual average of more than 10,000 home fires a year are caused by grills. On average, more than 19,000 people end up in the ER with grill-related injuries. Stay chill with these summer safety tips for your grill.
Before you start your grill
- Propane, charcoal, and wood pellet barbecue grills must only be used outdoors. Indoor use can cause a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Place the grill well away from siding and deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Also, place the grill a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.
- Have a 3-foot “kid-free zone” (also pet-free zone!) around the grill. Never leave a hot grill unattended.
- Before lighting, make sure your grill is in good working order. Remove grease or fat buildup from the grates and surfaces below the burners and empty drip trays.
- Check your propane lines for signs of cracks, punctures, or other damage.
- Starter fluids should only be used to start charcoal and never added once the coals have been lit. If a burner goes out on your propane grill, turn off the gas, and wait five minutes before re-lighting.
While your grill is in use
- Use long-handled grilling tools for plenty of clearance from heat and flames when cooking.
- Once you have started your grill, do not move it until all gas is turned off, the grill is cool, or the charcoal briquettes are completely extinguished.
- If you experience a grilling fire, safely shut the lid, promptly shut off the gas supply and turn of the burners. Wait until the fire is out and the grill is cool before opening the lid again. If you are not safely able to take these steps, make sure everyone moves to a safe outdoor location well away from the fire and immediately call the fire department for assistance.
When you finish grilling
- If using a charcoal grill, close the vents and lower the lid when finished to starve the fire of oxygen and allow the charcoal to go out naturally.
- Empty the coals into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid that is used only to collect coals. Place the container outside and away from anything that can burn. Never empty coals directly into a trash can.
- Do not pour water onto hot coals for risk of injury from hot steam or damage to your grill.
- On a gas grill, make sure all burners are fully off, and close the valve on the propane tank or turn off the gas supply.
Have a swimming (and safe) good time!
You know water and electricity do not mix, so stay safe in your backyard oasis with these outdoor electrical summer safety tips!
- If you are putting in a new pool, hot tub, or spa, be sure the wiring is performed by an electrician experienced in the special safety requirements for these types of installations.
- Outdoor receptacles must have covers that keep them dry even when appliances are plugged into them.
- Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are special devices designed to protect against electric shock and electrocution. They are required for most pool, spa, or hot tub equipment. They may be in the form of an outlet or a circuit breaker. Test the GFCIs monthly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Electrical appliances, equipment, and cords should be kept at least 6 feet away from the water. When possible, use battery operated appliances and equipment such as televisions, radios, and stereos in these areas.
- Avoid handling electrical devices when you are wet.
- Do not swim during a thunderstorm.
- Have a qualified electrician periodically inspect and, where necessary, replace or upgrade the electrical devices or equipment that keep your pool, spa, or hot tub electrically safe.
- Have a qualified electrician show you how to turn off all power in case of an emergency.
Join the neighborhood!
When you download the vipHomeLink home management app, you’ll join a neighborhood of homeowners who enjoy a simplified homeownership experience. You can organize, maintain, and improve your home right from the palm of your hand! Receive reminders right to your phone when it’s time to complete certain tasks or schedule home maintenance services, saving you from costly repairs. Get friendly, expert advice, including mosquito safety tips, right in the app.