Family gatherings featuring grilling and fireworks are a traditional part of Independence Day celebrations. But the Trident Burn Clinic wants individuals to be aware that there are increased risks of burns associated with the Fourth of July holiday.
"We treat thousands of burn patients each year, and in many of those cases, there was a moment of carelessness that changed everything," said Dr. Fred Mullins, the president of Joseph M. Still burn Center at Trident Medical Center. He also serves as Medical Director of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Ga. "If I could tell people one thing, it would be: 'You can never, ever be too careful.'"
It is the little things that make a difference when using a grill. First, make sure the grill is at least 10 feet away from buildings or bushes before you use it. Check gas lines to make sure they are not clogged, do not use gasoline to start a grill and never start a grill with the lid closed.
"Grills get very hot and can be unstable,” Dr. Mullins said. “When you are grilling, make sure you have a safe area of at least three feet around a grill that is off-limits to children."
Other grilling tips include:
- Use utensils with long handles to stay clear of the fire
- Dispose of hot coals properly by dousing with water and stirring the ashes
- Keep lighter fluid container away from grill
- Utility/Barbeque lighters are not safe for children and should not be left outdoors where the elements may weaken or damage the plastic
- Always follow manufacturers’ instructions when operating a grill
- Replace nicked or scratched connectors
- Always turn on utility light before you turn on gas or propane
- Always shut off propane tank valve when not in use
- Never use a match to check for leaks
- Keep gas hoses as far away from grease and hot surfaces as possible
Grills are not the only Independence Day burn hazard. In 2011, fireworks accounted for an estimated 9,600 injuries each year, with more than half of those coming in the month between June 17 and July 17, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
"There are no 'safe' fireworks," Dr. Mullins said. "We see burns from sparklers each year, just as we see burns from larger fireworks each year. I cannot stress enough that fireworks should only be handled by adults. Let children enjoy the show, not be part of it."
Other tips for fireworks safety include:
- Never use fireworks of any kind indoors
- Establish a "launch area" that is a safe distance from buildings, flammable vegetation and people
- Designate a safety person, a "shooter" and a cleanup crew
- Light fireworks one at a time
- Never throw fireworks
- Never light fireworks held in someone’s hand
"It is especially important to be careful with fireworks in light of the drought conditions we are seeing across the Southeast," Dr. Mullins said.
For more information about the Trident Burn Clinic, visit tridenthealthsystem.com/burnclinic.